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116 Students Receive $773,500 in Scholarships

Graduating seniors Zachary Ginn of Taos High School, Leina Gries of Desert Academy and Estrella Torres of Pojoaque Valley High School will head off to college in the fall with an extra $5,000 per year in scholarships provided by the LANL Foundation and Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund (LAESF). These three recipients of the top-level $20,000 Gold Scholarship are among the 116 students in Northern New Mexico receiving 122 awards totaling $773,500 in support of four-year degrees.

Ginn will attend Colorado College and major in organismal biology and ecology to study the diverse impacts of climate change on ecosystems worldwide. Gries will attend Pomona College with plans to double major in computer science and biology to develop predictive algorithms. Torres will attend Dartmouth College and study chemical engineering with the goal to create a more efficient fuel source.

Mike Ammerman, scholarship program manager for the LANL Foundation, describes LANL Scholars (as the program is newly named) as high-performing, well-rounded students who excel in academics, leadership, and service.

“This community of scholars represents the next generation of emerging leaders and innovative thinkers from Northern New Mexico who share a commitment to serve as role models in their families, schools and communities and make a positive impact in the world,” he said.

All winners met the rigorous academic and merit-based requirements and maintain primary residence in the seven Northern New Mexico counties surrounding Los Alamos National Laboratory—Los Alamos, Mora, Rio Arriba, San Miguel, Sandoval, Santa Fe, and Taos. (Student’s county of residence is listed when their school differs in location.)

Scholarships support graduating high school seniors and some current undergraduate students in pursuit of a four-year degree in any field of study. Certain award levels are determined by additional qualifications including the pursuit of degrees in specific fields of study, first-generation college students, Native American students, outstanding leadership, higher financial need, resiliency, and determination or residency in certain communities.

Six students received $15,000 Silver Scholarships:

Cole Agard, The MASTERS Program
Helena Andolsek, Santa Fe High School
Leah Epstein, Taos High School
Savannah Higgins, West Las Vegas High School
Elijah Pelofske, Los Alamos High School
Caleb Vigil, West Las Vegas High School

Domenici Scholarships, named after former U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), are $10,000 awards given to one recipient from each of the seven counties served by the scholarship program. Recipients of the Domenici Scholarships are:

Arlin Diaz Torres, Pojoaque Valley High School
Jacob Gamel, Robertson High School
·Samuel Gilbert, Santa Fe Preparatory School
Javier McTeigue-Vasquez, Los Alamos High School
Veronica Montoya, Taos Academy Charter School
Joshua Valdez, Robertson High School
TiShai Yazzie, Cuba High School

Fifteen students received John & Marti Browne Leadership Scholarships, named for the former Laboratory director and his wife. This year marked an increase in the number of this $10,000 award, with 10 additional scholarships made possible by support of Triad National Security, LLC. Leadership scholars are:

Raven Alcott, University of New Mexico (Santa Fe resident)
Cesar Arroyo, Capital High School
Gary Cook, Institute of American Indian Arts (Taos resident)
Caitlyn Cruz, Santa Fe Indian School (Rio Arriba resident)
Mariah Gonzales, Española Valley High School
Nathaniel Gonzales, Pecos High School
Elvia Goudriaan, Santa Fe High School
Michael Justus, Northern New Mexico College
Araceli Lara, Monte Del Sol Charter School
Ashlyn Lovato, Santa Fe Indian School (Rio Arriba resident)
Brianna Maes, West Las Vegas High School
Mireya Martinez, McCurdy Charter School
Haley Perez, Pojoaque Valley High School
Elena Romero, Capital High School
Edgar Sarceno, Santa Fe High School

Taylor Roybal of Pojoaque Valley High School and Isaac Shelton of the Academy for Technology and the Classics received Copper Scholarships. Shawnee English of Los Alamos High School is the recipient of a Susan Herrera Scholarship, named after the founding LANL Foundation CEO. Both award levels provide $10,000 in financial assistance.

The largest award category of Bronze Scholarships had 68 recipients, each receiving $1,500 a year for up to four years, a maximum total of $6,000.

Silvia Aguirre, University of New Mexico-Los Alamos (Rio Arriba resident)
Roya Ahmadi-Moghadam, Santa Fe High School
Leonardo Aragon, Mora High School
Isaiah Archuleta, McCurdy Charter School
Jaden Archuleta, Española Valley High School
Lynette Baca, Northern New Mexico College
Jenay Barela, Taos High School
Ellie Bobchak, University of New Mexico (Santa Fe resident)
Ezekiel Brecher, Desert Academy
Claire Breitinger, Santa Fe High School
Aaliya Casados, Northern New Mexico College
Brissa Chilton-Garcia, Taos High School
Samuel Crooks, Los Alamos High School
Jennifer Csicsery-Ronay, University of New Mexico (Taos resident)
Laura Dominguez, Pojoaque Valley High School
Jonathan Doorn, Los Alamos High School
Antonio Dowdy, Los Alamos High School
Arrika Duran, Santa Fe High School
Jeremy Duran, Taos Academy Charter School (Rio Arriba resident)
Randy Ferrell, Escalante High School
Brenden Fresquez, Pojoaque Valley High School (Rio Arriba resident)
Reuben Fresquez, University of New Mexico (San Miguel resident)
Presley Gao, Los Alamos High School
Andres Garcia, Robertson High School
Isaiah Griego, V. Sue Cleveland High School
Abigail Gunther, Taos High School
Alix Hailey, Los Alamos High School
Makaela Jones, New Mexico State University (Los Alamos resident)
Jakob Kaare-Rasmussen, Desert Academy
Occam Kelly Graves, New Mexico School for the Arts
Duncan Kliphuis, Academy for Technology and the Classics
Christopher Koh, Los Alamos High School
Gideon Kuykendall, Mesa Vista High School
Hannah Laga Abram, Santa Fe Waldorf High School
Jessica LeBron, Desert Academy
Molly LeBron, Desert Academy
Samantha Levings, Eastern New Mexico University (Los Alamos resident)
Valerie Li, Los Alamos High School
Tyler MacHardy, Taos High School
Ashley Martinez, Taos Academy Charter School
Meredith McBranch, Los Alamos High School
Kara McGee-Russell, New Mexico School for the Arts
Kineo Memmer, Taos High School
Samuel Menefee, Los Alamos High School
Martina Mercure, University of New Mexico (Rio Arriba resident)
Quinn Moon, Taos High School
Song Li Morris, Texas Tech University (Santa Fe resident)
Vineet Narayanan, Santa Fe Preparatory School
Haley Ortega, Española Valley High School
Caleb Parker, Home School (Los Alamos resident)
Alice Pittard, St. Michael’s High School (San Miguel resident)
Adrianna Quintana, Pojoaque Valley High School
Joselinn Rascon, Northern New Mexico College
Connor Rittner, Los Alamos High School
Lynn Robey, Santa Fe Preparatory School
Mandy Salazar, Escalante High School
Camila Seluja, Colorado State University (Santa Fe resident)
Joseph Sena, New Mexico State University (Rio Arriba resident)
Noelia Topete, Pojoaque Valley High School
Dima Tretiak, Los Alamos High School
Isaiah Trujillo, Escalante High School
Ryan Trujillo, Española Valley High School (Santa Fe resident)
Aspen Vallo, Santa Fe Community College
Iris Vance, West Las Vegas High School
Brian Vigil, Northern New Mexico College (Santa Fe resident)
Sonyia Williams, Los Alamos High School
Leah Wolfsberg, Los Alamos High School
Steven Zhao, Los Alamos High School

Named and Memorial Scholarships

Several scholarships have been established by individuals or organizations in partnership with the LANL Foundation in recognition of a loved one, esteemed colleague or area of study.

New in this category is the Nancy & Jeffrey Sauer Scholarship, a $1,000 one-time award that supports studies in physical or environmental sciences, given to Amadeo Suazo of Española Valley High School.

Haylee Hayden of Los Alamos High School received the Don & Connie Cobb Education Scholarship of $6,000 toward a degree in teaching.

Ryan Trujillo of Española Valley High School received the Raymond Chavez Memorial Scholarship, a $2,500 one-time award for scholars in Chimayó.

Tayler Suazo of Española Valley High School received the Abiquiú Land Grant – Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Scholarship, a $1,500 one-time award specifically for descendants of Abiquiú Land Grant families.

The following recipients of named and memorial scholarships each received $1,000 one-time awards:

Sage Slater, University of New Mexico (Taos resident)—Alan Johnston Memorial Scholarship
Jared Carnes, Los Alamos High School—Brett Knapp Memorial Scholarship
Risa Bridge, Los Alamos High School—Climate Change Leadership Institute (CCLI) Scholarship
Edgar Sarceno, Santa Fe High School—Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Scholarship
Reuben Fresquez, University of New Mexico (San Miguel resident)—LANL Workforce Retiree Scholarship
Darlene Gallegos, University of New Mexico (Rio Arriba resident)—Marvin Martin Mueller Memorial Scholarship
Alberto Castro, Capital High School; and Brenden Fresquez, Pojoaque Valley High School—Northern New Mexico American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Scholarship
Sasha Martinez, Questa High School; and Zoe Martinez, Santa Fe Indian School (Rio Arriba resident)—Rae Lee Siporin Scholarship
Gideon Kuykendall, Stephanie Martinez, Kaitlyn Terrazas, and Anthony Vigil, all of Mesa Vista High School—Tim Martin Memorial Scholarship
Kianna Vigil, McCurdy Charter School—William & Gertrude Fradkin Memorial Scholarship

Fund descriptions and award criteria may be found online at


The Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund began in 1998 and gets its name from the main source of donations: Los Alamos National Laboratory employees, contractors, and retirees. Donations also come from community members and local businesses that value education and economic development in the region.

Awards are primarily based on academic merit, with financial need included as one of several additional evaluation factors. Of this year’s scholarship recipients, 41 percent reported an annual family income of less than $50,000.

In addition to financial support, LANL Scholars are encouraged and validated by the Laboratory and Northern New Mexico communities. Many winners are also given the opportunity to work in summer internships with a mentor at the Lab.      

2019 awards by reported ethnicity are:

Hispanic/Latino/Spanish Origin: 49 students (42%)
White/Caucasian: 34 students (29%)
Multi-Ethnic: 14 students (12%)
American Indian/Alaskan Native: 7 students (6%)
Asian American: 6 students (5%)
Black/African American: 0 students (0%)
Did Not State: 6 students (5%)

2019 awards by county of residence within scholarship service area are:

Santa Fe: 38 students, $295,000 (33%)
Rio Arriba: 27 students, $124,500 (23%)
Los Alamos: 23 students, $139,000 (20%)
Taos: 15 students, $102,500 (13%)
San Miguel: 8 students, $70,500 (7%)  
Mora: 3 students, $26,000 (3%)
Sandoval: 2 students, $16,000 (2%)

LANL Scholars Awards Ceremony

Scholarship recipients were honored during an awards reception with family and invited guests on May 5, 2019, at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. More than 80 Scholars and 350 total guests took part in the celebration that included a luncheon.

Mike Ammerman served as master of ceremonies. LANL Foundation CEO Jenny Parks and Laboratory Director Thomas Mason gave remarks to inspire students on their path to college and career and to encourage them to stay connected to their Northern New Mexico communities wherever they end up working.

The highlight of the event features the students. Each scholar is invited on stage to introduce themselves and make brief remarks about their future aspirations and to share words of gratitude. Santa Fe Youth Poet Laureate Hannah Laga Abram closed the ceremony by reciting an original poem titled Ode to Home by a Teenager Dreaming of College.

Video stream of the event may be seen on the LANL Foundation’s Facebook page.
See below for additional event photos and highlights.

Giving to Scholarships

The scholarship program and funds are managed and administered by the nonprofit LANL Foundation. Award selections, student outreach, and programmatic support are provided by an advisory committee of volunteer donors.

Laboratory fundraising efforts are led by the LANL Community Partnerships Office. The annual scholarship fundraising campaign will be conducted May 13–31, 2019. Lab employees may donate year-round to a variety of funds through the LANL Giving Tool.

LANL Foundation accepts direct contributions through a secure online form (click YES in the first box to reveal scholarship fund options). The Foundation also assists donors in creating individual endowed awards with defined selections criteria upon request.

Since 1999, Northern New Mexico students have been awarded 1,667 scholarships totaling more than $7.6 million from LAESF, nearly $5 million of which came directly from LANL employees.

For more information, contact Mike Ammerman at or 505-753-8890 ext. 115.

Scholars in Attendance at Awards Reception

Santa Fe County: (back, left to right) Molly LeBron, Jessica LeBron, Leina Gries, Alice Pittard, Reuben Fresquez, Ellie Bobchak, Isaac Shelton, Araceli Lara, Cesar Arroyo, Hannah Laga Abram, Edgar Sarceno, Elena Romero, Elvia Goudriaan, Helena Andolsek, Claire Breitinger; (kneeling) Vineet Narayanan, Samuel Gilbert, Cole Agard

Rio Arriba County: (left to right) Aspen Vallo, Kaitlyn Terrazas, Randy Ferrell, Mandy Salazar, Joselinn Rascon, Taylor Roybal, Jaden Archuleta, Isaiah Trujillo, Arlin Diaz Torres, Ashlyn Lovato, Noelia Topete, Estrella Torres, Silvia Aguirre, Adrianna Quintana, Haley Perez, Amadeo Suazo, Laura Dominguez, Martina Mercure, Ryan Trujillo, Zoe Martinez, Caitlyn Cruz, Mariah Gonzales, Tayler Suazo, Haley Ortega, Mireya Martinez, Isaiah Archuleta, Brenden Fresquez

Los Alamos County: (left to right) Dima Tretiak, Valerie Li, Christopher Koh, Alix Hailey, Jonathan Doorn, Risa Bridge, Leah Wolfsberg, Elijah Pelofske, Connor Rittner, Meredith McBranch, Steven Zhao, Sonyia Williams, Caleb Parker, Javier McTeigue-Vasquez, Presley Gao, Shawnee English

Taos County: (left to right) Sasha Martinez, Brissa Chilton-Garcia, Zachary Ginn, Abigail Gunther, Veronica Montoya, Ashley Martinez, Leah Epstein, Gideon Kuykendall

San Miguel County: (left to right) Joshua Valdez, Savannah Higgins, Andres Garcia, Iris Vance, Caleb Vigil, Nathaniel Gonzales; Mora County: Leonardo Aragon

Sandoval County: Isaiah Griego


Event Highlights­

“We want you to come back to Northern New Mexico. My definition of a meaningful life is to do work that you love with people that you love in a place that you love. I got to do that and I wish the same for you,” said LANL Foundation CEO Jenny Parks. “I am so inspired by you—your brilliance, your light and your heart. Many of you have come from very difficult backgrounds. I want you to know that you have everything you need to be successful and have a meaningful life. You have determination, you have the intelligence and you have the resiliency.”

Parks honored those who have helped and supported the students along the way—parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, and mentors. She also addressed gender inequality in the workplace and encouraged all students to advocate for themselves.

President and CEO of Triad National Security, LLC and Laboratory Director Dr. Thomas Mason congratulated the scholars and their families.

“All of you will be taking on new challenges as you proceed down the path of your education. One of the important things to keep in mind is, whether you have been fortunate to have success with little effort or you’ve had to work very hard at it, whether you’ve always known you were going to a university or you’ve had to overcome obstacles to get there, your success going forward is really determined by only one thing. And that’s persistence, sometimes it’s called grit. You will stumble, you will find difficult things that you have to work through. The measure of success is working through those difficulties,” he said.

He assured the LANL Scholars that the Lab supports them on their journey and that the employees believe in them. This commitment is reflected in the $5 million contribution that Lab employees have made since the program began in 1998. He also highlighted the internship opportunities at the Lab as a route to full-time employment.

Scholarship Program Manager Mike Ammerman spoke of building community among scholars beyond their scholarship.

“We hope that you mark today as an end to one part of your journey and the beginning of another and an entry point into one another’s lives and allow us to be part of them with you. We are on a mission to build a community around these amazing people. You have so much to share and benefit from by knowing one another and being part of each other’s stories. My job is to help facilitate that process of you knowing one another and being part of something that matters. Welcome to this LANL Scholars community.”

He thanked the LAESF Advisory Committee for their work and commitment in support of students and the scholarship program. Acknowledgement also went to the award-winning New Mexico School for the Arts Jazz Band, under the leadership of Orlando Madrid, that set the mood with music, as well as the YouthWorks Culinary Arts Program, led by Chef Carmen Rodriguez and his wife Penny, that professionally catered the event.