Whether it’s from his time working at New Student Orientation or the Center for Academic Program Support, to his volunteer efforts with the UNM Young Alumni Association, or his trips throughout Albuquerque to find the city’s best food, those who have met Matthew Maez often remember his never-ending positive outlook and support for the UNM community. And many are quick to remind him of the influence his positivity has had on them.
“One afternoon during Winter Break this year I was hanging out with a friend, and this woman kept walking by and looking at me. She wouldn’t take her eyes off of me every time she walked past, and I was wondering ‘who is this’?”
Eventually the mystery woman stopped to talk with the pair, and explained how Maez’s outlook on UNM had left a lasting impression on her. She had worked at UNM for over twenty years, and had been stuck in a rut for many years in her department. She had questioned her time working at UNM until she saw a presentation Maez gave during UNM’s Family Connection Program, when her daughter was an incoming UNM freshman.
“She told me that my enthusiasm for UNM, and knowledge about what we had to offer, totally changed her own perspective of the institution that she was already very familiar with. She told me that it inspired her to join Staff Council, and to ultimately get a different job on campus. Now she is UNM’s number one biggest advocate and just loves UNM.
“She said I had a big role in that change. That was the last thing I expected her to tell me. It really made my day, and I realized that even if we don’t understand the difference we’re making in other people’s lives, each of us serve as role models and we can be there to support each other when we need it.”
And in 2013, the UNM community that he gave so much of his spirit to was there to support Maez in kind.
“One of the most touching moments for me as a Lobo happened when I lost my house in a fire a few years ago. It was, as house fires are, very much unexpected and unplanned. I lost everything and I had to start over from scratch.
“I hope that no one ever has to experience that, but afterwards I was reminded how much the UNM community is really more of a family than just a group of coworkers or students. Everything from the counseling and medical services that the university provides, to the community rallying to provide me with clothing and donations, UNM really is remarkable.
“UNM got me through the hardest experience that I’ve ever been through. It teaches you so much about what the fabric of this place is all about. I’ll always be a proud and thankful Lobo for that reason.”