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Mineral Engineer Wins National Scholarship

SOCORRO, N.M. January 26, 2012 – New Mexico Tech senior Ashleigh Mitchell earned a competitive national scholarship from the Coal Division of the Society of Mining Engineers.

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  Ashleigh Mitchell, mineral engineering major, accepts a check for $2,500 from department chair Dr. Navid Mojtabai. Mitchell won a scholarship from the Coal Division of the Society of Mining Engineers.

“I’m incredibly excited,” Mitchell said. “I can pay for school this semester and it’s not out of my pocket. I’m especially grateful to the SME for selecting me for this award.”

A native of tiny Mosquero in northeast New Mexico, Mitchell earned the $2,500 scholarship by writing an essay about her interest in coal mining, glowing letters of recommendation and her academic record.

“You have to be a stand-out to get this scholarship,” said her advisor, Dr. Navid Mojtabai. “Ashleigh is an exceptional student and she has an interest in coal.”

Mitchell has been active in the student chapter of SME since coming to Tech. She is currently the president of the club. Mojtabai said the club’s activities have increased dramatically since she became president.

Mitchell had a summer job at Peabody Energy’s coal mine near Grants, N.M., last summer. She worked with an explosives crew, did surveying and learned software programs that are standard in the mining industry.

Her supervisor at Peabody’s El Segundo Mine wrote a glowing recommendation. Scott Pearson wrote, “I consider Ashleigh to be above average in her professional development at this level of her education compared to other summer interns that I have worked with in my 32 years in the coal industry.” Pearson also wrote that Peabody offered her a second summer job for 2012.

Peabody’s Director of Operations Mitchell Knapton also provided a recommendation. “Ashleigh has an extremely positive attitude and willingness to work … Her fellow workings on the blast crew were especially impressed with her performance. … Her work ethic was particularly impressive.”

Mitchell said she is pleased with her choice to work in the coal industry and thoroughly enjoyed her work with Peabody.

“I loved it,” she said. “It’s very dirty, but it’s a great place to be after I graduate. We’ll always need coal.”

She expects to graduate with her bachelor’s in mineral engineering in May 2013. She hopes to start her career in Colorado and eventually work overseas.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech