LAS CRUCES – Ken Miyagishima keeps busy, with his dual roles as a business owner and mayor of Las Cruces, but he still finds time to share his experience in the insurance and personal finance industry with students in New Mexico States University’s College of Business, where he’s teaching a course in the principles of personal finance.
“I’ve always been a big advocate of financial literacy,” said Miyagishima, an NMSU alumnus who earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in real estate and finance in 1985. He also recently earned a Master of Business Administration degree at the University of Texas at El Paso.
Miyagishima is currently teaching Personal Financial Planning and Investing in a Global Economy in the College of Business. Students are learning some of the core principles of personal finance, including taxes; credit; consumer, home and auto loans; insurance; and retirement planning.
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While he’s taken on this new role at NMSU in the spring semester, Miyagishima is no stranger to the classroom. He previously taught personal finance at Doña Ana Community College from 1990 to 1996. He said he wanted to use the knowledge and experience he’s gained over the years to benefit NMSU students and the community.
Miyagishima said he reached out to Professor Tim Query in the Finance Department of the College of Business to express his interest in teaching a course, and Department Head Ken Martin was happy to take him up on the offer.
“He also has a public role as mayor of Las Cruces, so he’s a busy guy, but we’re grateful that he’s able to accommodate his schedule and teach for us,” said Martin, who is also a Regents’ Professor of finance.
Miyagishima’s class is a “viewing a wider world” course at NMSU, meaning any student has the opportunity to take the class without prerequisites. There are 45 students enrolled this semester, and many of them come from outside the College of Business. He said it’s crucial for all students to learn about the importance of planning their financial future.
“My students today are engineers, wildlife sciences, criminal justice majors,” he said. “They haven’t been exposed to budgets, money, investing, things of this nature, and it’s important for them because they’re going to be making a good income, but if they don’t know how to save for retirement in the future when the time comes and they’re ready to retire, they’re not going to have it there. So that’s my goal is to teach them.”
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Martin said Miyagishima is setting an example for students to explore new heights within the college while also providing a unique learning experience.
“I think it could have a great benefit to students, because they can see in-person someone who has been in the private sector role, building an insurance business agency and is now a district manager, but also taking on a public role, which is what it takes to have a real government that’s proactive within the community,” Martin explained. “He is a real role model to many of these students.”
Miyagishima said this class is meant to be a face-to-face learning experience, however he can implement hybrid learning for those students who occasionally need to attend virtually. Nonetheless, he explained his method of teaching does not just rely on the textbook.
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“I’m trying to share with them real-life examples and real-life solutions that can’t be found in a textbook,” he said. “I enjoy it. It’s fun, and if I can help change and increase their awareness of it, that’s all I’m hoping to do.”
“Ken is a great example of our department being able to utilize community members and professionals in different industries to come into the classroom, teach a class, and share their expertise,” Martin said. “I hope students will come to understand, even if they aren’t a business or finance major, they can still get into the financial services industry in different levels and businesses.”
As for the future, Miyagishima said he would also love to explore teaching a government or political science class and hopes to teach this course again in the fall.
Tatiana Favela writes for New Mexico State University Marketing and Communications and can be reached at 575-646-3221 ext. 7953, or by email at [email protected].