Five years ago, the Chang Chavkin Scholars Program, an initiative of the Telluride Foundation, selected its first round of Chang Chavkin Scholars. This month, one of those scholars walked across the stage at Colorado Mesa University and was handed a college degree. Emily Case graduated from Nucla High School with the dream of becoming a nurse. She would be the first in her family to attend college. “It was something I always wanted,” said Case.
Case spent the first semester of college wanting to go home. Thinking back Case said, “That first semester of college was frightening. I entered a new world where all I had to look forward to was the unknown. Although I wasn’t too far from home, I was still far enough to feel like I was alone. My biggest fear was not knowing how to find my place.”
But wanting to go home and going home were two separate things. Case was committed and was willing to accept support to get what she needed to stay. “All my uncertainty was eased when I was connected with people who cared about me,” Case explains. “Chang Chavkin provided me with mental and emotional support. They connected me with on campus resources that allowed me to voice my feelings, which in turn, helped my mental health. Of course, I called home a lot. I’m a family girl, and I wouldn’t have made it without the support of my family, especially my parents.”
By the time Case was in her second semester, she had come out of her shell. She tried new things, met new people, and created a home away from home, “I participated in Christian Challenge and Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), both of which are campus ministries. It was there that I connected with many people who I now call friends,” Case recalls. She also attended activities and sporting events, which really helped her open-up and interact with new people.
Case graduated Cum Laude with a giant smile and her family by her side. She is looking forward to starting her career as a nurse with an interest in emergency and critical care nursing, but she is open to anything nursing has to offer.
Case will also now mentor a younger Chang Chavkin Scholar who is in the early stages of applying to nursing schools around the country. Case knows how much, “it would have benefited me to have someone to talk to throughout the process. I want to give that back now that I’ve done it.”
According to Valene Baskfield, Director of the Colorado Chang Chavkin Scholars Program, Case was selected as a Chang Chavkin Scholar based on her strong character, high achievement, leadership, and resilience. Case is someone we know will go as far as she is capable, help a lot of people along the way, and be an inspiring mentor to others.
The Chang Chavkin Scholars Program provides college scholarships, college advising, and support to selected high-achieving first-generation students. The scholarship alone is up to $60,000; however, the real aim of the Program is to work with students, once selected at the end of their junior year, to find the best match school that meets their potential. Once scholars enter college, the Program stays connected to each scholar. “We want to be someone they can call for any reason,” says Baskfield. “We can’t predict what every scholar will need, but we can build a relationship so the phone will ring if they need us. Ultimately, it’s what our Program is here for.”
The Telluride Foundation is committed to enriching the quality of life of the residents, workforce, and visitors of the Telluride region. It is a nonprofit, apolitical community foundation that makes grants and runs programs in arts, education, health and human services, community development, and social enterprises. The Foundation strives to achieve excellence for the community through its mission and core values of inclusion, self-reliance, and innovation. The Foundation’s work is funded through the generous support of hundreds of donors as well as grants from state and national foundations. Pease visit www.telluridefoundation.org.