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NMSU students named President's Associates Scholars

Fourteen New Mexico State University students have been awarded the 2012 President's Associates Scholarship.


Group photo of NMSU freshman President's Associates Scholar 2012 recipients.
The 2012 NMSU Presidents Associates Scholarship recipients stand in front of the Conroy Honors Center. Top row, from left, Erik Ness, James Darnell and Frederick Earnest; second row, from left, Kyla Elkins, Jamie Smith and Chiann-Ling Yeh; third row, from left, Ashley O'Leary, Hannah Hopper, Elizabeth Brug and Samantha McGuinn; bottom row, from left, Rachel Oestreich, Brisa Byford and Katherine Jackson. Not pictured, Marisa Oberdorfer (Courtesy Photo)

The President's Associates Scholarship is NMSU's most prestigious scholarship. It is awarded to outstanding high school students from New Mexico who demonstrate academic excellence, community involvement and strong leadership potential.

"Congratulations to these outstanding students," said Thomas Price, president of the President's Associates Board and PA Scholar alumnus. "I am confident that the time spent as a President's Associates Scholar will lead each of these high-achieving students to a successful and rewarding future. We thank the many donors who recognize the value of this scholarship to the university through their generous support of the PA program."

NMSU students Elizabeth Brug, Brisa Byford, James Darnell, Frederick Earnest, Kyla Elkins, Hannah Hopper, Katie Jackson, Samantha McGuinn, Erik Ness, Marisa Oberdorfer, Rachel Oestreich, Ashley O'Leary, Jamie Smith and Chiann-Ling Yeh have been selected to receive the President's Associates Scholarship.

Brug, daughter of Bridgid and William Brug, graduated from Los Alamos High School and is double majoring in English and Spanish with a minor in dance at NMSU. She is a member of the NMSU DanceSport Crimson Rhythm team. She also plays the violin, writes poetry, swims and runs. Brug is currently training for a triathlon.

Byford, daughter of Bill and Yolanda Byford, graduated from Mayfield High School and is majoring in art at NMSU. She hopes to pursue a career in graphic design and eventually become an art director for a magazine or website. Byford is also a member of the NMSU American Institute of Graphic Arts student chapter.

Darnell, son of Jim and Jerrie Darnell, graduated from Artesia high School and is majoring in animal science at NMSU. He hopes to pursue a career as a veterinarian. In his free time Darnell rides the unicycle, juggles and plays sports.

Earnest, son of Terri and Mike Earnest, graduated from V. Sue Cleveland High School and is majoring in aerospace and mechanical engineering at NMSU. He plans to pursue his master's degree and possibly a doctorate in multiple fields of engineering. Earnest is a member of the NMSU American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the student chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Elkins, daughter of Carl and Shawnda Elkins, graduated from Grants High School and is majoring in kinesiology at NMSU. She is part of the NMSU rodeo team.

Hopper, daughter of Daniel and Linda Hopper, graduated from Onate High School and is majoring in music education at NMSU. She sings gospel music and has received several solos in that genre of music. Hopper is also looking into studying music therapy.


Jackson, daughter of Paula and Toby Jackson, graduated from Albuquerque High School and is majoring in anthropology at NMSU. Her interests include forensics and intramural sports. Jackson plans to pursue a career in forensics after graduating.

McGuinn, daughter of Richard and Marcie McGuinn, graduated from Las Cruces High School and is majoring in computer science at NMSU. She is involved with theater, the NMSU Women in Technology chapter and hunting. McGuinn also enjoys advocating for woman rights in technology.

Ness, son of Sharon Sumner and the late Erik Ness, graduated from Mayfield High School and is majoring in computer science. He is involved with the NMSU Network Security Group and Game Development Club. His interests include economics, politics and music theory and composition.

Oberdorfer, daughter of Linda and Bob Oberdorfer, graduated from La Cueva High School and is majoring in early childhood education at NMSU. Oberdorfer works as a note taker for NMSU Student Accessibility Services.

Oestreich, daughter of Rick and Heidi Oestreich, graduated from Moriarty High School and is majoring in creative writing at NMSU. She graduated third in her graduating class and hopes to someday become a published novelist.

O'Leary, daughter of George and Kathleen Guynn, graduated from Mesilla Valley Christian School and is majoring in biology at NMSU. She is involved with NMSU Campus Crusade, theater and volleyball. O'Leary was the valedictorian of her graduating class and plans to pursue a career in pharmacy.

Smith, daughter of Johnny and Cristi Smith, graduated from Piedra Vista High School and is majoring environmental science and theater at NMSU. Smith plans to live in New York to pursue a career on stage and later move to pursue a career in environmental science.

Yeh, daughter of Chingder Yeh and Crystal Wang, graduated from Las Cruces High School and is majoring in biology at NMSU. She is involved with the NMSU Rotaract Club, Key Club and the Pre-Pharmacy Society. Yeh is pursuing a degree in the medical field in order to help expand the number of doctors available in Taiwan.

Since the creation of the scholarship in 1978, it has been awarded to more than 300 students, representing every academic discipline and every community in New Mexico.