By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – A new school year brings on another class of seniors preparing for the next chapter after graduation, and Denver Public Schools has teamed up with a local nonprofit to give their students the attention they need.

“I want to be in college studying business management,” said Andri’Nae Rhymes, a senior at George Washington High School. “It will mean a lot to me.”

Rhymes has two jobs outside of school but still is focused on her future. She’s using all the resources available to find the right college for her.

“Throughout the school year, Monday through Friday, students can come in and get full assistance with this process,” said Jasmine Rainey, lead college adviser at George Washington High School.

Jasmine Rainey meets with Andri’Nae Rhymes (credit: CBS)

Rainey is an employee of the Denver Scholarship Foundation placed at the school all year. She helps students figure out what path to take after graduation. But she tries to connect with them as early as possible to make sure they are on track from start of high school.

(credit: CBS)

“I know it can be scary, I know it’s difficult, I’m going to help you with this journey,” she explained. “My role also encompasses being a mentor, sometimes you’re a mom or an older sisters to these students.”

Rainey graduated from George Washington and then went on to study at Colorado State University. She became a scholar through the foundation and knows firsthand the difference they can make on student success. She went back to the foundation to find the job she has now held for eight years.

(credit: CBS)

“I didn’t apply to nearly as many colleges as I now realize I could have because I didn’t have that person there to really guide and show me the way,” said Rainey.

She leads the Future Center at the high school, helping students determine not only which colleges to apply to but also what kind of degree programs are the best fit of their immediate goals. DSF has placed a Future Center in many schools within the district.

“I’m just very independent and my dad, he inspires me, because he wants to own his own business and he’s a chef,” said Rhymes. She is excited to follow in her father’s footsteps but get to college even sooner. “I think he’ll be very proud of me, because he’s already proud of me working two jobs and going to school.”

(credit: CBS)

Rainey also knows the challenges of balancing school work with a hectic home life. She is the first in her family to graduate from college. Now she’s grateful to pay it forward to future DSF scholars.

Students in the program for the 2016-17 school year were seeing a high rate of achievement. According to the foundation, 76 percent were in college or graduated that year.

“I am a person that hopefully can encourage them to realize the potential in themselves.”

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Shawn Chitnis reports weeknights for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Email him story ideas at smchitnis@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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