It’s in the numbers: DSF Scholar finds passion in finance

DSF Scholar Daniel Rivera-Ibarra, a first-generation college student, wants to give back to the community.

DSF Scholar Daniel Rivera-Ibarra, a first-generation college student, wants to give back to the community.For DSF Scholar and first generation college student Daniel Rivera-Ibarra, life is more than a numbers game.

Growing up in Denver, Daniel’s father worked long days while his mother stayed home to take care of him and his two siblings. Through many hours spent practicing multiplication and division with his mom after school, Daniel’s fascination with numbers turned into a passion for finance.

“My mom raised me,” Daniel says. “She is my role model, and she helped me develop my math skills beyond what I was learning in school.”

Driving his passion, Daniel sees the people behind the numbers. In high school, Daniel began to observe the lack of financial literacy resources in Hispanic communities. As a result, he set his sights on a college degree, which would prepare him with the skills and experience to give back to his community.

“I will be the first to graduate out of my immediate family, meaning I am a first generation college student. But having relatives who have earned college degrees has showed me a ripple effect,” Daniel explains. “That is to say, when one person graduates from college, it proves to the whole family that anything is possible.”

A scholarship to make college possible

Daniel sought ways to alleviate the financial burden of college. His counselor at Denver Center for International Studies recommended he apply for the DSF Scholarship. He applied, and afterwards became a DSF Scholar. Knowing that he had funding for his education through the DSF Scholarship, Daniel embarked on his journey to college graduation.

“It would be much harder to go to school without DSF, because the DSF Scholarship covers what my grants and other scholarships do not cover,” Daniel says. “It is helpful to know DSF offers services and help to students.”

Finding community on campus

As a junior at the University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver), Daniel is learning the language of finance. In his classes, he navigates through cash flow, income statements, and balance sheets. In addition, he is a member of the student-led Portfolio Management Group (PMG), which meets weekly to prepare students with analytical skills to evaluate stock market conditions.

While PMG helped Daniel build his professional network on campus, he sought a deeper connection with like-minded students. Living with his family and commuting to college had challenged him to make personal connections on campus. Then, he joined the DSF Scholar Institute (DSI).

“As human beings, we enjoy being together and having people to talk to,” Daniel reflects. “However, it is hard to make connections at a commuter school. Students are working, have kids, or have other obligations far from campus. In spite of this, being involved with DSI has brought me closer to DSF Scholars from CU Denver as well as different colleges.”

Similarly, DSI has helped Daniel grow a deeper connection with himself.  This connection has inspired him to continue growing, both as a professional and a person.

“DSI has taught me how different leadership styles affect teams and relationships in the workplace,” Daniel says. “For example, learning how to be a great leader takes time and patience. Having other students with a similar mindset and a will to thrive is an important feature to have in my daily life.”

Creating a ripple effect

Daniel says he hopes to pass the valuable lessons he has learned in college to his younger brother, further spreading the ripple effect that college has had in his family.

“I work hard to provide a path that my brother can follow,” Daniel shares. “By the end of my time in college, he will believe that he can to do it all. For every new adventure or experience I have, he will do the same. In some cases, he will do it even better.”

Daniel aims to spread the knowledge he has gained in college beyond his family, too. Upon his graduation from CU Denver next year, Daniel aims to launch his career in real estate. Ultimately, this career path will allow him to bring his expertise back to the community he grew up in.

“I want to help people in the Latino community who are going through pre-foreclosure, or who are trying to buy their first home,” says Daniel. “I hope by the time I have created a great career for myself, I can leave a legacy for future generations to dream just like I did.”

Daniel currently serves on the DSF Annual Gala 2019 planning committee. In this role, he provides insight as to how DSF can improve the Scholar experience at the event. Thank you, Daniel, for all of your contributions to help make this year’s Annual Gala our greatest event yet!