Graphic of Luz Valenzuela Ochoa with left-side text, "Luz Valenzuela Ochoa Embraces the Journey to Success at Community College of Denver"

Luz Valenzuela Ochoa lives by a simple motto.

“Take it one day at a time.”

After a decade working as a medical assistant, those words have led Valenzuela Ochoa to Community College of Denver (CCD), where she’s edging closer to her dream career.

“I’ve been in my job for so long, and I’m ready to take that next step,” she said. “I need to get in and just go for nursing now.”

Going for It

Valenzuela Ochoa settled on her career path early. In the ninth grade, she researched potential careers and became fascinated with pediatric oncology.

But as an immigrant from Durango, Mexico, Valenzuela Ochoa realized she couldn’t enroll in college, let alone medical school. As she explored other options, the Obama Administration rolled out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, providing Dreamers like her a legal pathway to work or continue their education.

Valenzuela Ochoa took full advantage, enrolling in Emily Griffith Technical College’s medical assisting program. She soon landed a job with Denver Health and worked in school-based clinics across the city.

After ten years in the field, Valenzuela Ochoa was ready for a new challenge—and to work toward her long-held goal of becoming a pediatric nurse.

“I have a co-worker who goes to CCD, and she was telling me just how easy the process is to apply and get in,” she said. “So, I went for it, and here I am three years later.”


It doesn’t matter how old you are. Time is going to pass no matter what you do. You might as well pass those years studying and looking to better your future.
Valenzuela Ochoa, Community College of Denver Student


‘Better Your Future’

Today, Valenzuela Ochoa is just four classes shy of completing her associate of arts degree. In the spring, she plans to transfer to the Metropolitan State University of Denver, where she’ll continue her nursing education.

Valenzuela Ochoa is quick to credit her CCD advisors for providing moral and academic support. She also received financial assistance from organizations like The Dream.Us and was even named a Kaiser Permanente Equity Scholar through the Foundation for Colorado Community Colleges.

The scholarships have been transformational for Valenzuela Ochoa.

“It has helped me tremendously,” she explained. “I’ve been able to go to school full time and not have to worry.”

For fellow Dreamers or adult learners looking to level up their career, Valenzuela Ochoa offered more words of wisdom.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are. Time is going to pass no matter what you do. You might as well pass those years studying and looking to better your future.”

If you are interested in applying for or funding scholarships for Colorado Community College System students, please visit the Foundation for Colorado Community Colleges website.