Enlightening Journey


Hi, my name is Talise Aspaas- Montoya and I’m currently a full-time student at San Juan College. This should technically be my senior year of high school, but in August of 2016 I decided to get my high school equivalency. I graduated within six months and at the end I received the New Mexico lottery scholarship. I had never been prouder of myself than I was when I walked across the stage to receive my diploma. I started my first semester of college in fall of 2017 and like any other incoming freshman staying focused was a challenge, but I did it and along the way I was awarded the San Juan College Foundation Scholarship.

In my LRNS (student success) class our instructor informed us of a solar project that he would be a part of, taking place from June 16-29 in the Ladakh region of northern India for a photovoltaic (PV) installation at the remote SECMOL school. SECMOL stands for Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh, it was founded in 1988 by a group of young Ladakhis with the aim of reforming Ladakh’s failing educational system. Utilizing an incredibly successful self-directed learning model, students study topics ranging from English and science to traditional Ladakhi songs and dances. The school is completely off-grid and embraces a 100% ecological model. SECMOL weaves together organic farming and animal husbandry with sustainable technologies like solar cookers and solar heating. Their only electricity is solar generated, and they have outgrown their system. Lacking the resources and expertise to upgrade and fix issues with their current system, they’re in great need of help.

If enough money is raised I would also be able to be a part of this amazing project. I (hopefully) among 11 other volunteers (whom are twice my age) will be living at the SECMOL campus doing the installation. We’ll have the incredible opportunity to interact with the high schoolers, helping them refine their English while sharing our cultures. The school is incredibly diverse, bringing together Tibetan Buddhists, Sunni and Shia Muslims, and Hindus. We’ll get to experience unforgettable sites like centuries old Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, Muslim mosques, and Ladakh’s capital city, Leh. For the grand finale we’ll travel south to experience India’s most famous crown jewels. One of the world’s most scenic flights will take us over the Himalaya to New Delhi, where we will spend two days exploring world sites ranging from Old Delhi’s food and spice markets to the Taj Mahal.

Since being at San Juan College I have had the pleasure of attending LRNS with Chris Strouthopoulous. He has made me appreciate even more passionate educators who truly care for their work and the students they serve. Educators like him, my 2nd 3rd grade teacher Mrs, Montoya who taught me to always follow my heart. My 9th grade English teacher, Ms. Pratt showed me just how impactful my words can be. My geometry teacher, Ms. Cooksey helped me to understand that, perseverance was the most radical thing I could do. My history teacher, Mr. Stovall reminded me what genuineness looks like and how to have it.

Like those who have helped to guide me, inspire me, educate me, I too want to do the same for others. I am working towards a degree in Phycology, because I believe the challenges that I have faced in my life can be used to help others overcome their adversity. I was in 3rd grade when I first discovered my passion for soul work, and at the time I didn’t fully understand why, but as I get older I learn more, and it grows stronger. I enjoy helping others in any and every way I can, it’s what drives me. Over the past year and a half, I’ve been on this spiritual journey, if you will, and I’ve learned a lot about myself and the impact I am able to have on others. This year I’m working on slowing down, living enveloped in each new moment’s richness. To put in the time to do more of the things I love, that I’m extremely passionate about. I don’t know what 2018 will bring. I don’t know what lessons I will learn. But I do know that I want to learn how to be more of myself. I welcome adventure, love, expansiveness, nourishment, and growth with open arms. I am cultivating more forgiveness towards myself and where I am in my journey. Manifesting more love in each corner of being, receiving love, and giving more love. Releasing boundaries and tearing down walls. The start of this year has already changed my life. I have a wild feeling about what is going to unfold.

A few years ago, I would’ve seen an opportunity like this as impossible, but here I am at 17 years old with the opportunity in arms reach. With your help, I’ll be able to experience something I’ve only talked about doing.

Any funds contributed over my requested amount will go to help support material costs for the project and remaining funds will be utilized for my continued education.
  • Laura Gross 
    • $100 
    • 48 mos
  • Ralph Kien Jalbuena 
    • $25 
    • 48 mos
  • Joan Davidge 
    • $25 
    • 49 mos
  • Violeta Pantaleon 
    • $30 
    • 49 mos
  • Nicole Manriquez 
    • $60 
    • 49 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Talise Aspaas- Montoya 
Shiprock, NM
Karla Aspaas- Montoya