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HomeNews23 New Mexico Students Receive Prestigious Scholarship

23 New Mexico Students Receive Prestigious Scholarship

As New Mexico’s high school seniors are preparing to graduate, many have to worry about the financial burden that comes with pursuing higher education. For 23 hardworking students across the state, that burden is being lifted thanks to the Daniels Fund scholarship which provides the full cost of attendance at colleges in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.

The Daniels Scholarship Program, established by the late Bill Daniels, a cable television pioneer known for his philanthropic efforts, represents a beacon of hope and opportunity for high school seniors across Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. This prestigious scholarship offers more than just financial assistance; it provides a comprehensive support system designed to foster personal and professional growth among its recipients.

“We are thrilled to support the educational aspirations of this tremendous group of young people,” said Hanna Skandera, president of the Daniels Fund. “They represent the next generation of leaders, and we can’t wait to see the amazing things they will accomplish with this opportunity.”

Ceciliana Ruiz, a visionary from St. Michael’s High School is among the recipients. Ruiz has big dreams and a desire to improve the lives of children and families around her.

Dreams Made Possible

Ruiz, a bright and ambitious senior from St. Michael’s High School in Santa Fe, New Mexico, embodies a rare combination of compassion, determination, and visionary thinking. Her dream of becoming a pediatric oncologist is not just a career choice but a deeply personal mission, inspired by her family’s encounters with cancer and a profound desire to make a difference in the lives of children facing medical challenges.

From a young age, Ruiz was drawn to the innocence and joy of childhood, initially envisioning a future as a teacher.

However, her path took a turn when cancer touched her family, not once but multiple times. Witnessing both of her grandmothers’ battle with breast cancer and experiencing the emotional turmoil it brought to her loved ones, Ruiz found her true calling at the intersection of her two passions: caring for children and the medical field.

The fight against cancer became her fight, steering her towards pediatric oncology—a field where she could wield her knowledge and compassion to battle one of life’s most formidable adversaries.

Her aspirations go beyond the individual; Ruiz said she envisions a world where young patients receive not only top-notch medical care but also continuous educational support, ensuring that illness does not rob them of their future potential.

She dreams of founding a clinic that redefines the pediatric oncology experience, integrating treatment with education, and providing a holistic support system for both patients and their families. This innovative approach reflects her deep understanding of the multifaceted challenges faced by children undergoing cancer treatment and her commitment to addressing these challenges head-on.

“This scholarship is not just a financial aid; it’s a foundation upon which I can build my aspirations of becoming a pediatric oncologist,” Ruiz said. “It alleviates the financial burden of college, allowing me to focus wholly on my education and the larger goal of helping children battle cancer.”

Her determination is fueled by personal ethics and a robust support system, particularly her family, who has instilled in her the value of education and community service. Looking forward to using the scholarship, she said, “Beyond the financial aspect, the Daniels Scholarship connects me to a community of driven individuals and mentors who share my passion for making a difference.”

Ruiz considered how this community can be drawn on, “This network of support is [going to be] invaluable as I navigate my way through the challenges of higher education and into my professional life.”

Even today, as a senior in high school, she volunteers her time as a math tutor to the students at Chaparral Elementary School all the while taking college-level courses to earn a certificate in phlebotomy.

Other Scholarship Awardees

  • Sydney Crispin, Alamogordo High School 
  • Muhammetnur Sapayev, Albuquerque School of Excellence
  • David Martinez Castro, Alta Vista Early College High School
  • Rebekah Warren, Clovis High School
  • Karleigh Erramouspe, Corona High School
  • Asher Dixon, Dixon Homeschool Academy
  • Jeremiah Woodruff, Elida High School
  • Ethan Tsosie, Farmington High School
  • Juliana Brinegar, Home School
  • Ariana Thiel-Hadjilambrinos, La Cueva High School
  • Marco Otero, Mandela International Magnet School
  • Holly Norsworthy, Mayfield High School
  • Autumn Boggs, Miyamura High School
  • Erica Tillery, Moriarty High School
  • Jude Thomas, Navajo Preparatory School
  • Jamie Chavez, New Mexico School for the Arts
  • Kaylynn Belew, Portales High School
  • Mandy Rosario, San Juan College High School
  • Olan Macejka, Santa Fe High School
  • Chelby Kenney, School of Dreams Academy
  • Ceciliana Ruiz, St. Michael’s High School
  • Salem Smith, V. Sue Cleveland High School
  • Jovanny Maldonado-Torres, Valencia High School

What is the Daniels Scholarship Program?

Each year, the Daniels Fund selects a new cohort of Daniels Scholars, providing them with the opportunity to attend any accredited non profit college or university in the United States.

For students choosing to study within the four-state region of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, the scholarship covers the full cost of attendance at partner schools. Those opting for institutions outside these states are eligible for up to $100,000 over four years, to cover tuition, room and board, books, and other educational expenses. Additionally, Daniels Scholars receive a laptop computer and benefit from ongoing support before, during, and after their college years, ensuring they are well-equipped to succeed academically and in their future careers.

Applying for the Daniels Scholarship Program is a competitive and rigorous process, reflective of its founder’s commitment to excellence.

Eligible candidates must be graduating high school seniors residing in one of the four eligible states, demonstrating not only academic proficiency with a minimum GPA of 3.0 but also financial need. The application process unfolds in three stages: an initial online application, followed by a series of short essays, and finally, personal interviews with community leaders. This thorough evaluation ensures that selected scholars truly embody the qualities Bill Daniels valued most.

The application window for the Daniels Scholarship Program opens annually in September, with deadlines typically in October. Prospective applicants are encouraged to visit the Daniels Fund website to access the online application and to review detailed information regarding eligibility criteria, application instructions, and deadlines.

“Our ultimate goal is to help Daniels Scholars not only graduate, but have successful, rewarding careers. And we provide personal support beyond just money for college to help them get there,” according to Bruce Wilmsen, Vice President of Communications at Daniels Fund. “We have more than 3,000 Daniels Scholar Alumni across the country doing amazing things — from doctors to elected officials to aerospace engineers. Surveys of our scholars show us that they are in leadership positions and involved in their communities at higher levels than their peers. We think Bill would be thrilled and humbled to see the impact that his scholars are making in their communities.”