Mentoring: Mayor Ken Miyagishima speaks to Student Ambassadors

February 29, 2016, by Anthony Casaus, Assist. Dean-Development, via email

Kenneth Daniel Gallegos Miyagishima, Mayor of Las Cruces, NM, spoke to College of Business Ambassadors on February 24, 2016. He is currently serving his third term as Mayor. Aside from his public office, Mayor Miyagishima owns a Farmers Insurance Agency in Las Cruces, an insurance and financial services business he has owned since he was 21 and a senior at New Mexico State University.

Ken Miyagishima (Mayor, City of Las Cruces) speaks to College of Business Ambassadors on February 24, 2016. (Photo by Anthony Casaus)

Ken Miyagishima (Mayor, City of Las Cruces) speaks to College of Business Ambassadors on February 24, 2016. (Photo by Anthony Casaus)

Work ethic and initiative is something Miyagishima learned from his parents at a young age. Miyagishima hails from Biloxi, MI, and is of Japanese (father) and Mexican (mother) descent. His father was in the military. When Ken was 8 years old, his family moved to Las Cruces, as his father’s work moved from military to banking.

Upon graduating from high school in Las Cruces, Miyagishima’s father informed him that he had five years to graduate from college and he would pay $50 a month room and board including insurance on his vehicle. Miyagishima’s drive and foresight enabled him to work two jobs at the local TG&Y department store and a credit union while taking 15-18 credit hours a semester.

He graduated from NMSU in three years in 1985 with degrees in finance and real estate.

Twice recruited by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miyagishima had his sites set on public office, running for state representative at the age of 26. He became New Mexico’s first American of Japanese descent to be elected to public office three years later.

Miyagishima served eight years as a Doña Ana County Commissioner — including as Chairman for two years — then spent six years as a City of Las Cruces Councilman before he became Mayor of Las Cruces in 2007, a post he has held since then.

Mayor Miyagishima credits former NMSU College of Business professor Jon Howell for his ability to speak publicly and effectively. Howell encouraged his students to participate in the local Toastmasters organization to help them speak more effectively. Toastmasters meets once a week, is open to the public, and provides opportunities to compete locally, regionally, and nationally. Miyagishima participated in the Toastmaster program, polishing his verbal communication skills. He said the ability to communicate effectively can be someone’s strongest asset or greatest downfall, and added that studies have shown that employees who speak effectively will earn 15% to 20% more than their colleagues.

In addition to good communication skills, Mayor Miyagishima pointed out that résumés must honestly reflect a person’s education, talent and skill sets, and work experience. He cautioned students to be careful in their use of social media; companies have a reputation to uphold and they want employees who can do the same.

Miyagishima said it is important to give back and to serve the community as a volunteer. Volunteerism is an asset on a person’s résumé.

Mayor Miyagishima serves on numerous community organizations and boards.

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