Three Vail Valley CMC students receive scholarships | VailDaily.com

Three Vail Valley CMC students receive scholarships

Carrie Click
Special to the Daily

From left front, Alma Gurrola from Battle Mountain High School, Karely Varela from Red Canyon High School and Norma Delgado from Eagle Valley High School are among the 14 students who received the 2015 Alpine Bank Latino/Hispanic Scholarship to attend Colorado Mountain College. With them are Edgar Luevanos, operations supervisor of the Eagle and Gypsum Alpine Bank locations, and Grant Murphy, vice president of Alpine Bank in Eagle

EDWARDS — Since 1996, more than 180 graduating high school seniors have received Alpine Bank Latino/Hispanic Scholarships to attend Colorado Mountain College. This year, 14 more students received news that Alpine Bank will cover the cost of their tuition, fees and textbooks for two years.

Three Vail Valley-based students are included in that group. Without Alpine Bank's financial assistance, Norma Delgado of Eagle Valley High School, Alma Gurrola of Battle Mountain High School and Karely Varela of Red Canyon High School might not have been able to pursue a college education. With that help, all three are college-bound.

To be considered for these specialized scholastic awards, the students must be of Latino or Hispanic descent, classify as an in-district Colorado Mountain College student, have maintained at least a 2.5 GPA and demonstrated financial need, among other scholarship criteria. Each scholarship if for $2,200 a year.

Balanced life includes education

Around five years ago, Norma Delgado's mother, Mirna Delgado, was in a major accident that resulted in numerous surgeries amounting to $500,000 in hospital bills.

Following the accident, Norma's mother was unable to work and the family lost their housing and most of their income. The accident was a shattering experience, but it also gave Norma the motivation for a career in the medical field.

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"After my mother's accident, I had a vision of what I wanted to do in my future, which was being a physical therapist," said Norma. "My mom has never given up, and I want to spread that wisdom to others through my experience with my mom."

Norma immediately began taking science classes that related to the medical field, and she took an internship at an Eagle physical therapy clinic even though she didn't know how she would be able to afford college. Additionally, she worked at a local bowling alley to bring home critically needed funds to support her family.

"She is able to balance her workload with her education, which in my opinion is a great quality to have before going to college," wrote Alena Sherash, the manager at The Back Bowl, in her letter of recommendation for Norma for the Alpine Bank scholarship. "Norma is dedicated with work, school and her future, being able to balance them out."

A proud mother

Like the Delgado family, a medical emergency with a family member set the course for Alma Gurrola's future career goals. When Gurrola was 8 years old, an emergency medical technician saved her father's life, and since then, she has known that she wanted a career in emergency medicine.

To get there, she knows that education is essential.

"I strongly believe that college is not an option but a requirement, just like finishing high school," Gurrola said.

Her mother, Maria Chairez, is employed cleaning the college campus in Edwards, while another of Gurrola's sisters completed a certificate program in early childhood education. Now it's Alma's turn.

"My mother, she is very proud of us," she said.

Others have noticed Chairez's pride, too. Carrie Benway, the president of the Eagle County Board of Education, got to know both Gurrola and her mother while they cleaned the Family Learning Center, where Benway is a specialist.

Benway wrote in a letter recommending Alma for an Alpine Bank scholarship: "Her dedication in helping her mom is admirable and is a rare trait in teenagers. I believe Alma will be successful in college because she will use her strong work ethic and her commitment to her responsibilities to excel as a college student."

Breaking stereotypes

Karely Varela grew up believing that as a girl, she didn't belong in school, but instead should be "at home cleaning, raising her children and most importantly, making her husband happy," she said.

With this future in mind, she dropped out of school during her freshman year in high school. When she returned, she was failing most of her classes until she earned an A on a report card. That A felt so good to her that it shifted her priorities and goals; she realized she wanted more from life than what was expected of her.

Today, Varela has graduated from high school after excelling at concurrent enrollment classes through Colorado Mountain College. Volunteering at Gypsum Elementary School and tutoring children struggling with language challenges has inspired her to want to earn an associate degree in social work, which she plans to begin at CMC this fall.

"Karely has been especially useful helping our students who are new to the United States and trying to learn English," wrote Gypsum Elementary School teacher Lindsay Hawkins in her letter of recommendation for Varela to receive an Alpine Bank scholarship. "She makes it clear to students that she cares about them, while also showing them that she has high expectations for them to learn and succeed."

This year's other scholarship recipients and their respective high schools are Carla Cortes, Bridges High School; Larisa Cruz, Rifle High School; Jennifer Gomez, Coal Ridge High School; Chennelle Hernandez, Aspen High School; Violeta (Violet) Lepe, Basalt High School; Eddy Meraz, Roaring Fork High School; Francisco Muneton, Grand Valley High School; Thania Nunez, Steamboat Springs High School; Stephany Ortega, Yampah Mountain High School; Raul Rios, Glenwood Springs High School; and Paloma Sotelo, Summit High School.