Karen is the oldest of 5 children. She grew up in Santa Fe, but moved to Las Cruces when she was 16 years old. She graduated from Mayfield High School in 1988. She stayed in Las Cruces and graduated from NMSU in 1992 with a degree in Secondary Education. That same year she married Ben Trujillo, a local State Farm Agent. Karen and Ben have been married for 25 years and have three children: Taralyn (22), Timothy (18), and Tavyn (16). Her parents Gilbert and Bernadette Apodaca are retired and live in the North Valley.
In 1993 she received a Master's Degree in Mathematics Education and started teaching at Las Cruces High School. She has been an educator in New Mexico for the past 25 years. As a teacher, a principal and a faculty member at NMSU, she has spent her career advocating for children in New Mexico. She has written grants for local playgrounds, technology for classrooms, after school programs, professional development for teachers and initiatives that encourage children to pursue STEM careers. When she sees a problem, she likes to find a solution.
In 1998 when Karen graduated with her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, it was difficult for her to be addressed as Dr. Trujillo. To her colleagues at work, she is just Karen and that is the way she likes it. However, she understands that she is an example of a strong, smart, Hispanic woman who uses her talents to make a difference in her community. In an effort to continually challenge herself, she made a promise when she was 40 to do something challenging every year. The past 8 years have been filled with the following adventures:
Age 40: Competed in a triathlon in Albuquerque
Age 41: Acted in two plays (NMSU and LCCT)
Age 42: Enrolled in Creative Writing courses at NMSU
Age 43: Published a book of POEMS and a Play
Age 44: Started Educators Rising NM
Age 45: Started walking 2 miles every day
Age 46: Founded the SOAR Lab at NMSU
Age 47: Run for Dona Ana County Commission District 5