Scholar Profiles

Boettcher Foundation Press Release

01 Mar Starbucks director and Boettcher Scholar pays forward the college experience through new program

How does an economics major from Littleton, Colorado become the director of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan? In her own words, “by continually taking on new challenges and pushing myself to try new things.” Mary Dixon has spent two decades working for the largest coffee chain in the world, but before that, she was a 1986 Boettcher Scholar who attended Colorado College. “I remember that moment of opening the envelope—it was so thin I thought it must be bad news—but when I saw that I’d received the scholarship, it was such a moment of pride,” Mary recalls. “It was in my nature to be involved in academics and in my community, and Boettcher validating those attributes strengthened my resolve to continue being of service to others.”  Serving others is what led Mary to her current role, directing Starbucks’ college reimbursement program for any employee who works at least 20 hours a week. Committed to its community, Starbucks aims to graduate 25,000 employees by the year 2025. “We’re constantly thinking about how we can make this program better, or what’s the next thing we can offer to our partners that grows both the organization and each of them individually,” Mary explained. Over the years, Mary has held several positions at Starbucks, ranging from retail to global responsibility, and though it may not seem like a traditional path, Mary credits her liberal arts education for the career she has today. “The jobs of tomorrow don’t even exist yet today, so it’s more about teaching critical thinking,” Mary said. “My liberal arts education gave me that base, and I’ve felt comfortable taking on new challenges because of that. It also gave me communication skills that are useful in any job.” After graduating from CC, Mary worked with foreign exchange students in Boston and Australia. From there, Mary realized she was ready for a new challenge and wanted to be back on the west coast working in the food industry. “A friend told me about this little company called ‘Starbucks’ that had a few hundred stores,” Mary remembers. She researched the company and liked the fact that it was centered around a mission and a set of core values. Shortly after Starbucks became a publicly traded company, Mary was hired into the manager training program in retail in San Francisco. In fact, Mary was part of the team that helped Starbucks expand into Colorado and several other states for the first time. She then became the director of global operations and helped Starbucks expand internationally, opening stores in 17 new markets, throughout Asia and Europe. “There are amazing people that work here, and we get to do amazing work—we are always pushing forward, giving back and thinking about what is the role and responsibility of a public company,” Mary said. After living in Amsterdam, opening stores throughout Europe, Mary returned to Seattle with her husband and infant son, transitioning into a role focused on corporate social responsibility. She helped to connect partners on a global scale and emphasized community service around the time of Starbucks’ 40th anniversary. “Helping others and connecting people to opportunities just seemed to be the way I’ve approached life” said Mary. That “way of life” has been present throughout Mary’s journey. Serving others helped her to earn her Boettcher Scholarship, and it’s also a large part of her current role where she gets to pay it forward to the next generation of students, and help them attend college debt-free. After 23 years with Starbucks, Mary continues to seek out new challenges, and is ever-appreciative to be in a place that remains driven by a mission and values that align with her own....
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

15 Feb Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 1997 scholar Alex Gordon

Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Gergana Kostadinova. Name: Alex Gordon Scholar Year: 1997 Hometown: Denver College(s), Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): University of Denver, B.A. in communications, 2001; starting executive MBA program at DU in spring 2017 Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? Since co-founding Syntrinsic Investment Counsel eight years ago, I have served in a variety of roles at the firm. Currently, I am the chief operating officer as well as the chief compliance officer. As a boutique investment firm that specializes in financial stewardship advice for nonprofit organizations, I have been able to blend my problem-solving skills with my passion for giving back to the broader community. In addition, I enjoy moonlighting on the weekends as a DJ and videographer for weddings and private parties. This allows me to explore my artistic side and love for music. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? Twenty years ago I had no idea that becoming a Boettcher Scholar would be one of those key inflection points that changed the course of my life. Not only was I receiving the financial award to finish my education debt free, but there was a longer-lasting benefit. I was welcomed into an extended family of scholars that provide such a diverse network which I can tap into for professional or personal advice. Now I am continuing that tradition by finding ways to be a role model for the next generation of scholars. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations or groups outside of work. It has always been important to me to have three pillars in my life - a loving and supportive home life, an engaging professional life and an authentic community life. When all three are solid, I feel happy and content. My community life has included coaching my sons' soccer teams, leading 13-year-olds through an unforgettable trip to Costa Rica and serving as a board member of a supporting foundation. More recently I have chosen to expand my knowledge of Denver through my involvement with the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation’s Leadership Denver program. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for new graduates entering your career field? One of my favorite memories of my first rock concert, Jethro Tull, was the song "You’re Never too Old to Rock ’n’ Roll if You're Never too Young to Die." These words have been ingrained in my soul ever since. The first part is a reminder that you should never forget to do the things that you love best, no matter what age you are. The second part solidifies the statement by putting the listener on notice that tomorrow is not guaranteed so you better live in the now. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? There are plenty of people I would love to have dinner with that are still alive, but I am going to hold out hope I may still have that chance. So, I would like to have dinner with a fictional character from the book and musical Les Miserables. Jean Valjean’s life is one that was filled with amazing challenges and tests of his character. I admire his ability to make the most of the chances he was given and stay true to his life of paying it forward. I would also enjoy the opportunity to hear a personal performance of the best songs from my favorite musical....
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

25 Jan Boettcher Scholar helps refugees and hospital patients during visit to Kurdistan

When a recent trip to visit her ailing grandmother meant traveling to Iraq, Laveen Khoshnaw, a 2015 Boettcher Scholar, used her time to reconnect with family and while helping the local community. Laveen was born in the Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq. Her family fled the region in 1998 after her father’s work with an American humanitarian organization caused him to be targeted by Saddam Hussein’s regime. After spending time in Guam, the family relocated to Colorado Springs where Laveen grew up and graduated from high school. As a sophomore at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Laveen is majoring in biomedical sciences and minoring in biochemistry, political science and leadership. She plans to attend medical school and harbors a dream of becoming the U.S. Surgeon General, although her more practical ambition is to practice medicine and help repair the Middle East. “It’s such a rich, wonderful place that’s just in the wrong hands,” she said. Because she still had family in the region, Laveen has had the opportunity to return to Iraq to visit her family in recent years. But her most recent trip, prompted by her grandmother’s stroke last year, quickly evolved into a humanitarian mission and an education on Iraq’s health care system and how that system is being impacted by refugees from southern Iraq and Syria. “There are so many families in the streets, and the public hospitals are completely packed,” Laveen recalled of her summer in Iraq. “There is no shelter or housing (for refugees), so they seek refuge in the hospitals. They’re just looking for a place to sit and get out of the heat.” When describing the hospitals, Laveen, who is a Certified Nursing Assistant, is quick to note that they are nothing like American hospitals. In addition to less sanitary conditions and overstretched staff, she noted that patients’ families are expected to fulfill many responsibilities, like feeding and cleaning up after their relatives who are hospitalized. Seeing the need, Laveen and her family began working to help stock the hospitals and provide better supplies. They brought in basics like bottled water and disposable sheets they obtained via an uncle in Switzerland. Similarly, the family went into refugee communities and brought in supplies to help them build better shelters. “It was so heart-wrenching to see the situation and not be able to do even more,” she said. Laveen returned from her summer in Kurdistan with a new resolve to help people, especially refugees in the Middle East. She and her friends are planning to host a fundraising gala to help Syrian refugees. Laveen is also considering a second journey to assist struggling health care systems. This time, she’ll be headed to Nicaragua with members of Global Medical Brigades, an on-campus organization of pre-med students that provides medical support in struggling countries. In addition to her work with Global Medical Brigades, Laveen is an associate chief justice with UCCS’ student government association and is active in the pre-health society, while also working at a local optometrist’s office. “I’ve always wanted to go back and make change in the Middle East, but now it is more focused on the health care system,” she said, adding that she expects she will practice medicine in the United States but start or work with a group of people to effect change in the Middle East as well. “I know I’m not going to be the one person who changes, it, but if I can get a team of likeminded people – as cheesy as it sounds – I think we can make a difference.”...
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

20 Jan Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 2013 scholar Chandler Price

Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Gergana Kostadinova. Name: Chandler Price Scholar Year: 2013 Hometown: Pueblo College(s), Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s):University of Northern Colorado, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, 2017 What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? After graduation, I am interested in pursuing a new graduate position in medical-surgical nursing. I would love to stay in Northern Colorado, but I am leaving my options completely open. I’m always up for a new adventure! I am also looking into returning to the University of Northern Colorado within a year after graduation to apply for the School of Nursing’s Post Bachelor's to Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program with an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP) Emphasis. I have fallen in love with traveling, so I am hoping to pursue nursing-related trips abroad as well. Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. While at UNC, I joined three incredible organizations. I joined Christian Challenge because I wanted to build a strong, supportive community. I met all of my dearest friends there - it takes real friendship to support a nursing student! I joined the National Society of Collegiate Scholars where I served as Vice President of Community Service. I wanted to connect deeply with the Greeley community, and I became a huge fan of Habitat for Humanity. Lastly, I served as President of the Student Nurses Association for two years. I wanted to welcome, lead, and network with current and future nurses. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. I am four months from graduation because of many fine individuals, but Deb Rojas, a professor in the UNC School of Nursing, is one mentor I would not be here without. Deb is the definition of a mentor – an experienced and trusted adviser. She allows students to see her heart. She emphasizes holistic, patient-centered care. She teaches the importance of self-care. Deb coordinates the nursing simulation labs and the 9Health Fair at UNC. She has taught me the importance of leading, organizing, and networking, and has given me the opportunity to work and learn alongside her. I am forever thankful. What's the best advice you've ever received? The best advice I’ve ever received came from a picture I found while scrolling on Pinterest. It was written by Gretchen Saffles and the original sources was a website called Life Lived Beautifully. The lovely words said, “Dream your dreams, then ask God to shape them, scrub them, and steward them for His glory.” My jaw dropped as my eyes skimmed over the words again and again. I cherish the freedom I have to dream my dreams, but ultimately I want to glorify God with my life. I’ll be thriving off of this advice the rest of my life. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? If I could have dinner with one person from history, I would choose Mother Teresa. I love the authentic life she embodied. She lived with the servant heart I long for. She was quiet, kind, and compassionate, but she also showed a unique strength. She was passionate about helping others. She lived a quiet life but the impact she made was loud. I’d like to ask her how she handled conflict. I’d love for her to teach me her “Do it, Anyway” approach to life. If I was cooking dinner, I think her forgiving nature would also come in handy....
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

17 Jan Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 2013 scholar Jordan Rudman

Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Gergana Kostadinova. Name: Jordan Rudman Scholar Year: 2013 Hometown: Denver College(s), Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): Colorado College, molecular biology major, music minor, graduating 2017 What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? I’ll be applying to medical school this summer, to begin in the fall of 2018. I’m interested in pursuing emergency medicine, but I’m certainly open to other possibilities as well. In the meantime, I’ll be moving back to Denver where I hope to continue working as an EMT in either a hospital emergency department or with a local ambulance company. Additionally, I hope to continue my musical hobbies: playing jazz piano and singing. Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. I’ve been in far too many music ensembles: choir, jazz combo and Balinese Gamelan, to name a few. I have appreciated the opportunity to pursue music along with my pre-medicine studies; I hope to always have that balance in my life. I also help run CC’s student EMS squad. We respond to medical emergencies on campus and provide education and training opportunities in pre-hospital medicine. It’s been extremely rewarding to help lead an organization of students caring for other students. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. I had a middle school teacher, David, who would play geography trivia with me on the school bus ride to soccer practice. He saw me for exactly who I was and taught me to embrace it; for that I will always be extremely grateful. I no longer play soccer, but I still love trivia. What's the best advice you've ever received? When playing in a jazz band: listen more than you play. As someone who is very comfortable talking, that’s been an important lesson and one that I’ve found vastly improves many aspects of my life. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? Dr. Oliver Sacks. He was the most beautiful embodiment of an artistic scientist....
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

17 Jan Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 1997 scholar Jessica Cuthbertson

Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Gergana Kostadinova. Name: Jessica Joy (Fawcett) Cuthbertson Scholar Year: 1997 Hometown: Fowler College(s), Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): Regis University, B.A., Communication Arts & Sociology, 2001; University of Colorado Denver, M.A., Curriculum and Instruction, 2009; University of Denver, Morgridge College of Education, Principal Licensure, 2015; National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) Tell us about your current work and how long you’ve been doing it. What is your favorite aspect of your current occupation? I currently serve on the communications team at the Center for Teaching Quality, a national nonprofit committed to ensuring a high-quality public education system for all students, driven by the bold ideas and expert practices of teachers. Prior to joining CTQ full time in 2016, I worked in K-12 public education for over 13 years and served as a middle school English teacher and learning lab host, an instructional coach and a "teacherpreneur." Working in public education, both within and outside the K-12 classroom, and now from the nonprofit perspective, is joyful and challenging work. Seeing growth in students and working with educators to elevate and amplify their voices are the most rewarding aspects. What role has being a Boettcher Scholar played into where you are and what you are doing now? Without question, the Boettcher Foundation’s values helped shape who I am today. I believe it is vital to cultivate and retain our state’s talent and expertise, in large part because of the Boettcher Foundation’s influence. As a result of the Boettcher Scholarship, I was able to attend my top in-state choice of college, Regis University, and their mission of “men and women in the service of others” has guided my professional decisions and postgraduate endeavors. I also worked for the Boettcher Foundation as a fellow in 2001-02, and my experiences traveling the state to speak with counselors, high school students and parents about the scholarship inspired me to pursue a career in public education. Being a Boettcher Scholar continues to drive my commitment to working toward a more equitable public education system for all students in rural, suburban and urban districts across our great state. Tell us about your involvement in activities, organizations or groups outside of work. I’m a self-proclaimed “edu-geek” so most of my involvement, unsurprisingly, is connected to the field of education. I serve on Chalkbeat Colorado’s Reader Advisory Board and follow local and national education policy closely. You can find me interacting with educators via social media, including participating in or moderating Twitter chats, webinars and blogging roundtable discussions on any given weeknight. I also serve as the state captain of the Colorado Core Advocates, a network of passionate K-12 educators committed to standards implementation and equitable, high-quality instruction in our state’s classrooms. We are also active members of St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Aurora. What’s the best advice you’ve received and what advice do you have for new graduates entering your career field? Growing up in a rural area, my parents always encouraged me to pursue my passions, from community theater to journalism. They’d often quote the phrase: “Don’t do something today, that you wouldn’t want to read about in tomorrow’s newspaper.” Even though we are less of a newspaper culture, I think this is great advice, especially in our social media-driven society. Their support has helped me discern, reflect and fail forward at different crossroads in my life. My advice for aspiring educators? Visit (and study) as many classrooms as you can, and ask for feedback (from students, colleagues and formal evaluators) as much as possible. You’ll become a more culturally responsive teacher much quicker if you let students guide, inform and shape your pedagogy. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? I’d love to organize many dinner parties with historical figures and thinkers from around the globe! I minored in women’s studies at Regis, and believe we’re living in a really interesting time to explore aspects of gender, sexism and civil rights. I would probably start with an invitation to suffragists and abolitionists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. I would love to thank them for their activism, learn more about the challenges they faced in their advocacy efforts and pick their brain about contemporary social justice issues, including best practices for scaling women’s leadership in the 21st century....
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

14 Dec Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 2014 scholar Brandon Kahlil Thomas

Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Angelique Diaz. Name: Brandon Kahlil Thomas Scholar Year: 2014 Hometown: Aurora College(s), Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): University of Colorado-Boulder, Linguistics (B.A./M.A.), December 2018 What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? The fun thing about being a linguist is that there are very diverse opportunities available. My current plan is to teach English in Korea before coming back to the metro area and doing the same work for Colorado adults who don’t speak English. I’m also interested in doing work with local governments attempting to communicate with and hear the needs of immigrant populations. Colorado is a hotspot for immigration, and language barriers have left thousands of people without a voice. I want to help build a society where every voice can be heard, in whatever language it has access to. Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. At CU, I work often with the Black Student Alliance (BSA), Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPoC) and UMAS y MEChA (a Chicano-run Latinx student group). Identity is at the crux of what I study because I think that identity is at the center of how we learn about ourselves and others. I work with these groups on campus because they build people who look and think like me to be advocates and activists, and build communities together. Connecting with other Black, Latinx and Queer people is key to my emotional health, and the communities I’ve built from these groups encourage me to blossom and be better. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. To this day, my most trusted mentor is an old high school teacher, David Gates. Mr. Gates is one of those rare men who can find beauty in anyone, significance in anything and comedy in any place. And he is brilliant! I spent many weeks just watching the way he interacted with people around us, in the classroom and outside of it, and he inspired me to be to empathetic and caring person I’m growing to be: he truly is the embodiment of caring and understanding. I hope to visit him and his wife soon in Japan. What's the best advice you've ever received? Someone once told me, “At the end of the day, the best way to measure success is looking in a mirror.” I don’t remember who said it to me, but it encouraged me to begin a ritual of looking in the mirror every morning and thinking about who I saw there, and how I felt about him. Especially in recent years, that’s something that I’ve had to do at several points to gauge my own success and make sure I am a person I enjoy being. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? My mother named me after the Lebanese poet and philosopher Kahlil Gibran, and I feel like in many ways, that makes him a part of me. I’ve read most of his works, but I think it’d be pleasant to sit down with him, face to face, and share a nice meal....
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

12 Dec Boettcher Scholar returns home to improve her community in the San Luis Valley

Andréa Benton Mestas, a 1989 Boettcher Scholar, has given back to her home community of Alamosa for more than two decades in various roles at Adams State University. Currently the Title V activities director, Andréa focuses on Hispanic student success by using her own story of overcoming challenges as a Hispanic scholar. Andréa was a first-generation college student who grew up in a very low-income area. In fact, the two counties where she has spent the majority of her life are among the two poorest in Colorado. The full-ride to any Colorado university was appealing, but it was more than just the financial incentive that motivated Andréa to apply for the Boettcher Scholarship. “I remember looking over the application and how it mentioned looking for students who were giving back to the community, or ‘paying it forward,’” recalls Andréa. “I liked that the Boettcher Foundation really wanted to encourage young people to help grow Colorado.” Receiving the Boettcher Scholarship expanded opportunities for Andréa and allowed her to attend the University of Northern Colorado—an opportunity she would not otherwise have had. Beyond that, it allowed her to be a “part of something bigger.” “I honestly feel a swell of pride when I walk into the history museum and see a Boettcher Foundation plaque, or meet another scholar,” she said. Andréa was motivated to move forward and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in mathematics, despite numerous challenges, including having her son during her junior year of college. She soon returned to the San Luis Valley, where she was hired in the computing services department at Adams State University. Happy to have returned home, to be giving back to her community and to be close to her family, Andréa continued moving up at Adams State. She was soon hired as the Institutional Research Director, and was encouraged by the provost to enroll in the higher education administration and leadership master’s degree program. Andréa graduated with her master’s in 2012, again at the top of her class with a 4.0. “I loved that I was modeling how great it is to continue your education for my daughter,” Andréa said. “I started my master’s as she was finishing her senior year in high school.” Andréa realized that she loved teaching and developing curriculum, and she also loved serving Hispanic students, which led her to her current role in equity work and working with Adams State’s Title V grant. After attending a cultural workshop at the Hilos Institute, which teaches leadership skills to Hispanic communities, Andréa and some of her colleagues decided to pool their resources and bring that same type of curriculum to their students. Together they developed the curriculum and received grant funding to start teaching students. The course was incredibly successful, but soon the grant funding had run out. Around that time, Andréa happened to be at a Boettcher Foundation event where she connected with Kenzo Kawanabe, a 1990 Boettcher Scholar, a Boettcher Foundation Trustee and a fellow Alamosa native. Interested in giving back to his home community too, Kenzo provided the matching funds, which enabled Adams State to secure a National Heritage Area Grant and allowed the course to continue. Not only is this impacting students on a daily basis, but it has raised awareness statewide about the cultural richness in the valley. “I have a passion for education and for being able to help people out through a career in public service,” Andréa explained.      ...
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

05 Dec Boettcher Scholar smiles his way through dental school

Matt Iritani has always wanted to be a dentist. In fact, before he could sign his own name, Matt used crayons to draw a picture of himself as a dentist—a picture that he has kept all these years as a reminder of his lifelong goal. A 2011 Boettcher Scholar, Matt attended Cherry Creek High School, just blocks from his parents’ dental practice. “People often don’t like going to the dentist, but they loved my parents,” recalls Matt. His parents valued being involved in the community where they practiced and getting to know their patients beyond the dentist’s chair. “Still, my parents go to patients’ swim meets, softball games, my mom even has patients fly in from Alaska to see her,” said Matt. “I like the idea of developing relationships with my own patients and being able to volunteer and be involved in the community the way my parents have.” Currently, Matt is in dental school at the University of Colorado Denver, where his dad teaches in the program. “One of the coolest aspects of dental school is actually getting to talk with my parents about the profession,” Matt said. Being able to talk to his dad, share techniques and talk about advances in dentistry is one of Matt’s favorite parts of his chosen path. With each semester of dental school that passes, despite challenging classes, he is reassured that this is the right profession for him. “I get this feeling that this is where I am supposed to be and this is what I am supposed to do,” said Matt. “It is a little surreal, kind of like a Hollywood movie.” After Matt earns his dental degree, he plans to continue his studies in an orthodontics residency, and to eventually open his own practice in Colorado, likely close to where he grew up. But in the meantime, when he is not mounting stone models of mouths, Matt volunteers at a student-run medical clinic in Aurora, as well as Children’s Hospital. He’s also active in the Japanese-American community, and on the UCD campus, where he values giving back. “I am an upperclassman, and it's now my turn to pass on some of what I've learned,” Matt said. “The Boettcher Foundation obviously provides us with a lot of opportunities [as scholars], and I am finally beginning to feel like I am in the position to pay it forward.” Matt makes sure to share both his time as a volunteer, as well as his ever-positive attitude. Perhaps that’s why his friends, fellow classmates and even his professors have nicknamed him “Smiley.” Even during the most difficult weeks of school, Matt never loses his smile, and aims to help brighten other people’s day. “You might have a really tough day, the procedure is not working out the way you want it to or a professor might be chewing you out, but don't get down on yourself,” Matt likes to remind his friends. “We all have those days.”  ...
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Boettcher Foundation Press Release

15 Nov Alumni Board Scholar Profile: Q&A with 2015 scholar Veronica Fernandez-Diaz

Members of the Boettcher Scholar Alumni Board are interviewing their fellow Boettcher Scholars to help the community get to know one another better. The following Q&A was compiled by Boettcher Scholar Angelique Diaz. Name: Veronica Fernandez-Diaz Scholar Year: 2015 Hometown: Originally from Mexico, spent most time in Thornton College(s), Degree(s) and Graduation Year(s): Colorado College; Pursuing Bachelor’s Degree, 2019 What are you currently interested in pursuing after graduating? I am definitely not sure. I have thought of pursuing law school after college. I know that I want to pursue some kind of role in which I can fight for social justice, but I don’t know in what way I will do so. I am still exploring! Tell us about what activities, groups and/or organizations you have joined in college and why you joined them. Currently, I am a mentor for the Bridge Scholars Program and Questbridge chapter at Colorado College. I mentor upcoming freshmen from different backgrounds throughout their transition to college. I became a mentor because there is no way that I would be where I am now without the people who have challenged me and encouraged me along the way. As a mentor, I want to ensure that upcoming students understand that their presence matters and empower them to pursue their vision of success. I am also part of the Honor Council, which upholds academic integrity on campus. Since last year, I have been a part of the Inclusion and Diversity Committee which ensures that the processes within the honor council and those surrounding the honor code create a system that is fair to all students. I joined the Honor Council in the first place because JROTC definitely instilled in me the importance of integrity. I slowly learned the unjust processes that existed and joined the Diversity and Inclusion Committee to address these issues. I am also a part of Humans of Colorado College, based on Humans of New York, in which I get to listen to the narratives of individuals at CC and then share that with our community. I joined this project because, for me, true connections are those in which you truly get to know people and their story. I know that everyone has something different to share and I find it meaningful and beautiful to listen to the unique narratives of every individual. Tell us about an important mentor you have had. My high school counselor is one the most important mentors in my life. My high school years bring me many fond memories, but they were also the toughest years of my life and my counselor was always there for me when I need her. I trusted her with everything and she would listen patiently. She offered me opportunities and continues advocating for students like me. Mrs. GT helped me understand my limits, understand my worth and pushed to become a better person. What's the best advice you've ever received? The best advice I have ever received is to hold on to the vision that I have for myself. This is honestly advice that I received just a couple days ago, but one that I realized has kept me going through the hurdles that I have experienced. I have this vision for myself, that is blurry and mostly unclear, but one in which I am part in creating change. This is a vision that is hard to hold onto and hard to keep believing knowing all the obstacles on the way, but if I keep that vision in mind I know that I am, in a sense, empowering myself to always chose the path of resiliency. If you could have dinner with one person or a few people from history, whom would you choose and why? Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez come to mind because of the impact that they had on worker rights. After going to Texas and learning a bit about the history of farm workers and the oppression they faced, I would really love to get a sense of the passion that continues to drive Huerta and that drove Chavez to mobilize people in demanding the rights they deserve. I find their dynamic particularly interesting and would want to understand it through each of their points of view....
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