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Meet the Winners of Fitzsimon’s Sandra B. Neves Scholarship

Fitzsimons Credit Union is pleased to announce the 2019 recipients of The Sandra B. Neves Scholarship – named in honor of former CEO Sandy Neves and ranging from $500 – $1000. Ms. Neves has always been passionate about higher education, asserting that “the backbone of any accomplishment is education, no matter how one defines success”. In fact, she did not measure her own success by becoming a CEO, but by the opportunities she was given by supporters, mentors and educators, and by having the good fortune to get an education and work in a career she loved. She is happy to support those with the desire to work hard and learn.

This year’s scholarship recipients were chosen based on academic achievement, career aspirations, community service, extracurricular participation, and financial need. They are, in no particular order:

Breanna Kendle is a go-getter who completed her Associate Degree in just one year while still attending high school. She is now entering her junior year at University of Phoenix. In addition to achieving academic excellence, Breanna has established herself as a compassionate leader in her community through volunteerism at her church and for an international camping club where she organizes children’s activities and events, edits the club newsletter (which placed second in the 2018 State Newsletter Contest held at Campvention), and helps with fundraising. Breanna was awarded $500 to use toward tuition, fees and books for the 2019-2020 school year.

Jael Mallory is one step closer to achieving her lifelong aspiration to become a nurse. She was awarded $500 to offset some of her expenses as a freshman in the pre-nursing program at Regis University. A graduate of George Washington High School in Aurora, Jael was known among faculty for her superior work ethic, her strong sense of self, and her outstanding achievements in academics and leadership. These attributes will serve her well as she ascends the higher education ladder.

Mikayla Moulton-Burridge, a first-generation college student, is studying psychology in preparation for a career in criminal justice. In addition to the many honors she has earned, including the Black African American Cultural Center Scholar Award, she recently made the Dean’s list for the College of Natural Sciences. Administrators at CSU are impressed by Mikayla’s achievements not only because they demonstrate her determination and self-discipline but because, as the child of a single mom and incarcerated father, the cards were stacked against her from the start and she chose to re-stack those cards in her favor. Fitzsimons is proud to award Mikayla $500 to help with school expenses as she enters her junior year at Colorado State University.

Sarah Weskamp is a non-traditional college student. Her early dreams of attending college were put on hold when she entered the workforce full time to help her family during a time of financial struggle and uncertainty. Now, at the age of 31, she is well on her way to earning a degree in Psychology from the University of Colorado – Denver while still working full time. To help offset some of her school-related expenses, Sarah has been awarded $1000.

Sydney Herrera is starting her second semester at Metropolitan State University in Denver where she’s studying journalism. Known for her natural leadership and critical thinking skills as well as her compassion for others, Sydney was highly revered among the counseling and teaching staff at Vista PEAK Prep school in Aurora where she attended high school. She aspires to use her voice, through her writing, to fight social injustice and oppression. To get there, she is focused on expanding her mind and her skill set because, as she says, “knowledge is the ultimate superpower”. Sydney has been awarded $500 toward cultivating her superpower.

Russell Dyk attends Dordt University in Iowa as a mechanical engineering major and a peer tutor. With a commitment to environmental stewardship, his goal is to work in the power industry to identify and promote clean sources of energy – not just on his home turf but for people in countries with poor energy infrastructure. Engineering Professor Dr. Justin Vander Werff praises Dyk’s ability to quickly grasp difficult concepts, his patience when working with others, and his “thoughtful and mature perspective on the role of engineering in today’s society”. Russell has been awarded $500 to use toward tuition and fees as he enters his junior year at Dordt.

Ramadje Benoudjita is attending the final two classes necessary to receive his Associate degree at Community College of Aurora so he can transfer to Regis University where he will pursue a B.S. in Accounting. His was not an easy journey. Tanya Cooks (of the Sociology Faculty at CCA) explains “Ramadje has persisted in pursuit of his education through tragic events. Despite a civil war that left him marginalized in his country of origin, teacher strikes, and governmental oppression, Ramadje graduated high school (at age 22 in 1996) and pursued higher education after relocating to the United States. Like many of our students, Ramadje is a survivor who has continued to work toward a better life for himself and his family. But what makes Ramadje stand out is his tenacity, persistence, and deep appreciation for education and the opportunities it brings”. Ramadje was awarded $1000 to continue his studies.

Rebecca Durfee has been awarded $500 to use in pursuit of a B.S. in Nursing from Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. Rebecca’s name appeared on the Honor Roll all eight semesters of her high school career. But academic excellence isn’t even Rebecca’s finest trait. Following a time of being bullied as the “new kid” in school, Rebecca discovered the profound power of compassion. She is grateful for the challenges she faced growing up as the “different” kid – she knows the pain unkind words and actions can cause and how much small kindnesses matter. She makes it a point to offer encouragement, kindness, and support to others who face the burden of being “different”.

Ms. Neves acknowledges that it’s not easy to whittle down the large number of scholarship applicants to a select few winners. Fitzsimons Credit Union President/CEO Robert Fryberger agrees stating “All of this year’s applicants should be proud of their achievements – in school and in life. These students truly represent those in our membership and community who continually strive for self-improvement and higher purpose. Selection this year was challenging as always, but I feel those selected clearly exemplify what the Sandra B. Neves scholarship stands for”.