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Posted: March 25, 2014

Selfless Seniors Recognized at Ceremony Thursday

The 27 high school students will be celebrated for giving back to their community during a ceremony at 3:30 p.m. March 27 at La Cueva High School.

Jorge Salinas, West Mesa

Jorge Salinas, West Mesa

More than 250 people are expected to attend Selfless Seniors, now in its seventh year. Among the highlights of the event are the presentation of personalized portraits created by noted Albuquerque photographer Frank Frost, who helped found the recognition. Other key sponsors include Hinkle Family Fun Center, Clear Channel Outdoor and Target. The Albuquerque Public Schools Education Foundation will honor the seventh class of Selfless Seniors, each with a record of helping in their community, during a ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, March 27, at La Cueva High School gym.

The 27 students chosen as 2014 Selfless Seniors are serious about their futures, yet find ways to put others before themselves. They maintain a GPA of at least 2.0 and are in good standing in terms of attendance and behavior at APS comprehensive or alternative high schools. But more importantly, they’ve had a positive impact on the lives of others and have characters that set them apart.

The featured speakers are Royale Dá, anchor/reporter for KOAT 7, and Gary Oppedahl, director of Economic Development for the city of Albuquerque.

Oppendahl was appointed to the office in December Mayor Richard J. Berry. A serial entrepreneur who has fostered many start-ups in New Mexico and the Silicon Valley, he is a key catalyst in the effort to increase technology commercialization in Albuquerque. Oppedahl plans on creating an entrepreneurial environment that will identify opportunities for growth, innovation, and job creation. By facilitating the commercialization of research, generated by Sandia National Laboratories and the University of New Mexico, Oppedahl envisions going from being reliant on government jobs, to being the ground floor for mind to market businesses. He plans to transform the city by building on the government funded, groundbreaking research already being done. Oppedahl recently came to the public sector as a business owner with awards such as Top CEO and Best Innovator.

Dá(pronounced “Day”) returned to her home of New Mexico in April 2008. Royale is experienced in both broadcast and print journalism. Prior to joining the Action 7 News team, she worked as an anchor/ reporter at KOLN-TV in Lincoln, Nebraska; anchor/reporter KBJR-TV in Duluth, Minnesota; and reporter at The Miami Herald.

She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a degree in professional journalism, and is a member of the NAHJ (National Association of Hispanic Journalists) and NAJA (Native American Journalists Association). Her outstanding work has also been recognized by the Associated Press; she earned a first place award in series reporting for “Help From the Heartland—Hurricane Katrina.”

One of her passions in life is supporting Special Olympics. She volunteered extensively for the organization before moving to New Mexico, and plans to continue doing so in New Mexico.

Royale is elated to be back home in the Land of Enchantment. Her father is from the San Ildefonso Pueblo (in Santa Fe County), her mother is from Pecos, and she has relatives across the state.

Whether she’s taking in the bright blue skies and mild weather or eating home-cooked food with family and friends, Royale is always enjoying her native New Mexico.

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