2013 Selfless Seniors
Meet the 28 APS seniors who have been selected as the 2013 Selfless Seniors by the APS Education Foundation.
Matthew Lowrance, Albuquerque High
Matthew Lowrance enjoys helping others, especially his peers in the AHS Intensive Support Program. “The kids in ISP all have different types of handicaps, and I try to help them in any way I can. I’ll sit there and talk with them, help them with puzzles and other learning, and I’ll help the teachers with whatever they need.” Matthew is skilled in dealing with the most difficult students, often calming them with ease when they are upset or angry. Perhaps his ease comes from his own experiences. Matthew knows what it means to struggle in school. He acknowledges that challenges in his life almost kept him from finishing high school. “But then I changed my thinking.” He credits his grandfather, uncle and teachers for helping him turn his life around.
Margaret McGovney, Albuquerque High
Margaret McGovney is most influenced by three people who helped individuals with special needs: her grandfather, who as a doctor ran a free clinic for kids with spina bifida; Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who founded Special Olympics; and the special education teachers who run her school’s Intensive Support Program where she volunteers. “They do amazing things to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities,” she said. Margaret considers the students she helps as friends. “When I work with people with disabilities, it doesn’t feel like I’m working.” In addition to assisting students in ISP, Margaret helps other special needs students through organizations such Camp Rising Sun, which serves students with autism, and Best Buddies. She also is president of her school’s Gay Straight Alliance and works as a barista at Starbucks.
Chelsea Otterness, Albuquerque High
Chelsea Otterness says it just makes sense for her to lend a helping hand. “When I feel something can better the quality of life for others, I’m not shy about going out and doing it. Not only are there benefits to helping others, but the experience is very gratifying and enjoyable for me.” Chelsea’s passion has been the environment. She serves as a national representative for Jane Goodall's Roots and Shoots, a youth-driven program for kids who want to improve the world. Goodall is one of Chelsea’s role models because of her work as a philanthropist and her drive to follow her own bliss. Active in student government, Chelsea organized a community Peace Day event, recycling project, tree-planting events and started a pay-it-forward campaign. She has been active in Mock Trial, Model UN, National Honor Society, swim team and cross country.
Vivianne Gonzalez, Atrisco Heritage
Vivianne Gonzalez was raised to always put others before herself and to help those in need. “I don’t want to wait to make the world a better place. I want to help people now so my generation can excel for future generations.” Vivianne is a strong, compassionate leader who isn’t afraid to take initiative. At school, she is involved in student council, ENLACE, Unashamed Onsite (Christian fellowship) and Esperanza Atrisco, a grass-roots initiative that empowers young women to seek better futures. She also is involved with Esperanza USA, a national organization that is working to stop sex slavery. And she volunteers at the Barrett House and helps out at church. Vivianne defines selfless as being “humble toward your work and the people around you.”
Dominic Marquez, Atrisco Heritage
Dominic Marquez likes making people smile and he enjoys helping others reach their goals. The talented baseball player volunteers at camps, teaching young athletes the game. Last summer, he worked the early shift at the Westside Community Center, helping ease the separation anxiety of the younger children when their parents dropped them off. He’d engage them in games and activities until their anxiety subsided. As a result of his dedication to those children, he was voted favorite summer staffer. “I love working with kids, and every chance I get, I will take advantage of trying to help the youth pick the right path in their life.” Dominic also is a member of the National Society of High School Scholars and served as a member of the National Youth Leadership Forum.
Alex Trujillo-Romero, Atrisco Heritage
Alex Trujillo-Romero has been described as a very caring, compassionate and humble person. “I hadn’t thought of myself that way. I just do what I can to help others in any way I can.” Alex is active in Boy Scouts, earning the rank of Eagle Scout. He has participated in several community projects through the Boy Scouts including cleaning up roads, planting trees and rose bushes, painting community centers and clearing elementary school yards. In addition, he is a swimmer for the Jaguars, serving as team captain this year. Though he doesn’t have heroes, he has always admired Abraham Lincoln, more so after seeing “Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter” which portrayed the president as cool and composed, traits to which Alex aspires. “I have the ability to talk to others in such a way that has a positive impact on them. That’s just being who I am.”
Ricky Garcia, Cibola
Ricky Garcia lists as his heroes God, his grandfather and Elvis. Like his idols, Ricky tries to have a positive impact on the lives of others. “I help people because I feel great doing it, and I love making a difference.” Ricky is active in several school organizations including National Honor Society, Key Club, student government and Operation Smile as well as a dozen community organizations and causes including singing with his church’s worship group. “When I help out I never expect something back. I do it for the people, animals or the facility where I’m helping. I always have a great time and I don’t mind getting dirty. I know it’s what I’m called to do, and I plan on helping for the rest of my life.
Corinne Foskey, Del Norte
Corinne Foskey concludes the reading of Del Norte’s daily announcements by telling her fellow Knights that she loves them. After weeks of doing this, a schoolmate she didn’t know told Corinne that she loved her, too. “It hit me then that what I was saying was actually impacting people.” Corinne puts herself in others’ shoes when extending a helping hand. “It may seem cliché but I truly just treat others the way I want to be treated.” Corinne is active in and out of school, taking part in student council, national honor societies, yearbook, volleyball, the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council and the Storehouse. “I think helping others is an everyday act. I organize and participate in the large-scale community service projects, but I also try to be a nice person, and help others when they’re down on their luck.”
Haley Davisson, Eldorado
Haley Davisson gives because it’s part of who she is. “Giving and helping others brings me the utmost joy. When I help a friend through a hard time in life or give a younger child hope that things will get better or serve others, I feel more joy in that moment than any other moment in my life.” The nicest compliment Haley has received was from her youth leader who said he was impressed by the way she lives her life. Haley is involved in many school and community activities including Tae Kwon Do, Girl Scouts, Next Step Ministries, choir, DECA, and People to People Student Ambassadors. “I want to bring others delight, to bring them a light in an otherwise dark tunnel, and to be the shoulder to cry on when everything else goes wrong.”
Annie Majewski, Eldorado
Annie Majewski never knows what to expect when she volunteers for a new project, but in the end she always learns something and gains a sense of appreciation for those she’s helping. An active volunteer, Annie is trying not only to improve her own community, but also communities around the world. “My drive comes from within because I find passion in helping others. I do not and will not ever expect reciprocation for my actions.” Annie also is passionate about photography. She recently initiated a project that involved taking pictures of more than 40 students at a low-income pre-school and sending the portraits home for Christmas. She also worked with friends on making and selling tie dye t-shirts and friendship bracelets to raise money for the Girl Effect, which supports girls’ education in Africa. And she is active in school organizations including Key Club and the dive team.
Laverne Johnson, Freedom
Laverne Johnson believes people should be treated with compassion, care and fairness. She demonstrates those qualities as a volunteer at the Veterans Administration Hospital where she helps ease the suffering of those who have no hope of being cured. She serves meals, disinfects the dining room, works in the laundry room and helps wherever she is needed. She also works to preserve the integrity of her culture, taking an active role in educating children in the Navajo language, customs and traditions. Laverne is a good spirit with a positive attitude who contributes to her school community as well by sharing the appropriate elements of her culture with her classmates and the staff. She’s grateful if all she receives in return is a simple thank you.
Di-Linh Hoang, Highland
Di-Linh Hoang has a passion for photography and a desire to make people feel better. “I love putting a smile on people’s faces and lifting up their spirits.” Di is involved in a litany of activities including yearbook, newspaper, student government, JROTC, Key Club, Asian Student Union, International Student Union, Women Student Union, National Honor Society, tennis, Skills USA and Upward Bound. Each of her interests contributes to her personality: From JROTC she has learned chivalry and incorruptibility; from yearbook, self-sacrifice, time management and creativity; from Student Senate, generosity and benevolence; from Key Club and Asian Student Union, charity and philanthropy. “I am always helping around the school and if anyone needs me, I am there. I consider school as my second home because I will stay for long hours completing tasks wherever it is needed.”
Karina Ayala Lugo, Highland
Karina Ayala Lugo remembers when her family moved to the United States with “nothing more than the clothes on our backs and a will to better ourselves.” Her parents' hard work and the kindness of strangers were keys to her family’s survival. She remembers police officers dropping off Christmas presents for her and her brothers when her parents couldn’t afford any. “I help people because I like the feeling of knowing I make a difference, that I can bring someone a little bit of happiness, like the joy I felt when I opened those Christmas presents as a kid.” Karina describes herself as a hard worker who puts a lot of energy into her school activities including student government, Spanish and National honor societies, swim team, Key Club, the Principal’s Advisory Committee and more. “I’m committed to my school, community and family. I always look at what needs to be done.”
Andrew Lopez, La Cueva
Andrew Lopez volunteers at Roadrunner Food Bank because he doesn’t think anyone should ever experience hunger. “Too many people say ‘I’m starving,’ but they have no idea what real starvation is,” he said. Inspired by Mother Teresa who once said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one,” Andrew has gone door-to-door seeking donations for the food bank. “I believe one person can make a difference, if only that person has the courage to do something about the needs of others.” Andrew is active in and out of school. He’s on the football, swim and track teams; involved in MJROTC, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, ballroom dancing and mission work. He even is a soldier in the Army National Guard. He cleans yards, paints low-income apartments, collects blankets for the homeless and mentors his Best Buddy.
Brad Wible, La Cueva
Brad Wible looks up to his sister, Sarah, who fought and won a long battle with leukemia when she was in high school. “Her example taught me many things: perseverance, positive attitude, strong faith and the value of helping others. Today many children with leukemia, including my sister, are cured because of sacrifices and service from others. My family was profoundly affected by self-sacrifice and service from others.” Brad is active in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and CureSearch, which helps find cures for children’s cancer. He’s raised thousands of dollars by selling wristbands and participating in walk-a-thons. He also is active in school, serving as captain of the Bears wrestling and football teams. He is in JROTC, student government, works with special needs students and volunteers at a homeless shelter, food bank, elementary school tutoring program and more.
Kirstie Lopez, Manzano
Kirstie Lopez describes herself as happy, and she wants others to be, too. “It doesn’t take that much to be happy. I wish more people realized that.” Kirstie sees her future self spreading happiness to children around the world through music. As a Monarch, she has been a musician, involved in band and choir, and an athlete, involved in swimming, tennis, volleyball, soccer and cheerleading. She also gives back to her community as a participant in Key Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and other activities. “I want to make a positive impact and let people be aware that I am there for them. I want to be the young lady that parents want their son to marry, that teachers want as their student, that teens want as their friend, and I want to be the happy person that others want to be like.”
Heather Rooke, Nex+Gen
Heather Rooke gains a sense of accomplishment when she reaches out to others. “If I were in trouble or in need of assistance, I would hope that someone would be there for me, so I feel it is only right to be there for the people who need my help.” Heather’s heroes are Charles Dickens, King Arthur, and Winston Churchill – three men with incredible tenacity who faced challenges with integrity and inspired others. “I hope that I can push through my challenges in a similar fashion.” Heather is involved in student government, playing an active role in planning events and giving back to her school community. She serves as a tour guide and ambassador for the APS magnet school and will be among its first graduating class. She also volunteers for several community projects including collecting Koats for Kids and working at the Roadrunner Food Bank. .
Jonah Scott Fernandez, Rio Grande
Jonah Scott Fernandez finds the question, “Why do you help others?” odd. “There isn’t much of a reason not to in my mind. To help another person often requires little effort on your own part, and even when it does prove to be a difficult task, the effect it has on another person is far greater than the effort you put in.” Jonah is involved in several school and community organizations including JROTC, the National Forensics League, jazz choir, the South Valley Community Agricultural Project and speech and debate. A natural leader, he coaches and helps his speech and debate teammates, contributing a positive team attitude, talking peers through their problems and even mopping the floor at the end of practices and competitions. The most significant person in his life is his grandmother who raised him, giving him the proper tools and mindset to succeed on his own.
Medea Hill, Rio Grande
Medea Hill likes when she is described as a strong, trustworthy leader. It’s what she has aspired to be throughout her four years in JROTC. “As I’ve gone through this program, I’ve learned how to be a great leader, and I’ve done a lot of community service. I’m usually the person who sets up these activities, plans them and follows through.” Because of her strong leadership skills, Medea was selected to participate in the People to People Ambassador Program, traveling to Australia to learn about its culture and to teach young students about ours. Heavily influenced by her mother, a cancer survivor, Medea said she loves the feeling she gets when she helps others. “It’s a great feeling to know that I can make someone’s day even a little bit better.”
Valeria Ojeda, Sandia
Valeria Ojeda has been described as a force of nature. She is passionate about her work with NM(X) Sports and Warehouse 508, youth-driven organizations that promote the creative arts and non-traditional sports. Valeria appreciates the impact music, art and sports have on young people; she’s seen first-hand how that connection can change lives. “When participating in such groups as NM(X), I do look for the best in others, and I will honestly go out of my way to help in any way I can.” Valeria also is involved in several school and community activities including student council, Model UN, Youth in Government, the mayor’s Youth Advisory Council and more. She is interested in politics and government, listing strong women leaders as role models: Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. But she also admires street artist/political activist Bansky who uses non-violent media such as graffiti and painting to make political statements.
Brandon Padilla, Sandia
Brandon Padilla learned from his mom to lead a purpose-driven life. And he’s done just that. As a junior board member and vice president of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society/Albuquerque Division, Brandon gets as much as he gives when volunteering. “I am very passionate about helping others especially cancer patients. The kids, their stories, are life changing. My favorite part is celebrating with LLS survivors or a family who won the cancer battle or receives good news. It makes me want to do great things.” Brandon was influenced by his godmother/aunt, who died from leukemia when he was in fourth grade. “I volunteer to make her proud. She gives me strength every day. I wish she was still with us today.” Brandon also plays football for the Matadors and volunteers for Youth Development, Inc., participating in early childhood and grandparents activities.
Brianna Andolina, Valley
Brianna Andolina always puts others before herself, no matter the situation. “When I help people I feel accomplished and successful,” she said. Active in student council, National Honor Society and the Valley Academy, Brianna has helped organize a campus art show, started a community garden, worked on a beautification mural and helped with election day events. Her passion for others became evident earlier this year when she rallied her school in memory of classmate Cesar Quesada who succumbed to cancer after an 11-year battle. The young man’s death was a blow to the Valley community, so Brianna helped put together a school-wide tribute, gathering photographs and stories about Cesar. She also collected donations to help his family with funeral expenses. Brianna, a modest leader, is encouraged when reminded that she can do anything she puts her mind to.
Jessica Montano, Valley
Jessica Montano has a caring nature and a desire to help others. “I’m always trying to be the best I can be, and I’m always trying to treat people in the nicest way possible,” said the Viking cheerleader who also is active in DECA and student government. Jessica has role models in her parents: a mom whom she aspires to be like and a dad who supports her in all she does. “My dad is always pushing me to be the best that I can be,” she said, “and my mom is very good at communicating and getting along with other people.” Jessica also admires her Uncle Reggie who keeps her laughing and helps her with school work. “I enjoy the feeling of making others happy. It feels nice to know that I can help make others’ lives a little easier.”
Christopher Carrica, Volcano Vista
Christopher Carrica said he tries to model his life after his little sister Becky whose caring, loving nature has taught him to be a more selfless person. “My parents have taught us that time spent helping others can never be a waste of time. I help people because it makes me happy to see their smiles.” Chris is active in school sports and organizations including football, rugby, weightlifting, National Honor Society, student government and Best Buddies. Though the group meets only once a week, Chris can be seen on a near-daily basis hanging out with students who have severe disabilities, playing games, doing crafts or just talking with them. “I try my best to create a positive environment anywhere I go. My goal is to always help people feel better about themselves and give them advice about school and life decisions.”
Gregory Corkern, Volcano Vista
Greg Corkern was strongly influenced by a seventh-grade teacher. “Mr. (Genorace) Armstrong’s job was to teach us history and geography, but he taught us much more than the names of mountains or the capitals of states. He taught us to be great, exceptional people.” Greg has become one of those exceptional people, compelled to help others mend the problems in their lives. He is involved in the Math Honors Society, Key Club and Youth and Government. He is a church usher and has done research at UNM and the Air Force Research Laboratories. “People often hide their feelings to avoid displaying weakness or insecurity. I know because I used to think this way. However, I have since learned that gaining strength from seeking help far outweighs any outward appearance of weakness. I look for those in need to help them find new strength.”
Nikkie Duran, Volcano Vista
Nikkie Duran is inspired to help others by her brother Michael, whose heroin addiction lead to his untimely death at age 19. As a result of the family tragedy, Nikkie has become an active advocate for drug awareness and anti-drug campaigns and drug abuse topics. “My brother showed me that life is not always beautiful, but we must spend our time searching for the beauty that does exist.” Nikkie is a member of the Talons Dance Team and also is involved in student government. She serves on the Heroin Awareness Committee and is a spokesperson for SafeTeen New Mexico, appearing in anti-drug awareness documentaries and public service announcements. “Helping people is just something I do naturally. I feel like it is a quality that people recognize in me. I am spreading awareness about a subject of which some people are afraid.”
Cristina Campa, West Mesa
Cristina Campa has faced her share of challenges and is motivated by her own experiences to reach out to others in need. “As someone who has faced many problems in the past, I know how important it is to be a good listener, problem solver and overall good friend.” Cristina is active at school in a variety of organizations including student government, MESA, Skills USA, Natural History Day and National Honor Society. She also is an athlete on the soccer and tennis teams. And she volunteers for the community through organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the Los Volcanes Senior Center. Her heroes are her siblings: her older sister Ericka who taught her to handle life’s curveballs; her brother Juan who showed her that passion and dedication make a great person; and her little sister Alicia who showed her that it’s OK to be who you are despite what others think.
Carlos Vargas, West Mesa
Carlos Vargas has been described as one of the most active Mustangs in recent years. He not only is involved in many organizations, but also serves as an officer for such groups as student government, Skills USA and the National and French honor societies. He also spends a lot of time volunteering in the community. He has cleaned up a church cemetery and parks, planted trees, helped prepare food packages for the needy, walked for a cure for cancer, served meals to seniors and much more. “I like to help people because everyone needs a hand from time to time, and if I can be the one to lend it, then I believe I should try my best to do it.” Carlos said one of the nicest compliments he’s
received came from his 10th grade English teacher who said the reason he was so intelligent was because he recognizes that every teacher has something to offer.
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