For the last five years, Rachel Whitt has been chronicling stories about the students, faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni of The University of New Mexico. In video and print, she has covered the news from the Lobo community and proclaimed its successes and triumphs to the campus, state, nation, and world.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes she’s been creating her very own inspirational story.
This week, Whitt becomes another Lobo success story as she walks across the stage to get her diploma.
With two Bachelor of Science degrees in Political Science and Communication with an emphasis in broadcast journalism from Eastern New Mexico University and a stint at a local news station, Whitt joined the UNM Communications and Marketing (UCAM) team in 2016.
As a university communications representative, she has maintained a full roster of responsibilities in the UNM Newsroom, writing articles and producing videos about people in the various departments and programs, acting as a liaison between the campus community and the media, and supporting the University administration.
“I’ve learned a lot working in UCAM and met a lot of amazing people. It’s been fun to watch the department grow and help with that growth where I can,” she remarked.
“Rachel has done a great job of balancing both her academics and responsibilities in the workplace,” said Steve Carr, UCAM communications manager and Whitt’s supervisor. “She is the type of individual who will do whatever is necessary to accomplish any goal or project she undertakes to ensure its success and she’s an inspiration for all of us.”
In 2019, Whitt began pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration degree, coordinating her studies with her newsroom duties.
“Without a doubt, this degree has bettered me as a person and professional,” she reflected. “It’s taught me leadership skills and management tactics. But more importantly, it’s opened my eyes to bad leadership skills and management tactics – which I hope to avoid when my time comes to lead. Learning from the faculty at the School of Public Administration was an honor, their experience and insight shaped my view of what workplaces should look like and inspired me to do what I can to make that vision a reality.”
She won’t be the only Whitt walking the line that day as her proud parents watch.
“My sister, Molly, is also part of the commencement festivities. She graduated with her M.D. from the UNM School of Medicine Class of 2020. Not only will she be joining me at the commencement, but she was also asked by the President’s Office to be the Commencement speaker for the graduate commencement! My parents are beyond thrilled – they’ve always instilled in us a deep respect for education,” Whitt noted.
Having both their daughters in regalia receiving their degrees is a testament to her parent’s dedication, encouragement, and support over the years, Whitt said.
“My mom was the first in her family to go to college and my dad is endlessly pursuing learning. She is a Registered Nurse and he has his Master’s in Public Health and Doctorate of Dental Surgery. To say they are the bedrock of our education is an understatement. My mom homeschooled me and my sister, and from an early age I remember both my parents talking about the importance of education and what a wonderful experience college is. They were right! I feel very fortunate to have been born into my family and attribute this success as much to them as myself.”
She also had advice for fellow Lobos also pursuing their education.
“In the end – this is your journey, your decision, your life. No one can carry you across the finish line, but they will be there to cheer you the entire way. So, have faith in yourself and your abilities – you truly can do anything you set your mind to.”
Whitt revealed her long- and short-term plans: “I’m hoping to have the opportunity to use the skills I’ve learned and continue honing them. For now though, I’m going to enjoy some down time with my dogs, my family and my amazing boyfriend – and plan on finally have time to do a jigsaw puzzle!”
“Working and learning at The University of New Mexico has been a highlight of my life,” Whitt remarked, looking back at the last five years of work and study. “I’ve had the opportunity to work professionally with the School of Public Administration in my capacity as a communication representative, and experience the program firsthand as a student. It’s given me great perspective on how to juxtapose professional and personal connections and leverage them for the good of the University. On days when work or school seemed overwhelming, there were countless people in my office and across campus who would cheer me on – I love this city within a city and am proud to finally be counted among the UNM alumni.”