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Vanessa Roman in 2003 and 2023The District has always enjoyed a robust partnership with the Boettcher Foundation, with a host of our scholars receiving this prestigious scholarship through the years.
This partnership has now been strengthened with the addition of a D60 graduate and Boettcher Scholar to the staff of the Boettcher Foundation.
A member of the South Class of 2003 who attended Roncalli and Highland Park in her younger years, Vanessa Roman was recently named Director of Scholarships and Programs for the Boettcher Foundation.
“As a Boettcher Scholar myself, I was excited about the opportunity to play a role in giving back to Boettcher and the State of Colorado,” Vanessa said. “I’ve only been in this role for a few months now, but it already feels so rewarding being part of an organization that does so much for Colorado. We believe in the promise of Colorado and the potential of Coloradans because courageous leadership benefits every community in our state.
“It’s been extra special to reconnect with my hometown, recruiting students to apply for our scholarship and doing outreach for our Doers and Difference Makers Fellowship. It’s fun, impactful work and I’m so happy I’m here.”
On April 22, when the District hosts the first Pueblo and Southern Colorado College Fair at the Pueblo Convention Center, Vanessa will serve as the event’s keynote speaker.
“My path to employment at the Boettcher Foundation started way back in my senior year in high school, when I became a Boettcher Scholar from the Class of 2003,” Vanessa explained. “At the time, I had no idea just how much of an impact this would make on my future. Of course, the scholarship provided the funds for me to be able to attend college and study abroad. But it also gave me the financial freedom to go to grad school, and it helped expand my network, leading to a variety of leadership, enrichment, and social connections throughout the years.”
Prior to joining the alumni of South, Vanessa was a proud Roncalli Shamrock and Highland Park Stallion.
“There were so many incredible teachers who helped guide me through my educational journey,” she explained. “I’m hard pressed to pick one because several teachers come to mind, and I feel lucky to have received the education I did.”
In fourth grade, Vanessa’s life was positively impacted by Ms. Aronofsky, affectionately known as “Ms. A.”
“She was truly one of the best. She showed me that learning could be fun and ignited an intellectual curiosity inside of me. I remember being so excited to come to school each day because her passion for education was contagious. She taught a unit on sharks, which culminated in the entire class dissecting sharks alongside high school mentors.
“Looking back, I realize what lengths she had to go through to make that all happen for us. What a gift.”
At South, Vanessa had the good fortune of being in Mr. Ransome’s honors English course.
“He had a reputation for being a tough teacher, but that’s what I loved about him,” she said. “He saw our potential and pushed us to truly learn and grow. My writing skills improved so much in his class, giving me confidence and preparing me for college more than any other educational experience I had. Without him, I don’t know if I would be where I am today.”
For a long time, Vanessa believed she would become a pediatrician.
“In high school, that shifted a little bit to Neuroscience after a summer science camp I participated in,” she said. “I wish I had exposed myself and been more open to more career options, because college changed everything.”
At the University of Colorado, Vanessa majored in Psychology on the pre-med track.
“But then I took a chemistry class and thought, ‘Nope, medicine isn’t for me.’ I completed my degree in Psychology, knowing I’d have a lot of options with such a broad degree,” she said. “But I quite honestly felt a little lost for a while as I neared graduation. I did some soul searching and realized one of the things I enjoyed most about my college experience was my connection to the university itself. I worked in the President’s Office as a student; I volunteered with my sorority to recruit students; I participated in student government.”
While attending CU to pursue a Master’s degree, Vanessa worked for the University of Colorado Foundation.
“At that point, I knew I wanted to do something in higher education, but I wasn’t sure exactly what that looked like and where I wanted to ‘land’ in my career,” she said.
“At the time, I was disappointed that I didn’t have more certainty around my future. But a little reflection and lots of life experience has helped me to see that most career journeys take more of a ‘meandering route’ than a ‘straight path.’”
Most of Vanessa’s career was spent working in admissions at CU: a stint she found very enjoyable and fulfilling.
“I loved that experience and spent almost 10 years doing various roles, recruiting students across the country, helping students understand the college process, and making admission decisions,” she said. “Then, I spent a couple of years at a small nonprofit in Denver called AdvanceEDU. It’s an innovative new kind of college experience and it gave me the chance to make an impact in a new way.”
Earlier this year, Vanessa connected with a colleague who is on the Boettcher Foundation staff.
“She mentioned that Boettcher would soon be hiring for a Director of Scholarships and Programs. I just knew this was a dream role for me and I had to apply,” she said.
For the young men and women currently mulling their futures, Vanessa’s advice is to keep all options open.
“Learn as much as you can about as many careers as you can,” she said. “Listen to guest speakers, ask questions, learn about apprenticeships, research internships.
Then, when you decide what you want to be when you ‘grow up,’ remember a few things: You can change your mind. Having an idea or two about what career you want to pursue doesn’t mean you’re locked in for life.
“You can absolutely pursue more than one career in your lifetime. Lots of people change careers. For many of you, the job you end up doing years from now probably hasn’t even been created yet. Our world is changing every day. The bottom line is: there’s so much potential in your future. I’m rooting for you!”
For scholars needing direction on navigating the college admission process or exploring career options, Vanessa can be contacted at