Alyssa Aguilar has a passion for protecting the environment
Northern New Mexico College sophomore Alyssa Aguilar was one of three students awarded a $9,000 Danny Nichols and Dennis Huddleston Memorial Scholarship by N3B Los Alamos in late February. Daniel Tafoya and Jimmy Wheeler, both students at University of New Mexico-Los Alamos, were also scholarship recipients.
“Getting this scholarship is an awesome experience for me,” Alyssa said. “I’m overwhelmed with happiness because I know this will help me with my schooling a lot and I’ll be able to use the money for my tuition and books and things like supplies that I’ll need for school. It’s just an overwhelming feeling of joy.”
N3B and its parent companies, Huntington Ingalls Industries and BWXT Technologies (BWXT), along with critical subcontractor partners Longenecker & Associates and Tetra Tech, established the Danny Nichols and Dennis Huddleston Memorial Scholarship to attract talented students into the environmental remediation, radioactive waste management and energy industries.
Alyssa is pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree in Radiation Protection and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science. She began her educational journey at the University of New Mexico - Los Alamos, working toward a degree in Human Sciences and Radiation Protection. Two semesters into her program she realized she did not have an affinity for Human Sciences and took a year off to decide on her career path. She knew she wanted a career where she could make a difference and came to the realization that she had a passion for keeping the environment cleaner and safer. That passion extends to all aspects of the environment, including climate change, wildlife conservation, waste management and air pollution.
Alyssa’s mother, Rebecca Aguilar, who works as a Radiation Control Technician at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), inspired her to pursue radiation protection.
“My mom was always telling me about it because she deals with radiation at her job. The more she would tell me about it the more interested I would get, until I knew that it was something I wanted to do,” Alyssa said. “She loves her job and she’s passionate about it, and I guess she passed that down to me.”
Alyssa hopes to work for LANL or a company devoted to environmental cleanup like N3B.
“LANL does a lot to help our community and keep our nation safe. Along with that I think there are a lot of consequences that affect the environment. Several types of wastes are generated that require proper disposal,” Alyssa said. “I would love to be a part of helping to clean up and keep our environment safe while they’re keeping our nation safe.”
Alyssa juggles attending NNMC full time while working 25 to 30 hours a week as a licensed aesthetician.
“It can be overwhelming at times, but it’s worth it,” Alyssa said. Since paying tuition is one of the main thing Alyssa works for, she hopes the scholarship will help her ease that schedule.
Alyssa’s goal is to earn her associate degree in Spring 2023 and her bachelor’s degree in Spring 2024. She is currently applying for internships or student positions at LANL and N3B.