Student Recognition Award Recipients


Outstanding Trailblazer of the Year

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

When the word “passion” is used in the context of a student leader, one of the first names that comes to mind is Koen Alberts. Regardless of difficulty or adversity, Koen is committed to excellence and devotes himself to succeeding in all of his commitments with fervency and drive. His resolute dedication to organizational success sets him apart from his peers, and for this reason, Koen Alberts has been selected for the Outstanding Trailblazer of the Year Award.

Since he first became a member in 2016, Koen has utilized his many talents to promote organization achievement and vastly benefit the Trailblazers in whatever capacity he can provide. While serving as the Trailblazers president this last year, Koen represented UNM Trailblazers in various capacities, consistently maintaining impressive professionalism and commendable composure. Additionally, he has worked tirelessly with the UNM Alumni Association to assure that Trailblazers becomes the best it can be. He has also connected the Young Alumni Board and Trailblazers in ways that have never been done before. As president, Koen works diligently with the Executive Board to assist them in achieving their goals, has organized bonding events in which all members can join in enjoyable fellowship, and so much more, all the while illustrating his undeniable zeal for the Trailblazers organization.

With a hectic schedule and a long list of commitments, Koen nonetheless balances honor societies, represents the undergraduate student body on several ASUNM boards and committees, excels in his internship in his field of study, and upholds academic excellence through a competitive GPA that is not easily achievable. His remarkable work ethic and undying enthusiasm molded him into a strong leader in the organization, yielding recognition as a recipient of the UNM Leadership and Involvement Award.

Koen’s most admirable attribute is his willingness to always step up to the plate in times of need. He is a reliable and irreplaceable asset to the success of Trailblazers and values the organization as a top priority and important entity within the UNM community. His leadership, dedication and passion for the organization has far exceeded excellence, and his inexorable contributions have made the Trailblazers proud.

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.

Randy Ko:

Randy Ko is a diligent leader and zealous student. In his time spent at the University of New Mexico, Randy has dedicated much of his time to identifying his primary research focus, and has been unrelenting in his research pursuits. Randy has gracefully managed to balance his demanding research studies with a robust commitment to finding innovative solutions to the various healthcare needs of New Mexico. While remaining a strong devotee to his studies, Randy also prioritizes his off-campus studies with poise and steadfastness. Randy was a contributing author with the UNM International Business Students Global, of the book entitled “Outside the Margins: The Blue Book on the Global Refugee Crisis.” Randy’s studies and research are sure to manifest powerful influence in the medical field.


Anand Macherla:

Anand offers an insightful, resourceful and unique perspective towards enhancing the student experience here at the University of New Mexico. His personal experiences have only reinforced his vigorous desire to discover innovative solutions for issues such as global crises and humanitarian needs – particularly, conflict materials utilized by multinational companies that risk human lives and health in newly-developing countries. While at UNM, Anand founded his own company and has helped several local companies expand internationally. He is currently an intern at Sandia National Labs. There is no question that Anand and his work will make a positive and memorable impact on the global community.


Sally Midani:

Sally Midani is a committed, highly respected and inspiring leader to the students in the University of New Mexico community. Her determination to be a light to others internationally lead her to study abroad in Rome this past summer, which undoubtedly allowed for her to strengthen her leadership skills and share them with her campus community. Her Syrian heritage has inspired her to seek opportunities to provide aid to Syrian refugees, including the possibility of volunteering in Jordan as a translator for the displaced after she graduates with her BA/MD this May. It is widely understood that Sally’s passions will have an apparent effect in whatever space she occupies in the future.


Olivia Padilla:

Committed to academic success and unwavering in her desire to achieve excellence, Olivia Padilla maintains a work ethic that is outstanding beyond measure. Despite a tiring schedule involving her studies and many on-campus activities, Olivia remains steadfast in her commitment to achieving her goal of becoming an immigration attorney and writer. An exceptional student leader within the University of New Mexico community, Olivia is guaranteed to shine as an alumna of The University.


Shannon Peterson:

Deeply rooted and devoted to her Navajo heritage, Shannon’s longing to give back to others, as well as her community, is motivated by her desire for balance. Her emotional maturity as well as her impressive intellectual capacity and interpersonal skills provide the motivation, purpose and direction that is essential to those who strive for active leadership on campus and within the local community. Shannon’s academic accomplishments are stellar, and there is no doubt that she will continue to make UNM proud.


Sarah Putnam:

As a native New Mexican, Sarah is passionate and dedicated to the University community. Her incredible leadership has made a wave of an impact, not only at the University of New Mexico, but within Albuquerque and its surrounding communities as well. From her involvement with Lobothon to her countless volunteer hours in medical departments and clinics, Sarah’s devotion to servanthood is evident in all that she does. It is inarguable that her passions and work will create a better environment wherever she goes.

For questions or more information:

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