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2016 Selfless Seniors

Rafael Colón, Albuquerque High
AHS Rafael ColonRafael is a member of the Ronald McDonald House Teen Ambassador program, has served on a variety of community-based charity efforts and was honored by New Mexico Voices for Children for his work in the community. He also was elected lieutenant governor at New Mexico Boys State. “Rafael has a welcoming and understanding approach, which makes everyone he meets and work with feel at ease,” wrote a nominator. “He is a service-oriented young man who has a passion for not only helping our organization, but in improving the community.”

Kristin Crocker, Albuquerque High
AHS Kristin CrockerAn inveterate volunteer for a variety of community service projects, Kristin has this advice for students who follow her: “As cliché as it is, pay attention to academics, because they do matter, and get involved as much as possible.  I would also encourage students to work hard at developing a strong sense of self, to stay true to themselves and not follow the crowd.”

Myrella Gonzalez, Atrisco Heritage Academy
AHA Myrella GonzalezMyrella’s nominator said this about her: “Her generosity and selflessness are contagious and have created an atmosphere of giving individuals. Her leadership, service and academic achievements have made her a role model for all the students at Atrisco Heritage and the South Valley.”

Daniel Torres, Atrisco Heritage Academy
AHA Daniel TorresDaniel is a student leader and has volunteered in his neighborhood. Here’s his philosophy on giving back: “By helping others, I am able to connect with them on a more personal level, ultimately resulting in a more memorable and enriching experience. Additionally, I find a great satisfaction in seeing how a simple act of kindness completely makes a difference in an individual’s life. As humans, it is our duty to help others regardless of their circumstances.”


CHS Kelly AngusKelly Angus, Cibola: Kelly volunteers at Rust Presbyterian Medical Center, Explora! and a variety of other places. “I help people because I believe the world can be a harsh place for others and even though I have my difficulties, I try to bring joy to as many people as I can with as many acts of kindness that I can provide,” she said.

Mia Edwards, Del Norte
DHS Mia EdwardsMia is a singer and volunteers at Joy Junction, Casa Esperanza and Roadrunner Food Bank. Her school choir director said this about her: “Mia exemplifies a true person of character: caring, trustworthy, self-disciplined, passionate, smart and a good leader as well as a good follower.”

Xena Gurule, Del NorteDHS Xena Gurule
An accomplished artist, Xena is the primary caregiver to her elderly grandmother, with whom she lives. “The nicest compliment I ever received is when my grandma tells her friends and relatives how wonderful I am and how thankful she is. I like making my grandparent proud of me.”

Katelyn Clark, Eldorado
EHS Katelyn ClarkKatelyn, a 3.9 GPA student, is the president of Best Buddies at Eldorado, a volunteer at ABQ Sign Language Academy and shadows an occupational therapist. A counselor at school wrote this about her: “Katie is generous, eager to help others and a compassionate person with a big heart, especially when it comes to helping students with disabilities.”

Cayley Guess, Eldorado
EHS Caylee GuessDespite personal tragedies, Cayley is a habitual volunteer for a variety of charities as well as an organizer for clothing drives. “My mom has taught me to never give up and always follow your dreams no matter the circumstances,” she said. “I am so blessed to be able to have such an amazing role model like her to look up to and to strive to be more like each and every day.”

Ramon Alderete, Highland
HHS Ramon AldereteRamon competes in DECA but also is a key student leader at Highland High through his association with the Key Club, MeCHA and the National Honor Society. “Ramon believes in the value of hard work and in helping others to be successful,” said Highland Activities Director Justin Landis. “He is a shining light in what we want all students to strive to become during their education in high school.”

Kateri Daw, Highland
HHS Kateri DawKateri participates in a variety of social-service organizations, many of them affecting Native Americans. Here’s the advice she gives to fellow students: “Take every opportunity in life and never be scared to expand and travel the world. If you have a dream, stop at nothing in order to achieve it. Do your schoolwork, listen to your teachers, and make connections. You are in charge of your future; no one else controls it for you. “

HHS Roman Velazquez

Roman Velazquez, Highland
Roman volunteers at the Storehouse Food Pantry and many other social-service organizations. Here’s his view on helping others: “If situations for me were different and I was in need of help, I would hope and pray for kindness and compassion to come my way. Doing something for others makes me feel like I have made a positive impact on someone's life. I feel like I am doing my part as a citizen of the world.”

Hailey Barlow, La Cueva
LCHS Hailey BarlowHailey volunteers in a variety of ways, ranging from Best Buddies to Animal Humane. She’s also a key caregiver for a variety of family members, including her father. “I believe that I was placed on this earth to help others become the happiest individuals they have ever dreamed of becoming.”

LCHS Lauren OstermannLauren Ostermann, La Cueva
Lauren volunteers at hospitals and food banks, and went to Nicaragua to help build community structures. The most significant person in her life is her mother because “she has taught me to be kind, to have respect, and to appreciate all that I have.”

Ashley Munoz, Manzano
Ashley 2Ashley coaches Special Olympians and is a member of AVID. “Ashley is a bubbly person who loves to help others,” wrote one of her teachers. “When around the athletes she coaches, she treats them with respect and care.”


Kaianna O’Neal, Manzano
MHS Kaianna O'NealKaianna volunteers with Best Buddies and also helps at the Ronald McDonald House. “To me, helping others is not something you should have to think about; you should just do it,” she said. “When I see the smiles I put on others' faces, it makes me happy.”

RGHS Alma LozanoAlma Lozano, Rio Grande
Alma is the president of the Rio Grande National Honor Society and volunteers at Joy Junction and Presbyterian Hospital. “Alma,” said the school’s NHL Club Sponsor, “is a great role model for her peers.”

RGHS Josue NavaJosue Nava, Rio Grande
Jose apprentices at a local community clinic and is involved in MeCHA as well as his church. “I help people because I’ve met a lot of people who have extended their hand towards me during difficult situations,” he said. “A lot of people need the kind words and the kind treatment of another human being.”

SHS Sarah Martinez

Sarah Martinez, Sandia
Sarah is a 4.0 student, a talented musician and has been a member of the Ronald McDonald House Teen Ambassador program since its inception. She also has worked with the Science Demo Club to help elementary schoolers interested in science. “High school is about you showing yourself what you can do, not showing others what you can do,” she said.

Ryan Nunez, Sandia
SHS Ryan NunezRyan volunteers at Roadrunner Food Bank and a nearby elementary school and is a leader in his church. “Ryan views each day as a beautiful day regardless of the circumstances,” wrote a nominator. “He motivates and encourages others by giving selflessly of his time. His positive attitude and work ethic are visible in every aspect of his life.”


VHS Alyssa MeyerAlyssa Meyer, Valley
Alyssa has volunteered more than 250 hours at the VA Hospital and is devoted to the many clubs and organizations in which she participates at school. Her advice to younger students: “Have courage to be yourself. That is never easy because that might mean not being accepted into a certain group. You may find yourself being alone a lot, but that is better than being someone you’re not.”

VHS David Dominguez

David Dominguez, Valley
David plans to be certified as a Licensed Practical Nurse by May while also being part of the National Honor Society and MESA plus holding a job. “It’s great to see the compassion, work ethic, professionalism and drive to do his best that David has instilled as his way of life the last four year,” wrote his mother, Angelica Dominguez.


Tori Elliott, Volcano Vista
VVHS Tori ElliotTori volunteers in a variety of clubs and is an advisor for a group called 212 ABQ, which guides teams of teenagers in hopes of helping them reach their full potential. “She will leave a lasting impression on me as a young lady who will achieve all her goals while at the same time helping others and doing so in her usual selfless manner,” wrote a nominator.



Miracle Luster, Volcano Vista
VVHS Miracle LusterMiracle helped form the Black Student Union at her school and has worked to connect the group to help organizations like Joy Junction. “She has experienced so much as a child,” wrote her nominator, “and has risen above it all.”

Quinn Steffensen, Volcano Vista
VVHS Quinn SteffensenQuinn serves in a variety of roles at her school, while also volunteering in her church youth group and at the Albuquerque Museum. “I help people because it is the only way humanity will be able to survive and prosper,” she said. “I want to affect people in a way that they can also give back. If everyone works together, we can overcome and hopefully diminish most of the negative things that exist in the world.”


WMHS Nicole CastellanoNicole Castellano, West Mesa
Nicole volunteered to help advocate for school construction, has worked with food banks and volunteered on a variety of national campaigns. “The nicest compliment I have ever received is that I am a hard worker,” she wrote. “I know it is a basic compliment, but I like to be told that someone notices how hard I work to be successful at all that I do.”  


Alondra Maldonado, West Mesa
WMHS Alondra MaldonadoAlondra volunteers a New Day Ministries after school, helping to cook, serve food and clean up at the conclusion of her shift. “I gave a homeless man a ride to a shelter and bought him breakfast on an extremely cold day,” she said. “This affected me a lot, because I've seen the other side. I've seen how it was to be homeless and cold, and it made me so much more thankful for what I have.”


DATA 2Wyatt Strader, DATA: Even from a young age, Wyatt’s willingness to help others has impressed many of those around him. “He is still the first to stick up for the underdog or someone who is being ostracized,” wrote a nominator. “His quiet leadership has modeled both anti-bullying and the inclusion of others.”


PAPA Melody KoniorMelody Konior, Public Academy for the Performing Arts
Melody’s long list of activities includes volunteering at a variety of places. She also serves as an officer in student government. “Whether I'm helping one of my teachers or simply holding the door open for a complete stranger passing by, I know that a simple act of kindness can go a long way, so I make it an everyday goal to help someone – friend or stranger,” she said.


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