School of Engineering Annual Awards

Minority Engineering Programs

photo of Dominica Bennett

Dominica Bennett
Minority Engineering Programs Leadership Award

Dominica Bennett is a double major in construction engineering and construction management who was born and raised in Albuquerque. She is affiliated with the Navajo tribe.

It was her father who first interested her in construction. “Going to work with my dad as a child was the best part of my childhood. This is where I fell in love with construction. He was a carpenter and took me to construction sites, and I was amazed at how he built buildings from scratch. He is the reason I am pursuing a career in construction." She has been extremely active as a student at UNM in organizations and with internships. She was an intern with Axe Engineering in the summer of 2019, an intern with the New Mexico State Office of Engineers in Santa Fe in the summer of 2018, and in the summer of 2017, conducted undergraduate research on “The Long-Term Effect of Las Conchas Wildfire on Peralta Creek.”

Last fall, she was selected to receive the 2019 Frances M. Keville Memorial Scholarship from the Construction Management Association of America Foundation. She was selected based upon her commitment to her education and dedication to student activities and wanting to make a change. This scholarship selects only one person in the nation.

She is co-president of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), in which she has been a member for three years and was secretary of the Associated General Contractors (AGC). She has been a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) for three years, and this upcoming school year she will be serving as co-president for the organization. She is also a member of Chi Epsilon.

Her favorite memories as a student are study nights with friends at the Indigenous Nations Library Program study rooms and being a part of student organizations.

In her spare time, Dominica loves traveling, hiking, playing basketball and volleyball with friends and playing arcade games at Dave and Busters.

Her plans after graduation are to work at a local construction firm, then later return to UNM for a master’s in business while continuing to work in construction. Eventually, she would like to open her own engineering/construction firm will focus on tribal projects. “I want to have a Native-owned firm that will focus on helping my tribe.”

photo of Kody Rope Pierce Becenti

Kody Rope Pierce Becenti
Minority Engineering Programs Leadership Award

Kody Rope Pierce Becenti, from La Plata, N.M., is not an engineering student (he is a pre-med student majoring in health medicine and human values with a double minor in chemistry and environmental science) but worked closely with engineering student and co-winner, Dominica Bennett, with School of Engineering-related activities.

Kody is a member of the 2017 cohort of the combined BA/MD program. He said the combination of wanting to help people with their health and the physician shortage on the Navajo Nation and in New Mexico is why he chose the pre-med route.

He has been an intern at the Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center and has been involved with the BA/MD Student Organization, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, UNM Engineering Energy Day and AISS Senior Day.

His hobbies include mountain biking, hiking and basketball. He said his fondest memory at UNM has been the UNM vs. NMSU football games.

His future plan is to be a practicing physician in the state of New Mexico.