Annual Awards Honor Students Who Go The Extra Mile

Annual Awards Honor Students Who Go The Extra Mile

Five Individuals, One Group Win ‘Student Appreciation Awards’

SOCORRO, N.M. – Five students and one club were honored with the 2017 Student Appreciation Awards at a special banquet Thursday at Torres Hall on campus.

The winners:

·  Maggie Honeyfield

·  Miguel Luna

·  Nico Seamons

·  Emily Silva

·  Abra Ziegler

·  Socorro Educational Mentoring Alliance

Maggie Honeyfield

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Maggie Honeyfield with Theresa Kappel


Staff member Theresa Kappel nominated Maggie Honeyfield for this award for her tireless work to promote diversity, inclusion, awareness and empowerment to the students, administration and faculty of New Mexico Tech over the last three years.

In the fall of 2015 Maggie wanted to bring awareness of sexual assault to the broader NMT campus. She worked tirelessly to put together a month of events in April 2016 which included a BBQ, a luminaria event, pool party, a music event at the Cap, workshops and tree planting ceremony. Maggie has since begun a new student organization Techies Stand Up beginning in the fall of 2016.  She along with Techie Stand Up worked with other NMT student organizations to open the Socorro homeless shelter on Saturdays during the month of April 2017. 

“Maggie has grown as a person while helping shed light on situations and conversations that are difficult for most of us,” Kappel wrote. “There are many who put the greater good before themselves, but Maggie has shown great courage and stamina in a tumultuous world working toward greater understanding for all. She has brought together many different groups and works hard to close the gaps between different segments of NMT and Socorro.”

Miguel Luna

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Miguel Luna holds his Student Appreciation Award plaque. From left are Drea Killngsworth, Dr. Taylor Dotson, Luna, and Lisa Majkowski.


Four faculty and staff members nominated Miguel Luna for this award – Dr. Taylor Dotson of the CLASS Department, Dr. Pabitra Choudhury of the Chemical Engineering Department, and Drea Rae Killingsworth and Lisa Majkowski of the Office of Student Learning.

As a freshman, Luna joined the LLC focused on a research project for the Waste Isolation Pilot Project. He led a team that investigated stakeholder perceptions about the safety of the WIPP nuclear site in Carlsbad. His team proposed solutions to increase communication among community groups and to increase worker safety within the complex. That experience prompted him to volunteer with the OSL and maintain his involvement in the LLC program.

“Miguel has consistently volunteered to share information about the programs at NMT with guests, new students, and the public,” Majkowski wrote. “We were delighted to add Miguel to the OSL team as a Learning Coach for the Full STEAM Ahead LLC … The students could not ask for a better Learning Coach – Miguel is a gifted teacher and is helping other students reach their potential.”

Dotson praised Luna for his outreach efforts on campus and at Socorro High School. Luna made a short film about STEM careers and ran workshops on putting together a resume.

Choudhury wrote, “His activities and scholastic endeavor clearly demonstrates his commitment, leadership, and his desire to be standing among peers.”

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Nico Seamons poses along with the NMT Bicycle Club members who supported his nomination. 


Nico Seamons

Dr. David Burleigh, professor in the Materials Engineering Department and advisor to the NMT Bicycle Club, nominated Nico Seamons for this award.

Seamons has a long list of accomplishments at NMT, including his outstanding academic performance, volunteer work, and club leadership. Burleigh wrote that Seamons is a consummate organizer for the Bicycle Club, organizing club trips, keeping the books and inventory, and helping students repair their bicycles at the weekly “Wrench-a-thons.”

“Nico is outgoing, friendly, and very easy to talk with,” Burleigh wrote. “In addition to being involved with the community, Nico is also a fantastic student.”

Emily Silva

Recently confirmed as a member of the NMT Board of Regents, Emily Silva was nominated for this award by Maggie Griffin-Taylor of the CLASS Department and Melissa Begay, director of physical recreation.

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Emily Silva was nominated for the Student Appreciation Award by Dr. Maggie Griffin-Taylor (left) and Melissa Begay.


Silva is the vice president of the Tri Beta Club (biology honors club), volunteers with campus events, and has worked with the SGA for two years. Silva has volunteered for Science Olympiad, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Otero County, and the Socorro Animal Shelter.

“Emily knows how to balance her academics and her extracurricular activities to stay focused, healthy, and happy,” Begay wrote. “Emily is a true reflection of the way she lives her life - she is committed to learning, serving others, and serving herself. No wonder she always has a smile on her face and is considerate of others and very kind.”

Griffin-Taylor credited Silva for her exemplary academic record and her wide range of volunteer efforts.

“Emily is kind, energetic, and helpful to all,” Griffin-Taylor wrote. “She is a friend and inspiration to fellow students, to staff at Tech, and to members of the community who attend Community Education courses.  It is rare to see her without a smile.  She is a positive, healthy, well balanced, intelligent, and wise person who contributes so much to Tech.

Abra Ziegler

Abra Ziegler was nominated for this award by Dr. Gary Axen of the Earth and Environmental Science Department for her work with the AAPG-SEG student chapter. Axen credited Ziegler with single-handedly reinvigorating the club, which maintains important contacts with the national organizations, professional chapters, and industry groups.

A master’s student, Ziegler has organized outreach efforts at area schools, field trips, and networking events. Axen praised Ziegler for taking charge in the effort to get a major piece of geophysical equipment operational. Her work on the “minivibe” has helped activate an excellent teaching and research tool that is expected to be integrated into the department’s curriculum and potentially become a cost center for research-related use.

Socorro Educational Mentoring Alliance

The SEMA mentors were chosen as the club winner of the 2017 Student Appreciation Award. They were nominated by Dr. Sharon Sessions of the Physics Department and community liaison to Socorro Consolidated Schools.

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The Socorro Educational Mentoring Alliance students won the 2017 Student Appreciation Award for their work with local third-graders.


The alliance was established in September 2016 as part of a program to establish mentoring relationships between NMT students and third graders to help them learn to read.  The mentors dedicate two hours twice a week to mentoring Socorro youngsters for the entire academic year. They also meet for two hours weekly with each other and a mentor coordinator.

“As this is a first time program for Socorro, nobody really knew what they were getting involved in,” Sessions wrote. “The NMT student mentors have exhibited incredible compassion and patience in working with some of the most vulnerable kids in Socorro.  They all began with a strong desire to help kids learn to read in order to open opportunities for their future; none of them realized how important they would become to their mentees, not just in learning to read, but to be a shoulder to cry on, a friend on the playground, and an example of what they can aspire to for the future. 

Sessions said the mentorship program has had a measurable effect even in its first year. Not only do the elementary school students look forward to their mentoring sessions each week, they are also showing greater improvement in reading skills than their non-mentored peers.

“The NMT student mentors not only help with a critical skill for academic success, but they provide an incredible amount of socio-emotional support that really has helped the kids become more self-confident,” Sessions wrote. “This is the type of program that has the potential not only to change the lives of the individual students who are served by the program, but the district and state as a whole.”

– NMT –