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Volunteers to renovate NMSU student veterans housing Nov. 9

When Sienna Ryan begins classes at New Mexico State University in fall 2020, her mother hopes her on-campus residence will feel inviting. Aviation Structural Mechanic Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan joined the U.S. Navy in 2015 and is currently stationed in Japan and deployed on the USS Ronald Reagan.


Woman stands in front of a plane.
U.S. Navy Aviation Structural Mechanic Petty Officer 2nd Class Sienna Ryan is currently deployed on the USS Ronald Reagan. She will begin classes at New Mexico State University in fall 2020. (Courtesy photo)
Exterior of homes.
New Mexico State University Student Veterans Housing project volunteers will paint and refurbish homes during a community effort Nov. 9. The project will include painting and yard maintenance for all 41 student veterans housing units in the Tom Fort Village. (NMSU photo by Tiffany Acosta)

Her mom, Nikki Gardner, was a catalyst to the NMSU Student Veterans Housing project, which will paint and refurbish homes during a daylong volunteer effort beginning at 8 a.m. Nov. 9. The Associated Students of NMSU is spearheading the project that hopes to paint the exterior and provide yard maintenance for all 41 student veterans housing units in Tom Fort Village in addition to interior painting for five units.

Gardner began this effort when she wrote a letter to the Board of Regents asking to help renovate the houses after seeing the condition of the units.

“I started this whole process because when she comes back I want her to feel like she has a nice little home, because she’s really sacrificed a lot,” Gardner said. “I want her to feel valued when she comes back.”

ASNMSU has been coordinating with many offices on campus such as Housing and Residential Life, Facilities and Services, University Architect and Military and Veterans Programs in preparation of the project.

“This is the community in Las Cruces and NMSU extending a very small token of gratitude to our service members,” said Evan Conner, ASNMSU president. “Even though this is small, it’s significant and we need as many people as possible.”

ASNMSU is currently recruiting volunteers and hopes to have 400 people so they complete the project. Gardner will attend the event and is looking forward to helping improve the units.

“I am super excited,” she said. “I can’t even tell you how happy I was when they contacted me.”

Gardner credits NMSU with having student veterans housing because NMSU is one of a few universities in the country to offer on-campus housing for student veterans and their families.

“Like I had written in my letter, I had said I was very naďve to any issues that veterans experience until I had military children. I didn’t take much notice to things or pay attention because it didn’t affect me,” said Gardner, whose son also served in the Navy.

With an associate degree in aeronautical engineering, Ryan chose NMSU for the aerospace engineering program and the proximity to Gardner, who lives in El Paso, Texas. Ryan’s last deployment ends in mid-November, and she will likely be in Japan until March.

To sign-up to volunteer or learn more, contact the ASNMSU office at 575-646-4415 or asnmsup@nmsu.edu.

Gardner also created a Go Fund Me to provide additional resources for the student veterans housing such as xeriscaping. To donate visit https://www.gofundme.com/veteran-housing-renovation-project-nmsu.