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July 3, 2012
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Three area students earn assistance to attend Colorado Mountain College

This year's Alpine Bank Latino/Hispanic Scholarship program is helping 13 students from 12 Western Slope high schools attend Colorado Mountain College this fall.

Among this year's scholars are three recent graduates from Eagle County: Levi Ernest from Red Canyon High School, Stella Martinez from Battle Mountain High School and Damian Montes from Eagle Valley High School.

The Alpine Bank scholarship program promotes diversity in Colorado Mountain College's student body and puts college within reach for qualified Latino high school graduates from Eagle, Garfield, Pitkin, Routt and Summit counties. The scholarship covers the cost of books, fees and tuition for two years. Many of the scholars will be the first in their families to attend college.

While at Colorado Mountain College, they'll receive support from Yesenia Arreola, the college's Youth Outreach Coordinator. Arreola, a CMC grad and former Alpine Bank Scholar herself, helps students and parents navigate the college process and find tools for success.

Scholarship recipient Damian Montes is heading to Colorado Mountain College's campus in Edwards this fall to pursue a career in health care, a dream inspired by his 14-year-old sister's battle with Crohn's disease.

"I saw her suffering, and that's leading me to want to become a paramedic," he said.

Montes, an Eagle Valley High School graduate and active church member, is thankful for the Alpine Bank scholarship.

"It means everything to me. Growing up, our family always struggled financially and we never really had the money," he said.

After college, he intends on sticking close to home and giving back to his community.

"In 20 years I'll be in the same church and I'll be a paramedic in Eagle," Montes said.

Red Canyon High School graduate Levi Ernest is also heading to CMC's Edwards campus, to pursue his goal of getting a college education and continuing to honor the legacy of his late grandfather, a local miner who instilled in Levi the values of family and hard work.

"My Grandpa Joe had a profound impact on my life," Ernest said. "He helped me shape the values that I stand for, and I know his wisdom will be very valuable in the future."

Ernest's English teacher at Red Canyon, Ann Constien, said that his shy and quiet demeanor hides a keenly observant and humorous mind. She believes his personal values and attributes will serve him well in college.

"He is an extremely intelligent young man, and has the ability to analyze, synthesize and evaluate information," she said.

Stella Martinez, from Battle Mountain High School, will be at CMC's Glenwood campus this fall en route to a career in nursing.

"I want to make a difference and be a role model for my family's younger generation," she said. "Attending college will give me so many opportunities to achieve my dreams. I don't want to be a regular college student, I want to be on the honor roll and give back to my community."

Amanda Spannagel, Martinez's English teacher at Battle Mountain High School, said the recent grad is a remarkable young lady who has had difficult challenges in her life.

"Stella will be able to overcome any obstacles that she will face in her future because of what she has been through in her past," she said. "She is very ambitious and has set high achieving goals for herself."

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The VailDaily Updated Jul 3, 2012 12:59PM Published Jul 3, 2012 12:58PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.