Deming, NM- Graduation looms ever closer for many students, as the next step in their lives is about to be taken. After college, many will move on to bigger and better things, whether they are graduate school or future careers. Some will hopefully use their education to make positive impacts in their fields or in their communities, such as WNMU Alumni, Cassie Arias. Arias received three degrees from Western New Mexico University, graduating with an associate, bachelor and master’s degree, and currently serves as the Economic Development Coordinator for the City of Deming and the Executive Director for the nonprofit organization designated for economic development in Deming and Luna County. All of this has been accomplished at the young age of 24 years old.
Arias has always been involved, no matter where she is. During her public school days, she played on many sports teams, including volleyball, basketball and track. She was also a member of the National Honor’s Society and in elementary school was part of the chess club, though according to Arias herself, the less said about that the better.
Arias started at Western New Mexico University at a very young age, receiving her associate degree in liberal studies at the same time she graduated from Silver High School in 2010. Arias is no stranger to hard work. After graduation, Arias moved to the state of Washington and began work with fiber optics. Arias described the job as being hard labor and included wearing a hard hat.
“My interest in Fiber Optics came from my Uncle Mike and Aunt Michelle Johnson who own MJ Communications,” Arias said. “They built their company from the ground up and had told me since I was very young I would go work for them when I graduated. I had the opportunity to do it a few times in live in five different states with it.“ Arias stated that this gave her an excellent opportunity to start her career.
After working in the field in North Dakota, Arias headed back to New Mexico to start taking classes at New Mexico State University. She originally wanted to study kinesiology, or sports medicine, but after getting a job at Southwest Counseling (now known as La Clinica de Famillia) and working with mental health patients, Arias decided to study psychology instead. However, thanks to the intervention of a WNMU advisor, Carey Walker, Arias instead joined the WNMU social work program, completing her Bachelor’s degree in 2013.
After receiving her BA in Social Work, Arias took some time off from college and went back to working in fiber optics. Eventually, Arias took on a job with the city of Deming, as the economic development coordinator for the city and county and as a economic developer for the community. It was also around this time that Arias decided to return to WNMU to get her Master’s in Business Administration, taking classes both online and face-to-face. Arias eventually completed her MBA in 2016.
Now, Arias works on coordinating programs and developing the workforce in in the Luna County area. She often speaks in the classroom, works on entrepreneurship and health and other career pathway programs. She also works with local businesses to retain employment and works to attract new industry that fits the needs of the community.
“I’d like to work toward developing a community in Deming that is active and has ample opportunities for the people,” Arias said. “My goal is to create new job and learning opportunities for our community.”
Arias is also considering the pursuit of a PHD down the road, possibly in something related to business and economics. Currently, she is pursuing certified professional development status, and is taking classes with the International Economic Development Council. By her estimates, she’ll only need eight more classes before her certification is completed.
Arias attributes her success to the love and support of her family, whom she describes are what’s most important in her life, next to her faith. Arias grew up on a ranch, in a small and close-knit family, raised by her parents Lonnie and Tara Arias, who still reside in Silver City. She states that her parents and her grandfather, Jesse Arias, were always there for her, never missing a game while she was in school. Last, she mentions Cheyenne Ward, whom she describes as her “better half.” Cheyenne makes his living by roping steers, and Cassie describes that he is always supportive in whatever she wants to do.
“I’m blessed to have all of them as my support system,” said Arias.
When she’s not building up her community’s business, Arias loves to be outdoors. Growing up on a ranch, Arias feels most at home being outside and tending to horses and cows. She also enjoys traveling, describing it as being the best way to experience personal growth and higher learning. Her favorite trip was one she took to San Diego, California when she was seventeen years old. It was the first time she saw the beach, which really moved her. “In a past life, I had to have been a sailor,” Arias said, describing her love for the ocean. She also revealed that when she was much younger she’d actually wanted to be a dolphin trainer when she grew up.
In her career, Arias is proud of the partnerships she’s been able to help build within the city and the county, particularly between all of the different economic development entities, such as the city, the county, the chamber, Deming MainStreet, and Tourism. However, Arias says that her proudest accomplishment is graduating from Western New Mexico University with a Masters in Business Administration, her third degree, at only 23 years old.
If you are a small business or looking to start a small business in the Deming or Luna County areas, Cassie Arias can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org