Cristian, An Aspiring Car Mechanic

Cristian is an 18-year-old Mile High 360 student who has been a member since 9th grade and recently graduated from CEC Early College. He is the youngest of three children and is paving a path inspired by his father, a brilliant mechanic who “passed down the family tradition to Cristian of being a [resourceful] car mechanic.”


Like his two sisters, Cristian's journey as a first-generation college graduate is a unique testament to his resilience and determination.


“[He] took a chance in immigrating so that his children would have a better life than he did. [He] taught me many things in life. I look up to him and want to be an honest, hardworking man, just like him.” – Cristian talking about his father.

In a discussion with him, he noted that the experiences of a child whose parents have graduated from college vastly differ from his. A non-first-generation college graduate gains confidence, knowledge, and guidance in pursuing a postsecondary degree successfully. They are taught strategies for handling pressures and how to overcome them. However, Cristian relayed that “[he] had to rely on the support of his environment and not his parents because they lack the knowledge to teach or help him.” He noted that “they motivated and pushed [him] to work hard but could not sometimes guide him to the needed resources as they did not know them or know where to obtain them.” At this point in his life, Cristian had the drive and support he needed but required more resources.


Lastly, Cristian mentioned that one poignant reality in his culture is that mental health often goes unspoken and is rarely seen as a priority. Unfortunately, this struggle resonates deeply within his community. Cristian said that once you’ve been provided with your basic needs – food, shelter, security, access to education, etc.- then “how can you feel those [“negative”] things if you have been [given] a good life?” However, Cristian shared that despite having one’s basic needs met, it doesn’t mean they have a good life void of struggle. “It’s okay not to be okay, [and people] should see the strength in discussing their feelings and asking for help.” As a result, Cristian appreciated Mile High’s attention to the mental health of its student members.

Through his membership at Mile High 360, Cristian and his postsecondary journey ahead of him have been profoundly transformed. Previously, he had never considered pursuing his passion through a college degree. However, he’s now on the path to pursue an Associate’s Degree; this way, his education will open an array of opportunities for him. Moreover, his participation in MH360 events has taught him to build valuable connections and relationships and to voice his thoughts and opinions more confidently.


We are so proud of Cristian and excited to continue walking with him on his journey. His personal development and newfound confidence are a source of pride for all who know him. When asked what his future holds, he said he hopes to be a Superior at RTD two years from now. Five years from now, he would love to be in a different field teaching future mechanics as he believes he has a knack for it, and seven years from now when he’s 25 years old, Cristian dreams of owning a house and giving back to his community.

“No matter where people are in the world, everyone needs help with their cars. I want to be able to help these people and inspire others to do the same.”