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Celebrating FRCC students who are the first in their family to go to college.

When April Rosas was growing up, her parents always encouraged her to work hard in school and go to college, which was not something either of them had the opportunity to do.

As Mexican immigrants who only attended school for a few years before they needed to help support their families—April’s mother until age 12, her father not at all—her parents weren’t familiar with the college process.

“They were always encouraging, but it was just not something they could give me advice about,” April says. “When I got to high school, I was intimidated and didn’t know how to approach guidance counselors with questions.”

A College Visit

Students in the Boulder County Campus Student Commons

The summer after graduating from Skyline High School in 2018, April’s former middle school counselor (who she was still in touch with) took her and several other students to visit Front Range Community College.

The experience was enlightening and changed the course of her life.

“I knew after that day that I wanted to be a part of FRCC,” April says. “It was such a nice thing for my former counselor to do, and it gave me a starting point.”

She met with an FRCC admissions advisor, who walked her through the application process over the coming weeks. Soon April was enrolled in classes for the fall.

Finding Support

April started out taking classes at FRCC’s Boulder County Campus toward a Patient Care Technician certificate. It wasn’t easy, but she learned how to advocate for herself and take advantage of the support services for students.

Her advisor referred her to the TRIO program, which supports first-generation students, as well as students with limited-incomes and those with disabilities. At FRCC—where approximately 48% of students are first gen—there are three TRIO offerings available to students:

TRIO Student Support Services offers students wraparound services that promote academic, personal, and professional growth. Students get assistance with everything from choosing classes to exploring transfer options to four-year colleges to applying for financial aid and tutoring services.

Bringing Her Dream Into Focus

For April, TRIO was exactly what she needed.

“Everyone at TRIO is kind and made me realize that there’s nothing wrong with asking questions and getting help,” she says. “I started building new skills and making connections.”

April also joined the Latinx Excellence Achievement and Development Scholars (LEADS) program at FRCC and became a work-study employee in admissions. In 2020, she graduated with an Associate of Science degree and transferred to Colorado State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies.

Joining the TRIO Team

April got to know the TRIO staff at Boulder County Campus so well that she got hired as an enrollment navigator in 2020, working part time while pursuing her bachelor’s degree at CSU. Being part of the TRIO team made her rethink her plans to pursue a career in healthcare.

“This place has helped me so much, and I realized that I want to continue to work here and give back to my community,” April says.

As luck would have it, Boulder County’s TRIO team had an open position when she graduated from CSU in 2023—and April got a job as a bilingual success coach.

“When I came to FRCC, I turned to several people with questions, and now I’m one of the people that students turn to for help. It means so much to me to be part of students’ support systems.”

First-Gen Proud

April’s identity as a first-generation college student is one that she is very proud of—and she encourages the students she works with in TRIO to embrace that same sense of pride.

“I am honored to be the person that my nieces and nephews can look up to and hopefully influence to go to college too,” says April. “I’m making my parents proud, and one day when I have a family of my own, my children will be able to call themselves second-generation college students because I went to college.”

As she continues her career, April intends to earn a master’s degree—possibly the M.S. in student affairs in higher education at CSU.

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Advice for Other First-Gen Students

As a TRIO success coach and a first-generation college graduate herself, April says her best advice to students with similar backgrounds is to:

  • remember your “why”
  • ask questions
  • give yourself grace
  • stay true to yourself

“It’s okay for students to not know where to begin; that’s what we’re here for to support and guide them,” she says.

“For me, that help made all the difference. I was afraid to ask for help as a high school student and I didn’t have family members who I could turn to and ask questions about college.”

“The welcoming environment at FRCC and at TRIO is what helped me start to advocate for myself.”

Celebrating First Generation Students at FRCC

Today is First-Generation College Celebration Day, which is a time to recognize and raise awareness about students who are the first in their families to go to college.

First-generation college students often have a variety of unique circumstances that other students whose parents did attend college do not. It is important to celebrate their courage and accomplishments and create an environment that is welcoming and accessible.

This week, FRCC first-generation students can show their pride by picking up an “I am First Gen” sticker at the TRIO office. Learn more about how TRIO at FRCC helps students overcome barriers to higher education.

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