Student Recognition Award 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 Lauren Dennis. Lauren has demonstrated dedication and perseverance to make the organization successful.

Lauren is a senior from Albuquerque, who has been involved in the organization from the earliest possible time in her freshman year. Her service has continued and been enhanced over the past four years as she has become a vital collaborator at all the varieties of Trailblazer events. From serving the president at UNM Basketball Games to helping light luminarias for Hanging of the Greens, Lauren has been present and enthusiastic about serving the organization. Lauren has represented Trailblazers at national and district conferences in Washington, D.C., Oklahoma and Georgia. Each instance witnessed her not only taking the best of Trailblazers to show off to other schools, but she has also returned to Trailblazers with the best of other schools. In this way, she has also been instrumental in growing the organization through persistent recruitment and an inexhaustible self-respect, reflecting the value of Trailblazers all over the UNM campus. Lauren's actions have continued to inspire younger members to work hard. In her senior year, Lauren has taken on the great responsibility of being President of Trailblazers. In this role, she steered a committed group of people in such a way as to ensure that that dedication has been translated into results, recognizing individuals who have made an impact to the group through her "YOU ROCK" campaign.

Lauren 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 Sandia National Laboratories. Lauren's support of the UNM Trailblazers encompasses many behind the scenes hours of preparation and she has been diligent in keeping the executive board on track with organizational decisions, exemplifying true leadership skills. Lauren is planning to attend graduate school in meteorology and atmospheric science.

Campus involvement: Advanced Lobo Leaders; ASUNM Attorney General; ASUNM Governmental Affairs, Assistant Director; Green Fund Advisory Board member; Mortar Board National Honor Society; Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society; Pi Beta Kappa & Phi Eta Sigma Honor Societies

Off-campus involvement: Sandia National Laboratories, Student Intern; El Encanto, Inc., Student Intern

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.

Jacklyn Asamoah:

Jacklyn Asamoah is described as a strong leader committed to excellence in all of her endeavors. Engaged in enhancing the campus community through activism, Jacklyn has held leadership positions in campus organizations, including as president of the Black Student Union and second vice president of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. She has a fervor for helping others, often using the power of activism to bring awareness to the marginalized communities on campus. Jacklyn's commitment and passion for advocating for both the African American community, as well as other underrepresented groups on campus, has resulted in new programming and visibility for students of color in our community. Her focus on unity has helped her succeed in many on and off-campus activities and organizations, all while striving for the betterment of our community.

Campus involvement: African American Student Services; Black Student Union, President; Black Student Alliance; Delta Sigma Theta; Greek Week Community Service Chair; Zeta Phi Beta, Second Vice President

Off-campus involvement: #Hashtag Lunchbag, Boys & Girls Club, New Mexico Black Expo, March of Dimes and more.


Venes Barlas:

Three words are used to describe Venes Barlas: impassioned, resilient and motivated. Venes possess a level of determination and perseverance that only comes with the experience of overcoming challenges in life. As a toddler, Venes and her family sought refuge in the United States. She now dedicates herself to helping other refugee families, like hers, through at the Refugee Well-Being Project. In addition to her life-enhancing off-campus volunteer work, Venes helps empower students to achieve their academic goals as a tutor for the Center For Academic Program support. Venes strives to build deep, diverse friendships as a way to continue and promote the positive impact acceptance has across the community.

Campus involvement: American Chemical Society, American Medical Student Association, Children’s Life Department at UNM Children’s Hospital, Mortar Board National Honor Society, Muslim Student Association

Off-campus involvement: Casa de Salud, Center for Academic Program Support, Chemistry Teaching Assistantship, Refugee Well-Being Project


Alyssa Beltran:

Alyssa Beltran has a passion for working with students and enriching the lives of her fellow Lobos across campus. Her strong work ethic, paired with her infallible good attitude, has allowed Alyssa to succeed in both on and off-campus actives and volunteer commitments. Unwavering in her commitment, Alyssa is a dedicated student who is determined to make a difference in the community.

Campus involvement: ASUMN Election Commission, Casa del Rio Community Association, Chama Community Representative, Residents Hall Association, Mortar Board National Honor Society, Resident Advisor at Casas del Rio, UNM Student Activities Center

Off-campus involvement: Gallup High School Yearbook Volunteer, Roadrunner Food Bank, UNM Children’s Hospital Volunteer


Ayham Maadi:

Ayham Maadi is an exceptional student, Ayham is driven to succeed academically and driven to elevate the community through a variety of extracurricular activities that he is involved in. Described as a student who understands the complexities of educational freedom, human rights and religious freedom, Ayham has fulfilled a number of leadership roles, including co-president of the Hispanic Engineering and Science Organization and President of Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, in order to creative a positive impact on campus as well as in the community.

Campus involvement: American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Outreach Coordinator; ASUNM Senator; Healing Through Music, President; Hispanic Engineering & Science Organization, Co-President; Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, President

Off-campus involvement: Habitat For Humanity; Roadrunner Food Bank; Sandia National Laboratories, Undergraduate Research Intern; Student Union Building Board; Tutor at Engineering Student Services and CAPS


Claire McNallen:

Claire McNallen is selflessly dedicated and compassionate. An adaptive leader, Claire strives to better any task, event or activity she takes on. He easy-going personality and empathy towards others has allowed Claire to succeed as a leader, not only on-campus as she welcomed incoming freshmen as a New Student Orientation leader, but also as a program specialist at Camp Rising Sun. Claire's hard work and dedication undoubtedly make a huge positive impact in the community.

Campus involvement: ASUNM Special Events, Executive Director; Mortar Board National Honor Society; New Student Orientation Leader; UNM Accessibility Resource Center; UNM College Enrichment Program

Off-campus involvement: AAC Lab Student Researcher; Camp Rising Sun; Medical SLP Shadow; National Student Speech Language Hearing Association


Valuable Sheffey:

Valuable Sheffey is described as a "role model for women." An active leader, Valuable is always ready to take the lead on a number of volunteer opportunities she takes on in support of both on and off-campus organizations. Valuable is a first-generate college student who has excelled at any challenge or task given to her, propelling her to exceed her potential and constantly setting the bar higher. A leader on-campus and off, Valuable has fulfilled the roles of president and treasurer for the UNM National Society of Black Engineers, and has worked hard to elevate and promote STEM to current and potential students.

Campus involvement: AISES Jr Day: Building Bridges to Science & Engineering; Black Student Union; UNM Collegiate Kiwanis; UNM National Society of Black Engineers, President/Treasurer; UNM NSBE Kid’s Day & Math Moves U

Off-campus involvement: Camp Corazones, Discover STEM Day, Saturday PCI Academy, Spring Storm

For questions or more information:

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