Humans of NAU: Marcy Hurtado

Marcy Hurtado with the Arizona Cardinal mascot.

A dog bite while she was a veterinary assistant convinced Marcy Hurtado she didn’t want to work with animals full-time. Instead, Hurtado found her professional home at NAU Yuma, where she is the director of enrollment management. She talks about the joy of seeing students in the YES program move from high school to college, her goal of graduating with her doctorate and how each day is different. 

What brought you to NAU? 

After working a few years as a new higher education professional at a private, for-profit university, I wanted to serve students and their families in a public institution with a broader net of student support services and financial resources. Having been raised in a rural, low-income community, I also made a pivotal choice in applying to the NAU Yuma campus. It was vital for me to select a community close enough to drive and visit family in southern California. I started working with NAU in January 2014 as the program coordinator for the PACTO Grant, a Title V Hispanic-Serving Institution capacity-building grant project.  

The NAU Yuma enrollment team in NAU shirtsTell me about a day in the life of your job. 

I genuinely enjoy my service role at the NAU Yuma campus. Each day on the job is different, which I appreciate since I enjoy learning new things and being innovative. I collaborate daily with many community partners and internal and external department teams. I supervise an extremely talented Yuma Statewide Services Team, which includes recruitment, admissions and enrollment management, academic advising, academic support services and career development. The Services team supports early college, academic and career access for prospective and current NAU students and supports educational and academic momentum for each participating student through graduation and beyond.   

What do you enjoy most about working at NAU Yuma? 

My absolute favorite parts of working at NAU Yuma are the student interactions and supporting the community of students. I am motivated to serve as an advocate to ensure each student achieves their personal, educational and career goals. I am a first-generation student and know the sacrifices my family made for me to have a higher education. I also know the challenges and roadblocks that can detour a student in moving forward toward their goals. If I can serve in any capacity to champion student success and help others achieve their goals and dreams, I know this is my personal mission in life.   

Tell me about a significant childhood memory and how it has impacted your life today.   Marcy Hurtado on a rock overlooking the ocean and blue sky.

I played volleyball and softball growing up. I learned early on, through these experiences, the importance of teamwork, communication, discipline and hard work. I loved playing sports and being a piece of a larger team, moving toward the goal of being the best. While I may not have been the fastest player or heaviest hitter, I learned that heart and consistency will take you through the long journey to success.   

What did you want to be when you grew up?  

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a zoologist. My first major in college was biology, and my first job in college was as a veterinary assistant. After being bitten by a large German shepherd and caring for sick animals, I decided zoology was not the best fit for me, as the work was emotionally draining. Soon after, I changed my major to kinesiology. Majoring in kinesiology has been helpful in my higher education career to create a holistic student service model and an individualized approach to student success to provide resources and services to create a thriving student experience.    

Marcy Hurtado and a colleague stand next to their poster on Yuma's YES program.What have you been most proud of recently? 

Recently, I have been most proud of the YES Program students. The YES Program is a Helios Educational Foundation project in partnership with Yuma Union High School District, Arizona Western College and Northern Arizona University. Students participate in the program from high school through community college before transferring to NAU. Following each student and their individual story has made me highly committed to this project. It means a lot when you have served students throughout their entire journey,  watching them grow and develop into professionals who are now graduating with bachelor’s degrees and starting their careers. I am incredibly proud of every student who has been a program participant!  

What is your favorite way to spend a day off?     

My favorite way to spend a day off is with my daughter, Maya. She is a junior in high school, and I love soaking up as much time as I have with her before she graduates from high school next year. I like to say that she keeps me “hip.” We love going makeup shopping at Ulta, having lunch, going on walks, movie nights and driving back home to spend quality time with family.  

Marcy Hurtado and her daughter What are three things on your bucket list?      

  1. Graduate with a doctorate alongside my daughter graduating with her bachelor’s degree 
  2. Learn to crochet (I want to crochet an amigurumi butterfly.) 
  3. Become certified as a dance fitness instructor 

What advice would you give students as they’re working toward their degrees? 

  • Participate and get involved in educational and community learning experience opportunities as much as possible. These experiences will guide you step by step, and the connections you will make will serve you in your professional aspirations (e.g., volunteering, conferences, study abroad, internships, community projects). 
  • Balance your work, family, social and school life. All are equally important. 😊 
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help. We are here if you need any support. In reverse, if you can help another person later down the road or simply share a resource; this will help future students’ progress in their goals and dreams. 
  • Lastly, remember that failures and setbacks are sometimes the best things that help us move forward in achieving personal goals and learning along these personal experiences.  

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