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Bigger, better, faster, stronger

That about sums up Jennifer Nava Bello, this year’s President’s Award winner.

May 9, 2016

After she graduates on May 14, Jennifer Nava Bello plans to work as an elementary school teacher. MSU Denver photo.
After she graduates on May 14, Jennifer Nava Bello plans to work as an elementary school teacher. MSU Denver photo.

Editor's note: This week, we'll be profiling outstanding students who are graduating on Saturday, May 14. Take a moment to read their stories and remember that, through our work at MSU Denver, we all play a role in our students' success.  

Jennifer Nava Bello didn’t give up.

She’d come to a crossroads, one of those moments that define a life. She’d already been through years of “abuse, tears and failure,” and now her husband had abandoned her with two young children. She had no roof over her head, and couldn’t see a way forward.

“I was in a dark place,” she recalled, “but I saw an opportunity to become something better, not only for myself, but for my children. Metropolitan State University of Denver offered me a chance to start over, and going to school changed who I am.”

Nava Bello blossomed at MSU Denver. She majored in modern languages with an emphasis in Spanish and took a minor in elementary education with licensure. She attacked her classwork like someone who understands the value of a second chance, resulting in a perfect 4.0 GPA.

But her stellar grades only tell part of the story. “My GPA is more than just a number,” she said. “It represents my drive, passion and commitment to becoming the best I can be. Each A represents hours of hard work. Yet with every hour, I knew I was becoming a better student, a better learner, and most importantly, a better member of my community.”

After graduation, Nava Bello plans to make an impact on her community as a fifth or sixth grade teacher.

Maria Rey-Lopez, Ph.D., one of Nava Bello’s Spanish instructors, is excited by what her pupil will bring to the classroom.

“… I know she will become a role model for future generations,” Rey-Lopez wrote in a recommendation letter. “She will not only be an example of professionalism, but also an example of an exceptional human being. She will awake in her students a passion for learning and studying, a passion for life, which has been and will be her personal and unique gift for all of us.”

Nava Bello is currently finishing up her student-teaching at Little Elementary in Arvada, Colorado. Afterwards, she hopes to work at a school where most students speak Spanish. She feels that her language skills give her the opportunity to connect on a deeper level with those students and their families.

Her long-term goal is to pursue both a master’s and doctoral degree so she can teach at the college level. She believes she can have an even greater impact by educating the next generation of teachers. But for now, she is excited about the prospect of continuing in an elementary classroom.

Her message is one she thinks can be very valuable to students.

“I come from a background that gave me every excuse to give up, but I didn’t. Life can be challenging, but despite everything you go through, you can rise above it.”