Sigma Chi International Fraternity named University of New Mexico graduate Adrian Avila its International Balfour Award winner at the Balfour Leadership Training Workshop at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. Avila was one of four finalists who vied for recognition as Sigma Chi International Fraternity's most outstanding graduating senior. “It is an honor that I can't begin to quantify,” Avila said. The IBA selection committee debated for hours before naming Avila the winner on the basis of scholastics, character, campus leadership and fraternity service.

Avila, who graduated with a 3.95 GPA, is a first-generation American citizen. “I have constantly faced adversity and in all honesty I welcome it because I knew that it will drive me to reach a level of potential within myself that I hadn't realized was possible,” Avila said.

This fall, he will volunteer in the Dominican Republic with the Peace Corps, where he will work with public health projects. He was his chapter's scholarship chairman, risk manager, vice president and president. He helped develop a research and service project aimed at resolving community issues in the El Paso-Juarez borderlands. He also helped implement a mentorship program where he and his chapter brothers worked with at-risk eighth graders in Albuquerque.

As an award winner, Avila is provided a two-year term on his international fraternity’s board of directors. This will give him the opportunity to bring a New Mexican perspective that will emphasize diversity and originality. He will be able to expand on initiatives and policies for undergraduates and alumni while he serves in the Peace Corps.

Avila has completed Columbia University’s Public Health Scholarship Program, the Centers for Disease Control's Public Health Scholars program and an internship with the New York Academy of Medicine. “I could never have gotten to the point that I am now without letting other caring individuals inspire me to see the potential within myself. I have faith in myself because of my family, friends, educators and fraternity brothers. They empower me to be able to empower others, for that I am eternally grateful," Avila said.