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NMSU freshman receives Hitachi Foundation award

The Hitachi Foundation, a national philanthropic organization, has awarded New Mexico State University freshman Denise Terrazas the 2007 Yoshiyama Award for Exemplary Service to the Community.

Last spring, Terrazas was one of 10 high school students in the country that the Hitachi Foundation selected for the award. She was chosen out of 206 applicants that show signs of authentic leadership in their communities.

On Oct. 16, she will take part in a leadership retreat in Washington, D.C., where she will be honored by the National Press Club and awarded $5,000.

"Terrazas has been an active participant in the Dona Ana community since entering high school," said Mike Milam, board member of Dona Ana Action for Youth and an advocate in various community and youth organizations. "She is inquisitive, analytical and very concerned about the welfare of others."

Before graduating from Gadsden High School in May, Terrazas was an officer of the Chamberino Youth Group and participated in the Dona Ana Action for Youth and the New Mexico Civic Engagement.

She is majoring in hotel, restaurant and tourism management at New Mexico State University.

"She and her friend, Mayra Franco Vasquez, have briefed legislators in Chamberino, Albuquerque and Santa Fe," Milam said. "They have been instrumental in gaining local and statewide support for the future Chamberino Multipurpose Center."

In 2006, Terrazas and Vasquez arranged a focus group to prepare a funding request for the center in her town. It was presented to the 2006 and 2007 state legislatures and the group was appropriated about $292,000 for the planning and design of the center.

Now she is preparing a $1.25 million proposal for the construction of the center and an associated sports field. She is working with Bureau of Land Management and the Southwest Technology Development Institute at NMSU to address the construction, which the group hopes will be completed by 2010.