_DSC3235My name is Juanita Munoz and I am a 26 year-old single parent of two beautiful girls. I would like to thank you for the opportunity to further my educational endeavors. Because of your support of Pueblo Community College and its student scholar program, my girls and I now have the opportunity for a bright future.

In 2011, I made the decision to go back to school and pursue a career. This was a tough decision for me and my family. Financially, we would have to tighten our belts. Emotionally, I would be missing out on time with my young daughters. My decision took much soul searching. I had to determine what would be best for me and my family and ultimately I felt that I needed to demonstrate the importance of higher education to my daughters and show them that working toward a goal would provide positive outcomes for our family.

Last year I was accepted into the Psychiatric Technician program at Pueblo Community College. At that time, I was also chosen as a recipient of a PCC Foundation Scholarship. This scholarship helped in defraying the costs of purchasing text books and classroom supplies.

I am pleased to announce that I am now in my last semester of the Psych Tech program at Pueblo Community College and – thanks to the amazing support that I received from the PCC faculty and staff – I have recently been hired by the Colorado Mental Health Institute as a student trainee; which will lead to a full-time position once I complete my studies.

Pueblo Community College and the PCC Foundation have played a major role in my success and I thank you for your support of the PCC student scholar program. I am hopeful that my story will prove to demonstrate the need for your continued support of this amazing organization. Your financial investment today truly does make a difference in the lives of so many within our Southern Colorado community.

With the Utmost of Gratitude,

Juanita Munoz, 2013/14 Pueblo Community College Foundation Scholar


PCC Student Ernest Montoya 2013 Donor Appreciation Presentation

College is a time of change for students…For some it’s a change from the structure of High School, others it’s an opportunity to explore a new direction…

As I look back, I can see an enormous change of lifestyle. I remember just a mere 4 years ago, looking forward to an open house to showcase a 30,000 sq. ft. conversion of a horse barn that just 6 months prior had been used to house world class horses and would now be used as a venue to host world class events to some very famous individuals, a project that is a highlight of my career as a builder. I remember having to buy a dress shirt because I did not own one or at least one that was less than 15 years old. This was because I worked 6 to 7 days a week and life outside of construction did not exist…

I have over 2 ½ decades of experience in construction, yet today I am a full time student in my second year of college here. I completed 37 credits this past year, while working part/time as a work/study at the PCC Foundation office. The truth is, my construction life seems so distant though the memories of where I have come from are deep within me…

I am a Colorado native, I grew up on a farm in the County just miles from here, learning about hard work and discipline at an early age in a time period so different then today… Our telephone was a party line…there was a single TV in our house, with 3 channels, and I remember spending most of my time outside playing or doing chores…I grew up when “Going to town” was an event…

Growing up in the county I had the privilege of attending Pueblo County High School where one of our donors here tonight, Mr. Louie Carleo, was both a teacher and a wrestling coach. Though I ran Cross Country and Track, doing quite well by the way, qualifying for the Junior Olympic Cross Country National Finals in 1976, I knew and interacted with Mr. Carleo because like today, he was someone who was willing to help the individual student, the team, the school and the community.

When I graduated, in 1978, higher education really did not seem all that important especially since we had the CF & I and it provided so many with a very comfortable living. But like so many at that age, my heart yearned to leave. So after a few years of driving heavy equipment and working in construction I joined the Army. This immersion into a life with such a diversified group of people was a culture shock. I received training in Communications and a top secret clearance and when I was honorably discharged, I migrated to California to be a part of the creation of the Silicon Valley…

California was such an education in life, lifestyles and of discovery. Lacking any formal education I found myself spending long sessions in the library to learn enough to at least seem trainable. I also learned the importance of networking and since I have never been the shy type I eventually worked my way into an engineering lab as an engineering technician. This was a great opportunity and future yet I knew in my heart I wanted to be in Colorado with my family, friends and the people I knew. When I returned, I found my way back into construction and my niche of familiarity.

For 2 ½ decades I pursued the American Dream. I worked hard, utilizing a strong back and integrity and established myself in the construction industry. I learned success as a contractor is by leading by example. In construction career opportunities can be defined by courage and physical abilities, the higher the risk the better the pay. I was energetic and stamina was my forte. Those of you familiar with the construction industry know that ‘time’ is ‘money’. I discovered early on, that hard work could sometimes eliminate the need for additional labor costs. My most important lesson was that respect must be earned in the construction realm. That’s why when I see people like Keith Swerdfeger or Carla Barela I tip my hat because I know that nothing in construction is handed to you….

Endless days became the norm, I seemed to miss out on the aging process, I felt invincible, and the physical aspects of my chosen career seemed without consequence. Maturity came with physical development. Physical injuries were temporary; doing the impossible was a daily occurrence….but time catches up.

The the housing market went south about the same time I fell in love with the woman of my dreams…

Construction opportunities changed for me, to put on a set of bags again was more work then I remembered. Then in 2010 my fiancée Cynthia Bravard encouraged me to look beyond what I was used to and try to discover a new beginning. Her encouragement led me to the Go Zone here at PCC and enrollment in 2012 -2013. I decided to immerse myself in the college experience and go full time by cutting expenses and establishing a new lifestyle.

We decided to suspend our plans to marry until I graduated. We tightened our belts and jumped feet first…

From the first day of classes I rode my bicycle from Pueblo West to the campus on Orman Avenue. This is a trip I have made for over a year, back and forth every day in all types of weather: heat with temps over 100 degrees, wind, rain smoke and even in temperatures cold enough to freeze the water in my water bottle…my tenacity comes in knowing that this is a commitment we’re both making always keeping our goal in sight and with endless encouragement, we have carried on.

…Ahhh. The first day of school, I would like to share this unique event with you:

When I walked into a classroom after a 35 year absence, the first thing I noticed was it did not have a chalkboard. It had been replaced by a whiteboard and the Power Point with computers everywhere. As I surveyed my fellow classmates, I realized I was the oldest person in my classroom. I sat next to a young man whose pants hung low enough to see his underwear, shy individual that I am, I felt inclined to ask if he was a plumber. He gave me a confused look, so I explained to him my experience as a construction worker and then went on to give him my opinion of his attire, how appearances are so important outside the classroom for good or bad. I believe our conversation had some effect on him because after that day I never saw him adorned the same again and as I see him around campus today I am impressed the way he always makes the effort to say “good morning Mr. Montoya” or to acknowledge our passing.

Since that day I have been one of the most outspoken students in my class, I continue to embrace the values I have always had by striving hard to succeed. As I already mentioned, I have earned 37 credits my first year of college with a GPA of 3.88. I am currently enrolled in 5 classes this semester for 17 more credits. I hope to complete my Associate of General Studies Degree in Computer Information Systems. I am preparing to transfer to CSU-Pueblo to continue my studies in Computer Information Systems with every intention of working in the future as a Computer Systems Analyst.

During my time here at Pueblo Community college, I have learned about the importance of service to the community from people like Diane Porter, Ross Barnhart, Sharon Swerdfeger and so many more who I see as a work/study in the Foundation office. I have witnessed and experienced true ultraism of a magnitude I did not even know existed. I feel grateful tonight to put faces to the names, which have done so much for so many here at PCC. It has truly been my honor to be a part of this event and I would like to leave you with my outlook as I continue my educational journey:

“The dawn of one portion of life ushers in a new phase, one that may not be as fast paced but seems to have a lot more satisfaction and as I say farewell to my youth I realize there is some sadness and regret but it is not what most would think. The sadness comes from the passing of something familiar and the realization that change is here. The regret is from not truly understanding what a special gift I’ve had. Still I find the memories and the joy of what life is like today so much more fulfilling and as I finally say good bye I know that I am right where I am supposed to be. “

Ernest Montoya – PCC Class of 2014