Sandy Stambaugh was the most senior, continuously-employed staff member at the College during her tenure of sixteen years. Stambaugh watched as the institution transformed from a store-front operation into a branch college. Stambaugh similarly changed, taking advantage of the educational and professional opportunities ENMU-Ruidoso provided over the years. In many ways, the story of the college is the story of people like Sandy Stambaugh.
The College was an off-campus instruction center when Stambaugh was hired in 1995. With no classrooms and limited office space in a small building on Sudderth, Stambaugh quickly pitched in beyond her duties of registering students to do whatever was needed. The camaraderie and the excitement of being on the ground floor of a new and important endeavor buoyed the College’s first few employees. “We were like a family,” says Stambaugh. “Even though we all had different job titles, we all jumped in. Even Dr. Miller would come out to the front desk to register students. I remember him using his truck to haul trash—even doing janitorial work. But that was the atmosphere. These people were my family away from my family, and ENMU-Ruidoso was my home away from home.” As more and more students registered for classes and the College grew, so did Stambaugh’s official job duties. She quickly took on the job titles of administrative secretary and computer technician. In 1997, she set up the bookstore and served as the College’s first bookstore manager.
It was in the field of computer science that Stambaugh found a calling. She started taking computer classes just after being hired and was graduated with an associate’s of art degree. Her job responsibilities shifted to the fast-paced field of technology with a promotion to computer technician. “My associate’s degree opened so many more doors. I would have never believed that doing something that I loved and working towards a degree would have resulted in my being where I am today. It was hard work—there were many late nights studying and then getting up early to go to work, but it was worth it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
As a computer technician, she ordered computers, dealt with licensing issues and purchased software, making many connections with people in the industry along the way. She oversaw the acquisition and installation of twenty six computers when the campus moved to the Mechem location. She also helped to launch a computer lab in Mescalero, and when Dr. Jim Miller, College director, convinced Gateway to donate ten more computers, Stambaugh helped to set up those computers in the computer lab at the new Mescalero Empowerment Complex. She often traveled to the complex to deal with problems and to help the students there.
As the demand for computer literacy grew, Stambaugh was asked to teach an introductory computer class, adding the title “Resource Faculty” to her growing resume at ENMU-Ruidoso. The interaction with students combined with her technical knowledge opened up a new world of possibility for Stambaugh, culminating in her opening up her own home-based business, “Personal Touch Computer Services.” Meanwhile, opportunities at the College opened up again when a new position in the marketing department was formed to handle in-house and printed publications such as course schedules, academic catalogs, posters, flyers and advertisements for area media to be produced using state-of-the-art computer graphics programs. While no longer able to practice her interpersonal skills that came so naturally to her, Stambaugh was able to explore her creative side and keep up with the newest developments in the computer-aided graphic arts.
After a brief stint as an academic support technician assisting instructors with online classes, forms and procedures, Stambaugh became the bookstore manager. She used her customer service skills by opening up the bookstore to the community and her creativity in designing a space that was welcoming to her clientele. She continued to keep in touch with what was going on in the retail computer sector as well. She worked to offer special discounts on Dell computer products to faculty, staff and students.
The story of Sandy Stambaugh reflects the story of ENMU-Ruidoso. From the modest beginnings where everyone chipped in through focusing on the needs of a growing student body, to taking advantage of the newest technologies to put the college on the map, Stambaugh had seen and been part of it all.