Get to know Liz Vigil

Get to know Liz Vigil., Senior Family Outreach Specialist at New Mexico State University. Liz is the Region 6 Chair for AHEPPP and a member of our Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Task Force.

How did you become involved with AHEPPP?  What have been your favorite AHEPPP experiences?
When I came into my first role in family programming, I realized that since there wasn't anyone I knew already that could help me figure out how to develop the kind of programming I dreamed of, AHEPPP was my ticket to sharing in the wealth of knowledge that exists from its members. I jumped right in and volunteered so that I could make the most of every opportunity.

Tell us how you got started working in the field of Parent/Family Relations.
I worked in my institution's Financial Aid office for a couple of years working with students and families on navigating the ins-and-outs of financing an education. When the family role came about I was excited to be able to expand my reach from just the financing part of higher education to the totality of helping family members support their students. It was an easy transition, and has been a great adventure.

What has surprised you most about working with parents and family members?
I'm most surprised by how much they appreciate direct honesty. If I don't know something, or can't provide them the information they want, I don't have to sugar coat it. They prefer clear and open responses, and I find that it leads them to trust me more and I love that.

What changes do you think we will see in the field of parent/family relations in the next 5 years?
I foresee the need to expand it into better providing programming and advocacy for friends of students. The globalization of Gen-Z's attitudes towards healthy familial bonds and self-care are turning the family structure on it's side. Many students are now more than ever seeking support from "chosen" family members for a variety of reasons. How can we restructure or revamp our programs and language to ensure that the entirety of our students' support systems feel like they belong?

When you're not working with parents and families, how do you like to spend your time?
I'm currently teaching myself how to skateboard and crochet, but aside from that I play my guitar, paint, and frequent karaoke in town!

Who inspires you? Why?
My mother. Her parents were killed by a drunk driver when she was very young, and even through having to care for her 7 younger siblings, she graduated high school and was an extremely successful administrator in all of her roles. We couldn't afford child care when I was younger and so I went to work with her every afternoon after school. Everything I know about what it means to be a "boss" I learned from watching her run it all.

What do you enjoy most about AHEPPP?
I enjoy the ease and willingness that exists in AHEPPP around sharing resources and ideas. It never feels like a competition between anyone, we're all here to help each other learn and grow.

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