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New NMSU lecture series focuses on entrepreneurship

To become a driving force for an economy that extends beyond Southern New Mexico, New Mexico State University must become more innovative and entrepreneurial as it prepares today’s students to become tomorrow’s business leaders, said NMSU professor Ebetuel “Beto” Pallares.

Man and woman stand side-by-side.
Miriam Rivera, a former Google executive who co-founded the Silicon Valley-based Ulu Ventures, met with New Mexico State University Chancellor Dan Arvizu in November after speaking to NMSU students and faculty as part of a new lecture series by NMSU professor Ebetuel “Beto” Pallares. (Courtesy photo)

For his part, Pallares, a faculty member in NMSU’s College of Business and investor-in-residence at Arrowhead Center, is leaning on his skills as a longtime venture capitalist in the Southwest and enlisting high-profile entrepreneurs to share their knowledge with NMSU students and faculty for a new lecture series focused on entrepreneurship.

The series kicked off this fall with a well-received lecture from Miriam Rivera, who visited NMSU for the first time in November. Rivera, the daughter of migrant farm workers and a first-generation college student, is a former vice president and deputy general counsel at Google who later co-founded the Silicon Valley-based venture fund Ulu Ventures.

“The idea is to bring in people who can inspire students and give them a sense of the people in the industry, but also to show that entrepreneurial talent can be found and nourished in our area,” said Pallares, who serves as the Bill and Sharon Sheriff Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship in the College of Business, where he teaches in the Finance Department.

During her visit to NMSU, Rivera met with students, faculty and area entrepreneurs to answer questions and offer advice. She also met NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu, who attended her lecture. Rivera praised NMSU for its entrepreneurial efforts.

“I was very impressed with how NMSU is thinking in a much more regional way about not only attracting students, but also enhancing entrepreneurship,” Rivera said. “Reaching out across all borders to spark innovation and help entrepreneurs has the best interests of the region and its economic vitality at heart. Partnering with local businesses and non-profits also helps to advance the reach and impact of the university and create tighter bonds across communities.”

Pallares said he plans to bring at least one guest speaker to visit NMSU per semester. Currently, he’s in talks with Shomit Ghose, a partner at the Menlo Park, Calif.-based ONSET Ventures, for a visit during the spring 2019 semester.

“Shomit has a wonderful story as well. He’s a venture capitalist and is originally from India,” Pallares said. “He has a wonderful background in investment, and he’s particularly interested in impacting people who are first-generation immigrants.”

A date for Ghose’s visit will be announced next semester.

As the Bill and Sharon Sheriff Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship, Pallares is focused on helping students understand entrepreneurship as a career path. He started teaching at NMSU in August. One of his courses is called “Entrepreneurial Mindset,” which is open to all students, not just business majors, and is designed to expose students to entrepreneurship.

“The reality is that none of us have a crystal ball to figure out who will be a great business person,” he said. “But what we’re trying to do is show that is a viable path.”