This CNM Grad and Current Tutor is Dedicated to Providing LGBTQIA2S+ Students a Welcoming, Sustainable Learning Environment

After enrolling in CNM Em Ahrend quickly found a welcoming and affirming environment and now they are dedicated to providing that same environment to future students
June 06, 2023

Em Ahrend, who uses they/them/their pronouns and identifies as gender queer and pansexual, is no stranger to navigating what parts of their life they share with others. But when they enrolled in CNM back in 2018, Em knew almost immediately that they were in a space where they didn’t have to hide. 

“The first time I walked into the CNM tutoring center, I saw a poster that said ‘All religions, all races, all genders, and all sexual orientations are welcome here.’ When I saw that I knew I was in the right place,” they say.

Before moving to New Mexico, Em lived in New York and worked as a trainer at an automotive company. After doing this for 15 years, Em decided they wanted to pursue their education full time, so Em and their spouse moved to Albuquerque because of the affordability and quality of education. 

Em knew they wanted to start their education at CNM and began studying Sociology in 2018. Through their studies, Em realized just how many opportunities there were within the field. 

“I started studying sociology with the intention of becoming a social worker,” they explain. “But as I moved through my coursework and with the guidance of my amazing instructors, I discovered so much about my strengths and weaknesses, and becoming a sociologist ended up winning for me.”

Since completing their associate degree, Em has gone on to earn a bachelor and masters degree at UNM, and is currently working towards a Sociology Ph.D. with a specialization in mental health at UNM. 

Along with their academic pursuits, Em is the Lead Tutor at The Learning and Computer Center (TLCc) on CNM’s Main Campus. As the Lead Tutor, Em manages a group of student employees and tutors students in English and writing. 

Em has worked as a tutor at TLCc since they started at CNM, and now as Lead Tutor they are dedicated to providing the same welcoming environment they experienced as a student to others. 

“When I started taking classes at CNM, it was the first time I felt like I could breathe and truly focus on learning,” Em says. “From when I first started tutoring to now, I have always tried to provide that same safe and accepting space for others.”

Once Em completes their Ph.D. and their spouse graduates from medical school, they will likely move back to the east coast. Regardless of where the couple lands, Em wants to continue to work in higher education and plans to bring the environment they love at CNM with them. 

“I feel a deep connection to community colleges because the learning experience is more personal, more interactive, and more collaborative,” they say. “I want to continue to tutor and teach, as well as provide the incredibly sustainable learning environment I found at CNM to the students of wherever I go next.”