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Lasting Legacy: Scholarship will benefit aspiring teachers

Karen Trujillo ’92 ’93 ’98, who passed away in late February 2021, was known for her dedication to students and educators in New Mexico. After her death, Trujillo’s family took steps to ensure that dedication continues.

Trujillo’s family has created a memorial scholarship fund to support aspiring teachers. A proud Aggie, she earned all three degrees from NMSU in secondary education, mathematics, and curriculum and instruction.

Trujillo became superintendent of Las Cruces Public Schools in 2019, but maintained her deep connection to NMSU.

“This is an enormous loss to her family, LCPS, the learning community of New Mexico and beyond,” says Henrietta Pichon, interim dean of the College of Education.

Trujillo was instrumental in establishing Educators Rising New Mexico in the NMSU College of Education in 2015. Educators Rising, formerly known as Future Teachers of America, focuses on increasing the number of education majors across the state and supporting retention in the field. In 2017, NMSU hosted an Educators Rising New Mexico conference that attracted 140 students and teachers from high schools across the state. Trujillo was proud of that accomplishment.

In 2016, Trujillo established the STEM Outreach Alliance Research, or SOAR Lab, which has since grown into the Southwest Outreach Academic Research Evaluation and Policy Center. One of the biggest research projects the lab has undertaken is the annual teacher shortage report, which Trujillo began compiling with the help of her lab students.

Trujillo was 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.

Trujillo went on to become interim associate dean of research in the College of Education before being selected to lead the New Mexico Public Education Department in 2019.

“Dr. Trujillo served our university for many years as a teacher, administrator and researcher before going on to serve as LCPS superintendent,” says Chancellor Dan Arvizu. “She did what we hope each of our graduates is able to do: to take the knowledge and experience they gain from their time at NMSU and use those tools to make our community and our world a better place.”

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