Since her senior year at South High School, Arleth Ocon knew she wanted to pursue social work. One of the tough decisions she had to make as a senior, however, was which college to enroll into. She had it all planned out to pursue her undergraduate degree in a school with a strong social work program, and then enroll into graduate school to continue her studies. University of Denver (DU) and Metropolitan State University (MSU) both gave her competitive offers, and Arleth ended up choosing DU. Thanks to the financial aid package, along with the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) scholarship, DU was the best financial fit for her and her family. Arleth also gained college credits while in high school. Even though it was hard work, she is grateful that she spent the time, since she feels she is now saving time and money.
As a first-generation college student, Arleth knows that attending college is a huge success for her family. She was raised by a single mom who immigrated to the U.S. from Aguascalientes, Mexico. Her mom wasn’t very involved in Arleth’s schooling because of a language barrier. Arleth has three younger siblings, and feels that she can be a role model, guiding them through their experience in graduating high school and applying for college.
Opportunities to Grow and Develop at DU
Arleth is enrolled in a 3+1 program, where she can get both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in four years. “Having college credit has really helped me accelerate in this program, and I encourage high school students to gain as many college credits as they can early on,” she says when looking back at what has been most helpful to her. She is currently majoring in sociology and minoring in leadership studies and is entering graduate school in the fall to focus on social work.
Arleth is also participating in a program offered at DU called the Colorado Women’s College (CWC) Leadership Scholars Program. This program provides academic, community, and financial support for 15 undergraduate women who identify as first-generation college students and/or students of color. Arleth was connected to this opportunity through her leadership minor, and through this program, she can participate in workshops and mentoring opportunities to develop workplace readiness, among other skills.
Relationships and Connections Throughout College and Beyond
When thinking about what advice she would give to graduating high school seniors, Arleth reflects on her time at the Future Center at South High School and her connection with Dante, the College Advisor. He helped her apply for the DSF scholarship and find other funding she qualifies for. He even reached out to DU to find scholarships that are not as well-known that Arleth could apply for. “My relationship with Danté showed me that DSF is a program that cares about students like me. I keep in touch with DSF because I know they want to see students succeed. If you are a graduating senior, make sure to find community and build community. It is important to make these connections throughout college and beyond.”