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Mountain Range student goes from struggling to DREAM Scholar

Mountain Range student goes from struggling to DREAM Scholar

Ashley Valdez-Ibarra finds success through the Gateway to College program

Ashley Valdez-Ibarra

Mountain Range High School student Ashley Valdez-Ibarra has been selected as a 2022 DREAM Scholar through the Gateway to College (GTC) program at Front Range Community College. Ashley was the only GTC student in the nation selected for this honor.

Ashley is a first-generation Mexican American student who is charting her path to success. Following experiences with addiction and abuse in high school, she decided to make a change and enrolled in the Gateway to College program. 

Now in her second semester at Front Range, Ashley is passionate about human rights, women’s rights, immigrant rights and LGBTQ+ rights. She believes strongly in equality and fair treatment and volunteers at political rallies, helping with workshops and organizing. She hopes to become a Colorado District Representative for the Democratic Party. 

As a 2022 DREAM Scholar, Ashley will have opportunities for leadership development and networking and will receive a scholarship to support her educational or personal journey. Additionally, Ashley was invited to present at the annual DREAM 2022 conference on Feb. 14-17, 2022. At the conference, Ashley shared her voice and passion on immigration to an audience of over 3,000 higher education leaders, practitioners and advocates. 

“The whole experience was amazing. I was the youngest selected scholar and what felt like the most nervous one too, but the community and love that was shared in the program was something I had never felt before.”

– Ashley Valdez-Ibarra

“We dove deep into our passions and what changes we strive to make. We became more educated on public school systems and how it affects people everywhere. We got connected to people who could help us work towards our future,” said Ashley.

The DREAM Scholars are a highlight of every DREAM conference, offering insight into the diverse experiences, challenges and hopes of community college students across the country. 

“While speaking on the panel and as my poem was presented, everything felt absolutely surreal,” Ashley said. “All the positive comments brought me to tears knowing that I will be part of change.” Watch Ashley read her powerful poem from the conference.

Gateway to College National Network (now joined with Achieving the Dream) is a national nonprofit dedicated to helping community college students succeed. GTC serves youths aged 16-20 who have dropped out of school or are at risk of dropping out. Students earn high school diplomas while earning college credits, allowing them to progress toward certificates or associate degrees or earn transfer credits. 

“Going from drug abuse, an abusive relationship and lack of motivation for school to a DREAM Scholar from the Gateway to College program was really eye opening. Limitations are only internal because no one else has the power to hold you back.”

– Ashley Valdez-Ibarra

Congratulations, Ashley! We are so proud to see you pursuing your dreams.


  • Gateway to College
  • Mountain Range High School