Success! Graduating with Three Certificates and an Associate’s Degree

Mariyah Pickett

My life wasn’t exactly organized or planned out, until I started at the Community College of Aurora. With the help of an amazing advisor, the Strengthening Working Families Initiative (SWFI), and scholarships, my life is finally on track. 

At 17, I graduated high school and left for an out-of-state college to follow in my father’s footsteps to become a social worker. I quickly realized that social work was not for me. I stopped college and moved back to Colorado. I saved up and tried to restart at another four-year university. With no support network, no clarity about what I wanted to do, and no relationships at that college, I soon stopped again.

After my two failed attempts at college, I put that life on hold. Years passed and life didn’t get any easier. I became a mom. I was homeless for a bit. Then, one day when I was playing with my son, I felt the urge to go back to college. I knew I wanted more for me and for my son.

Big Help from an Advisor and Scholarships

I started at CCA in the fall of 2018 because I wanted more for my life and it was close to home! But CCA has gone beyond my expectations and made my path to complete college easier with the extra help from SWFI and scholarships.

When I went to SWFI’s orientation at the Lowry campus, I met my first academic advisor at CCA, Carlos Lopez. And to put it simply, Carlos changed my life. From day one, he looked me straight in the eyes and told me, “I am not here for you. I am here for your son. Your future and success here will help your son. I am here to help you understand the bigger picture. The cycle of education will start with you and continue with your son.” I cried after hearing that. It was the first time anyone outside of my immediate family cared for me and valued what happened to my life and my son’s life.

Carlos pushed me out of my comfort zone. He helped me apply for a work-study position at CCA. He guided me through the student-led organization and helped me create a student organization called Peer Generation Collaboration. But most importantly, he helped me through the scholarship application process. 

Explore Scholarships at CCA

I received the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative scholarship and Colorado student grant. Receiving the scholarship and grant helped me pay for childcare and rent and allowed me to focus more time on school. It gave me the opportunity to not only earn one certificate, not two, but THREE certificates at CCA. By the end of fall 2019, I will have earned three certificates: in phlebotomy, nurse’s aide, and patient care technician. I will graduate in May 2020 with those three certificates and an associate’s degree in general studies. I plan to transfer to the University of Colorado Denver in the summer to complete a bachelor’s degree in public affairs.

My path has not been easy but CCA provided opportunities right in my backyard. I did not have to go far in order to achieve what I set out to achieve for me and my son. 

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