Colorado State University – Pueblo honors Nuanez with Threlkeld Prize as top senior

PUEBLO – A true scholar-athlete who has excelled both on the field and in the classroom has been named the 2011 recipient of the Threlkeld Prize for Excellence. As the Threlkeld recipient, Bonita Nuanez will receive the first diploma of the ceremony when she graduates with a major in biology, minor in chemistry, and a pre-med emphasis on Saturday, May 7 at the Colorado State Fair Events Center. She will be the first in her family to graduate from college.

Threlkeld Prize for ExcellenceNamed for the late Budge Threlkeld, a former administrator and professor, the award is presented to a graduating senior who demonstrates excellence in academic and co-curricular activities as well as in service to the University and to the community. Nuanez was selected from seven finalists for the Prize, and the winner was honored at the Student Leadership and Involvement Awards dinner at CSU-Pueblo on Monday, April 18 in the Occhiato University Center Ballroom.
To be considered for the Threlkeld Prize for Excellence, nominees must be a graduating senior (fall 2009, spring 2010, or summer 2010) who will have completed at least four semesters at CSU-Pueblo; have at least a 3.7 grade point average for the three full-time semesters prior to nomination; and relate, in writing, co-curricular activities as well as service to both the University and the community. A selection committee consisting of representatives from each college, the library, a retiree, and a classified employee review the applications, then select and interview the finalists.
The recipient receives a plaque and a substantial cash stipend upon graduation. Nuanez’s name also will appear on a permanent plaque.
An all-conference catcher for the ThunderWolves, Nuanez emerged as a leader and exemplary student in the research laboratory of Assistant Biology Professor Dr. Jeff Smith, who is studying a protein that could help eliminate paralysis in stroke patients. She has tutored students in both math and science classes and was a lab assistant in the anatomy and physiology lab. Last summer, she interned at the CU School of Medicine Heart Lung Research Lab, which resulted in authoring a scholarly article.

A native of Lafayette, Colo., she will leave her name on the softball record books as the University’s record holder for most walks as well as ranking fifth in school history for most home runs in a career. She was a four-year starter and earned the Jessie Banks Award as CSU-Pueblo's top female scholar-athlete in 2010. She volunteered as a mentor and coach at East High, South High, as well as Cesar Chavez  and Pitts Middle School and participated in numerous community events like Special Olympics, Rake Up Pueblo, and ThunderPup clinics as a member of the Student Athlete Council.
After graduation, Nuanez plans to take a year to apply to medical school while returning to the research laboratory at CU School of Medicine. As a medical student, she plans to specialize in emergency medicine and trauma surgery and aims to help the people of her Native American heritage providing medical treatment on reservations that many need, but cannot afford.

After graduation, Nuarez plans to take a year to apply to medical school while returning to the research laboratory at CU School of Medicine. As a medical student, she plans to specialize in emergency medicine and trauma surgery and aims to help the people of her Native American heritage providing medical treatment on reservations that many need, but cannot afford.

“My grandmother Mary Gallegos was Native American, and she taught me strength, determination to strive for greatness, and the ability to reach for my fullest potential,” Nuanez said. “I would like to carry those qualities she instilled in me.”

She believes in giving back to her heritage as well as the communities that gave her the opportunities to become successful. She hopes to develop drinking and driving awareness programs for her alma maters, CSU-Pueblo and Centaurus High Shool, and to financially support a program to make sober drivers available to taxi students home safely.

Six other students were named finalists for the award:

BETHANY BERNAL (Trinidad, Nursing)
Originally from Louisiana, Bernal relocated to Colorado in 2001 to attend Trinidad State Junior College. She successfully transferred to CSU-Pueblo and became dedicated to a  nursing career when her grandmother became critically ill and she witnessed the compassionate care her grandmother received. She has been a leader among her peers, serving as class president as a sophomore and serving as secretary of the Southern Colorado Association of Nursing Students. She has obtained her ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) certifications in addition to the demanding nursing department curriculum. After graduation, she plans to work on a medical/surgical unit at Fort Carson to serve her country by providing care to soldiers and their families. Her future goals include enrolling in a doctoral program to specialize in women’s health.

STACI BRADY (Canon City, Management/Marketing)
With an ultimate goal of becoming a University professor, Brady will begin her career as a business and community development representative for Pueblo Toyota after graduating with a degree in business management/marketing on May 7. After gaining some business experience, she hopes to expand her business and community contacts by marketing events while pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree and eventually obtaining a Ph.D. She wants to “pay it forward” by being an inspiration as her professors were to her. She has been active with families dealing with cancer through Orchard of Hope, served on the HSB Dean’s Advisory Council, and assisted the athletics department with event and promotion activities on game days.

KARINA DE ANDA (Pueblo, 3+2 Business, MBA)
A first generation college student whose parents came to American from Mexico to make a better life for their children, de Anda will earn in May bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business as part of the University’s 3+2 program as well as a minor in leadership studies. Her many honors include Emerging Student of the Year in 2008-09, Campus Collaborator of the Year in 2009-10, and HSB Dean’s Advisory Council Outstanding Member of the Year. A member of the President’s Leadership Program, she held an amazing four internships during her college career, formed the first Student chapter of the Southern Colorado Human Resources Management Club on campus, was the lead orientation leader and recently moved into the Residence Hall to head up the business TRAC program, mentoring new business residents in a living learning environment. Fluent in Spanish, she already has begun a job as a College Access Coordinator for the Colorado Commission of Higher Education in Denver, where she will assist low-income students and advise them on the FASFA and college applications.

JACLYN GAZETTE (Pueblo, Nursing, Leadership Studies)
Jaclyn will graduate in May with a major in nursing and a minor in leadership studies. Before she seeks to further her education in graduate school, she plans to gain at least two or more years of experience in a hospital setting to refine the nursing competencies she has learned in order to develop a greater understanding of patient needs. Using her health education and nursing background, she served as a teen mentor for the Spanish Peaks Mental Health Center and was named their Volunteer of the Year. As part of the President’s Leadership Program, she was one of four CSU-Pueblo students named as an El Pomar Scholar and was selected as CSU-Pueblo’s Colorado Leadership Alliance Student Leader of the Year. She also has been involved with the Pueblo Medical Reserve Corps, H1N1 Vaccine patrol, and as a student site coordinator for the annual 9Health Fair.

BRANDI JACKSON (Pueblo West, Computer Information Systems with Security Emphasis and Sociology with Criminology Emphasis)
Jackson will earn two degrees, a Computer Information Systems degree with a Security emphasis and a Sociology degree with a Criminology emphasis. She has been accepted to the graduate program in Sociology at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs in the fall with the goal of becoming a sociology/criminology professor in order to “bestow knowledge and values upon future generations of college students.” While a part-time student and single mother, she also served as a staff sergeant in the US Army Division West, where she earned an Army Commendation Medal and the Military Intelligence Corp Knowlton Award, which recognized individual who have contributed signification to the promotion of Army Intelligence. Her future plans may include becoming a crime analyst with local law enforcement utilizing the skills she obtained both in the Army and from her studies

KARL MERTENS (Colorado Springs, Civil Engineering Technology)
After graduating with a degree in Civil Engineering Technology in May, he will begin pursuit of a master’s degree with the ultimate goal of earning a doctoral degree in order to become a college professor and have the same impact on students that his professors had on him. He is a student member of the Associated General Contractors of America and the American Society of Civil Engineers. He was selected for two technical engineering internships during his college career and passed the national accreditation test for engineers as a junior. A non-traditional (married) student, Mertens uses his passion for sports as an avenue to reach local high school students to encourage them in their studies. He has volunteered countless hours helping coach and scout high school football, supervising and selling concessions at basketball games, and referring both basketball and football because he takes his “responsibility as a role model seriously, and I understand that the next generation looks to me for direction.”