CCA Alumna Earns McNair Scholarship

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Before you ever step into a classroom at the Community College of Aurora (CCA), there’s a good chance you will first walk through the doors of the CentreTech Administration building. Perhaps you have a question about financial aid, or maybe you’re wondering how to find an advisor. 

Whatever the reason, you will be greeted by a team of welcoming and friendly folks at the front desk to direct you in the right direction. One of those people, Nereida Arroyo-Ramirez is always ready to help, with her upbeat demeanor and friendly “hello’s.” 

Arroyo-Ramirez is the CentreTech Campus Visit Coordinator. As the person in charge of greeting and showing prospective students around campus, she knows CCA inside and out. She hopes to create the same welcoming environment for new students that she felt when she attended CCA as a concurrent enrollment student a few years ago.  

She graduated with her Associate Degree in General Studies in 2020. She says CCA’s open and approachable reputation prompted her to take a job on campus after she graduated. 

“People don’t make you feel like you’re an outsider here. You’re at a place with students of different ages and backgrounds. I always felt a sense of connectedness. That’s what brought me back,” she says. 

She’s not done with school just yet. Arroyo-Ramirez has her sights set on big goals for her education in the coming years. Currently, she is studying Sociology with a minor in Psychology at CU Denver. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she plans on earning her master’s and eventually her doctorate. 

She will get some help on her way to her goal, with the McNair Scholarship. Arroyo-Ramirez was awarded the scholarship this spring. The award is offered through the federal TRIO program, and aims to help people from underrepresented groups attain their doctorate degrees.

She says the guidance and support awardees receive along the way are key to earning advanced degrees. 

“It’s a support system. By the fall semester of 2025 one of my expectations is to apply to at least 10 masters programs.



So it’s intense, but it’s meant to support us to finishing our bachelor’s, getting a master’s and eventually getting a Ph.D. within 10 years,” she says. 

Soon, she will join her peers for a trip to Texas where she will take part in a master’s boot camp, where organizers will begin preparing students for the research they will be doing in their master’s programs. For many, she says this is their first opportunity to begin thinking through the process of grad school. 

“It helps people understand what a master’s program looks like, what you can do with a master’s program, what you can do research on, and how you can do your research,” she says. “It’s about making connections with people who can get you the tools that you need.”

She plans on pursuing a life of academia when she eventually earns her doctorate, hoping to become a professor. During her studies, she found a passion for quantitative sociology, a field dedicated to using data to study social phenomena. She carved out her space early on in her college career, embracing a life of learning. She says she wants to continue that by teaching others. 

“My longtime goal is to be a professor. I enjoy working with students, and I feel like I have the patience to be a professor. I have always seen myself in that space. When I go to class, I think, ‘that can be me.’”

Thanks to this program, Arroyo-Ramirez will be one step ahead to achieving her dreams. She says she is thankful for the opportunities that TRIO offered her over the course of her education, and credits the program for boosting the chances of success for underrepresented students. 

“I think TRIO is a great opportunity for first-generation and minority students, because it’s a program that’s more centralized on you. TRIO helps you with the FAFSA, the applications and everything. It’s hyper focused on the student.”Learn more about CCA’s TRIO program by clicking HERE, and enroll today by clicking HERE.

Photos by: CCA Dept. of Strategic Communications