West Career Academy Goes to College!


During the month of October, the Denver Public Schools Office of Family and Community Engagement AmeriCorps accompanied a group of students from West Career Academy (WCA) to Boulder, Colorado for a college visit. The Student Outreach Retention Center for Equity (SORCE) at the University of Colorado-Boulder (CU-Boulder) hosted the eager students as they were able to get a taste of college life, an experience that allowed students to take one step closer to being ready for college.


The students attended a pre-visit meeting at WCA wherein a representative of SORCE gave them some preliminary information about the university. She explained in detail the costs of tuition, loan and scholarship opportunities, the application process, the demographic breakdown, campus resources, and her personal experience as a CU-Boulder student. After the pre-visit meeting, the students were prepared and excited to see the campus.


The following Friday, the students, led by Community Engagement Specialist Edgar Torres and AmeriCorps member Katie Broz, travelled to Boulder, Colorado for the visit. As the bus arrived to the college town, the students’ eyes widened with curiosity and admiration. The sun was shining over the beautiful Flat Irons as collegiate CU-Boulder students scurried from class to class. The WCA students were warmly welcomed by Patti, a member of SORCE who served as the tour guide. Patti led the students around campus while sharing useful information and showing them all the important sites – the library, classroom buildings, the food hall, the recreation center – the students were even able to go inside a real college dormitory room.


Not only did the students get to experience a college campus, they were also able to learn what it takes to be a college student. The tour guide, along with a diverse panel of students from SORCE, honestly answered the WCA students’ questions. Each student was responsible for coming up with a question to ask. Some of the questions included: “What is CU-Boulder known for academically?,” “How many hours a week do you spend studying?,” and “What is it like to be a student of color at a mostly white school?” The students were happy to learn more about the university and what college life is really like. For many of the students, it was their first time seeing a large public university like CU-Boulder.


Yessica Martinez, a senior at WCA, describes her experience, “I liked hearing the stories from the students on the panel – it was cool to hear why each student loves going to school there because they all had different reasons.” Shewit Hailu, also a senior at WCA, explained after the visit, “It really reassured me that I do want to go to college, and it motivated me to keep working toward that.” The overall consensus from the students was that the trip was informational, enriching, and, most importantly, fun! Andrew Herrera, a junior at WCA who attended the visit, created a thank you note canvas to give to the students and staff at SORCE in order to recognize their hospitality and effort. From WCA, we want to say thank you to CU-Boulder and to SORCE for providing such a great opportunity for our students! We hope to see you again soon!

– Katie Broz, AmeriCorps member