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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!
Laura MalacarnePosted by Stephanie Fernandez on 8/14/2019 12:30:00 PM
Laura Malacarne, who graduated from Academy High School in 2013, 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.
Briana BurciagaPosted by Stephanie Fernandez on 2/15/2019 12:15:00 PM
Briana Burciaga, who graduated from Mapleton Early College in 2016, states that her time at Mapleton has instilled her “with traits that prepared me for college, like discipline and flexibility."
Q. What post-graduation journey did you take?
A. I was a student with a high GPA and was told by many I had a promising future, but I convinced myself there was no way I was going to attend college. I was afraid of making the jump and used my fear of failing college classes combined with financial issues as an excuse to avoid the guidance in front of me. There were a couple of people at MEC who had an immense impact on my resolve to go to CU Denver.
Q. How would you say your time at MEC prepared you for CU Denver?
A. There were three types of support that I got when I attended MEC: organizational, tangible and emotional support. My advisor at MEC was Ryan Fuss. Through our one-on-one meetings, I had the opportunity to talk about any current or future concerns about my education. He was the one who helped me classify each of my academic worries and helped me work through them. Julie Silipo, MEC’s Post-Secondary Options Coach, helped every single student with the daunting task of completing both our college and FAFSA applications. I appreciated her help tremendously. The third person who made a momentous impression on me was Ellen Piangerelli, who was my mentor throughout my internship at the Thornton Arts and Culture Center. Ellen was an incredible mentor because she made sure to develop a relationship with me that would become the emotional push I needed to reinforce my confidence in myself.
Q. What are you studying at CU? Do you have a career in mind?
A. I am currently in the Film and TV program at CU Denver. Through a variety of writing, directing, and production classes, I have been able to narrow what I would like to do as a career. My interest is in post-production, which includes sound design and special effects. Post-production is my favorite role because of the creative and narrative freedom you are given to develop the story you are telling. Choosing to make a certain color pop or using a particular order of shots can completely change the tone of a film and I enjoy the process of deciding what is emphasized.
Q. What Film and TV experience did you have prior to attending CU Denver?
A. The film club at MEC that I was in is called Paradox. I joined Paradox in my senior year and I wish I had done it earlier. Paradox taught me to not only work with other students to create content but also to develop my artistic discipline in the long process of editing videos. I knew by my senior year that I wanted to work in Film and TV and Paradox gave me the opportunity to see an early vision of what that desire would be like in actuality. It was a beneficial stepping stone in my maturation as a high school student to a graduate.
Q. How did the opportunity to be a part of the Denver Film Festival come about?
A. The opportunity of having my film in the Denver Film Festival came because of my scriptwriting instructor, Craig Volk. He was in contact with some of the people who run the festival and sent them my, and some other students’ films, to watch and decide if they wanted to include it. Volk went out of his way to ask me for a link and vouched for my film. I don’t think I can thank him enough for believing in my work and attaching his name to something I made.
Q. Tell me about your film.
A. My film has always been, first and foremost, a gift to my family. I wanted to create something that was in their language and that they could understand, something I could show them and say, “This is what I want to do with my life.” When I first told my mom, I wanted to make a documentary on her, she told me she felt flattered at my choosing her to be my subject because of the freedom I was given to choose anyone I wanted. She put her full trust in me to create something about her life and that is something I am grateful for to this day. She tells me she is very proud of what I have accomplished and that she didn’t expect so many people to be so affected by our story.
Q. What was it like to be a part of the festival? Anything unexpected?
A. To have this experience as a college sophomore made me feel beyond fortunate. Being in the festival was a very surreal experience. It was also terrifying. I’m a very shy and timid person, so the idea that people with a genuine interest in the documentary would be watching my film really scared me. It was to the point that I didn’t even consider entering my film into any film festivals despite many peers and instructors telling me otherwise. When I got an email from the artistic director of the festival, I felt a whirlwind of emotions. Excitement, anxiety, pride, and dread being some of them. I was even more surprised when I found out my film was chosen to play within the Colorado Documentary Shorts and not a section that was specific to students.
Q. How did people react to your film?
A. I never once thought that something I made could affect people so much that they begin crying. These are people that didn’t know anything about me or my mom and could still become invested in our story. I was completely jolted and moved by this. I remember the first person who watched my film outside of my instructor was another peer, and he started crying in the middle of class. I thought the fact that something I made could inspire this reaction in just one person made my heart feel full and grateful.
Q. What’s next for you?
A. Through my exploration of different roles at school, I’ve found that I have a strong penchant for documentary work. It was a completely different experience than editing a fiction film because, with a documentary, you have the choice to completely change the narrative depending on your footage as you go. Because I deal with real people and their stories with the documentary genre, I become much more attached than I would if it was a fictional story.
Q. What advice do you have for current Mapleton students wanting to achieve their dreams?
A. Some advice that I have for students is to not let a fear of failure in whatever it is they want to do to stop them. If it is a skill they can start developing now, they should! Especially if they don’t think they’ll be good at it and are intimidated by it.