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Ho! Ho! Ho! NMSU faculty, students unwrap Sony scholarship computer packages

Santa arrived early this year via Sony Electronics and Intel Corporation for five New Mexico State University students and two assistant professors, who each received Sony computer equipment packages in the first round of Sony's five-year scholarship program.

The 2009 Sony Electronics Education Scholarship awards were presented Dec. 1 to two New Mexico State University faculty members and five students. Jessica Houston, a 2000 NMSU alumna and now assistant professor in chemical engineering (second from left), and Michael Fitzpatrick, assistant professor, special education (third from left), each received Sony computer equipment valued at $2,300. Shaun Cooper, NMSU's chief information officer (left), was instrumental in securing the five-year scholarship program for NMSU. Steve Zimmer, Sony Direct's business development manager for education (right), was on hand to present the awards. (NMSU photo by Rich Chavez)

NMSU is one of only 31 universities and community colleges across the country chosen by Sony Electronics to receive the scholarships in the program's first year.

"This indeed is an early Christmas celebration, and NMSU is delighted that Sony Electronics and Intel have chosen to partner with us in celebrating and supporting some of our brightest new faculty and undergraduate students," said Waded Cruzado, NMSU executive vice president and provost, who assisted in presenting the scholarship awards Dec. 1 at NMSU.

The five students who received scholarship awards are all first-generation college students in their families and have demonstrated high achievement: Salvador Daniel Acosta, chemical engineering, from Spearman, Texas; Christopher Galvan, electrical engineering, El Paso; Julie Holguin, kinesiology, La Mesa, N.M.; Julianna Romero, School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, Las Cruces; and Justin Santiago, individualized studies, Alamogordo.

The student scholarship award packages, valued at $1,500, include a Sony VAIO notebook computer, Webbie high-definition camera with 16-gigabyte memory card, and a Walkman MP3 player.

Assistant Professors Michael Fitzpatrick, special education, and Jessica Houston, chemical engineering, each received a Sony VAIO notebook computer, Sony HD Camcorder with 16-gigabyte Memory Stick, Sony Reader and a 26-inch display BRAVIA television. The package is valued at $2,300.

Fitzpatrick earned his Ph.D. in special education at the University of Kansas in 2005 and joined the NMSU special education faculty in 2007. He received a College of Education "Rising Star Award," in 2009.

"I believe that video modeling and technology integration have major implications for teaching and learning," Fitzpatrick said. "The VAIO will be an essential tool for editing and streamlining video." Fitzpatrick's research focuses on the impact media literacy has on pre-service and in-service educators.

Houston is an NMSU alumna, having received her bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 2000. She earned a doctorate from Texas A&M in 2005 and returned to NMSU as a faculty member in 2009.

"I am setting up a new lab for my biomedical research, and this equipment will be great for data diagnostics related to that work," Houston said. "The laptop will be important for data analysis software programs." Houston's research focuses on bioengineering and material science.

Shaun Cooper, NMSU's chief information officer, was instrumental in coordinating NMSU's participation in the Sony scholarship program. As head of the Sony Grant Scholarship Committee, he ensured that awards went to students and faculty who are especially deserving. Each college named two students and one faculty member who met nomination criteria, and the awards committee chose the seven recipients from this pool of nominees.

"We wanted to give the awards to students who are excelling and are the first in their families to attend college," Cooper said. "The faculty members have shown great promise in teaching and research and have made clear progress toward tenure. We are looking forward to providing these great educational resources to deserving students and faculty through 2014."

Steve Zimmer, Sony Direct's business development manager for education, was on hand to present the awards. "Technology is no longer a luxury in education, it is a necessity," Zimmer said, "Sony Electronics, with support from Intel, is providing these computer equipment packages to ease the pressures on deserving college students and to give promising faculty high-tech tools that will enhance their teaching and research.

"We've made this a long-term commitment and will be making these awards to NMSU faculty and students four more times so we can make a real impact with the program," he said.

As technology changes in the next four years, so will the computer packages awarded through the program. Sony will stay in touch with award recipients via a Web site they created for students across the country who are participating in the program.

"Sony wants to create a community among recipients countrywide," Zimmer said. "We will encourage them to create blogs and discuss their projects and achievements in their educational and professional careers."

In fall 2010, NMSU colleges will again select students and faculty for the pool of nominees. The selection committee will announce the new awardees later in the semester.

For more information about the Sony Education Scholarship Program, contact Cooper at (575) 646-6030, e-mail scooper@nmsu.edu; or Randey Bamford at (575) 646-5113, e-mail rbamford@nmsu.edu.