Christopher "Chris" Salazar became an advisor at Eastern New Mexico University after receiving his bachelor's degree in university studies with an emphasis in anthropology and history this spring.
The Greyhound Grad was drawn to the role due to his love of helping people. "I have a big heart. With this position, I get to help students begin the road to their future," he said. "My road through college was not the typical 'high school graduation + four years = bachelor's degree' path. If I can impart any wisdom to the students and pay forward the guidance I received as an undergrad, I want to do so."
Chris was a student worker at the admissions, records and registrar office at Clovis Community College, where he graduated with an associate degree in liberal arts in December 2013. He was awarded "Student Employee of the Year" in 2013. Shortly after, he worked full-time as an admissions specialist for two years.
Chris then worked in the ENMU Advising Center for two years as a student and was nominated for "Student Employee of the Year" in 2017 and 2018.
His goal as an advisor is to "give each student that comes into my office the time and assistance they need so that when they leave, they feel that someone cares and is going to help them should they need it."
One of the highlights of his job is "meeting all of the new students and seeing the vast array of personalities we get here at Eastern. Knowing you're helping them to begin this next chapter in their life… there are few things better than that."
His favorite thing about Eastern is the community: "We are large enough that we are quite diverse, yet small enough that you can form strong relationships with one another."
Chris was born and raised in Clovis, New Mexico, but his family is from the Philippines. His father retired from the Air Force as a Staff Sergeant in 1996. He was stationed in Clovis. "My father loved the small town atmosphere of Clovis, so we ended up staying here," said Chris.
After retiring, Chris' father worked for Plains Regional Medical Center for 17 years, and his mother was a retailer. Chris has a brother and a sister, both married and with children; he considers himself to be the "proud uncle."
Chris loves to travel, with his favorite destination being Maui, Hawaii. "[Maui] was the first vacation I had managed to pay for 100 percent on my own, which made the experience that much more satisfying, he explained. "It was also the first time seeing a lot of my extended family in about
17 years, so getting to spend that quality time with them was amazing."
He plans to take a trip to Oahu, Hawaii, in 2019 for Phillip's 10-year anniversary with his wife. "That one will be a lot of fun, and again getting to enjoy that with my family will be a fantastic experience," said Chris.
His hobbies include singing along to the radio, cooking and baking. "I was a choir kid for many years, so singing is ingrained in my mind," he said. "I love food, so once I discovered the Food Network in middle school, I began making what I wanted and just fell in love with it."
When asked about his role models, Chris discussed his mother and older brother:
"My mom left behind everything she knew and all of her family in the Philippines to come to the U.S so that her kids could have a better life. All of my life, she has done everything she could to make ends meet and make sure I had food to eat and clothes on my back, despite all the challenges of being an immigrant to America with no bachelor's degree to help her get a job. She showed me the definition of hard work for sure.
"When I chose to join choir instead of sports in middle school, she supported me 1000 times over, and she never missed any of my concerts or award ceremonies. I would not be half the man I am today had I not had her as my mom.
"Philip, my older brother, tested the waters for me and gave me a roadmap of what to do and what not to do. He came to ENMU as well, and it is because of him I came to ENMU for my bachelor's degree. He led by example and showed me what can happen once I had my degree.
"Furthermore, even while having three kids, he managed to get his master's degree in public health online. He's worked so hard to become the successful man he is today and has shown me what I can do in life, despite being a minority who did not come from the wealthiest background.
"Additionally, when our dad passed away in 2013, my brother stepped up to the plate to make sure my mom, sister and I were still taken care of if we ever needed it. I never give him enough credit, but he has always been there to help me when I need it, and I truly am grateful for him."
Photo 1: Chris with his mom, Lisa, after he graduated with his associate degree from Clovis Community College.
Photo 2: Chris with his best friend of 11 years, Lisa, when she graduated with her master's degree and he graduated with his bachelor's degree.
Photo 3: Chris at Philip's graduation from ENMU in December 2008.
Photo 4: From left to right: Lynn (older sister), Chris, Ana (sister in law), Ashlyn (niece), Sophia (niece), Philip Jr. (older brother), Kristian (nephew) and Lisa (mom) in October 2014.