About Mark Armijo
The first time I met Mark I knew he was special. He was smart, funny and compassionate. I knew right off the bat that he was smart and funny, I didn’t learn until later the level of compassion he possessed.
Growing up in the 80’s he was a way ahead of his time. He had a computer when he was 15, and he was taking science and math classes that weren’t offered at our regular high school. Needless to say his aptitude for STEM was exceptional. Mark graduated from Rio Grande High School in 1985 and received a full ride scholarship to the University of New Mexico based on his academic background and phenomenal ACT score, (it was one of the highest in the state).
He started at UNM in the fall of 1985 and found that college was not what he expected. He wasn’t prepared for the level of dedication that college demanded and did not adjust well. After his 3rd semester at UNM he lost his scholarship and had to pay for school on his own. He began working part time and let school slowly slip away. It was at this time he received a letter from an organization that was seeking out minorities who had tested well on the ACT. The letter offered a full ride scholarship to students of color whose test scores were over 30 to two schools of their choice, either California State University at Northridge, in Los Angeles, California or Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. He realized that he was given another opportunity to go to school and he decided to attend Cal State Northridge. In the fall of 1989 he left New Mexico, for a new beginning and another chance at college in a new and exciting place.
This time Mark was prepared for the level of dedication that college demanded and he did well in his classes, but he wasn’t prepared for how much he was going to miss home. Family had always been a huge part of his life so leaving his family was difficult and it took a toll on him emotionally. He returned to Albuquerque after 2 semesters at Cal State Northridge with a better sense of what he wanted to do in life and who he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Mark and I were married in June of 1992 and both began our careers without having finished school. Mark worked at Martin Marietta, General Mills and finally settled in at Intel Corporation and quickly moved up in that company. During this time we began our family. Our first child, a girl, Aja was born in June 1993. As it does, life continued to happen and we had our second child, a boy, Christian, was born in December 1995.
During this time Mark was able to return to school with the help of Intel so after much debating over where to go, he chose the College of Santa Fe. He was familiar with this school because his mom had gone back to college at a later age there too. The class sizes and the ability to work around his work schedule helped in the decision to choose this college. After many years of working and going to school, he finally finished and graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in May of 2004. It was an accomplishment that he was very proud of.
I shared earlier that I didn’t realize until later how compassionate Mark was, this was shown to me when he decided to give back to his community. He was a South Valley Little League coach, the president of the South Valley Soccer Club, Governing Board President of Nuestros Valores Charter School in the South Valley, and in 2011 he was elected to represent the South Valley on the CNM Governing Board and was serving as the Vice Chair until he passed away in December 2015. Mark also ran for State Representative for District 12 in the South Valley, it was during this time that he was diagnosed with cancer. He was also the President of the Pauline Armijo Excellence in Education scholarship Fund, named after his late mother, who was an amazing teacher who passed away in 2001.
In 2008 Mark decided to change careers and left Intel to work at the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority as a Systems Analyst, where he worked until his passing. Before Mark passed, CNM introduced the new STEMulus Center and non-credit entrepreneurial-related degree and certificate programs. He was so excited about the opportunities these programs would give to students. He would always say, “I wish there had been something like this when I was younger and didn’t know what I wanted to do.” Mark knew the importance of an education, but more importantly the importance of being passionate about your career. These programs are representative of who Mark was and with your help will allow for his legacy to live on through future New Mexico students.
Thanks for reading Mark’s story and thanks for any donation you can make.