UNM-Los Alamos (UNM-LA) students Heaven Talachy and Allan Van Cleave were recognized recently during the State Legislative Session in Santa Fe as members of the 2020 Phi Theta Kappa New Mexico All-State Community College Academic Team. The competition recognizes students from community colleges in the state for their academic achievements. 

Talachy and Van Cleave each received a medallion and a certificate of recognition for their academic accomplishments. 

UNM-LA at the State Legislature (l. to r.): Chancellor Dr. Cynthia Rooney, UNM-LA Director of Student Affairs Kathryn Vigil, UNM-LA students Heaven Talachy and Alan Van Cleave, and UNM-LA instructor and advisor for PTK Maryjane Giesler attended the Legislative Session in Santa Fe recently, where Talachy and Van Cleave were honored as part of the 2020 Phi Theta Kappa New Mexico All-State Community College Academic Team.

Talachy, of the Nambe Pueblo, graduated from the Santa Fe Indian School in 2017 and enrolled in UNM-LA where she earned her Emergency Medical Technician certification, then chose to continue her education in Public Safety. Talachy, who currently works for the Emergency Management Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory, plans to transfer to Eastern New Mexico University to complete her bachelor’s degree in emergency management online. 

Van Cleave chose to relocate to New Mexico and pursue his interest in science after touring as a musician in a rock band for several years. He enrolled in UNM-LA for the strength of their Science programs, and after receiving his Associate’s degree in Environmental Science in December, he is now pursuing pre-engineering and applying for an internship position through the Community Internship Collaboration. Van Cleave tutors students at the Taos Cyber Magnet School. 

The program at the Legislature included opening remarks by Dr. Cynthia Rooney, President of New Mexico Association of Community Colleges; Dr. Becky Rowley, President of New Mexico Independent Community Colleges; Dr. Joe Shepard, President of Council of University Presidents; and Dr. Kate O’Neill, New Mexico Secretary of Higher Education. The chancellors and presidents of each school presented awards to their students.  

As a surprise guest, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham spoke to the students about the importance of higher education and read a Proclamation of Community College Day. Grisham also discussed the Opportunity Scholarship and encouraged everyone in attendance to promote the importance of the Opportunity Scholarship.  

Earlier in the day, students of Phi Theta Kappa New Mexico All-State Community College Academic Team were introduced to both the House and the Senate sub-committees on education. Accompanied by UNM-LA Chancellor Dr. Rooney; Dean of Instruction Dr. Sharon Hurley; Director of Student Affairs and co-advisor for PTK Kathryn Vigil; and UNM-LA co-advisor for PTK Maryjane Giesler; Talachy and Van Cleave also had the opportunity to meet with local State Representative Christine Chandler. 

Giesler commented, “Being nominated to the All-State Academic Team is an exceptional honor. This puts Heaven and Alan in the running for national scholarships offered by Phi Theta Kappa and acknowledges their hard work and dedication to academic pursuits.”  

Phi Theta Kappa annually conducts a national community college student achievement competition, the

All-USA Academic Team for Community Colleges. To qualify for New Mexico’s All-State team, community college students must maintain a grade point average of 3.5 or better, demonstrate leadership skills, and participate in community service. 

UNM-Los Alamos is an innovative, rigorous, and affordable comprehensive branch community college that provides foundations for transfer, leading-edge career programs, and lifelong learning opportunities. More information about UNM-LA is available at losalamos.unm.edu.