Woman’s ENMU tenure spans more than 40 years

By Jared Tucker: PNT Staff Writer

When the registrar wanted a word with her, Sherrye Burleson was concerned her graduation application was in trouble.

It wasn’t. Turns out, she’d already lined up a job.

Burleson is currently the assistant to the media librarian in the Golden Library, and has been since 1997. But her education and career at Eastern New Mexico University spans more than 40 years.

Born Nov. 13, 1944, in Sudan, Burleson was the 1963 valedictorian at Portales High School. Burleson was tired and didn’t want to start college right away. She decided to work for a few years before pursing a bachelor degree in business.

In those days, when applying for graduation at ENMU, a person was required to sign up through the registrar’s office. In 1968,Burleson went to sign her graduation paperwork, and was told the registrar wanted to have a word with her.

“I thought I was in trouble,” Burleson said.

The registrar had an opening in her office as a secretary and that’s how Burleson’s employment got started at ENMU.

Within three years, Burleson transferred to the office of Lyle Hagan, dean of the School of Communicative Arts and Sciences.

When the university re-organized in the 1970s, other departments wanted Burleson and her skills.

Duane Ryan, director of KENW-TV, was the one who wanted her as his personal secretary, according to Burleson.

The transfer was eventually allowed and Burleson stayed with Ryan for eight years until resigning to work in her husband’s welding shop.

Walter Burleson was diagnosed with lung cancer and a brain tumor in October 1985, two-and-a-half years after the couple married. He lived three years after the diagnosis, two years more than doctors said he would, she said.

Burleson worked several other jobs around Roosevelt County after her husband’s passing. But she missed the students and faculty at ENMU.

She applied for a library technician position in 1997, and was hired the same day.

Students who work with Burleson in the library say it’s a pleasure to work with her and hear her stories from the past that are filled with wisdom.

“It’s cool working with a fellow believer (in Christ), she makes the work environment really laid back,” said Elijah Nieto, a student employee who works with Burleson. “She doesn’t just sit in her chair like some managers, she gets up and helps.”

Burleson lives outside of Portales with her two dogs, Scooter and Annie.

As for the students and faculty and ENMU, Burleson said, “They are my extended family.”