LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KTSM) — Small memorials with flowers and candles were placed outside the Las Cruces Public Schools headquarters and near a sidewalk where a tragic collision took the life of Superintendent Dr. Karen Trujillo.
Trujillo was killed after being struck by a vehicle while walking her dogs Thursday night, Las Cruces Police confirm.
She had been at the helm of the district since September 2019, navigating a series of crises that started with a ransomware attack, the shutdown of schools amid a pandemic and the devastating loss of seven educators to COVID-19.
“This is an unimaginable loss,” remarked LCPS Chief of Staff Sean Barham. “Dr. Trujillo embodied selflessness and demonstrated it daily. At every roadblock, she found a way to move forward. She drew upon her many years in the classroom to be a champion for educators and an advocate for students.”
Ray Jaramillo, president of the LCPS Board of Education, concurred with Barham.
“In my time on the board, there was never a day Dr. Trujillo didn’t show up with a plan for success — even in the toughest of times,” said Jaramillo. “She was the architect of a cautious plan that addressed the needs of every student and every educator in our district, and we supported her in her mission.”
“It is hard to imagine how to move forward without her leadership,” added Barham. “But that’s what Dr. Trujillo would want us to do. One of her many talents was surrounding herself with capable people who kept students’ interests first, and that will be her legacy in this district.”
Ramon Gonzalez, a former Dona Ana County Commissioner, spoke of the time he worked alongside Trujillo when she served the county.
“She left a legacy there in Las Cruces in regard to education and working with children, that was her passion,” Gonzalez said.
Her family shared thanks for the outpouring love and support they’ve received from the community.
“My sweet Karen will be missed, but know this, the teachers, her administrative team, she loved what she did,” her husband, Ben Trujillo, said.
He asked the community to instead of donating food to them, take it to homeless shelters and in lieu of flowers, said they wanted to create a scholarship fund for people to donate to.
“The idea is to have a scholarship, something to do with education, in honor of Dr. Karen Trujillo,” Trujillo said. He also asked the community not to blame the driver. Police have not issued charges as of yet.
Trujillo started her teaching career in Las Cruces in 1993 after receiving her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics education from New Mexico State University. After teaching math at Las Cruces High School for two years, she returned to NMSU where she received her Ph.D. in Secondary Education, Mathematics, Curriculum and Instruction.
Before coming to LCPS, she served as the New Mexico Secretary of Public Education and briefly represented District 5 on the Doña Ana Board of County Commissioners.
In lieu of flowers, Trujillo’s husband encourages the community to contribute to a memorial scholarship fund established in her name through secure online donations at https://advancing.nmsu.edu/givenow.
After selecting your donation amount, contributors can choose ‘other’ in the dropdown menu and write-in “In memory of Dr. Karen Trujillo” to ensure contributions are deposited to her fund. Contributions are tax-deductible.
If you need help navigating the site, or if you have additional questions, please contact Ben Trujillo’s State Farm office at (575) 382-3636.