2010 Selfless Seniors
This is the third year the APS Education Foundation has worked in partnership with acclaimed Albuquerque photographer Frank Frost to celebrate the accomplishments of seniors who are serious about their futures, yet find ways to put others before themselves.
This year, the Education Foundation honored 26 seniors for their commitment to promoting positive change in the lives of others. Family, friends, principals, classmates and APS administrators, including Superintendent Winston Brooks, gathered at Volcano Vista High School on March 30, 2010 to congratulate these students and recognize them for all they do.
-- Superintendent Winston Brooks
This year’s Selfless Seniors were nominated by friends or teachers and staff from their schools, based on their knack for putting others before themselves. In addition to public recognition, the students had their photographs taken by Frank Frost Photography. Posters of the photos will be on display at their schools and at several local businesses.
The students from 12 APS high schools and two alternative schools are quiet leaders, volunteers, part-time employees, technology wizards, community activists, honor students and athletes. They are devoted to family, friends, school, their communities and their faith. They are described as empathetic, compassionate, humble, appreciative, impressive and responsible.
- Shandiin Church of Albuquerque High
Shandiin is active in her school’s JROTC program, serving as the commander of the Unarmed Drill Team and Battalion Executive Officer. She also played volleyball and basketball for the Bulldogs. One of her most impressive qualities is in her persistence. As a JROTC commander, she is hard on her cadets because she wants them to succeed both on and off the drill deck. But before and after practice, she is a loving, caring friend. Shandiin embraces her Native American culture, serving as a role model for Native American teenagers, as well as her four younger siblings.
- Gema Perez of Albuquerque High
This Folklorico dancer teaches others the steps, movements and sentiment of the dance. She shares her passion with many, including audiences at senior centers where she often voluntarily performs. Gema also has played an active role in Albuquerque High’s annual holiday Adopt-a-Child program. She has been described as a natural leader; conscientious, responsible, reliable and charming.
- Wynton Jamal El of Cibola High
Volunteers at Storehouse West, stocking canned goods for families in need. He has volunteered at Joy Junction serving meals to families. He also has volunteered at the Natural History Museum, engaging the public through hands-on educational activities, and during the last national election, he canvassed for presidential and congressional candidates. Wynton serves as a science fair mentor and an algebra, geometry and trigonometry tutor. During the summer, he works with elementary and middle school students at a UNM enrichment program. He has had a positive impact on these youth, serving as a role model who exemplifies hard work, dedication and honesty.
- Salman Haji of Cibola
Salman, originally from Tanzania, is passionate about international relations. He founded Cibola's International Cultural Exchange Club to increase intercultural awareness and empower people to develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world. He was awarded a full scholarship by the U.S. Department of State to study Arabic in Cairo, Egypt in the summer of 2009. Salman also serves in his local community. Last year, he set up Cibola's chapter of Best Buddies, a national organization dedicated to providing one-to-one friendships and opportunities for special needs individuals. He is a big brother through Big Brothers Big Sisters, and he also tutors ESL students.
- Yoenesha Ortiz of Del Norte
Yoenesha focuses her extra-curricular time on service-oriented clubs and activities. She is president of Key Club, an ambassador of student council, a member of the Earth Club and part of the recent drama production’s stage crew. She recycles around her apartment complex and volunteers to read to children in neighboring elementary schools. She is also a bell ringer for the Salvation Army, and works at her community's IHOP restaurant. Her work is quiet, not flashy, yet every time you turn around at Del Norte, there’s Yoenesha helping out wherever she can.
- Desiree Wildman of Del Norte
Desiree gives to her community, her school and her Air Force JROTC unit at Del Norte. She is active in the Black Student Union, National Honor Society and JROTC, where she serves as personnel officer, commander of the unarmed drill team, the female color guard commander, the commander of the Rifles and Roses drill demo team, and the Kitty Hawk Air Force National Honor Society. Desiree was selected by the Air Force to attend a camp at the University of Oklahoma this summer that specializes in the medical field, and she hopes to someday become a doctor. She has more than 100 community service hours for such charities as Casa Esperanza, the Jerry Lewis Telethon and the Walk for Cancer.
- Emily Mendez of Eldorado
Emily is a giving person who works with a foster family in her neighborhood, helping to take care of several young children who have physical disabilities. These children range in age from infant to 6 years old, but that doesn’t seem to intimidate Emily, who has developed a tight bond with them over a short period of time. Emily serves as a role model for these children and others.
- Peter Dailey of Eldorado
Tutors history students and helps Eldorado teachers with computer and technical issues. Outside of school, he serves as a youth minister at his church, helping students prepare for the confirmation process. He isn’t one to stand by when help is needed.
- Keith Lucero of Highland
Has been a community volunteer throughout his four years of high school. He has helped build churches and feed the hungry in Mexico, re-wired a home in Rio Rancho that had been vandalized during construction, cleaned and repaired the garden and garage of a clinic for drug abusers, served meals to the elderly and served as a youth leader at his church. He’s the type of guy who will do anything for friends – from babysitting their kids to painting their house. When a concussion during the first game of football season sidelined Keith, he served as team manager and honorary captain. He showed up at all practices, fundraisers and games, serving as a role model for his peers and an example of quality character and conviction to his coaches.
- David Richards of Highland
David and his siblings were abandoned by their parents. After bouncing from foster care to the home of a relative and enduring years of abuse, the children moved to New Mexico to live with an aunt, who eventually adopted them. Instead of rebelling or feeling sorry for himself, David became active in school and has excelled in sports. He also has chosen to give back to the community, working through his church to collect money for people who are going through hard times. David says he doesn’t want others to endure what he has experienced in his young life.
- Amber Armijo of La Cueva
Amber volunteers in a La Cueva special education classroom, where she has a positive impact on students. In addition, she is involved in Safe Teen and is president of Teens in Prevention, clubs that educate other students about the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol, dating violence and distractive driving. Amber is a hard-working student with a 4.0 GPA and good values who enjoys helping others and is serious about her future.
- Katey Redmond of La Cueva
Katey volunteers in a special education preschool class at Dennis Chavez Elementary, where she shows initiative in helping out developmentally delayed three and four year olds. The teachers she assists say she has helped them “look at the world differently and more logically!” Katey also is a Key Club officer and she volunteers at Rachel’s Courtyard, the pediatric playground at Presbyterian Hospital. Katey carries the label twice-exceptional, because she is gifted and has Autism Spectrum Disorder. She supports the Autism community by volunteering for Camp Rising Sun, New Mexico's only camp for children on the spectrum. In addition to serving as a camp counselor, she has developed promotional videos for the camp and supported community awareness events.
- Thuy Tran of Manzano
Thuy has greatly improved her command of the English language during her four years at Manzano. She is an A student who works as a cashier at a local market, takes statistics and math classes at CNM, participates in the UNM Daniels Fund college prep program and still has time to teach young Vietnamese students at her church and to serve as co-leader and secretary of the youth group. Thuy has assimilated smoothly into American culture and is helping other young Vietnamese students do the same. She is described as “hard working, modest and helpful to others.”
- Valentina Garcia of Manzano
Valentina Garcia always has a smile she shares with everyone. She does not dwell on her specials needs or the fact that she is in a wheelchair. She is an extraordinary Special Olympic Athlete. Every year she performs in the Keshet Dance Company’s “Nutcracker on the Rocks,” dancing beautifully in the snow scene and inspiring others. Through her 13 years in Girl Scouts she has participated in many community service activities, along with helping out in the public library in the summer. Her passion to work with small children will no doubt lead her down a path of Early Childhood Education.
- Andrew Lucero of Rio Grande
Andrew has challenged himself by taking rigorous coursework, working at a local grocery store, and participating in many school and community activities including the Cornstalk Institute, where he serves as a youth mentor for at-risk students.
- Liliana Benitez de Luna of Rio Grande
Liliana is involved in several school and community activities which includes Plain Talk, a program in which she went door to door in the South Valley to facilitate classes helping parents talk to their teenagers about sexuality and reproduction. Because she is bilingual, she has been able to reach a lot of people in her community. Liliana also has participated in food and money drives for various organizations in an ongoing effort to better her community. And she is serious about her future, participating in the Daniels Fund college prep program.
- Santana Lopez of Sandia
Santana helps students with special needs around Sandia High School. She volunteers with the Sandia bowling club, which involves special needs students, and helping out in a special education CRL/D Level classroom. Santana serves as vice president of the school’s Best Buddies chapter. She has greatly increased the membership of this organization, which pairs intellectually-impaired students with general education students to encourage socialization. Santana enjoys spending time with her buddy, whom she takes with her to high school activities and spends time with her outside of school.
- Alexandra Mirabal of Sandia
President of Sandia’s Community Service Initiative, Alexandra spends time cleaning the Rio Grande and collecting items for U.S. troops. She also is a member of the Gay-Straight Alliance, which provides high school students a safe environment in which to discuss discrimination. Alexandra listens carefully and allows her peers to discuss their ideas openly. She can be counted on to help her classmates, organize social action activities and stand up for the just treatment of her peers.
- Adrianna Lucero of Valley
Adrianna is always the first to volunteer when asked if she can help a friend, a relative, strangers, even stray animals. When she isn’t at school or work, she takes care of her elderly grandfather, spends time at rehabilitation homes with seniors who don’t seem to get many visitors, and she has nursed sick animals back to health.
- Marvin Barraza of Valley
Marvin has been manager of the volleyball, basketball and dance teams. He prepares the facility for practice and games, gets equipment ready, and cleans up after each event. He also coaches at YDI, where he teaches soccer skills and good sportsmanship to young children. He is also the volunteer soccer coach at Truman Mid-School. His biggest hobby is playing video games, where he is ranked number one in the state at Halo B.
- Mallory Lenberg of Volcano Vista
Mallory led a student effort to alleviate traffic problems around Volcano Vista. She formed a student group that hosted a community meeting to address the issue, inviting APS administrators and city councilors. She then met with former Mayor Martin Chavez, attended a City Council meeting, went to APS transportation meetings and met with school and district officials. Thanks to her hard work and perseverance, the traffic problem around the school is being addressed. Mallory is dedicated to her school and her peers, always looking for ways to make VVHS a better place for all. But she doesn’t like the limelight, preferring to make her mark in subtle ways.
- Ravi Shah of Volcano Vista
Ravi helped establish the student government program at Volcano Vista. He also promotes school pride, attending and supporting all of the school’s athletic groups. He works for the betterment of Volcano Vista and expects nothing in return except to see the pride of the student body. Despite his countless hours dedicated to supporting school activities, he maintains good grades and is the type of student all teachers like to have in their classrooms. His service to the school and community is setting a standard that future Hawks can strive to achieve.
- Kristy Aldridge of West Mesa
Kristy is always willing and able to help those in need. Some of the organizations she volunteers for include the Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum, Roadrunner Food Bank, Watermelon Ranch Animal Rescue and the Army Family Readiness Group. She also is a leader in many school activities, including the Italian Honor Society. “Giving back is such a rewarding experience,” Kristy said. “The different changes you can make and the values you can learn are infinite. It is something that gives your life a greater purpose.”
- Michael Martinez of West Mesa
Michael is involved in NJROTC and has volunteered for many organizations. In addition to working at summer camps and carnivals, he has served meals to seniors and to the homeless, volunteered to help fix up the grounds at his brother’s middle school, and helped clean his neighbors’ yards. Michael also lends a helping hand at school, participating in fundraisers, Color Guard functions and Bronco Camp, the jump start program for incoming freshmen.
- Anne Meyer-Miner of Early College Academy
Anne is not only academically focused – she will have completed 25 college credits upon graduation from high school – and she has been active in 4-H for the past nine years. She was one of the 2009 New Mexico State 4-H Ambassadors. She has helped raise money for the UNM Cancer Center, the Heart Hospital and Watermelon Ranch Animal Rescue. She has volunteered at the Cuba Food Pantry, the Senior Olympics, Roadrunner Food Bank and has participated in the Great American Bake Sale and Festival of Trees. Anne is successful at all she attempts because she is dependable, humble, kind and she has an amazing ability to quietly lead others.
- Danny Galvez of Evening High
Danny grew up in a tough neighborhood in East Los Angeles. His mother, who was frustrated with the trouble her children were constantly in, moved the family to Mexico. Danny then went to live with his sister in Albuquerque. He attended La Cueva and Sandia High schools, where he continued to get into trouble. When he realized his nephew was looking up to him and emulating his bad behavior, he decided to work on turning his life around. Now he is getting good grades at Evening High, working at the school’s snack bar, taking Tae Kwan Do classes and serving as a positive role model.