Annual Student Awards

The department annually recognizes achievement amongst graduate students through awards. 

  • The Outstanding Graduate Student Award signifies outstanding overall accomplishment in scholarship, teaching, and/or service.  
  • The Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award signifies outstanding academic achievement, co- curricular participation and leadership, research and/or service.

Each award is commemorated by plaques in the department, and through awards to the recipients.


Outstanding Graduate Student Award

Outstanding Graduate Student Award for 2021 goes to Shannon Pepper and Tammira Taylor

Shannon Pepper received an A or A+ in every class she took as a master’s student. She designed an outstanding thesis and completed it despite unexpected travel restrictions caused by COVID.

Shannon's project looked at attitudes toward tamarisk management in Mexico and the United States, tracking both government documents and popular media. Her research revealed significantly different approaches to tamarisk plants and tamarisk beetles in the two countries, and she is currently preparing two articles for journal publication.

After completing most coursework and far down the road to a promising thesis, Tammira Taylor was offered  a job in the planning department at Albuquerque Public Schools. Unlike many in the same situation, Tammira used this as an opportunity to develop a professional project that would advance her career at APS.

Tammira lead the effort to develop and implement a drone based property inspection program for APS’ ~150 schools, putting APS at the forefront of modern asset and property management. The professional project she completed received distinction from her commitee, the program she developed is fully funded and operational at APS, and she now leads a team at APS that includes 2 GES M.S. Alumni.

The quality of Tammira’s work was exceptional, but even more rare was that her graduate work made such an immediate and substantial impact on such a large and important institution here in our community.


Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award

Outstanding Graduate Student Award for 2021 goes to Samantha Stroud.

Samantha Stroud has excelled in her time as an undergraduate at UNM.  In our department she has completed a B.A. degree, with a focus on cultural geography.  Sami has also completed a B.A. in East Asian Studies, including advanced coursework in Chinese, Japanese, and Russian languages—all while maintaining an overall GPA above 4.0.

Our professors have appreciated her thoughtfulness and leadership in the classroom (both physical and virtual), and her concern for social justice and equity. We are pleased that Sami will continue in our department this fall as a graduate student pursuing an M.S. degree.