Published: March 4, 2024 By

Olivia OmegaAs senior director of marketing and communications at the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF), Olivia Omega (Bus’01) is an inclusion and diversity advocate within higher education. Omega is a TedX speaker and author of Beautifully Branded: The Girl’s Guide to Understanding the Anatomy of Brand You. During Homecoming Weekend in November 2023, the CU Boulder Alumni Association recognized her with the Alumni Recognition Award.

What does being a part of DSF mean to you? 

I was raised by a single mom, and in high school I didn’t know if I could even attend college, simply because of the financial commitment. If it weren’t for the scholarships I received through CU, I wouldn’t have been able to attend. I want others to have that same opportunity to step into whatever their purpose is.

Why is representation in spaces like higher education so important? 

As human beings we gravitate toward what is familiar, and we see ourselves in other people. Even thinking back to when President Obama was first elected, my daughter was three years old at the time and commented, “Look at that family. They look like us.” We know that visualizing and manifesting is powerful, so when you see people who look like you achieving something great, you can start to look and emulate that. 

Race-conscious affirmative action ended last year. How does this affect DSF?

DSF scholarships are more important now than ever. We’re helping mostly first-generation students of color whose parents didn’t go to college navigate the application process, the financial aid process, making sure that school is affordable and also making sure that they get to college and graduate as well. 

What is it like returning as a President’s Leadership Class (PLC) mentor?

I get to meet with students often, and I have quite a few mentees who I work with. I can honestly attribute every opportunity in my life to either CU or I can track it back to PLC. It is also about making sure that there is representation and that young women and students of color see themselves at CU and that they see themselves as thriving alumni. 

How have you seen CU Boulder change since you were a student?

I have hopes for some really great things coming out of CU. At Leeds, for the first time ever, it’s 55% women. When I was there, I want to say it was maybe half that. If we can get to a place where the systemic barriers to education are dismantled, and there is more access, more funding, tuition isn’t skyrocketing every year — if those things are eliminated, then there’s no need for DSF. Wouldn’t that be the greatest thing — where things have changed so much that the work we do to increase equity isn’t even needed? 

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Photo courtesy Olivia Omega