Student Athlete Demonstrates Spirit of Community

SOCORRO, N.M. December 11, 2011 – Final exam week at New Mexico Tech is a solemn, anxious, and sometimes agonizing time. Young minds and spirits are tested to the utmost by a faculty noted, among other things, for the high expectations they exact of their pupils. Among those Tech students are those who seem to thrive in such an atmosphere, even to the point of remembering the plight of those in the broader community not as fortunate as themselves.

Michaela Rempkowski staffs the donation table at Fidel Center, along with Tyler Fletcher (left) and Anthony Cortez, both of the men's rugby team.  Photos by Dave Wheelock

Michaela Rempkowski poses with the Queens rugby team at far right.  She organized Tech's 17 sports clubs to host a food drive and clothing drive for Socorro's needy families.

Such a Techie is senior chemical engineering student Michaela Rempkowski, 21. She decided the week before finals to organize a food and clothing drive to benefit Puerto Seguro drop-in homeless shelter and the Socorro Storehouse food pantry. As a member of the Queens women's rugby club, Michaela pitched the idea to the leaders of Tech's 17 sport clubs at their monthly meeting. Quite to her surprise on such short notice, the council endorsed the idea and launched preparations on the spot. Thus was born the Tech Sport Club Food and Clothing Harvest, scheduled to run during finals week December 12 to 16.

For Rempkowski, the Harvest is not a fleeting venture.

“I did a lot of community service in high school and still try to” says the 2008 graduate of Rio Grande High School in Albuquerque. “As class president I organized literacy campaigns, special needs fairs, senior citizen Thanksgiving dinners, community clean-ups, and every year for Christmas I had a toy drive for the children's hospital. I now try my best to help out at the Storehouse in Albuquerque as well as Joy Junction and I occasionally walk dogs at the Socorro animal shelter.

“Throughout my life, especially through all my hardships, I have received nothing but help and opportunity from my community, and this is the best way I know to give back to them or help someone who may also need help or opportunity through their hardships.”

Rempmkowski singles out her grandmother as a guiding beacon in her life.

“She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when I was young and she is now paralyzed. To this day she is pushing through this disease and sometimes I think that's so she can be there to support me in every way. She is the reason I have gotten so far and the reason I have so much drive. I love my Nana so much!” she said.

Not that Rempkowski is the only caring young citizen at Tech. Volunteers from Tech's various sport clubs will staff the collection point in the Fidel Center's atrium throughout the week. The dormitory that donates the most will enjoy a pizza party in January 2012. Tyler McCracken, a graduate student in physics and member of the golf club is organizing the duty schedule. Natalie Kane of the Minerettes soccer club designed a poster for the event. Biology student Lyndsay Snyder of the Tectonics women's volleyball club has also supplied valuable input.

Rempkowski said she plays rugby because I have always been an athlete. She lettered all four years of high school at Rio Grande in volleyball and swimming, and also played basketball and tennis.

“When I came to Tech there were not many sport options, not even a women's rugby team at the time,” she said. “So I told myself I would try to play with the men's rugby team. That dream ended when I saw one of my first friends here, Jerod Aragon, with a black eye from playing. Later, when I saw that a couple people were trying to form a women's rugby team I decided to play and to help start the team. Now I love it!”

Rempkowski hopes to enter medical school after completing her bachelor’s at Tech.

“I’ve always wanted to be a doctor and more specifically an emergency room surgeon. I want to travel the world and take care of people. I just have a passion and a need to take care of people and it would be a dream come true if I could accomplish that."

Managing the requirements of a difficult degree at a demanding university and rallying her peers to serve others, all while having fun playing her sport - one suspects Michaela Rempkowski will accomplish whatever she sets out to do.

What:             NMT Sport Club Food and Clothing Harvest

When:              Monday, Dec 12 through Friday, Dec 16

9:00-3:00 Monday - Thursday

9:00-5:00 Friday

Where:             Joseph A. Fidel Student Services Center on the New Mexico Tech campus


Puerto Seguro accepts donations from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 519 Highway 85 South

Telephone 575-835-2895


– NMT –

By Dave Wheelock /Tech Club Sport Coordinator