TRIO Talent Search helps local students find scholarships

July 29, 2011 by Melisa P. Danho, NMSU News Center

Three area high school students and participants in New Mexico State University’s TRIO Talent Search were among the few recently named Daniels Scholars and will receive financial support to go to college from the Daniels Fund.

The local Daniels Scholars are Conrado Bobadilla of Santa Teresa High School, Mario Bujanda of Gadsden High School and Natalie Campos of Chaparral High School. All three students will be the first in their families to go to college.

Bobadilla, Bujanda and Campos competed with approximately 2,000 other applicants and were among the 13 percent who received scholarships. They will also be given laptop computers and printers to help get them started in college.

“I found out one of my students got the Daniels Scholarship around 11:30 p.m.,” said Jason Barela, TRIO Educational Talent Search program coordinator. “His mom had told me to call her as soon as I got word no matter time it was, so I did. She woke him up and I could hear him sounding half asleep saying, ‘I really got the Daniels?’ We were all very excited and emotional.”

The TRIO Talent Search program has been working in the Gadsden Independent School District for the last five years and acts as a referral agency for the Daniels Fund Organization. The program also works to help students obtain financial assistance for college from other sources as well.

“I’ve noticed that the award motivates the students even more,” said Veronica Martinez, a program coordinator for TRIO Talent Search who works in Chaparral. “It provides the students with more confidence in themselves and their abilities.”

The application process for the Daniels Scholarship is intense and includes more than half a dozen essays, career interest inventories and self-assessments. Semi-finalists are also interviewed by a panel of community leaders, which this year included NMSU President Barbara Couture. Among the qualities Daniels Scholars must demonstrate are strength of character, leadership and a record of accomplishment in giving back to the community.

For previous Talent Search participants and Daniels Scholarship winners, one aspect of giving back includes visiting a former middle or high school and speaking with students. “They get to share their experience of living on campus or of commuting to school and all the different things they encounter,” said Barela.

TRIO Talent Search works in middle schools and high schools giving support to low-income students by providing tutoring, mentoring and other programs to help enrich children’s education. Talent Search also helps students develop leadership, communication and other skills, so that they can graduate from high school and complete college.

“They have very unique stories, all of them are just amazing kids,” said Alicia Salazar, program director for TRIO Talent Search at NMSU. “The goal of the Talent Search program is to ensure that students have the skills necessary to succeed in college by the time they graduate. When students are nominated to apply for the Daniels Fund Scholarship, they are very well prepared.”

For more information about TRIO Talent Search contact Salazar at

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