If Aisha Douaidary’s grandfather could see her now. Not only would he be proud. He would be satisfied.
“He’d be very proud of me, and satisfied that the sacrifices he made to allow the Auraria campus to come to fruition was worth it,” says Aisha Douaidary.
That’s because Douaidary, a Community College of Denver (CCD) sophomore, is not only pursuing her Associate of Applied Science degree, she is also the recipient of a Displaced Aurarian Scholarship.
The Displaced Aurarian Scholarship program is designed to provide funds for tuition and fees for students who were residents of the Auraria neighborhood at the time the campus was first built, between 1955 and 1973.
The program also extends to the children and grandchildren of these residents. Douaidary is the granddaughter of the late Clyde Valdez, Jr., a hard-working resident of a home that used to be where the campus library now stands. Her mother grew up there.
“He worked hard to support his family and sacrificed a lot, but he would be glad to see me taking advantage of this opportunity and not letting it go to waste,” Douaidary says. “He was determined to make sure his family would thrive despite being displaced in the name of progress.”
Douaidary’s scholarship pursuits have also fueled her determination to go the distance in school and push even further.
“My parents never went to college and it’s an opportunity I’m taking advantage of with them in mind.”
Douaidary apparently inherited this type of determination from her grandfather, and it is a trait that she credits with securing this scholarship and several others, including the Colorado Merit, Family Stone, and COSI scholarships.
“This means that people believe in me and that what I’m doing here is being recognized,” Douaidary says. “That makes me work even harder because it’s easy to assume that if you’re receiving scholarships, you must be a straight-A student or a bookwork, but that wasn’t the case with me. I was scared to even try.”
“You just have to want it. If you have the passion and the willpower to be in school and make your dreams a reality, you get noticed. It’s how you realize your dreams.”
Douaidary is currently taking prerequisite classes required for her entry into CCD’s Integrated Nursing Pathways Program.
She will transfer from CCD next summer to the University of Colorado at Denver (UCD) to begin her studies toward a BA in Nursing.
“My long-range goal is to transfer to UCD and work with anyone who has struggled with epilepsy,” she says. “My sister, Noelle, passed away from the disease a few years ago, so I know that struggle first hand. It would mean a lot to me to be able to help others who suffer from it. I know it would make her proud and she’d be glad I didn’t give up on pursuing this goal.”
She is happily looking ahead to the future her grandfather and parents dreamed of for Douaidary and her sisters.
“I have worried about paying for school since before I enrolled,” Douaidary says. “These scholarships help me concentrate on my school work and reaching my goals without stressing about money, so the journey has been worth it, and it’s only just beginning. Grandpa is smiling down on all of this. And so is Noelle.”