Janna Mills is not only a UNM student and New Mexico Leadership Institute scholar, but also was recently crowned as the 2014 New Mexico State Fair and Rodeo Queen. Mills, a 19-year-old freshman from a northern New Mexico town called Eagle Nest, is studying elementary education with a focus on special education and is member of the most recent New Mexico Leadership Institute (NMLI) cohort of scholars who participated in the NMLI academy on the UNM campus this summer.
Recipients the scholarship are chosen during their junior year of high school, required to perform a community service project during their senior year, and finally participate in the summer program. The objective of the program is to provide exceptional high school leaders from across New Mexico with the financial resources, global awareness, and professional networks required to succeed in a competitive and knowledge-based economy—all goals that align perfectly with Mills’ ambitions.
“The NMLI scholarship is giving me the opportunity to get closer to my future educational and professional goals,” Mills says. “I really want to participate in the travel abroad studies at UNM and hopefully be able to teach in other countries, and bring what I learn back to our state where I can teach from a more global perspective.
Mills is the 76th overall recipient and first from Colfax County to be awarded with the State Fair and Rodeo queen titles. Additionally, Ashley Rose Mills, Mills’ older sister and also a UNM law student, was the first Miss Rodeo New Mexico from Northern New Mexico. “We have both always loved horses and everything the rodeo has to offer,” Mills says.
A lot of hard work and dedication goes into competing for the crown including a written test, horsemanship demonstrations and interviews. “The committee asks several questions about not only the history of the State Fair, but also the history of New Mexico,” Mills says. “I had to answer a question about technology and whether it has too much power over today’s generation and I answered that I believe it is taking over our generation—everywhere you walk through UNM, you see people on their electronic devices.”
In her role as State Fair and Rodeo queen, Mills is an official employee of the New Mexico Expo and travels around the State and other fairs around the country talking to people about what all the state fair has to offer. Her first official duty was in Cliff, New Mexico where she will be attended their county fair.
“It is such an honor to be able to visit communities throughout our state to talk to people about what the State Fair has to offer,” Mills says. “We have such a diverse culture and so many great things to share.”