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Statistics Professor Moving to Seattle
story and photos by Jennifer Conlee
“I do believe there’s not much difference between ENMU and Stanford or Yale." – Dr. Mir Mortazavi
Part of Eastern New Mexico University’s mission is to enhance critical thinking in students. It is this part of the mission that Dr. Mir Mortazavi, a statistics professor, has stressed with his students.
|Dr. Mir Mortazavi|
“I’ve kept my standard high,” Dr. Mortazavi said. “Believe it or not, they respond to it, and raised it to that level.”
His standards, Dr. Mortazavi said, have helped prepare his students for the job market.
“There were a lot of good students,” he said. “I do believe there’s not much difference between ENMU and Stanford or Yale. When students graduate from here, they’ll be on the market the same as anybody else.”
Dr. Mortazavi arrived at ENMU in 2000 after spending time teaching in several states including Colorado, Washington and Wyoming.
“The day I came over here was July fourth,” Dr. Mortazavi said. “It was raining, and it looked so beautiful, and I found the people to be really friendly.”
He took the job, which allowed him to teach statistics, a job he loves.
I officiate and teach the laws of the game to the referees.” Dr. Mortazavi is looking forward to the opportunity for traveling.
“I haven’t done it much,” he said. “I want to go to Central and South America. I really want to go see the Great Wall of China, and see the Mayas, Incas and Aztecs.”
Dr. Mortazavi also mentioned that retirement will give him the chance to continue his research in stochastic programming, a statistical framework which has been his concentration since he was in college.
Though he says he will miss the Portales area and the school, Dr. Mortazavi is hoping to move to Seattle after he retires.
“I like Seattle,” he said. “It’s the only area I really felt at home in the 36 years I’ve been in the United States.”
Grad Brings Music Students to Campus for Tour
By Spencer O'Keefe
"I love teaching my kids and learning something new from them every day of my job.”– Christina Barajas
|Ms. Christina Barajas|
“Student success. That’s what it’s all about!”
We see this slogan every time we visit ENMU’s website or see its letterhead, and to alumni like Ms. Christina Barajas, this declaration is a fundamental philosophy of education.
Ms. Barajas has been the head director of band and music liaison at San Elizario High School in San Elizario, Texas, since August 2008. Over the weekend of Friday, March 2-4 Ms. Barajas returned to ENMU with a small group of her students to tour the campus and meet some potential professors and colleagues.
What great timing, too, since the University’s Music Building was bustling with composers, performers and educators alike for the area College Music Society’s annual conference. Ms. Barajas’ students had an opportunity to attend many workshops, seminars and concerts.
Special trips like this are just one the many duties of Ms. Barajas’ position. Other duties include teaching and overseeing the high school music program, co-teaching at the middle and elementary schools and managing, at large, the music program of the San Elizario school district. She explains, “The district is one high school, one mid school, and five elementary schools, and it’s a growing district.”
The alumnus of Kappa Kappa Psi, national honorary band fraternity, says, “This is my first major position as a music educator since student teaching in my undergraduate studies,” and as large of a responsibility as it is, she adds, “I enjoy everything about my job, and I love teaching my kids and learning something new from them every day of my job.”
Ms. Barajas holds a 2007 bachelor of music education with an emphasis on instrumental and a minor of music technology from ENMU, although she originally started college as a pre-med student. With a long history of band, and the guidance of director of bands, Dustin Seifert, and trumpet professor at that time, John Kennedy, the pre-med student converted into a music student.
With her strong passion for education, she says she’d like to pursue a master of administration one day. As words of encouragement, her students have told her, “You’d be a great principal.”
On challenges of her position, Ms. Barajas says, “The biggest challenge to date is keeping stability for my students. My seniors have had three different band directors in their time in high school. I want to maintain stability from here on out.”
As a native to El Paso and surrounding areas, Ms. Barajas has a strong connection with her students. Coming from a single-parent family as the oldest of four children, she learned life’s lessons on accommodating oneself with one’s surrounding, keeping good work ethics and being a leader. “High school for me was pretty similar to what my students are going through right now, so I know all about what they’re doing and how they’re feeling,” said Ms. Barajas.
Her two Chihuahuas “Guero” and “Star” make up her own family at the moment. Ms. Barajas plans to stabilize her career before starting a family, and with a whole school district to oversee, children are pretty easy to come by at the moment.
With such an intense workload, this active individual enjoys many other activities in her off time. When she finds inspiration, Ms. Barajas also enjoys writing. She said, “Poetry is my preference, and I like writing whenever I get the chance.”
She is training for a 110-mile cycling tour in El Paso, Texas, called the Chili Pepper Festival that’s roughly eight months away. In about a year, she’ll be riding in a seven-day, 535-mile tour in San Francisco.
She also benefits from spending time on the other side of the baton. She has an active role in the trumpet section of the El Paso Community Band and has played with the El Paso Wind Symphony in the past.
She also aspires to open a restaurant one day with the help of a fellow teacher. Ms. Barajas envisions her place complete with live jazz and a welcoming atmosphere.
From poetry and pedals, to music and mealtime, this active artist works just as hard out of the office as she does inside it.
To Ms. Barajas, the success of her students is the ultimate goal of her career. She believes that the education and opportunities provided by band, and music in general help students in a multitude of ways. Ms. Barajas said, “My kids may grow up to design and build buildings or conduct bands of their own, but the positive experiences they’ve had with me will help them get there.”
|Video Alert||Christina Barajas Interview|
|Watch video of Christina Barajas interview – [video]|