Chasel Valdivizeo-Perez was one of four recipients for this year’s Dare to Dream scholarship (STRIVE Prep’s staff-funded scholarship for Dreamers). Even before knowing she was a recipient, Chasel had made her college plan to attend Colorado State University and become a veterinarian. You can hear her own reaction to being surprised with the scholarship at Senior Signing day in these news reports from CBS Denver and Telemundo.
Thanks to the generosity of our wonderful staff, Chasel, and the other three recipients, will continue to feel the love and support of the STRIVE Prep community long after they’ve graduated from our schools, below, read Chasel’s own words about how that community has impacted her.
What relationships has STRIVE Prep brought you that have changed your life?
Being able to be with the same group of kids since I started sixth grade definitely made some of the transitions easier. I’ve been able to build a core group and also a community which has been cool.
Another good thing is that STRIVE Prep gave me the chance to have one on one time with teachers, which helped me get to know them better. It meant a lot to me that Ms. Dunnells, my Algebra 1/2 and Pre-Calculus teacher, took the time to get to know me as a person. Stuff like that just makes you more excited to learn.
Outside of the classroom, what have your peers and your school community taught you?
Staying with that same group taught me so much about the importance of building real friendships and a strong community. I also know how to respectfully communicate my ideas because of everything we’ve gone through together.
What classes have challenged you most at STRIVE Prep?
AP Calculus has been my most challenging class and it was difficult to understand the topics. I’m glad all my peers in the class and I stayed in constant communication over a group chat to help each other solve problems and just get through the year. I’ve taken three AP classes overall that all were challenging in different ways.
How do you feel prepared to take on what’s next in life?
I think being able to have Dawn (STRIVE Prep’s Alumni Support Manager) will be really amazing because if I have any questions and don’t have someone at my future university who I’m comfortable with I can turn to her and that support will mean a lot. I’m also excited to go to college with some of my friends from STRIVE Prep because I know I’ll still have that community even though I’ll be meeting new people.
Where do you see yourself in the context of today’s social issues?
I think being a DACA student makes me feel like I have a big part in everything. My voice matters as a member of this community and it’s important that I stand up and speak up to help make an impact on social issues. A big part of being comfortable with the has been the other students here, I walk around the school and see and feel the support for DACA students like me.
I remember when we did a walkout and a rally at the park to protest removing DACA. The other DACA students and I were really scared and crying, and other students and teachers came around and supported us and hugged us. It brought us together as a community even more.
How do you approach taking risks and rising to challenges?
Sometimes you just have to take a leap. I like turning to my friends and other alumni for support.
What advice do you have for the future graduating classes?
Work hard and stay motivated. Sometimes you don’t want to do your work but it will affect you in the long run.