Campus News - June 30, 2001


Toya offers lessons to pickpocket, native engineering students

By Michael Padilla

Bertilla Toya, administrative assistant II for NAPCOE, the Native American Program in the School of the Engineering, enjoys running.

But she never imagined that her pastime would come in handy to catch an alleged pickpocket just days after she ran a relay.
The scene: Toya suspects that someone is ruffling through her bags in her office. She approaches the man, and questions him. He runs. She follows. She and two UNM custodians tackle the man. She and a female custodian sit on his legs; the male custodian holds the man’s arms down and they wait for the police.

The outcome: $15 was returned to Toya. Man was arrested.

The advice: Toya says people should never take the law into their own hands but rather call the police and give full details.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” she says. “I just wanted to teach him a lesson.”

Toya, who has worked at UNM for nine years, said she enjoys helping people and especially enjoys the interaction with students. In her position she is able to update students about career opportunities, scholarships and other activities that will help them to succeed.

“My advice to students is to take advantage of tutoring services early,” she says, adding that there are a large variety of services and programs offered at UNM to help students.

“I like new experiences and I like to learn something new everyday,” she says. “Every semester is new and it’s great to see new students coming into the University.”

Toya faces new challenges every day at home as well. She is from Jemez Pueblo (Wa la to wa) and as a mother of three, she makes sure that her youngest son Raymond, 7, is learning his native language. She lives, commutes and is from Jemez Pueblo. Her daughter, Diana, 19, lives in Albuquerque, and son, Peter, 17, also lives at Jemez Pueblo. She likes the fact that in her position she can be flexible with her time to avoid the traffic on her daily commute.

Toya participates in numerous fun runs and walks. She is also a professional potter. She creates storytellers, ornaments, nativity sets, lamps and pottery of all kinds.

Toya enjoys running, but doesn’t run away from the many challenges she faces at UNM, at Jemez Pueblo and with a growing family.

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