UTEP Biochemistry, Engineering Students Named 2022 Hawkins Scholars
Two UTEP students have earned UTEP’s highest award for scholarship and leadership.
Laura Sofia Ronquillo, junior biochemistry major, and Maximilian Rothblatt, junior mechanical engineering major, earned Hawkins Scholarships. Each received an award of $10,000 for tuition, fees and educational expenses to complete their undergraduate education.
The Hawkins Scholarship application and selection process is modeled after competitive graduate scholarship programs including the Rhodes, Marshall, Mitchell and Gates Cambridge scholarships.
“This was a strong group of finalists, and as more students are exposed to the process and the opportunity, future applicants will only be more impressive,” said Juan Sepulveda, Ph.D., the chair of the selection committee, a Rhodes Scholar and the J.D. Calgaard Distinguished Professor of Practice in Political Science at Trinity University. “Having the opportunity to meet and to really get to know these incredible students each year makes me feel good about the future because of the talent, energy, life experiences, and passion they bring to UTEP and the broader community.”
The award is for UTEP juniors and may be used to pay for educational expenses or experiences that enhance the scholar’s undergraduate education in preparation for graduate school. These expenses can include tuition, fees, room and board, books, and special educational experiences including undergraduate research and study abroad or away from campus.
“UTEP’s best students can compete with the best students anywhere,” UTEP President Heather Wilson said. “Laura and Maximilian are already impressive students, and we know there are more great things to come for them.”
Ronquillo and Rothblatt were among 11 finalists selected for their outstanding intellect, character, service to others, leadership attributes and potential to address important challenges facing humanity.
Ronquillo is from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. She crosses the bridge from Juárez to El Paso every day to attend UTEP, where she is a member of the University Honors Program and the College of Science Honors Program. In 2021, she was president of the UTEP chapter of the American Society for Microbiology, and currently serves as social media officer for the UTEP chapter of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science. She plans to travel abroad to pursue a master’s degree and hopes to one day become a university professor and researcher.
Rothblatt is a junior mechanical engineering major from El Paso. He is involved in undergraduate research in geospatial analysis with the Department of Earth, Environmental and Resource Sciences and is a fellow with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Rothblatt is also vice president of UTEP’s chapter of the American Institute of Aerospace and Aeronautics. His plans for graduate school include applying for the Rhodes Scholarship. His dream is to contribute to space travel and exploration, and later to share his experiences through teaching.
In addition to Sepulveda, the 2021 Hawkins Scholarship selection committee included Roberto Coronado, Ph.D., senior vice president in charge and senior economist of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, El Paso Branch, and Richard Hyde, the Houston-based British consul general for Texas and four other states. Attorney and retired Air Force Col. Jay Hone, and Catie McCorry-Andalis, Ed.D., UTEP associate vice president and dean of students, also participated in the selection committee.
The Hawkins Scholarship is named for 1st Lt. William Deane Hawkins, who studied engineering at UTEP, then called the Texas College of Mines. He enlisted in the Marine Corps after the attack on Pearl Harbor and was killed in action while serving during World War II. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic acts above and beyond the call of duty.