Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Dream.US Scholarship team is this year’s recipient of the Colorado Coalition for the Educational Advancement of Latinxs Staff Impact Practice Award. The award recognizes staff members who advance academic and social success for Latinx students in higher education in Colorado. Recipients are determined by a selection committee of CoCEAL members and board members.
Supporting staff for the team includes:
- April Peterson, Jasmine Villalobos-Valles, Lauren Koppel — Classroom to Career Hub
- Erin Ulrich, Itzel Perez Galicia — Admissions
- Sylvia Rizo, Kelly Findley — Financial Aid
- Pablo Chavira Nieto, Estéfani Peña Figueroa, Gregor Mieder — Immigrant Services Program
“When I saw the title ‘Staff Impact Practice Award,’ I knew I had to nominate this team,” Koppel, who nominated the team, said. “As a group, this team puts into practice multiple layers of support to create impact for our Dream.US scholars and Latinx students at MSU Denver. This group strategizes around outreach, navigating higher-education complexities as an undocumented/Dreamer student, welcoming family support systems and advocating for changes in institutional and state policy and procedure.”
The Dream.US Scholarship team has helped around 300 MSU Denver students receive a fully funded education and met the requirements for attentive student support. The team has also ensured that the scholarship is promoted among high schools, community colleges and other incoming eligible students. Beyond that, team members frequently meet with students to ensure they are on track to graduate into rewarding careers and grow as professionals and community leaders. The staff team also has specialized support and liaisons for Dream.US scholars regarding their careers, mental health and scholarship disbursement via financial aid.
Dream.US recipients are also an integral part of ensuring the scholarship’s continuation. These students are typical Roadrunners as they face adversity in being first-generation, speaking a language other than English at home and/or coming from low-income households. In return, they have visited high schools to speak to peers about attending college as undocumented immigrants. They have also planned and participated in a number of social-engagement/community-building events, professional and career-readiness workshops, cultural celebrations and even an alternative spring break trip.
“Dream.US Scholarship recipients represent the very part of the Colorado community that often finds itself without access to higher education,” Mieder said.