Media arts student Ben Jeremiah, left, received a scholarship from a program started by Highlands professor Pete LeRoy.

Stepson’s Legacy Helps Media Arts Students



New Mexico Highlands University media arts junior Ben Jeremiah was awarded a new media arts scholarship established in memory of the late Bryan “Dutch” Cokeley.

Cokeley was also a Highlands University media arts student. He had a longtime seizure disorder and died Dec. 31, 2008, at the age of 30. Highlands University Exercise and Sports Science Professor Pete LeRoy is Cokeley’s stepfather and is married to Cokeley’s mother, Kathleen LeRoy. Cokeley’s father, Curt Cokeley, is deceased.

“Bryan found a home in media arts at Highlands and loved Las Vegas,” LeRoy said. “Bryan was generous in spirit, and was the type of person who would give anything he had. This scholarship is one small way Bryan can give back. Creating the scholarship came out of an intuitive reaction, knowing it’s what he would want.

“This scholarship couldn’t go to a more deserving student than Ben,” LeRoy said. “I know that Bryan would certainly echo those sentiments.”

The two students were friends and were in all the same media arts classes fall semester 2008. Both musicians, they also started a band called 3rd Element, with Cokeley as leader singer and Jeremiah playing guitar.

Jeremiah said, “When I found out about the scholarship, between the tears it was really nice to get that help from Bryan.”

 “After considering many outstanding students, the media arts faculty voted unanimously to award Ben Jeremiah the new scholarship,” said media arts professor Megan Jacobs. “Ben comes up with interesting, innovative ideas in the classroom and is then able to actualize them in the community. He’s a stellar student and a leader in the classroom.”

Jacobs said that in fall 2008 Jeremiah was in her videography class and created a documentary about local recycling.

Jeremiah went on to present a proposal to the university about establishing a new campuswide recycling program, and is now the university’s recycling coordinator. The new recycling program was launched this semester.

The $500 scholarship in memory of Bryan “Dutch” Cokeley will be awarded each fall to an outstanding media arts student.