First-generation student ignites family Ram pride

Like many parents, Julio Flores will never forget the moment his daughter, Demitria, received her acceptance letter to Colorado State University.Dimitria holding her acceptance letter

“When we found out that she made it into CSU we were so excited, so proud of Demi for all the hard work and not giving up,” Julio said.

Fast forward four years, and Demitria will graduate in May with a Human Development and Family Studies degree and a minor in Spanish.

She’s planning to attend graduate school and work with middle school students internationally through an established – or her own – nonprofit organization.

Demi can boast involvement in university and civic clubs, travel and volunteering, and employment while finishing her degree. Yet, as a first-generation student, she’s taking much more than all of that from her time at CSU.

“I feel my experience has impacted my family tremendously, as it has opened up a new world to them and exemplified to my little brother and cousins that college is possible,” said the 21-year-old. “It has inspired those in my life to not only pursue college but be involved within college, in things such as study abroad and student leadership opportunities.”

Julio reflected that Demi’s ripple effect has an even greater breadth.

Julio, a site director at the Cope branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, said Demi serves as a strong example for students at the Clubs.

“She will be the first in our family to graduate college,” he said. “She is loved by many of her family members and friends. Demi is a person that others believe in, and because of that, she has helped others become successful. She has a lot of people that follow her.”

Inspiring others was a source of motivation for Demi throughout college.

“When things got difficult at college I had to continuously remind myself why I chose
to attend CSU and what the future will hold once I completed college. I also thought about my family and those who are looking up to me and how I can’t let them down,” she said, remarking that her peers at the Boys & Girls Clubs also motivated her.

“I want them to know that if I can do it, anyone can,” she said. “Not to let the money, classwork or being away from home deter them. That it is a choice they have to make for themselves and have to have self-motivation because there are times that are harder than others.”

First day to graduation

Julio remembers Demi’s first days at school vividly.

“A lot was going through my mind,” he recalled. “This was her first time moving out and being on her own. I remember I would send her a message every day – that was my way of letting her know that I was right there and ready to help her with anything she needed. Turns out, she figured out how to be on her own very fast.”

Demi remembers her first semester a bit differently: “It was hectic. I was excited and sad all in one. The transition was hard and overwhelming. I didn’t know what to expect, the classes were huge, and there were new faces everywhere you went!”

Still, it didn’t take her long to start making her mark at CSU, working in the Engineering Business Office, volunteering abroad in Kenya, studying in Spain, and taking on leadership positions with Africans United and United Women of Color.

With her younger brother in tow, Demi and her family became part of the CSU family, and her graduation is a celebration for all of them.

“Being a part of CSU to me means a lot. Demi has opened the door for many of our families and kiddos at the Club and in our communities, she has given them hope. It means that our future will not be the same, that all the hard work as parents had paid off,” Julio said.

Julio continues to see his daughter fulfill her dreams, and in some ways when she walks across the graduation stage in May, it will be only the beginning. “The last four years have been amazing, and seeing Demi learn so much and not give up has been priceless. Demi has come a long way, and we could not be more proud of her,” Julio said. “CSU has changed our daughter for the best, because of CSU I know she will be successful and wealthy, she will have a healthy life and be very caring to all those that come into her life. Once again, thank you, thank you for everything.”

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is in CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.

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 choose to attend CSU to ensure success during their time at the university.