BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Students from Denver’s North High School traveled to the University of Colorado Boulder on Wednesday for a chance to experience college life and classes in person and receive a gift of laptops for KidsTek collected by business majors that raised the money for the trip and the computers.
“What prevents them from taking that step is money and how to pay for it,” explained Esmeralda Gutierrez, 17, a senior at North High School, on the challenge many of her classmates face when considering college. “Today strengthened that vision of getting there, where they want to be.”
Sophomores at the Leeds School of Business started a project in August to bring students to campus and provide them with the laptops that could help them in school. They realized the need for computers among low-income students was significant and that it was hurting their ability to be successful in their studies. So they asked for donations to pay for a bus to bring those students to Boulder and buy laptops for them.
“It’s absolutely crucial,” said Leanne Sigman on the need for computers as a student, a business major at CU Boulder concentrating on Finance and Accounting. “To be honest, I could not have done 100 percent of my assignments.”
The six CU sophomores teamed up with KidsTek to make sure the equipment got to those that could benefit the most from the gift. The nonprofit based in Denver focuses on improving the technology literacy of students across Colorado. Schools invite instructors to come in on a weekly basis to teach their students about Microsoft Word, Excel, coding languages, and other computer skills.
“KidsTek has really helped me get out of my comfort zone,” added Gutierrez. “It goes beyond the classroom, making connections, learning how to be professional.”
Staff members for the organization came along for the trip with students from North High School. They received the first delivery of 20 total laptops donated by the CU team. KidsTek gives a laptop to each students that graduates from one of its programs taught at their school.
“We just wanted to bridge the gap and make CU a possible dream for them,” said Sigman. “To relieve the financial burden for that is priceless.”
Sigman and her classmates organized a tour for the students of the Boulder campus and time in one of their business classes. The North High School students visited a communications course and were given an assignment on the spot. A chance to experience a college-level curriculum even before they finish high school. They brainstormed as a group and then had to present their ideas to the entire class.
“It was definitely very challenging to get up in front of like a lot of people you don’t know,” Gutierrez said.
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“We just wanted to prove to them that college classes are feasible,” added Sigman.
The business majors also hosted the high school students for lunch, giving them the chance to talk with professors and counselors. Conversations covered campus life and making the adjustment from high school to college. As a group of students, they were able to teach each other about their unique experiences from their respective communities.
“It’s been such a rewarding day, I’ve learned more from these high schools students than I think I’ve given them,” Sigman said. “When someone does not have the same advantages as you, do whatever you can to help them.”
Gutierrez was one of the oldest in the group and has already become a role model for her peers. She hopes she can be one for her younger brother while already making her parents proud.
“It will mean a lot to them,” she said. “It’s really emotional as well being the first student in my family to graduate high school, let alone go to college.”
One of the lessons the students at CU realized from this project was that opportunities are often presented to you simply based on your address. It motivated them to do more for those that weren’t given the same privileges they experienced before college. But they also saw an example of someone who overcame those circumstances and she hopes others will learn from her story as well.
“It is possible, never give up, keep pushing toward your goals, no matter how hard it may get, perseverance is key,” said Gutierrez. “The change starts with you, you can change your family trajectory.”