SFCC announces Monica Leyba will address graduates for in-person Commencement at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 14 in William C. Witter Fitness Education Center

SFCC announces Monica Leyba will address graduates for in-person Commencement at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 14 in William C. Witter Fitness Education Center

Santa Fe Community College announces that Monica Leyba, Chief Nurse Executive of CHRISTUS St. Vincent Medical Regional Center, will address graduates during the Spring Commencement Ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 14 in the William C. Witter Fitness Education Center. Masks will be required to attend the ceremony.

The in-person ceremony will honor graduates who will complete in either in the spring semester or summer term.

Monica Leyba, RN, a lifelong Santa Fe resident, is the Chief Nurse Executive of CHRISTUS St. Vincent. Leyba has been an associate with the hospital for more than 40 years. She started her career in food services. Through a pathway of various responsibilities and jobs, she worked her way into nursing and ultimately achieved a master’s degree in nursing.

From an early age, she had a dream of becoming a nurse.  She carefully focused on finances and her family while working in many roles at the hospital.  After delaying her nursing studies for 10 years, until her youngest son entered kindergarten, Leyba came to study at Santa Fe Community College. She earned her associate degree and became a nurse.

Within the next decade, Leyba carved out time to earn a Bachelor of Nursing of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing/Master of Health Administration, Nursing Science from the University of Phoenix. Since then, she has served in various supervisory roles, including her current position overseeing about 450 people.

President Becky Rowley, Ph.D., said, “SFCC is honored to welcome Monica Leyba as the college’s keynote speaker for the first in-person commencement ceremony since the pandemic began. Her personal story is inspiring for all, but it will particularly resonate with our SFCC graduates since she began her higher education journey at SFCC.  She’s in a critical leadership role at CHRISTUS St. Vincent Regional Medical Center and she embodies the values that SFCC wants to impart to its graduates.”

SFCC is excited to offer its first in-person commencement since the pandemic began.

“We are overcome with appreciation seeing our students accept their diplomas, but this year will be particularly special watching them walk commencement for the first time since 2019,” said Deborah Boldt, Executive Director at Santa Fe Community College Foundation. “In 2022, we were fortunate enough to help 110 student graduates who received a total of $212,605 in support from our wonderful donors through the SFCC Foundation.”

SFCC Student Speaker:  Maria “Lourdes” Estrada

The commencement Student Speaker is Maria “Lourdes” Estrada. The 51-year-old is earning an Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education.  She said SFCC has helped her make her dreams come true.  As a single mother, going to college while juggling work and family was challenging.  Estrada accepts challenges with persistence and grace. Spanish is her first language and she had worked diligently to become a U.S. citizen.

When she worked as a nanny, she would take a young child to the Child Care Center at First Presbyterian Church. “I really admired the teachers and was inspired by them.” She was approached about working there and was guided to take the classes offered in Spanish to earn her Early Childhood certificate at SFCC, which she did in 2018.

To fulfill her dream of becoming a pre-school teacher, she decided to study for an associate degree. Some of her classes were in English. Estrada said, “At first, it was scary. But my teachers and tutors really helped me.  I’m so happy to be a pre-school teacher now. I love it.”

In addition to a live broadcast at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFyYf6OJzFc, along with the simulcast on Santa Fe Community Television (SFCTV-16 on Comcast),  SFCTV-16 will re-broadcast the Virtual Commencement Ceremony at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, 11 a.m. Wednesday, May 18, 7 p.m. Friday, May 20 and noon Sunday, May 22 (MT).

SFCC 2022 Spring/Summer Graduation Fast Facts

 Please note: This data is derived from those students who’ve applied to graduate either after the 2022 Spring semester or summer term.


335 SFCC graduates are eligible to receive 371 awards. 34 students will receive more than one award. Of those awards: 236 are for certificates and 135 are for associate degrees.

  • 58.7 percent are from Santa Fe; 4.8 percent from Albuquerque; 3.3 percent from Rio Rancho; 3.3 percent from Española and 3 percent from Los Alamos. The remaining graduates are from 47 communities around the state (ranging from Abiquiu to Zuni Pueblo) with the highest concentration from Northern New Mexico. Four additional states are represented by five students: Colorado (1), Florida (1), Oklahoma (1) and Texas (2).
  • Graduates range in age from 16 to 72.
  • More than half 55.2percent (185) self-identify as Latino/Hispanic, and 7.5 percent (25) identify themselves as American Indian or Alaska Native.
  • 11 graduates identify themselves as military veterans, military spouses, or dependents of military veterans.
  • Two Associate in Applied Science are being awarded for the first time at the college:  Film: Documentary and Nonfiction filming, A.A.S (1) and Film Post-Production, A.A.S. (1).
  • One certificate is being given for the first time at the college: Certificate in Practical Nursing (2).
  • The highest number of awards are in: Certificates: Emergency Medical Technician (33), Nursing Assistant (16), Community Health Worker Training (16). Associate degrees: Nursing, A.A.S. (10) and Business Administration (10).
  • The total number of certificates to be awarded is 236.
  • The associate degrees to be awarded include Associate in Arts (54) and Associate in Science (12), Associate in Applied Arts (3), and Associate in Applied Science (66).

Please note: Data is from April 26, 2022.

Attached: Photo of Monica Leyba, Chief Nurse Executive of CHRISTUS St. Vincent Medical Regional Center. Photo of Student Speaker Maria “Lourdes” Estrada.

Santa Fe Community College celebrates its 40th Anniversary as the pathway to success for individuals and the community. SFCC provides affordable, high-quality programs that serve the academic, cultural, and economic needs of the community. The college welcomes over 10,000 students per year in credit, noncredit, workforce training, personal enrichment, and adult programs.
A “Best for Vets” and a “Military Friendly” school.

Visit sfcc.edu or call 505-428-1000.

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