Laura Valdez biography

Laura Valdez has worked with students in all phases of the higher education experience, from her experience with a TRIO program that focuses on college access for first generation, low socioeconomic students to her current work as the University College Advising Center Director. Originally from Coyote, New Mexico, she was a first generation college student and credits her success to two College Enrichment Program counselors who provided mentorship and guidance during her first year at the University of New Mexico. She has made it her life’s work to pay that forward. Laura is impassioned by helping students achieve their academic goals; she believes getting a college degree is a transformative experience for both first generation students and their families.

Often the best way to serve students is by offering innovative programs that improve upon the student experience. To that end, a few of Laura’s highlighted accomplishments include:

 Creating an orientation program called the Family Connection Program from the ground up.
 Organizing university-wide equity and inclusion events and training that involved faculty, staff, campus ministers, and students.
 Bringing about making New Student Orientation mandatory for all undergraduates.
 Launching two online orientation programs and an online reservation system.
 Decreasing the student wait time for advising sessions by 87% while improving quality.
 Retooling a reorganized department to focus on providing advice for parallel majors.

To model her advice to students to be engaged with their education, Laura has been involved in professional associations that have added to her substantive leadership experience. She has served in several regional and national advisory boards, co-founded the NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, Latinx/a/o Knowledge Community, and chaired both the Program and Assessment Committees for the NODA Association for Orientation Transition Retention in Higher Education national conference. That involvement along with an acknowledgement of directing an innovative parent program led Laura to co-author a chapter “Changing Demographics and Diversity in Higher Education” in Partnering with the Parents of Today’s College Students.”

Laura holds a Master of Arts degree in Communication and Journalism with a concentration on intercultural communication and rhetoric from the University of New Mexico. Her Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Communication is also from the University of New Mexico.

A former student best described her career in a UNM Proud post, "Laura has been a role model and mentor to countless UNM students, myself included. Many of us decided to go into the field of Student Affairs because of Laura."

To learn more about Laura, visit