Luisa Pacheco

Luisa Pacheco
2017 Forever Cowboy Student Award

Luisa Pacheco, a psychology junior and accomplished musician, was chosen for the 2017 Forever Cowboy Student Award.

Pacheco, 19, is on the fast track to graduate in May 2018. The Las Vegas, New Mexico native and 2015 Robertson High School graduate entered Highlands as a sophomore, thanks to taking advantage of dual credit courses.

She traces her interest in psychology to childhood.

“My dad is a manager at the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute and I had the chance to observe different types of psychology professionals,” Pacheco said. “I’ve always been interested in working with children. I could see what a difference the child psychologists made for these youth as well as the importance of early intervention.”

While Pacheco had a number of college scholarships offers, she said Highlands was an easy choice.

“I chose Highlands because my parents graduated from here and I knew I’d get a good education. I love Highlands with all my heart. It’s like a home where everyone believes in you and wants you to succeed. I’m proud to be a Cowboy,” Pacheco said.

Her father, Luis Pacheco, earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial management in 1993, and her mother, Sharon Pacheco, earned a bachelor’s degree in business management 1987.

Pacheco said when she took her first psychology class at Highlands, she was completely hooked on the discipline.

“In this developmental psychology class with Dr. Linda LaGrange, I knew that my career path would be to become a child psychologist. The psychology professors are very motivating and take the time to know their student’s interests and aspirations,” Pacheco said.

She was elected the 2017 – 2018 president for Highlands’ Psi Chi Society, a scholarly honorary society for psychology majors. After she graduates, Pacheco plans to pursue a master’s degree in clinical psychology at Highlands.

Her minor at Highlands is music, but that only hints at what music means to her.

“I’ve played trumpet since I was five and music has always been an essential part of my life. When I play, it’s pure joy,” said Pacheco, who was named to the New Mexico All-State Band three times in high school and also performed with the Robertson Mariachi Cardenal group.

At Highlands, Pacheco plays in the university’s Jazz Ensemble.

“It’s a great experience performing with the Jazz Ensemble because it’s enriching musically and I get to interact with students from different majors and cultures,” Pacheco said.

Pacheco is a dedicated work study student in the university’s Alumni Affairs Office and Foundation Office.

“Although Luisa is a very caring and connected member of her own Las Vegas family, she lives and breathes Highlands purple,” said alumni director Juli Salman, who nominated Pacheco for the award. “When I think of someone who is always willing to step up and lend a hand to any project, I think of Luisa. She’s always game and her positive attitude is contagious.”

Pacheco said she enjoys meeting alumni of all ages and hearing their stories about what Highlands means to them.