By Kelly Werthmann

DENVER (CBS4) – Families, friends and even Gov. Jared Polis, filled the City Park Pavilion on Tuesday evening to mark a crowning achievement – the graduations of a special group of scholars.

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“It feels amazing!” Seraphine Nguyen said. “That four years went by super quick. I feel like I just left high school and here I am leaving college.”

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Nguyen is about to graduate from the University of Denver with a degree in finance and business analytics. She is the first in her family to go to college and gives a lot of credit for her accomplishment to the Denver Scholarship Foundation.

(credit: CBS)

“Not only was I receiving financial benefits from them, but I also took advantage of all the professional development,” she told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.

More than money, DSF helps Denver Public School graduates apply for as well as succeed in earning degrees from colleges in Colorado. A critical way the organization does so is by offering support from advisors and mentors throughout the students’ education.

(credit: CBS)

“One of my mentors helped me to stabilize and feel less stressed,” Nguyen explained. “Not only did we meet in professional settings, she would meet me for coffee, spend time with me to discuss how finals are going, stuff like that.”

Myrna Hernandez is a DSF advisor at North High School.

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“Sometimes my job is to help them with applications, but often times it goes a little past that. Sometimes it’s helping them manage day-to-day relationships with their teachers, working with them to complete their homework.”

Hernandez knows how valuable that relationship can be – she is a DSF alumna. She applied for the scholarship when she was a student at Lincoln High School and received support from the organization all four years she attended MSU-Denver.

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“I don’t think I would’ve been as successful because I would not have known where to go for resources,” she said. “It really, truly has changed my life.”

Now, Nguyen is grateful she can say the same.

“[DSF] brought me so many opportunities professionally and personally to be able to develop myself and who I am today,” she said.

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Denver Scholarship Foundation makes college possible for thousands of Denver students each year. The organization expects to award $5,000,000 in scholarships in the coming academic year.

Kelly Werthmann