Skip to main content

Student Support Services TRiO Students Receive Honors

March 17, 2015 - Dorene DiNaro

Student Support Services-TRiO (SSS) is proud of all of its students but two students in particular have recently received two distinct honors.  Omkulthoom “Summer” Qassem, a UNM Honorrs College junior, majoring in Foreign Languages and International Studies, was nominated by the University of New Mexico for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship.  Shannon Peterson, a sophomore in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and pursing a minor in Environmental Science, is an official UNM nominee for the Udall Scholarship.  See below to read each of their stories.  

Qassem Nominated for Harry S. Truman Scholarship

QassemNote:  Since this story ran, Summer has decided to withdraw her application at this time for the Truman Scholarship. However, we still would like to acknowledge her all her amazing accomplishments and dedication to get through the first extensive phase of the application process. We were saddened to her of her news but we respect her decision.

Omkulthoom “Summer” Qassem was nominated by The University of New Mexico (UNM) for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship. Qassem, a UNM Honors College junior is majoring in Foreign Languages and International Studies, and plans to graduate with International Distinction.

The nationally distinguished Truman Scholarship recognizes college students with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in public service, government or the nonprofit sector. Awardees receive financial support for graduate education. Qassem will compete with more than 600 nominees from across the nation for the 60 scholarships. As a finalist, she will attend the Regional Review Panels. The Truman Scholars will be announced on April 15, according to the foundation's website.

Qassem has an interest in cultural education and would like to pursue an internship with the Washington D.C. Public Defenders Office. Her educational plans are to attend UCLA School of Law School specializing in Critical Race Studies or pursue an advanced degree in Race Studies.

Qassem is the first SSS student to be nominated for the Truman Scholarship. She also holds a student employee position with SSS as a tutor and mentor. "Summer (Qassem) is a student leader with the intellect and passion to make positive contributions locally and globally," said Dawn Blue Sky-Hill, Director of SSS. Tania Garnas, Sr. Student Program Advisor of SSS, added, “She is very passionate about her career path and making a change in the world.” Qassem is an agent of change on the UNM campus and is a founding member of both the UNM Scholastic Leadership Society (SLS), and the UNM Chinese, Language, and Culture Club. SLS is designed to promote professional development and to prepare undergraduates for graduate school. She is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, and a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

Garnas stated, “She’s very talented with learning languages.” Qassem is currently studying Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, English and Korean.

Qassem attributes her successes to her family, advisors, friends and others who have supported and encouraged her through the years.

Peterson is Named Official UNM Nominee for Udall Scholarship

PetersonUniversity of New Mexico (UNM) student Shannon Peterson, a member of the Navajo Tribe, is an official UNM nominee for the Udall Scholarship. Peterson, a sophomore in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and pursing a minor in Environmental Science, is the university’s first Student Support Services-TRiO (SSS) student to be nominated for this award.

Established in 1992, the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation provides scholarships to students who have demonstrated a commitment to careers that are associated with the environment, as well as American Indian students who have demonstrated a commitment to tribal public policy-related careers.

Peterson is dedicated to using her educational background as a foundation to develop tribal policy for American Indians and Alaskan Natives. “This nomination means a lot to me and it’s a morale boost because the selection committee is made up of Native Americans,” said Peterson.

Being named a UNM nominee Peterson stated, “I feel truly blessed that I was recognized. The Udall Scholarship nomination is a great way to let other aspiring American Indian scholars know that they are not alone and I am just happy that I am a part of it!”

Peterson has engaged herself with several organizations that include the Society of Women Engineers, American Indian Science and Engineering Society, Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD), Student Support Services-TRiO, and is in the process of becoming a mentor for Native-American youth in the First Nations Youth Mentoring Program.

 “I am thrilled for Shannon,” said Dawn Blue Sky-Hill, Director of UNM SSS, “The nomination for the Udall Scholarship is inspirational as well as confirmation that we have talented students who are doing phenomenal work.” Peterson was an SSS participant and student employee where she provided tutoring and mentoring.