Being raised in a community where your history connects to every part of your present, it’s difficult to find the courage to leave. It is similarly difficult to forge a path and stay.
Questa del Rio News is committed to highlighting different members of our community, both those who have created their paths and planted their own roots in the community that raised them, and also those who have pursued lives outside of the community — through our Representando series. This series is dedicated to those who are Representando Questa in various facets of life.
For our August issue, we spoke with Lora (Vialpando) Arciniega. Twenty years ago, Lora graduated from Questa Junior/Senior High School in 2003. Upon graduation, she moved to Flagstaff, Arizona where she attended Northern Arizona University. “I chose Arizona because it was far enough to get out of New Mexico for a little bit, but close enough to visit home.”
Lora graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in forestry. During her college career, she completed an internship with the U.S. Forest Service, which led to a full-time position as a Forester/Silviculturist in Lakeview, Oregon.
One of her main focuses was to ensure the health, growth, and sustainability of forests. Essentially, she was focused on improving forest conditions for wildlife, fuels, and timber management.
In 2010, while attending a continuing education program (similar to a master’s degree program) Lora met her now-husband, Jim, who was also a Forester/Silviculturist with the National Forest Service. Lora and Jim gravitated to one another because of their similar interests. In 2013, they were married in a Catholic wedding in Taos, New Mexico, surrounded by their friends and family.
“New Mexico was always on my mind. I knew eventually I would move back home. It was my goal, but the jobs weren’t coming up,” she recalls of her urge to return home, while still working in Oregon. “I was checking the Carson National Forest job boards monthly, sometimes twice a month. Then in 2014, jobs started coming up. I took on a detail assignment, which was only 2 or 3 months, and from there I was hired and able to return home,” she says. Her husband was also hired at Carson National Forest and in 2015, they officially moved home.
Lora and Jim lived with Lora’s parents, Fran and Marcello Vialpando, while they worked to build their home in the Pinabete area of Questa. “My dad did a lot of the work to build the home with the help of family members. Something that I really value is that our people in Questa are so resourceful. They are skilled in so many ways and if they don’t know how to do something, they learn,” Lora recalls of the work and determination it took to build their home. In the same spirit, she and her husband took the initiative to assist her dad with tiling and with some of the construction.
“A lot of the trade skills people have are generationally passed on; it’s a value we will instill in our kids because being resourceful is a good trait to carry on into society,” she says.
Fast forward to today, Lora and Jim have established their roots in Questa and have created a family to fill their home, with four children: Benjamin, 7; Abraham, 6; Camille, 4; and Caleb, 3. Lora is currently a stay-at-home mom while Jim continues to work with the Carson National Forest.
Admittedly, becoming a stay-at-home mom was not easy for Lora. “I remember telling Jim I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to be a stay-at-home mom. My career was so important to me and I worked so hard for it, but after I was able to establish a routine with my kids, and seeing how I didn’t miss the special moments, I have grown to love it. Work will always be there, but now that my kids are young, I am content being home with them,” she says.
Lora and Jim are working to rebuild the youth group at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church. This year, they were able to fundraise enough money to take the teens to the Steubenville Youth Conference in Denver. “It was such an amazing experience. I had youth group in high school, and it strengthened my relationship with God, which has played out in my adult life. Giving kids the same opportunity is so important to us.” Both Lora and Jim hope to continue running the youth group for the foreseeable future and hope their kids will one day be able to also participate in the program.
In closing, Lora says, “it’s important to always maintain your core values in life. Think of three things you will not compromise on, write them down, and stand by them. Never compromise on these things and it will keep your life on the right path.” She also talked about the importance of getting out of your comfort zone and taking risks. “Growth happens on the edge of your comfort zone. It’s okay to be afraid, and it’s okay to be nervous, and through this experience, you will find growth.”