Scholarships that change lives

Employee-supported Career Pathways awards help New Mexicans into new careers

By David Moore | February 9, 2023

Nathan Oswald Opt
Career Pathways Scholarship recipient Nathan Oswald.

Each year, through their support of the Los Alamos Employees Scholarship Fund, Laboratory employees help hundreds of students from Northern New Mexico achieve their dreams of obtaining a four-year degree. But not everyone wants or needs a four-year degree to follow the career of their choice, which is where the Careers Pathways Scholarship program comes in.

Supported by Laboratory employees and Laboratory operator Triad, Career Pathways Scholarships are for individuals who have a specific career in mind and are committed to earning an associate’s degree or certification in any field or trade. They are available to high school students and adult learners with a high school diploma or GED/High School Equivalency (HSE).

“Our Career Pathways Scholarship applicants come from all different walks of life,” says Mike Ammerman, LANL Foundation Scholarship Program Director. “Some have just graduated high school while others have had entire careers and have decided to switch gears. We are excited to support these recipients no matter what stage of life and learning they are in.”

Veteran whitewater raft guide returns to studying 

Nathan Oswald from Taos spent two decades as a whitewater raft guide. Now, he attends the University of New Mexico-Taos, studying pre-science as the winner of a Career Pathways Scholarship.

"I’m working towards a degree to be better able to find a permanent career in natural resource management in my lifelong home of Northern New Mexico," he says. "This scholarship has made it possible for me to remain a dedicated full-time student through the next year."

Returning to school after working for 20 years has been financially challenging, and he is very grateful for the financial assistance he’s received through this scholarship.

"It hasn’t been easy becoming a college student at almost 40 years old, but I’m proud of my accomplishments," Oswald says. "The biggest challenge that I’ve faced is keeping up with the rising cost of living, especially as a renter."

After receiving his associate's degree, Oswald hopes to attend UNM-Highlands to earn his bachelor’s degree in environmental geology with a focus on water resource management.

"I'm committed to preserving and protecting public land for future generations of Americans," he says.

Open to residents of seven Northern New Mexico counties

Awards are $750 per semester, up to a total of  $3,000. Applications are evaluated by the Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund (LAESF) Advisory Committee. Applicants must be residents of Los Alamos, Mora, Rio Arriba, San Miguel, Sandoval, Santa Fe, or Taos counties. US citizenship is not required, and preference is not given to students with an affiliation to LANL. The scholarship program is administered by the LANL Foundation.

The application deadline is April 1, 2023. More information is available here.