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Alila and Vick Chosen as NMJC Outstanding Faculty

Alila and Vick Chosen as NMJC Outstanding Faculty photo 5/7/2014 4:01:07 p.m. - Hobbs, NM.  

New Mexico Junior College is proud to announce Kennedy Ochieng Alila, Professor of Chemistry, and Maria Elena Vick, Professor of Cosmetology, as the Outstanding Faculty for 2013-2014.  These two were chosen by NMJC faculty, staff and students, and will be honored at a special breakfast May 8, hosted by the college.  They will also be recognized during the NMJC Commencement Ceremony May 9. 

“I am humbled and sincerely grateful for this prestigious award,” said Alila. “I thank God and the NMJC family/community for everything. It is a great honor; it feels awesome to be here at NMJC.”

Kennedy Alila is originally from Kenya, where he taught chemistry.  Given the opportunity to acquire a degree in the United States, he obtained his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry/Biology from Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi; and then his Master of Science in Chemistry from St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Alila has taught at New Mexico Junior College for one year.  In the past, he taught at Fontbonne University in St. Louis, St. Charles Community College in St. Charles, Missouri, and was a research chemist at ISTO Technologies-Regenerative Medicine.  He is listed in Who’s Who Among American Universities and Colleges, and won the American Chemical Society Travel Award to present his research in chemistry.

“Professor Alila is very motivating to the students,” says Dr. Kelly Holladay, Dean of Business, Science and Math at NMJC. “One of his students shared with me that the only way she was able to finally pass her class was because of his ‘coaching’, his concern for her success and the extra time he gladly spent with her.  She said without his encouragement and inspiration that she would never have had the confidence in her own abilities.  I’ve witnessed him tutoring students that were not even his because they had heard how good he was to work with and that he would not turn them away.”

Alila states: “I want to teach my students that life is so competitive; that staying focused gets you there. I wish them well and success in their journey.”

Maria Vick, who has been with NMJC for 19 years, also feels privileged to receive this prestigious award.  “I find myself extremely honored, blessed and truly humbled by receiving such an important award.  It is rewarding to be recognized for doing something that I love.  I enjoy working with students, community members, and my colleagues.”

Vick received her Associate of Applied Science degree from New Mexico Junior College, her Bachelor of Arts and Science from University of the Southwest, and her Master in Education from Eastern New Mexico University.  She learned her craft in cosmetology when she lived in Germany for 8-1/2 years where she worked as a hairdresser on the military base.  She has received the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society Service Award, Boy Scout Silver Beaver Award for Distinguished Service to Youth, and 2011 Outstanding Hispanic.

“Professor Vick knows more about cosmetology than anyone else I know, “says Steve Hill, Director of Cosmetology.  “Students who take the state exams have a passing rate of 97-98%, and that’s because she cares.  She runs an excellent program that challenges the students to do their best. She is very deserving of this award. ”

Vick says she tries to teach students to do their best, not only in their skills but also in life.  “It is my belief that for anyone to be successful in any aspect of life, hard work is almost always involved.  So I say to my students if you want to be successful give it your best effort with a positive attitude and you will succeed.” 

Kennedy Alila will be given the Rotarian John Shepherd Faculty of the Year Award, and Maria Vick will receive the Elliott and Waldron Title Faculty of the Year Award.  The awards are equal in criteria and selection, with the two organizations having sponsored the $1,000 awards over several years. 

“We are extremely proud of all our professors, and especially these two who have been honored for their excellence,” states Dr. Dennis Atherton, Vice President for Instruction at NMJC.

For more information, contact Susan Fine at 575.492.2781 or

NMJC is a comprehensive community college promoting success through learning.

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