Youth Spotlight: Yesenia Briones
Written by: Denise Kipp, Director of Education
Yesenia Briones, a senior at Colorado Mountain College, credits her determination and success to the never-ending support, love, and hope that she has received from her family and the Eagle County community. Yesenia traveled here on foot as a three-year-old from Mexico with her mom, her 5-year-old brother, and her 1-year-old sister. She landed in Texas with family and then continued onward to Eagle County where opportunities were abounding.
Doors began to open for Yesenia as her family settled into life in Eagle County. Regardless of the lack of knowledge of the culture or language; all they really needed was each other and a place to live. Yesenia’s father had settled in the U.S a few years prior to her arrival, so the family was finally reunited. Yesenia has the utmost respect and admiration for her parents and the dedication and determination they had to provide a better life for her and her siblings. She often had to remind her mom of the bravery and strength that she so admires, as her mom conveniently forgets the experience with her timid personality.
Yesenia reflects on the catalyst for getting her to this point in her life – a point where she feels really good about what she is doing, who she spends time with, and where she is going in life. Yesenia’s brother soccer coach, Bratzo Horruitinerr, was largely a part of that catalyst. Bratzo provided her family with life-changing experiences she will forever be grateful for. With little support to help Yesenia or her siblings navigate the next steps after high school, they knew they needed to do something to succeed beyond high school. How do I fill out a college application as a DACA student? How do I pay for college? How do I fill out financial aid forms? What is next for me after high school if I cannot navigate the steps necessary to be successful? Yesenia observed Bratzo help her brother navigate these steps; all of which seemed overwhelming to Yesenia.
Positive choices led to receiving an Early college scholarship and eventually her Associate’s Degree at Colorado Mountain College. This was the boost that gave her so much confidence. It should come as no surprise that Yesenia continued on as a My Future Pathways scholar, with a goal to continue onwards and complete her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. As Yesenia reflects on that time period she says, “I think it is important for teenagers to know that there are supports out there in this community if you build relationships, work hard, and persevere.” That is exactly what Yesenia continues to do. My Future Pathways is graced with her presence as a trusted, positive role model supporting the next generation of young people with inclusive, quality programming. “We are all going through a stage that will help us reach adulthood, and we need to support each other during these tough times,” says Yesenia. Yesenia is hopeful that she can be a “mirror” by modeling behaviors that many young Latino girls do not have access to in our community. Mirroring effects will continue to promote strong leadership in the community and create new potential leaders. Her advice to young people – be open to new experiences. Her favorite part about working at My Future Pathways is spending time with the youth. I learn so much from them. It is not a big age gap and so she can understand what they are going through and can help them problem solve.