New Mexico Junior College

Tbird

A Former Thunderbird, Stewart Kinley, Now a Co-Head Rodeo Coach for NMJC

A Former Thunderbird, Stewart Kinley, Now a Co-Head Rodeo Coach for NMJC

By Haley Bonner

classroom

Stewart (Stewy) Kinley, an NMJC alumnus, is one of the current Head Coaches for the NMJC Rodeo Team. A Canadian native, he and his wife, Tearney, now live just north of Lovington with their two sons. 


Originally from Gladstone, Manitoba in Canada, Kinley came to the United States for further education and college rodeo opportunities. He first attended South Plains Junior College (SPJC) and completed an Associate of Science degree, as well as a diesel mechanic program. After finishing at SPJC, Kinley hadn’t planned on going back to school. 


“I’d thought, well, I got my trade. I’ve got my Associates. I was good to go. And then, I’d been working for Philip Berry (who had been NMJC’s rodeo coach at the time) on his ranch, and I ended up wanting to stay here. [Philip] talked me into doing more school. So, I started another Associates degree, and I ended up with an Associate of Arts degree and graduated in 2010.”


Of the things that he remembers about his time at NMJC, Kinley highlights the college’s close-knit community. “I think that [NMJC] just being a bit of a smaller school was definitely instrumental in my success here, and the smaller class sizes were right up my ally.”  


He also recalls how, both then and now, NMJC distinguishes itself in education quality and affordability. “[NMJC] is a great place to get an education. Whether you’re on scholarship or not, it is so affordable. [...] They can save you as a student so much money, and get you that same quality of education in your first two years, and then send you to where you want to go. [...] So, come get your Gen Eds done. It’s a great education, and it’s very affordable.”


Following his own advice, after graduating from NMJC, Kinley transferred to Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, NM. “Honestly, Eastern took so many of my hours that it made it worthwhile for me to come here even for just a year, because it only took me a year to get my Associate of Arts.” At Eastern, Kinley finished his Bachelor’s degree in Applied Arts and Sciences, focused on agricultural studies. 


When thinking of where he is now and how his time as a student at NMJC prepared him for his current career, Kinley remembers his time as a work-study student for the rodeo program. The job experience he gained, as well as all of the details he was able to observe made the opportunity to coach at NMJC a natural move. “I got to see all of the behind the scenes stuff for what the rodeo coach did while I was here. So, [when I came back] it felt like it was a pretty easy transition.” 


As a former student at NMJC, and someone who has returned as one of our faculty, Kinley has some unique insight and advice for incoming students. 


“Don’t blink. Those seven or eight months go by so fast. Also, put out the extra effort. [...] You’re only here for so long, so just go all out. Make this your job. Ask questions. [...] I went my whole life not wanting to bother anybody about anything, and, then, I found people are genuinely happy to answer your questions if they have answers. [...] Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There’s no such thing a dumb question if it’s a genuine question.”