Dallas Loretto, a recent graduate of the Taos Educational and Career Center (TECC), was named an Outstanding Student of the Year by the state of New Mexico.
Loretto, 29, was one of several students in adult education programs who were recognized at the state Roundhouse in Santa Fe on Feb. 22.
“I was surprised and thankful to the Creator for the many blessings on my quest for sobriety,” he said.
Nina Gonzales, program specialist at TECC, nominated Loretto for the honor. TECC is one of 28 adult education programs in the state.
Loretto, of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, moved from Dulce to Taos in fall 2015. He began attending TECC the following January.
He said he moved to Taos, where his parents currently live, to better himself. Seeking his high school equivalency was part of that goal.
Loretto said after dropping out of high school that he made bad choices and struggled with alcohol. A turning point came when he was hospitalized for alcoholism.
He became determined to get his high school equivalency and pursue a degree in sociology so he could counsel others who are struggling with substance abuse. He completed his high school equivalency in October 2016.
TECC became his refuge because of its supportive and compassionate staff, he says.
“It’s where I could get away from the stresses of my past,” he said. “I could focus on bettering my future.”
Loretto admits that studying for his high school equivalency wasn’t always easy. There were setbacks but he was able to overcome them with support.
“I came here for some learning and walked out with some knowledge,” he said. “I encourage others who don’t have their GED to make it a goal. It takes time. There may be difficulties. But the end result is rewarding and can open many doors.”