Getting involved in activities at school was critical for Monica Martinez from an early age. She chose to attend FRCC for her first two years of college because it costs significantly less than a four-year university. But she also wanted all the campus involvement opportunities of a bigger school.
As a new college student at FRCC, she jumped in head first—and made sure to connect with her teachers and advisors when she needed guidance and support. Now a graduate of CU-Boulder’s business school, she has a job she loves with a major banking company. And she says FRCC is a great place to get your start.
After High School Graduation—Now What?
For Monica, education is somewhat of a family affair. “Education has been emphasized in my life. My parents have encouraged me to prioritize my education. I learned at a very young age to always give my best effort and be proud of my work.”
She liked school, and was very involved in extracurriculars at her high school in Niwot. “When I looked for a college to attend after graduation, I knew I wanted to go to a community college because of affordability. But I made sure I found a community college where I could be just as involved as I was in high school.”
Getting Involved at FRCC
Monica jumped right in at FRCC’s Boulder County campus—joining student groups, participating in the Latinx Excellence, Achievement & Development Scholars program (LEADS) and working as a student ambassador. In other words, she got to know pretty much everyone at FRCC’s small Boulder County campus. “That gave me a lot of opportunities to be involved.”
Even so, transitioning to college that first year was challenging. “I had a lot of adjusting to do from high school, but I found a lot of support at FRCC.” She says she turned to her instructors a lot for help.
“At FRCC the teachers knew who you were, and were willing to stay after class and help you. The campus is more intimate. They definitely give you the attention you need.”
Asking her teachers for help was a smart move. “They were really good at guiding me in the right direction. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have known that there was tutoring offered on campus, and about the academic success center. I found a lot of help that way. Then after I became acclimated, it became easy for me.”
When Monica was young, her favorite subject had been math—and she excelled at it in high school. So at FRCC she decided to go for an associate degree in accounting and finance—and then transfer to CU-Boulder to study business.
“The transfer went pretty smoothly. I met with my FRCC and CU advisors simultaneously to make sure I was on the right track. My FRCC advisor let me know when I’d be ready to go to CU, and helped make sure everything aligned.”
Prepared for CU
Monica says there was one particular skill that carried over from FRCC and helped her at the university. She had learned to ask for help, and she now knew how to find it. “My experience at FRCC was a great preparation for me. Because of my time there, I knew exactly what I wanted at CU. I wanted to do big things; I wanted to excel—and I knew I needed to find resources.”
“I wasn’t as hesitant to reach out to teachers. I wasn’t as hesitant to admit it when I needed help. I had more confidence going into CU. I managed to set goals that I was able to accomplish.”
Diving in on Campus
She joined CU’s Cultural Events Board, which regulates and makes decisions about funding for all culturally relevant student organizations on campus. She eventually worked her way up to a leadership position on the board, and the experience opened up her network—on campus and beyond. “I met with a lot of different types of students. We brought speakers to campus, and I got to meet [actress] Viola Davis, [actress] LaVerne Cox, as well as [poet and motivational speaker] Yusef Salaam and [design entrepreneur] Raymond Santana—both of the Exonerated 5.”
She also got a job on campus with CU’s finance department helping track funding for the more than 500 smaller clubs and organizations on campus. But the real coup during Monica’s time at the university was the internship she scored for her senior year. She started work as a senior analyst/intern with Key Bank’s equipment financing arm, helping businesses fund their growth. It went so well that the bank offered her a job when she graduated in 2020.
Life After Graduation
“I really like my job—the environment is great. I didn’t imagine myself in this position when I was at CU. With COVID hitting last spring, I didn’t even know if I’d be able to get a job after college.”
Not surprisingly, Monica has no plans to relax and rest on her accomplishments. “I want to learn more and become that person everybody comes to for help. That’s what I strive for. I never want to get to a point where I say, ‘this is good enough.’ I want to always excel—and be the best version of myself.”
Eventually she hopes to start her own business, and feels the skills she developed at FRCC will help her get there.
All in the Family
For now, her younger brother and her mom are both currently attending FRCC—based, in part, on Monica’s recommendation. “They already knew it was convenient. They also observed through my journey that FRCC made it easy to transfer and had a good support system.”
Her experience was so positive that she advises other students to find their path here. “FRCC is definitely a great place to start college, to begin your journey.”