Marge Estell’s interest in young people has been consistently evident in her educational and work experience since she and her husband came to Las Cruces in 1952. This experience has included teaching mentally or emotionally challenged students unable to be in the public schools through the Southwest Mental Health Center, and serving as the first advisement coordinator at New Mexico State, an office originating with just Estell. Once Estell had returned to school, she worked to assist other mothers in doing so as part of a group called MOMS (Maternal Order of Mature Students), which eventually had about 30 members. Estell and other members helped encourage interested mothers to enroll, assisted them through the registration process, and hosted luncheons and other events to offer each other support. Estell received a bachelor’s in 1967 and a master’s in counseling in 1973. Her interest in youth is reflected in research she did as a graduate student, which included a grant-funded project on correlations between how children are treated when young and the ways in which they learn. She was working toward a Ph.D. with a dissertation on altered states of consciousness when she began her advising position in the College of Education.
As New Mexico State University’s advisement coordinator, Estell’s formal duties were to help students plan and navigate their academic paths. The element of her job she found most rewarding was the chance to offer informal personal counseling to troubled students. In order to talk with students who sought her assistance, she began to come to work early, stay late, and meet with them during lunch. Being able to help these students brought Estell pleasure. “It makes you feel better if you help others,” she said. Estell’s decision to found the Mastery in Life Center originated from her desire to raise her three sons in a religious environment different from the one in which she was raised, which, she says, was suffused with “hellfire and damnation.” By contrast, according to Estell, Science of Mind is based on love and acceptance. “To me,” said Estell, “religion based on fear is kind of an oxymoron. It should be based on love.”
Estell continues to counsel members of the community. She takes calls from people in need of assistance without charge and meets with a group each Tuesday at the Mastery in Life Center. Estell’s counseling philosophy is largely based on her belief in the salutary effects of helping others as well as the importance of not feeling isolated, of knowing that one is not alone in one’s difficulties. She views her own life challenges in a positive light. “Nobody gets through here with a free pass,” she said. “And if you did, you wouldn’t learn anything.” Las Cruces has been enhanced by Estell’s generous, spirited and spiritual presence ever since. In honor of her 80th birthday, the Estell family has established an endowed scholarship fund in the College of Education, ensuring that Marge Estell’s legacy of light and support lives on forever.
Financial Need: Not Required
Class Level: GR
Required Minimum GPA: 3.5
Required Major: CEP
Other Requirements: Must possess qualities as deemed appropriate by the Dept. and Chair.