On Tuesday morning, as 50 students from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver filed into a classroom at Moby Arena for the beginning of their day touring campus, several Colorado State University students held celebrity status.
The students aged 13-18, embraced and took selfies with Erik Medrano Martinez, Roxana Bustos-Flores, and Demitria Flores. The reason: Medrano Martinez, Bustos-Flores and Flores all were part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, and are now thriving as students at CSU.
As part of a panel discussion, the first-generation college students shared words of inspiration and advice with their younger peers, answering questions and sharing their own experiences.
“Try to get out of your comfort zone. Fort Collins is only an hour away, but it’s just far enough, and you learn so much about yourself and grow so much,” said Medrano Martinez, a junior Business Administration major. “Don’t be afraid to branch out, these are going to be the best four years of your life. I am not the same person I was when I was in high school.”
Medrano Martinez’s words resonated with 13-year-old Michael Williams, an eighth grader at McAuliffe International School.
“Meeting the college kids was pretty interesting to show us how it would be during the next few years for us,” said Williams, who is part of the Broncos Boys & Girls Club.
“It makes me think what I could do when I go to college – like hearing from Eric how he’s giving back to the Boys & Girls Club. What stood out to me that he said was that he was giving back because of what the Boys & Girls Club did for him – it means a lot and giving back would be something cool to do in the future.”
The nearly 50 students from Cope, Vickers, Johnson, Broncos, Wilfley Boys & Girls Club branches in Denver, toured the campus with student Admissions Ambassadors, ate lunch in the residence halls, and gained insight on resources to make college attainable.
Panelist Jory Coates, a CSU freshman studying Biological Sciences, said he originally dropped out of school due to financial constraints, but soon realized that applying for scholarships and taking out loans would ultimately help him create a better life – a future he wanted.
“I spent a year working at a pizza place for 40 hours a week, and I realized, this is how 10 years go by without you noticing,” he said. “When you get out of high school and you start working at a job, you realize how time flies by. You don’t realize your life start to disappear before you are ready.”
As part of a partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, students who participate in the program are eligible for Access Center grants of up to $1,250 per semester for 10 semesters at CSU.
A key aspect of the partnership is bringing students onto the CSU campus to share higher education as a viable option for their futures.
For 15-year-old Brooklyn Johnson, the time on campus made her take another look at college.
“It made me think about where I am now, I’m kind of confused about where I want to go in life,” said Johnson, a sophomore at Northfield High School and a member of the Broncos Boys & Girls Club. “I don’t want to go to school more, but [the CSU students] make it seem like it’s fun and it’s a good choice. I feel like college can change my life – like they’re saying it changed their lives.”
CSU and Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver
Colorado State University and Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver have an official partnership aligned around a mission of access and the opportunity for students to see that higher education is a viable option for their future. CSU is the first official higher education partner of BGCMD and currently hosts students on campus several times a year, participates in club activities, provides support to students during their time as members of BGCMD, and offers scholarship opportunities and wrap-around support for members who chose to attend CSU to ensure success during their time at the university.
Photos courtesy of Hannah Bohlinger