Published: April 29, 2022

 Julia ChavarriaDedicated to building access and opportunity in higher education, Julia Chavarria is an excellent example of a scholar/practitioner who can quickly and deftly adapt knowledge she’s building from coursework in the Master’s in Higher Education program in the CU Boulder School of Education to her professional work experiences and supports for students. 

Gratitude and appreciation of those who helped pave the way for me (drive my passion for this work). If I can be even half as helpful as my advisors and faculty members to my students, then I will be happy."

Chavarria is an Academic Advisor and Retention Specialist at Metro State University. She remembers working alongside my caring academic advisors while earning her Bachelor of Science in psychology at Colorado State University and that experience combined with background as a first-generation college student from rural Colorado, led her to a career paying forward in higher education.  

As a CU Boulder graduate student, she created a capstone project that builds on her practicum experience with CU Boulder’s Student Support and Case Management Office. Chavarria reviewed the research on peer mentoring programs in order to inform the design of a new program at CU Boulder. Her project underscores how peer mentoring programs can build community, while also supporting student success, retention, and well-being. Her exemplary work and contributions to building a sense of community with her higher education colleagues and cohort are some of the reasons she’s been selected at the 2022 Outstanding Higher Education Master’s Graduate.

“Julia’s commitment to inclusion shines through all her interactions with other students, colleagues, and faculty,” her faculty nominators said. “Bright and kind, Julia supports fellow students, lifts up her colleagues’ ideas and creates community, both in and out of the classroom.”



In her own words

Julia ChavarriaPlease tell us a bit about yourself

I am from a small town on the eastern plains of Colorado, named Strasburg, Colorado. I am a first-generation Latina woman who obtained a Bachelor of Science in psychology at Colorado State University. During my undergraduate years, I was working alongside my academic advisors and fell in love with higher education. I then worked in the mental health field for a few years and found myself missing higher education. I then decided to pursue a master's degree in higher education at the University of Colorado Boulder. I have loved every second of being in this program. Every professor has helped me learn to embrace who I am and take up the space I rightfully deserve in higher education. It has been so inspiring, and I cannot wait to make space in higher education for all people.”

What is one of the lessons from your time at CU Boulder that you’ll carry with you into the next chapter?

I had a fantastic professor, Scarlett Ponton de Dutton. She taught a small course, about 8 students, where we all talked and contributed to class discussions every single week for a semester. There was a great classmate that I got so excited to be partnered with. Ever since that class, I met my best friend! She has been such a blessing in my life and it is so exciting going through life with her, especially as we embark on our higher education career journey! Bonus points because Scarlett, my friend, and I all crochet!”

What does graduating from CU Boulder represent for you and/or your community?

Graduating for CU Boulder is a HUGE deal for me and my family! I am a first-generation Latina student who has the most education credentials. I have a career. I have a salaried job. My parents worked so hard while my siblings and I were growing up. It is so amazing to showcase that my parents hard work and sacrifices were worthwhile.”

What is your best piece of advice for incoming students?

Get prepared to grow at least ten times as a person. It is not an easy path, and you will feel discouraged often. However, take pride and celebrate the small things. Lean on your colleagues not only for support but also for laughs. Realize that you and your cohort are in this together! Realize that you are not alone and learn to share with your classmates and lean into the new experiences.”

What continues to drive your passion for your work after graduation?

Gratitude and appreciation of those who helped pave the way for me. If I can be even half as helpful as my advisors and faculty members to my students, then I will be happy.”

Julia Chavarria