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Twin sisters from Thornton who have earned scholarships from a local non-profit will now be able to attend college together as they enter the next chapter of their lives — ones that haven’t always been easy.

Priscilla and Maria Ivette Chavez, and their two younger sisters, have lived with a single mom much of their lives. Their mom has also been battling cancer.

“We always saw her persevere. She was always so strong,” Maria said. “Always so persistent in educating us and just being a good mom, as well as working countless hours because she did have four daughters.”

The importance of a good education was instilled in the twins at a young age. They used education as motivation to give themselves a brighter future.

“Especially for our family, especially for my mom. She always said to take your education very seriously, to take all your opportunities, the opportunities she didn’t have,” Maria said.

“Before we were allowed to get outside,” Priscilla recalled, “we had to read, we had to write a little bit.”

The twins, who will graduate Saturday from the Mapleton Early College High School in Thornton, didn’t live average high school lives.

“All our friends were out at the movies and doing all the things that high schoolers should be doing,” Maria said. “We were at home taking care of our sisters, doing chores, because we didn’t have enough time in the week.”

“We worked since we were freshmen, sophomores. So, we had part-time jobs, and we just dedicated ourselves to the things that really needed the time the most, and we knew that it was all going to be worth it.”

They spent also spent time volunteering in their community, as well as interning, and because of their efforts, the twins were each independently selected as scholarship recipients for the Daniels Fund. It’s a local nonprofit that gives out scholarship awards annually to more than 200 students.

The fund is named after Bill Daniels, an entrepreneur and philanthropist who gave his estate to the Fund when he died in 2000.

The twins, two of 232 scholarship recipients this year, will be attending the University of Denver in the fall, and both plan to study at the Daniel’s College of Business.

“I love it here. I love the campus. and I’m just excited to see what I’m going to learn here,” Maria said.

“We’re representing the Latino community and we’re representing our family, we’re representing ourselves. And I think it’s just a dream come true,” Priscilla said.

For those who aspire to go to college but may not see a path there, Priscilla has a simple message for them.

“Never settle for anything less than what you think you deserve,” she said.