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Graduates from Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley, Red Canyon high schools will attend Colorado Mountain College this fall

By Carrie Click

EDWARDS – Three local high school students might not have been able to go to college if not for a financial boost from Alpine Bank. With that help, all three are college-bound.

Now in its 20th year, the Alpine Bank Latino/Hispanic Scholarship program has a twofold purpose: to promote diversity within Colorado Mountain College’s student body, and to give qualified Latino and Hispanic high school graduates a pathway to a college education.

From left, Edgar Luevanos, Alpine Bank branch manager in Edwards, with Samantha Guardian, Red Canyon High School; Maria Jasmine Leal, Eagle Valley High School; and Daniela Rodriguez, Battle Mountain High School. The three recent high school graduates are among the 13 students in the CMC district who received the 2016 Alpine Bank Latino/Hispanic Scholarship to attend Colorado Mountain College. Photo Kate Lapides

From left, Edgar Luevanos, Alpine Bank branch manager in Edwards, with Samantha Guardian, Red Canyon High School; Maria Jasmine Leal, Eagle Valley High School; and Daniela Rodriguez, Battle Mountain High School. Photo Kate Lapides

A total of 13 students from throughout the college’s six-county district earned the sch
olarships this spring. Three of those students graduated from high schools in the Vail Valley. The bank is covering the cost of tuition, fees and textbooks for two years at Colorado Mountain College for each selected student.

To be considered for these specialized awards, students must be of Latino/Hispanic descent, classify as an in-district CMC student, have at least a 2.5 GPA and demonstrate financial need, among other criteria. Each scholarship equals $2,200 a year.

Three achievers from valley

Samantha Guardian attended Red Canyon High School, while Maria Jasmine Leal graduated from Eagle Valley High School. Daniela Rodriguez is a fresh alumna from Battle Mountain High School.

Guardian is already on her way to a college degree. The second in her family to attend college, after her sister, she graduated a year early from Red Canyon, where she also took concurrent college credit classes through CMC.

“I was raised by parents who didn’t have the same opportunities I did. I was fortunate enough to have the privilege and resources to study,” said Guardian. “It was really important to them for my sister and me to continue our education after high school.

In her scholarship application, she wrote, “CMC offers great prices for classes and it would be much easier to get my associate degree here than at a university. It will save me a lot of money.”

According to college websites, the cost for in-state tuition and fees – not counting books, housing and food – at Colorado Mesa University is more than $8,000 a year. At Colorado State University, it’s just over $10,500. Colorado Mountain College’s in-district tuition and fees, in contrast, are approximately $2,000 per year.

So when these three students got the news that they had received an Alpine Bank scholarship to cover their first two years at Colorado Mountain College, their choices were made.

Now, with help from Alpine Bank, these high-achieving students are able to realize their dreams of going to college.

‘Uncanny ability to be successful’ 

Rodriguez was 5 years old when she and her family moved to the United States from Mexico. She taught herself English in part by watching cartoons with Spanish subtitles, and learned to adjust to American culture by learning about the origins of it.

Today, she has a clear-cut educational plan, and it is centered on science.

“After gaining my associate degree in science, I hope to transfer to a school that offers a forensic science program,” she wrote in her scholarship application.

Like the other Vail Valley Alpine Bank Scholars, Leal has impressed her high school teachers.

“Jasmine has shown an uncanny ability to be successful,” wrote Douglas Samson Bartlett, an Eagle Valley High School language arts teacher, in a letter recommending Leal for the Alpine Bank scholarship. “She is as impressive academically as she is a friend, leader and person in general.”