Student Spotlight: Jackie Tafoya

Story and Photo by featured contributer Edward Oelcher

Blowing up ants, drawing, and not attending school was a normal childhood for CNM student Jackie Tafoya, unlike today a chemistry major hoping to graduate summer of 2017.

Not having a formal education and attending CNM isn’t as strange it may sound.

For Tafoya now eighteen years old says his mom taught him basic arithmetic so coming to CNM at the age of sixteen he didn’t feel completely incompetent but agrees that it was a bit of a struggle at first.

Recently students being homeschooled are now able to apply for dual-enrollment in college courses which led Tafoya to begin college.

He now studies chemistry and mathematics and hopes to obtain an associate degree, adding, “I took humanities classes but it was all kind of squishy where there is inductive reasoning and you can kind of put your opinion anywhere” he said.

Being home schooled hasn’t hindered Tafoya from graduating with a liberal arts degree in summer 2016, he also admits he is proud of maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

Now Tafoya says, “most of my life I felt dumber than a lot of people, I felt bad about that. Coming to CNM I realized it wasn’t so hard.”

For many young students they can agree that social situations are difficult at times realizing that there is tradeoff between social skills and academics.  

Tafoya does admit to struggling socially and that it may have been because he didn’t have many friends growing up so meeting people in college was difficult at first.

Like many young academics he wants to in some way to help humanity and believes that science can help him achieve that.

On his free time Tafoya can be found working with clay making stop motion or playing one of many favorite video games, Minecraft.

“I like the idea of trading perspectives and knowledge” Tafoya said when asked what he enjoys most about being a part of academic clubs at CNM.

It isn’t always about learning for Tafoya, who also enjoys the movie Interstellar, “I love the idea that humanity is going to die out because they couldn’t keep themselves alive and not because of some great disaster” he said.

Interestingly enough Tafoya jokingly mentions that he thinks humanities demise will come from “people just not being born so there won’t be anyone to replace the old” Tafoya said.

Growing up homeschooled and not having a formal education helped make Tafoya who he is adding, “I wouldn’t be the same person if it wasn’t for [being homeschooled] and maybe I’d just be some douche, I really can’t complain.”

So if you still haven’t gotten a clue yet Tafoya says he describes himself as uncomplacent, afraid of conformity (not that he doesn’t conform), and being intellectually mad.

“It’s not that I’m anti-conformist it’s just that I’m afraid to loose what fragments of individuality I have. I think the most interesting thing about me is that I exist” Tafoya said.

Tafoya hopes that when he finishes his associates degree he can work towards possible going to New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, but hasn’t yet made any final decisions.

1 thought on “Student Spotlight: Jackie Tafoya”

  1. Seems like a pretty swell guy! Are you sure he was joking about the babies not being born to replace the old thing, though? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ just a thought.

    Also, I’d be curious to know what exactly ‘intellectually mad’ refers to; surely he doesn’t believe himself to be delirious! Something that stuck out to me was his comment ‘I think the most interesting thing about me is that I exist’. At first glance, this seems like a fairly idiotic and senseless statement, but after thinking through it a fair bit I think it makes sense. After all, the force that pushed humanity forward throughout history seemed to be things like awe and curiosity regarding the very nature of reality, and why we all exist. That’s a line of thought which I’ve noticed not only piques the interest of myself, but almost anyone I interact with; “Who am I? Why am I here? What’s going on?” So in that regard, yes, our very existence could be said to be the most interesting quality of ourselves, at least on a more broad and philosophical level.

    To make one final comment, I have a quarrel with the whole idea of there being a trade-off between academics and social skills (at least on a 1 to 1 level), instead I’d argue that the trade-off is between academics and social standing. Often you’ll find that those who stray from social interaction do just fine if they’re placed into the correct circumstances; the issue being that they haven’t invested enough time to foster meaningful relationships that put them into a position to thrive socially. It doesn’t matter who you are, or how ‘socially skilled’ you are, you obviously won’t be able to have a profound social interaction with someone whom you’ve haven’t invested the time to get to know, which is what I believe this whole misconception stems from.

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