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Twin sisters, first generation college students to celebrate NMSU Commencement Saturday

Twin sisters Cristal and Ruby Aguayo have exceeded hometown expectations as first generation college students, and will graduate from New Mexico State University with bachelor’s degrees in community health.

A woman (left) and a woman (right) pose in cap and gown around a column.
Ruby (left) and Cristal Aguayo, first generation college students from Palomas, Mexico, will graduate from New Mexico State University Saturday, May 10, with bachelor’s degrees in community health. (Courtesy photo)

The pair from Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico, is eagerly anticipating walking across the stage as part of the College of Health and Social Services at NMSU’s first commencement ceremony of the day, at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 10, at the Pan American Center.

“We’re really excited to represent our hometown and the people who love us and expect us to do our best,” Cristal said.

With two little brothers at home, the sisters want their siblings to follow in their footsteps.

“We hope to encourage them to pursue higher education,” Cristal said.

“This opens the door for my little brothers,” Ruby said. “We want to show them that this opportunity also is a possibility for them. Where we grew up, expectations for the youth are very different.”

The sisters, who are U.S. citizens, arrived at NMSU after graduating from Deming High School and commuting 45 minutes each day from their hometown of less than 5,000 people.

Cristal said the daily commute across the border was a challenge but the education was too valuable to miss.

“We definitely took it more seriously,” she said. “Getting up in the morning to go to school was either you do it or you don’t and miss out.”

“One of the advantages was we got to see the best of both worlds,” Ruby said. “We grew up in a different culture. In comparison, Mexico is such a different world. You go into the United States and there’s a completely different mentality; you see different needs. I’m really grateful that I got to see that.”

Despite initially considering different degree programs, the sisters both found their way to community health.

“Public health is one of those things where you work with people and bring them education,” said Ruby, who also is getting a minor in child advocacy studies. “Education is such a valuable resource especially in communities with little resources.”

Cristal added, “I always knew. We grew up seeing people struggle. I always knew I wanted to help others.”

“I think that’s something we both share,” Ruby said. “It’s important to the both of us, that whatever we are doing matters and that it helps people.”

Both sisters already have plans for after graduation. Ruby is going to work with a campus ministry at the Southwest International Church of Christ in El Paso, and Cristal is going to be a program educator for the Full Potential office in Las Cruces.