Graduates of CNM: Christina Horton

Christina participated in the SkillsUSA competition as a CNM student and is now a successful professional who oversees the state level Carpentry event
April 19, 2022

For almost as long as she can remember, Christina Horton has been fascinated by architecture and construction. Some of her favorite memories as a child growing up near Gallup on the Navajo Nation are of her family members working together to build their own homes.

“In our family we would help build homes for each other,” Christina says. “I remember I was seven years old when I started helping and I just loved everything about it.”

Christina’s family later moved to Albuquerque, but she never forgot her passion for building. After graduating from high school, Christina studied architecture at UNM where she learned all about building design. However, it didn’t take long for Christina to realize that if she really wanted to succeed as an architect, she would need to become an expert in construction as well.

“When I was finishing my master’s degree, at my review they actually told me that I had weak construction skills,” Christina says. “I graduated during the recession when nobody was hiring. So, I thought I might as well go to CNM and learn about construction.”

Christina enrolled in CNM’s Construction Technology program in 2008 where she quickly excelled. After completing her associate degree, she went on to earn a second associate degree in Construction Management, along with certifications in framing, carpentry, estimating, and scheduling.

During her time at CNM, Christina also participated in the SkillsUSA New Mexico Competition where she won the gold medal for Carpentry in 2010. She then went on to compete in the SkillsUSA National Competition in Louisville, Kentucky, where she placed 18th out of 80 students from across the country.

“When I came to CNM, the really nice thing that happened was all these light bulbs started going off,” Christina says. “It was like all these different pieces of knowledge that I learned in architecture school started falling into place and everything just made sense.”

Christina has gone on to work for several architecture firms and is currently an Intern Architect at Studio Southwest Architects in Albuquerque. She has also been a judge for the Carpentry competition at the SkillsUSA New Mexico events at CNM and is currently the Contest Chair, which means she oversees the entire carpentry competition at the state level.

“Coming back to CNM and being asked to help with SkillsUSA has been awesome. I like to see the students because I was in their place and I know how nerve-racking it is,” Christina says. “Not only do you get to prove what you’ve learned, but you also get to see where you’re lacking so you can go back and learn from it.”

A passionate learner herself, Christina says she’s not quite done with her education yet. Her next goal is to finish her exams to become a licensed architect. She also hopes to become a licensed general contractor so that she can fulfill her life-long dream of becoming a professional architect-builder.  

“I like being able to design a project from the very beginning on the architecture side, but then when you get into the construction, you actually get to see what was on paper become something and it’s just awesome,” Christina says.