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2023 AUI Scholarship Recipients

Recent News

Astronomers Spot Differences in Thickness of Milky Way Galaxy

Astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope targeted the Smith Cloud for their observations, however, the Milky Way’s inner galaxy obscured their view. While these scientists didn’t find what they were originally looking for, they did observe something new about this part of our home galaxy. This inner part of the Milky Way appears to be half the size of the outer part!

2023 AUI Scholarship Recipients

Nineteen high school students receive award for academic achievement, community involvement and leadership skills

Below are the recipients of the 2023 AUI Scholarship conducted by International Scholarship and Tuition Services, Inc. These students will each receive an award of $3,500 per year to aid in defraying expenses at the college or university of their choice.

Esperanza “Paige” Avery

Esperanza Esperanza “Paige” Avery was born in Albuquerque and raised in Socorro, New Mexico. Paige is a senior at Socorro High School. One of Paige’s most enduring hobbies is travel. Paige has swum in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and has visited several states. She has seen some of our beautiful country by plane, train, automobile, and once on a riverboat. Paige has remained busy during her senior year—completing classes requirements, working a part-time job, and fundraising for a planned special excursion to Paris last March with a group of classmates.

During her middle and high school years, Paige participated in golf, science Olympiad, photography, chorus, yearbook, and drama activities. A couple of years ago, Paige had the opportunity to work as an extra in a Clint Eastwood movie. The experience intrigued and inspired her to consider a career in the film industry within the production side. UNM and NMSU are two possibilities that Paige is considering, but she is also entertaining the idea of starting her college life at a nearby community school.

Paige is the daughter of Jayme and Brent Avery. Brent is the VLA warehouse and asset control supervisor and has been with NRAO since 1995.

Isabella Bauserman

Isabella BausermanIsabella Bauserman is a senior at Pocahontas County High School in Dunmore, West Virginia, where she is a member of the National Honor Society and maintains a 4.0 GPA. Isabella played soccer all four years of high school and captained the team her senior year. Isabella was also a Track and Field athlete as a sophomore and junior. She enjoys the outdoors including camping, kayaking, and hiking in the Allegheny Mountains. As an undergraduate at Liberty University, Isabella plans to major in Nursing with a specialty in neonatal or obstetrics.

Isabella is the oldest daughter of Jonah and Tara Bauserman. Jonah is a technical specialist at the Green Bank Observatory.

Gian Paolo Cecchini Bocaz

Gian Paolo Cecchini BocazGian Paolo Cecchini Bocaz graduated from The Grange School in Santiago, Chile, in December of 2022, with an average grade of 6.95/7. He received two As in his A-levels in mathematics and economics, and earned the school’s highest academic recognition and the Economics Prize. Gian Paolo was accepted at Bocconi University in Milan, where he will start an undergraduate program in international economics and management in September 2023. During high school, he was part of the school’s soccer team and in 2022 he was captain of the first team. Gian Paolo also played the trumpet in the school band from 2017 to 2020. Together with classmate friends, he formed a band for which he played the bass at school performances, as well as the senior graduation party. In 2021 and 2022, Gian Paolo volunteered in the school’s Prevention Team, a school club that aims to prevent younger students from consuming alcohol and drugs. He also volunteered as a tutor for Schoolhouse, a non-profit created by Khan Academy founder that provides free and equitable access to high school students who wish to improve their SAT scores. Gian Paolo led a four-week online Schoolhouse bootcamp, acting as a peer tutor for SAT math test preparation.

Gian Paolo is the son of Paulina Bocaz, AUI representative and NRAO assistant director in Chile.

Lillian “Lily” Castro

Lillian “Lily” CastroLillian “Lily” Castro is a senior at Albemarle High School in Charlottesville, Virginia. Lily has been active in a peer-tutoring program at her school. She has tutored in many subjects, including teaching English. Lily has been able to meet and connect with refugees, learning about their cultures and experiences moving to the United States. Through this, she has found a passion for learning about other cultures and plans to major in international relations. Earning her 4.2 GPA taught her that she has enjoyed language, psychology, and sociology courses above all others. Since Lily was 12, she has been in leadership positions within her church youth group. This includes planning and leading weekly activities, teaching and preparing Sunday lessons, as well as many service opportunities.

Lillian is the daughter of Jason Castro and Jenny Koehler. Jason is an electronics engineer, and is currently working at the CDL in Charlottesville.

John De Guia

John De GuiaJohn De Guia is a senior at Alpine High School. During his time in high school, he served on the student council committee as a designer for school posters for dances, food drives, and other school events. John was also a part of the student advisory council for two years, giving the school a student’s perspective on necessary changes for the improvement of the school and betterment of its students. By the time he was a junior, he began taking dual credit classes at Sul Ross State University to prepare for when he enters college. John has also taken welding classes for all four years of high school and has now obtained his welding certificate. Throughout high school and middle school, he has been heavily involved with the athletics program, participating in basketball, football, and the track team. In his track career, he has been a two-time regional qualifier and has been district champion twice for the 110 meter hurdles.

Outside of school, John has maintained a job at a restaurant in Alpine for three years, and he also helps his local youth church group to raise funds annually for the summer church camp. He plans to take his core classes at Odessa College this coming fall to prepare for a future career in nursing. John will then transfer to Midland College in the spring of next year to pursue his degree in their nursing program.

John is the son of Juan and Emily De Guia. Juan has worked at NRAO in Fort Davis since 2017 and is currently the VLBA radio telescope station manager.

Logan Connor Dougherty

Logan Connor DoughertyLogan Connor Dougherty is a senior at Nido de Aguilas International School in Santiago, Chile where he has taken full advantage of the excellent arts programs. He has been able to focus on his strengths in English literature, music, theatre and film, while maintaining his curiosity in physics, chemistry, astronomy and coding.

A thespian and musician from a young age, Logan has joined every band and theatre production available to him since arriving in Chile five years ago. He has held major roles in the musicals ‘Seussical Jr.”, “In the Heights”, and “Little Mermaid” and became involved in the production side in his senior year. This year, in the school’s first theatrical play, Logan landed the lead role of Wadsworth in “Clue.”

Although theatre holds a special place in his heart, music is in his soul. Logan started playing piano at age three with Music for Young Children. He still attends lessons to this day, and plays everything from improvised jazz piano to classical sonatas. A few years after starting piano, he added drums to his repertoire, then viola, trumpet, French horn, clarinet, bass clarinet, electric bass, and most recently alto saxophone. At 12 years old, already a member of the Okanagan Youth Symphony Orchestra, he played for the professional Okanagan Symphony in their percussion section just before moving to Chile. As a senior in High School, he now assists the teacher with the percussion class and will conduct a piece for the concert band in their final concert. Nido has given Logan many chances to experiment with music: he plays several instruments, he sings and is an integral part of the Tri-M (music honor society), Rock band, Jazz band, and Concert band.

Logan has always been an avid reader and has found joy in literature, creative writing, and history of all kinds. He has been a member of the school e-zine, “The Nest”, since it’s inception, both as editor and writer, as well as a member of the creative writing club. He is often the Dungeon Master (storyteller) for the Dungeons and Dragons game club.

In his free time, Logan also reads, plays “osu” (rhythm game) and other video games, makes films, watches anime and other movies, studies Japanese, and is preparing to climb Mt Fuji in Japan.

Logan’s plan is to return to Canada. He has yet to decide whether to study at University of Calgary or University of Toronto. He will major in English literature and minor in music and/or musical theatre.

Logan is the son of Sean Dougherty and Audrey Perry, who live in Santiago, Chile. Sean has been the director of the ALMA Observatory since 2018.

Ina Lee Evans

Ina Lee EvansIna Lee Evans is a senior at Western Albemarle High School and a member of the National Honor Society. During the full duration of their high school years, Ina has been active in playing cello at Crozet Arts and in the pit orchestra at Western. Ina enjoys traveling to visit family and spends much of their free time writing, drawing, and playing video games. They speak mandarin fluently. Ina is presently taking an EMT class in preparation for volunteering at the rescue squad in Crozet.

Ina plans on enrolling at Piedmont Virginia Community College for two years, then transferring to the University of Virginia. They are interested in pursuing a career as a paramedic.

Ina is the child of Aaron Evans. Aaron has been a staff scientist at NRAO since 2008.

Louise Howard

Louise HowardLouise Howard is a senior at the Chattanooga High School, Centre for Creative Arts (CCA), where she is an instrumental major. She is in the Strings department as a first-chair violist. She is an honors student with a 3.98 GPA. Louise was a member of the Chattanooga Girls Choir for five years and joined the Chattanooga Youth Symphony in her senior year as Co-chair First Viola.

Louise started her string education as a violinist before switching to viola under the tutelage of Corey Worley’ and Metiney Suwanawongse. She has attended the Summer Strings Camp at the University of Alabama and most recently at the Credo Festival at Oberlin Conservatory. This summer, Louise will be attending the Rocky Ridge College Intensive: Solo & Chamber Summer Music Festival in the Colorado Rockies.

Louise was born and raised in Australia and moved to the United States in 2018. Louise volunteers for String Theory at the Hunter Museum in Chattanooga and is a childcare and camp worker for the YMCA. When she is not practicing, Louise can be found hanging out with her hamster (Dmitri), enjoying a good book, or watching the latest episode of Young Sheldon.

Louise plans to pursue music education in college and major in Music Performance (Viola). She has received both academic and music scholarship offers from the University of Delaware, Lawrence College, and DePaul University.

Louise is the daughter of James Howard, cyber e-learning project manager, at AUI. James has been with AUI since 2021.

Natacha Jacques

Natacha JacquesNatacha Jacques is a senior at Western Albemarle High School. She is a member of the Science National Honors Society and the National Society of High School Scholars, and is the secretary for Western’s International Thespian Society troupe. Natacha has been an active member of the choir and has attended City/County Choir and District Choir and received second chair Soprano for All-State Choir this year. She leads the school’s acapella group and does choral arrangements for them as well as the school choir. Natacha has been a member of Western’s Drama department for four years and is a lead choreographer as a senior. Additionally, she will be Directing/Music Directing the student-run play, “Into the Woods”, at the end of the year. She has performed with many acting companies, including the Charlottesville Opera and is currently a member of the Oratorio Society of Virginia. Natacha has also participated in numerous STEM camps, such as Spark Hack-a-Thon, and mentored the “Girls in Tech” camp for two years. Natacha holds a 4.3 GPA and has received an AP Scholar Award. She has been a figure skater for 11 years, with over 30 medals, and was part of a nationally awarded Theatre on Ice team. In her free time, Natacha enjoys exploring new hobbies, singing, dancing, and drawing. She plans to double major in Biology and Vocal Performance at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Natacha Jacques is the daughter of Christophe Jacques, senior engineer at the CDL in Charlottesville.

Kevin McCleary

Kevin McClearyKevin McCleary is a senior at Los Lunas High School. He is an active member of the National Honor Society as well as the U.S. Army’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. He is an accomplished metals welder, earning an industry-standard Certified Welding Inspector certification from the American Welding Society earlier this year. He was awarded the Voice of Democracy scholarship by the Los Lunas Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

In March 2023, Kevin honored U.S. World War II prisoners of war by completing the 26.2-mile Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. He was awarded extra points in the competition for physically carrying an injured fellow team member to the finish line.

Kevin plans to dual-enroll at the University of New Mexico as well as Central New Mexico Community College, pursuing simultaneous degrees in Construction Management and Welding. He plans to possibly join the U.S. Air Force upon completing his degree programs.

Kevin is the son of Matthew McCleary and Amanda Remenar. Matthew is the computing team lead in New Mexico.

Maxwell O’Ganian

Maxwell O’GanianMaxwell O’Ganian is a senior at Pocahontas County High School. He is class valedictorian with a 4.36 GPA. Max is a National Merit Finalist, a member of the National Honor Society, vice-president of the high school STEM club, and is an AP Scholar.

Max has played on the varsity soccer, track, and football teams at Pocahontas County High School. He played varsity soccer for all four years of high school and was the starting keeper for the past three. This past year, Max was the team captain, ranked thirteenth in the nation for his saves and game record, and is on the West Virginia all state second team. Max has been on the track team for the past three years and has been invited to the West Virginia State Championships each year, placing fifth in the state in the 400m last spring.

Max has also been a team captain and lead-designed for Pocahontas County’s First Tech Challenge (robotics) team for the past four years. The team has won numerous awards, including West Virginia State Champion (2021) and the third place Think award in the four-state regional championships last year. Max was also team captain of the high school Vex Robotics team his junior year, when they won the West Virginia (WVSSAC) Robot Design award.

Max loves designing and creating useful items and runs a small business doing custom creations and 3D prints sold both locally and online. Max also has a patent pending for a motorized door opener to aid people with disabilities. In his spare time, Max plays guitar and skis.

Max is the son of Karen O’Neil, a scientist at Green Bank Observatory, and Paul Marganian, a software engineer at Green Bank.

Damian Otero

Damian OteroDamian Otero is a senior at Socorro High School, home of the Warriors! As a child, he was fascinated by structures and order. He would often entertain himself with toys that allowed him to explore creativity. As he transitioned into teenage years, his interests shifted toward mechanics and technology. You will frequently find him working on car projects or tinkering with his gaming systems and computers. He loves spending time with friends, family, and—of course—his best puppy friend, Elfie, who he has had since he was eight-years-old. Many of his evenings are spent in the music room with his sister, Jeanette, practicing their musical talents. Damian plays guitar, bass guitar, and piano, while his sister sings to the tune.

Over the last year, he has been cherishing his youth as he carries the torch to graduation. In February, he competed in the New Mexico State Wrestling tournament, which is something he worked on through his high school career. After wrestling season, he found a part-time job to earn and save money in preparation for adulthood. Damian will pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science from NMT, starting in the fall of 2023. He is not quite sure where he wants to go after college, but that is quite alright as he has plenty of time to figure it out.

Damian is the son of father Peter Otero and mother Charity Otero. Peter is a systemsadministrator III at the NRAO Domenici Science Operations Center; Charity is a pharmacy procurement specialist at Presbyterian General Hospital. Both facilities are located in Socorro, New Mexico.

Santiago Puentes

Santiago PuentesSantiago Puentes is an exceptional young man who has consistently demonstrated academic excellence, passion for sports, strong social skills, and a strong work ethic.

Santiago graduated from Saint George’s high school last year with a remarkable general average of 6.7 out of 7, indicating his academic brilliance and dedication to learning. This year, he has enrolled in the prestigious law program at Universidad Catolica, which is widely known for its rigorous selection process, showcasing his intellectual prowess.

In addition to his academic achievements, Santiago has a deep passion for sports, particularly in mountaineering and fitness, which has allowed him to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. He is always eager to try new physical challenges and push himself to his limits, showing great determination and resilience. Moreover, Santiago is a sociable and outgoing person who has the ability to make personal connections with people from all walks of life. He has a natural talent for building positive and productive relationships, which has helped him to expand his network of friends and colleagues.

Furthermore, Santiago has a keen interest in debating and has participated in several contests, honing his critical thinking and public speaking skills. He is also a committed and responsible individual who has shown a strong work ethic, as evidenced by his part-time job as a delivery worker while studying.

Santiago is the dependent of Christian Puentes, head of administration – ALMA, in Chile.

Kayla Remijan

Kayla RemijanKayla Remijan is a senior at William Monroe High School in Stanardsville, Virginia. She has taken multiple dual enrollment classes and will be graduating with an advanced diploma and a 4.0 GPA.

Kayla has been involved in the FCCLA club at her school for all of her high school years and became executive vice president of the club her senior year. Additionally, she has been playing on William Monroe girls’ soccer team for five years. She was chosen to be captain of junior varsity for two years and is currently head captain of varsity. Taking on multiple leadership roles during her high school career has led her to become confident in her ability to mentor others, and she plans to take these experiences with her into college.

In the fall, Kayla will be attending Thomas Jefferson University to further pursue her interest in Interior Design and Architecture. She plans to become a licensed interior designer following college.

Kayla is the daughter of Vicki and Anthony Remijan. Anthony has worked at NRAO in Charlottesville since 2006 and is currently the assistant director for science support and research.

Madelyn Romero

Madelyn RomeroMadelyn Romero is a senior at Socorro High School in Socorro, New Mexico, and part of the graduating class of 2023. She holds a 3.4 cumulative GPA and ranked 24 out of 112 in her graduating class. Madelyn has been able to successfully maintain this academic standing throughout high school. Madelyn is a natural leader. Because of this, she has been involved in several extracurricular activities at Socorro High School. She has been an active member in student council for the last three years. She has held several positions including, sophomore class secretary, student body representative her junior year, and currently senior class president. She has also been part of the school newspaper, The Blue and White, and was named editor-in-chief for photography, where she edited and made final decisions on photos that were placed in the newspaper. Madelyn has been a cheerleader on the SHS Cheer Team for the last five years and was elected cheer captain her senior year.

Madelyn has volunteered for several projects throughout the community of Socorro. A few projects she has volunteered for include blood drives, community arts parties, food and clothing drives during the holidays, as well as collaborating with Socorro County Sheriff Department for holiday events for local families. She enjoys serving her community and helping those in need.

Madelyn’s plans include attending Western New Mexico University in Silver City, New Mexico, where she will pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology. Her long-term goal is to become a marine life rescuer, where she will rescue and rehabilitate marine life animals. This has been her lifelong dream.

Madelyn is the daughter of Richard Romero, lead maintenance electrician for the VLA. He has held this position for just over one year; however, he has been in the electrical trade for over 25 years.

Madison Romero

Madison RomeroMadison Romero is a senior at Socorro High School and a member of the graduating class of 2023. She has consistently held a 3.8 cumulative GPA. For her stellar grades and dedication to her academics, she has received multiple academic awards and recognition throughout her high school career.

Madison has been involved in several extracurricular activities. She has been an active member in student council for the past two years, holding positions as junior class representative and senior class vice president. As a participant in student council, she has been involved in many volunteer opportunities, including blood drives and community arts parties. She has also participated in community service events including food drives, as well as holiday events hosted by the Socorro County Sheriff’s Office. In addition to student council, Madison was also an editor of the Yearbook Club. She was also a football manager during her freshman year in high school.

Madison is also involved in the community, where she is an active participant and member of the San Miguel Catholic Church. She served as an altar server for the church and set up/clean-up for events within the parish. In addition, Madison also works an average of 15 hours a week at a local ice cream shop. She shows good work ethic by balancing work and school. She also held a summer job at the local elementary school, which sparked her interest in pursuing a career in education.

Madison plans to attend New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she hopes to earn her Bachelor of Science in Education with a major in elementary education. With this degree, she hopes to return back to her home town of Socorro, New Mexico and continue to serve her community as an elementary school teacher.

Madison is the daughter of Richard Romero, lead maintenance electrician for the VLA. He has held this position for just over one year; however, he has been in the electrical trade for over 25 years.

Connor Sakshaug

Connor SakshaugConnor Sakshaug is a senior at Stuarts Draft High School in Stuarts Draft, Virignia with a current GPA of 4.28. During his junior and senior years, he has also attended the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School for its integrated math, science, and technology program, where he took several advanced placement and dual enrollment classes. He has played trumpet in the Stuarts Draft High School Marching Band since the eighth grade, and for the past two years was the soprano/high wind and trumpet captain. Throughout middle and high school, he has been selected for multiple Valley and District band events to play trumpet. He has been a member of the Technology Student Association since the sixth grade, winning several awards for STEM projects at the regional and state levels, and served as the high school’s sergeant-at-arms and treasurer over the past two years. He is also a member of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, the National Honor Society, and the Academic Bowl team.

Connor will attend Virginia Tech to study in the School of Engineering in the fall, with an interest in computer science.

Connor is the son of Richard and Beth Sakshaug. Richard is the NRAO contracts and procurement manager in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Jenna Thunborg

Jenna ThunborgJenna Thunborg is a 17-year-old senior at East Mountain High School (EMHS) in Sandia Park, New Mexico. She is a member of EMHS’sspeech and debate and golf teams. She loves music and is part of a musical duo with her twin sister, Kacey. The International Western Music Association (IWMA) awarded the duo the 2021 Liz Masterson Crescendo Award. Jenna and Kacey also won the IWMA Youth Harmony contests in 2017 and 2019. Jenna serves as the current president of the IWMA Youth Chapter. Jenna is a member of the Fort Worth, TX, Cowtown Opry Buckaroos.

Jenna enjoys singing the national anthem with her sister at sporting events, fairs, and concerts. The pair has used their anthem talent to gain entry into The Band Perry and Martina McBride concerts at New Mexico State Fair Rodeos, UNM sporting events, Albuquerque Isotopes Baseball, and Albuquerque United Soccer games. Jenna and Kacey have performed at numerous cowboy and poetry gatherings in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Texas.
Jenna enjoys creative writing and watching soccer. Jenna plans to attend the business school at the University of New Mexico, where she will explore the possibility of a career in human resources.

Jenna is the daughter of Kimberly Linker and Jon Thunborg, who is the engineering services division head at the Very Large Array.

Kacey Thunborg

Kacey ThunborgKacey Thunborg is a high school senior who is currently attending East Mountain High School (EMHS) in Sandia Park, New Mexico. She plans to attend New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico, in the fall. Kacey will be studying hotel, restaurant and tourism management. Kacey has always loved the idea of managing her own business and hopes to eventually manage a business of her own.

Not only does she love the business world, but she also loves music. She has performed with her twin sister, Jenna, in front of audiences since they were eight years old. Kacey and Jenna won the 2021 Liz Masterson Crescendo Award from the International Western Music Association. Kacey, along with her co-writer, Jim Jones, won the 2021 Western Music Song of the Year from the Academy of Western Artists. Kacey is currently writing and recording songs in her recording arts class, as well as acting in the role of Morticia in The “Addams Family Musical” put on by EMHS’s Drama Department.

Throughout high school, Kacey has played for her school’s varsity golf team. Her team qualified for the State Championships twice in a row and won the District Championship in 2022. She is involved in EMHS’s speech and debate team, winning the 2023 State Championship in Humorous Interpretation. She also qualified and competed at the National Speech and Debate Championships two years in a row. Kacey hopes to pursue her passion of music and theater throughout college, as well as use her public speaking skills to further her career.

Kacey is the daughter of Kimberly Linker and Jon Thunborg, who is the engineering services division head at the Very Large Array.

Recent News

Astronomers Spot Differences in Thickness of Milky Way Galaxy

Astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope targeted the Smith Cloud for their observations, however, the Milky Way’s inner galaxy obscured their view. While these scientists didn’t find what they were originally looking for, they did observe something new about this part of our home galaxy. This inner part of the Milky Way appears to be half the size of the outer part!