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University Tracks Center TeamWith the new school year underway, the District 60 University Tracks Center is ready to meet the needs of college-bound seniors with an expanded team and reach.
Located inside East and now South high schools, the University Tracks Center was established to make the path that leads to college easier to navigate, with the added benefits of peer mentorship, career planning and exploration, and resume building.
Under the direction of Lacey Clemmensen, the center serves as an on-site admissions office to Colorado State University Pueblo and a valuable clearinghouse of information and assistance related to scholarships, financial aid and other aspects of the higher education journey.
Although CSU Pueblo is a focus of the center, students who want to attend any college can find the support needed to ease the transition, and potentially, make it more affordable through the receipt of scholarships and financial aid.
“We’ve expanded our team, extended our reach in Spanish speaking communities, piloted a scholarship program, and finalized a rebranding effort that will strengthen our presence in our partner schools,” Lacey said.
New to the UTC are eight student peer mentors from varying backgrounds.
“They will work alongside our site coordinators to assist with events and outreach efforts,” Lacey said. “Sharing their first-hand experiences will add an additional resource for our students. And since they are currently going to college, it makes it seem a lot more attainable and relatable.
“Our mentors can talk with students about their experiences, successes, and the resources they've utilized to get to where they are now. This year, they will be helping us with events, student meetings, and running our UTC call center to ensure every student knows they are supported and have a resource ready.”
The peer mentors also were instrumental in translating UTC documents and handouts into Spanish.
“We plan to use these translated materials to extend our reach into the Spanish-speaking community in Pueblo,” Lacey said.
A new offering, seven $500 “College Ready” Scholarships, were awarded to students now attending CSU Pueblo.
“To further expand this project, we were recently awarded additional county tax dollars. This will allow us to provide more financial resources to support a college-going culture in our community,” Lacey said.
Coinciding with the return of in-person instruction to our high schools, the UTC underwent a rebranding.
“We redeveloped our logo to better connect the mission of the UTC with the general public,” Lacey said. “We will be transforming the space at East High School with our new brand. In addition, the South UTC is now located in Room 111 across from the Media Room and features our new brand with awesome new signage, some comfy chairs, tables to work at, and inviting and motivational design pieces to help students feel inspired and comfortable.”
The essence of the UTC mission, Lacey said, is to provide the needed support for students and families as they enter the next chapter of the educational journey.
“I want them to know they are not alone and to help eliminate as much of the anxieties, frustrations, and uncertainty surrounding this process,” Lacey said. “I will be working with students at all of the D60 high schools through one-on-one meetings, classroom partnerships, and event outreach.
Next month, the UTC will be hosting Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) nights, Colorado Free Application Day workshops, and more at all of the D60 high schools.
“We will continue utilizing Google Classrooms so students have easy access to information at all times and I also will have open office hours throughout the week and on Fridays to assist students and their families virtually and in-person,” Lacey said.
“As always, I will be working closely with high school counselors and teachers to ensure the program is an asset for both students and staff. And I will be working closely with the Gear Up programs at East and Central high schools.”
And while the UTC’s focus is on juniors and seniors, assistance is available for freshmen and sophomores interested in beginning the collegiate entrance process.
A grand opening for the South Tracks Center is slated for October 13.
Lacey can be contacted at 248-3564. On social media, look for @district60utc