Get to Know is a series highlighting community through the unique perspectives, interests and involvements of our faculty and staff members at CU Boulder. In this issue, learn more about Ofelia Morales’ corner of campus.
Morales is from Pueblo, Colorado. She began her financial aid career as a work-study student in 1991 at the University of Southern Colorado—now CSU-Pueblo—where she earned a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master of business administration. She has over 26 years of financial aid experience and has held director level positions at CSU-Pueblo, the New Mexico Higher Education Department and CU Boulder.
In May, Morales was promoted to assistant vice chancellor of enrollment management, where she oversees the Admissions Office, Bursar’s Office and the Office of Financial Aid. The role is key in ensuring recruitment and enrollment plans improve the campus’s academic profile, maintain access, promote inclusive excellence, increase enrollment, meet campus recruitment and revenue goals, and diversify the student body.
Without saying your title, describe who you serve on campus and what you do.
When asked what I do, I like to say, “I'm in the business of making dreams come true.” My own dream started in the seventh grade when I stepped foot on a college campus for the very first time. As a first-generation student, I conquered what felt like the impossible by earning a bacherlor's in social work and an MBA.
I wholeheartedly believe my education changed the trajectory of my life, and I love doing work that makes this dream possible for others. I do this by providing leadership to the Admissions, Financial Aid and Bursar's offices and by collaborating with just about everyone on campus to ensure we recruit, support, retain and graduate students who are pursuing their educational dreams.
Beyond your unit, what is a campus group or effort you are involved in or want to highlight?
I've been involved in the UndocuNetwork since it began. This is a group of campus leaders, faculty, staff and students who come together to identify ways our campus can better support our undocumented students. I feel completely energized every time we meet because we all care deeply about the unique issues and challenges these students face.
What are you most proud of professionally or personally?
Professionally, I'm most proud of all the financial aid programs we've expanded or implemented over the years, such as CU Promise, ASSET grants, Impact Scholarships and first-generation scholarships. However, during the pandemic, I've never seen this staff pour so much of their time and dedication into administering emergency grants. In total, we provided over $50 million in emergency grant aid to students impacted by COVID-19 and the Marshall Fire. It was a true team effort, and I will never forget what it was like to lead the team through something this extraordinary.
Personally, I'm proud of the lessons I've learned as a mother. My children are now adults, ages 27 and 24. They may not have followed the path that I dreamed for them, but they are walking confidently in their own path, and I couldn't be prouder.
What are your favorite spots or moments on campus?
What I love most about being on a college campus is the opportunity to see guest speakers. My two favorites have been Laverne Cox and Viola Davis, who both have incredible life stories. I was so inspired by both of their powerful messages. These are events I will never forget.
What is your current office like?
It is still a very interesting time. Lots of hybrid and remote work is still happening, and students do not come into our offices as often as they did before the pandemic. The topic of staff engagement and retention is top of mind, and I'm hopeful we'll create sustainable plans on how we move forward in a post-pandemic world.
What is the best-kept secret on campus?
Pekoe Sip House in ATLAS. Seriously, the best chai latte I've ever had.