DENVER — Denver7 is celebrating our partnership with the Denver Scholarship Foundation on their 15th anniversary by profiling some of their early success stories, 15 years later.
"I do remember walking these hallways," said Cristina Chacon, looking at the photos on the walls of Denver's Lincoln High School, and then pointing at one. "I'm right in the middle there. I used to manage the basketball team with all my friends."
For Chacon, it was a time of hope and uncertainty.
"Both my parents immigrated from Mexico, and we felt a sense of 'Education will get us forward in this country,'" she remembered.
Those values led her to Curtis Esquibel, an advisor with the Denver Scholarship Foundation, who encouraged her to apply to her dream school — Regis University.
"I didn't know exactly where that money was going to come from, but I had people like Curtis saying, 'If you want to go to Regis, let's try to get you there,'" Chacon said. "All I needed was that push and that motivation."
Chacon became one of the first Denver Scholarship Foundation Scholars and attended Regis University. She even had an opportunity to study abroad in Paris.
Since then, for all the opportunities she has been given, she is giving back to the community she loves.
"It was so important for me to stay in Denver. I love the city, I believe in the city," she said. "I taught at South for almost five years — social studies. It was amazing."
Now, she works for a Denver nonprofit empowering young people to use their voices for change.
But on this day, walking the halls of her high school, she recognizes how far she has come in the 15 years since the Denver Scholarship Foundation started and how far many students still have to go.
"In 15 years of DSF, I think one of the most empowering things that I've seen has been when I sit at tables that usually did not resemble people like me," she said. "Now, there is. We are DSF scholars. We are DPS graduates. And we're so proud of that."