Every year, KIPP Colorado celebrates Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month by honoring Latinx/Hispanic experiences. As we close out this celebration, we would like to spotlight some stories from members of our Team & Family. Keep reading to hear from five voices in our community– a member of our Board of Directors, a KIPPster, an Executive Team Member, and two KIPP caregivers!
Julissa Soto, CEO, Independent Consultant on Latino Health Care, and member of the KIPP Colorado Board of Directors, is on a mission. Julissa, who immigrated from Michoacan, Mexico, became a United States citizen 8 years ago. She calls herself the “new face of the immigrant community,” and for good reason. Julissa is determined to provide healthcare access to the Latinx and underrepresented communities of Denver. She fights every day to bring culturally affirming healthcare directly to our communities. “I won’t stop until the last Latino in Colorado is vaccinated,” Julissa said. Since the pandemic started, Julissa spearheaded vaccination efforts to vaccinate over 20,000 Latinx immigrants, many of whom are undocumented. For her unwavering efforts, Governor Jared Polis declared Sept. 21 as “Julissa Soto Day.”
A KIPP Sunshine Peak Academy alum, Bryan is now a Senior at KIPP Denver Collegiate High School. He has played goalie on the Varsity soccer team since he started his freshman year. Bryan dedicates most of his free time to play the sport– whether it’s for KDC or for the UCL Flatiron Rush club. Soccer has played a pivotal role in his life, so much so that the sport is shaping his decision in choosing a college. With six colleges and universities on his wish list, Bryan hopes to continue pursuing his passion for the sport at the collegiate level!
Justin, Chief of Staff & Operations for KIPP Colorado, is a first-generation college student and proud son of a migrant farm worker, and later small business owner from Matamoros, Mexico. Justin grew up wanting to follow in the footsteps of his father, but his father insisted that he was going to go to college. It was both of their dreams for Justin to pursue higher education, but when it came time to apply, neither Justin nor his parents knew how to navigate the complex college systems. Justin leaned heavily on his friends to apply and persist in college.
After attending Texas A&M University, Justin knew that he wanted to work for an organization that emphasizes equity so students from underserved communities have access to the education they deserve and the guidance they need. He works tirelessly so that young people can see someone in a leadership role that looks like him, and to show that every scholar can have exceptional opportunities and a choice-filled life.
Carlos, caregiver of three KIPPsters from KIPP Northeast Denver Middle School and KIPP Northeast Denver Leadership Academy, first came to the United States from Venezuela in 2001. He spent a few years in California before deciding that Colorado is a safer place to raise children and has a better education system for his children. Carlos is really appreciative of the high educational rigor that KIPP Colorado provides for his family. Carlos is an electrical engineer and is proud of the contributions he and his five children have made to this country.
Graciela, KIPP Sunshine Peak Elementary and KIPP Denver Collegiate High School caregiver, came to the United States from a small, magical town near Jalisco, Mexico. At 17, Graciela got married and immigrated to the United States where she and her husband had three exceptional children. Graciela is proud to be a hard worker and a fighter for what she believes in. When she has a goal, she does absolutely everything in her power to achieve it. She is creative, spontaneous, optimistic, and a dreamer.
If you are looking for ways to support small businesses during Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month and beyond, look no further than our own communities! Click here for a list of family-owned businesses.