For Juliana Osornio-Barron, receiving a laptop from the FRCC Foundation during the COVID-19 crisis was the help she needed to keep her studies going.

“I was really stuck,” says Juliana of continuing to keep up with school after coronavirus closed FRCC campuses — and everything else — in mid-March. “I’ve always done my school work on campus and because I’m part of the Gateway to College program, I spend at least 20 hours a week on campus. Getting the laptop was so meaningful, because the one computer I did have is very old and just wasn’t working. I was stressed.”

Bettering Her Situation

As a Gateway to College student, Juliana is earning a high school diploma while also earning college credits. As a first-generation college student whose mother came to the United States from Mexico at the age of 15, Juliana knows that education is the best way to ensure a bright future for herself.

“My mom has worked really hard for my siblings and me,” Juliana says. “She tells us all the time that she came here so we could have a good future. She wants me to become something in life since she didn’t have that opportunity.”

From High School Dropout to College Student

May would have been the final month of Juliana’s senior year, but she admits she veered off course halfway through her time at Legacy High School. “I lost motivation,” she admits. “I was not hanging around the best crowd, and I stopped going to class. I was in trouble.” Her school guidance counselor told her about Gateway to College at FRCC’s Westminster Campus, and after much encouragement from her family, Juliana applied and was accepted.

Juliana Osornio-Barron

Juliana plans to finish her high school course work in December 2020 and continue taking classes at FRCC. She’s thinking about applying to the A.A.S. Nursing program and becoming a registered nurse. “Gateway had us shadow people to explore possible careers, and nursing seems like something I would love to do and be good at,” she says.

Prepared for Success

Gateway to College has helped Juliana prepare for college and squash some of the fears she had about going to college. “I also have had really good support through Gateway,” she says. “There’s always someone to help you figure out a problem, whether it is school related or not.”

When coronavirus was declared a global pandemic, Juliana was furloughed from her part-time job at Bed Bath & Beyond. Her biggest concern, however, was being able to continue her studies. “I called Guadalupe Chavez, my Gateway resource specialist at FRCC, and told her I needed help,” she says. The foundation came through and gave Juliana a laptop within the week, and she was able to keep up with classes and finish the semester with a high GPA.

Onward and Upward

Juliana is in the home stretch now of her high school education and intends to keep working hard. The emergency grant program was a big help. It gave her confidence a boost. “It meant a lot to me that they really understood that I was in a tough situation and needed a computer,” she says. “I didn’t want to fall behind. FRCC doesn’t just leave you alone if you’re struggling, I’ve found. Thanks to them and this laptop, I’m going to pass this semester and keep on with my goal of graduating high school and college.”

Gratitude for the Helping Hand

Juliana was one of more than 1,300 FRCC students who received help in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. The college has provided $600,000 in emergency grants and laptops to students who were impacted and still striving to finish the school year successfully.

Tim Lei had been taking Computer-Aided Drafting & Design classes at FRCC to augment his graphic design and outdoor industry experience—and “start investing in myself and my future.” The Boulder-area resident, who lives in his van, relied on campus Wi-Fi and computers.

“The personal computer I had did not have the processing power I needed to work on my CAD assignments,” Tim says. “The emergency grant committee got me a laptop right away. I was really appreciative.”

Other FRCC students have used the emergency grants to buy food and groceries and pay for car expenses, utility bills, and even child care.

Learn more about how FRCC is helping students in need on our COVID-19 Update page.

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