Las Cruces Public Schools is pleased to announce the National Merit Scholarship Organization has recognized three students from Las Cruces High School, two students from Mayfield High School, and two students from Arrowhead Park Early College as semifinalists for the competitive 2020 National Merit Scholarship.

Reema Iqbal is a member of National Honor Society, MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement), Key Club, Amnesty International, Science Olympiad and participated in band all four years at Las Cruces High School. Reema has been a member of the All State Band for three years and All City Band one year. Reema currently takes dual credit courses at New Mexico State University and aspires to study Biochemistry and Computer Science at Scripps College in Claremont, California.

Reema Iqbal, National Merit Semifinalist from Las Cruces High School.

Andruw Fierro earned academic honors from the National Hispanic Recognition Program. He is on the golf team for Las Cruces High School and is a member of the National Honor Society. Andruw has been in the Health Occupations Students of America program all four years of high school and has held multiple positions as an officer, including president his junior year and vice-president of business his senior year. He has competed in state and national competitions for HOSA and has achieved many awards. He is a dual credit student at New Mexico State University where he has taken an interest working in the biochemistry lab on graduate level research projects. At the request of his professor, Andruw enrolled in a Biomedical Innovations class while holding down an internship. For college, Andruw is planning to attend Rice University for Biochemistry.

Andruw Fierro, National Hispanic Recognition Scholar from Las Cruces High School.

Julia Fernald is an All State Orchestra participant for the Las Cruces High School Chamber Orchestra, which is this years All State Honor Orchestra. She is on the Las Cruces Aquatic Swim Team and the Las Cruces High School swim team. Julia is also a member of the National Honor Society, Students for Sustainability, Off-Leash Bulldawg, Bulldawg Outdoors Club, French Honor Society, Creative Writing Club and the LCHS Lettuce Club. She plans to study Cognitive Neuroscience when she attends college.

Julia Fernald, National Merit Semifinalist from Las Cruces High School.

Mireya Sanchez-Maes attends Mayfield High School and is a 3-time NMAA Speech and Debate State Champion, 3-time All State Orchestra member, a National College Match Finalists for Questbridge and a 2-time Cross Country State Qualifier. She has conducted numerous scientific research projects with her MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement) team and has garnered multiple awards at state engineering fairs. In 2018, she was among 40 young women that earned a National Award with the National Center for Women (NCWIT) for her outreach and achievements in the field of Computer Science. Mireya Sanchez-Maes applied for early admissions to Yale, Stanford, and Princeton through the Questbridge Program. She enjoys reading, music, long runs and aspires to continue her education in the field of Biochemistry.

Mireya Sanchez-Maes, National Merit Semifinalist from Mayfield High School.

Nicholas Simon Grijalva is a senior at Mayfield High School who has been recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Organization as a National Hispanic Scholar. Nicolas enjoys STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math); he competes in local robotic competitions, building robots smart enough to play games and solve problems. He won first place in the statewide competition known as “Breaking Good Video Contest” and was awarded $1,000 from The State Bar of New Mexico Legal Services and Programs Committee for his video. He is on the Cross Country Team, Speech and Debate Mock Trial Team at Mayfield High School and is thinking about attending college abroad, but has also applied to New Mexico State University.

Nicholas Simon Grijalva, National Hispanic Recognition Scholar from Mayfield High School.

Rebekah Ruff is a senior mentor and tutor for underclassmen at Arrowhead Park Early College High School. Last year, she made the Mayor’s Top Teen list. Rebekah is the president of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance. Each year she volunteers at the Bataan Memorial Death March, spending 14-hour days preparing meals to over 6,000 people. She earned a spot on the Dean’s Honor Roll all four years of high school and fall her junior year, achieved the NMSU Dean’s Honor Roll. She was named a HOBY Ambassador (Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership) and attended a weekend leadership seminar in Albuquerque. In September, she participated in a scholarship program called “Distinguished Young Women of New Mexico.” So far, she has earned $1550 in scholarships.

Rebekah Ruff, National Merit Semifinalist from at Arrowhead Park Early College High School.

Mohammad Badawy is the Secretary for student government at Arrowhead Park Early College High School. Among many accomplishments, he is Chess Club president, a member of the yearbook staff, National Honor Society and Muslim Student Association. He has devoted nearly 200-hours volunteering at the Islamic Center in El Paso and Southern New Mexico. Mohammad received the National Academy of Future Physicians and earned the Medical Scientists Award of Excellence. In 2016, Mohammad was among students throughout the nation who qualified for grand recognition, scoring approximately at or better than 90 percent of recent high school graduates on at least one part of the ACT/SAT. Mohammad plans to attend college at Duke University.

Mohammad Badawy, National Merit Semifinalist from Arrowhead Park Early College High School.

“These students worked very hard in and outside of the classroom,” said Dr. Karen Trujillo, Interim Superintendent for Las Cruces Public Schools. “Whether it was studying for exams, excelling in extracurricular activities, volunteering countless hours doing community service or mentoring and tutoring their fellow classmates, each of these students have earned the title of National Merit Scholars. I am so proud of what these students have accomplished. I know this is just the beginning of a very bright future for them.”

The mission of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) is to recognize and honor the academically talented students of the United States. NMSC accomplishes its mission by conducting nationwide academic scholarship programs. For almost 65 years, NMSC has continued to focus its attention solely on the academically talented high school students of the United States. NMSC’s mission to promote scholastic excellence and recognize students who exemplify it. The competition is very rigorous; scholarship winners are chosen based on their abilities, skills, extracurricular accomplishments, and potential for success in college and beyond. NMSC operates without government assistance and relies on an independent base of support — approximately 400 loyal sponsors who underwrite the majority of the scholarships.

Services have evolved to meet program purposes and the needs of participating high schools, colleges and universities attended by award recipients, and the scholarship sponsors whose generosity enhances the opportunities of honored students. The enduring goals of NMSC’s scholarship programs is to promote a wider and deeper respect for learning in general and for exceptionally talented individuals in particular. NMSC also strives to shine a spotlight on brilliant students and encourage the pursuit of academic excellence at all levels of education and stimulate increased support from individuals and organizations that wish to sponsor scholarships for outstanding scholastic talent.

— Samantha Lewis, LCPS Public Relations Coordinator, 575-527-5946,