DSF Scholar Reflects On Her Journey and Gives Back To Others

Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) Scholar Graciela Valencia is a first-generation college student at the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder as a junior. Throughout her life, she has explored unique experiences which have led her to some amazing places in the world. Graciela studied at the Denver School of Arts from sixth to 12 grade, which led her to explore her creative passions. She traveled to Mongolia for two weeks in high school with five other students from the United States. After her trip to Mongolia, Graciela got to share her culture with someone else when she hosted a Mongolian exchange student. During her freshman year at CU Boulder, she traveled to Barcelona, Spain with her Spanish class and built connections with her professors.  

Of course, not every journey is without doubt. When asked about attending college, Graciela said, “I never thought I would be able to do it, especially at such a big university like CU.” Fortunately, with some help from her family, friends, and DSF, she has excelled as a business finance major with a minor in media production. Now, she knows “I have what it takes to be here.” 

Giving Back at CU Boulder

Graciela has taken her experience and paid it forward. She now mentors students in the Diverse Scholars Program at CU, the same program she participated in as a freshman. She loved the impact her mentor had on her and wanted to return the favor for the next group of students, something she learned from her sister who encouraged her to apply for the DSF Scholarship.

Even with the demands of virtual learning over the past year, Graciela remains thankful – “for the people around me, especially my family.” She serves as a de facto mentor for her niece and all family members she hopes will attend college in the future. “I think the future is bright for all of us,” she says.