(COLORADO SPRINGS) — The Fine Arts Center at Colorado College (CC) recently got a visit from more than one hundred high school students who enjoyed a play and learned how Colorado College pursues paths in the arts.

“Art is beautiful, so we appreciate that CC allows us to come here and show our kids that there’s so much beauty in the world, especially during these times,” said Executive Director for Educating Children of Color, Dr. Marissa Prince.

The nonprofit organization, Educating Children of Color (ECOC), works with students from all over Southern Colorado to reach their full potential and pursue their passions.

“I kept hearing them say, ‘I’ve never been to an art museum, I’ve never seen a play’,” Prince said. “That’s amazing and they went back and told their principals, we got reports from principals that they just couldn’t stop talking about the opportunity just to see art and just to go to a play and so it meant so much to them.”

In their leadership program, students are able to form connections with the Southern Colorado workforce as well as visit college campuses.

“I’ve made quite a few friends in ECOC so far because I just moved here to Colorado, so this is brand new,” Nineveh Delaney said. “I’m making new friends constantly, so this is a great space of meeting people that are interested in pursuing grand future goals and yeah, we all kind of have a commonality of wanting to thrive.”

Visits like this one help students prepare for their next chapter and understand the different subjects they can study when attending college.

“Since I’m a junior, I’m definitely looking into colleges and CC is a great school and I’m like amazed with this opportunity to be able to come here and see the campus and everything,” Delaney said. “Just the program really allows us to learn from older mentors that have been in our place and understand… like just where we come from and understand experiences.”

During this visit, students were able to tour the facility as well as enjoy a theatrical show called Ballonacy.

“It kind of gives you a take of what a college session or like experience is like,” Taramarie Punto said. “Also, you get to communicate with individuals who actually work and study at this college. So, you get more information and opportunities as well as like talking to them and get like a little inside scoop.”

Both Punto and Delaney reflected on how much ECOC has helped them navigate their future and learn about the different colleges they can attend throughout Southern Colorado.

“I really appreciate these opportunities because it opens my eyes to the opportunities that we have around us and that are open to our demographics,” Delaney said. “It’s really impactful because a lot of times you don’t know about them, but they’re out there. So, we’re able to take advantage of it and really pursue it and help us achieve our goals that we have for the future.”

ECOC leadership program helps inspire students about their future, but also teaches students how to prepare for college applications and preparing for the college entry exams.

“A lot of the students that we have in Leadership Academy are first generation American students or first-generation college students,” Prince said. “They don’t understand necessarily the aspects, they’re not experts in FAFSA or college entry exams or even scholarship writing where they could get their college 100% paid for. It is so impactful that our students are not coming out $23-28,000 in debt from a bachelor’s degree. They’re getting their education based on scholarships or opportunities like CC offers.”

The 17th Annual ECOC Summit will be at Colorado College on January 13, 2024, which is open and free to all. The steps to register can be found online.

Punto reflected on the impact the Summit had on her last year–helping discover her future career path.

“I talked to Mark Dickerson, and he’s retired from the Air Force, and I wanted to continue a path in the medical field… with his like words and inspiration in his story, I consider to be a flight surgeon,” said Punto.

Throughout the next couple of weeks, FOX21 will continue to shine light on the positive work non-profit organizations are doing all throughout the Pikes Peak Region, so stay tuned!