Summit High grad receives Alpine Bank scholarship |

Summit High grad receives Alpine Bank scholarship

María Teresa Puerta-Giraldo received the 2013 Alpine Bank Latino/Hispanic Scholarship for Summit High School. This year the scholarship covers two years of tuition, fees and books for 17 students to attend any Colorado Mountain College campus. Photo Stefanie Kilts

When Alpine Bank officials solicited applicants for its annual Latino/Hispanic College Scholarship, they were inspired by the recommendation Summit High School teachers submitted.

Two years ago, Maria Teresa Puerta-Giraldo moved to Summit County with her mother and two brothers from the South American nation of Colombia. She knew little English and her mother struggled to support the family as Puerta-Giraldo’s father died when she was 2 years old.

Determined to succeed, Puerta-Giraldo excelled in the English language acquisition program, earned an academic recognition award and maintained a 3.4 grade point average during her two years at Summit High School, all while adjusting to a new culture in Colorado.

In addition, she enrolled in college preparatory classes and last summer participated in a pre-collegiate academic boot camp at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Puerta-Giraldo not only earned her high school diploma this year, but also received in May one of 17 college scholarships awarded by Alpine Bank. All 17 scholarships were awarded to West Slope high school graduates who plan to attend Colorado Mountain College in the fall.

The scholarship program, which began in 1996, covers the costs of tuition, fees and books for two years and was designed to promote diversity in the Colorado Mountain College’s student body. Puerta-Giraldo, like many of this year’s scholarship recipients, will be the first in her family to attend college.

“The Alpine Bank Latino/Hispanic Scholarship has been instrumental in opening doors to qualified Latino-Hispanic high school graduates in our communities,” said Yesenia Arreola, youth outreach coordinator at Colorado Mountain College, in a news release. “Without the assistance to make this important first step, many would have not been able to see themselves become graphic designers, business owners, teachers, banking representatives, nurses, entrepreneurs, nutrition specialists, paralegals and more.”

The opportunity to attend college is a sweet prospect, but Puerta-Giraldo said she will remember where she comes from, especially when considering how hard her mother has struggled since moving her family to America.

She plans to study science and then wants to move on to a university to study medicine. One day she’d like to be a medical professional specializing in pediatrics for low-income families.

“I have learned that every difficulty in life has a meaning; a lesson you can learn,” Puerta-Giraldo wrote in her scholarship application. “I am aware that college will test my determination, but my passion and perseverance is what will allow me to succeed.”

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