Karen Trujillo would be proud, knowing that she left a legacy of generosity that has resulted in a New Mexico State University student being able to pursue her degree in education this fall without having to worry much about the cost of tuition.
A former superintendent of Las Cruces Public Schools, Karen Trujillo died in February 2021 after being struck by a van while walking her dogs. Following her death, there was an outpouring of love and generosity from the Las Cruces community.
On Aug. 25, Teena Bhakta, a graduate student in the NMSU College of Health, Education and Social Transformation, was named the first recipient of the Dr. Karen M. Trujillo Memorial Endowed Scholarship at a special presentation. The scholarship was established by Trujillo’s husband Ben Trujillo in March 2021. Scholarship recipients must be an undergraduate or graduate student and have a declared major in the Division of Educational Leadership and Administration.
“It is fitting that just as school is starting back this fall the inaugural scholarship is being awarded to a future teacher,” said Ben Trujillo, a local State Farm agent. “The support for this worthy cause has truly been inspiring and gives me and our board of directors for the Dr. Karen M Trujillo Memorial Foundation the energy to continue doing the work to grow the scholarships awarded in her name.”
With State Farm’s latest contribution, the endowment is now more than $220,000, and with the second annual Dr. Karen M Trujillo Memorial Golfing for Educators scramble set to take place Sept 23 and 24, Ben Trujillo is looking forward to helping many more students become teachers in the years to come.
On Aug. 25 State Farm also presented the NMSU Foundation with $10,750, a significant boost to continue funding the Trujillo scholarship for years to come.
“For State Farm, it’s not enough to simply say we’re a ‘good neighbor.’ We embrace the responsibility to make our community better by being a part of a solution,” said Tamara Pachl, analyst for corporate responsibility at State Farm.
Yoshi Iwasaki, dean of NMSU’s College of HEST, lauded the efforts to assist education students in their studies.
“With this kind of support, the College of HEST’s School of Teacher Preparation, Administration and Leadership can continue preparing our graduates to become master educators, administrators and leaders for public, nonprofit, private and governmental institutions, by planting the seed at grassroot levels for touching and transforming the lives of our people within local communities and regions,” he said.
Bhakta expressed interest in carrying on the types of research and advocacy Trujillo pursued during her lifetime.
“If I had known Dr. Trujillo, I would want to tell her that I am dedicated to teaching children and leading other educators to make better schools for future generations,” she said.
A resident of Las Cruces since 2006, Bhakta expects to graduate in December with a master’s degree in educational leadership. Ultimately, she hopes to work at NMSU, mentoring and educating the next generation of educators and continuing her work with the children and families of Las Cruces.
A proud Aggie, Trujillo earned her bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees from NMSU in secondary education; mathematics; and curriculum and instruction. Aside from her family, her greatest joy was teaching and encouraging others to teach.
Trujillo was instrumental in establishing Educators Rising New Mexico in the then-College of Education at NMSU in 2015. Once known as Future Teachers of America, Educators Rising focuses on expanding the number of education majors across New Mexico and supporting retention in the field.
In 2016, Trujillo established the STEM Outreach Alliance Research Lab, which has since grown into the Southwest Outreach Academic Research Evaluation and Policy Center. The lab took on the challenge of creating the annual New Mexico teacher shortage report, which Trujillo began compiling with the help of her lab students. She was also part of the team that started Math Snacks, created by NMSU game designers and faculty in the Learning Games Lab. Math Snacks was designed to supplement classroom instruction to help make math more accessible to students.
“Dr. Trujillo was a role model for everyone, but especially for our future teachers,” said Derek Dictson, president of the NMSU Foundation. “We are deeply touched that the Trujillo family has chosen to continue Karen’s work in her memory, and that her scholarship is starting to impact the next generation of educators, starting with Teena, in a meaningful way.”
Contributions to the Dr. Karen M. Trujillo Memorial Endowed Scholarship may be made at https://nmsufoundation.org/givenow/karen-trujillo. To learn more about Trujillo, visit https://www.beakarennm.org.
CUTLINE: State Farm presented the New Mexico State University Foundation with a contribution for $10,750 for the Dr. Karen M. Trujillo Memorial Endowed Scholarship during a special presentation Thursday, Aug. 25. In attendance were, from left, NMSU Foundation President Derek Dickson; College of HEST graduate student Teena Bhakta, the first recipient of the scholarship; Trujillo’s husband Ben Trujillo; and College of HEST Dean Yoshi Iwasaki. (NMSU photo by Josh Bachman)
CUTLINE: New Mexico State University graduate student Teena Bhakta and Ben Trujillo share a hug during a check presentation Thursday, Aug. 25. Bhakta is the first recipient of the Dr. Karen M. Trujillo Memorial Endowed Scholarship, which was founded by Ben Trujillo, Karen Trujillo’s husband, after her death in early 2021. At the time of her death, Karen Trujillo, an NMSU alumna, was superintendent of Las Cruces Public Schools and a fierce advocate of education in New Mexico. (NMSU photo by Josh Bachman