Student Appreciation Awards 2000, May 2, 2000

Congratulations to: Steven C. Ball, Beverly Chomiak, Leah Elizabeth Dale, Mindy Lynn Gilbert, Katrina Jane Gressett, LeeAnn Montoya, and SPLAT.

SOCORRO, N.M., May 1, 2000 -- Six New Mexico Tech students and one student club recently were named recipients of the prestigious New Mexico Tech Student Appreciation Awards, in recognition of their demonstrated service and leadership at the state-funded research university.

Student Appreciation Award recipients are chosen on the basis of their "demonstrated service to fellow students and community, generosity of spirit, and performance above and beyond the call of duty," according to the award criteria.

Each year, six Tech students and one student organization are selected for the prestigious awards from a field of several top students at New Mexico Tech by a campus committee comprised of Tech faculty and staff members.

"New Mexico Tech has many students who give their time and effort to extracurricular projects," says Emily Nye, Tech humanities professor and director of Student Services at the university. "Many of these students also excel at part-time jobs, participate in professional associations, and, of course, struggle to keep up with their classwork. . . . The Student Appreciation Awards are just one way of rewarding these outstanding young people."

Nye is a member of the Student Appreciation Committee, which is charged with selecting award recipients.

The following winners will be honored at a campus awards banquet on Saturday, May 6:

Steven C. Ball, a graduate of Roswell High School who is now a junior at New Mexico Tech, is the son of Betty Ball of Roswell, N.M.

Ball attends New Mexico Tech on a full-time basis as an Alliance for Minority Participation (AMP) student and is majoring in engineering mechanics.

As an undergraduate student, Ball has been actively involved with several campus research projects, such as designing a pressurized feed-through system, designing and constructing a vehicle to compete in a "mini-baja" road race, and working at the university's Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center.

In addition to his studies and research activities at New Mexico Tech, Ball currently serves as president of the New Mexico Tech Student Association, the student government body at the school, and also lists current memberships in the Student-Produced Leisure Activities at Tech (SPLAT) group, Society of Automotive Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Society of Women Engineers.

He also is a member of the New Mexico Tech Chi-Alpha Christian Fellowship, is a "big brother" for the local Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America program, and occasionally takes on the roles of Tech orientation leader, tutor, and recruiter.

In addition, Ball is the student representative to Tech's Faculty Council, attends Institute Senate meetings on a regular basis, and gives campus tours to visiting New Mexico Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) students.

In past years, Ball has been instrumental in helping put on the annual "49ers" and "Spring Fling" student celebrations at the university.

Beverly Chomiak, a native of Mansfield, Conn., who is now a doctoral candidate at New Mexico Tech, is the daughter of Theodore Chomiak of Mansfield.

"I think I was considered for the award because of my fundraising efforts for the
Society of Economic Geologists (SEG) student chapter at New Mexico Tech," Chomiak says. Chomiak currently is the treasurer of the SEG at Tech.

"This past August, the club collected hundreds of rocks and minerals from around New Mexico for a small non-profit group in Rio Rancho, which sells mineral kits to elementary school teachers," Chomiak relates. "The group's name was 'Hands-On Learning' and their biggest customer for the mineral kits was Albuquerque Public Schools."

The SEG also has held raffles for mineral specimens, bake sales, and T-shirt sales to raise money, she adds.

Chomiak currently is pursuing a Ph.D. in geochemistry at New Mexico Tech.

Leah Elizabeth Dale, a graduate of Albuquerque High School who is now a junior at New Mexico Tech, is the daughter of Douglas and Beverly Dale of Albuquerque.

"I believe I was chosen for the award because of the work I've done in various committees of the New Mexico Tech Student Association," Dale says, "and also perhaps in honor of the work I've done as an officer of the student association."

Dale is the current treasurer and vice president elect of the Tech Student Association, the student body government at the school. She is majoring in business administration with a minor in engineering mechanics at the university.

In addition to her studies and student government activities at New Mexico Tech, Dale also has been active in establishing various charter clubs and organizations at the university.

"Many staff members at New Mexico Tech are willing to go the extra mile to help students," Dale says. "Most of the administration will listen to students as long as the students make their voice known."

Mindy Lynn Gilbert, a graduate of Hobbs High School who is now a junior at New Mexico Tech, is the daughter of Randy and Norma Gilbert of Hobbs.

Gilbert is attending New Mexico Tech on a Regents Scholarship, is majoring in biology, and is enrolled in the university's premedical program.

In addition to her studies and research activities at New Mexico Tech, Gilbert serves as president and secretary for the Epsilon Chi chapter of Tri-Beta, a national honor society for biology students.

"Tri-Beta has become more active recently," Gilbert relates, "but I'm just a person who organizes and informs. It's actually the other members who have participated in 49ers Celebration events, information fairs, and campus clean-up days. . . . I've helped with some of these events, but the people who deserve most of the credit are the members of Tri-Beta."

Gilbert also is a member of the Tech Geology Club and has served as a new student orientation leader, a Hi-Tech Ambassador, and Tech Student Association senator by proxy during summer
sessions at the school.

"I've also volunteered for the "Free the Horses" program, which is set up to help 2nd graders in Socorro and surrounding communities improve their self-esteem," Gilbert adds.

Over the past few years, she also has helped with the New Mexico State Science and Engineering Fair and New Mexico Science Olympiad, which are held each year on the New Mexico Tech campus.

Gilbert also has found time in past semesters to pursue her musical interests by participating in the university's spring musicals and various choir groups.

"My experiences at New Mexico Tech have been positive ones because of all the people on campus who support student success," Gilbert says. "I appreciate being able to work in a research lab as an undergraduate. I like walking into the Residential Life Office, or Student Services, or Financial Aid Office--just to name a few--because I always receive a smile from someone who
knows my name. In addition, I'm blessed to have two professors, Drs. Al Smoake and Snezna Rogelj, whom I can approach with my questions, problems . . . and even my jokes."

Katrina Jane Gressett , a graduate of Holdrege High School who is now a senior at New Mexico Tech, recently was selected to receive one of this year's Student Appreciation Awards at the state-funded research university.

Gressett is the daughter of Bill and Terri Gressett of Holdrege, Neb.

Gressett, who serves as the president of the New Mexico Tech Physics Club, is majoring in astrophysics at the university.

As part of one of her classes, Gressett recently was actively involved in building a Van de Graaf generator.

In addition to her studies and research activities at New Mexico Tech, Gressett also is current member of the Society of Physics Students and has been nominated for the position of Associate Zone Councilor with that organization.

"New Mexico Tech is a very challenging school," says Gressett, "but it's nice to be around so many highly intelligent people."

LeeAnn Montoya, a graduate of Rio Grande High School who is now a junior at New Mexico Tech, is the daughter of Christine and Ted Montoya of Albuquerque.

Montoya, who also is a recent recipient of the university's Technical and Science Excellence Award, as well as a Science Olympiad Certificate of Appreciation, is majoring in chemical engineering at New Mexico Tech.

As part of a undergraduate student internship, Montoya was actively involved last summer with various research projects conducted at the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) Nevada Operations Office's Nevada Test Site.

In addition to her studies and research activities at New Mexico Tech, Montoya is a past president and current member of the New Mexico Tech chapter of the Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists (MAES).

"Attending New Mexico Tech has been a wonderful and rewarding experience for me," says Montoya. "I have overcome many challenges which were handed to me. That in itself has made
me a much stronger person. I'm more determined than ever to fulfill my goals."

Student-Produced Leisure Activities at Tech (SPLAT) is a student group which was formed two years ago to provide all Tech students with more student-oriented events, activities, and entertainment programs. The student-run organization puts together a variety of games, road trips, concerts, comedy performances, and other fun events throughout the academic year.

The Student Appreciation Committee which selected the award recipients was comprised of representatives from the Tech Graduate, Financial Aid, Student Services, Registrar's, and Residential Life offices.