Over 200 guests attended the inaugural Friends of Military Veterans annual scholarship fundraiser dinner at the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine’s campus, raising approximately $50,000. All proceeds from the event went directly towards medical school scholarships for military veterans and their families via the Southwest Foundation for Osteopathic Education and Research (SWFOER).
The scholarship fund was established by Las Cruces community business leader Louis Biad who said in a speech he gave during the event, “I’m doing this because I’ve always felt that I have the duty to repay a debt of gratitude to the men and women who serve in the military. The way I look at it, their service is in lieu of mine and that of my children. I take that seriously.”
Ceil Levatino emceed the event during which the first three recipients of the Friends of Military Veterans Scholarship were recognized and given an opportunity to speak. First year medical student Adam Hayley, a retired United States Marine Corp gunnery sergeant, spoke about overcoming fear and the teamwork he learned in the military that is now proving beneficial to him in medical school.
BCOM class of 2020 student Christopher Hooshmand, a former corporal in the United States Marine Corps said, “Events like this get the word out that that veterans are here and you can make it to medical school if that’s what you want to do. If you get out of the Marine Corps and start from scratch like I did, you can be here.”
The third recipient, Scott Wallace, a first lieutenant in the Utah Army National Guard, spoke about his appreciation for the support from the community and his determination to give back to the Las Cruces community after graduation.
Las Cruces native and country music singer/songwriter Josh Grider provided entertainment for what Biad called a “remarkable evening.” He said, “In a time when Americans seem divided by so much, I’m overwhelmed by our coming together tonight. We will salute as strongly as we can the men and women in the military and their families.”
See the full video of the ceremony and read an important message from the Friends of Military Veterans Scholarship Committee. Then, learn more about the three recipients and read their personal statements:
A tremendous amount of volunteer hours made this event successful. Special recognition goes out to the following team members: Drs. Mike Woods and Richard Selinfreund for their key leadership roles in securing Mr. Biad’s initial donation and working with him from the very beginning to plan this event. Ceil Levatino, Megan Wells, Tom Hutchinson, and Tony Varin for planning and generating a large turnout. Justin McHorse and Marlene Melendez for assisting with the scholarship applications and awards and donations. Jeff Harris and Linda Kutinac for their assistance with event logistics. SWOFER board chairman Dr. Bill Baker and member Tanny Berg for their leadership and support for the event.
Last, but certainly not least, a big thank you to all the local businesses and organizations who sponsored this event:
Dr. John N. Conniff & Dr. Laurie A. Gormley
Biad Chile Co.
The Las Cruces Bulletin
Beasley, Mitchell & Co.
Steinborn & Associates Real Estate
Memorial Medical Center
La Posta de Mesilla
Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare
City of Las Cruces
Payment 1 Financial Group
Sombra Antigua Winery
Haciendas at Grace Village
U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce
Rio Grande Winery
Rehabilitation Hospital of Southern New Mexico
Advanced Care Hospital of Southern New Mexico
The Borderplex Alliance
MountainView Regional Medical Center
Spence Asset Management Foundation
Citizens Bank of Las Cruces
Rezolex, LTD. Co.