Kylie Katalinich earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Eastern New Mexico University while overcoming one of life’s biggest challenges: the loss of her family.
She was raised by her mom in Portales, where she also spent a lot of time with her aunt and uncle. Her family strongly supported her.
"They all encouraged me constantly to work hard and be kind in life," she said. "I think that knowledge has served me well."
Kylie loved playing in the Portales High School band and fondly recalls the band trips as some of her favorite childhood memories.
She chose ENMU to be close to home. Some of her family members were struggling with health issues, so she wanted to stay by their side.
During her first three years of college, her uncle, aunt and mom all passed away. The "huge, immense loss" made it difficult to continue her degree.
"At times, when I thought I finally got a grasp on life again, the emotions that so easily got put away with work, school, studying and a social life would come flooding back," she said.
Though the loss was "challenging," the ENMU and Portales communities helped her through it.
"So many professors and colleagues were understanding and helpful during some trying moments of my life," she said.
There were "so many venues within ENMU" from which she sought support, including the "College of Business, the College of Fine Arts, the Department of Languages and Literature and Susan Larsen, the director of Counseling and Career Services."
Thanks to all of the help she received, Kylie crossed the stage of graduation in May 2017, the day before Mother’s Day, for her bachelor’s degree with honors.
"That made me feel that my mom was watching me graduate, even from heaven," she said.
She ended up on the front page of The Eastern New Mexico News with Dr. Steven Gamble, at the last graduation he would lead before his retirement.
She added, "It was the happiest day of my life."
While in college, Kylie participated in many business and music-related groups and ensembles. She was a part of the Business Student Club, Delta Mu Delta, The Greyhound Sound, Wind Symphony, ENMU Jazz Band, ENMU Jazz Combo, Brass Choir and Trombone Choir.
Her passion for music inspired her to minor in music.
"Playing music with friends has been one of the greatest blessings in my life," she said.
Though she got the opportunity to play at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys in Texas, and overseas, in Ireland, her favorite memory of Eastern is playing at The Big Band Dance every November.
"Five dollars per person goes toward the Jazz Band to have professional musicians visit ENMU and teach students new techniques, as well as bringing culture to ENMU and the surrounding area," she explained.
Kylie learned more from ENMU than just academics; she learned about life.
"I have learned that hard work and love for fellow people make a great environment for people to grow," she said. "I hear so many success stories from ENMU students and how they're happy with their lives as of now. I'm glad to now be part of those alumni."
Kylie encourages future students to make the most of their lives by loving and forgiving people and working hard toward goals.
"You can't take a day off from making the best life for yourself that you possibly can," she said.