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Highlands Honors Scholar Athletes at Banquet

Photo: Scholar athletes from Northern New Mexico were honored during a banquet at Highlands April 28.
Scholar athletes from Northern New Mexico were honored during a banquet at Highlands University April 28. Courtesy photo

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.