Student Stories

Karina Orellana is a Senior Metropolitan State University of Denver. She is majoring in Criminal Justice and will graduate fall 2018. She is a DSF scholar and her Colorado Challenge Counselor is Carla Castillo.

Karina Orellana shared the following regarding her background and participation in the Colorado Challenge program.

Dear Future/Present Colorado Challenge Students,
My name is Karina Orellana, I am a junior, Criminal Justice major with a Sociology minor. I am a first generation Hispanic college student and I come from a family with two older sisters and one older brother, I am the youngest. I had a single mother who worked lots of hours, and always made sure we had what we needed. I grew up playing soccer, and then in college started working. When I started working I became money focused, I am not a very good student to begin with so you can imagine how I was doing. If it wasn’t for Colorado Challenge I would have probably taken a class I did not need and not take class I needed. Colorado Challenge has helped me become more aware of the resources we have on our campus. I have also learned through Colorado challenge that I should be more involved.

Because of Colorado Challenge I met the Chair of the Criminal Justice department, Henry Jackson. Henry Jackson and I have become friends at the end of every semester I meet up with him and he gives me a preview of what classes will be available and what professor will be teaching them, so I can avoid extremely hard teachers, but still accomplish getting my degree. Colorado Challenge has helped me keep track of where I stand in school, what class I need, when I will graduate and how I will get to graduation. Besides the program being helpful, the counselors care. I was lucky and I got Carla Castillo who I have known since I was in high school. I have built a relationship with Carla, she cares to listen, and she goes the extra mile for me. She is will keep an eye out for scholarships, Police Academy information and she will just send an email and let me know. Carla and I have a good relationship, I know I can go to her with school problems, advice, family problems or anything in general, she will be there. Colorado challenge is more than just program is it place where you can learn, succeed, and accomplish your goals. I’m glad I am in Colorado Challenge, anyone would be lucky to be in this program!

Karina Orellana

Carlee Bradford is a recent Colorado Statee University - Pueblo graduate. She majored in Psychology and graduated spring 2017 with her Bachelor’s Degree. She is a GEAR UP scholar and her Colorado Challenge Counselor was Monica Moore.

Carlee Bradford shared the following regarding her background and participation in the Colorado Challenge program.

I have been a part of Colorado GEAR UP since my freshmen year of high school and am currently the GEAR UP intern at Colorado State University-Pueblo. I attended East High School in Pueblo all four years, then immediately continued my education at Pueblo Community College where I earned my Associates Degree. Currently, I am a senior at Colorado State University-Pueblo where I am studying Psychology and Non-Profit Administration. My passion includes assisting college students who are low-income and first-generation like I am. I feel that getting a college degree is extremely important, and am grateful for programs like GEAR UP and Colorado Challenge that assist students like me.

"You will never know your limits unless you push yourself toward them."

Darren Romero is a recent graduate of Adams State University. He majored in Business Administration and Marketing and graduated Fall 2016. He is a GEAR UP scholar and his Colorado Challenge Counselor was Liz Tabeling-Garcia.

Darren Romero shared the following regarding her background and participation in the Colorado Challenge program.

Darren has been a GEAR UP student since 8th grade. Throughout his years at Adams he had several times when he was going to throw in the towel but after talking for a little bit he of course pushed on. Not only did he push on but he took several summer courses and graduated a year early. He received a teaching position at Centennial Middle School teaching Math prior to completing his final course online. He has been teaching there since August of 2016.

“It was so risky and so scary, and yet at the same time, so beautiful. Maybe the truth was, it shouldn't be easy to be amazing. Then everything would be. It's the things you fight for and struggle with before earning that have the greatest worth. When something's difficult to come by, you'll do that much more to make sure it's even harder -if not impossible- to lose.” ― Sarah Dessen

Kayla Rojas is a Junior Metropolitan State University of Denver. She is majoring in Biology and will graduate spring 2018. She is a proud DSF scholar.

Hello everyone!

My name is Kayla and I am a junior at MSU Denver. I am currently pursuing a B.S in Biology with a chemistry and Spanish minor. I am involved in many groups on campus including the pre-vet club, Tri Sigma, and undergraduate research. I hope to one day become a veterinarian serving dogs, cats and horses. In my free time I enjoy hiking, hanging out with friends and their animals, gaming and crafting.

DSF has given me an unbelievable support system and because of my Colorado Challenge family, I have the resources I need to succeed at Metro.