For Mickey Schieferecke (they/them/their), the road to a college degree has had plenty of turns, road blocks and hills to climb.
Difficult home and life circumstances forced Mickey to drop out of high school in 2004. In the years thereafter, they worked to support their two young children, often holding down three jobs at a time.
Back to School
Eventually, Mickey decided it was time to finish what they’d started. “When I finally found stability, I went to McLain Community High School in the adult program and graduated in 2016,” says Mickey, who is from Gillette, Wyoming, but has been in Colorado since 2009.
They started college at Red Rocks Community College (RRCC) in 2019, but put college on the back burner when the coronavirus pandemic hit because Mickey’s kids needed support navigating online learning.
Once life settled a bit, Mickey decided it was time to return to their studies in 2021. “I chose FRCC because it was close to home and if my kids went back to online learning, it would be easier to manage.”
In 2022, they resumed school at RRCC as well. Mickey will graduate with degrees from both colleges in 2023—an Associate of Arts in psychology (FRCC) and another one in sociology (RRCC).
Life as a Deaf Student
Mickey is Deaf, and says that their favorite part of FRCC thus far is the Deaf community.
“The amount of support for the Deaf here at FRCC’s Westminster Campus is just great,” Mickey says. Accommodations and assistance from the college’s Disability Support Services team have been key to their success—but Mickey has never let being Deaf hold them back.
“I can and will do anything the hearing can and will do,” Mickey says. “I just can’t hear. I would tell others to not be afraid to ask for help. Having accommodations in school just puts you on an equal playing field as other students.”
Making the Most of the Student Experience
In spring 2022, Mickey decided to get involved in the Student Government Association (SGA) at FRCC’s Westminster Campus. When the end of the year came and so did officer elections, they ran for president.
Mickey’s opponent dropped from the race, making Mickey the first Deaf SGA president in the organization’s history. Even more impressive, Mickey is president of the SGA at Red Rocks as well.
Leadership and Service
“I enjoy being SGA president at both colleges, as I am seeing how one school is doing something that is better and more efficient than the other,” Mickey says. “It allows me to help out both schools and try to make things better.”
They’re grateful for the privilege to work with college employees—from the admissions office to faculty—about any issues on campus. “I feel like I’m in a position to help serve our college community.”
A Powerful Voice
In September 2022, Mickey was a panelist for the student speaker series for the Colorado Office of Educational Equity. Alongside three other students, they talked about equity in higher education and their experience as a student.
Mickey was also this year’s 2022 recipient of the Diversity Advocate Award at FRCC. “I am very proud of this award,” Mickey says. “It makes me so happy that my work hasn’t gone unnoticed.”
Advocating for Others
Tim Mellon, assistant director of student life and co-advisor of the SGA, says that Mickey is a dedicated advocate for campus services and resources. “Mickey is that student voice who has helped reframe how we, as staff, think about the way we do things on campus.”
“They’ve been advocating for other students in all that they do. Mickey is passionate about their community, wherever that is and whoever is involved in it. They want to make sure that everyone in the community is represented.”
Working for Inclusivity
Case in point: As SGA president, Mickey has partnered with staff in student life to help other clubs and organizations become more sustainable. Their goal is to make FRCC’s Westminster Campus a more welcoming and inclusive space for students, faculty, staff and the community.
SGA is just one of the student organizations with which Mickey is involved at FRCC. They’re also a member of Club PRISM (Pride, Raising Awareness, Inclusiveness, Support and Mentoring) and helped found the Animé Club on campus.
Helping Patients in Emergency Rooms
When Mickey graduates in 2023, they will start a bachelor’s degree in sociology at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Mickey also plans to pursue a master’s in psychology.
Their career goal is to assist hospital emergency rooms in times of crisis. “Many times, in emergency situations, the Deaf community gets overlooked and is not listened to,” Mickey says.
“In hospitals, it could be hours before an interpreter is available, forcing someone like a spouse or child to speak for the person, which can leave things unsaid. I want to be there when a Deaf person walks into the ER.”
Education Connects Us
Mickey appreciates the diversity of the student body at FRCC, while recognizing the ties that bind students from all backgrounds and experiences. “School is what connects us,” Mickey says.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 50—we are all here for one reason or another. Some are getting their first degree, and others are changing careers by getting another degree. It doesn’t matter if you’re the first generation in your family to go to college or the fifth. We’re all here for a reason.”
As an extraordinarily involved and engaged student, Mickey encourages others to find their own unique way to make an impact. “I just want to let others know that they’re doing amazing,” Mickey says. “Let yourself be heard and you’ll go far.”