Blazing a trail - Albuquerque Journal

Blazing a trail

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

When Carolyn Baca, 18, was asked to take a photo that represents her dreams, she captured an image of the University of New Mexico Hospital, where she hopes to one day work as a cardiothoracic surgeon.

“A lot of the communities here in New Mexico do not get good health care, so I want to be a person who helps these families,” she said, standing in front of a poster-sized print of her photo Tuesday during the Pictures of Hope exhibit at Health Leadership High School.

Baca just made a big step toward that goal, winning a $100,000 full ride to Blackburn College in Carlinville, Ill., about 60 miles from St. Louis.

She would be the first in her family to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

On Tuesday, Blackburn College President John Comerford visited Health Leadership High to present Baca with the Hope Scholarship, which covers tuition, room and board for four years.

Health Leadership High School students, including Jesse Martinez, bottom left, Kiara Williams, bottom center, and Zach Goesch, bottom right, hold their photographs from Pictures of Hope, a program that enables students to capture visions of their hopes and dreams through photography. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

The award is open to participants in Pictures of Hope, a program launched by Detroit-based photojournalist Linda Solomon to give homeless and low-income kids a chance to learn about photography and work with volunteer mentors from the community.

This year, Blackburn will award five Hope Scholarships across the country.

“It will open doors for me,” Baca said. “I won’t have to take out loans.”

The teen admitted she is a bit nervous about moving a thousand miles from home to navigate college life, but also excited.

Comerford said Blackburn College tries to award the Hope Scholarship to a student who can flourish in a new environment.

Baca is a good fit for the small liberal arts school, he said.

“She will come and do well,” Comerford said. “She will make a lot of friends.”

Health Leadership High School executive director Blanca Lopez compared Baca to a conquistador blazing a trail for other New Mexico teens.

This year, the charter school near the Albuquerque International Sunport will graduate its first class and Baca is the only student with a scholarship to an out-of-state college.

Part of the Leadership High School Network – a group of Albuquerque charter schools focused on career preparation in a variety of areas – Health Leadership High School was chartered by the state in 2012.

“Sometimes kids don’t see a lot of choices and opportunities for them,” Lopez said. “For one student to do this, it will help the whole student body. It will widen their outlook.”

Health Leadership High School senior Carolyn Baca, second from left, is congratulated by her mentor, Dr. Valerie Romero-Leggott, left, of the UNM Health Sciences Center, after she was awarded a Hope Scholarship, a full-ride scholarship to Blackburn College in Carlinville, Ill., on Tuesday. Baca’s mother, Maria Baca, hugs Blackburn College President John Comerford, who presented Baca, an aspiring cardiothoracic surgeon, with the scholarship. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

Baca, described by family and teachers as motivated, hard-working and self-assured, already has helped inspire her younger sister, Katey, 13. The eighth-grader wants to become a lawyer, according to mom Maria Baca.

“I will have a doctor and a lawyer,” she said. “I am very proud. They want to study hard.”

For Solomon, Pictures of Hope is all about motivating kids to make their dreams concrete.

Since 2005, the award-winning photojournalist has brought the program to more than 40 cities – handing out hundreds of free donated digital cameras so students can spend a day with a mentor taking photos of their dreams. The students keep the cameras, and their artwork with messages are displayed during a special exhibit.

Albuquerque is a favorite site for Solomon. So when she received a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, she decided to come back to the Duke City for the fourth time.

The 15 students in the Health Leadership High School program shared photos that showed a wide range of ambitions: Kiara Williams dreams of becoming a social worker; Jesse Martinez wants to travel the world; Mavel Valdez would love to buy her parents a beautiful home.

Solomon plans to bring Pictures of Hope to Health Leadership High School again next year.

“It is an honor to be here and share dreams like this,” she said. “Each dream is so meaningful.”

We welcome suggestions for the daily Bright Spot. Send to newsroom@abqjournal.com.

 

Home » News » New Mexico News » Blazing a trail

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories




Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages

 

Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
1
'It's been a great ride': Longtime Balloon Fiesta executive ...
ABQnews Seeker
Longtime Balloon Fiesta executive director is ... Longtime Balloon Fiesta executive director is retiring
2
California is lone holdout in Colorado River cuts proposal
ABQnews Seeker
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- Six Western ... FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- Six Western states that rely on water from the Colorado River have agreed on a model to dramatically cut water ...
3
New Mexico faces a budget abyss if oil and ...
ABQnews Seeker
Report predicts $36 billion revenue deficit ... Report predicts $36 billion revenue deficit in 15 years possible
4
Senate panel, on party-line vote, approves bill increasing minimum ...
ABQnews Seeker
A push to increase the minimum ... A push to increase the minimum age to buy certain firearms from 18 to 21 cleared its first Senate hurdle Monday, after a heated ...
5
Bill aimed at bolstering NM's patchwork rural health care ...
ABQnews Seeker
A proposal to tap New Mexico's ... A proposal to tap New Mexico's revenue windfall to bolster health care services in rural parts of the state where residents frequently have to ...
6
New Mexico bill to restrict lobbyist ‘revolving door’ advances
ABQnews Seeker
A proposal moving through the Senate ... A proposal moving through the Senate would prohibit former legislators and appointees working under the governor from returning immediately to the Roundhouse as paid ...
7
New Mexico’s checkerspot butterfly placed on Endangered Species List
ABQnews Seeker
With more Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterflies ... With more Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterflies being raised at the ABQ BioPark than found in the wild, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is ...
8
No drama for birthday llama: ABQ llama celebrates 27th ...
ABQnews Seeker
'This llama is bringing everyone together,' ... 'This llama is bringing everyone together,' says family friend
9
Photos: UNM Lobos men's basketball team take on Air ...
ABQnews Seeker