Las Vegas, N.M. – High school scholar athletes from Northern New Mexico were recognized at Highlands University April 28 at the inaugural Scholar Athlete Honors Banquet. The Northwest Regional Education Cooperative #2 and Northeast Regional Cooperative #3 sponsored the banquet in collaboration with Highlands.
Scholar athletes from the following communities received the honor: Randy Ferrell and Aubriana Hinds of Chama; Jayden Vasquez and Neola Toledo of Cuba; Darion Johnson and Tunte Vigil of Dulce; Ariano Duran and Jaylenne Jacquez of Jemez Mountain; Brandon Larranaga and Gabrielle Montoya of Las Vegas City Schools; Anthony Vigil and Aubrianna Griego of Mesa Vista; Lefonso Castillo, Jr., and Dennika R. Bustos of Mora; Omar J. Dominguez and Faith L. Flores of Pecos; Bianca Contreras of Penasco; Dominic Torres and Alexis Padilla of Questa; Darren M. Chavez and Kylee R. Harrison of Santa Rosa; and Justin Good and Abbie Gunther of Taos.
Each school had its own selection process. To be eligible for the honor, students needed to be a senior, letter in at least two sports, and excel in academics.
“Students were selected for this honor due to their success in athletics, outstanding academic records, dynamic leadership abilities, strong character and integrity,” said Valerie Trujillo, executive director of the Northwest Regional Education Cooperative #2. “I believe that sports teach students life skills and it’s important to recognize students who are successes both on and off the field or court.”
Trujillo said the banquet encourages both teamwork and academic excellence.
“I’m excited because this is the first time we’re honoring high school scholar athletes in this way in Northern New Mexico, giving them the recognition they deserve,” said Jim Abreu, executive director of the Northeast Regional Education Cooperative #4. “I think extracurricular activities like athletics add to student achievement because athletics takes extra effort and discipline.”
Abreu said the Scholar Athlete Honors Banquet is a positive tie between Highlands University and the schools in Northern New Mexico. “Highlands has a long tradition of providing opportunities for students in Northern New Mexico. This banquet is a way to open the students’ eyes to the world of possibilities a Highlands education provides.”
Jessica Hurtado, director of undergraduate recruitment and admission at Highlands, said, “It’s important for Highlands to partner with the Regional Education Cooperatives to honor these exceptional young men and women on the Highlands Campus. It’s a prime opportunity to showcase HU as an excellent and affordable college choice as they transition to college from their rural communities. The campus is close to home for these scholar athletes and will provide a rich college experience.”
Highlands University offered the honorees academic scholarships ranging from $2,800 dean’s scholarships to $4,700 presidential silver scholarships and $5,700 presidential gold scholarships.
All of the scholar athletes received plaques, and their biographies were read as they accepted their awards.