Cassidy Gardner’s experience at the University of New Mexico has been pretty phenomenal, giving her the necessary knowledge to pursue her dreams past college, she said.

Gardner was a study abroad student in addition to her time at UNM Main Campus, and will be graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration in business and international management.

“UNM is a really great University, especially for business,” Gardner said. “(The Anderson School of Management is) very difficult but worth it, if you will to be able to get a degree from such a well known institution.”

Gardner studied abroad in Brazil for six months in 2016, one of the most impactful experiences she had as a student, she said.

“I finally got to go to another country and kind of learn my trade in another country,” Gardner said. “I actually took my international class in Brazil, which proved to be pretty useful in that I got to see kind of how another country views it and how they go about international strategy and management. It was probably one of the best decisions that I could have made in general to get that kind of experience to maybe work in Latin America someday, or just in general get a better idea of how business(es) run in Latin America.”

Originally Gardner was going to go into more humanitarian work and is currently doing an independent study on the challenges associated with being an international organization and addressing human rights.

“I applied for the Peace Corps, and I was accepted, but they accepted me for a program in a country in Northern Africa that I decided was probably not the best option for now because of the current political climate,” Gardner said.

Gardner is now looking for editorial positions with a public relations company as well as Google and is trying to dip her foot in the business world in general to get an idea of the kind of company she would like to work for, she said.

Gardner has had a strong support system throughout her college life, she said.

“My family is extremely excited,” she said. “I’m the first kid out of all my siblings to graduate from college and the first grandchild. It’s a pretty exciting moment.”

Gardner originally hails from Los Alamos, and the move to Albuquerque was a difficult one plagued by many fears, she said.

“I had this huge fear I was never going to have any friends and I was leaving my support system in Los Alamos and I was going to be all alone in the big city,” Gardner said. “But it kind of turned out to be the opposite, so I can now really look and think I created a little nest for myself here, in Albuquerque, with so many people...UNM students, people I work with in the Global Education Office as well as my family both in the city and all over New Mexico.”

Times were sometimes difficult as a student and Gardner had to convince herself every day not to drop out, she said.

“It takes serious dedication,” Gardner said. “Now that I’m at this point, now that I can see the finish line, all I can say is that it’s worth it. It’s worth all of the convincing myself not to drop out. Worth all the late nights and worth the tears. Lots and lots of tears. I feel ready honestly to get out into the world and be a sort of adult.”

Gardner’s advice to students just beginning at UNM is to not forget to take the opportunity to take the fun classes that are offered.

“I know we’re all so rushed to get through our degrees and get into our specializations and things like that, but it’s the fun 100-level classes that kind of really shape your overall idea of what you learn at the University,” Gardner said. “For me it was my Acting 101 class, and I learned some really vital skills about communicating with other people and just in general there are little fun things that I still use to this day that I never would have actually known to use if I didn’t take the opportunity to take a really fun class like that.”

As graduation day nears, Gardner is looking forward to sleep and well-earned relaxation.

She will have the chance to start “catching up on my sleep and...being able to sit down and read all these books that I slowly accumulated that I say I’m going to read,” she said. “Now I will actually have the opportunity to read them, because I am actually not reading textbooks.”

Nichole Harwood is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers alumni and art features. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @Nolidoli1.