Sheilah Garcia
Sheilah Garcia

Three University of New Mexico Alumni from the College of Education and Human Services (COEHS) will receive distinguished awards at the annual Alumni and Community Awards event, hosted by the COEHS Alumni Chapter.

 These awards recognize educators, administrators, counselors, and wellness specialists who are committed to critical work which improves the lives of educators and students, as well as the community. 

The awards will be presented during UNM Homecoming Week on Monday, Oct, 17 at 5 p.m. in Hodgin Hall. To register for the reception, visit 2022 Alumni and Community Award Winners.

"These award recipients have been champions of involvement and collaboration for the good of our college. As supporters, they have given us their time and treasure on numerous efforts," said COEHS Dean Hansel Burley. "As our community consultants, they have served as our cheerleaders and accountability partners. I am so happy to see their brand of beneficence, kindness, and caring being so deservingly honored."

 Sheilah Garcia will receive the Community Award, which recognizes those who have made a significant contribution to endeavors related to the mission of COEHS. 

A businesswoman, educator, and mother of five for decades, Garcia was nominated for her unwavering contributions to classrooms, organizations like the National Dance Institute (NDI), and collecting of lunches, clothes, and school supplies for children in New Mexico. She also initiated and sponsored KOAT TV’S annual KOATS for Kids Drive. 

“Sheilah embodies the spirit of a natural educator, always aware of the importance and impact of educational opportunities, and always eager to be a part of creating them,” nominator Debbie Johnson said. 

She also served within Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) and garnered awards as one of the best dealers in the state and country after taking over Garcia Automotive Group in 1984.  

 “Sheilah Garcia is a living treasure of our community,” said Albuquerque Community Foundation President and CEO Randy Royster, where Garcia also serves as a trustee. 

Tom Keyes

Tom Keyes and Evelyn Neil will receive the Alumni Award, which recognizes UNM graduates who have brought honor and/or have made significant contributions to their professions. 

 Keyes was nominated for his role in bridging the gap between K-12 and higher education through the Elementary Education Program, which connected APS and UNM opportunities for mid-career teachers. He was also instrumental in launching a new Master of Arts (MA) program with a focus on Reflective Practice. 

He also serves as an instructor and mentor in community groups like the Golden Apple Fellows Program after retiring in 2014. 

“Students saw Tom as their champion for their personal issues, their cheerleader when facing difficult situations, and their eternal motivator to become better teachers,” UNM Teacher Education Professor Marjori Krebs said.    

Neil has also been championed as a UNM Alumnus and retiree who continues to give back to Albuquerque learners of all ages.    

Evelyn Neil

Described by a nominator as inclusive and thoughtful, she created an endowed scholarship for students in the COEHS Special Education Department, as well as the Department’s first Endowed Faculty Fellowship. 

This is in addition to her volunteerism outside of the University, which is focused on groups like the Children's Grief Center and Horizons Albuquerque.         

“Evelyn has quietly supported programs that have significantly enriched and improved the quality of life for Albuquerqueans/Burqueno,” Jan Randall said.      

The awards will be presented during UNM Homecoming Week on Monday, Oct. 17 at 5 p.m. in Hodgin Hall. If you have questions, contact or (505) 277-4156.

For more information and to register,  visit 2022 Alumni and Community Award Winners.