Bracing for the future


By Carrie Click

Not too many sixth-graders with a mouthful of braces set their sights on running their own

Jasmine Sandoval

Jasmine Sandoval says the precollegiate program Upward Bound, administered locally through CMC, has played a significant part in her acceptance to the highly competitive undergraduate program at CU Denver’s School of Dental Medicine.

orthodontic practice when they grow up.

But for Jasmine Sandoval, “the experience of having braces myself was the thing that first made me consider becoming an orthodontist.”

Now a Rifle High School senior, Sandoval recently learned she has been accepted to the highly selective undergraduate program at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine. She will complete four years of undergraduate studies at CU Denver followed by four years of dental school at the CU School of Dental Medicine.

It’s quite an achievement: Sandoval is only one of five students statewide to be selected for the program this year, and the only student from the Western Slope.

Upward Bound guidance

Yesenia Arreola is the local director of TRIO Upward Bound, a federally funded precollegiate high school program administered regionally by Colorado Mountain College. Sandoval has participated in Upward Bound during her junior and senior years.

“Jasmine has taken full advantage of all of Upward Bound’s services, individual mentoring and advising,” Arreola said. “She has been a top student at her high school, pursuing the International Baccalaureate Diploma, but lacked the confidence to see herself successful in college and achieving her goals. Through our activities, we saw her blossom.”

Sandoval agrees with Arreola about Upward Bound’s positive effects.

“No one in my family has graduated from college. And being the eldest of my siblings, high school was overwhelming,” she said. “My Upward Bound mentors have helped me learn about education after high school. They made me feel confident in myself and my academics.”

During Upward Bound, Sandoval attempted activities she might not have done otherwise. She participated in Glenwood’s Miss Strawberry Days scholarship competition last summer. She learned American Sign Language and started teaching it at local elementary schools. She has also career-shadowed local dentist Dr. Chad Burgess and local orthodontist Dr. Casey Johnson, and has set a personal goal to become an orthodontist.

“I am certain that it is an environment where I want to work in the future,” she said.

‘Earning the future’

With years of school ahead, Sandoval is thinking beyond college to opening her own practice.

“Being a bilingual speaker is something that I think can benefit my community,” she said. “I would like to be able to help both [English- and Spanish-speaking] communities and to help educate as many community members as I can.

“One day I’d like to be an inspiration to other minorities, like myself,” she said. “I’d like them to see me in the future and think, ‘If I work hard for it, I can earn the future that I dream of.’”