Cassie Alfaro did not have an easy path in furthering her education.
After graduating from Communications Art High School in San Antonio, Texas, she applied to Colorado State University as a first-generation student. She was accepted but decided to attend the Community College of Denver first to gain credits for a lower tuition cost.
In the fall of 2017, Alfaro started studying financial planning in the College of Business at CSU. She was awarded scholarships to continue her education, including the Meghan and James Iacino Scholarship and the Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship. Alfaro also received the Society of Financial Service Professionals Scholarship, one of only six people in the nation to receive the honor.
“I did not know I wanted to be a financial planner,” Alfaro says. “But I learned about financial literacy and the number of people struggling with their finances. I want to help people get better at saving money and planning for their future.”
But earning the money to attend CSU is not the only thing that made Alfaro’s path uneasy.
About five weeks into her first fall semester at CSU, she got a call that her father was in the hospital, where he had been given two to four weeks left to live.
Four days later he passed away.
Alfaro flew to San Antonio and spent two weeks with her family before returning to CSU to try and get back into the cycle of going to her classes and internships.
“There is no other way to describe the feeling of everything at the time other than ‘terrible,’” Alfaro says. “From trying to catch up in classes to working two internships, everything felt very overwhelming when you are also trying to grieve.”
But with the help of her professors and peers, Alfaro slowly caught back up. She joined a couple more student organizations, including the Dean’s Leadership Council, helped start the Latinx Business Association, and was involved in a mentoring program in the College of Business, in addition to continuing her path to her degree.
“Even though my feelings of grief can still be overwhelming at times,” Alfaro says, “I was able to achieve so much during my time here at CSU thanks to the support of my family, friends, professors and my dad’s overwhelming emphasis on the importance of education.”
“Because when I think back on it all, there was nothing more he ever wanted for me than to do really well in school; if I achieve all that, then I am happy with where I am in life.”
Alfaro, a member of CSU’s Honors Program, says she is studying financial planning to help others who are struggling financially to plan a better future. After graduation with her bachelor’s in finance and real estate, she will start working at Charles Schwab as an associate financial service representative.