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CSU-Pueblo announces 12 Kane and Gersick Foundation Scholars for fall

Release Date: April 13, 2017

Cora Zaletel

Executive Director, External Affairs

Colorado State University-Pueblo


Colorado State University-Pueblo announces 12 Kane and Gersick Foundation Scholars for fall

PUEBLOColorado State University-Pueblo has announced 12 local students who will receive full-ride scholarships through the CSU-Pueblo Foundation. Eight high-achieving students will receive the Kane Family Foundation Scholarship, and four have earned the Jennie and Albert Gersick Family Foundation Scholarship.

Students were selected based on their high school academic record, written submissions, and a competitive two-tier interview process. Both the Kane and Gersick Scholarships cover the recipients’ tuition, book expenses, and mandatory fees in pursuit of a four-year bachelor’s degree.

The 2017 CSU-Pueblo Gersick Scholars are: Alex Autobee (Pueblo West), Mikayla Hoffman (Pueblo West), Elena Pinckard (Pueblo County SEBS), and Cailey Sweckard (Pueblo South).

The 2017 Kane Scholars are: Alexander Daugherty (Pueblo West), Dara Harris (Pueblo South), Mark Hedrick (Pueblo County SEBS), Alexandria (Lexie) Hernandez (Pueblo West High School), Tezla Neighbours (Pueblo Centennial), Cara Siegel (Pueblo Centennial), Amber Vaught (Pueblo West), and Raena Vigil (Pueblo East).


Alex Autobee

Autobee plans to major in biology in preparation for a career in physical therapy.  After being accepted into Parkview Hospital’s competitive Student to Employment Program (STEP), he dedicated more than 150 hours shadowing certified physical and occupational therapists at local hospitals.  Autobee will graduate with a cumulative 4.12 grade point average (GPA) with accelerated and advanced placement courses in literature, U.S. government and politics, philosophy, anatomy and physiology, language and composition and chemistry. He has been part of Principal’s Honor Roll, National Honor Society, and received the designation of “Gifted and Talented” through Pueblo County School District 70. Autobee’s extra-curricular activities included national honor society, varsity basketball (captain); varsity track and field, and national history day – Colorado participant.  He also is a competitive crossfit/weightlifter and has placed in several competitions.  Autobee contributes many hours of community service through Sangre de Cristo Hospice, Veterans Overcoming Obstacles, Pueblo West Youth MAYB basketball tournament, and St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church.

Mikayla Hoffman

Hoffman will major in chemistry (pre-medicine) with a minor in leadership studies, in preparation for a career in pediatric medicine. She will graduate with a 4.20 cumulative GPA and has been on the president’s honor roll every semester of high school. She was a state-qualifying DECA member and participated in softball and Fellowship of Christian athletes.   She has been involved in 4-H for several years and was on the 4-H national team (2015).  Hoffman’s volunteer activities included Special Olympics, teaching catechism courses, and counseling at an adventure day camp.      

Elena Pinckard

Pinckard will major in nursing with a minor in Spanish while at CSU-Pueblo.  Elena was a member of National Honors Society, Spanish Club, student government, and Future Farmers of America.  She has been involved in rodeo and will compete on CSU-Pueblo’s rodeo club team in the fall. She is a member of Colorado Junior Rodeo Association and Colorado Pro Rodeo Association.  Pinckard continues to hone her horsemanship skills with Hitch Rack Performance Horses, where she works with and learns from other rodeo athletes.

Cailey Sweckard

Sweckard will major in accounting with a minor in finance in preparation for a career as a Certified Public Accountant.  She will graduate third in her class with a cumulative GPA of 4.49.  Sweckard has received numerous academic letters over her high school career and is a member of South High School National Honors Society, and Speech and Debate.  She received a distinguished speaker award as a Lincoln Douglas Debater, placed third in a Lions Club International Student Speech Contest, and placed first in the Pueblo Home of Heroes Essay Contest.  Sweckard also was a Girls’ State delegate in 2016.  Her extra-curricular activities have included: girls’ cabinet, varsity volleyball, dance team, varsity tennis, Newman Club, Colts Care, and Link Crew.    


Alexander Daugherty

Daugherty plans to major in political science and is considering a minor in biology or a social science. In high school, Daugherty has maintained a 4.02 GPA, while completing coursework in accelerated math, history, and psychology. His extra-curricular activities include Fellowship of Christian Athletes, varsity football and track, and youth group leader. Daughtery also volunteers at Skyview Middle School as a mentor to at-risk youth. He has been employed as a waiter at CaT's Pourhouse since 2012.

Dara Harris

Harris plans to study business administration with a minor in coaching and/or reading. While in high school, she participated in National Honor Society, French Club, French honor society, soccer, and choir. Harris was instrumental in creating Voices of South, a student-run organization that provides a safe place for individuals to discuss societal issues and personal experiences. She hopes to one day open a dance studio in order to reach out to children and teens who feel they have no way to express themselves.  Harris also volunteered with the Alzheimer’s Association and Wynwood of Pueblo Assisted Living.

Mark Hedrick

Hedrick has acquired an impressive computer information systems knowledge base, so it is not surprising that he plans to major in computer information systems. He is the founder of Hi-Tek Computing, LLC, a small business that caters to the needs of businesses and individuals around Pueblo by offering computer consulting services. Hedrick also is a technology assistant at Connect Charter School, where he manages a network of more than 250 workstations, and maintains infrastructure that allows for a complete cloud-based school. His academic accomplishments include a 4.02 cumulative GPA, resulting in recognition on the Principal’s and Silver Honor Roll. Hedrick participated for three years, and received first and second place (twice), in the CSU-Pueblo College of Education, Engineering, and Professional Studies mousetrap catapult competition.    

Alexandria (Lexie) Hernandez

Hernandez plans to major in nursing with a minor in Spanish. Her cumulative high school GPA is 4.45 with International Baccalaureate course work in Spanish, Theory of Knowledge, English, History, Math, Psychology and Chemistry. Hernandez will receive a full International Baccalaureate Diploma upon graduation. She has been involved in LULAC, National Honor Society, varsity golf, Interact Club, DECA, and FBLA. Hernandez advanced to regionals in both National History Day and DECA competitions. 

Tezla Neighbours

Neighbours plans to major in biology with a minor in chemistry to prepare for a career in pediatric medicine. She has received her state Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) license. Neighbours will graduate with a cumulative 4.23 GPA and received seven academic letters. She’s a member of National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, National Science Honor Society, Girls Cabinet, and the Gifted and Talented Program. Neighbours lettered in choir and received a first-place award in CSU-Pueblo’s Chemistry Poetry Slam Contest. She also volunteers many hours with Veterans Affairs.

Cara Siegel

Siegel plans to major in mass communications (electronic media) with a minor in marketing. She has committed to play soccer for CSU-Pueblo in the fall. Siegel will graduate with a cumulative GPA of 4.2. She has achieved both academically and athletically.   Siegel’s athletic accomplishments include: volleyball (varsity letter, first team all-conference, all state volleyball team); basketball (varsity letter); soccer (varsity letter, first team all-conference). She was a member of DECA (received first place (team) for entertainment sports marketing), Key Club, Newman Club, Girls Cabinet, and senior sports editor (Journalism and Digital Media).    

Amber Vaught

Vaught plans to study business management and/or accounting with a minor in English. Her cumulative GPA is 4.49, she will graduate in the top five percent of her class. Vaught was a member of National Honor Society, received academic letters in 2014, 2015, and 2016, journalism letters in 2015 and 2016, and received the presidential award for test scores in 2015. Her extra-curricular activities include CyChron, editor-in-chief and Eye of the Storm Literary Journal, and DECA.  Vaught also participated in Global Youth Review (a six-week course analyzing world events and understanding history). She has been employed as a CSR/Billing Specialist with American Family Insurance since 2015. 

Raena Vigil

Vigil plans to major in education and minor in Spanish while at CSU-Pueblo. She will be is an International Baccalaureate diploma candidate and is fourth in her class with a 4.76 cumulative GPA. Vigil is a member of National Honor Society (vice president) and a varsity member of the volleyball team (senior captain). She was a member of Fellowship of Christian Eagles and volunteered as a volleyball coach with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Vigil also volunteered with Sarah’s Home, a safe home for youth human trafficking victims and organized a fundraiser with local businesses to benefit the organization.      

For more information, please contact Sandy Lundahl, CSU-Pueblo scholarship manager, at (719) 549-2965 or

The CSU-Pueblo Foundation was created in 1954 to solicit, receive, invest, and disburse private gifts for Colorado State University – Pueblo and exists solely for the benefit of Colorado State University – Pueblo and its students.
 Colorado State University - Pueblo is committed to excellence, setting the standard for regional comprehensive universities in teaching, research, and service by providing leadership and access for its region, while maintaining its commitment to diversity.

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