Faces of CNM: Sam Torres

Sam spent years working as a combat and flight medic, and is now going back to school to become a constitutional attorney
September 02, 2020

It’s never too late to start a new career. That’s what Sam Torres is proving every day.

Sam, who’s 48 and a single father of two teenagers, had a long and storied career in the medical field. He started as a combat medic in the late 80s, at one point deployed to Desert Storm. After his time in the armed forces, he went on to work in an ambulance, then spent years as a firefighter up in Santa Fe. He also deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq as a medic with a private contractor, trained Pararescue candidates at the United States Air Force Pararescue Program on Kirtland Air Force Base, and flew missions as a flight paramedic around New Mexico in between.

Eventually, however, the physical and emotional stress of these jobs took its toll and he decided to move on. He took some time off, worked on the stress (in part by working with service dogs) and enrolled in classes at CNM. He finished his associate in Applied Sciences and then re-enrolled this past summer as a Political Science major. 

“Back then I needed to step away and work on myself,” Sam says. “Now I’m in a place where I can really concentrate on school. And being that I’m a non-traditional student, CNM was the obvious choice.”

Because Sam took classes previously, he should be able to graduate this December. Right now he’s taking nine credits, three of which he’s receiving for an internship with the John Clark campaign. John Clark is running for New Mexico Senate District 9, and Sam is canvassing for the campaign. 

“I’ve never worked in politics, so being on the inside has really given me an in-depth perspective on how campaigns are run,” Sam says. 

Sam is also taking a class at UNM, and will transfer there once he’s done at CNM. If all goes to plan, he should have his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science by 2022. Then it’s off to UNM Law School where he wants to study Constitutional Law. 

“I’ve always been interested in the Constitution and what the founders envisioned for our country,” Sam says. “And during my time in the military it really became a sacred document.”

If Sam has any advice for returning or older students at CNM, it’s to “jump right in.”

He’s felt supported throughout thanks to the smaller class sizes and instructors who’ve always made time to help. He’s also relied on the college’s services, including the Veterans Resource Center and Disability Resource Center.

“I really like how personal CNM is,” Sam says. “I’ve always had access to what I needed and my questions have always been answered. I’ve never felt like a small fish in a big pond. Instead, I’ve always felt like I was part of a community.”