All In The Family

Laura Stanley Is A Third-Generation Techie

SOCORRO, N.M. May 15, 2010 – When Laura Stanley accepts her diploma today, May 15, 2010, the occasion will mark the third generation of her family to earn a degree from New Mexico Tech.

Three generations of Techies. From left are Laura Stanley (2010), Brian Stanley (2012), Dennis 'Doc Stanley (1961, '64), Mike Stanley (1984) and Meri Stanley (1985).

The biology major has been a standout at Tech since she matriculated, eventually earning the university’s top designation as a Macey Scholar in 2009.

“It’s pretty cool,” she said. “I’m pretty proud that I can follow in their footsteps – grandpa and dad and mom and everybody.”

By “everybody,” she means an aunt and uncle – not to mention her fiancé. 

“Part of my attachment to Tech is that there are two generations of my family that already went here,” she said. “But it’s also neat that it’s in my hometown and I can see my family whenever I want.”

Her younger brother Brian is a sophomore in the mechanical engineering department, expecting to graduate in 2012.

The family patriarch, Dennis Stanley, enrolled at Tech during the E.J. Workman Era in 1957. He came to Tech on a co-op scholarship, which meant he worked half-time and went to school half-time. Without that assistance, he said he probably never would have come to Socorro.

A native of Clovis, he and his wife, Jean, lived in married student housing at a time when things were much different at New Mexico Tech. Everyone took the same classes for their first two years, before specializing in degree-track work.

“Everything was a lot smaller back then,” he said. “We had about 300 students total. The library was never locked. There was a little swimming pool by the old gym – no lifeguards. The cafeteria was a bunch of old barracks.”


Dennis and Jean Stanley in the late 1950s.


Dennis Stanley shows off some of his gems in 2010.

Dennis Stanley earned his bachelor’s in 1961 and his master’s in 1964. The family then moved to Ireland, where he earned his doctorate. After completing a post-doc back in Socorro, Dr. Stanley joined the faculty for two years.

He then moved from higher education to secondary education, teaching science at Socorro High School, where he became well known as Doc Stanley.

“I went to the high school so I could coach and have summers off,” he said. “We love Socorro. It was a good place to raise our children. We can go fishing or hunting within 20 minutes of town and there’s plenty of outdoor recreation.”

Doc Stanley coached girls golf, girls basketball, boys basketball and baseball for more than 20 years, leading the Lady Warriors to four straight state titles in golf in the 1980s. Those teams included his daughter, Margaret, the lone Stanley to forsake Tech. She attended New Mexico State on a golf scholarship and keeps the family’s golfing legacy alive. She has coached the Socorro girls to state championships the last four years.


Siblings: Brian and Laura Stanley with their
Student Honor Awards
in 2010.

     Siblings: Matt (left) and Mike Stanley at their graduation in 1984.

Mike left Socorro to attend college in Odessa, Texas, also on a golf scholarship. When he realized he didn’t want to pursue a career in golf, he transferred to New Mexico Tech, joining his brother Matt.

Matt and Mike both graduated from Tech in 1984. Mike earned his bachelor’s in mining engineering; Matt in petroleum. Just to keep Tech in the family, they both married Tech graduates. Mike’s wife Meri earned her degree in mathematics. Matt’s wife, Anne, earned her degree in petroleum engineering.

Mike and Meri stayed in Socorro. Mike has worked at EMRTC since he graduated, while Meri works as a data analyst at the NRAO. Mike never coached golf, but he played competitively for many years. He won the Elfego Baca Shoot an astonishing 18 times, a record unlikely to be broken.

Matt and Ann are living the lives of petroleum engineers, working and traveling all over the world with ConocoPhillips. They currently are in Jakarta, Indonesia. Their two children are in school at other universities to the east of Socorro – Texas A&M and the University of Texas.

From left are Matt, Anne, Meri and Mike Stanley on commencement day in 1985.

Including Laura’s fiancé, Erik County, the extended family has degrees from more than half of the departments on campus. County’s degrees are in general studies and management. Soon after their summer wedding, Laura and Erik are moving to Houston, where she will begin optometry school at the University of Houston.

None of the Stanleys have a degree from the Earth and Environmental Science Department, but they have an affinity for geology.
As a student, Doc Stanley joined the campus Lapidary Club and fell in love with hunting for rocks and gems, eventually turning his hobby into a business, Doc’s Rocks.

Doc and Jean take regular trips to Australia, where they hunt sapphires and other gems and minerals. They go on the road a couple times a year to exhibit and sell their wares at shows.

The different generations tease each other good-naturedly about which era of Tech was more difficult.

“They have it much easier now,” Doc said.

Mike added, “We didn’t have the same support back then – tutors, study groups and other resources these kids have today.”

Brian said Tech’s curriculum is much more difficult now and that the older generations wouldn’t recognize today’s studies.

“They don’t understand anything,” he said.

All teasing aside, the Stanleys all share a loyalty and emotional attachment to the university. 

“One thing hasn’t changed,” Doc said. “Tech students have to work hard and they’re almost guaranteed a job. Tech is a great school, and it’s exciting to see my granddaughter graduate here.”

The first and second generations of Stanleys are appropriately proud of the third generation. Brian and Laura earned Student Honor Awards this year for having cumulative GPAs over 3.75.

Mike said Laura’s designation as a Macey Scholar was a particularly proud moment for him as a father. Doc said he is impressed with Brian and Laura’s hard work and their scholastic achievements.

“We can’t figure out who they take after,” Doc Stanley said. After a short pause, he said with a smile, “Must be the grandparents.”

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech