Student Recognition Awards
Outstanding 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 Daniel Moezzi. Daniel has demonstrated dedication and perseverance to make the Trailblazers organization successful.
As a second year member, Daniel Moezzi has volunteered to assist the Alumni Association at almost all of its events over the past year. When the Alumni Association hosted its grand re-opening last fall, Daniel was available to help with everything from making balloon arches, to being a parking attendant, as well as providing tours of the Alumni Center. He also stepped up to volunteer at over 75% of the Men’s Basketball home games, serving President and Mrs. Schmidly and their guests. Daniel does many little things that fly under the radar, but eventually add up to a big contribution to the organization. He is extremely dedicated and positive. These are important qualities for the TB of the Year to have. Daniel was also selected to serve as Co-Chair of the 2013 CASE ASAP District 4 Conference to be held next spring. Daniel is not only dedicated to the Trailblazers organization, but also to his academic pursuits. He spends many hours in laboratories in the department of Neurosciences, researching molecular cells to find ways of improving drug delivery systems in the treatment of neuropathic pain. He volunteers many community service hours in outreach programs for Unite for Sight, Spring Storm, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. In his hometown of Alamogordo, Daniel has volunteered as a lifeguard, first responder at Burro Flats Fire Dept., and summer mentor program at his church. Daniel has recently shown true leadership skills and will continue to be an asset to the Trailblazers student organization.
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.
AMIR CHAPEL: Amir has been described as a natural leader whose personality draws others to him. He sincerely cares about people and always makes time to connect with them. A transfer student from Los Angeles, Amir became a New Student Orientation leader in the summer of 2011. Although he didn’t know many people on campus yet, he quickly made friends with the other leaders, students, and staff. Associate Director of Student Activities Ryan Lindquist says that “Amir’s ability to communicate valuable information put many of the new students at ease.” His willingness to track down the right answers helped the students under his leadership be thoroughly prepared for their first day of class at UNM.
Since fall 2011, Amir has been the Associated Students of UNM Student Special Events Speakers Director. In this position, he has been responsible for booking entertainment for UNM students. He quickly learned the skills and procedures necessary to organize these events, and as a result, those events have been extremely well planned and well attended.
Amir is also a member of the Residence Hall Association as Director of Community Issues and the Coronado Hall Community Association. He received an African-American Achievement Award in 2011 and a Who’s Who Achievement Award in 2012. Amir is on track to receive his bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in criminology this December with honors.
Throughout his successes, Amir has remained very thankful for all the opportunities he has received while at UNM. He says, “The people within this institution have helped me achieve some of my most far-fetched goals.”
D'ANDRE CURTIS: D’Andre is an architecture major who has earned a spot on the Dean’s List for several semesters. He says that while his education is priceless to him, he wouldn’t have achieved his academic success without the experience, friendships, and leadership skills he has gained through his campus and community involvement. That involvement includes participation in AmeriCorps and in youth leadership programs at Thomas Bell Community Center, Kirtland Community Center, and Whittier Elementary School.
At UNM, D’Andre is president of the Black Student Union. He founded and leads Men in Motion, a student organization that encourages male students to make a difference in their communities. He is the first recipient of the School of Architecture and Planning Dean’s Public Service Award.
According to one of D’Andre’s professors, Geraldine Forbes Isais, “Dre,” as he is known, “is an exceptional role model for youth, teens, and young adults. He is driven to bring creativity and professionalism together to build a stronger community.” Mark Worthy, who is president and area governor of Toastmasters International, says that D’Andre is “a jewel poised to bring honor to himself, his family, and any organization that wishes to benefit from his skills.” We are very proud to honor D’Andre with the Alumni Association Citizenship Award.
SUZANNE FORTNER: Suzanne has been described as “a true leader and someone with integrity that young women can look up to.” She joined the Pi Gamma chapter of Chi Omega in her freshman year and has held several committee and leadership duties in the chapter, including recruitment chair for 2010. This position requires a great deal of organization, motivation, and energy, which Suzanne possesses in abundance. Through her work, the sorority exceeded its recruitment quota for that year. In addition, she was the public relations chair of Greeks Against Drunk Driving in 2011 and is the current Mortarboard Honor Society Historian for Chi Omega. No matter what sorority duties Suzanne takes on, her zeal always inspires her Chi Omega sisters. She has earned numerous nominations for Greek Woman of the Year from other sororities and fraternities.
The Associated of Students of UNM elected Suzanne its senator for the spring and fall 2011 semesters. She served on the Outreach and Appointments Committee and, perhaps most memorably, she told a story, provided an inspiration quotation, or sang a song—often one she had written or remade for the occasion—to inspire the other senators before the long meetings that lay ahead.
Those who know Suzanne will tell you how much she loves music, song, and theater. A communications major and theater minor, she made the cut for the Lobos Got Talent show, and says that her moment in the spotlight was one of the most joyous and memorable moments of her college years.
Suzanne says her passion in life is “to show other people how important they are and that they have a purpose on this earth.” She loves to serve her university and her community because, as she says, “A selfish life is really no life at all.”
KAITLIN PETRANOVICH: Kaitlin has earned an impressive number of academic honors. She is a Presidential Scholar and has been on the Dean’s List every semester at UNM. She is a member of the UNM chapter of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and the National Society of Leadership and Success. Kaitlin is double-majoring in biology and religious studies, and she is on a fast track to UNM School of Medicine as a member of the combined BA/MD degree program. She’s also vice president of the BA/MD student organization and is a former member of the UNM Club Tennis Team and the Soundpack Pep Band.
Kaitlin has given much of her time on- and off-campus to causes that promote health and wellness, such as Friends of the Children of Carrie Tingley Hospital, the Red Cross Club, Ronald McDonald House of New Mexico, and Newborns in Need, to name a few. Assisting underserved populations is particularly important to her, and she wants to continue this focus as a medical student and a physician. While science is an obviously essential component of medicine, Kaitlin says that a person is more than a collection of physiological processes—a person is “made up of a complex set of cultural values, emotions, and experiences that constitute the uniqueness of the human race.” The intertwining of personal and biological factors is what makes medicine fascinating to her. She believes that to begin healing a person, one must understand him or her as a whole being.
Kaitlin’s academic adviser, Bryan McCabe-Kelly, says that Kaitlin combines great leadership and teamwork qualities with kindness and empathy. Through her course work and campus and community involvement, Kaitlin embraces diversity, compassion, and empathy.
NICHOLAS SALAZAR: Nick says that helping others succeed has been one of his core values since he began college. And although it hasn’t been easy to commit to countless hours of community service while maintaining a high GPA, Nick has never swerved from his devotion. As a freshman, he joined the UNM Club Tennis Team. UNM athletic clubs lack formal leadership, which means that students have to emerge as leaders and forge strong relationships with each other to help the team succeed. Nick was elected Secretary of the Club tennis team in 2011 and began fund-raising, scheduling extra practices, and planning travel.
Outside of the campus, Nick is a member of the Big Brother program and spends many hours every week with his little brother. He was instrumental in starting an after-school tennis program at his little brother’s middle school, which is located in an economically disadvantaged area. In addition to maintaining a full-time course load at UNM, he is a student teacher in a disadvantaged district—at his request—and is in charge of three classes. At this school, he began a student newsletter club for sixth-graders and gives much time to his students’ development.
Assistant Professor of history Sarah Cornell praises Nick for his willingness to go above and beyond the scope of assignments. In Professor Cornell’s senior capstone seminar, Nick began a Facebook discussion of the required readings, which helped students feel more prepared for class discussions. According to Professor Cornell, Nick “quickly stood out in a class of 150 students with his comments and questions, which displayed his curious and capacious mind as well as his keen analytical skills.”
Nick is a four-time Dean’s List student and a member of the Phi Alpha Theta National Society of History Scholars. He plans to pursue a career in education, focusing on teaching underserved populations, then moving into educational administration.
HEIDI JOHANNAH TODACHEENE: Heidi is an English major and a social welfare minor. She has been on the Dean’s List for four years and is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society. A passionate and insightful young woman, Heidi is deeply committed to helping others, embracing racial-ethnic diversity, and ending racial stereotypes, particularly about Navajo Indians. Her membership in the UNM Kiva Club, as well as her internship with the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, has helped promote awareness of Native American issues on campus and in the community. While part of a one-year exchange student program at the University of Hawaii, Heidi promoted both New Mexico and UNM through her volunteer work while carrying a full course load. She received a student leadership award for outstanding community service while in Hawaii.
Heidi believes that campus and community involvement are “great equalizers” in that they give students equal access to equal opportunities. Her extraordinary volunteer record on campus and in the greater community demonstrates that belief. Assistant Professor of English Kathleen Washburn says that “service is never an ‘extra’ for Heidi; it is a key component of her academic training, her professional experience, and her sense of self.” Professor Washburn goes on to say that Heidi is “an exceptional student, both for her deep interest in the material and for her ability to raise difficult questions about race, culture, and tradition in ways that invited her peers into a rigorous and meaningful discussion.”
Heidi plans to pursue a law degree after graduation, and her in research on law schools, she examines each program’s support of underserved populations.
For questions or more information:
Alumni Relations Office