According to DSF Scholar Jorge Armendarez, the secret to success is all about the environment you put yourself in.
Looking back to his senior year at Abraham Lincoln High School, Jorge remembers the moment that he set his sights on college.
“I realized it later than most people did, but once I knew I wanted to go to college and became more serious about it, I sought out help to get there,” Jorge reflects. “That’s when I found the DSF Future Center. I knew I had a lot of catching up to do. After I met my DSF College Advisor, Gabe, I knew I didn’t have to do it all alone.”
As the first in his family to pursue a college education, Jorge worked with Gabe to refine his essays and gain volunteer experience outside of school to enhance his college applications. He spent countless hours in the DSF Future Center, where he found focus and direction during his free periods. But in spite of his efforts to prepare for college, he doubted himself. As a College Advisor, Gabe offered Jorge reassurance and encouragement above and beyond the logistical boxes that needed to be checked.
A place to focus, with people to help
“The DSF Future Center was my place to get in the zone and be productive,” Jorge shares. “With college pennants hanging around the room, pictures and posters of college campuses, I was able to get into the right mindset. But the people in the Future Center made the most difference. Gabe helped me realize that I am capable of presenting myself in a better way than I had before.”
After graduating from high school, Jorge was well-positioned to enroll in college in the fall. However, he was unsure which college was right for him. While the doors of the DSF Future Center closed for the summer, Jorge’s conversations with Gabe continued.
“I kept meeting with Gabe over the summer,” says Jorge. “After some of my applications had fallen through, I didn’t know what to do. He kept telling me, ‘you will end up at the college you are meant to be at.’ That helped me stay motivated.”
Getting involved on campus with DSF as a guide
Now a rising senior at Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver), Jorge is well on his way to becoming the first in his family to graduate from college. By diving headfirst into DSF’s support programs in partnership with MSU Denver, Jorge has gained valuable experience and forged lasting connections with other DSF Scholars.
“Every year I attend the DSF Leadership Conference on the Auraria Campus,” Jorge shares. “The event gives DSF Scholars a chance to network with each other, and snag some free knowledge. Last year, I also participated in the DSF Scholar Institute with a few of my close friends, who I met through DSF. I am currently a peer mentor through the DSF Leadership Program at MSU Denver as well.”
As he prepares to graduate this spring, Jorge is gaining work experience through a data and evaluation internship in the DSF office.
“Because I am so involved with DSF, I already knew a lot of people in the office, so the internship was a natural fit. I wanted to give back my time and skills to DSF after they have provided me with so many opportunities, and my internship gives me a chance to continue growing even more.”
The conversations that changed his course
With a bright future ahead, Jorge reflects on his conversations with Gabe as a turning point on his journey to and through college.
“It’s funny how it all worked out, like Gabe said it would. Looking back now, my college experience would look completely different without the motivation, connections, and resources I gained just by visiting the DSF Future Center and receiving the DSF Scholarship. I am a testimony to what happens when all of those things add up.”