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 David Mueller. Mueller has demonstrated dedication and perseverance to make the Trailblazers organization successful.

David Mueller, a senior from Las Vegas, NM, has been selected as the 2015 Trailblazer of the Year by members of the organization for his dedication and loyalty. "Anyone who knows David knows that he serves as a constant example of the enthusiasm and loyalty that the university hopes to see from its Trailblazers. David is gregarious, humorous and carries himself with confidence. He is knowledgeable and engaged in all things UNM. David is approachable to not only his peers but Alumni of all ages. I am proud to be a Trailblazer with an amazing leader like David," says a fellow member.

David makes room for service to UNM, the Alumni Association, and the Trailblazers organization itself even while saddled with a busy academic schedule and employment at the Alumni Relations Office. David's support of the UNM Trailblazers encompasses many behind the scenes hours of preparation. Since joining, David has been a driving force to engage fellow members to sign up for many of the events Trailblazers help with, as well as recruiting fellow UNM students to join the organization.

Outgoing President, Kate Ayala states, "David has been in Trailblazers for 4 years and has been an enthusiastic and dedicated member of our organization. David is always helping in some way, whether it is setting up meetings or volunteering for events without hesitation. He is in some way working towards in the betterment of our organization. David always makes our time together as a group better with his funny stories and positive attitude, and always with a smile.

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.

SHANNON GROLL: Shannon Groll epitomizes the definition of a leader; a guiding or directing head of a group or movement. Anna Trillo, Orientation Coordinator for the Dean of Students, states, "Shannon is an amazing leader who goes above and beyond the basic duties required of her. She made a lasting impact on many students and in turn the University itself. Her passion for education and involvement at the University is evident in her interaction with the students she has worked with. Shannon truly represents an outstanding senior who has made significant contributions not only in the campus community but the Albuquerque community, as well. She is a great example of a great Lobo and the potential that students can reach at UNM."

Shannon says that without campus and community involvement, she would never had been able to meet her closest friends, to gain the confidence to become a leader, to enhance her communication skills, and to experience college the way that it should be done. Her parents always encouraged her to explore college to its fullest, but also to be mindful of the importance of making memories that she would be proud to share.

Shannon knows that because of her campus and community involvement, the her experiences, stories and memories will last far beyond college and ones that she will proudly share with her own children.


JARON KEE: The concept of balance has a Navajo parallel called, Hozhó. Hozho best translates as harmony, but can be further described as an active attempt to maintain balance. Jaron Kee was raised by a family of Navajo traditionalists who instilled in him these teachings in order to prepare him for the journey of life. Hozhó is the concept that Jaron has continuously employed throughout his time at UNM. It has proved to be an enduring teaching from which he draws strength.

Within the communities across the Navajo Nation, there exists an expectation of members to contribute to some degree their time and energy. This tenant is fundamental to the mechanics of a community. Jaron's sense of responsibility to UNM grew from this understanding and gave rise to his interest in service.

Karen McGillvay, Program Manager for the Combined BA/MD Degree Program says, "Jaron's service to UNM, local and his home community is impressive. The opportunities that Jaron sought most likely lead to another one, acknowledging his commitment to the betterment of others and his ability to lead." She goes on to say, "When a young person has the core value of helping others, is creative of how to do so within his reach, and proves reliability; a leader is born." No truer words can be attributed to Jaron.

Jaron states that the University has imparted on him an excellent education and a memorable undergraduate experience. As he reflects on another milestone in his life – graduation and matriculation to UNM's School of Medicine – he is filled with gratitude. The institution has reinforced his cultural identity while serving as his second home. After he left the reservation, he learned the importance of hozhó and service. For that, his is forever indebted to his family, his friends, the University's faculty and staff, and to his spiritual leaders and Holy People.


SHAWNA NELSON: Leaonel Diaz who works in the Dean of Students Office, finds that it is rare for high school students to visit their office prior to attending the University. Not so with Shawna Nelson. Shawn made an informed, enthusiastic decision to attend UNM after her encounter with the Dean of Students Office and the American Indian Summer Bridge (AISB) Program. As an AISB Resident Advisor, she was able to provide support, encouragement, and leadership to incoming freshmen. Shawna was one of the first faces and impressions made by incoming students. Her smile and outgoing personality readily put incoming students at ease. She not only worked with students but with parents and family, as well, guiding them through the anxiety of leaving their loved ones.

Sue MacEachen, Senior Program Manager at the Alumni Relations Office and senior leader of the Trailblazer Student Ambassador program, characterizes Shawna as fun-loving, laid back, eager to please attitude, always smiling, engaging with all she encounters, passionate about UNM and life in general.

She finds volunteering in the various campus organizations fun but allows her to make valuable connections in her Native and University communities. She is passionate about making connections with all types of people. Her positive attitude and general happy demeanor have allowed her many accomplishments. If at the end of her day, she can say that she made someone laugh or smile, that day has been good.


JESUS RODRIGUEZ: "When you think of a leader, you think of someone who is committed to improving not only their professional development and contributing to their community, but someone who is committed to being a role model. Andrew Gonzales in the Dean of Students Office, thinks that Jesus Rodriguez is just that kind of individual. Andrew is amazed at Jesus' dedication and enthusiasm to assist students; always willing to lend a helping hand."

Jesus came to the United States as a four year old from Mexico. He left an environment of poverty and despair but also a community that cherished camaraderie, love, and happiness above all else. His parents worked tirelessly to provide him with more opportunities than they had. They demanded the best from their children but were there to provide every opportunity to better their future. Jesus attributes his dedication and commitment to academics and the University as coming from his dedication to his family.

Jesus feels that opportunity is a huge dictator of where one ends up in life. He recognizes the opportunities that he has been afforded him. Everything he does is focused on improving himself and helping those around him. His goal is to become as well rounded individual as possible. This motivates him to continue to give back in his many volunteer opportunities.

Director Gonzalez states, "As you can see, Jesus is truly a great leader and an inspiration to our community and our students. In the past twenty years that I have worked in Higher Education, I have never been so impressed with someone who is so dedicated and committed like Jesus has been. He finds time to manage his academics, employment, and involvement in UNM. I have enjoyed serving as his mentor and seeing him grow as an individual. He personifies what an outstanding student and great leader should be at an institution."


ALEXANDRA STEWART: Leslie Donovan, a professor in the Honors College, states that in the 20 years she has worked closely with many high-achieving students, yet few have combined academic and leadership achievements with as much dedication and personal fortitude as Alexandra Stewart. She is not only an outstanding student but Allix is diligent, highly motivated, willing to tackle big challenges, and able to make strong, lasting connections with people from a variety of backgrounds, cultures, ages, and experiences.

Allix states that academic excellence and volunteer experience always support and reinforce one other, leading involved individuals to increase standards for both themselves and their peers. As a result of a strenuous academic load and many volunteer activities, Allix suffered some serious health issues; having to drop out of school for a semester. Despite this, she still managed to complete her degree within 4 years and maintained a very high cumulative grade point average. For Allix, maintaining her balance meant losing it, and initially failing in her pursuit of excellence causing her to restructure her life. She feels it is impossible to succeed in life if you never fail.

Allix is currently a finalist for the Elie Wiesel Prize and Ethics Award. Professor Donovan notes that in the 20 years that she has been at UNM, to the best of her knowledge and recent research, no UNM student has made it to the finalist round for this prize.

She sums up Allix as a highly articulate, insightful, and responsible student and leader who work hard to achieve goals that can improve the lives of others and the health of our planet.


BRANDI WELLS: Greg Golden, Greek Life Advisor for UNM Student Activities Center, states that it is difficult to condense Brandi Well's contribution to the campus community, but she has been a significant change agent in the University community. As a student, Brandi has helped make strides for the Greek community, students of color, and the student body as a whole. She is an action-oriented thinker and a powerful voice for students of color. She has a natural eye at spotting unconventional hindrances to non-dominant groups. Brandi's dialogue and ideas directly shapes all organizations with which she associates and her enlightening support prompted changes that better served the needs of smaller multicultural based organizations. Brandi supported students of color through the development of leadership programs, tutoring services, and college preparatory programs. She worked tirelessly to boost morale and understanding among students of all backgrounds following the events of Ferguson, Missouri. Brandi organized a candle-light vigil to provide awareness and visible means of support in order to help manage the emotional burdens of the conflict. She shined among the candles in a dark moment of humanity, as she comforted the afflicted through dialogue, prayer, and thoughtful meditation.

Brandi realized that during the through the process of getting acclimated to college life, would prove her passion to serve her community. Campus and community involvement is valuable to her because it has provided the best opportunities to challenge and learn about herself. The involvement gave her the opportunity to expose her own weaknesses and strengths, make best friends, place her course materials in practice, and most importantly exchange ideas with students of various backgrounds. As a result, she has expanded her own vision of who her community was. Brandi's political, action-oriented thinking serves her leadership in many capacities; always maintaining her devotion to advocacy. She recently accepted a professional intern position for UNM's African American Student Service.

For questions or more information:

Alumni Relations Office
O: 505-277-5808
800-ALUM-UNM (258-6866)
E: alumni@unm.edu