Each year, The University of New Mexico College of Education and Human Sciences honors alumni and individuals in our community who have made significant contributions within their profession – specifically focusing on educators, administrators, counselors, nutrition professionals and researchers.

Recipients are nominated during the spring semester by others who familiar with their professional accomplishments, experience and contributions.

The COEHS Alumni Award recognizes UNM graduates who have brought honor and/or have made significant contributions to their professions.

Professor Ruth Luckasson
Distinguished Professor Luckasson is a lawyer and UNM chair of the Department of Special Education. Luckasson focuses on supporting people with disabilities and their families to build satisfying lives in the community. She has served in many leadership positions including being the president of the American Association on Intellectual Developmental Disabilities, chair of the Arc-US Legal Advocacy Committee and more. In addition to her experience, Luckasson has been recognized for her work through multiple awards and has been a co-author of more than 100 publications.

Christine Begay Vining
Vining is a bilingual Navajo speech-language pathologist. After receiving her degree at UNM, she worked in New Mexico for many years with individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities. She now resides in Mesa, Arizona as an assistant professor and founding director of clinical education in the Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology at the A.T. Still University, Arizona School of Health Sciences. Vining has served in many positions and received awards related to her goal of continually working toward advancing diversity, equity and inclusion.

The COEHS Community Award recognizes nominees who have made a significant contribution to endeavors related to the mission of COEHS, they are not required to be alumni.

David Colton
Colton succeeded the late David Darling as the dean of the UNM College of Education and Human Sciences. Before moving to New Mexico, Colton served as a high school social studies teacher and administrator in New York and Illinois, as well as serving as a faculty member at Washington University. Colton has enjoyed a decade of teaching, research and professional development projects at various schools throughout New Mexico.

Patricia Valderrama
Valderrama has demonstrated her dedication to her community in many ways. Originally born in Columbia, Valderrama came to the United States in 2000. She has worked in both fields of film and education. Valderrama has also written and produced 10 television shows in Spanish to inform families of services available to them.

The awards will be presented during a Zoom reception Thursday, Nov. 4 at 4 p.m.