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Portrait of a Graduate
At Mapleton Public Schools, we provide students with the education, resources and opportunities to achieve their dreams. We support a college and career-going culture where students graduate ready and excited for their next adventure. To spotlight the adventures and achievements of Mapleton graduates, we are excited to introduce Portrait of a Graduate.
If you are a Mapleton graduate and would like to share your story as a part of a Portrait of a Graduate, we invite you to contact us! Send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!
Jasmine AguilarPosted by Stephanie Fernandez on 11/5/2019 2:30:00 PM
If the name Jasmine Aguilar sounds familiar, it’s because she was MESA’s outstanding valedictorian in 2012 and part of the first class to have the opportunity to spend both middle school and high school years at MESA.
We had the opportunity to catch up with Jasmine to learn about her life in Los Angeles and how she found success in the video game industry.
Working in the video game industry sounds like a dream come true! What kind of work are you doing?
It's a lot of hard work, but it's super fun and rewarding! I produce video games at a studio called Ready at Dawn. This essentially means that I focus on planning, tracking things like game assets, and making sure that the game actually gets finished. My days always look different, but at the core of it, I'm in a lot of meetings. The goal is to make sure that the programmers, artists, game designers, etc., that I work with, are all talking to each other, have all of the information that they need, and aren't blocked by anything out of their control.
I also help run a game conference and a game festival outside of my day job. The first is the Queerness and Games Conference held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, that highlights LGBTQIA+ issues and video games. The second is the Latinx Games Festival held in Long Beach, California, that helps connect Latinx game developers with other Latinx developers from all around the world.
How did you get into the video game industry? Was it always your goal? If not, how did you find this kind of job?
I really started when I went to college at the University of Southern California. I entered college as an undecided major, which introduced me to an elective class on the business of video games that sounded super interesting and cool. I've always loved video games, but honestly had no idea that making video games was even a job before that! After taking the elective course, I fell in love and immediately applied for the Cinematic Arts School with USC to major in Interactive Media and Game Design.
After finishing my second year at USC, tuition costs increased and I wasn't able to cover the tuition costs even with student loans. Because of this, I unfortunately had to drop from the University. I got really lucky and was able to land a job as an office assistant at a start-up mobile game studio. After a year of office assisting, I moved up and into development as a game designer making content and mini-games for a Tamagotchi-like game.
I found my true calling in being able to plan, organize, and communicate, so I moved into production to make it my main focus. I started out in making/producing mobile games but have recently been working on virtual reality and augmented reality for the past three or so years.
I imagine technology changes quickly in the video game industry. How do you keep up?
Surprisingly, Twitter has been extremely helpful for keeping up to date with latest game industry news, news on emergent technology, and my peers in the industry. A lot of people who work in the gaming industry utilize Twitter as a career networking tool. It's where I've been able to meet a good amount of my developer friends, and also where I've gotten full scholarships to game development conferences to further my career. Some of my friends have even gotten jobs through Twitter.
Is there anything specific about your time in Mapleton that prepared you for your college/career goals?
MESA, in particular, really helped me with being a part of creative projects, leading and working with a team, and working with a very wide variety of personalities. Most of my college experience and my current career in video game development involves a lot of group projects and working with people daily, which I fortunately had experience with from my time at Mapleton. This helped me as, for example, my current team consists of about 70 people and my job is to talk to all of them, even if our personalities don't mesh super well.
What advice do you have for Mapleton students currently exploring their college and career options?
My biggest pieces of advice are to keep your options open and do your research, and be professional and kind. You never know what career options are available just because they aren't 'typical' careers. I never would've known about my now-career if I didn't explore when I felt really unsure. You also never know when meeting someone could get you a really important job or connection later in life. It's always better to err on the side of caution unless you are incredibly sure you don't want to be connected with them. All of my jobs have been because I knew a friend or someone who worked at a studio and they were happy to vouch for me and my skills.
Laura MalacarnePosted by Stephanie Fernandez on 8/14/2019 12:30:00 PM
Laura Malacarne graduated from Academy High School in 2013 and is now pursuing her passion as a Hair Stylist/ Educator at one of Denver's most popular salons, The Parlour Highlands.
Tell us about your history in Mapleton. What schools did you attend? What year did you graduate?
I am Laura Malacarne, a stylist/educator at The Parlour Highlands. I attended Mapleton from 2006 to 2013. I transferred to Valley View in 7th grade, then continued to Academy for high school. At the time, I was still in the old building. I watched the new Skyview Campus being built from my history classroom and moved to the new Academy High School building my senior year. Throughout my entire time at Mapleton, I was a tri-sport athlete and played volleyball, basketball, and track from 7th through 12th grade.
You work at easily one of Denver’s most popular salons, and how you got there is a great story about chasing your dreams. Tell us about it!
During my time at Mapleton, I always had people asking me to do their hair. I braided and styled teammates’ hair regularly for games and track meets. My friends and family were great supporters of my hobby and let me play with and color their hair. I highlighted my best friends’ hair the night before our senior graduation. I changed my hair multiple times and even started trimming it myself in high school.
Having many great coaches throughout my time in Mapleton taught me to be strong, fight through hard times, push my body and mind to the limits, and most of all, be a team player. After graduation, I went to Otero Junior College for basketball. I was planning to get my Associate of Science. I ended up being redshirted. I had never experienced time off, and that’s what being redshirted was to me, so I jumped into my next chapter. I was fortunate enough to play volleyball at Otero, instead. I loved every minute of being active and busy. I had a reason to keep my grades up. Yet, even in college people kept asking if I could do their hair! I like to think they saw the passion in me.
Junior college requires four semesters to get your Associate degree. After the third semester, volleyball was over and I had nothing else to keep me busy. I was bored and I knew I only did well in school because of volleyball.
I left Otero after the third semester and attended Regency Beauty Institute. I was in the full-time Cosmetology program for almost a year. I made some great friends that pushed me in the direction of the salon I am at now. I was comfortable, happy, and everything came so naturally to me. I enjoyed learning. From the day I enrolled in Cosmetology school I never regretted a thing about my career goals.
After graduating from Regency, I began an internship program at The Parlour in hopes of becoming a stylist. The advanced education the Parlour offers includes sitting in on classes one day a week and eventually taking clients and assisting educators the remainder of the week. It took me over a year to complete the courses needed to become a stylist, and in April of 2017 I finished the internship and became a full-time stylist at The Parlour Highlands! As of December 2018, I am now an educator working behind the chair with an assistant. Becoming an educator was a huge accomplishment for me!
What do you think your next adventure is?
Next, I hope to be teaching my own class within The Parlour’s advanced education program. I hope to learn and grow continuously within my salon and one day become a mentor for someone, just as I have many people I look up to within my salon’s family.
What words of wisdom would you share with high school students, especially seniors, getting ready to make big decisions about their next adventure?
For future graduates, some words of wisdom from me would be to consider things you are good at, consider things that make you happy, that doesn’t feel draining for you to do on a daily basis. If you could wake up every day and want to do something and not feel the need to have to do it, what might that be? You could probably get paid for it. And, if you get creative, maybe even get paid a whole lot!
There is a job for just about everything and everyone out there. I have met many successful people in the time I have spent behind the chair. I am always surprised at the kind of careers people have. Think outside the box. Does hiking through national forests sound fun? You can do that if you decide to draw maps. What about riding horseback miles into the backcountry? A client of mine has been doing that for the last couple weeks to shoot a short film. Do something that makes you happy. I promise it pays off.
Officer Jesenia AguirrePosted by Stephanie Fernandez on 3/20/2019 2:10:00 PM
Officer Jesenia Aguirre, the Skyview Campus School Resource Officer, has deep roots in Mapleton. She states that her favorite part of her job is "being a positive influence" on Mapleton's students.
Tell me about yourself.
A. I’ve lived in Colorado my whole life. I grew up in Adams County. I am the daughter of parents from Chihuahua, Mexico. My parents and my culture have definitely been a positive impact on my life and have made me who I am today.
Q. When did you attend Mapleton?
A. I’ve been in Mapleton since fourth grade. I was part of the last graduating class of Skyview High School back in 2007.
Q. How would you say your time at Mapleton prepared you for your career?
A. I always excelled academically, but my parents, being from Mexico, never really talked to me about college. My Mapleton post-secondary counselor guided me through FAFSA and helped me look into college options. Having the support to help me figure out what post-secondary options I had motivated me, but also showed me what I was capable of doing. I pursued my higher education at Regis University, where I received my bachelor’s degree in two and a half years. Thanks to Mapleton I was able to graduate high school with at least one year of college credit. This helped me graduate from Regis sooner, which was important because I didn’t have the financial means to pay for school. I tried to get it done as fast as I could. I graduated from Regis in 2010 with my bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a double minor in Psychology and Criminology.
Q. Who would you say has been one of your biggest influences?
A. There are deep roots in Mapleton. The support I received at Mapleton as a student has continued throughout my adult life. One person I am thankful for in particular is my mentor, Ms. Deb Engle. As my history and social studies teacher, she helped me succeed in school. When I started college, she served as a mentor with day-to-day support and advice. When I was pursuing my master’s degree, Ms. Engle not only went to my thesis presentation, she also helped me with research information to complete my thesis. For Ms. Engle, and for all other Mapleton staff who guided me, I am grateful.
Q. How did you become interested in the career you are currently in right now?
A. In 2011, I went back to Regis for my master’s degree in criminology. It was during that program that my professors would always ask me, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer was always “I don’t know.” I knew I loved helping people. One professor convinced me to do a ride-along with the Denver Police Department. I loved it. Following my completion of my master’s degree from Regis in 2013, I applied for, and was accepted into, the Training Academy at Arapahoe Community College. I went to that part-time, simultaneously working as a caseworker for Jefferson County. I finished the training in May of 2014, having completed my Colorado Peace Officer Standards, and got hired on with the Thornton Police Department shortly after. I’ve been with Thornton Police ever since. I started as a patrol officer and worked that for about two-and-half years, and then became a School Resource Officer (SRO) for Mapleton’s Skyview Campus in 2017.
Q. What’s next for you?
A. Right now, I am still looking at being an SRO for a couple of years. I would really like to get to experience working in other units within the police department. My ultimate goal is to be a Commander or Deputy Chief with the Thornton Police Department.
Q. What do you love about your job?
A. My favorite part about this job is being a positive influence on students. It has always been very important to be a role model for Hispanics or even for minority females. It is really cool to be able to show other females that anything is possible. I also am grateful that I am able to help bridge that gap between law enforcement and the Hispanic community. I love being able to communicate and understand our parents, and also understand the younger generation.
Q. What is your favorite memory as an SRO?
A. My favorite memory has to be when I walked into Clayton one day during their lunch hour. About 15 kids, all at the same time, ran to me to hug me. It wasn’t a special occasion or anything. They just wanted to hug me. It was so sweet. There is a picture of it, and that is probably one of my favorite pictures. I try to visit Clayton students because they are younger, and I want to have that positive impact on them and really just to say 'hi.'
Another favorite thing of mine that happens frequently is driving through the community and having students yell, “Hi Officer Jes!” It’s a great feeling.
Q. What advice do you have for current Mapleton students on achieving their dreams?
A. Definitely just fight for your dream, regardless of what that is. Some of our dreams may seem to be too far-fetched, whether it is because of family struggles or financial issues. Even when things seem like they are unreachable and like you’re never going to get there, as long as you keep moving forward and keep your eyes on the goal, nothing should get in your way from achieving that.