‘Be a giver, not a taker:’ Juan Venegas

Juan Venegas

From your time at CSU, what are you most proud of?

I am most proud of being able to accomplish what no one in my family has done before. College was uncharted territory for all of us, but with the endless support from my family, friends, scholarship donors, and faculty, I was able to quickly adapt to a brand-new environment and have a great experience over the last four years.

Juan Venegas

Hometown: Fort Lupton, Colorado

Major: Chemical and biological engineering

I am proud of being a Scott Scholar, being a part of the Dean’s List every semester, participating in undergraduate research, and making many valuable connections with my peers and mentors that I hope to retain as I journey into the “real world” as a chemical and biological engineer.

What’s been the hardest part?

The hardest part of my college journey was the initial culture shock of moving to a large university campus in the middle of a lively city. I became so used to small-town living and small communities that it was initially very overwhelming to step on and especially walk around campus. Thankfully, I had some old friends from home, and new friends I met during the ENpower program that I participated in the summer before I began my freshman year, to explore with me and learn the ins and outs of Fort Collins. I’ve definitely become a lot more open since then.

What have you learned during the pandemic that you wouldn’t have otherwise?

Being a college student during the pandemic was very tough, especially when it came to staying motivated with schoolwork and keeping track of due dates. The transition to all online classes created a lot of flexibility in how I wanted to learn material from all my classes. At the beginning, I was struggling to keep up with pre-recorded lecture videos, but over time I was able to take control of my daily schedule and find a consistent timeline that worked for me. This definitely improved my time management, and I’ve built the good habit of writing down schedules for each day and sticking to them. I really missed walking around campus and going to in-person classes, so I’m glad I was able to spend most of my time here experiencing that. I hope current students (especially freshmen) get the chance to enjoy those experiences soon too!

Anyone in the college – faculty or staff – who made a difference in your life in the past four years?

I would like to thank the following faculty and staff for having my back the last four years: Dr. Anthony Marchese and Dr. Jason Quinn for helping me get involved in undergraduate research; Dr. Christie Peebles and Claire Lavelle for being great advisors; Dean [David] McLean and Susan Benzel for their support through the Scott Scholars program; and Claudia Hernandez, Rachael Johnson, and Aaron Benally for the opportunity to participate in ENvision and ENpower to encourage future students to explore engineering. I would also like to thank the amazing graduate students I got the chance to work with during my undergraduate research experiences here at CSU: Jeff Mohr, Peter Chen and Diana Nunez.

What did the Scott Scholarship allow you to do that you couldn’t have done otherwise?

The challenge of finding the resources to fund my college education was a big part of my decision to go to college or not. Receiving the Scott Scholarship not only took care of that challenge, but it opened up many opportunities to network and connect with other high-achieving engineering students and supportive staff. The Scott Scholarship was an enormous motivator for me to strive for A’s in my classes as well. My family and I are forever thankful to the Scott Foundation for believing in me and investing in my future.

What have you learned as a Scott Scholar that prepares you for your next steps in life?

The biggest lesson I have learned from being a Scott Scholar and from Walter Scott, Jr. himself is to be a giver, not a taker. I think this is an important lesson that everyone can learn, and I always look for opportunities to make it a part of my everyday life. I truly believe that the world can only be better if we work together to help those around us and give back as much as possible through donations, service, knowledge and generosity.