Henry O. Sanchez Scholarship Honors Local Legacy

Jayme Quintana and Connie Trujillo

Jayme Quintana and Connie Trujillo

Las Vegas, N.M. — Jayme Quintana is the first New Mexico Highlands University student to be awarded the new Henry O. Sanchez Scholarship in memory of the New Mexico coaching legend and former Las Vegas mayor who died in 2011.

Sanchez was a beloved basketball coach and educator at New Mexico Highlands University and Robertson High School in Las Vegas. He posted record-breaking winning seasons at Highlands during his tenure from 1983 — 1996 and is credited with rebuilding the Robertson basketball program from 1996 — 2001.

Earlier in his coaching career, the Albuquerque native and NAIA All American led the Bernalillo High School basketball team to three state championships.

Over the years, Sanchez received numerous coaching honors. He was named New Mexico Coach of the Year many times, was inducted into the New Mexico High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor, the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and the Highlands University Athletic Hall of Honor, among others honors.

After retiring from coaching and teaching, the civic-minded Sanchez became an elected leader in the Las Vegas community, serving as mayor from 2002 — 2008.

Longtime Las Vegas resident Connie Trujillo became friends with Sanchez in 1977.

“Coach Sanchez was a generous, big-hearted man who always looked for the good in everyone,” Trujillo said. “He came from humble beginnings and was passionate about students having opportunities to succeed. He loved watching his own students and players grow and succeed in life and their careers.”

Trujillo said that when Sanchez died, a group of his Las Vegas friends worked to have the Highlands University basketball court in the Pete Wilson Complex named for Sanchez, which the university dedicated in 2012.  

“After that, we thought about how else we could continue to honor Coach Sanchez and came up with the idea of a scholarship for local high school students who attend Highlands,” Trujillo said.

The nonrenewing scholarship is earmarked for Highlands University freshmen who graduate from either West Las Vegas High School or Robertson High School. Quintana’s scholarship award for the 2013 — 2014 academic year is $800.

Quintana was an outstanding 2013 West Las Vegas High School graduate and National Honor Society member. She was active in the Mathematics Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) program for seven years and also completed 120 hours of volunteer service at the former Wind River Ranch, now the Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge.

“I live on a beautiful ranch about 20 miles north of Las Vegas,” Quintana said. “Living on a ranch has taught me to have a great work ethic and appreciation for the environment. I’m very interested in environmental science and will probably pursue a major in forestry.”

Quintana said it’s a big honor to receive the Henry O. Sanchez Scholarship.

“He was such a great coach, teacher and kind-hearted person,” Quintana said.

Quintana was also an athletic standout in high school, racking up a total of 12 all-district medals in track and golf, as well as nine state medals in track and golf. She also played varsity basketball.

Her senior year, Quintana was the state 800-meter champion and was recruited by Highlands. She is a member of the women’s track team and will run the 800 meters for the Cowgirls.

“It’s exciting to be running for Highlands. When I was little I thought about how cool it would be to run track in college and it’s a little surreal that I get a chance to do this,” Quintana said.

Trujillo said that nine students applied for the Henry O. Sanchez Scholarship in 2013, with the university’s Financial Aid Office making the final decision on the award.

“To date, donors have contributed more than $6,000 to the scholarship fund and our goal is to reach the $10,000 amount required to endow the scholarship at Highlands,” Trujillo said.

Those interested in contributing to the Henry O. Sanchez Scholarship Fund may contact Darlene Chavez in the Highlands University Foundation Office at 505-454-3223 or dmchavez@nmhu.edu