University of New Mexico graduate Ryan Joshua Betty strayed far from his home town of Rio Rancho, traveling to 12 different countries during his time studying abroad.

Originally born in Las Cruces but later moving to Rio Rancho, Betty grew up going to Rio Rancho High School. After graduating, Betty said he felt great to move on to the University of New Mexico. Upon entering college, Betty initially wanted to become a special education teacher, but later changed his mind after studying abroad in the Netherlands for one year.

While studying abroad, Betty traveled to countries including Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Scotland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Budapest. He went snowboarding in the Swiss Alps, attended Oktoberfest in Munich, and went on a backpacking trip by using the EuroRail. In Amsterdam, Betty spent his time studying Sports Psychology and International Business.

“(In Amsterdam) I learned how to be satisfied with myself in every circumstance of life, gained a ton of personal confidence, and learned how to fit in basically anywhere,” Betty said. “I learned people are good, they have insecurities but everyone is the same and everyone is human.”

After he returned, Betty made the decision to switch his major to secondary education because he wanted to teach history. After giving a degree in secondary education a chance, Betty decided to change his major, once again. In order to pursue the most successful career choice to him, he ultimately decided on a double major in psychology and communications.

“There are two things I admire and love the most about my nephew Ryan — his constant fierce dedication and achievement of his goals, while maintaining a caring and loving sensitivity to others,” said Betty’s aunt, Teresa Gonzales. “If I had any advice, it would simply be not to change or lose sight of those amazing qualities.”

While studying Psychology, Betty found a position with Dr. Gordon Hodge as a teaching assistant. He helped over 500 students with studying and quizzes by hosting office hours. He describes Dr. Hodge as one of the most influential people to him during his academic career.

“Dr. Hodge spoke with inspiration in pursuing a great future,” Betty said.

According to Betty, the best part about going to the University of New Mexico was getting to meet people and getting to interact with them. Socializing with amazing people made a profound impact on his life and created memories that will last forever.

“No one is better than you, people do have more knowledge and experience; though they are eager to share what they are passionate about to create a teamwork environment and encourage growth within us all. The world is filled of great people,” Betty said. “I didn't learn nearly as much from the $200 textbooks as I learned from my experiences, journeys and lifestyle at UNM.”

Now that Betty has finished college, he is going to test in to the United States Military Special Forces. Though his majors have changed many times, his desire to go in to the Special Forces was always constant. To Betty, if he doesn’t try to get into the Special Forces, he wouldn’t be following his deep calling.

“The culture of college taught me by far more than any textbook could have ever taught,” Betty said.

Luisa Pennington is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can contacted at or on Twitter @_lpennington_.