This time of year, the Auraria Campus is buzzing with the excitement of a new college semester. Students have decorated their academic planners with due dates; they have sifted through important reminder emails in their inboxes; they have hole-punched their course syllabi and organized them in binders. Through the flurry of deadlines and information, DSF Scholars can count on their DSF Campus Advisors at the Community College of Denver (CCD), Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver), and the University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) to help them navigate through the ups and downs of college.
At CU Denver, you will find DSF Campus Advisors Maria Finan, Josué Loma, and Adrian Mendoza in the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. Over the next year, they will meet with over 400 DSF Scholars, Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI) recipients, and GEAR UP scholarship recipients. Campus Advisors meet with students regularly throughout their college careers, from first year through fourth or fifth year.
A personal investment in a Scholar’s education
Ashley, graduate of Martin Luther King, Jr. Early College and a first year DSF Scholar, recently met with Josué, her DSF Campus Advisor. In their meeting, Josué used questions to guide their conversation. His goal: To better understand Ashley’s college and career goals, gauge her access to resources on campus, and ensure her understanding of DSF Scholarship eligibility requirements.
After only a few minutes of discussion, Josué and Ashley hit it off. This ability to connect with Scholars, Josué says, is at the heart of what makes Campus Advisors’ work so effective.
“By leveraging our connections with other departments at the university, including academic advisors and mental health counselors, we help anchor DSF Scholars to campus,” explains Josué. “In doing so, we serve as another contact who is personally invested in their college education.”
DSF Campus Advisors help open doors to fulfill Scholars’ unmet needs by holistically examining their unique situations. To that end, they play a key role in encouraging Scholars to build bridges, self-advocate, and stay on top of logistics, deadlines, and requirements.
“Our job is to provide a continuation of services that Scholars received in high school from their DSF College Advisors,” says Maria. “We are their first line of contact when an issue does not involve their academic advisor at CU Denver.”
DSF Campus Advisors answer DSF Scholars’ questions related to academics, financial aid, community connections, supports, and overall well-being. Through in-depth coaching, Campus Advisors like Maria are able to better understand the issues that Scholars face in college. Subsequently, they use this information to organize events and workshops to address needs while cultivating a community among DSF Scholars on the Auraria Campus.
Across Auraria, adapting services to Scholars’ needs
DSF’s unique positioning at CU Denver allows Campus Advisors to weave their strong connections into the DSF Scholar community. As the largest scholarship program at CU Denver by number of Scholars, DSF is the only scholarship organization to employ full-time onsite staff.
On the other side of campus, DSF Campus Advisors Lidia Alvarez, Jason Doyle, and Fryda Faugier-Ferreira work with DSF Scholars at MSU Denver. They are joined by Adrian Mendoza, who splits his time at CU Denver and MSU Denver. Additionally, Ashton Clouse, headquarted at MSU Denver, oversees the team of Campus Advisors.
Similarly, at CCD, DSF Campus Advisor Molly Gallegos offers academic advising and wraparound services for DSF Scholars, COSI recipients, and GEAR UP scholarship recipients.
The work of DSF Campus Advisors at MSU Denver and CCD each look a bit different than that of Campus Advisors at CU Denver. However, they collectively share the goal of equipping DSF Scholars on the Auraria Campus with the tools and resources they need to succeed on their journeys to college graduation.
Celebrating successes together
Seeing the impact of the extra layer of support provided by DSF Campus Advisors, Maria says, is the most rewarding part of the job.
“I can sit down with a Scholar at the end of the year, and together we reflect back on all of the things they accomplished, even when they did not think they could do it,” Maria shares. “I see them gain internships, experience, confidence, and ownership of their careers and futures. Playing a role in our Scholars’ stories is the best part of my job as a DSF Campus Advisor.”