2019 Telluride High School Alumnus David Almaraz last week graduated with a BA in Finance from the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds Business School and was awarded the True North Youth Organization’s Skyler Kelly Memorial Scholarship. He became the first recipient of the award to receive a university degree.
A first-generation college student, Almaraz worked at a hardware store during high school and then at Alpine Bank. He continued his career at Alpine’s Boulder store through college, where he now plans to work full time.
“The people at Alpine have been great,” Almaraz said. “They helped me out by helping me out part-time or working with me while I was a full-time student.”
Almaraz said he also thanked True North Youth Organization.
“It’s not just about scholarships,” he said. “There were fun activities, and they really helped me plan where to go, and helped me with my application and essays.While living in Telluride, it was a great community.”
Vivian Russell, Executive Director and Co-Founder of True North, said, “All of us at True North are so proud of David for achieving this huge milestone of graduating from college.”
Russell and other members of True North, most notably co-founder Betsy Walker, began working at Almaraz during their freshman year of high school. Russell said he and his siblings regularly attended Telluride Middle School’s Base Camp After School program.
“By spending consistent time with him, the staff at True North not only supported his academic success, but also connected him to opportunities beyond school,” said Russell. rice field.
Almaraz participated in community service activities, job connections and enrichment opportunities.
“By junior year, we were able to help him create a compelling résumé for scholarship applications and help him with his interview skills,” Russell said.
Almaraz remains committed and says, “I have been able to take advantage of all the different resources that True North has to offer, especially the many resources that True North provides for first-generation students and students whose parents have not attended college. I think that really helped ‘put him on the path to success,'” Russell said.
Russell added, “David truly embodies what the founders of the Skyler Kelly Scholarship intended. Regardless, I achieved academic success, went to college, and had a great start to my career.”
Russell said Almaraz intends to give back to the community by mentoring True North students and serving on True North’s advisory board.
“As an organization, we have much to learn from him so that he can positively impact more students who have followed similar paths,” Russell said.
Between COVID-19 and working full-time, Almaraz’s college experience has been a rollercoaster, he said, adding to all the usual rigors of a college education. But he said the bank, the university authorities, and everyone he met along the way helped.
“We were able to forge exactly what we wanted,” he said. “I look back on the past four years with gratitude.
In an interview with The Planet at the end of his sophomore year in April 2021, Almaraz said his advice to new students was: Try something new, get used to it, then repeat. “
This year’s True North Scholarship winners will be announced on KOTO Radio for Telluride Alumni, at Commencement for Nuclea Alumni, and at the Scholarship Ceremony for Norwood Alumni.