In June 2014, Rose Marie Tornes had her world turned upside down. “It was right before my senior year of high school in Indiana,” she recalls. “Indiana has a great program called 21st Century Scholars, where students who maintain a ‘Scholar Pledge’ and do well in school receive a scholarship for 100 percent tuition at an eligible Indiana college or university, and I was on track for that—the first in my family to receive it.”

But Rose Marie and her family moved to Florida in June before her senior year started so she lost that opportunity—and her plans to attend Indiana University-Bloomington crumbled. When Rose Marie graduated high school in 2015, she returned to Indiana to figure out her next steps.

Colorado: The Next Adventure

A few months after returning to Indiana, Rose Marie decided to do something bold. She moved to Colorado, a place where she has some family and has visited before.

“I started working at Firehouse Subs in 2015 and then left there to work at Victoria’s Secret while also working as a nanny,” she says. She received promotions quickly and although the retail pathway had some appeal, Rose Marie knew she didn’t want to give up on her college dreams. In 2017, she enrolled in her first classes at Front Range Community College.

Online College: The Perfect Setup

As a full-time nanny, Rose Marie knew from the start that online classes were her best bet. “Online is how I am able to make college work for me,” she says. “And I’ve really enjoyed the instructors at FRCC. You can really tell that many of them care so much about their jobs. And when your professors love their jobs, it makes you want to work harder.”

Outstanding Online Student… for the Second Time

Rose Marie has been named one of the 2019-20 Outstanding Online Students for FRCC. She received the same accolade for the 2017-18 school year as well.

“It’s really flattering,” says Marie, a first-generation college student. “Online classes are flexible and allow me to continue pursuing education without having to drive to campus every day. It’s worked very well for me and I’ve done my best to make the most of the experience.”

A.A. Psychology and Dreams of Becoming a Child Therapist

This summer, Rose Marie is wrapping up her final three classes at FRCC. She’s transferring to the University of Colorado-Denver in fall 2020 to earn the online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.

She’s still defining her path but is likely to pursue her love of working with children in some capacity. “I would love to become a child therapist one day and I’ve also thought about incorporating criminal justice into my career plans,” Rose Marie says. “I could see myself pretty happy having my own practice where I specialize in working with children, but I would also love to become a special agent for the FBI and investigate online predators and crimes against children.”

Excited About the Future

As she thinks about transferring to CU-Denver online, Rose Marie says her general sentiment is bittersweet excitement. “I’m nervous and excited about transferring to this program and continuing my education,” she says, adding that when she graduates in 2023, she would like to apply to the University of Denver’s Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology. “My expectations are high because of FRCC!”

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