Homeless to Front Range Community College Student

Struggle for some students at Front Range Community College may not be visible but assistance is available for those needing help.

Cori Smith, 29, a student of Front Range Community College started his 2015 fall semester coming off a rough summer break where housing, car, and financial issues might have derailed his priority of school. Smith moved out of his home last March but did not have another place to live, so he couch surfed friend’s places, slept in his car, and the park and ride in Westminster until July. By May, the car he was living out of started having trouble and was eventually towed from the park and ride to the towing lot, with fees tallying $1,500 including storage, which lead to Smith signing away the car’s title. Without a car, he spent a few nights outside of Boulder and slept on the RTD bus running from Boulder to Denver International Airport. He also slept in his storage unit, a 5X10 foot space.

“Looking back on it, it was some hard shit,” Smith said. He managed to register for school, but could not attend class due to an unpaid school fee of $690 owed from the previous semester. It was another obstacle in the way.    

Although Smith experienced these compiling issues which would turn some inward and away from help, he had planted seeds by getting involved through school activities where he met his present roommate and also connecting with Ashley Maloney, the Front Range Community College director of outreach and enrollment services who helped him immensely. They met at a leadership retreat organized by Dan Balski who is the student organizer and leadership development coordinator on campus.  

Maloney helps students navigate enrollment, student guidance, financial aid, account checking, deadline reminders, setting up students with advisors, and other common help with student processes. Maloney said students who are open to communicating their needs and developing relationships with the professionals around campus and using resources like advising, can receive student assistance such as housing, food, and resolving common classroom issues.  But, to get the help needed for any student, Maloney said, “It’s the student’s responsibility to speak up.” This way the issues at hand can be known to start the process to get resolved.

There is plenty of help around campus if one chooses to open up to a mentor, classmate, or a faculty, in which Ashley calls the “ripple effect,” which starts students goals by these connections and advocating for oneself.  Another program Maloney said to look out for on campus that will help 120 students a year with issues similar to Cori’s is called TRIO.  The gratitude Smith has for Maloney’s help and her being “proud of his progress” is a great story in itself but the amazing thing is that it happened through on campus resources. Who knew that the fliers passed in the hallways every day and choosing to participate can change yours or someone else’s life.      

Written by Samuel Rael

Originally published in the print edition on December 9, 2015

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