From Scholar to Staff: DSF Alumna Joins Team to Give Back

In case you haven’t heard, Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) is growing! Over the last few weeks, DSF leadership has been working hard to onboard over 20 new staff members across the organization, from College Advisors who will serve at DSF’s newest Future Centers, to DSF’s first-ever Campus Advisors, and more.

Amodj Manga is among our newest team members, but she’s no stranger to DSF. As a DSF Alumna who now serves as Scholarship Program Specialist on staff, Amodj joins the team with a background in Sociology and Women’s and Ethnic Studies and a passion for creating a positive impact on the Denver community.

“I want to help serve students in the same community that has invested in my own success. DSF embodies the passion I have for giving back and creating lasting impact in someone’s life,” Amodj said. “I hope to inspire generations to fight for what they want, and what is right, and help them realize they can achieve anything if they work hard for it.”

Amodj, who immigrated from Senegal when she was 14, understands firsthand how harrowing the path to college can be for immigrant students, and the vital role that college advising plays in helping those students get to and through college.

After immigrating to the United States with her siblings in 2009 and entering South High School, Amodj faced the challenge of learning English while adjusting to American culture. By her junior year, Amodj had learned about DSF through her older brother, who spent hours every week in the DSF Future Center.

“I eventually started going to the Future Center to get help too—that’s when I met my College Advisor, Meredith Barrow,” Amodj said. “I wasn’t convinced about college when I first started going to the Future Center. But as I went on, it became a place of comfort—a place that felt like home—because everyone in the Future Center was there to support me.”

By the time her senior year rolled around, Amodj knew the Future Center well, and was prepared to take the next steps to get to college. From faxing documents, to looking over scholarship applications, to walking through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) together, DSF College Advisor Meredith Barrow helped Amodj jump through the hoops that would end in her ultimate goal—graduating from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS).

Amodj navigated the transition from high school to college with help from various clubs and groups that helped her find her niche on campus—African Student Association, Students Today Alumni Tomorrow, Black Student Union, and in her senior year, the DSF Scholar Institute (DSI).

“I found out about DSI through my DSF Campus Contacts at UCCS,” Amodj said. “Becoming a part of DSI helped empower me to create the DSF Scholar Club at UCCS, which allows DSF Scholars on campus to have meetings to talk about themselves, to plan study sessions, and to build relationships with other individuals who are having similar experiences.”

Following her passion for social justice, Amodj pursued a double major in Sociology and Women’s and Ethnic Studies, and ultimately graduated with her bachelor’s degree in May 2018. Amodj says joining the DSF team was a natural next step in her personal mission to give back to the same community that helped her achieve her own goals.

“In my new position as Scholarship Program Specialist, I’m able to interact and build relationships with students, parents, College Partners, and community members,” Amodj said. “In doing so, we’re working together to make it possible for students to succeed in college and beyond.”

After coming full circle—from Scholar to Alumna, and now, to Staff—Amodj says the greatest opportunity that DSF has given her, is the opportunity to give back.

“This work allows me to show the community that they’re part of the reason why I am where I am today,” Amodj said.