Since elementary school, Chasel Valdiviezo-Pérez has had a strong desire to work with animals and has demonstrated an impressive dedication to making that dream a reality. While there aren’t very many Latina faces in the field of veterinary medicine, she is not deterred by the statistics, but inspired by the opportunity to create a path for other people to follow. Chasel, a senior at STRIVE Prep – Excel High School in Denver, will receive the Colorado “I Have A Dream” Foundation® (CIHAD) Summit Award during the nonprofit’s annual gala October 26. The accolade is presented to individuals who have excelled academically, triumphed over personal obstacles, and demonstrated a commitment to the betterment of community.
For almost 30 years, CIHAD has been encouraging youth in Colorado to follow their passions and, more importantly, to believe in their dreams. The organization provides Denver metro youth, who are affectionately called Dreamers, with long-term support and engagement through one-on-one educational enrichment programs to bridge the educational gap and ensure that there is a level playing field. Chasel is a Dreamer in the Records-Rainaldi Class and one of 42 youth adopted from Valdez Elementary School in 2008 by Martha Records and Rich Rainaldi during CIHAD’s 20th anniversary.
“Having the experience allowed me to pinpoint exactly what I want to specialize in and puts me ahead of other students who may not have the same opportunity.”
For nearly a decade, Chasel has been actively involved in CIHAD and taken advantage of the opportunities that come with being a Dreamer, including participating in numerous community service activities, going on college tours and interning through the organization’s Work is Success Internship Program (WISIP). She exemplifies the meaning behind the words in the poem “Invictus” which states “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” From visiting numerous veterinary clinics and speaking with staff members about their experiences to registering for additional science classes and college-level courses to be more competitive, Chasel has taken every step to learn more and to own her destiny. Through her participation in WISIP over the past three years, she has been able to gain hands-on experience working with the Denver Animal Shelter and University Hill Animal Hospital, where she prepared vaccines, shadowed veterinarians and assisted with basic laboratory procedures.
“I love the work that I’ve done through the internship program, “said Chasel. “My internships reinforced my passion for animals and what I want to do professionally. Having the experience allowed me to pinpoint exactly what I want to specialize in and puts me ahead of other students who may not have the same opportunity.”
Chasel’s dream for the future is to graduate from high school and be the first in her family to attend college. Her goal is to study veterinary science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, where she visited on a college tour. When thinking about her own career path, Chasel is committed to making great strides in the field of veterinary science.
“I want to create or uncover something that hasn’t been done within the field to show other Latinas that they can do the same and, more importantly, do whatever they want to do,” said Chasel. “While I must be a leader, I recognize that sometimes I have to step back and allow others to lead.”
Understanding that being a leader is about helping other people grow is something that she has enjoyed during her work with the young STRIVE Prep – Ruby Hill Dreamers. “Colorado ‘I Have A Dream’ helped me when I was younger and it’s been great to be able to do the same with them,” she declared.
For the girl who at an early age kept to herself, being a Dreamer has allowed Chasel to come out of her shell and be more open. As a result, she encourages other young people to get out there and be well rounded. “Do more in school, in your community and take advantage of opportunities,” explained Chasel. “These experiences allow you to build a resume for college so that they want to look at you. You want them to ask for you, instead of you asking for them.”
While her journey has not been without challenges, those obstacles have been overshadowed by her will, perseverance and strength to overcome them with the support from Colorado “I Have A Dream”. Chasel’s has great dreams and her vision for a better world is “that every minority, but not just minorities, all people get the same opportunities to do what they want and that anyone who has a dream can make it possible.”
Tickets for the October 26 Gala are available at cihadevents.com.
- Daniels Fund and Denver Police Recognize Neighborhood Hero - March 19, 2022
- Legislation Introduced to Strengthen Election Security - March 19, 2022
- Colorado Announces Next Phase of Universal Preschool Across State - March 19, 2022