COLORADO SPRINGS — Many students are getting ready to don the cap and gown and walk across the stage to receive their diploma. But for some, the road to get there has been more challenging than others. For a college student from Falcon, this accomplishment means more than most.

Sierra Jarmon graduated from Falcon High School in 2016, then headed to Greeley to attend the University of Northern Colorado, attracted by the smaller class sizes and its proximity to home.

“I want to be somewhere where I’m close to home so that way I can still drive home and see my parents, but far enough that I can still have my own independence and kind of just grow up and branch out on my own,” Jarmon said.

The future veterinarian worked hard through difficult biology classes with hopes of eventually receiving a degree in biological sciences. But she had never taken any AP classes in high school, so she struggled at first.

“My first semester was very rough and I did not do as well as I wanted to,” Jarmon said. “I ended up failing a class and I kind of started to rethink my decision. I’m like, you know what, I’m not really cut out for science. This is too hard for me.”

Just when she finally started to get her head above the water, in September of 2018, she received some tragic news.

“It was the day I was coming back from a retreat — from a Christian group that I was a part of on my campus — and my parents had met me in Greeley. They sat me down in my dorm room and they told me. And that really was the worst day of my life.”

Sierra Jarmon (right) and Jesse Jarmon (left) pose for a picture. Credit: Sierra Jarmon

It was the news that her 23-year-old sister, Jesse had died.

“During that time, I feel like I was doing pretty well in my classes, but after they told me the news, I shut down completely.”

She said she took a few weeks off, but it caused her to fall behind in her classes.

“It was stressful. I wasn’t eating, I lost a lot of weight and I just went through so much depression,” Jarmon said.”

She said she considered dropping out many times, but kept going. She credits her support system on campus – as well as the personal reminder of her sister who, she says, would want Jarmon to keep pushing forward.

Then, on May 7, after six years of hard work, she donned her cap and gown and walked across the stage as a college graduate.

After everything Jarmon was finally able to celebrate her graduation. Credit: Sierra Jarmon

“My big sister, she was a huge part of my heart. She still is a huge part of my heart. And, even though it was hard not having her there yesterday, I just know she would’ve been proud.”

Jarmon said she wants to encourage people through her story who have suffered something traumatic in their life to keep going and never hesitate to reach out to for help — especially when family is there.