2015 Selfless Seniors
Janai Campos, Albuquerque High
“Growing up, my mom taught me the importance of helping others.”
Janai helps as a volunteer for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Cancer Services of America, the Barelas Senior Center, ARCA and the Explora Science Center. She is a youth basketball coach, Biopark nature guide, cross country runner and basketball player, student senator and the student body president. She doesn’t boast about what she does; she simply gives of her time to the organizations in which she believes.
Jude Chavez, Albuquerque High
“God has given me many talents for a reason, and that reason is to help people.”
Serving others is second nature to Jude, who comes from a family of public servants and is following suit as a graduate of the Albuquerque Junior Police Academy and a student in both public nursing and public safety programs – the first APS student to be enrolled in both programs concurrently. Jude also is a champion swimmer, musician, and award-winning artist.
Daisy Astorga, Atrisco Heritage Academy
“I firmly believe everyone should be given a hand regardless of their circumstances.”
Daisy lends her hand through organizations like ENLACE Los Compañeros. She interns at a law firm, working to keep immigrant families together. Daisy also is a leader in several school groups including National Honor Society, Black Student Union, Mock Trial Club and soccer. Volunteering as a coach for a middle school and community program is also among her passions.
Desirae Martinez, Atrisco Heritage Academy
“We all have the ability to help someone who is struggling; we just have to be
willing to take the initiative to do so.”
Desirae says watching her mother battle an illness fueled her desire to become a doctor. “I want to make her proud.” She also is passionate about working for others through groups like the Roadrunner Food Bank, Junior Diabetes Research Foundation, and Presbyterian Hospital.
McKenzie Jones, Cibola
“I strongly believe that there is more to life than ourselves. Our time should be in the service of others.”
Through Operation Smile, McKenzie – described as humble, kind and genuinely happy – was able to help children in Ethiopia get surgery to repair facial deformities. A cross country runner, she also volunteers through her church, helping with a variety of projects including indexing, reading and typing stories for an elderly parishioner.
Christopher Mings, Cibola
“It’s awesome to have a positive impact on someone else’s life when they are in need.”
Chris is a volunteer for Carrie Tingley Hospital, where he helps pediatric patients by reading to them, going on outings, attending therapy sessions, setting up electronics, playing video games, assisting them to walk and sometimes just talking to patients and their families. The nicest compliment he’s received: “You clearly have a gift for helping others.”
Shelby Harrison, Del Norte
“We can make a difference in this world that we live in simply by helping others.”
During the holidays, Shelby and her family delivered care packages of blankets, socks, snacks, hand warmers and more to those in need. She has helped paint and refurbish homes for victims of domestic violence, takes part in food drives and babysits free of charge for financially strapped parents. Shelby also is a talented musician, athlete and president of the Calculus Club.
Tara Spencer, Del Norte
“In helping people, I love to see the smile in their eyes and knowing I made someone's day even for a little bit.”
Tara took her cues in helping others from her grandmother, who helped her take pride in her work and traditional values. She performed community service at a home for seniors, helping with activities for the elders, which helped her break out of her shell – and influenced her to be more optimistic. Interested in learning more about her Navajo language and traditions, Tara is active in athletics, and served as a high school representative for Native American Students in APS.
Meredith Barrows, Eldorado
“I talked the drama teacher at Hoover Middle School into starting a drama club because I thought it would be a really fun and rewarding experience for the students.”
Though her high school classmates haven’t always understood her affection for her middle school, Meredith remains steadfast in her commitment to the drama club, where she volunteers as often as five times a week. Meredith also is involved in the EHS Thespian Society.
Brooke Erdman, Eldorado
“I’ve always believed that even a single person can change another’s life. I want to be that one who does good for others.”
Brooke is active in Best Buddies, DECA and her church. She has gone on mission trips to help rebuild homes damaged in natural disasters. As a soccer player, Brooke coaches young players with special needs. She also is an intern for a veterinarian clinic and hopes to pursue a career in that field.
Diana Garcia, Highland
“I have been lucky to have people who support me, and I wish to do the same for others.”
As an active member of Young Women United, Diana joined a campaign to de-stigmatize young families, serving as co-director of a documentary about young parents in New Mexico. She also has served on the group’s board of directors and as part of its Youth Health Access campaign, working to ensure access to health services for young people.
Angelina Malagodi, Highland
“Rather selfishly, I want to know at the end of my life that I will be remembered and cherished as an individual who did her best for the world.”
Angelina is a long-time volunteer at St. Martin’s Homeless Shelter. She also has worked to raise awareness about hunger issues in her community. She is working to facilitate recycling at school and she orchestrated a school-wide effort to help a classmate in need.
Dylan Cuellar, La Cueva: “I believe supporting others with special needs, kids who are less fortunate, and my friends and family is the simplest action with the greatest outcome for everyone involved.”
Dylan is a cellist and honor student who volunteers as a peer buddy to students with autism. He also has been a counselor at Camp Rising Sun for kids with special needs. Dylan coaches an elementary school chess club and founded a bird-watching club.
Wes Swainston, La Cueva
“I assume I have been attracted to helping others, in part at least, as a result of my parents’ guidance throughout my childhood.”
Wes is a peer mentor for students with special needs and is president of LCHS Best Buddies. He encouraged his football teammates to participate in weekly buddy lunches and spearheaded a Best Buddy football night. He has helped change the way many of his classmates see students with special needs.
Mychal Taylor, La Cueva
“I have been given so many opportunities to achieve what I want, and I believe that every person who walks this Earth deserves the same kind of opportunities.”
Mychal has volunteered for several organizations: Ronald McDonald House, Joy Junction and Roadrunner Food Bank, to name a few. She spent eight weeks in the Dominican Republic with Amigos de las Americas teaching classes, and she helped raise money to buy nets and balls for a volleyball court.
Orlando Garcia, Manzano
“I help people for the sole reason that it is the right thing to do.”
Orlando volunteers in the adult critical care unit of Presbyterian Hospital every week. He also coaches for Special Olympics, referees youth basketball and has worked on political campaigns. He is president of the MHS Model United Nations and a member of the Royal Guard Marching Band, National Honor Society and National Society of High School Scholars. And he’s an EMT.
Abigail Thomason, Manzano
“At our core, we are all related. We may come from different backgrounds, but ultimately everyone shares the same emotions and feelings.”
Abby consistently gives her time and attention to classmates in need, as well as to community issues that touch her heart. She’s helped with Talking Talons, walked horses at Walking N Circles Ranch and volunteered at Joy Junction and the Junior League. She also assists students with special needs.
Chana Siegler, nex+Gen Academy
“I believe we can make a difference one day at a time.”
Chana serves as a student ambassador for her school, providing tours for guests from the community, country and even internationally. Outside of school, she is involved in her church, helping with several projects including Operation Christmas Child which provides gifts to needy children and families. She is a responsible student who holds her peers accountable and who exemplifies trust, respect and responsibility.
Alejandro Estrada, Rio Grande
“Ever since I was a little kid I’ve always been the kind of person who loves to help people.”
Alejandro is one of the top students at Rio Grande, despite working many hours a week at his family’s automotive shop. Family comes for first for him. Alejandro has taken on career, college and scholarship projects and participates in an electrical engineering mentorship. He also is a member of MESA.
Chad Jurado, Rio Grande
“Being able to make a difference, to change something in the world, gives rise to a feeling of empowerment within you.”
Chad is a leader in JROTC, Key Club, Senate and National Honor Society. He also is the volleyball team manager. He was one of the top debaters the state, is a tennis player and thespian and is active in band and orchestra, playing flute, bassoon, cello and serving as color guard captain.
Ashley Smith, Sandia
“Ever since I was little I was always the person taking care of others.”
Ashley is the kind of person who will drop everything to help others. She is a senator, senior class vice president, honor student, and drill team captain who helps with dance clinics, elementary school fall festivals and blood drives. She’s volunteered at nursing homes, Roadrunner Food Bank, Ronald McDonald House and Pancakes for Pride/Gay Pride Parade.
Emmanuel Munoz, South Valley Academy
“Helping people has always been an important part of who I am as a person.”
Emmanuel is active in school, participating in MESA, student council, drama and South Valley Peers in Action. He is the president of the Gay Straight Alliance and the National Honor Society. Emmanuel also is active in his church and community, volunteering at a nearby elementary school, Roadrunner Food Bank and Explora Science Center.
Daisy Nevarez, Valley
“I don’t usually have to think about helping people; I just do it. I think that’s due to the fact that my parents have raised me to always help.”
Daisy is an officer for DECA and MESA, organizing several fundraisers, especially those who help animals. She helped organize a collection for the Animal Human Society and has recruited volunteers to help with the Doggie Dash and Dawdle. She also has volunteered at Explora science nights for children.
Jessica Campbell, Volcano Vista
“I like knowing that I can have a positive impact on someone’s life, no matter how small that impact may be.”
Jessica has volunteered for several organizations, including the Storehouse and Shriner’s Circus. She has a personal connection to her volunteer work with the Alzheimer’s Association because her grandparents suffered from the disease. She’s also involved at school, spearheading an open mic night for the Creative Writing Club and serving as a thespian and student senator.
Tatiana Corwell, Volcano Vista
“Showing others kindness can go a long way.”
As a member of Operation Smile, Tatiana organizes fundraising events, gives presentations, participates in garage sales and sells nachos every Friday. She is a leader in the Peace Crew that works to combat bullying. She’s been involved in Best Buddies and the Wing Squad, which hosts community cleanups. She also has volunteered for Lovelace Westside Hospital, greeting patients and helping where needed.
Angel Hernandez, Volcano Vista
“I enjoy helping those in need as it reminds me of how blessed I am and how small things can have a big impact on others.”
Angel is a football player who volunteers for Wing Squad, a community service organization. He also has helped out at Ronald McDonald House and Family Life Radio. He helped collect more than a hundred pairs of shoes for the APS Community Clothing Bank and is active in his church.
Maritza Franco, West Mesa
“I want to show people that all they have to do is offer a helping hand and we can all make this a better place.”
Maritza was diagnosed with a challenging illness a few years ago, but that didn’t stop her from becoming captain of the soccer team and maintaining an impressive GPA while staying active in school, church and community. She volunteers at her church, teaching first and second grade boys and helping at a food pantry.
Marisol Robles, West Mesa
“Helping people is my way of saying thank you for the many people out there living for me and helping me, even though I may not be aware of it.”
Marisol, who runs cross country and track, works in West Mesa’s Family Resource Center, where she helps with case management and family services. Marisol also is a YDI intern and has been involved in the Escalerda program which assists students with college preparedness and community service learning.