Darlene Chavez

Darlene Chavez
2017 Distinguished Retired Staff

Darlene Chavez retired from Highlands in 2016 after 25 years of service in business-related management positions.

For the last 15 years of her Highlands’ tenure, Chavez was the development finance officer in the Advancement Office, which includes the Foundation and Alumni Offices. She managed the accounting, investments, budgeting, financing, student organization budgets, and foundation scholarships.

Previously, Chavez held positions such as accounts receivable manager and assistant manager, interim operations manager for financial aid, assistant vice president of auxiliary services, and coordinator of student housing.

“Darlene showed impressive dedication and perseverance moving forward professionally during her years as a manager with Highlands,” said Josephine Sena, a member of the distinguished alumni selection committee. “She also really stands out as someone who is passionate about education, completing her first degree at Highlands when her four children were young.”

In 2016, Highlands President Sam Minner named Chavez as the first recipient of the President’s Service Award.

Chavez said every job she’s had at Highlands involved working directly with students, helping them along their journey.

“I absolutely loved working with students. The most rewarding – and biggest highlight – of my Highlands’ career was seeing students blossom and advance professionally to become successful members of society,” said Chavez, a Las Vegas, New Mexico native.

She said that as a Highlands manager, she always encouraged her staff to continue their education.

“I wanted my staff to have the same kinds of life-changing opportunities I had through my Highlands education. My business degrees at Highlands prepared me well for every position I held at the university,” Chavez said.

Chavez earned her B.A. in business administration magna cum laude from Highlands and went on to complete an MBA with a concentration in management information systems. She said initially she didn’t think she was college material, but her sisters, both Highlands students, encouraged her. The trio are the first in their family to graduate from college.

“When my youngest child started kindergarten, I had the chance to pursue college. It was a struggle to balance my education, work study position, and family responsibilities. What made it possible as a nontraditional student were my amazing business professors who were incredibly supportive. My husband Ernest also supported my education aspirations every step of the way,” Chavez said.

She said one semester when she was an undergraduate all four of her children had chickenpox right before final exams. Ernest was working long hours and couldn’t stay home with the children.

“My professors gave me flexibility about when I could take my exams, allowing me to complete all my classes and not lose an entire semester,” Chavez said.

As a retiree, Chavez said she remains active in church ministry at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Las Vegas. She also enjoys having more time to spend with her family camping, fishing and on other outdoor recreation activities.

“I do miss the students at Highlands and all the wonderful people I worked with at the university. Highlands has been so good to me,” Chavez said.