(instead of the other schools where I was accepted).

Vicki Hildner
University Communications
September 3, 2013

Class of 2017The Class of 2017 has arrived at CU Denver in record-setting numbers—more than 1,150 freshmen, 16 percent more than last year. It is the largest freshman class in CU Denver’s history. These students may have come from distant states through the Denver Bound Scholarship program. They may have been lured by a specialty program like University Honors and Leadership or the BA/BS-MD program. Still others chose CU Denver because they fell in love with Denver and Colorado. Many were accepted at several schools. So why did they make CU Denver their first choice?


Trenton Klimper

Trenton KlimperBragging Rights:

Valedictorian. 4.27 GPA. 2013 Boettcher Scholarship winner. Entering as second-semester sophomore. Eagle Scout. National Honor Society member. President of Drama Club and Forensics Club. Vice chair of Fort Morgan Public Library board. During the summer after eighth grade, raised $17,000 to build war memorial in town park.

Also accepted at:

Regis University, St. John’s University

Why CU Denver?

“CU Denver has established its own identity. It’s not just the baby sister of CU-Boulder, and it’s not just a commuter school anymore. It’s an urban campus in and of itself, with a vibrant student life.”


“My dad has been my inspiration for everything I want to do. He’s one of the best nurses and the best father I have ever encountered. He has a tender heart, but he can make the hard decisions when he has to. If I can grow up to be half the man he is, it will be awesome.”

Sanju Garimella

Sanju GarimellaBragging Rights:

International Baccalaureate (IB) program member and mentor. 4.6 GPA. ACT score: 34 (out of 36). Secretary of National Honor Society. President of Indian Dance Club and Greenhouse Club. Relay for Life youth coordinator, raising $3,000 in four hours for American Cancer Society. Started doing cancer research at the Anschutz Medical Campus when she was 16.

Also accepted at:

Cornell University; University of California, Berkeley; Boston University; Case Western Reserve University; University of Miami; University of Pittsburgh; University of California, San Diego

Why CU Denver?

“All students at CU Denver have the opportunity to do research and get involved. At some of the big-name schools, there was limited space in labs to do research, and I would have had to wait a few years. I want to taste a lot of different fields to figure out what to do with my life, so it’s great to be at CU Denver with its connection to Anschutz [Medical Campus].

Quotable: “It’s not the price tag or the U.S. News & World Report ranking of a school that matters. It’s what you make out of the school.”

Ryan Brody

Ryan BrodyBragging Rights:

Homeschooled entire academic career. Entering with 27 credits. Took first CU Denver class at 16 years old. ACT score: 35 (out of 36). SAT score: 2320 (out of 2400). National Merit Scholarship Finalist. Colorado State Debate Champion. Second-degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do. Played piano for 13 years.

Also accepted at:

CU-Boulder, Colorado College, University of Denver

Why CU Denver?

“The bioengineering program offers a winning combination of math and science. [From here,] I could go for a PhD in bioengineering, or I could head to the Anschutz Medical Campus to attend the CUSchool of Dental Medicine. Also, when I compared the opportunities in the University Honors and Leadership program (UHL) to other schools’ leadership programs, I felt like CU Denver offered more focus on academic excellence and growing the potential of each student.”


“Having been homeschooled, I have developed a really close relationship with my family. After 17 years, I’m not eager to lose their influence. They didn’t go the traditional route in educating me, and they have insights I am still learning from.”

Alyssa Estrada

Alyssa EstradaBragging Rights:

Treble Choir, Varsity Choir, Madrigal Choir. New Mexico all-state choir for four years. National Honor Society member for three years. 4.1 GPA. Lobbied for educational equity in schools as student representative in community group.

Also accepted at:

CU-Boulder; San Diego State University; Pepperdine University; Arizona State University; University of California, San Diego; University of New Mexico; New Mexico State University; Champlain College; Macalester College

Why CU Denver?

“CU Denver felt comfortable, like home. When I met people on campus, we had a lot in common, but I also love the diversity, because I can learn from different cultures. Also, it’s exciting to be in a big city with more opportunities for jobs than in my own state.”


“I’m looking forward to new challenges, new experiences, new friendships and making memories in my new home at CU Denver.”

Scott Cao

Scott CaoBragging Rights:

Played four years of Texas high school football as starting inside linebacker. Three-sport athlete: track, powerlifting, football. Academic All-American. SAT score: 2220 (out of 2400) with a perfect 800 math score. 4.15 GPA. National Honor Society member. President of National English Honor Society and National French Honor Society. Academic Decathlon Team member.

Also accepted at:

Baylor University, University of Texas at Austin

Why CU Denver:

“The courses in the UHL program are very cool. The leadership program offers the opportunity to enroll in honors biology and chemistry. [Being a student here] opens doors for me in Denver.”


“It was a no-brainer. Texas, Baylor or CU Denver. It was definitely CU Denver.”

Allie Kriese

Allie KrieseBragging Rights:

Entering with 39 hours of college credit from IB program. ACT score: 31 (out of 36).  3.8 GPA. Founder and president of high school’s Future Business Leaders of America Club. Volunteered 15 hours a week at church, organizing food bank. Senior project: wrote 4,000-word report on anti-bacterial resistance in debilitated immune systems. Worked with CU Denver Admissions Department to write blog for incoming freshmen, www.freshmanfreak.blogspot.com.

Also accepted at:

Baylor University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Denver
Why CU Denver:

“I love Denver. It’s the best city ever, and I love how accessible it is to the beautiful mountains and skiing. I got as many college credits as I could in high school when my education was free. Now, with a CU Denver scholarship, I plan to graduate debt-free—cross my fingers.”

“My grandparents always said, ‘Spend only as much as you make.’ I will work two or three jobs in college, because I don’t want to start my life in a financial hole. If I have the option to avoid debt, I will do my best to avoid it.”

Akshay Kumar

Akshay KumarBragging Rights:

Competed at National Science Bowl in Washington, D.C. Competed in regional finals of National High School Mock Trial program. 4.1 GPA. ACT score: 34 (out of 36). Played club tennis. During summer between junior and senior year, did university-level research analyzing anti-cancer agents.

Also accepted at:

Colorado State University; CU-Boulder; University of California, Berkeley; University of Pittsburgh; Pennsylvania State University

Why CU Denver?

“I am very outdoorsy, and I have a huge love for Colorado and my CU Denver program.”


“When I was in the fourth grade, my mom, my sister and I were in a car accident. From that time, when I saw how the doctors connected with us, balancing compassion and professionalism, I have wanted to provide the same kind of service to others.”

Daniel Grine

Daniel GrineBragging Rights: Winner, Daniels Fund Scholarship. 4.29 GPA. Ranked third in class. Took six AP classes. Catcher on varsity baseball team. Manager of girls’ basketball team. Worked 15-20 hours a week since eighth grade.

Also accepted at:

Considered applying to Creighton University, Baylor University, Johns Hopkins University but applied only to CU Denver

Why CU Denver?

“Growing up, I had heart problems and asthma, so I spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital. I was inspired by the way the adults in the hospital could make a little kid feel comfortable. When I heard about the BA/BS-MD program, I set my sights on CU Denver, because I know the medical opportunities here are very prestigious.”


“Neither of my parents went to college. I started working in the eighth grade to save money for college, knowing that my parents can’t help me. I have understood from day one that education is going to get me somewhere. Being a doctor will give me a stable career and a chance to give back and help the community.”

Christina Garza

Christina GarzaBragging Rights:

Has ridden with Westernaires (equestrian drill team performers) for 10 years. Ranked fifth on highest team in Westernaires. 4.1 GPA. Member of National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta (National Math Honor Society) and Spanish Honor Society. Band member.

Also accepted at:

Regis University

Why CU Denver?

“I like how the BA/BS-MD program is set up. It’s very connected to the [CU] School of Medicine. It makes the transition from undergrad to medical school much easier.”


“I haven’t found another place I like better than Denver and Colorado. I love the climate. My family is here. They drive me crazy, but I don’t want to have to fly a thousand miles to come home.”

Written by Vicki Hildner

Vicki Hildner is the director of editorial content for CU Anschutz and CU Denver. She is always looking for feature stories about memorable individuals, interesting research and life-changing education programs.

Contact the author: vicki.hildner@ucdenver.edu. View more by