Keeping the Dream Alive

About Us

Passion. Experience. Diligence.

What is KtDA? 

As counselors, teachers, administrators, and community members, supporting the college dreams of students is part of our daily lives. The barriers that undocumented students face in accessing postsecondary opportunities are complex and pervasive. In supporting them, we face our uncertainties and struggle to best advise them on limited resources, unclear guidelines and institutions not yet prepared to answer the call for their unique needs.
This one-day conference attempts to answer many of our daily questions such as:

  • What are the 'best practices' and options for advising undocumented students who are applying to college, specifically in Colorado?

  • Where is the information I can trust regarding scholarship opportunities and specific student pathways so that lives on hold can become an actual plan?

  • What are the most current laws that impact the students I am advising?

  • What are institutions of higher education doing to best serve students with DACA status and those who do not have this status?

The Conference goal is to provide a safe and open space for educators, professionals and caring individuals who work to support these unique groups of students to share postsecondary advising strategies.
It is the committee's hope that this event will engender an ongoing dialogue for those in the counseling, teaching, advising and pre-collegiate professions to best serve all students.

KtDA 2017 Planning Committee



Darsella Vigil

GRA for Vice Chancellor of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence
University of Denver

Darsella Vigil is a PhD student in the Higher Education program at the University of Denver. She currently works in Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence and serves as the programming co-chair for Keeping the Dream Alive. Darsella earned her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Advocacy at New York University, where she worked for the Higher Education Opportunity Programs, providing academic support to historically underrepresented students. As a first-generation college student herself, Darsella’s research interests include examining post-secondary access and attainment for various underrepresented populations such as Black, Latino, first-generation, immigrant, and particularly undocumented students. She employs mixed methodologies to understand the development and implementation of higher educational policies directly impacting marginalized communities. Additionally, she uses critical theoretical frameworks such as Latino Critical Theory and Racist Nativism to interrogate existing K-20 educational systems that perpetuate disparate outcomes among underrepresented populations. Formerly, she worked closely with undocumented students as an academic advisor at the Community College of Aurora. She continues to mentor and support Latino and Black young adults, of all statuses, in both Denver and New York public schools/colleges.



Jeanette Rojas

College Completion Director
College Track Aurora

Jeanette Rojas is a first-generation, Latinx, alumna of the University of Denver, where she received her BA in Anthropology and Spanish, Minor in Leadership, and MA in Curriculum & Instruction. As the granddaughter of immigrants, Jeanette cares deeply for serving and supporting immigrant and undocumented communities in Colorado. Throughout her career, Jeanette has worked alongside countless families to not only see students access higher education, but more importantly, graduate from colleges and universities across the country. Jeanette believes that scholars are the champion of their dreams and works in partnership with their community to provide the tools, knowledge, and resources needed to not only persist on a college campus but thrive in every aspect of their lives. The belief that education has the potential to not only change individual lives but transform entire communities fuels Jeanette's passion for this work. 

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Secretary/Resource Coordinator

Marisol Gonzalez

Bilingual Recruiter - Admission, Recruitment, and Outreach
Community College of Denver

Marisol Gonzalez was born in a Nebraska but shortly after moved to La Junta, Chihuahua until the age of 5, and finally raised in Liberal, KS. Marisol attend Kansas State University where she triple majored in History, Women’s Studies, and American Ethnic Studies. Being a first generation student, Marisol quickly figured out that access to higher education was much harder without the helping hands of someone who had navigated the process before. Having met great people along the way to help her and her parents navigate this whole new world helped her realize she wants to be that helping hand for other students. Marisol is currently a Bilingual Recruiter at Community College of Denver where she has the great privilege of helping students from all walks of life know that a college career is possible.



Linda Quintanar

Director, First Generation Initiatives and Volunteer in Partnership (VIP)
University of Denver Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence

Linda is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico. She received her BSBA in International Business, BA in Spanish, and MS in Legal Administration from the University of Denver. As the Director of the Volunteers in Partnership program she provides ongoing support for students and families of Denver and Aurora public schools, particularly those with students from historically marginalized populations. Being a first generation student herself, Linda promotes educational ambition and college access by assisting students through all aspects of the college admission and college navigation process. Linda is the treasurer of Keeping the Dream Alive, a position she has held for the past five years. Linda is committed to helping students gain valuable experience in leadership, personal and professional development, and to make a positive impact in our community.


Programming Coordinator, Board of DIrector President

Blanca Elena Trejo Aguilera

Doctoral Student
University of Colorado- Boulder

Blanca was born and raised in Denver and is a graduate of West High School. As a Boettcher and Gates Scholar, she earned her BA in Spanish and Political Science as well as a BSBA in International Business from the University of Denver in 2010. She holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Foundations, Policy and Practice from the University of Colorado- Boulder’s School of Education. In Fall of 2017 she started her doctoral program in the Learning Sciences and Human Development Program also in Boulder. Blanca has been an advocate for Colorado ASSET (SB13-033) and Immigrant Rights since she was 15. She brings +14 years of Community and Youth Organizing training experience with Together Colorado, United We DREAM, and the PICO National Network. She is also a proud sister of Pi Lambda Chi Latina Sorority Inc. and a Comadre of the Epsilon Chapter at the University of Denver. She is a passionate Latina driven by faith in the power of the people to create the promised community; grounded in the belief that those who are directly impacted by the pain must be a part of developing solutions; inspired by the unbound potential of Youth, and determined to open doors of access to higher education for ALL students, regardless of race, ethnicity, immigration status, or socio-economic status. Blanca is the co-founder of a local Colorado non-profit called INSPiRE, whose mission is to ignite, train, and invest in youth to become Change Agents in their schools, families and communities. She has served on the Keeping the Dream Alive Planning Committee since 2011 and currently serves at the Co-Chair. 


PRogramming Coordinator

Dion Duran

Admissions & Outreach, Coordinator of Community Outreach
Front Range Community College Larimer Campus

I am a proud 3rd Generation Mexican American and great grandson of immigrants. I am passionate about assisting our Gente navigate through college admission processes and attain a college degree. As a first-generation and non-traditional college graduate of three degrees, it gives me great joy to share lessons I’ve learned and instill hope in future college students I am fortunate to meet.

Furthermore, I believe all people seeking to improve their life coupled with an education, deserve that opportunity. We as educators, and as institutions of higher learning, have a duty to educate all know matter how they come to us - citizens or non-citizens. It is from our own values, our institutions values, and our nation’s values that we educate and pass down knowledge and opportunity for all to prosper. Especially during times when our nation’s leaders have lost the true meaning of what a democracy looks like.

I am honored to be part of the 2018 KtDA Committee because they all inspire me to keep pushing forward to breakthrough any barriers that may seem impassable. I hope all attendees will take away invaluable information and share it with their students and colleagues for the purpose of helping others Keep their Dreams Alive!



logistics Coordinator

Alfredo Gallegos

Assistant Director, First Generation Initiatives
University of Denver Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence

Originally from Nayarit, México, Alfredo pursued his passion for higher education and earned his Bachelor's Degree from the University of Colorado Denver. Before joining DU, Alfredo worked with the Center for Work Education and Employment case managing families on TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). In line with his passion for supporting historically underrepresented students, Alfredo worked with the Upward Bound TRIO programs, developing workshops on college access and career readiness skills. During his time at the University of Colorado Denver, he assisted in developing a youth leadership conference for male students of color and provided a scholarship opportunity for a graduating senior. After graduation, Alfredo worked with the Center for Work Education and Employment where he assisted families on a case management model. Additionally, he developed workshops on anger management, money-saving, and career exploration skills. Alfredo is currently pursuing his Masters in Higher Education at the Morgridge College of Education with an emphasis on Diversity and Higher Learning. As Assistant Director, Alfredo works with first generation college students and oversees the 1GenU pilot program that assists students in navigating the University of Denver. He is the campus liaison for the Daniels Fund Scholars, providing campus support and program development. Additionally, he works with DACA/Undocumented students, providing support through programming and initiatives.


Community and Ally Network Coordinator

Tania Chairez

Community Organizer
Colorado Schools Resist from the Immigration Resistance Table

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MArketing and PR Committee member

Gerardo Ceballos

Excel Counselor
Metropolitan State University of Denver

Gerardo was born and raised in northeast Denver in Montbello by way of Chihuahua, Chihuahua Mexico. He graduated from the University of Colorado Denver with a double major in International Studies and Ethnic Studies with an emphasis in Latin America. It was at the University of Colorado where Gerardo developed his passion to serve first-generation, underrepresented, students of color, and DREAMers. Currently, Gerardo works for the Metropolitan State University of Denver in the Office of Admissions Excel Programs. Additionally, Gerardo is in his final year of his Master's degree in Higher Education at the University of Denver Morgridge College of Education. His current research focuses on Latinx experiences in higher education and the disappearing Latino male within institutions of higher education. Gerardo passion for education is evident in his work to provide students of all backgrounds access to college through his work, he has served on the Keeping the Dream Alive
Committee for two years.

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marketing and pr, Resource Coordinator

Ari Ochoa

Immigrant Services Program Specialist
Metropolitan State University of Denver

Ariadna Ochoa Magallanes immigrated to the United States with her mother and younger sister from Coahuila, Mexico, after witnessing violence in the streets in front of her house. That violence kept her out of school for several years before she was able to relocate to Denver and continue her goal of attending college. She graduated with a double major in Modern Languages and Chicana/o Studies and a concentration in Social Practice. Currently, as the Immigrant Services Program specialist in the Center for Equity and Student Achievement at Metropolitan State University of Denver, she has found a calling in helping to empower other immigrants and non-native English speakers who, like her, call this country their home. She believes in the power of education and wants to do everything she can to help students achieve their dreams.


Marketing and PR

Fryda Faugier Ferreira

Metropolitan State University of Denver Campus Advisor
Denver Scholarship Fund

Fryda Faugier Ferreira is an undergraduate student at the University of Denver. She is pursuing a BA in international studies, socio-legal studies and Spanish and will be graduating in Spring of 2018. She works in Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence as the DACA/Undocumented student support coordinator. In this position, she works on ensuring that students have the resources and support that they need to be successful in college. This includes meeting with students one on one as well as working on research and policy initiatives at the University. She also works on college access for k-12 students. Fryda is a DACA recipient and first-generation student who has worked both on and off campus as an activist and advocate for DACA and undocumented students. Fryda will serve on the 2018-2020 board of directors for Keeping the Dream Alive.


committee member

Roberto de Mata

Higher ED MA student, Graduate Fellow VIP
University of Denver

Roberto De Mata is from Aurora, Colorado. He earned his Bachelors Degree from the University of Colorado Boulder in Political Science and International Affairs in the Spring of 2017. As an undergraduate he was involved with various affinity groups, Multicultural Greek Life and worked for the Environmental and CUE Centers. He currently serves as the Alumni Advisor for his multicultural fraternity, Tau Psi Omega.

Robert developed his involvement and support for undocumented students through his participation in UMAS y MEChA at CU and involvement with the Aquetza Youth Leadership Program. He is now completing his Master’s Degree in Higher Education at the University of Denver and is an Inclusive Excellence Fellow under the Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence
Office where he works on community partnerships and underrepresented student support.


Committee Member

Lluvia Garcia

Higher Education MA student, Inclusive Excellence Fellow
University of Denver


Committee Member

Federico Rangel

Denver Scholarship Foundation