Albuquerque Journal

Nusenda: ‘Our roots are in public education’

Spelling bee sponsorshi­p part of credit union’s community outreach

- BY ADRIAN GOMEZ JOURNAL ARTS EDITOR

Sara Keller remembers being both terrified and astounded as she participat­ed with her classmates in spelling bees.

“It’s interestin­g because they play a pivotal point for so many elementary and middle school children,” Keller says. “I was in awe of the kids that went on to the state and regional competitio­ns. It’s such an incredible talent to have. It’s really a lost art in the technology age that we live in right now.”

Keller is vice president of Community Engagement at Nusenda Credit Union. The financial institutio­n has signed on as sponsor of the New Mexico Spelling Bee, which begins on March 20.

This year the competitio­n will be done virtually.

Nusenda Credit Union has a long-standing history in Albuquerqu­e.

Prior to taking on its current name, the credit union was derived from Albuquerqu­e Public Schools in the early 1930s.

“Our roots are in public education,” Keller says. “Being able to lead the way as a sponsor of the spelling bee falls in line with our efforts within the community. Spelling bees are pivotal to many people and it gives an opportunit­y for a student to identify their passion.

They are exposed to a new trajectory. For us, at Nusenda, we feel it’s important to provide those experience­s for students.”

Keller said Nusenda’s community outreach is varied.

The institutio­n felt it was important to keep the spelling bee moving forward — even in the pandemic.

“This past year has been life changing,” she explains. “Nusenda stepped up with the community rewards program. During the last year, we supported 92 programs from Taos to Socorro and awarded $500,000 in grants.”

Those grants went to organizati­ons in arts, health care and other community supported services.

“We also found ways to partner with other New Mexico organizati­ons to make the biggest impact we could,” she says. “All of this is an effort to create safer, stronger and healthier communitie­s. The spelling bee is one way we do that. Those single moments of triumph in our childhood help shape us as adults. Spelling bees are our first experience­s with public speaking. It’s scary, but so exciting.”

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Sara Keller

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