When Damian Medina, a senior at Lake County High School in Leadville, learned he had been accepted to Dartmouth College on a full-ride scholarship, he had a hard time taking it in.
“The first few days I kept waiting to wake up from a dream,” he said.
Medina’s journey to acceptance to one of the top-flight colleges in the country was not an easy road. But support from the federally funded Upward Bound program, administered locally by Colorado Mountain College, and advanced math classes at CMC in Leadville offered through the concurrent enrollment program, helped him to reach his dream.
“He has overcome some really huge obstacles to get there,” said Heather O’Malley, CMC’s Upward Bound director for Lake and Eagle counties. “He is one of the most brilliant people I have ever known.”
Medina qualified for Upward Bound as a first-generation student – the first in his family to go to college. Because of his academic achievements, he was chosen as a QuestBridge scholar. QuestBridge is a nonprofit foundation that helps low-income students gain admission to the most selective colleges and universities on scholarships that meet their full need.
To meet admission standards for Dartmouth, he had to really stand out. And he did – with a 4.3 GPA, an associate degree he’ll have in hand before he graduates from high school this May, and student leadership including being president of the student senate and two-year captain of the basketball team.
His scholarship to Dartmouth, worth over $70,000 per year, will cover everything from tuition and books to room and board.
“Damian’s greatest strengths are his desire to share his knowledge and his compassion for others,” wrote his high school math and engineering teacher, and mentor, Karl Remsen, in his recommendation letter for Medina’s college application.
“My father, stepmom and siblings have been my No. 1 supporters, and I could not have accomplished this without them,” Medina said. In addition to thanking his family and mentor Remsen, he’s grateful to Cody Jump (student senate advisor), Kelly Hofer (pre-collegiate coordinator), Mathew Dussault (English teacher), Ben Cairns (principal), Pat Cade (calculus teacher), and Colin McFee and Maura Cremin (CREW teachers).
Now Medina’s dream is a reality, thanks to his sharp mind, his strength of will and the support and encouragement from CMC, Upward Bound and his high school teachers and staff.