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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Social Justice Award winners named

Alison Folsom, an undergraduate student with a double major in government and women studies, and Hector Arturo Uribe, a graduate student in the School of Social Work, are this year's winners of New Mexico State University's fourth annual Social Justice Award.

rd recognizes and honors a member of the NMSU student body, faculty or staff who has volunteered to help create a more just society. Forms of social justice activism may include efforts to eliminate disparities in economic conditions, facilitate political involvement, work against inequality or prejudice, promote peace or nonviolence or make the community a better place for all. Previous recipients have engaged in community organizing, the advancement of tolerance and the protection of free speech.

Folsom was nominated by Nancy Baker, an associate professor of government, and Diane-Michele Prindeville, an associate professor of government who also directs the university's Women Studies Program.

In their letter of support, Baker and Prindeville praised Folsom for her work in several campus and community organizations, including the Hacienda del Sol homeless shelter, the Las Cruces Peace and Justice Center, the New Voters Project, the student organization "FREE" (Feminists Reinventing Equality Everywhere) and more. They also lauded her for helping to establish a scholarship fund for homeless women, advocating for NMSU employees seeking to organize a union, and helping young women recently released from the state's prison systems and foster care to enter college.

"The variety and number of activities in which Alison has exercised leadership demonstrate her competence, energy, maturity, time management skills and dedication to social justice," Baker and Prindeville wrote. Describing her as "modest, kind, witty, and caring" and as a student who uses "creative approaches to build coalitions across the community," the two professors acknowledged Folsom for treating everyone with respect and for never seeking personal benefit or recognition for what she does for the community.

Uribe was nominated by John Myers, a licensed social worker who serves on the Border Health Advisory Council and Dona Ana Health and Human Services Alliance.

In his letter of support, Myers wrote that Uribe has helped a number of community organizations in Dona Ana County's South Valley begin efforts to fight companies who contribute to environmental health hazards.

"His unwillingness to allow private negotiations to resolve issues absent local participation is a breath of fresh air for residents historically having to accept the way things have always been."

Uribe helped build skateboard parks for the youth in Las Cruces, Mesquite and Silver City; organized the Mesquite Community Action Committee; helped organize the South Valley Alliance; and was involved in voter registration drives in two high schools and the Catholic Church. He is currently working with the New Mexico Environment Department to address the health impact of chemical companies in Mesquite and Vado and he is helping to organize "Re-visioning New Mexico," whose goals are to organize, empower and address the issues and concerns of Southwest residents.

"There are not enough awards, programs, or recognitions like this out there," said NMSU Government Professor Bill Taggart, who serves on the selection committee. "Many times, people like this pass under the radar screen as they give of themselves to help those who need the greatest assistance."

The awards were announced during "Social Justice Week" at NMSU, a week in which the three-day J. Paul Taylor Symposium on Social Justice is being held.

Bob Nosbisch
March 29, 2006