Inclusive Excellence Champion

DeAnna Olson

DeAnna Olson, FRCC

After a layoff from her mid-level management position in 2003, DeAnna decided the sudden life change was an opportunity to go to college. She became a Certified Nurse Assistant and planned to pursue the Physician Assistant path, but when she started having health problems— due to what later was diagnosed as Celiac disease—she had to switch gears to a less strenuous career. DeAnna completed a paralegal studies program at a community college in Washington and started working in real estate. In 2009, she and her husband returned to her home state of Colorado to be close to her sisters and their families. With the mortgage crisis in full swing, she went back to college again, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in human interaction from Metropolitan State University of Denver. There, she discovered a love for science. In fall 2023, DeAnna enrolled at FRCC in the Medical Assisting certificate program. At Front Range, she’s found a safe and supportive learning environment, excellent instructors and wonderful classmates who have become friends. DeAnna’s dream is to support people living with autoimmune diseases by contributing to research on ways to improve their quality of life. Having recently been diagnosed with Relapsing Polychondritis as well, she wants to raise awareness of this rare disease and get involved in studies of how diet changes can slow the progression of this and other autoimmune diseases. 

Rising Star Awards

Faith Christen

Faith Christian, FRCC

Within months of graduating from Regis Jesuit High School in 2021, Faith earned the Certified Nursing Assistant credential and started working at an assisted living home. Her passion for helping people led her to further her education at FRCC. In the fall of 2022, she started an Associate of Science program and intends to transfer to the University of Colorado Boulder to pursue a bachelor’s degree in molecular, cellular and developmental biology. In the long term, Faith aspires to become a doctor or a professor. At FRCC, she serves as a supplemental instruction leader for a microbiology course where she helps others students master challenging material. She is also president of the FRCC Science Club. In this role, she organizes a monthly speaker series—and she even arranged to have Nobel Prize winner Dr. Thomas Cech come to campus early this year. Faith’s accolades are as impressive as her drive to make a positive impact on her community. She is a trainee for the National Institutes of Health Bridges to the Baccalaureate research training program and an FRCC president’s list honoree. When she’s not at school, Faith enjoys spending time with her grandparents and great grandparents, practicing yoga or going out for a run.

Will McFarland

Will McFarland, FRCC

Will has turned to FRCC several times in his life—to gain new career skills and explore interests. The Fort Collins native went to the University of Northern Colorado after high school as a history major, but going to school while working to support himself was difficult. He left college to work full time, gaining experience in retail, food service and hospital security. When Will joined a company that helped elderly people set up home computers, he went to FRCC to earn a Network Technician certificate. After his mother had a heart attack scare, he became inspired by the emergency medical technicians who cared for her. He enrolled in FRCC’s EMT certificate program and spent the next five years working and volunteering in the hospital and urgent care setting. In 2022, Will returned to FRCC once again—determined to earn a degree this time. He’s pursuing an Associate of Applied Science in video production and editing and an Associate of General Studies. He has a goal of turning his hobby of creating videos into a side business. Will also got a job at Front Range in 2022 in campus security. There, he has found a second home and discovered another passion: making FRCC a safe and inviting place for everyone. Outside of school and work, Will keeps busy as president of the FRCC Games Club (with ~300 members at the Larimer and Boulder County campuses), which has grown into the largest student club in FRCC’s history. Will received FRCC’s Student Excellence Award in 2023.

Vivi Nguyen

Front Range Community College

Vivi aspires to become a software engineer. In the classroom, she has earned a reputation for her proactive approach, excellent communication and willingness to help other students. Vivi has taken a leadership role on software development projects, leading a team of students through four complex Python programming projects. One professor raved about how hard she worked hard “to ensure required coding deliverables were tested and delivered on time, and sometimes even ahead of schedule.” They describe Vivi as “very professional,’ making sure to understand all of the project requirements so that her team’s work was accurate and met course specifications. Vivi wants to give back and has expressed great interest in working as an instructor someday. Her professors describe her as smart, courageous, sincere, unselfish and caring.

Phi Theta Kappa All-Colorado Academic Team

Academic Transfer Students

Isabel Delgado

Before coming to FRCC, Isabel earned an associate degree in welding and metal fabrication technology and worked as a welder for five years. In early 2023, she started a new chapter and enrolled in the Associate of Engineering Science program at Front Range. Isabel’s dedication to her studies earned her an invitation to the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and acceptance into FRCC’s Mines Academy. This partnership between FRCC and Colorado School of Mines supports students as they earn their associate degree and prepare to transfer to Mines to complete their bachelor’s degree. At Mines, Isabel plans to earn a Bachelor of Science in engineering physics. Her goal is to work in renewable energy or sustainable design. Many students on campus might know Isabel… by voice, anyway. She’s the producer and host of Up Front, FRCC’s first podcast, which is entirely run by students. She and her co-host interview FRCC community members, discuss campus happenings and answer frequently asked student questions. When she’s not going to class, studying or podcasting, you’ll find Isabel tutoring other students in math and physics.

Amanda Hathaway Meyer

Amanda Meyer. FRCC

Amanda was born in Denver and moved around throughout her childhood before landing in Fort Collins, where she graduated from Harold Ferguson High School in 2016. After graduation she worked in a few different jobs and settings—including as an embroidery machine operator for a headwear producer headquartered in Loveland. When the company was acquired and Amanda lost her job, the timing felt right to go to college. She enrolled at FRCC in May 2022 and will finish a dual Associate of Arts/Associate of Science this summer. With a strong interest in the brain, Amanda plans to transfer to Colorado State University in the fall to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience. She’s a participant in Wolves to Rams, a program that offers advising, scholarships, workshops and paid research training to FRCC students transferring from to CSU in STEM disciplines. A member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Amanda is proud that she’s found success as an adult learner and has discovered a love for learning. On campus, she is a work-study administrative assistant.

Kimera Russell-Mccarty

Front Range Community College

Kimera came to FRCC to invest in herself and shape her life to build a brighter future. She’s working on an Associate of Arts degree and plans to transfer to a four-year college or university to continue her education with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a minor in business. During her time at FRCC, Kimera has accomplished a lot: She has maintained a 4.0 GPA, created several of her best art pieces and has successfully balanced school and work with her health and well-being. Outside of school, Kimera is a server at a restaurant. One day, she hopes to open her own business.

Michaela Perez

Michaela Perez, FRCC

Michaela’s FRCC journey has focused on facing her fears and never giving up. Before coming to Front Range, she ran her own housecleaning business and worked as a master grower for a cannabis facility. She has also been a caregiver for people with developmental disabilities and worked for nonprofits. Michaela eventually decided to tackle a new challenge: college. Growing up, school didn’t always come easy for her due to a learning disability. When she enrolled at FRCC in 2020, she had seventh-grade math skills and an ambitious aspiration to pursue a career in plant ecology and animal conservation. With the support of instructors, TRIO Student Support Services and Disability Support Services staff—as well as many others—Michaela has almost reached the finish line of her Associate of Science degree. And she has successfully completed every required math and science course thus far. She’ll graduate from FRCC in December 2024 and plans to transfer to Colorado State University to continue her education. Once there, she plans to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in fish, wildlife and conservation biology. A passionate advocate for conservation sciences and ecosystem rehabilitation, she hopes to chase her dream of working with Mexican gray wolves. Outside school, Michaela volunteers at Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation and is a caregiver for a family member.

April Purello

April Purello, FRCC

After attending cosmetology school in her home state of New York, April worked for 10 years as a hair stylist. The physical career took a toll on her body and in 2019, she set out to do something else—seeking a way to help others. April studied to become a certified nutrition coach and certified personal trainer and moved to Colorado. In 2021, she enrolled at Front Range to pursue the accelerated Registered Dietitian/Registered Dietitian Nutritionist program. It allows students to earn an Associate of Science degree in nutrition and dietetics from FRCC and continue on for a joint Bachelor and Master of Science degree from Metropolitan State University of Denver. At FRCC, April flourished, joining Phi Theta Kappa honor society and maintaining a high GPA. She transferred to MSU Denver this spring. Her goal is to complete her master’s degree by 2027 and begin her nutritionist career, specializing in eating disorders and disordered eating. She wants to be a positive, compassionate voice in the nutrition industry and a trusted resource for information and guidance. Today, April is a nutrition technician at ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders and Malnutrition at Denver Health, where she supports the medical team that stabilizes patients so they can reclaim their lives.

Abel Rivera

Front Range Community College

For 26 years, Abel has called Longmont home—and in spring 2023, FRCC became his home away from home. As a first-generation college student and only the second person in his extended family to attend college, Abel wants to use the knowledge he’s gaining to better his community. He is working toward an Associate of Arts degree and has made the FRCC president’s list and dean’s list, earning invitations to join the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the Colorado All-Academic Team for 2024. Abel plans to transfer to the University of Colorado Boulder in the fall. At CU, he will pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration (with an emphasis in finance) at the Leeds School of Business. His goal is to start a financial literacy program in collaboration with local credit unions to help Latinos and other minorities gain a better understanding about how to save for their futures, navigate the college application process and invest in themselves.

Workforce Pathway Students

Stormy-Summer Botkin

Stormy-Summer Botkin, FRCC

Stormy-Summer grew up in culturally rich environments in Texas and California with a melting pot of traditions in her home. Her father is a mix of Hawaiian, Siksika (Blackfoot), Asian and Latin, while her mother has Middle Eastern and French roots. As the first in her family to graduate from high school and go to college, Stormy-Summer set out to make a difference in her career. After completing clinical medical assistant and dental assistant programs at a community college, she put those credentials to work in various dental practices and later earned Expanded Dental Duty Assistant (EDDA) certification. After moving to Fort Collins in 2022, Stormy-Summer enrolled at FRCC. Her goal is to apply for the new A.A.S. in dental hygiene that’s coming soon to the Larimer Campus, and she’s currently taking prerequisite courses to get ready. She dreams that one day, all people will have access to quality, affordable health and dental care—something that wasn’t always the reality for her impoverished, underserved community growing up. As a dental hygienist, Stormy-Summer encourages her patients to adopt practical lifestyle modifications and helps them access educational and other resources to improve their health—efforts she hopes will contribute to healthcare reform. Outside of her educational and career pursuits, she has blended her two greatest passions—music and photography—and runs her own professional concert photography business.

Judith Goldberg

Judith Goldberg, FRCC

Judith has always loved children, raising three of her own many years ago and now her two grandsons, ages 10 and 14. After working in manufacturing quality control and quality assurance for the computer, medical device and pharmaceutical industries, Judith decided to follow her heart into her next career: early childhood education. A Pennsylvania native who has lived in Colorado since 1980, she enrolled at Front Range Community College in summer 2022—the first and only college she’s ever attended. She is working toward the Associate of Applied Science degree in early childhood education and plans to graduate in 2025. Along the way, she has earned Early Childhood Teacher and Early Childhood Director certificates at FRCC as well. Judith is inspired by her youngest brother, who was born with Down syndrome. She believes that all children deserve support to reach their full potential and hopes to work with children with exceptionalities as a preschool teacher. Today, Judith is a substitute teacher at Riffenburgh Elementary School in the Poudre School District.

Min Ning

Min Ning, FRCC

Min came to the United States in 2017, landing in Colorado full of hope and determination to make the most of her future and give her five-year-old daughter the best life possible. For three grueling years, she worked as a house cleaner, senior caretaker and custodian at the University of Colorado Boulder. In 2019, Min met her mentor, Jenny Shao, a retired financial manager who worked at CU’s School of Education. She told Min about Front Range Community College and encouraged her to explore accounting, a field with great opportunities. From Min’s very first phone call to FRCC, she found help, encouragement and support—and she took full advantage of every resource that was suggested to her. She used the writing center and tutoring center at the Westminster Campus and took English-as-a-second-language classes at CU. Supported by federal and state financial aid, the Mile High United Way, as well as scholarships from FRCC and the Colorado Women’s Education Foundation, Min fulfilled her dreams. She earned bookkeeping and business specialization certificates in 2021 and the Associate of Applied Science in accounting in December 2023. Today, she is an accounting technician at CU. She bought a car and a home for herself and her daughter—who is now 12 years old and thinking about college herself. Min hopes to continue to build her accounting career. To her, earning an associate degree from FRCC is one of the most meaningful and important accomplishments in her life so far.

State Student Advisory Council

Hector Vargas, Chair

Front Range Community College

Bio and Picture not available