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Securing America’s Future:

The Power of Liberal Arts Education

David M. Gallegos

New Mexico State Legislature Representative
University of the Southwest (NM), Class of 1990
David M. Gallegos is the senior superintendent for Ramirez and Sons Inc., his family’s fifth-generation asphalt and dirt company. He retired after working 30 years in the natural gas utility industry in Lea County, New Mexico, for Southern Union Gas, Gas Company of New Mexico, Public Service Company of New Mexico, and New Mexico Gas Company.

In 2012, Gallegos was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives for District 61, where he serves on numerous committees. He has served 13 years on Eunice, New Mexico’s school board and 22 years for Rotary International, and he has also served on the industrial development and housing authority boards of Eunice. He has served 10 years on the board of deacons of his church, Eunice First Assembly of God. In 1997 he was named the Eunice Citizen of the Year and has received numerous other awards.

Gallegos was born in Holman, New Mexico and was raised in Denver, Colorado. He received an associate’s degree from New Mexico Junior College before completing his bachelor’s degree at the University of the Southwest. He has a wife, two grown daughters, and one granddaughter.
After graduating from high school, I moved from Denver, Colorado to the small town of Lovington, New Mexico to attend college near my girlfriend, now my wife of 35 years. Being from a big city and learning about college life on the campus of a small liberal arts college really helped keep my focus on my education.
 
The College of the Southwest (now University of the Southwest) was a small campus and the faculty-student ratio was also small. I was able to get the one-on-one education that I required. At the University of the Southwest (USW) each student has value; students are not just a number. The faculty and staff get to know you by name. Even years after graduation, I still see staff members that call me by name in the community. They really value their students and their students’ education and success. 
 

Now that I am a state legislator, I’m able to use the broad experiences that I learned at a liberal arts college to help in decision-making that propels our state forward.

 
Attending USW, a Christian university, was a stretch for me. In Denver, I did not have to worry about rules, rigor, or religion, but in coming to the USW campus, I was stretched in every way possible. The classes were intense, with a practical side to them. The professors would find ways to explain the information so that I could understand. Even concepts that I had heard in high school but failed to retain were explained. I know that I would not have had the success in life and family if USW had not set me on that path to success.
 
Now that I am a state legislator, I’m able to use the broad experiences that I learned at a liberal arts college to help in decision-making that propels our state forward. In my professional career and now in my political journey, my education has impacted me in ways that I never expected. My thought was that once you earned your diploma, it was a green light to a bright future. After going into the work force and being able to advance through the ranks, I realized that my education not only gave me a green light, but a foundation to continue my learning experience.
 
I am grateful for the foundation that the University of the Southwest set me on, and now I have used the same foundation to teach my daughters what life can be like with a great education.  Both of my daughters graduated at the top of their classes in high school, have gone on to college, and now are in the work force, where they both are successful in their careers. Not only did my liberal arts education change my life, but it changed the lives of my children, and now the life of my granddaughter.
 
Being on the school board for 13 years, I have seen opportunities come and go, many squandered by lack of accountability or focus. If I can give parental advice, it would be this: A smaller institution takes a greater interest in the overall success of your child, and as a parent you have a greater voice in that same institution. I would never change my decision to attend the College of the Southwest. It has been very instrumental in all of my past successes and will continue to be the foundation of my future! I would ask that parents and students alike look at the smaller liberal arts colleges as a path to a great future.
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