Freshman Janna Mills is already making a name for herself on campus and in New Mexico. She took part in the New Mexico Leadership Institute academy this summer and was crowned recently as the 2014 New Mexico State Fair and Rodeo Queen. Mills, a 19-year-old from Eagle Nest, in northern New Mexico, is studying elementary education with a focus on special education.

NMLI scholarship recipients are chosen during their junior year of high school, required to perform a community service project during their senior year and participate in the summer program. The objective of the program is to provide exceptional high school leaders from across New Mexico with the financial resources, global awareness and professional networks required to succeed in a competitive and knowledge-based economy—all goals that align with Mills’ ambitions. 

“The NMLI scholarship is giving me the opportunity to get closer to my future educational and professional goals,” Mills said.  “I really want to participate in the travel abroad studies at UNM, teach in other countries, and bring what I learn back to our state where I can teach from a more global perspective.”

Mills is the 76th overall recipient and first from Colfax County to be awarded with the State Fair and Rodeo queen titles. Additionally, Ashley Rose Mills, Mills’ older sister and also a UNM law student, was the first Miss Rodeo New Mexico from Northern New Mexico. “We have both always loved horses and everything the rodeo has to offer,” Mills said. 

Hard work and dedication go into competing for the crown, which includes a written test, horsemanship demonstrations and interviews. “The committee asks several questions—not only the history of the State Fair, but also the history of New Mexico. I had to answer a question about technology and whether it has too much power over today’s generation. I answered that I believe it is taking over our generation—everywhere you walk through UNM, you see people on their electronic devices," she said.

In her role as State Fair and Rodeo queen, Mills is an official employee of the New Mexico Expo and travels around the state and to other fairs around the country talking to people about what all the state fair has to offer. Her first official duty was in Cliff, N.M. where she attended the county fair.

“It is such an honor to be able to visit communities throughout our state to talk to people about what the State Fair has to offer. We have such a diverse culture and so many great things to share,” she said.