UNM grad, Gallup adjunct earns nursing master's with 4.19 GPA

UNM-Gallup adjunct Arthur Perales poses for a photo during The University of New Mexico Veteran and Military Resource Center Graduation Recognition banquet at the UNM Student Union Building in Albuquerque May 5.

UNM grad, Gallup adjunct earns nursing master's with 4.19 GPA

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U.S. Navy veteran Arthur Perales also achieves initiation into Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi

By Richard Reyes, Thursday, June 22, 2023

GALLUP, N.M. — A U.S. Navy veteran who recently graduated with his master’s in nursing from The University of New Mexico and who teaches part time at the Gallup branch campus was recently recognized for his high academic achievements.

Arthur Perales, 44, of Gallup, attended the UNM Veteran and Military Resource Center Graduation Recognition banquet at the UNM Student Union Building in Albuquerque May 5 and was honored for achieving a 4.19 GPA. Perales was also inducted in February into the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, which is the nation’s oldest and most selective multidisciplinary collegiate honor society.

“What was so special was being a veteran and celebrating other veterans’ successes and them celebrating mine,” Perales said of the veterans banquet. “My wife and two sons being able to witness it was also special. My oldest is in his last year of high school and my youngest is entering high school. Hopefully, they use their potential and achieve even more.”

Phi Kappa Phi initiates approximately 25,000 members a year on more than 325 campuses in the United States, its territories and the Philippines, according to the society’s website. Membership is by invitation only for the top juniors, seniors and graduate students who meet specific eligibility criteria at member campuses.

A product of UNM-Gallup

Perales is a product of the UNM-Gallup Nursing Program. He is originally from Gallup and graduated from high school in 1996.

After that, he served in the U.S. Navy for five years. During that time, he worked in a naval hospital in North Carolina for three years. He was also stationed at various Marines bases and later worked a clinic assignment.

During his service, Perales attended field medical service school, where he learned to render aid in battle. He also attended classes during his off-duty hours and lunch breaks to obtain a pre-nursing degree.

“Working with the doctors and the other assistants, I thought about being a physician assistant or a nurse,” Perales said. “I’m happy I decided to pursue nursing. As a nurse, I get to really know my patients.”

After being honorably discharged as a petty officer third class, Perales returned to Gallup to work for the Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services dialysis center, where he met his wife, Cecille Perales, who is now a full-time UNM-Gallup nursing faculty member.

Arthur Perales

UNM-Gallup adjunct Arthur Perales poses for a photo with his wife Cecille Perales, who is a full-time nursing faculty member at UNM-Gallup, at the Phi Kappa Phi induction ceremony in Albuquerque Feb. 10, 2023.

Arthur Perales then thought about applying to the UNM Nursing Program in Albuquerque, but some people advised him to apply to the UNM-Gallup program to increase his chances of getting admitted sooner versus potentially being waitlisted in Albuquerque.

Not only was the opportunity right for Perales to enroll at UNM-Gallup at the time, but he also enjoyed the convenience of the campus being close to home with great clinical opportunities at the local hospital. He also enjoyed the small class size and the instructors.

“I think I had enough opportunity to learn,” he said. “There’s no telling what could have possibly happened if I moved and no assurance I would have made it into the nursing program at the main campus as quickly as I made it into the Gallup nursing program.”

Perales graduated from the Gallup branch with an Associate of Science in nursing in 2004.

Passing knowledge to others

He then returned to work at the dialysis center for three years while also working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing from the UNM College of Nursing. He graduated with his bachelor’s in 2006.

From 2007-2010, Perales worked as a nurse for Gallup-McKinley County Schools. He then did part-time work at the dialysis center until 2015 to take care of his young kids at home.

From 2015-2020, he returned to full-time work at the dialysis center. In 2020, a month after the pandemic hit, Perales contracted COVID-19 while taking care of his patients. His entire family also came down with COVID-19. While recovering from the lingering effects of the illness, Perales stayed at home to manage the household while his kids took classes via Zoom and his wife taught via Zoom.

Finally, with the encouragement and support of his family, Perales decided to go back to school and graduated from UNM with a Master of Science in nursing in Fall 2022.

During the Spring 2023 semester, Perales did some adjunct faculty work at UNM-Gallup, and with his master’s in hand, he hopes to become a full-time nursing faculty member at the Gallup branch.

“I’ve been a nurse for almost 19 years now,” he said. “I’ve experienced the nursing process for many years. I feel that I can pass that information along to others. If I’m successful, I can replace 10 of me or 20 of me down the line — not just yearly, but possibly twice a year.”

To learn more about the UNM-Gallup Nursing program, please visit https://www.gallup.unm.edu/nursing/.

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