Ernest Gutierrez’s fond memories from working security at UWC-USA in the late 1980s brought him back to the Montezuma campus 30 years later.
“The best part is the faculty and students,” Gutierrez said.
He also shared an unforgettable memory involving a student, who Gutierrez nicknamed Spider-Man after he caught him climbing an exterior wall of the then-closed Montezuma Castle.
Working the afternoon shift, Gutierrez spotted Odd-Even Bustnes ‘89, Norway, climbing the castle’s east side wall.
“I thought about yelling at him to get him down, but I didn’t want to break his concentration,” Gutierrez said. “I waited until he got down and let him have it. I couldn’t believe this person was climbing like Spider-Man.”
The climb was easy with no need for ropes, and Bustnes said he wasn’t the only student to do so.
“You just had to take off your shoes, and it took about 30 seconds to get up there,” said Bustnes, who lives in Oslo and works for Redwood Materials in Carson City, Nev. The company recycles batteries from electric vehicles, cell phones and laptops.
At the time, the castle was closed and off limits to students. Every once in a while at night, security would see students with flashlights inside the boarded-up building.
“They removed the boards and propped open the doors,” Gutierrez said. “There was a million ways to get into the castle.”
Raised in nearby Tecolote, Gutierrez graduated in 1978 from West Las Vegas High School. Before coming to UWC-USA in 1988, he worked as a police officer for the City of Las Vegas. He left UWC-USA two years later for a security position at New Mexico Highlands University, but returned in 2019 to work security; 11 months later, he moved to maintenance.
“I had fond memories of when I worked here back in the ‘80s,” he said. “I wanted that again, and it’s such a beautiful place.”
Gutierrez talked about bringing his granddaughter to the Montezuma campus.
“She was amazed with the castle,” he said. “She would ask ‘what king lives in the castle?’ I used to tell her ‘Burger King.’”
He truly appreciates seeing the castle remodeled for classrooms, offices, dormitory space and a dining hall.
The 61-year-old is the father to Lucille Gutierrez, 38; Mario Gutierrez, 35; Amanda Gutierrez, 28; and Kiana Gutierrez, 24, all of Rio Rancho. His granddaughters are Amari, 18, and Khinna, 7.