Student Recognition Recipients

Trailblazer LogoOutstanding Trailblazer of the Year

The Outstanding Trailblazer of the Year recognition is determined solely by the recipient's peers. This year, the organization has selected Kate Ayala. Ayala has demonstrated dedication and perseverance to make the Trailblazers organization successful.

"Emily came into Trailblazers last spring, and as a new member was brave enough to step up to the nomination of VP Recruitment without really knowing what the position entailed, but knowing that whatever the job was, she would give it her all. Her character and work ethic truly came to light when recruitment time came." "Emily more than rose to the occasion. I have never seen so many quality applicants apply and it was fully due to Emily's efforts. She took the position and made it her own. Trailblazers as an organization is much better due to her contribution. UNM is lucky to have her as a representative. She is a passionate Lobo! I cannot think of a more genuine, committed, awesome person more deserving of Trailblazer of the Year."

Although her campus involvement keeps her busy, Emily still makes the time to excel in her academics. She has been on the Dean's List since 2008, is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society and Order of Omega National Honor Society.

Citizenship Award

This award recognizes endeavor, helpfulness, good spirit, and cooperation. It is given to select seniors who have demonstrated outstanding leadership skills and have provided continued service to the University and the community.

Keon Ahghar:

Excelling in the classroom, involved in countless extracurricular activities, Keon says, "Giving back and helping others is something I am passionate about, and a way of life that I have made my own." In return, he has gained many life skills.

A highlight of Keon's community service has been his involvement as president of the UNM Pre-Dental Society. His dentistry mentor, Dr. Charles Tatlock, says Keon is eminently talented, dedicated and conscientious in both his academic and his community pursuits.

Keon's passion for helping others was evident during the annual New Mexico Mission of Mercy dental outreach program. Keon recruited and coordinated volunteers, raised funds for and publicized the event. In just four days, more than 1,600 volunteers provided free dental care to more than 2,200 needy individuals.

Keon also volunteers for Special Olympics/Special Smiles, Project Share Soup Kitchen, Habitat for Humanity, and the Give Kids a Smile dental health promotion.

After attending the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, Keon plans to return to Albuquerque. He says he will try to make a difference, starting with his own community.

Tullivan Begay:

When Tullivan first came to UNM she felt it was her responsibility to make her college years fun and memorable and also to leave her mark on campus. Four years later, she has definitely done that.

Tullivan's work in establishing the Meal Exchange of UNM left a mark that will remain for years to come. With their awareness of hunger in the Albuquerque area raised, students will continue to hold the fundraiser Tullivan initiated to benefit two local food pantries. Since 2008 they've already raised nearly $7,000 by skipping a dining meal and donating their dining points.

It's important to Tullivan to be part of a community. Since campus is a long way away from her home community, she developed a new community at UNM, made up of the people she became involved with on campus – starting with the Agora Crisis Center.

Members of her UNM community will appreciate and long remember Tullivan – whether because of her hard work in service projects, her concern for those less fortunate than she, her conscientious and inspiring work as a sidekick mentor, her stellar performance in class, or the smile on her face.

Laura Eberhardt:

Laura Eberhardt is a tuba player who performs with the UNM wind symphony, symphonic band, spirit marching band and soundpack (the basketball band).

Active also in the Lobo Optimist Club, Casas Por Cristo, Conceptions Southwest, and more, Laura says her most valuable community involvement was volunteer-teaching at Ernie Pyle Middle School, Garfield Middle School and Valley High School. There she shared the joy of music with her students, while they shared with her the joy of teaching. As a result, she decided her true path is being a teacher, working in a high poverty area.

Assistant Professor Richard White says Laura "is an extraordinary leader, scholar and musician . . . with equal talent artistically, academically and in leadership."

Laura writes, "The lessons from being a leader, from other members of organizations, and as a teacher have been invaluable. I love interacting with people, [understanding] the trials that come with human endeavor, and learning from hands-on experiences."

Joshua Gallegos:

With true Lobo Spirit, Joshua Gallegos brings the University experience to life by mentoring students and helping them succeed. Perhaps that is why Ryan Lindquist, Associate Director of Student Activities, began his letter of recommendation by defining the word "spirit" to explain the impact Josh has had on campus. It is Josh's "life force" that has connected him to the UNM community, Ryan says.

Josh's unending enthusiasm for UNM, non-stop energy, and glowing personality landed him the appointment of Executive Director of the Lobo Spirit Committee. Upon meeting Josh, the committee knew he would "have the drive and initiative necessary to turn [it] into an organization of great achievements."

Understanding the difficulty of finding your place in college, Josh says he is especially thankful for the opportunity to serve as a role model for other first generation university students. The satisfaction he receives from helping other students has inspired him to pursue a dream job of someday becoming a dean of students.

Cara Valente-Compton:

It is no surprise to hear that non-traditional students represent the fastest growing population at The University of New Mexico. As a role model to her five children, Cara epitomizes the dedication and drive it takes to balance family, academics and civic engagement activities ... even running for Homecoming Queen to raise awareness of the presence of non-traditional students on campus and encourage them to get involved.

Cara is chair of the board of the Association of Non-Traditional Students at UNM as well as a member of the League of United Latin American Citizens. She works tirelessly for the people of New Mexico through her involvement in the Bernalillo County Democratic Party. She says her inspiration is a deep desire to create a better society for future generations.

Cara believes children's educational opportunities and health care choices are critical and she has committed her life to public service to ensure that through her work, she can make a difference. She is planning to attend law school as a stepping stone to that end. In 2010, she was awarded a Truman Scholarship, a huge honor.

Hannah Wood:

Hannah started off her career at UNM as a "quintessential commuter student . . . coming to campus only for class." However, that all changed in the spring of her sophomore year when she applied for a New Student Orientation Leader position. That sparked a fire in her to seek new opportunities to become involved and make her mark on campus.

Since then, Hannah helped found the YMCA's Youth and Government Alumni Association, serving as college advisor to high school delegations. She has become active in the ASUNM Community Experience and Lobo Spirit Committee. She is a member of Best Buddies New Mexico, active with a mentally disabled "buddy." She worked as a New Student Orientation leader and has served as a Congressional intern and a New Mexico Legislative intern. She says these experiences have helped her develop into a stronger leader and individual. They have also helped her gain the skills she will need in her new career with Teach for America. As a teacher, she will dedicate the next two years to helping disenfranchised students succeed in life.

Matt Maez, Hannah's supervisor in the Dean of Students Office, describes Hannah as a person with an ability to relate with the types of people who often go unnoticed or slip through the cracks . . . who leads by example, sets high standards, and truly cares about the people she serves.

For questions or more information:

Alumni Relations Office
O: 505-277-5808
800-ALUM-UNM (258-6866)