Albuquerque grad grows family through adoption
When Bryan Lopez made the decision to finish his college degree and enrolled at Wayland, he had every intention of getting a Christian ministries degree. He was working at an Albuquerque church and already had a young family. His father had attended WBU years earlier so he felt it was a good fit.
But during the years that followed, the Lopez family began changing dramatically. Bryan and wife Sherry had three biological children – Selah, Matthew and Madison – when they felt the call to add to their family through adoption. Around the same time, Bryan changed jobs and was working for Sandia National Laboratories.
“I was about three-quarters of the way done and our family just blew up with adoptions, so I switched to a cybersecurity major in my junior year,” Bryan notes. “I’d always had a knack for technology, and I’d been a computer science major before Wayland. Those ministry classes I took were still valuable to me personally, but it was worth it to make the change.”
While he’s not in full-time church work anymore, Bryan says his large family is his ministry as he and Sherry care for orphans and special-needs children that are difficult to place. The couple got involved in adoption ministry while he was on staff at Desert Springs Church and were instrumental in building a network across many area churches to place children in need of forever homes.
A new challenge
Bryan said the work was rewarding, and while they had a longtime interest in adoption, they had never taken the plunge themselves. Then one particular email came that pierced their hearts.
“I was attending Wayland at the time, and we got an email about the triplets. The Lord just impressed on both of our hearts to do it,” he says of their first adoption experience. “Our story was not normal. We got the email on a Wednesday, and two days later we were assigned custody of the boys.”
He recalls the staff at Wayland being supportive of this new life change and one professor even threw a diaper party for the family to help them out. Life as the Lopezes once knew it was definitely over as Cameron, Caleb and Christian doubled their child count to six.
Another adoption was not really on the radar, but a year later, another email tugged at them. Twins Bentley and Bella would soon come to join the family from Uganda after their father died and their mother could not support them. During the formal adoption process, Sherry became pregnant, and their new son Declan would be born with arthrographosis, a condition that affects mobility and the joints.
With nine children now keeping the Lopezes hopping, the family was sure to be complete. Then they learned about a young boy in an orphanage the same age and medical condition as Declan that needed appropriate medical care. Familiar with his situation, the Lopezes willingly welcomed Maddox as No. 10.
“It’s crazy at times, but everybody pitches in and helps out,” Bryan said. “When you bring in different kids with different backgrounds and baggage, you just hope and pray they will get along and help out, but you can’t plan for that.
“I often say that our house is a glimpse of heaven. We have all these different backgrounds and stories and God wove it together to make it one thing.”
On the job front
During the day, Bryan is busy in his work at Sandia Labs, which he started in 2007 as a contractor and hired as a full-time employee in 2013. His job in the Chief Information Officer’s department now deals with keeping the national lab secure from the technology side. He provides everything from basic computer support all the way to mobility and development work, along with building applications for operations.
“I think what I love most about my job is that if someone wants to use a new service, it runs through me and my team, and so I interact with every team and organization at Sandia,” he says. “I get to see how we help every group there.”
Top photo caption: The Lopez family includes (from left) Cameron, 9, Selah, 13, Bentley, 11, Declan, 6, Caleb, 9, Bryan and Sherry, Christian, 9, Madison, 10, Bella, 11, Maddox, 6, and Matthew, 12.
Clovis grad continues service past military career
Glen Pugh is no stranger to service. He retired in 2018 from the U.S. Air Force after 30 years serving his country, working primarily in maintenance and retiring as a chief master sergeant at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene.
A native of Van, Texas, Glen followed his military service with a community service role as the regional director for the east side of the 19th congressional district for U.S. Rep. Jodey Arrington, a large district that encompasses Lubbock, Abilene and many points in between.
Recently, Glen stepped down from that full-time role to help a friend run the logistics side of his booming plumbing business, based in Abilene but with branch offices around the state. As fleet and facilities director for Black Plumbing, he is still serving, just in a different way. He still volunteers with the congressman’s office as needed and loves still being part of the “boots on the ground” part of the political scene in some way.
“The congressman’s office in Abilene handles complaints against the federal government on behalf of constituents, and about 60 percent are with the Veterans Administration. We try to intervene and help people with issues they have with any federal agency. We do that for cities and counties as well,” says Glen, noting that Arrington’s full district covers 29 counties.
“I did 30 years of service, and it was such an easy transition to continue to serve. I get up every day because there are people who need help,” he laughs. “As a first sergeant, our line was ‘people are our business.’ And that’s still my line.”
As a veteran himself, Glen said he often got to handle the calls from those disgruntled with the VA and is able to sympathize and provide advice. He’s not that far removed from his active-duty years, and that familiarity helps diffuse many situations.
Glen worked in aircraft maintenance during most of his military service, moving into an instructor role for new recruits out of basic training who were stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls. He began his Wayland degree there after earning his associate’s degree from the Community College of the Air Force.
While he’s retired from military service, Glen’s wife Mieka, who earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Wayland, is still an active-duty airman and is stationed in Korea currently. The pair met in the military and married while stationed in Wichita Falls in 2008. She wraps up her deployment this month and retires in mid-August with 22 years of service.
Aside from his day job, Glen’s service also extends to his church, First Baptist in Cross Plains, where he serves on the budget and finance committee. He also continues to teach ethics at Dyess, mentors current airmen and speaks at leadership seminars. He teaches a motorcycle safety course for the State of Texas and is a ranch hand for his aunt and uncle. He has three children and four grandchildren.
Former mayor honored as distinguished alumnus
Gayla Brumfield might have been born in Texas, but she’s been making an impact on Clovis, New Mexico since the age of 10. A 1971 graduate of Clovis High, she went into the real estate business in 1974 and became the broker and owner of Coldwell Banker Colonial Real Estate in 1985. She sold the business in 2014 but remains active as owner of Brumfield Group real estate and consulting, helping families find homes.
“I’ve always done real estate, and selling Clovis is just my thing. There are so many good things about the community we can sell, like the wonderful people and good solid values,” Gayla says. “I love working with people and putting them into the home of their dreams.”
Gayla’s professional accomplishments and her longtime pattern of community service were recognized in March as she was named the Distinguished Alumnus for the Clovis campus for 2019, just the second person to receive the award since it was instituted in 2018.
Committed to serve
While her real estate career has been noteworthy, Gayla was honored in large part for her commitment to serving her community. She served as Clovis’ mayor from 2008-12 after serving a two-year term as District 1 commissioner. In her role as city leader, she helped renovate the historic Hotel Clovis; fixed streets and bridges; and secured bonds to expand the zoo and spruce up the parks system, which included adding walking trails, a dog park and splash park and revived golf course. It was truly a labor of love.
“I felt like serving the community was a natural progression for me,” says Gayla. “To me it was always about the community and giving back, trying to make a difference. (Being mayor) was just a continuation of selling the city, and we were able to do some great things because I really believe in the city.”
Gayla has served in other capacities as well, including the Clovis-Portales Board of Realtors, the New Mexico Real Estate Commission, the Clovis City Commission and the boards of the Clovis Community College, the United Way, Chamber of Commerce and the Plains Regional Medical Center. She is past president of the Chamber and was named Citizen of the Year twice as well as past NM Realtor of the Year. As former chair of the Eastern NM Water Utility Authority, Gayla led the Ute Water Project to bring sustainable water to the area.
Focus on education
Education is important to Gayla, who earned her associate’s degree at CCC and then continued her business degree at Wayland, graduating in August 2003. Though she had started years earlier, it was a female motivational speaker’s words about tackling goals that spurred her to begin again. She found Wayland to be a perfect fit for her busy lifestyle and her values.
“I always thought I was missing something not having my bachelor’s degree. I tried the online thing, and it was expensive and hard for me. When Wayland came in, I was able to use some of my work experience, and I just loved the classes,” she says.
Gayla and husband Don have been married 46 years. They have two children and three grandchildren.
'Protect and serve' is lifestyle for Albuquerque grad
Police work in Albuquerque is a long way from construction work in New York… both geographically and mentally. Yet both represent facets of John Corvino’s life story, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
A native of Yonkers, near the Bronx, John has spent 30 years in law enforcement, all of that in Albuquerque. Despite his many years in New Mexico, he still speaks with a trademark New York accent and the passion of someone who, to summarize Confucius, has never worked a day in his life thanks to a job he loves.
A two-time graduate of the Albuquerque campus (BSOE’05, MEd’10), John is currently the chief of security at Central New Mexico College, a job he’s held for more than four years. He previously spent 27 years with the Albuquerque Police Department, serving as an instructor in the academy for 10 of those years. He got into law enforcement all those years ago for a change.
Joining the force
“I was a construction worker commuting in New York and I knew I had to do something else,” says John. “Law enforcement was an opportunity for me, and as soon as I got involved in it, I knew it was the best thing I ever did.”
John came to Albuquerque on a friend’s recommendation and has stayed, loving the chance to really help people. His exuberant personality has made for some fun experiences and a successful career along the way.
“I had a great partner and we took a lot of people to jail, but it was good that we helped the community,” he says. “I was a detective, served on vice and was on bike patrol for 10 years, where I got to know everyone on my beat and they became long-lasting friends of mine. We still keep in touch.”
Education at the forefront
It was during his detective years that John met a coworker, Anthony Maez, a 2002 graduate of the Albuquerque campus, who encouraged him to pursue his degree at Wayland, noting the shorter terms and night classes that made it easier to maintain a full-time job.
“I had quit college like three times earlier, then life just got in the way. I still thank Anthony when I see him for encouraging me to look into Wayland,” he laughs. “Algebra was a big hurdle, but I finally did it and kept going. I’d take books with me to all my kids’ games and dance recitals and read any chance I had a break.”
After achieving his bachelor’s degree, John said he decided to continue with the master’s degree in instructional leadership. He found the entire experience at Wayland to be fulfilling as well as a major confidence booster. He’s also found that higher education has both opened doors for him and given him some structure and discipline.
Along the way, John also became one of WBU-Albuquerque’s biggest cheerleaders, encouraging all his friends on the police force to follow his lead and get their degree there. For a while, he even worked part-time at the campus as an academic advisor and recruiter, primarily reaching out to military and law enforcement personnel and helping them continue their education.
But it was his high school daughter’s comment one day as he was wrapping up the bachelor’s degree that really brought it all home for him about the importance of his sacrifice and commitment to education.
“My kids were still young, and I wanted to show them that daddy was going to college and they could too,” he explained. “I picked her up from school one day, and she said they had to fill out a survey at school about their parents’ education. She was proud she got to put him down as a bachelor’s degree. That really touched me.”
Never a dull moment
Though it has been a few decades, John’s appearance on a series of COPS episodes still gets laughs from him and friends who see the replayed episodes from time to time. The show visited Albuquerque and did ride-alongs with John and his partner for 10 weeks, capturing both the crazy side of law enforcement and John’s unique personality and relationship with the community.
“We did eight episodes, and the shows still repeat on TV 20 years later,” he smiles. “Sometimes we would make jokes as we rode around, and they loved that too.”
One of John’s craziest memories from his bike patrol days was the rescue of two elephants who were being held in a construction trailer near some hotels.
“We were checking out hotels due to some recent burglaries and saw this trailer moving back and forth. When we got closer you could tell there was livestock in there,” he recalled. “I crawled up to look through a small window and two eyeballs were looking back at me. It turned out to be three elephants and eight llamas that these guys were renting out to a circus illegally.”
One of the elephants, Irene, still lives at the Albuquerque zoo and recently celebrated her 50th birthday. Donna, the other living elephant, is at a zoo in Florida.
These days, John coordinates security across all campuses for Central New Mexico Community College and loves being in the middle of the education scene once more. He supervises a team of about 60 who are all tasked with building relationships and having a presence across the campuses.
“We’re working hard to create a place where everyone can feel at home and not have to worry,” John says.
John and his wife Marie, a retired special education teacher, have a married daughter, age 28, and a son, age 27, who serves in the Coast Guard.