Get to know Jackie, one of Access Opportunity's Student Ambassadors for the 2023-24 school year.
Jackie is entering her Junior year at CU Denver studying Biology. She is a member of the Access Opportunity Class of 2025. Throughout the year, we will get to know her better through her stories, experiences, and advice for her fellow AO students.
In Her Own Words
My name is Jackie Echavarria, I am the youngest of three and I am the daughter of a single mom, who migrated from Mexico! I am a first-generation student at CU Denver. I am majoring in biology on the Pre-med track. After undergraduate school, I would love to continue my education at Anschutz Medical School and pursue an MD. I currently work at Children's Hospital Colorado as an EMT in the NICU. While working at CHCO I have realized I love working with babies. My dream job would be a Neonatal Cardiothoracic Surgeon at Denver Health or Children's in Colorado. I enjoy my biology classes at CU, science has always been something I have been fascinated by since I can remember. I love to learn and I genuinely love school and I will continue my education even after I complete my dream job goal. In the far future, I also see myself as a professor teaching biology or Chemistry. Down the road in my career, I would love to be a part of a program like doctors without boarders and help heal and treat others in different countries with low access to healthcare. Something I think is important to know about me also is that I love cats and chicken nuggets!
AO: Are there any ways in your life or educational journey that you feel like a trailblazer?
Jackie: I have felt like a trailblazer my entire college career. My parents didn't graduate high school so the amount of help that they could give me to guide me in any direction was limited by a lot. Considering what my career goals are and wanting to pursue medical school and become a doctor it's challenging to have the road not paved out to help guide me in the right direction. I have often had to figure out things on my own that I didn't understand that most people didn't have an issue with. To give an example, understanding what a major was and why that was important in order to fulfill my dream of becoming a surgeon. I am creating a path of my own with every step I take in college, applying to colleges and choosing my major, understanding which classes to take to complete my major. I have recently paved another part of my own path by finding out the best way to prepare myself to take the MCAT for medical school. I have had to navigate through college partly on my own (with the help of AO as well) and also in my personal life. Trying to learn how to build my credit in order for me to be able to buy a house or an apartment in the future. Learning how to properly use a credit card and getting a loan to purchase a car. All those things have always been in the unknown territory of my family.
AO: Thinking back to your time so far in Access Opportunity, do you have a favorite moment (or moments) that stand out?
Jackie: I love thinking about this question. AO has been a huge part of my life and has brought so much into my life that it's difficult to decide on just one favorite moment. I think one that stood out to me as I thought of this question was one of the first times I felt like AO was the place I was supposed to be.
It happened in my second year at AO when I was a senior in high school. It was the first round of college tours and college educational seminars to learn more about the schools. While most times kids go with their parents and take the tour together, I had asked my mom and well she couldn't afford to miss work. Which I understood because she's a single mom and we live paycheck to paycheck. Even though I was understanding I was upset, I was nervous and scared. I felt alone and I needed the support. I expressed this to my AO counselor at the time which was Maggie. Maggie showed up for me, she came to the tour with me and the seminar. It was also helpful that she knew the college process and knew all the right questions to ask, and she knew what I was looking for in a college better than I knew because I didn't have the right knowledge of college. It was a small moment but it was so meaningful for me, in that moment I wasn't alone and confused. I found my place in AO, the message and the whole reason AO was created was because of that small moment. In AO, students like me (first-gen and low-income) have a place to thrive and someone to hold their hands in scary moments when we have no one else. AO is amazing to be a part of, we are paving our own roads, but it doesn't mean we are alone because AO gives us the tools and supplies to succeed.
AO: Who would you say is part of your personal support system? How do you support each other through life's highs and lows?
Jackie: Friends and peers are my main support system. Something about someone who is going through the same and struggling as much is comforting. Having someone by your side that understands the pains and struggles and highs of the college journey is the best feeling in the world. One of my other support systems is my sister she cares and asks questions about my college career and my mental health. She's a constant reminder to take care of myself and enjoy the college experience. She encourages and uplifts me through the hardships of college.
My math teacher from high school is also a big supporter. As an outside source, his support genuinely helps a lot. Sometimes when I talk to or seek support from friends or family I don't take their support as seriously. I know it sounds harsh, but I know out of anyone my family and friends would be the ones to support because they love me and care about me. The people who love and care about me I feel would lie to make me feel better. But from an outside perspective like my math teacher I know, or I believe it more that its true and that I am going to be okay. His unbiased support is a good balance.
AO: Are you involved in any groups or clubs at school? Why did you choose the one(s) you did?
Jackie: The club that I am a part of that is the most important one to me is the Future MD Latinas. This club is so amazing and uplifting. I choose this club because as a woman of color in the medical field it can be hard and alienating. Most of my peers in my classes do not have the same background as me. They don't understand the struggles one goes through as a first-gen Latina trying to become a doctor. When I found out about this group it felt the same as when I first felt the welcomeness of AO. The girls in this club understood the struggles and hardships of being who we are in a career field where we are not represented how we should be. We give each other a shoulder to cry on when things feel unfair, we give each other smiles and hugs when we have accomplished things we were afraid to fail at. It's one of the most inviting and comforting communities I can be a part of. Just like in AO, I feel seen, I feel heard, and understood, and I feel as though I can and will do whatever I set my mind to because my race and gender are not obstacles to overcome. They are what will make me a great successful doctor.
Stay tuned to hear more from Jackie throughout the year!