Twenty-six student and three community leaders were recognized for outstanding achievements during Saturday night’s NAACP awards banquet held at the Hobbs High School Commons.
This year’s theme was “Diversity and Unity: Together for Peace” and speaker Melinda Boateng spoke of the struggles she has seen, or experienced, in the workplace as a result of micro aggression.
“Micro aggression is a subtle, often unintentional form of prejudice,” Boateng said.
Boateng explained a number of micro aggression examples in the workplace and the billions of dollars employers lose as a result of it.
“I am judged even before someone knows me. I’m judged by my hair, my gender, the color of my skin, my gestures… people assume I am loud or lazy… these insults may seem small but they’re a part of a much larger problem… Researchers have found, but not addressed, micro aggressions lead to employee disengagement that is costing employers billions,” Boateng said.
Boateng, who is a registered nurse and serves as the Director of Case Management at the University of New Mexico Sandoval Regional Medical Center, has worked in case management for more than 25 years. She grew up in a small southeastern rural town of Independence, Kansas. Upon earning her practical nursing degree from East St. Louis, School of Nursing, Boateng transferred to Muhlenberg School of Medicine in Plainfield, New Jersey, where she graduated with her RN degree.
In addition, she also has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Kean University of Union, New Jersey and a Master’s in Science Degree from American Sentinel University in Aurora, Colorado, where she is now enrolled in their Doctorate of Nurse Practice Leadership program.
Active in her nursing profession, Boateng is a member of the American Nurses Association, the American Case Management Association, and the National Black Nurse Association. She is a committee member of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center and has earned a Tier I exceptional leadership award from the UNM Engagement Survey in 2021.
Boateng was also a recipient of the MVP award for Person of Integrity in 2018.
Upon the completion of Boateng’s speech, the 26 seniors were presented their awards for outstanding academic achievement. Community awards were also presented to three leaders for their long-time service to the community.
As each student’s name was called, he or she came forward to accept their plaque.
Students receiving recognition awards were: Charles Goar; Kaytlyn Kelley; Arilyn Hall; Ja’Nya Banks; Leilani Clay; Ronnie Ross; Ja’Saun Davis; N’Kya White; Mikaya Hodge; Jazlyn Calderon; Caurtrey Morgan; Kuturah Heckard; Robyn Mackey; Ahnika Rising; Taleyah Thomas; Aniyah Patton; Shamya Wright; Maleka Harris; Myles Young; Savannah Davila; Aliya Lee; Arien Rice; Tonyaliah Gipson; N’Asia White; Zoe Johnson; Anavion Granville.
Hobbs NAACP president Joe Cotton presented awards for community service to Hobbs City Commissioner Larron Fields; for education to Larchinee Turner, professor of Biology at New Mexico Junior College; and outstanding achievement to Patricia Jones, Hobbs Municipal Schools Board Member.
Award recipient Jalen Goar, who was recently named the 2022 Hobbs News-Sun All-Area Player of the Year and broke the Hobbs High School three-point record with 241 career three-point shots was one of several award recipients that night.
Goar and Banks were acknowledged separately from the rest of the award winners for their record-breaking marks during their high school careers.
Banks, who wrestles for the Hobbs High wrestling team, brought home a state title this year in the 152-pound weight class.
Both athletes have bright futures ahead of them, said Cotton.
Goar recently signed with Mid-American Christian University in Oklahoma City where he plans to further his education and basketball career.
The Evangels are a NAIA school and play in the Sooner Athletic Conference.
“This award means a lot to me,” Goar said of the award he received from NAACP. “I’ve worked really hard throughout my academic career and on and off the court. It feels really great to receive this award and what it represents. My plans for college are to go and play basketball and get my degree.”
Though Gore is unsure of what the future holds for him academically, Goar is confident about playing basketball for the school.
“I feel like God put me there for a reason,” Goar said.
Rising, another award recipient agrees that winning the award was an honor.
“I think winning the award is a reminder of how far we’ve come. It’s a nice accomplishment,” Rising said.
Rising, who plans to finish her education at New Mexico Junior College is also unsure of what the future holds for her. She is excited to be graduating and continuing teaching at Studio M dance studio.