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New Mexico State University

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NMSU professor awarded inaugural Hispanic Heritage award

Anna López, a New Mexico State University Counseling and Educational Psychology assistant professor, was recently honored by the Hispanic Faculty and Staff Caucus of NMSU with the María Gutiérrez-Spencer Hispanic Heritage Award. López is being recognized as an outstanding faculty member who has made highly significant contributions to the university and the surrounding community.

Headshot of professor
Anna López, an NMSU assistant professor in counseling and educational psychology, with the María Gutiérrez-Spencer Hispanic Heritage Award. López is the inaugural recipient of the award given by the university's Hispanic Faculty and Staff Caucus. (Photo courtesy)

López is the inaugural recipient of the María Gutiérrez-Spencer Hispanic Heritage Award. Gutiérrez-Spencer was a pioneer in bilingual education and traveled throughout the state of New Mexico helping educators develop programs for students with language and cultural barriers.

López received both her undergraduate and graduate degree at NMSU. She then went on to receive her Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision at the University of Texas at San Antonio and returned to her alma mater in 2012 as an assistant professor.

The decision to make the move into the academic world for López came when she wanted the opportunity to provide students with the positive mentorship that she has when she was in their place and that’s something she says she tries to remember.

“Life in academia can get pretty hectic at times, sometimes hard to not get caught up in all the little things that have to get done, so perhaps the thing that I am most proud of is that despite it all, I have really tried to prioritize the needs of my students, clients, and community, I hope that my work thus far has demonstrated this.” said López.

Recently, López has achieved the grant funding of $1.9 million dollars for NMSU. López is the co-principal investigator of the project, TEACH Grant, with the goal to increase the number of Master Social Work and Clinical Mental Health counseling trainees in behavioral health and primary care settings. The trainees would work in under-served communities in the southwest region and provide culturally sensitive and integrative care services.

López served as the interim program coordinator for the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program from January 2016 to January 2018 and regularly teaches graduate courses at NMSU. She has numerous publications and scholarly presentations to her name. Her research primarily focuses on issues related to the counseling needs and experiences of vulnerable populations including immigrants and Spanish-speaking clients.

López said the meaning of success has changed for her throughout her life, but she has one piece of advice for young Hispanics.

“When I was younger, success for me was typically associated with money and status. Success for me today, means much more than that. It means feeling grounded in your work and reaching a point in your career in which you can truly say that you are doing the best that you can in a way that stays true to who you are as a person,” said López. “Be proud of where you come from. I believe success is more easily attained when we have a clear vision of our ourselves, so take note of what is important to you and follow the road that is more congruent with who you are, who you want to be, and what you value in life.”