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pioneerblog-jackelynnguyenIt was the summer of 2010, I would be entering into my junior year of college in the fall. I remember it was 5 in the morning and I was with my family stacking newspapers for the Denver Newspaper Agency. My fingers were smudged with black ink and my arms were tired from the weight of the ads. The supervisor of our district came over to talk to me. He asked me if I had any plans for the summer and I told him I wanted to look for internships. He laughed and said, “So the idea of taking a break is not an option?”

He then asked me what I was studying. I told him I am a marketing major at the Daniels College of Business at DU. He jokingly bowed at me and said I must be a smart girl. The last question he proceeded to ask was about the debt I am graduating with. I looked him in the eye and said, “Zero.”

It was at this moment I realized the value of my education and the tremendous gift I had received from the Daniels Fund, the Denver Scholarship Foundation, DU, and other funding sources. I always knew I was going to college despite the obstacles that were in my way. I am a first generation college student coming from a modest family of immigrants. Out of my four older brothers, one graduated from college years ago and then moved on to have his own family keeping loose ties with us. The burden fell on my sister and I to graduate from college while taking care of our parents. We represented their dreams of achievement that my parents were never able to actualize due to poverty and war.

I was scared what college would be like and started my first year at the University of Colorado Denver with an undeclared major. The next year I decided I was ready to take my college career to a new level and transferred to DU. I sought out a DU education because I wanted to challenge myself in my education as well as step outside of my comfort zone and the life I had become accustomed to at UCD. I wanted to explore the large array of majors DU offers and discover my passion. Along the way, I discovered the great opportunities coming from the Daniels College of Business as I declared my marketing major. I never would have had this chance to grow without the financial aid of scholarships and support from family and friends.

During this transition transfer time, I was lucky to have a mentor and friend within the Denver Scholarship Foundation. My high school mentor who I met in the DSF Future Center my first year of high school guided me through the dark and gave me words of kindness that kept me going. Curtis Esquibel is truly someone who I attribute my hard work to. I am lucky to have a mentor who has stayed with me and continued to aid me beyond high school and into college, still propelling me closer to my goals. He always told me that the road is not always straight and narrow. I never knew what I wanted to do and in a sense I’m still unsure what the future holds for me. But I do know that through the kindness given to me by scholarship donors, I want to empower others. I know what it’s like to stand in shoes that you feel can never be filled. However, I’ve also learned how to walk confidently across a room as myself thanks to my many mentors and the opportunities I have received to obtain an education through scholarships.

-Jackelyn Nguyen