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Scholarship for American Indian NMSU students will honor Laguna Pueblo governor

A gift from Laguna Development Corporation Route 66 Casino has established a new scholarship at New Mexico State University to support American Indian students on campus.

Four men pose before red curtain
New Mexico State University College of Business Dean Jim Hoffman, left, retired U.S. Sen. Pete V. Domenici and NMSU President Garrey Carruthers pose with Laguna Development Corporation CEO Jerry Smith, right, at the 2014 Pete V. Domenici Conference in September. Smith was there to announce the establishment of the Floyd Correa Endowed Scholarship to support NMSU students who are members of the Pueblo of Laguna. (Photo by Niki Rhynes)

The contribution, totaling $75,000, will fund the Floyd Correa Endowed Scholarship, in honor of the two-term governor of the Pueblo of Laguna, a federally recognized tribe in west-central New Mexico. Recipients of the scholarship must be members of the Pueblo of Laguna, and first preference will be given to a student with a declared major in the College of Business, though any NMSU student who is a member of the tribe may be considered.

The Laguna Development Corporation is owned by the Pueblo of Laguna and develops and operates the retail outlets that help support the tribe?s economy. LDC established the scholarship to recognize Correa?s outstanding contributions to the Pueblo, the state of New Mexico and NMSU, said LDC Chief Executive Officer Jerry Smith.

?Floyd served in several capacities for our tribal community: he was a former governor of the Pueblo of Laguna; he chaired, for many years, the board of Laguna Development Corporation; he was a well-known and respected business leader in the Pueblo community and the Albuquerque community; but, most importantly for many of our tribal youth, he was an instrumental mentor in developing future business leaders within our community,? Smith said during the announcement of the scholarship at September?s Domenici Public Policy Conference at NMSU.

Correa, who was the youngest governor in the tribe?s history when he was elected at age 30, passed away in 2012 at 68, and Smith said members of the LDC board and the Pueblo spent much time pondering the best way to honor Correa?s memory.

?We finally figured out that the best way to honor him was through the education of the next generation of business leaders,? Smith said.

Both Smith and current Pueblo of Laguna Gov. Richard B. Luarkie are alumni of the NMSU College of Business, and Laguna Development Corporation received the 2013 Corporate Traders Award from the college in recognition of its continual support of the college and its students.

NMSU is ranked by the magazine Diverse: Issues in Higher Education as one of the top universities in the country for awarding degrees to American Indian students. One of the key objectives outlined in NMSU?s Vision 20/20 strategic plan specifically targets enhancing engagement of the Native American population, and NMSU President Garrey Carruthers said scholarship opportunities are an important part of supporting student success.

?NMSU has a long-standing and important partnership with Laguna Development. Their support, in honor of Floyd Correa, will not only make it easier for more Native American students to attend our university, but to also earn their degrees,? Carruthers said. ?The Native American population plays a significant role in our state and efforts like this help us in recruiting and retaining these students. NMSU is honored to be the recipient of the memorial gift that honors Floyd?s legacy.?

Higher education was one of Correa?s great passions, Smith said. He served on the White House Commission on Education under the administration of President George H.W. Bush. As a close friend of U.S. Sen. Pete V. Domenici, Correa was instrumental in the development of the Domenici Institute for Public Policy at NMSU, also helping to launch the institute?s annual public policy conference.

Correa?s widow, Margaret, and LDC board members will be guests at the College of Business scholarship luncheon, along with the first recipient of the Floyd Correa Endowed Scholarship, sophomore Brandi Fuentes of Albuquerque, a member of the Laguna Pueblo majoring in animation and visual effects through NMSU?s Creative Media Institute.

?This scholarship is helping me toward my goal of writing and creating my own cartoon after graduation,? Fuentes said. ?I want this to be a cartoon where the viewers can learn more about the world we live in and its inhabitants ? to form new ideas or opinions, and to see and learn about other cultures and perspectives.?

Margaret Correa will also be recognized on the field during NMSU?s Homecoming football game at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, at Aggie Memorial Stadium.

For more information about the scholarship, visit https://scholarships.nmsu.edu. For more about the NMSU College of Business, visit http://business.nmsu.edu.