At Elevations Foundation, we’ve been proud to support area youth with scholarship opportunities for over 10 years. We value staying in touch with our scholars and see where their journey takes them. We recently caught up with one of our scholars, Jacqueline Rodriguez Mora. Jacqueline, who goes by Jacky, graduated from high school in Fort Collins in 2017 and received an AVID scholarship from Elevations Foundation in partnership with the Poudre School District. She attends CU Boulder and expects to graduate in 2022.
Originally set to graduate this year, Jacky’s plan adjusted as she zeroed in on her passions while at CU Boulder. She changed her major to Chemical & Biological Engineering and added two minors: Biomedical Engineering and Engineering Management.
Preparing for college
On preparing for college, Jacky says, “I am a first-generation student so getting into college was kind of a challenge. My mom went to high school, but my dad did not. He has been working since he was eight years old. My sister and I were brought to the US when we were about five. That was a challenge on its own, just learning English.
“So, I focused in school on making college a reality. I took a lot of AP courses, and my Elevations Foundation scholarship was part of the AVID program. I joined AVID because I wanted to learn more about college. That program preps you for college, which has really helped while I have been at CU Boulder.”
Jacky was in the AVID Program for three years in high school. AVID is a nonprofit college preparatory program for K-16 students that helps prepare them to succeed in college, their career and life. “I credit that program a lot in getting prepared for college. I didn’t know what college was like at all. I mean, I lived in Fort Collins and CSU was right across the street, but I still didn’t know what college was like,” Jacky says.
After prepping so much for college, she had to make a big decision her senior year: Where would she go? Jacky was deciding between attending CSU or CU Boulder. CU was her top pick because of the school’s renowned engineering program and the research opportunities available.
“For me, being a first-generation student, financing college was a huge decision,” Jacky explains. “I started applying for scholarships, and the Elevations Foundation scholarship was one of the factors that made me be able to fund my first choice of going to CU, which is really where I wanted to be.”
The engineering program at CU isn’t easy, and being a first-generation student can present its own unique challenges on top of that — like feeling out of place. Jacky has learned a lot since her first year. “What helped was finding support groups on campus with people like me,” Jacky says. “Being part of the Society of Professional Hispanic Engineers has been great because I’ve been able to help younger freshmen, host networking events and provide advice.”
The academic pressures can also feel overwhelming. Jacky didn’t let failures or challenges like a bad grade on an exam throw her off course. She reminded herself of her long-term goals and kept moving on. “The most satisfying part of college is my research experience. It has allowed me to see what graduate school might be like. I have gained so much hands-on experience,” Jacky says.
Jacky is still unsure what career path she will take, and she’s weighing going to medical school against working in research and development. “In 10 years, I want to become a pediatrician and do work in third world countries because I know that health care systems in those countries aren’t the greatest,” Jacky says. “I would move back to Mexico, open my office, help out as much as I can and have days with free appointments where people just walk in. I’d also travel to countries where people need medical care and don’t have access to it.”
She is also passionate about the research and development of drugs, including finding more efficient drugs and technology to cure diseases like cancer and HIV.
Jacky still has time to decide on her path forward while she’s at CU, and we’re so honored to be a part of her journey at Elevations Foundation.
Elevations Foundation has provided over $500,000 in scholarships since 2010 to support college-bound students in our community. Find out more about Elevations Foundation scholarships and please consider donating to our scholarship program so we may continue making college a reality for promising young people like Jacqueline Rodriguez Mora.