Dear DPS Community,
At our third annual College Application Day recently, we welcomed nearly 150 DPS seniors from all across the city to a morning dedicated to helping them take one of the final steps toward the great future they’ve been working so hard to build for themselves.
As the tables at the Denver Police Protective Association Event Center (PPA) quickly filled up, you could feel a mix of apprehension and excitement in the air, along with the sounds of contemporary soul music lightly beating through speakers in the background. As students settled into their seats, red T-shirted DPS volunteers joined each table, helping students apply for fee-waivers to colleges of their choice. For the students who participated, the college application process, which can sometimes be intimidating and confusing, came with an air of support, excitement, and celebration.
When Ericka Porter of the DPS Career and College Success team grabbed the microphone and brightened the ballroom with her encouragement and humor, students seemed to get into the spirit of the event and make the day their own. She shared a video of a high school student experiencing a real-time college acceptance process. Surrounded by her family, the student’s emotions teetered between anticipation and disappointment, tears rolling down her cheeks with each school rejection – four in a row. Then, as she looked at the results from a fifth college, she was accepted and quickly jumped from her chair in sheer exultation, reaching for the nearest family member to hug. At that point, Ericka reminded students that applying to college is an emotional and sometimes difficult journey, but ultimately, “the school she really wanted was the yes school!” The yes that Ericka encouraged students to embrace that day was the willingness to be open, talk to every college representative and apply to schools they could say yes to.
College Application Day is a districtwide event that brings representatives from colleges from all over the state of Colorado to help students complete college applications, give access to application-fee waivers and, in some cases, offer on-the-spot acceptance. In addition, students had to complete an information form known as a “Golden Ticket.” A completed ticket ensured two things: that the on-site application process for students went smoothly, and that they would be entered into a raffle to win two $500 college scholarships.
“I really like this event. I had no idea it would be this fun and easy,” said David “DJ” Alberti, a senior at Emily Griffith High School. “My counselor told me about this day, but I just didn’t realize we’d get so much support here.” DJ’s overall experience got even better when he won a $500 scholarship in the Golden Ticket raffle.
Throughout the day, students delved headlong into searching for the colleges of their choice. They carried along their laptop computers as they went to speak with the college recruiters who lined both sides of the hallway just outside the ballroom. Each time a student successfully submitted a college application, everyone in the room would drum their hands on the tabletops – culminating in a loud, enthusiastic “woo” heard across the ballroom as all involved celebrated the importance of the moment.
For East High School student JaLynn Maldonado, College Application Day felt like an upbeat affirmation of years of hard work, which included participation in the A+Plus Angels mentorship program at East. JaLynn did not come from a background of college attendees or graduates; participating at the event confirmed her decision to become a family trailblazer.
“I’m applying to 10 colleges today, and it’s been so easy to do,” said JaLynn. “My dream is to attend CSU or DU, become the first in my family to graduate college and become a nurse. Being here has only encouraged me to follow my dreams.”
We believe in JaLynn … and in every one of our students. Their dreams are our dreams. And when we believe that all of our kids can do great things, and we support them – and inspire them – to reach for the future they want, we open doors of possibility for all students to achieve their dreams.