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Mark Remillard, lecturer in the UNM-Gallup Fine Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Division, reflects on his journey to recently finishing his doctoral degree.


April 12, 2021

What brought you to UNM-Gallup originally and what is your professional experience in education?

I’ve been in education for 25 years, mostly at the secondary level. I began my career in the public school system in Clark County, Nevada, teaching high school English and coaching competitive Speech and Debate in 1996. After 10 years in the classroom, I went into administration and spent seven years in secondary administration before retiring in 2012 to move to Gallup where my spouse had accepted a teaching position at UNMG. I came out of retirement to teach again for Gallup McKinley County Schools, and again went into administration at Gallup High before coming to UNMG in 2018. I’m enjoying my time and life in Gallup and the challenges of teaching English again.

When did you being your doctoral degree, and can you tell us a little about your journey pursuing that advanced degree?

I began working on my doctoral degree in Fall of 2015 through New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. I decided that given my administrative position and focus as a practitioner rather than researcher, the Ed.D. was the best choice for me for degree pathway. The academic classes were one full weekend, all day Saturday and Sunday, each month and two weekends a month in the summers for three and a half years. After finishing my academic classes, I took about a year off from writing my dissertation to focus on career and job changes (coming to and adjusting to college teaching, committee work, etc.) before settling back in for the final round of research and writing to finish my dissertation.

The topic of my dissertation, factors affecting first-generation Navajo college student success and retention at the community college level, came out of my observations that as a high school assistant-principal, I’d shake hands with many talented, motivated, and enthusiastic students who were graduating and set to go off to college, and yet, many would be back within a year claiming that college, “didn’t work out” or “wasn’t for them.” I began to ask myself why that was the case, and how the system was not supporting them. That began a two- year writing process for my dissertation.

How does it feel now that you’ve accomplished this journey, and do you have encouraging word for our students to reach high throughout their own educational journey?

There’s obviously a tremendous feeling of pride and accomplishment in finishing something that has been such a major part of my life for six years. I’m very proud of the work I’ve accomplished, the connections I’ve made with colleagues, and the completion of such an important step in my personal and professional life.

It wasn’t always easy, but I’m so glad that I persevered, and I would encourage students to persevere and stick with their goals no matter what. The feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment is definitely worth whatever obstacles have to be overcome in the process.


Chartered as a community college more than five decades ago, UNM-Gallup operates under the aegis of the University of New Mexico as Gallup’s branch campus. Although our priority has always been to serve the community as a two-year college, our association with UNM has allowed us to be flexible and stretch as the need arrives. As the largest of the four UNM branch campuses, we serve approximately 2,200 students.


Lee Lamb, Sr. Public Relations Specialist
Mark Remillard, Lecturer

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