FRCC student Ashley Valdez-Ibarra has been selected as one of just eight students nationwide—and the only Gateway to College student in the country—to be a 2022 DREAM Scholar.
Ashley is a first-generation Mexican American college student who is charting her path to success. Following experiences with addiction and abuse in high school, she decided to make a change and enrolled in FRCC’s Gateway to College program.
What’s Achieving the Dream?
Achieving the Dream is a national nonprofit leader in championing evidence-based institutional improvement—with the goal of increasing student success and decreasing equity gaps. The DREAM Scholars program is an opportunity for eight students from participating institutions to enhance key leadership, critical thinking and networking skills.
Ashley is passionate about human rights, women’s rights, immigrant rights and LGBTQ+ rights. She believes strongly in equality and fair treatment—and she volunteers at political rallies, helping with workshops and organizing. She hopes to become a Colorado district representative for the Democratic Party.
Ashley was nominated by FRCC and chosen through a competitive national application process, DREAM Scholars get to engage in a learning experience that culminates in attending and presenting at the DREAM 2022 conference.
Participating in DREAM 2022
During the event, DREAM Scholars got to share their personal stories and participate in customized programming and networking sessions that align with their personal goals. Scholars were featured in plenary sessions, got to have an exclusive conversation with keynote speakers—and participated in a panel presentation focused on how they view the reform efforts of community colleges.
For the DREAM program, Ashley wrote an “I am” poem, which you can watch here (or read below the video).
“I Am…” by DREAM Scholar Ashley Valdez-Ibarra
Yo soy Ashley Valdez-Ibarra
I am from desert heat and dehydration
From crying children and my scared mother’s starvation
I am from seeking the “American dream” which my parents thought had no limitations
I am a young woman, Mexican-American, second of my generation
May no border, no wall, no fence keep us obeying segregation
I am from the sweat, blood, and tears sacrificed for my future
I am from the 3 jobs my mother kept while fleeing from her abuser
I am from each tear that fell while she continued walking into something newer
I am from the Taco Bell where my parents met before they knew I’d be their late bloomer
I am from the childhood that my father left behind to start a life around 14, possibly even sooner
I am from how hard they worked so that I could have a good future
I am from an empty house and silent childhood
I am the youngest of 5 children, raised by the oldest
I am from genetic depression, never ending anxiety, and on-and-off therapy
I am from childhood bullying and racial and gender discrimination
I am from attention seeking and breaking down
I am from suspensions, isolation, drug abuse, and self harm
I am from letting an abusive lover control my life and education
I am from dropping out
I am from second chances
Changing schools and leaving everything behind
I am from putting my part in to change for the better
Or as my father would say “Poniendo de mi parte para hacer mejor”
I am from keeping my sobriety and good grades
Fighting for my future to be back on track with two jobs and perfect school attendance
Being more considerate of my mental health and what I need
Finding who I am meant to be and what changes I am yet to make
I am a Gateway student from Front Range Community College
Where I have caring teachers who are considerate of my feelings and allow me to work at my
own pace while frequently checking on me
They provided me with endless chances to do better
From leadership opportunities, encouragement for growth, and access to mental health
I have left behind “you can’t do it” “you will never get there”
I am no longer the young girl who feared going back to school and hated being home
I am destined for change, standing strong with the new generation
I am exactly where I am supposed to be
Community, justice, immigrant rights, and peace are my passion
My resources are close at hand awaiting my time
Studying hard to be prepared
Whether I choose government, business, or nursing
Yo soy Ashley Valdez-Ibarra y yo voy hacer parte de el cambio
Yes, I will be part of the change.