Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Folklórico

Success Stories

Julian, Aurora

Julian began in DAVA’s Computer Art Lab at age 12.  He was then selected to be Junior Staff, working as a special assistant in our programs all through high school.  Julian will quickly testify that after-school programs kept him off the streets and out of trouble during peak youth crime hours.

Background

What began as a choice to do something fun after school led to a 10-year relationship with DAVA and staff mentors that literally changed the trajectory of Julian’s life.

Inspiration

Julian was a recipient of the 2007 DAVA Scholarship for Excellence Award. In his award acceptance speech, he spoke of the importance of having access to a place like DAVA, “this involves me, and you, and everyone…I had a choice to wander or a choice to expand and create personally and for others.” Most recently, he represented DAVA at a fundraiser attended by 500 people, speaking about how the arts changed his life, “You just don’t forget your roots; you don’t forget where you came from.”

Outcome

A previous graduate of Aurora’s Central High , he recently graduated with a degree in graphic design from the University of Colorado Denver. Julian continues to volunteer, helping kids in DAVA’s OASIS Open Studio and Job Training programs.

Juan, Denver

One spring day, I was walking with one of our high school seniors back to our space after doing a tour of public art downtown. I had been very concerned about this student graduating and achieving his goals after high school. He had consistently shown ambivalence towards taking the steps needed to ensure he would graduate. Week after week, I would check in and say, “Hey, how are your plans coming along?” He would respond saying they weren’t going well and that he didn’t know if he was going to graduate.

Background

This student had a lot of barriers to graduation. His mother was very ill and unable to work. His father was living in Juarez, Mexico and he rarely had the opportunity to spend time with him. He was an only child born in Denver, but spent most of his childhood growing up in Juarez. It wasn’t until he dropped out of high school and his father sent him to the US to go to school that the student even considered it important. That spring he had practically given up on high school and any dreams for himself. He believed he needed to drop out of school, take care of his mother, and get a job. He did not receive support from his school and was consistently reminded he was failing his classes.

Inspiration

At PlatteForum, he was an incredibly gifted student but I kept worrying his talent would be lost. We consistently gave him chances to succeed by showing his work at exhibits and having him working closely with master artists. He never missed a day at PlatteForum.

Outcome

As we walked across the bridge that spring day, I again said, “Hey, how are your plans coming along?” He responded, “I finally figured it out. I am going to do it. I know I’m the only one that can.” I was shocked. This was not what I was expecting him to say. He went on and explained how he realized through his experiences at PlatteForum that he is in charge and no one else can make his dreams come true. He graduated that spring and is now using his creativity and confidence to create a career in culinary arts.

Hiram, Aurora

Hiram, age 14, joined Job Training because he was trying to avoid getting into trouble with a gang of neighborhood boys.  He quietly blended into a team working on a wood sculpture project.

 

Background

After a few weeks, he asked if he could come to Job Training and volunteer to help out, even on days when his class did not meet.  Humble and friendly, Hiram was soon leading projects for younger students.

Inspiration

He started to open up to his Job Training instructors, seeking guidance and change.  Staff recognized his leadership potential and nominated him for a Rotary Youth Leadership Award.

Outcome

He spent a week at leadership camp fine tuning his skills, which he practices daily as a new DAVA Junior Staff assistant.  He recently reflected, “My favorite thing about DAVA is the fact that I can learn so many new skills.  I learned how to use new tools and make a lot of different art projects, and I learned how to really work with detail.”  Hiram is candid about what DAVA means to him, thankful for a space of his own outside of the pressures of family, school, and peers.  Today, he can often be seen wearing a suit jacket to class so he looks “more professional,” poised to become a great leader for the future.