Colorado Transfer Students Awarded Prestigious Scholarship from PepsiCo Foundation 


Ten CCCS Students Will Receive $25,000 Annual S.M.I.L.E Scholarship

June 6, 2024 (DENVER) – Ten Colorado community college students will receive an annual scholarship of $25,000 from the PepsiCo Foundation as they transfer to a four-year university this fall.

Hailing from the Community College of Aurora, Community College of Denver, and Front Range Community College, the recipients were among 50 scholars nationwide selected for the prestigious Success Matters in Life & Education (S.M.I.L.E) Scholarship. In addition to financial assistance, the program provides scholars with wraparound services, such as career advising and professional development, to support their educational journey. 

“Our S.M.I.L.E Scholars have demonstrated outstanding leadership in and outside the classroom and truly represent the best and brightest at our community colleges,” said Joe Garcia, chancellor of the Colorado Community College System (CCCS). “We are grateful to the PepsiCo Foundation for recognizing their accomplishments and investing in their continued success.”  

The S.M.I.L.E program builds on the strong partnership between the Foundation for Colorado Community Colleges and the PepsiCo Foundation. CCCS is among 20 institutions participating in PepsiCo’s Uplift Scholarship program, which committed $40 million to support students pursuing certificates and associate degrees. Since 2020, the S.M.I.L.E. and Uplift programs have awarded nearly 2,800 scholarships with more than 90% of scholars on track to complete their course of study.  

“The PepsiCo Foundation is a staunch advocate for community colleges and a true champion of our open access mission,” said J. Adam Cermak, chief development officer and executive director of the Foundation for Colorado Community Colleges. “We are thrilled to be a part of the S.M.I.L.E Scholarship program to help exceptional transfer students reach their goals and achieve economic and social mobility.”  

The awardees by college are as follows. Portraits of nine scholars are available for download here. 

Community College of Aurora

Scholar NameTransfer DestinationMajor
Anthony AlorUniversity of Colorado DenverComputer Science and Programming
Joshua ForkellUniversity of Colorado BoulderMarketing
Elmer HernandezUniversity of Colorado DenverComputer Science and Programming
Zikrya QuraishiColorado School of MinesComputer Science and Programming

Community College of Denver

Scholar NameTransfer DestinationMajor
Charles BallMetropolitan State University of DenverFinance
Hayley BrownUniversity of Colorado BoulderChemical Engineering
Andrea OlveraUniversity of Colorado DenverFinance

Front Range Community College

Scholar NameTransfer DestinationMajor
Kimberly SanchezUndecidedProject Management
Annika ThayerColorado State UniversityChemistry
Laura ZangUniversity of Colorado BoulderComputer Science and Programming

About the Foundation for Colorado Community Colleges 

Founded in 1987, the Foundation for Colorado Community Colleges advances the mission, vision, goals, and objectives of the Colorado Community College System. Specifically, the Foundation actively seeks contributions from public and private sources to make scholarships available statewide, advance key programmatic initiatives, provide training and support for CCCS college foundations, and develop partnerships to implement state of the art programs that meet the workforce needs of the 21st century. 

About CCCS 

The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) is the state’s largest system of higher education, delivering more than 1,000 programs to over 113,000 students annually through 13 colleges and 35+ locations across Colorado. Our open access mission ensures all Coloradans who aspire to enrich their lives have access to quality higher education opportunities. The System Office provides leadership, advocacy, and support to the colleges under the direction of the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education (SBCCOE). Join us in changing the way Colorado goes to college. Learn more at   

About The PepsiCo Foundation   

The PepsiCo Foundation, the philanthropic arm of PepsiCo, invests in the essential elements of a sustainable food system with a mission to support thriving communities. Working with non-profits and experts around the globe, we’re focused on helping communities obtain access to food security, safe water and economic opportunity. We strive for tangible impact in the places where we live and work—collaborating with industry peers, local and international organizations, and our employees to affect large-scale change on the issues that matter to us and are of global importance. Learn more at

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