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LANL Foundation awards 13 scholarships to returning students

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By The Staff

Thirteen Northern New Mexicans recently received $1,000 Returning Student/Regional College scholarships from the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation.

The awards helped students returning to a formal education for certification or a two-year degree at an accredited regional college. Many are pursuing new careers.

Funding for the Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund comes from donations by LANL employees and a matching amount from Los Alamos National Security, LLC.

Awards went to:
• Oakley Blasdel, Rowe, who is pursuing a degree in nursing at Santa Fe Community College. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Baylor University in Waco, Texas in 1986, graduated from New England Culinary Institute in 1991 and has been a personal chef, personal assistant and caregiver for the last eight years.

• Evan Fishbein, Los Alamos, who plans to study Electro-Mechanical Engineering at UNM-Los Alamos. He will intern as a Greenhouse Technical Assistant at the New Mexico Consortium greenhouse facility. He is a part-time teacher at Taos High School and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology from Tufts University in Boston.

• Marvin Gabaldon, Santa Fe, who is pursuing an Associate of Arts Degree in Accounting and Business Administration at SFCC. He plans to continue his education at the University of New Mexico to the Masters of Business Administration level and establish a career that emphasizes Management Information Systems. He currently works in the office of the vice president of Finance and Administration at SFCC.

• Bryan Helke, Santa Fe, who is pursuing an Associate’s Degree in nursing from SFCC. He has been a veterinary technician and a volunteer with various animal support organizations.

• Brian Johnson, Santa Fe, who is pursuing a combined Associate’s Degree in Architecture, Computer Information Systems and Media Arts at SFCC. He plans to earn a Master’s Degree from UNM in architecture, focusing on regional growth planning and local resource management. He has an Associate’s Degree in Arts and Science from Pierce College in Tacoma, Wash. and has worked as store manager at companies such as CVS/Caremark, Office Max and Lowe’s.

• Christopher Kelly, Ojo Feliz, also a 2012 scholarship recipient, is attending Luna Community College to earn an Associate of Science Degree in pre-nursing. He plans to become a registered nurse and certified emergency nurse. He has worked as an EMT and wild land firefighter. Since moving to New Mexico in 2007, he has worked as an EMT with Mora County Ambulance and as a Squad Boss with Southwest Firefighters for the U.S. Forest Service. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Area Studies in Third World Countries from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.

• Tina Larkin, Taos, who plans to earn an Associate of Science Degree at UNM-Taos and to complete a Physician Assistant program. She recently completed the Certified Nursing Assistant course and is in the process of obtaining a CNA license. In conjunction with her studies, she will volunteer at Taos Retirement Village and preparing to be an intern at Taos Living Center. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from UNM, and is the photographer at The Taos News.

• Brenda Peterson, Taos, who will be a student in the EMT-Basic program at UNM-Taos and plans to become an ambulance emergency technician. She has completed training as a Wilderness First Responder. She earned a Bachelor of Art’s Degree in Interdisplinary Studies from Humboldt State University in Salem, Mass. and has a teaching credential. She is a founding member of the charter Vista Grande High School in Taos where she is responsible for testing coordination and professional development for teachers.

• Regina Rafferty, Santa Fe, who is pursuing a Nutrition Certificate at SFCC and plans to become a practicing Nutrition and Health Coach. She has been in the Culinary Certificate Program at SFCC. Her past careers include assistant to the vice president of sales at Donna Karan, account manager for two online furniture retailers and owner of a custom picture framing business.

• Zuzana Sopoci-Belknap, Santa Fe, and originally from Vrable, Slovakia, who seeks an Associate of Science Degree from SFCC and plans to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Laboratory Technology from UNM. She studied at Comeius University in Bratislava, Slovakia and became a microbiologist there before moving to the United States. She plans a career in microbiology or hematology.

• Mary Struzik, Santa Fe, who is pursuing an Associate’s Degree in nursing at SFCC. She has a Certificate in Business/Word Processing from the London (Conn.) School of Business and previously worked in marketing and as a bookkeeper and more recently as an inpatient rehabilitation assistant. She plans to develop new solutions for returning veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

• Paul Torres, Santa Fe, who is continuing a pre-engineering program at UNM-Los Alamos Accelerate Program. He has held drafting positions at various consulting firms and as a Field Technical at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He served as a Los Alamos County Councilman.

• Marcy Vigil, Española, is pursuing an Occupational Therapy Assistant certificate at Brown Mackie College in Albuquerque. She works as the Individualized Education Program Manager for the Española Public Schools and previously operated a licensed child care center for 15 years. She plans to return to the Española schools.

Since 2011 when the program began, 48 students have been able to return to school. Awards go to students from Santa Fe, Rio Arriba, Los Alamos, San Miguel, Taos, Mora and Sandoval counties.