Alpine Bank CMC scholarship celebrates 25th anniversary
In the past 25 years, the Alpine Bank First-Generation Scholarship has helped more than 250 students attend college who may not otherwise have had a chance.
The scholarship, started in 1996, celebrated its 25th year of providing local students two years of runway in tuition, books and other fees at Colorado Mountain College and other schools, equating to around $2,500 a year. In the spring, the 2021 class of scholarship recipients graduated from high school and began a path toward college. The scholarship has grown and evolved to meet a changing need, transitioning from a Latino-focused aide to a first-generation-focused one.
The annual scholarship has led to 184 CMC graduates or certificate earners, 46 graduates of other programs and four eventual master’s degree recipients, many of whom say none of which would have been possible had it not been for the award.
“Mostly, the scholarship was the motivator for me to pursue college,” Esgar Acosta, one of the original recipients of the scholarship in 1996, said. “When it came in and got awarded, it really took the pressure off to kind of have the first two years paid for.”
Acosta was told by his parents that he was a first-generation graduate of high school. His immigrant parents had made it to second and fourth grade. His father wanted Acosta to go to work immediately after high school, but the then-titled Alpine Bank Latino/Hispanic Scholarship, among others, helped his mother’s case of sending him to college.
Acosta began his collegiate career at CMC before completing his law enforcement bachelor’s degree at the University of Northern Colorado. He found his way back to Alpine Bank, where he said completing his degree helped him earn a job despite having no finance experience.
He is now an assistant vice president at the Eagle branch and serves on the interview committee for the scholarship.
It’s a similar story for Yesenia Arreola, who earned the scholarship before she graduated from Roaring Fork High School in 2005.
Arreola eventually earned a master’s degree from Regis University and has worked for CMC since 2007, starting in youth outreach and now as an executive director.
“If it wasn’t for this scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to start my education at CMC,” Arreola said.
Both Arreola and Acosta had obstructed paths to college despite high school excellence.
Alpine Bank Chairman Bob Young saw the need to assist high school Latino students make the next step and launched the scholarship to aid that cause.
“One thing that struck me was, the people getting the scholarships were not the Latino scholars, they were everyone else,” Young said in a presentation on Friday at the luncheon celebrating the 25th anniversary of the scholarship. “I thought, ‘These kids need to have a break.’”
However, in February, the sponsors of the scholarship decided to expand that service to better meet the needs of the community, changing its name to the First-Generation Scholarship. The scholarship now is granted to 20 students statewide and includes colleges outside the CMC network, including Colorado Mesa University.
“The goal is the same — To create leaders in our own communities,” Acosta said.
The next class of scholarship recipients will be announced in the spring.
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