Norwich University Trustee Nancy Archuleta Speaks on Diversity

Trustee Nancy Archuleta

When Nancy Archuleta was a little girl growing up in Las Cruces, New Mexico, she got slapped by a teacher for speaking to a playmate in Spanish on the school playground.

"We weren't allowed to speak Spanish at school; it was the wrong thing to do," she said.

Bitter and angry, Archuleta went home and told her mother she was never speaking Spanish again, but her mother wouldn't hear of it.

"Fortunately my mother was wise enough to point out to me that knowing two languages was the valuable thing. That there is value in understanding cultures," Archuleta said.

Archuleta, a Norwich University Trustee, is the founder of Mevatec, a provider of professional technical services. Invited to campus to speak to the University community on the topic of diversity as part of a weeklong celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Archuleta addressed the students from the stage in Plumley Armory.

"Diversity is not defined by the color of your skin," Archuleta said. "I would contend to you that diversity is not even defined by your gender. It's not defined by your religious preference. If you are going to be a truly diverse person--a person who embraces diversity--what you will embrace is culture. What you will embrace is your fellow person and their differences."

Calling Norwich a place that "builds leaders," Archuleta used examples from her own life--both personal and professional--to illustrate how one's attitude toward other people and their differences is what makes someone a successful leader.

Trustee Archuleta tours museum construction"Leadership isn't about you. Leadership is about how you can motivate and instill in the next person the ability to get a job done," Archuleta said. "They're going to follow you because they believe in you, and the only way they're going to learn to believe in you is for you to know them."

Archuleta told the Norwich students that every person they come into contact with allows them an opportunity to practice being diverse.

"You have an opportunity sitting right next to you. The person sitting right next to you brings a legacy, a culture. Embracing the beauty of the person next to you is what this week is all about," Archuleta said.

Fortunately, Archuleta's grandchildren don't have to worry about being slapped if they speak Spanish at school. Even so, the fifth-generation Mexican-American contends that the world still has a long way to go.

"It's not an easy job; we've got a lot of issues to face; but are you up for the challenge?" she asked her audience. "You have that ability today--to make a difference--by embracing a concept of diversity that doesn't look at color, that doesn't look at gender, that doesn't look at any of those things, but looks merely at: you are different from me. Because we are different, we have opportunities that others don't have. That's your mission."

At the conclusion of her speech, Archuleta was presented with an official NUCC tar bucket by Cadet Colonel Benjamin Brewster, and a coffee table book of photographs of Norwich by Student Senate President Moriah Gavrish.

Trustee Nancy Archuleta and President Schneider

VP for Student Affairs and Commandant Mike Kelley '74, who invited Archuleta to speak, commented on the value of her visit.

"I don't think we could have possibly found a better person to address our students on the topic of diversity than Nancy," said Kelley. "She exemplifies exactly the type of leader we are trying to produce here at Norwich. Her life experience--her ability to not only persevere, but succeed in the face of adversity--speaks to all of us who aspire to the dream of equality put forth by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We are honored by her presence, and by her willingness to share her life's lessons with us."

While on campus, Trustee Archuleta also had an opportunity to tour the Sullivan Museum and History Center construction site, meet with coaches and student athletes, and have lunch with Norwich students and staff who coordinated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Week.

About Mevatec

In 1985, with no technical experience and borrowed money, Nancy Archuleta started a company called Mevatec. Eighteen years, 500 employees, and $140 million a year in sales later, Archuleta sold her company to BAE Systems, where she currently serves as President of Analytical Solutions. Today, Mevatec provides professional technical services to the department of defense, federal, state and local governments, and commercial businesses. Mevatec is a leader in missile defense, joint inter-operability, program management, quality assurance in engineering, cost analysis, and outsourcing of business process re-engineering.

Read a complete transcript of Trustee Archuleta's speech.