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First-generation college student gives back to students who were just like her

Eight years ago, Myrna Hernandez was a high school student with questions. Now she's giving a little advice of her own.

DENVER — Ever since he was a little boy, Santana Angel always had a dream.

“I just wanted to grow up and play basketball,” Angel said.

He played on the North High School boys’ basketball team for all 4 years, but now he’s aiming for what’s next.

Angel wants to attend college and study sports medicine or athletic training, so he asked for help from Myrna Hernandez, who was a senior at Abraham Lincoln High School back in 2010. She was a first-generation college student.

“I knew that college existed. I knew that it was something people did after they graduated, but it never seemed like a reality for me,” Hernandez said.

With help from her advisor in the school’s Denver Scholarship Foundation Future Center, Hernandez finished high school and graduated from Metro State University of Denver in 2014.

“I don’t think I would have made it to college. I wouldn’t have known how to apply,” Hernandez said.

Now Hernandez is giving back to the same group that helped her.

She’s now in her second year as a college advisor for Denver Scholarship Foundation’s TRIO Talent Search program. It's a free program for 9th thru 12th grade high school students in Denver Public Schools. TRIO provides academic, career and financial advising to get low income and first-generation students to start thinking beyond high school.

“Being a first-generation student myself, I’m able to identify and pinpoint the different things that students might not know,” Hernandez said.

The program is expected to serve about 1,000 DPS students for the 2017-2018 school year.