UNM's freshmen recipients of 2011 Presidential Scholarships gathered on the lawn of Hodgin Hall recently to meet their scholarship sponsors for the first time. The event, hosted by the UNM Foundation, included corporate and individual sponsors, and Presidential Scholarship Program (PSP) alumni and other involved faculty and staff.

PepsiCo begins their first official year as a corporate sponsor this fall. Adrian Chavez, key account manager for education business with PepsiCo said that as an organization, they believe that giving to education is the best way they can give back to the community. "The idea is really just about supporting the students," Chavez said. "When we heard about the opportunity to be a part of PSP, we definitely said that's where we want to be."

PepsiCo will sponsor three scholars and Chavez said they are excited to be a part of the Presidential Scholarship Program. "We feel that it's a great opportunity for us to really touch the students individually," Chavez said. "Hopefully for us it opens a door for one of them to maybe be part of our organization when they graduate."

Also eager to create lasting relationships with their scholars is sponsor Wells Fargo New Mexico. Wells Fargo is in its 19th year of sponsorship with the Presidential Scholarship Program, and supports five scholars, four of whom are new freshmen this year. Jennifer Riordan, director of community and media relations, was at the reception to represent corporate sponsor Wells Fargo.

"We are just so excited to be a part of this program," Riordan said. "It's simply inspiring to meet the students who are our future leaders."

Riordan said Wells Fargo tries to create a mentorship program between the scholars and their sponsors. Each scholar is paired with a banker who is 5-10 years out of college as well as a senior-level banker who works with all of the scholars. "There's someone out in the community and in the banking or financial services industry that's prepared to provide them with counsel, coaching and be a mentor," Riordan said. "We hope that what will happen is that they create a life-long relationship."

In addition to corporate sponsors, individual sponsors also were present at the reception. Evan and Ellen Ashcraft have personally sponsored scholars for the past nine years and are beginning their 10th year with two new freshmen who they were able to meet this weekend.

Ellen, a former UNM Foundation employee, said she used to read letters that would be sent out to potential sponsors. "At one point I read enough of the letters that I thought, ‘We could do $2,600 yearly; that's not an outrageous amount,'" Ellen said. The Ashcrafts have seen four students through the entire program, freshman to senior year.

They met their two new scholars, Daryl Martinez, a freshman chemical engineering major from Gallina, N.M. and freshman criminology major from Albuquerque, Katelyn Jewell. Martinez, Jewell and Evan Ashcraft discovered they all have a love of running in common and shared some of their favorite high school stories.

"We thought PSP would be a nice way to give back and help keep New Mexico's best students in New Mexico and at UNM," Ellen Ashcraft said. "It's just a way to give back because we've been blessed with so much and we want to help pass it on," adding that she hopes that when their scholars are able, they too will become sponsors and give other students the same opportunities they were given.

To view a slideshow of the event visit: UNM Presidential Scholarship Reception.

For more information on the UNM Foundation and the PSP, visit UNM Presidential Scholar Program or call Annette Hazen, (505) 277-9628 and or Cathy Bunch, (505) 277-5688.

Story by Bailey N. Griffith

Media Contact: Wendy Antonio (505) 277-9520; e-mail: wanton1o@unm.edu