For 20 years, employees at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) have taken the lead in funding scholarships for students in surrounding communities. In 1998, a small group of dedicated staff members started a scholarship fund, and since then thousands of LANL employees, contractors and retirees have contributed nearly $5 million to build the largest scholarship pool in Northern New Mexico. Additionally, Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS) has contributed $3.2 million to support the education and career dreams of dedicated students.
This year during the recent internal fundraising campaign, more than 800 LANL employees pledged $400,000 for scholarships, and the numbers continue to grow. LANS again made a $250,000 contribution for a total of $650,000 in new funding. The nonprofit LANL Foundation, which proudly manages the program, praises the individual donors and LANS for their generosity and for recognizing the value of supporting higher learning in building our future leaders, teachers, researchers, innovators, and coworkers. Thank you!
“A contribution to the Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund is an investment worth making,” said Kathy Keith, Director of the Community Partnerships Office at LANL. “When employees and the surrounding communities come together to support scholarships, we strengthen Northern New Mexico.”
Who Receives Scholarships
A total of 142 students pursuing higher education will receive $712,950 in scholarships this year alone. Four-year undergraduate awards have already been given to 107 students. Adult, nontraditional students will receive 32 scholarships to return to education and pursue new opportunities. Three Native American students will receive scholarships in support of business careers and economic development in northern Pueblos and Tribes.
Next year, a new trade school scholarship will encourage career training and job placement in valued construction, electrical, carpentry, plumbing, mechanical and other hands-on fields that don’t require a four-year education but are critical to supporting needs of our communities.
To date, more than 1400 students from the northern counties of Rio Arriba, Mora, San Miguel, Sandoval, Santa Fe, Taos and Los Alamos have been awarded over $6.8 million in total.
Scholarship applicants need not have a Laboratory affiliation, nor do they need to pursue a degree related to science, technology, engineering or math, although many are offered student internships at LANL and some will chose to pursue employment at the Laboratory after graduation.
Scholarship recipients are dedicated students who meet academic requirements and have worked hard to make the most of their education and leadership opportunities, often overcoming significant adversity and economic disadvantage. They are your neighbors in rural areas. Many are first-generation college students. They excel in education while holding down jobs to support themselves and their families. They have inspiring stories to tell and bright futures ahead. They also need your help.
A Sustainable Program Needs Wider Support
You do the math. While the numbers are impressive, donations made by current LANL employees alone are not sufficient to fund the growth of the scholarship program and the increasing need in our seven-county region. Some money from the fundraising campaign goes directly toward the following year’s awards, while other funds have been designated to build endowments, from which the interest earned supports the long-term outlook for future scholarships.
Chances are, you know one of the past scholars who benefited from the generosity of others. You probably also know a student or adult who has the motivation to pursue higher education or professional development but will struggle to pay for it and may even give up that dream. Each year, two thirds of qualified students who apply will not receive an award due to limitations in funding.
More can be done to share the responsibility of supporting our students.
Community members and businesses, please support local students, higher education and the future of Northern New Mexico with a donation to scholarships. LANL Foundation accepts pledges at any time through our website at lanlfoundation.org/give. Thank you to those who already contribute.
LANL retirees may continue to support the program, including a designated retirees’ fund, through the LANL Foundation.
Lab employees, it’s not too late to contribute. The Lab’s online giving tool allows you to make a donation at any time throughout the year, not just during the campaign.
You choose where your money goes, and donations of any size are valued. Want to support a teacher? There is a fund for educators. Want your money to go to students with higher financial need? Yes, there are funds for that too, and so much more (see lanlfoundation.org/scholarshipfunds). You can even start your own scholarship where you set the criteria. All donations are tax deductible and go directly to scholarships. (Donor contributions are NOT used to support staff, outreach, selections or fundraising. Those programmatic costs are managed and funded by LANL Foundation, the Laboratory, LANS and a volunteer advisory committee of donors.)
Look No Further Than the Students for the Reason Why to Give to Scholarships
Viviana Martinez Espiricueta pictured in The MASTERS program atrium. Education has opened up a world of possibility for her.
Viviana Martinez Espiricueta, 2018 graduate of The MASTERS Program will attend St. Edwards University to study business management with the support of a $10,000 Susan Herrera Scholarship.
“My goal is to be the successful businesswoman that my mother in Mexico has always believed me to be. Despite all obstacles—dropping out of school to support my single mom and brother; moving between two countries, Texas, and New Mexico; being two grades behind; working and supporting myself; and spending three hours each way on busses between home in Arroyo Seco and The MASTERS Program at the Santa Fe Community College—I have always managed to see the positive side of everything. I believe that hard work pays off and everyone can achieve greatness.
“I like building relationships, and connecting with people through their story. I see myself in the hospitality and tourism industry managing a hotel or restaurant, maybe in Santa Fe or even another country. This scholarship validates my endurance and the adversity I have overcome. It will make it easier for me to attend college without financial worry. I’m also really fortunate to get a summer internship at LANL in business administration to see how a business is run on a large scale.”
Will Song at his mom’s Chinese restaurant in Taos where he busses tables and spent countless hours doing homework and engaging with customers.
Will (Jinpeng) Song, 2018 Taos High School graduate and valedictorian, is heading to Stanford University to study artificial intelligence with the help of a $20,000 Gold Scholarship.
“Walking off the plane and immigrating to the United States, I found myself with only two things left in my life: my mom and a Transformer. That toy became my life for the next 10 years. I saw Optimus Prime’s legs on wounded veterans, his arm on a classmate born without one, his eyes on the blind, his ears on the deaf, and his heart in a transplant box. Since Kindergarten, I have clung to one of the last threads to my past life, neuro-prosthetics. My goal is to make next-generation prosthetics that enable dexterous movements through neurological control systems. Specifically, I will develop an artificial intelligence unit capable of analyzing neurons.
“I received a mystery invitation to attend Stanford for a summer semester and took linear algebra there after my Sophomore year in high school. I was mad that I only got a B, so my junior year I took Calculus 3 at UNM-Taos for validation that I was still good in math and received an A+. I returned to Stanford the following summer, took the hardest class offered, an upper division complex variable course, and got an A–. There was no question where I would attend college.
“A college degree and my career will allow me to help my mother who owns a Chinese restaurant that is extremely labor intensive. She hasn’t taken a day off in years. I have strived to work as hard as her. She nicknamed me Will for ‘when there’s a will there’s a way,’ willpower, and my endless ambition. Receiving this scholarship will act as fuel for my drive to the future.”
Please contact LANL Foundation Scholarship Program Manager John McDermon at 505-753-8890 or email email@example.com with any questions.
Photos courtesy of the LANL Foundation, Andrea Multari