CSU–Pueblo honors Jenna Garcia with Threlkeld Prize as top senior

A Colorado State University - Pueblo senior who aspires to change lives as an elementary school math teacher has been named the 2009 recipient of the Threlkeld Prize for Excellence. Jenna Garcia, Alamosa, will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies and a minor in Elementary Education and a concentration in math on Saturday, May 2 with a 3.971 graduate point average.

Named for the late Budge Threlkeld, a former administrator and professor, the award is presented to a graduating senior who demonstrates excellence in academic and co-curricular activities as well as in service to the University and to the community. Garcia was selected from six finalists for the Prize, and the winner was honored at the Achievement Day luncheon at CSU-Pueblo on Sunday, April 19 in the Occhiato University Center Ballroom.

To be considered for the Threlkeld Prize for Excellence, nominees must be a graduating senior (fall 2008, spring 2009, or summer 2009) who will have completed at least four semesters at CSU-Pueblo; have at least a 3.7 grade point average for the three full-time semesters prior to nomination; and relate, in writing, co-curricular activities as well as service to both the University and the community. A selection committee consisting of representatives from each college, the library, a retiree, and a classified employee review the applications, then select and interview the finalists.

The recipient receives a plaque and a substantial cash stipend upon graduation. Garcia’s name also will appear on a permanent plaque.

Garcia was captain of the CSU-Pueblo women’s volleyball team, and even after completing her eligibility as an athlete, continued to be part of the team as a volunteer member of the coaching staff. All three of her nominators described Garcia as someone who was concerned not only about her own success, but the success of her classmates, teammates, and the low-income students she teaches at Irving Elementary. Aside from her raw mathematical talent, Jenna is quite unusual in her mental flexibility and gentle tenaciousness. She is a kind and generous person, whose success will only lead to successes also for all of those around her. Head volleyball coach Chris Jonson described Garcia as a “calm, compassionate person; one who most parents would be very comfortable and happy with have teach their children. She has a natural ability in this area and has a heart for educating and molding young people.” He said she has set the bar pretty high for the future athletes within the volleyball program both on and off the court.

While community service was required as a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee athlete and a teacher education student, Garcia always went above and beyond the required hours. More than 600 hours will be completed in a fourth grade classroom at Irving Elementary, a low income school being watched closely by the state because of current test scores.

“Every day I see transformations of the students, and it thrills me to know that I helped walk them one step further,” Garcia said.

Other community service projects included Make a Wish Foundation tutoring troubled youth, AmeriCorps, Junior Achievement, ThunderPup clinics, volleyball camps, volunteering at nursing homes, and assisting with campus beautification projects in Trinidad.

Five other students were named finalists for the award:

Trinidad State Junior College transfer Laurie J. Corradino, Trinidad, will graduate on May 2 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a major in accounting with a 4.0 GPA. Her immediate plans include passing the CPA exam and completing a Master of Business Administration. Completion of a Ph.D. program also may be on the horizon, where he gift of teaching and serving students may be taken to an entirely new level.

Pueblo native and non-traditional student Janet Martinez will graduate on May 2 with a major in nursing and a 3.943 GPA. She previously earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, but considered a career change to nursing after being helped by a wonderful nurse during the delivery of her second of three children. She plans on living in Pueblo and working as a Medical Surgical nurse for a couple years before returning to CSU-Pueblo to pursue a graduate degree.

Pueblo native Cole McGee hopes to attain a position in either teaching or industry after graduating May 2 with a 4.0 GPA and a double major in history and mathematics. His research experiences and internship overseas impressed on him the importance of maintaining our nation’s position in terms of industrial and scientific endeavors, so he hopes to contribute something valuable in this area. However, as a tutor on campus he discovered a genuine passion for helping younger students discover their ability to perform and to develop a sense of discipline.

After graduating May 2 with a degree in biology and a 3.868 GPA, Hollie Vigil, Pueblo, seeks to return to Pueblo as a family physician and provide care to the medically underserved. She already has been accepted to Creighton University School of Medicine and Meharry Medical College, but will attend the University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences School of Medicine. During summers and winter break, she conducted research with Dr. Donald Alcendor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, determining the course of HIV infection and dissemination in the brain, then worked on genetics research with Dr. Janna McLean during the academic year.

Canon City native Amanda Wintersieck will graduate May 2 with a major in political science, and a 3.769 grade point average. She plans to pursue a graduate degree in American Politics and Public Policy at Arizona State University, where she already has been accepted with hopes of a career in policy analysis and academic. On campus, she has helped organize the policy issues forums, served as vice president of Associated Students Government and as an avid outdoorsman, was a ropes course instructor for the Experiential Learning Center. She also was an intern for State Representative Sal Pace.

Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.