May 26, 2004
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Public Outreach Director
(505) 476-0393

Education Secretary Dr. Veronica C. Garcia, DVR Assistant Secretary Dr. Catherine Cross Maple
Receive Distinguished Alumni Awards from UNM

(Santa Fe, NM)--Secretary of Education Dr. Veronica C. Garcia and Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Assistant Secretary Dr. Catherine Cross Maple were among six people who received Distinguished Alumni Awards for leadership in education from the University of New Mexico, College of Education, on May 8, 2004. "Paying tribute to these outstanding alumnae is an honor for the College of Education," said Dr. Viola E. Florez, College dean.

The awards were presented at the College’s first spring gala, honoring its 75th anniversary. The gala recognized distinguished alumni and honored Dr. Leroy I. Ortiz, associate professor for Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies, as the first recipient of the Chester C. Travelstead Faculty Fellowship for Teacher Education. Dr. Ortiz is affectionately known as the College’s “senior statesman.”

Recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Awards were nominated by community members for their efforts to advance education. In addition to Secretary Dr. García and Assistant Secretary Dr. Cross Maple, the recipients are as follows:

· Louise Adelstone, counselor at Comanche Elementary School in Albuquerque, where she established an innovative peer tutoring program, peer mediators groups and Social Action Kids;
· Representative Dr. Gail Beam, co-founder of Alta Mira Specialized Family Services in Albuquerque and champion of public preschool programs for children with disabilities;
· Kevin Cronk, president of Sun State West Marking Corp. in Los Lunas and founder and president of Habitat for Humanity of Valencia County; and
· Celia “Jo” Thomason, a special education teacher and advocate for 45 years in classrooms and universities throughout the world. The award was given posthumously.

Each of Secretary Dr. García’s collegiate degrees was earned at UNM. She received her bachelor’s in 1973, her master’s in 1978, both in special education, and her doctorate in education leadership in 2004. Secretary Dr. García was recognized for giving all young people the opportunity to become all they choose to be in life. Dr. Cross Maple received her doctorate from UNM in 1979 in administration and special education. She was recognized for her leadership in improving the learning environment for students in Albuquerque and impacting students throughout the state. She has served public school students as both a teacher and administrator for more than 25 years.