Reilly Quist was 10 years old when she decided to win the prestigious Boettcher Scholarship, a merit-based award that offers full payment to any four-year institution in Colorado.

But now that she has actually done it, she sounds surprised.

“I never thought I would get it,” Quist said. “I seem pretty ordinary to myself.”

Not the least bit ordinary, Quist is just one of many extraordinary students in the record-setting class of 2018 now arriving at CU Denver.

Reilly Quist

Reilly Quist
Reilly Quist

One of seven children growing up in a Delta, Colo., family, Quist knew that she would have to figure out how to pay her own way to college. She made a plan for success and she followed it—volunteering in the oncology department of Delta County Memorial Hospital, captaining her high school soccer and basketball teams, serving as vicepresident of the National Honor Society and achieving a 4.0 unweighted GPA.

When the call from the Boettcher Foundation came, her parents were “beyond excited” and Quist was both shocked and delighted.

“It’s one of those things that seems out of reach,” she said. “You dream about it, and when it happens, it doesn’t seem real.”

She could have used the scholarship to any of the schools where she had been accepted, including CU-Boulder and Colorado School of Mines. But she had her heart set on CU Denver because she wants to be a physician.

“Two of my brothers were born with cleft palates, and both have had many surgeries,” she said. “Those doctors have changed their lives. I want to change lives.”

Quist will enter the highly competitive BA/BS-MD program which appealed to her because it offers special opportunities to learn at the CU Anschutz School of Medicine as an undergraduate.

She also believes CU Denver offers a community that other schools did not. “I like that classes at CU Denver are so small,” she said. “I think I can have more of a connection with my professors there.”

Daniel Ramirez

Daniel Ramirez
Daniel Ramirez

One of the students CU Denver will be welcoming is Daniel Ramirez, who won’t have to travel far to begin his freshman year here. A graduate of North High School, Ramirez was captain and four-year letterman of the football team, a three-year letterman in track and field, captain of the swimming team, a member of the honors jazz band and graduated with a 3.5 GPA. He applied to nearly every Colorado university and got admitted to all of them.

As a star football player, Ramirez always had dreamed of playing college football, but a severe knee injury at the beginning of his senior year led to major surgery and revised expectations about his future athletic career. A small college in Iowa was willing to take a chance on his rebuilt knee and offered  an athletic scholarship that would cover the costs of most of his education.

But Ramirez did not want to go to an out-of-state school  because his mother was heartbroken at the thought of his leaving home.

“I love my mom so much, and she has given up a lot for me and my brothers,” Ramirez said. “I couldn’t imagine going off somewhere for four years and leaving her behind. But I also needed a scholarship to go to college.”

Not long after he was chosen as the keynote speaker of the Denver Public Schools Foundation gala, Ramirez got a call from CU Denver. His speech and his high school accomplishments had caught the attention of admissions staffers at the dinner. They were calling to offer him a scholarship to attend CU Denver. “I started shaking when I heard,” Ramirez said. “I cried. I called my mom and told her, ‘You don’t have to worry about me leaving.’”

Ramirez, who speaks English, Spanish and Mandarin, was thrilled to attend a school with “a great reputation for academics.” He hopes that someday he will become an orthopedic surgeon, just like the physician who repaired his knee.

Class of 2018

Students move in to campus housing and attend convocation.

CU Denver saw a record number of applications for fall 2014 with more than 11,000 incoming freshmen and transfer students applying for admission, an increase of 56 percent over fall 2013. More than 7,000 of those students applied to become freshmen, 66 percent more freshman applications than CU Denver received for the academic year starting in fall 2013.

Catherine Wilson, director of Undergraduate Admissions, attributes the large number of applicants to several factors, including CU Denver’s Learn with Purpose marketing campaign which raised the profile of the campus through advertising.

“There is so much more awareness of CU Denver in the metro area now,” Wilson said. “Teachers, parents and grandparents know about the school and they’re encouraging prospective college students in their lives to consider applying.”

Wilson also credits efforts by everyone working in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and K-12 Outreach to improve communications and build relationships with prospective students through a variety of methods:

  • Frequent electronic communications with prospective students emphasizing the quality and value of a CU Denver education and encouraging application;
  • A streamlined online application making it easier to apply;
  • More print publications promoting the advantages of a college education located in the heart of the city;
  • Phone calls from student ambassadors to applicants and admitted students to begin building relationships; and
  • An enhanced campus visit program to aid recruitment.

A final count of how many applicants complete enrollment will not be available until September. In the meantime, the class of 2018 will have already started the academic year. “We can’t wait to welcome these new students,” Wilson said.

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