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Interview with a 3-time scholarship recipient: Damaris Vicarte

Damaris Vicarte is a three-time recipient of the Steve Johnsen scholarship and a graduate of La Academia, DICP’s former high school.

Damaris Vicarte

Her goal is to be the first person in her family to finish college with a bachelor’s degree. She is close to completing a degree in Marketing at the Business School of the University of Colorado Denver. She works part-time to support herself and her daughter while finishing school. Her family constantly encourages her to keep working hard despite the obstacles and challenges.

When did you know that getting a college degree was the right choice for you?

I knew getting a college degree was the right choice for me when I would see how hard my

parents worked to provide my siblings and me with a stable life. As I grew, I knew I

needed to get a college degree because my parents came to this country to provide my siblings and me a better life. I knew I needed to get a college degree when I knew I had the opportunities to do so, knowing that would affect not only my future but my family’s, including my daughter. I also knew I needed to get a college degree when I heard of this “American Dream.” To me being able to attend college and getting this far has been a privilege, especially as a first-generation student.

What are the things you most enjoy about being a college student?

I truly enjoy how much you can learn. College taught me not only the concepts of my courses but what life truly consists of. I have enjoyed how much college has opened up my mind. I am now able to view a situation from different perspectives, and I love how I can do that. Moreover, I also enjoy the college experience of meeting new people and attending events. As a college student, I have also enjoyed being able to see my progress. Being a college student has been a nice and memorable experience that I will always remember.

Over the last 3-4 years, what have been the biggest challenges while attending college?

My biggest challenge attending college was not being able to rely on anybody based on past experiences and my area of study. Hardly anybody was able to guide me, except myself and a professional here and there. A further challenge was being able to pay tuition since it can get expensive. Moreover, as a first-generation student you don’t know what to expect and you doubt yourself and staying positive was a big challenge for me. Another big challenge was adjusting to different professors and their different ways of teaching.

In what ways have you overcome those challenges?

I have overcome those challenges by proving to myself I was able to get through the hardships. I just kept working hard and reminding myself “this will all be worth it.” Another way I have overcome this challenge has been by seeking different resources and advisors for additional advice. Really going through the syllabus would give me an idea of what the professor expected.

When will you graduate?

I am graduating in December of 2022.

What is the plan for after graduation?

After graduation I would like to begin my professional career right away. I want to gain experience and show companies my talent and knowledge. I also plan later in the future to be able to open up my own business.

Anything else you think it’s important for readers to know about you and your journey as a

first-time college student?

I think it’s important that students understand that college can be hard, but they have to be consistent and they need to work even harder. It’s not impossible – it just takes time and dedication. Just know the hard work will pay off!