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Obama Honors UTEP Professor, 2 NM Educators

ABC-7 Staff and Wire Reports

El Paso, Texas – President Barack Obama today honored educators from across the country, including a UTEP professor and two New Mexico educators, at his second “Educate to Innovate” Campaign event for excellence in STEM education.

Ben Flores, Ph.D., professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Texas at El Paso,received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (STEM) during a reception at the White House.Flores is among 22 mentors and more than 80 educators nationwide being recognized for their efforts to mentor minorities who are studying science and engineering.

“This is a great honor for me,” Flores said in a news release, adding how grateful he was that UTEP President Diana Natalicio nominated him. “I was very happy that … my work is now being recognized at the highest level.”Flores, who joined the UTEP staff in 1990, leads several university and statewide programs that promote increasing minorities in the workplace with the hope that the next generation of scientists and engineers will better reflect the nation’s diversity.

“These awards represent a heartfelt salute of appreciation to a remarkable group of individuals who have devoted their lives and careers to helping others and in doing so have helped us all,” Obama said, according to a UTEP news release. The selection, which is made through the National Science Foundation, includes $10,000 the winners can use to pursue their mentoring efforts.Flores plans to use his money to develop a program where undergraduate math, science and engineering majors will help teachers in the Canutillo Independent School District create projects to motivate students to go to college and consider scientific careers.Flores received his bachelor’s and master’s in electrical engineering in 1985 and 1986, respectively, from UTEP.

Read Flores full biography here.

Diana Fesmire of Alamogordo received an award for teaching math and Mary Anne Nelson of the University of New Mexico is being honored for mentoring underrepresented science students.

The two will join more than 100 recipients of presidential awards for their excellence in science and math teaching and mentoring.

Fesmire is a math instructor at Sierra Elementary School in Alamogordo and teaches elementary teaching methods at New Mexico State University in Alamogordo.

Nelson has helped the careers of underrepresented students in the sciences through years of direct mentoring.

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