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Nancy Palacios-Casillas | Chicana/o Studies

Nancy Palacios-Casillas is currently a first-generation student majoring in Chicana/o Studies at MSU Denver.  “I am pursuing a college degree because I want to obtain the necessary skills to go back to my community and give back.  I want to work with underrepresented, marginalized youth in communities like mine to make sure that they are being led positively and have the support they need through their road to success.  Also, it is extremely important to me to obtain and pursue a degree because my parents have allowed me to get an education, something that they never had.  Everyone has a different path, do not beat yourself down if your road to success looks slightly different from your peers.  Remember that you belong on campus, no matter the stereotypes.  You may feel alone sometimes, but remember, you have the power to create change, your voice matters, and you will be successful.  Your ancestors are standing behind you, every step of the way. Todo a Su Tiempo, Si Se Puede!” 


Estéfani Peña Figueroa | Health Care Management

 "Peña Figueroa, a student with DACA protection, graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver this month with a degree in healthcare management. Her younger sister is graduating from Denver’s DSST: College View High School.

But because the coronavirus pandemic upended academic life and put a halt to large gatherings, there has been no pomp, no circumstance, and no graduation stage to complete the Figueroa's’ educational odyssey.

Many Colorado academic institutions canceled or postponed their graduation ceremonies to reduce the spread of the highly contagious new coronavirus. For first-generation college students such as Peña Figueroa — the first person in her family to earn a college degree — the dissolution of a graduation ceremony felt especially stinging. “I really wanted to go to school since I was little, but the education in Guatemala was so expensive and not the best opportunity,” Peña Figueroa said, her voice cracking. “Although my mother didn’t really know how to read back then, she would always try to read to me and always tell me — sorry I get so emotional — she would always tell me about the importance of going to school and going to college. My parents decided to give my little sister and me a better future.”

By Elizabeth Hernandez, The Denver Post

Read the rest of the article here.

Brandon "Wheelz" Wheeldon | U.S. Army | Veteran and Military Services

“I can stand in front of other vets and say, ‘I’ve dealt with mental health issues. Now, I’m gonna guide you through the BS you’re going through, too." COVID-19 is shining a light on the underlying issues veterans face that the country has been unable to fix, including a stigma attached to asking for help, said veterans working in Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Peer Advisors for Veteran Education program. It’s an exercise in trust-building that Brandon knows well. “So much of the military, across all branches, is shaped around this concept of ‘team,’” said the 2009 criminal-justice alum and current Master of Social Work student. “You’re trained from your first day of service to rely on those to the left of you and the right of you – that doesn’t go away.” Read the full article here.

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