After winning the 2023 Associated Students of NMSU presidential election last April, Citlalli Benitez coined her victory to be bittersweet.
Benitez’s victory came after her opponent was disqualified due to unmet eligibility requirements. ASNMSU received backlash for disqualifying the original president and vice president winners after the election results had already been revealed. The disqualification involved the violation of an electoral bylaw that states all candidates must be ASNMSU members for the full academic year prior to candidacy. At the time, the chief election officer didn’t have access to the necessary resources that would’ve revealed the candidates’ ineligibility prior to the election. By default, Benitez and Eddie Gallegos were next in line to assume the executive positions.
These unprecedented events left Benitez with the task of regaining the general public’s trust in ASNMSU and helping to repair certain elements within the organization. Although Benitez did not anticipate these circumstances, she said she felt empowered by her vice president, peers and other female role models to take on these challenges.
She was raised alongside her sister by their single mother and grandmother. “I would say all of the women in my family were influential in how I would develop my leadership style, whether it be my aunt, grandma, or even my great-grandmother,” Benitez said. “My sister and I were always given the ability to make our own choices, and having control over my autonomy and just that sense of liberty made me feel empowered to be a leader.”
Additionally, Benitez added that being a part of a predominately female household influenced the perseverance and compassion necessary to be an impactful leader. With these inspirations in mind, Benitez cultivated a leadership style that would eventually dictate how the student government at NMSU would be run.
She described herself as “goal-oriented, open to new ideas, compassionate, and skilled in managing relationships and conflicts.” According to her mother, Maria Martinez, these skills are derived from her ambitious, innovative, empathetic and diplomatic character traits.
“Citlalli is insightful, driven, articulate, resourceful and sympathetic,” Martinez said. “These traits, as well as her tenacity, have proven invaluable to her success in her current and past activities. She has also always made her own path, never following others.”
According to Benitez, her leadership style will allow her to collaborate with the community and increase student participation in over a dozen NMSU boards and committees. While these aspects of Benitez’s character have helped her forge her way in the organization, she prepared for the role by serving as the ASNMSU director of governmental affairs in the year prior. While maintaining this position, she worked closely with the former president before taking over the executive role in late April.
During her time in office, ASNMSU will provide resources, support and encouragement to the NMSU community by advocating for student voices, she said.