David Thompson knew as he wrapped up his senior year of high school in 2016 that he wasn’t quite ready for higher education. “I just wasn’t in a place to succeed in college, so I decided to move out, start working, and pay rent—just to see what life on my own was like,” says David, who grew up in Boulder.

Getting Experience in Food Service

For three years, David worked his way up at Snarf’s Sandwiches to become a shift manager. “I worked for some amazing bosses who taught me a lot about working hard in life,” he says. But he grew restless, and at the encouragement of his mom and a family friend, packed his bags and moved to Spain, where he entered a Spanish immersion program.

In late 2019, David returned home feeling lost and uncertain about his future. “My mom has worked for Mental Health Partners in Boulder for many years as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker,” he says. When there was an opening as a receptionist, David applied and was hired for the job.

A Knack for Listening

At Mental Health Partners, David quickly realized he has a passion for helping people. “I have always had a knack for listening to others and empathizing with what they might be going through,” he says. “We work with people who are homeless, people with mental health issues, and some who are recovering from addictions. You must be someone who works effectively with people.”

A Spark Ignited

In January 2020, after a few months at his job, David decided it was time for college. “I now have a goal in mind, and it makes me want to work harder,” he says. To ease into college-level course work, David enrolled at Front Range Community College, where he felt supported from the start. “I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and the Disability Support Services team has really made sure I have everything I need to do well. I was so happy, because for the first time, I felt like nothing was standing in the way of me succeeding.”

The Start of His Journey

This past spring, David took an online psychology class and an in-person English class that moved to online after campus closed because of the coronavirus outbreak. “Once again, I felt very supported by my instructors,” he says. “The communication was excellent and even with everything changing so rapidly because of the pandemic, I felt good about the education I received.”

As for the future, David plans to transfer to a four-year university in a couple of years and earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He wants to continue working in mental health and go to graduate school. “I’d love to make a real difference with that patient population,” David says.

A Pleasant Surprise

Much to his surprise, online learning has brought out David’s strengths. “You have the ability to take control of your education, which works very well for me,” he says. “I’m much more disciplined than I might be in a different setting.”

FRCC was the right choice to begin his adventure. “I highly recommend FRCC as a school where you will learn and get support in whatever way you need,” he says. “There are lots of places on campus to get help and many people whose jobs are to support you. That’s been great for me, and a big part of why I’m excited to be here.”

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