Alpine Bank Chairman Bob Young, front center, surrounded by 2018 Alpine Bank Latino/Hispanic Scholarship recipients. Each student will receive a scholarship to cover tuition, fees and books for two years at Colorado Mountain College. Alpine Bank Scholars are from left, front row, Lilian Mixco, Young, Aneth Carmona; second row, Lindsy Vega Munoz, Rose Mehus, Bianca Ruiz, Alexia Vasquez, Saray Gonzalez; back row, Abraham Avila, Anthony Rodriguez-Moore and Stephanie Garcia Avitia. Not pictured: Iris Esparza, Jessica Rios, Gabriela Fuentes. Photo Phil Dunn

By Carrie Click

A senator in the federal government. A law enforcement officer. An auto mechanic. Four nurses. Welcome to just some of the career aspirations of the recipients of the 2018 Alpine Bank Latino/Hispanic Scholarship to Colorado Mountain College.

For 22 years, Alpine Bank Chairman Bob Young has hosted a special springtime luncheon that acknowledges the newest class of carefully selected high school seniors who are on their way to Colorado Mountain College. There, in front of family members, school counselors, and bank and college staff, each qualified student is presented with a two-year scholarship to CMC, thanks to Alpine Bank.

In 2018, Alpine Bank awarded these scholarships to 13 graduating seniors from throughout CMC’s district. The application process is extensive. Students must complete several essay questions, and provide information about test scores, future plans and their need for financial support in order to attend Colorado Mountain College.

Breaking stereotypes

Becoming an auto mechanic is just one job title Jessica Rios, a recent graduate of Red Canyon High School in Edwards, has on her short list. “Helping people has always been a passion of mine,” she wrote in her scholarship application, mentioning that she would someday like to own “a retirement home, or something of that nature.”

But first, she’d like to pursue another goal. “It has always been a dream of mine to become a mechanic,” Rios said. “Usually, girls are not mechanics. I would like to change the sexist views the world has on it.”

Alexia Vasquez, who graduated from Coal Ridge High School in May, listed in her scholarship application involvement in a staggering 11 community organizations, from raising money for the poor in Nicaragua and Indonesia to creating a club to providing support to fellow high school students who were being bullied.

“My parents taught us the importance of going to college,” wrote Stephanie Garcia Avitia, a recent graduate of Grand Valley High School in Parachute, in her scholarship application. “Money had been a problem in my household. Having scholarship assistance would help me reach my goal of being a nurse.”

‘Someone successful’

Young started the scholarship in 1996 after attending a number of local high school graduations and noticing the lack of Latino and Hispanic students planning to attend college. Since then, Alpine Bank continues to provide qualified students living in CMC’s six-county district two years of tuition, fees and textbooks to pursue a college degree. Alpine Bank has awarded well over 200 scholarships since the program began.

The 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.

“I want to be someone successful,” wrote Bridges High School graduate Iris Esparza of Basalt. “I have seen people around me and how much they have struggled to find a job because they dropped out, for not having enough money to finish college. I wouldn’t like to be one of them. I would like to be part of the statistic of Hispanics or Latinos who have a degree in this country.”

Throughout CMC’s district, this year’s Alpine Bank Scholars come from Aspen, Basalt, Glenwood Springs, Yampah Mountain, Roaring Fork, Coal Ridge, Rifle, Grand Valley Red Canyon, Eagle Valley and Summit high schools. For many, the funding they receive makes the difference between attending college or not. Most recipients are the first in their families to even consider higher education.

“I would like to be the first one out of my four siblings to get a college degree,” said Esparza.

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.

The 2018 Alpine Bank Latino/Hispanic Scholars

This year’s scholarship recipients and their respective high schools are Abraham Avila, Aspen High School; Lilian Mixco, Basalt High School; Iris Esparza, Bridges High School; Alexia Vasquez, Coal Ridge High School; Saray Gonzalez, Eagle Valley High School; Anthony Rodriguez-Moore, Glenwood Springs High School; Stephanie Garcia Avitia, Grand Valley High School; Jessica Rios, Red Canyon High School; Rose Mehus, Rifle High School; Lindsy Vega Munoz, Roaring Fork High School; Gabriela Fuentes and Aneth Carmona, Summit High School; and Bianca Ruiz, Yampah Mountain High School.