Simon Scholars Program
College and Alumni Newsletter                                                                              
December 2014


December 2014

Greetings everyone!

Congratulations to all of you who successfully completed another semester of college. With the stress of “finals” behind you and, for most of you, a bit of a break before the Spring semester begins, this is the PERFECT time to reflect on your college journey so far. We know that each of you began college with some specific personal, academic and career goals in mind, and we know that these goals may change over time. We also understand that it is easy to get caught up in just following your “degree plan” and chipping away at the mandatory classes you need in order to graduate. While this is certainly an important part of the process, we encourage you all to carve out some time over the winter break to reflect on your goals and ask yourself if they still ring true for you.

We realize that the word “reflect” is a bit vague, so here are a few specific questions for you to ponder as you lie in your bed back home, take your dog for a walk, or just sit quietly in your favorite chair:

  • What have I learned about myself that I did not realize when I first started college?

  • Does my current academic path honor what matters most to me, and does it reflect who I am and who I want to become? In other words, “Is what I am doing now helping me become the person I want to be in future?”

  • What have I done to make sure that I am getting all that I can from my college experience? What opportunities or experiences do I want to make sure I have before graduating? And what am I doing to make this happen?

  • Am I facing any struggles (personal,social,academic) that I need to work through with the help of Simon and/or college advisors and staff?

If you are an upperclassmen, I encourage you to also reflect on a couple of additional questions:

  • Which faculty at my college truly know me and could write a letter of recommendation for me when I apply for an internship, job or graduate school? What am I doing to build these key relationships?

  • What am I doing to make myself stand out among a pile of resumes when I apply for my first “real” job out of college or when I apply for graduate school?

We know this is a lot to ponder and that some of you just want to “check out” completely over break and not think about school.  But once the new semester begins, there will likely be little time to sit and reflect. We believe that you will find a great deal of satisfaction and renewed motivation if you truly reflect on all that you have accomplished so far as well as your priorities for the future.

On behalf of everyone at the Simon Charitable Foundation, we wish you all a joyful, peaceful and safe holiday season. We hope that you are able to relax and spend time with family and friends, and that you begin the new year feeling rested and ready!


Important Spring Deadlines

Reminder: The deadlines for dropping a class and changing a grade mode are approaching. Please see your school's academic calendar for specific deadlines.

UNM Students: Please click the link below for the key deadline dates.

NMSU Students:Please clickthe link below for key deadline dates.


FAFSA Update

Reminder: All college scholars should schedule some time to fill out their FAFSA for the 2015 - 2016 Academic Year. The FAFSA for the next academic year can be filled out after January 1, 2015. While the priority deadline to complete the FAFSA is March 1, you should The FAFSA can be completed at:

UNM (like most other colleges) is offering FAFSA workshops to assist you with renewing your FAFSA. For details, visit their website at

For other important deadlines, please go to:

Fund Request Reminder

You can now request funds for the Spring 2015 semester! Please allow up to two weeks for fund requests to be processed. Please refer to your school's academic calendar for payment deadlines. When requesting funds, please remember to attach the following documents:
  • Final grades for Fall 2014 semester

  • Class schedule for the Spring 2015 semester

  • College Grade Record (you will complete and submit this in the portal)

 If you do not need to request funds the the Spring semester, you will still need to submit a college grade record in the portal and attach all the required documents listed above. Attn: College Freshman - most of you have already received your funds for the year. However, you will need to submit a college grade record as soon as you are registered for the Spring semester and have your final Fall grades.

The Simon Charitable Foundation offices will be closed December 22nd through January 2nd. Any fund requests received during that time will be processed upon our return on January 5th.

My Study Abroad Experience
by Monique Parks
Class of 2011
Senior at University of Colorado - Boulder

Many people ask me, “What did you learn traveling abroad?” and my answer is simple, as Mark Twain says, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

Having taken a semester to travel and study abroad in Barcelona, Spain, I learned many things about many people in many places. However, my most significant insights were what I learned about myself. I learned to navigate unfamiliar places, to follow maps, take metros, and communicate in a variety of settings and to be a cautious but curious traveler. I learned that most people are eager to be helpful and will try to guide you and answer questions—even when they do not know the answers. While I learned that the world is big and there is so much diversity, I also learned that as people we have so much more in common than we often realize. Indeed, in many ways my experience abroad helped me to more fully appreciate my own family and friends. It also helped to expand my understanding and perspective of the possibilities for the future.

I went to Spain on the CIEE program for business and culture. In the program, I took interesting business classes that provided more of an international focus and a broad focus of businesses contribution to the world. I stayed with the best host-family. I stayed with a host-family that included three daughters: 17, 16, and 4 years old and two cats: Thomas and Lupita. My host-family took me in and introduced me to their local customs. We learned from each other. I was immersed in their daily lives and learned so much about European and Spanish culture through their shared perspectives. They made me laugh, while often laughing at my attempts to say new things in Spanish.  With their love and guidance, my experience abroad was rich with laughter, new foods, new customs and local traditions. I highly recommend anyone staying aboard to try to stay a host family. It made all the difference to me and now I have two amazing families.

Many have asked me where I went, and of course I visited many parts of Spain. I traveled to Costa Brava, which is a small city north of Barcelona. When the bus rounded the corner to Costa Brava you see only white houses that are right on the ocean.  It was absolutely beautiful and one of my favorite trips. I also traveled to Sevilla, Granada, Montserrat, Figueres, Girona, and of course, explored Barcelona itself.
I took an art class in Barcelona and we were able to visit many of the original pieces of which we studied. I visited the Picasso museum in Barcelona and we gazed in awe at Gaudi’s masterpieces, especially the Sagrada Familia.

While my classes and studying were in Spain, I also took many opportunities to visit additional places. I traveled in France to Paris and the Provence area that includes Aix, Villeneuve-les-Avignon, Les Baux, and St. Remy.  St. Remy is where Vincent van Gogh entered himself into an asylum and produced some of his best paintings including Starry Night. It was inspiring to see the rolling hills and little villages that he had admired and painted 125 years ago. I also visited much of Italy; I went to the Cinque Terre that are “5 lands” on the Italian Riviera. The Cinque Terre is comprised of small houses are on the sides of cliffs that overlook the water and roads aren’t large enough for cars. In Italy, I also visited Florence, Venice, and Rome. I was in Rome for Christmas and attended to mass by the Pope with thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square. He spoke in Italian but it didn’t matter. I also had the best gelato of my life there.

One of my favorite trips was to Munich, Germany for the most famous Christmas markets in the world and the Neuschwanstein castle or as many know, the castle on which Disney based his castles. I also traveled to the Great Britain and visited London and Brighton. Before I returned to The United States, I entered the New Year with my family in London and we watched the fire works on a bridge over the river Thames.

I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to travel to all of those places and meet so many amazing people. One thing that stood out to me throughout my whole trip was how different the culture is everywhere you go. To go back to Mark Twain’s quote, I think it is important that everyone experience a new culture because it is eye opening, inspiring, and most of all, important to solving the problems that we all are going to face in the future.Please don’t hesitate to ask me more questions about my experience. Please come to me with questions about my study abroad experience and questions about your own. I would love to help you and inspire you along the way.
Barcelona, Spain - Parc Guell
Burano, Venice, Italy
Rome, Italy
Scholar Announcements
  • Aurelio Corral, class of 2011, graduated with a BBA in Accounting from UNM in December 2014.
  • Ronald Orozco, class of 2011, graduated with a  BA in Chemistry from UNM in December 2014.
  • Yesenia Tarango, class of 2008, will be traveling to Colombia in January to help with a medical mission.  She will be going as part of the medical ministry international.  They will provide  local people with vision care.  Yesenia  will assist by interpreting.
  • Alyssa Romero, class of 2012, will be traveling abroad to Italy in February to study art, architecture and religion. While she will be staying in Rome, she plans to visit Florence and Pompeii. She also plans on visiting Ms. Jellineck, her former teacher from South Valley Academy, who currently lives in Rome.
  • Daniel Fierro, class of 2008, will begin graduate school at UNM in January where he will continue his studies in French Literature.
  • Daniel Loya, class of 2009, completed his first semester of Pharmacy school at UNM.

If you have any updates you’d like to share in our next newsletter, please email Mike or Anissa by March 20, 2015.

High School Winter Retreat


On January 10, we will conduct our annual Winter Retreat with our high school juniors and seniors. This day-long event will take place at the Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque.

Each year, we invite a few of our college Scholars to join us and speak about their college experiences. As this is one of the few times when our out-of-town and out-of-state Scholars are available, we would like to invite a few of you to join us!

If you are available and interested, please e-mail Mike at by January 1. UNM Scholars will have many other opportunities to join us throughout the remainder of the year.


College Winter Break Gathering


Although we do not have a formal gathering of college Scholars scheduled over Winter Break, we would definitely like to see you all!
We are happy to schedule a time to meet with you individually or in small groups, in Albuquerque or in Santa Fe. We can easily reserve space at Flying Star in ABQ for a group gathering or somewhere similar in Santa Fe.
If you are interested, please e-mail Mike and we will make arrangements!

Peer Mentoring Kickoff!

As we shared in the last Newsletter, we are kicking off our UNM Peer Mentoring Program early next semester. Our plan is to schedule a “Welcome Back!” gathering in January with all of our UNM Scholars so that everyone can meet in person, share some food, and learn a bit more about the Peer Mentoring Program. Prior to that, we need to schedule a meeting with all of the Mentors who have expressed interest in participating. Mentors, please respond to the Doodle Poll below to indicate the time and date that works best for you:
College Plaza Update

As we have shared previously, plans are progressing with the development of our new College Plaza initiative that will provide college planning support for additional Albuquerque students and high school colleagues beyond our current partner schools.

Beginning in late January, we will be at Atrisco, Manzano and Highland High Schools one day a week for several hours after school.  In addition, likely beginning in February, we will host monthly community-wide College Plaza gathering/workshop that will be open to any high school student/family around the city.  

Christina Griffith is looking for a small number of college students to assist with these efforts--ideally, a commitment to one day a week in the mid/late afternoon and/or presence and support with the larger monthly gatherings.  Small stipends will be provided!  Please email her at christina@simoncf ASAP if interested.  

Simon Scholars Class of 2011
Read below to find out where the Class of 2011 are now!

  • Rocio Archuleta - St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX. Major in Psychology, Estimated Graduation Date: May 2015


  • Marilyn Cisneros - University of New Mexico, Major in Biology, Minor in Chemistry. Estimated Graduation Date: December 2015


  • Aurelio Corral - University of New Mexico, Graduated with BBA in Accounting in December 2014


  • Jaylene Fink - University of New Mexico. Major in Psychology, Minor in Anthropology. Estimated Graduation Date: December 2015


  • Jordan Gutierrez - University of New Mexico, Major in Business Administration, Minor in Psychology. Estimated Graduation Date: May 2015


  • Candice Herrera - UNM Los Alamos, Major in Emergency Medical Services. Estimated Graduation Date: December 2015


  • Mary Ann Maestas - Smith College in Northampton, MA. Major in Environmental Science and Policy, Minor in Arabic. Estimated Graduation Date: May 2015


  • Erika Miramontes - University of New Mexico. Major in Spanish. Estimated Graduation Date: December 2015


  • Nora Ontiveros - University of New Mexico, Major in Nursing. Estimated Graduation Date: December 2015.


  • Ronald Orozco - University of New Mexico, Graduated with a BA in Chemistry in December 2014. He will begin Medical School at UNM in the Fall of 2015.


  • Monique Parks - University of Colorado - Boulder, Major in Business Management. Estimated Graduation Date: May 2015
  • Janeth Santos - University of New Mexico, Major in Political Science, Minor in Economics. Estimated Graduation Date: May 2015


  • Erin Ward - Barnard College in New York City Major in Sociology, Minor in Women’s Studies. Estimated Graduation Date: May 2015


  • Brittania Garcia - Santa Fe Community College, BS in Nursing. Estimated Graduation Date: December 2016


Congratulations to all of you who have PERSISTED and steadily worked to meet your goal of earning your Bachelor’s Degree! We are proud of all of you!

Copyright © 2014 The Simon Scholars Program, All rights reserved.
College and Alumni Newsletter
Issue 3, December 2014

Our mailing address is:
The Simon Charitable Foundation
524 Don Gaspar Avenue
Santa Fe, NM 87505

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences