Graduates of CNM: Howard Griego

After enrolling at CNM as a non-traditional student, Howard Griego is about to start his Ph.D. in Chicana/o Studies
March 01, 2022

Life hasn’t always been easy for Howard Griego. He was born and raised in Santa Rosa and joined the military when he was 17. After that he spent over 30 years working at various blue-collar jobs before getting injured, which severely impacted his ability to make a living.

When Howard began to put the pieces of his life back together, he decided CNM was the best path forward and enrolled at the age of 51. He started with core classes and found lots of community support through programs like ACE Tutoring (now called TLCc) and TRIO Student Support Services.

“As a non-traditional student going back to school after over 30 years it was definitely a challenge, but the people at CNM took me in like I was one of their children,” Howard says. “They believed in me until I could believe in myself.”

Eventually, Howard took a Chicana/o Studies class at CNM and he says that one class changed his life.

“I fell in love with the class. It gave me my own history. I learned a little bit about New Mexico history in grade school, but it was never presented to me in that way before,” he says.

Howard graduated from CNM in 2017 with an associate degree in Liberal Arts. He then transferred to UNM to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Chicana/o Studies after being inspired and encouraged by CNM instructors like Felecia Caton Garcia and Steven Romero and receiving help through the NM Humanities Now! Program.

“I didn’t think I had what it took to make it, but after attending CNM I came to find out that I had more than enough to get to the next level,” he says.

Howard received his bachelor’s degree in Spring 2020 and is now working on his master’s degree, which he should complete this summer. After that he wants to get his Ph.D. in Chicana/o Studies and focus on the history of Chicano muralism. Eventually, he hopes to become a Chicano art historian and educator.

“We believe in uplifting our Chicano community because this is our home,” he says. “Our hope is to educate those who are lacking that knowledge of their own culture.”

Ultimately, Howard hopes his story inspires other non-traditional students, and shows them that they too can find a place in the community if they never give up on themselves. 

"I may not always know what I’m doing, but I found people at CNM who did know what they were doing, and they were always willing to help as long as I was willing to ask,” he says. “The lesson here is that you should never be afraid to ask for help.”