Two CCA students recognized with Rising Star awards have one thing in common: the pursuit of higher education to fulfill career aspirations of helping others. Aurora residents Ryan Manzanares and Susanne Withrow joined their award-winning peers from other Colorado community colleges at an April 14 event, where they received awards from the State Student Advisory Council (SSAC) and the Colorado Community College System.
Each year, the SSAC offers awards to community college students who exhibit a high level of leadership and involvement in student activities. Nominees must be taking at least nine credit hours, involved in campus life, and maintain a college GPA of at least 3.0.
Withrow moved to Colorado from Germany just over two years ago and admits she had some anxiety about enrolling in college. “It took a lot of courage to start a new life far away from everything I used to know,” she says. “CCA helped me during this transition and showed me that I can achieve so much more than I ever thought possible.”
Withrow is Psychology Club president and Student Government Association secretary. She holds an internship position at the CCA STD testing center and a job in the Office of Student Life. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and has been on the President’s List for fall 2009, spring 2010, and fall 2010. She has volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House and for CCA’s Take Back the Night events and Global Citizens Conference.
She plans a career in the field of clinical psychology and says that the skills she has acquired at CCA will help get her there. Following graduation from CCA, Withrow plans to transfer to the University of Colorado Denver for a bachelor’s of science in psychology.
Ryan Manzanares is dedicated to helping people. A volunteer at homeless shelters, she serves food, collects dishes, and brings her general good cheer to others. She makes blankets and passes them out to homeless people. She mentors fellow students at CCA with their homework because she wants to see them succeed.
Vice president of fundraising for the college’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter, Manzanares also is student representative on the Student Government Association. She believes that being successful in school is among her biggest accomplishments, acknowledging that it is a challenge because she also cares for her parents, both of whom are ill. She plans to take all this life experience with her when she transfers to Regis University for a bachelor’s degree in business management, because her ultimate goal is to open a homeless rehabilitation center.
A roller derby aficionado—not as an observer, but as a participant—Manzanares brings her competitive skills to college activities. Angie Tiedeman, director of the Office of Student Life and one of Manzanares’ mentors, notes that Manzanares has been instrumental in helping the college’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter earn Five Star Status, the top level a chapter can earn. “Ryan has written three Hallmark award essays for our chapter, impressive work for a student who is already juggling so much,” she says.
(Photos: Ryan Manzanares, at left; Susanne Withrow.)