Ever since Noah Osuna was five years old, he’s been in a choir singing alongside his
peers. It’s where he has found community, confidence and great accomplishment. In
his final year attending Overland High School in Aurora, Osuna was involved in five
different ensembles, and the year before that, he was chosen to be on the 2022 Colorado All-State Mixed Choir as a tenor.
“All-state is pretty big,” Osuna said. “I’m not one to brag, but most choir students
in the state audition for it. You have to prepare your own piece and then prepare
for a sight reading of a melodic and rhythmic piece, so it’s a lot. We spend months
preparing for it.”
Osuna says he was among 200 other performers in the mixed choir, which is one of three
All-State choirs students can audition for.
“It was a lot of fun,” Osuna said. “We spend a weekend in downtown Denver preparing
our music, and then we perform at the Buell Theatre.”
However, singing isn’t Osuna’s only passion. In middle school, he interned for Teachers
United for Immigrant Rights and helped the organization plan events and create a website.
Osuna is bilingual, his father immigrated from Mexico to the United States, so he
has a deep connection to the community. Once he began high school, Osuna started his
own student branch called Students United for Immigrant Rights.
“I thought, ‘if I wanted something to be done, then I should do it myself,’” Osuna
He and a handful of members dedicated their time to translating and handing out information
packets at school events and even ran a vaccine clinic for immigrants and the first-generation
community across Colorado.
“Eventually, we got permission to do it at our school and fully vaccinated 25,000
people,” Osuna said. “So, that was amazing and was my biggest accomplishment.”
Osuna’s range in involvement during high school made him a perfect candidate for higher
education scholarship opportunities. His parents, both teachers, and counselor recognized
this and introduced him to the Boettcher Scholarship Program.
Only eligible to Colorado students, the Boettcher Foundation awards 50 merit-based
scholarships annually to Colorado high school students who are selected based on four
criteria: superior scholastic ability and intellectual curiosity; evidence of potential
leadership; service to community and school; and outstanding character. Boettcher
recipientsreceive an annual fixed amount of $20,000 for four years. Institutions will then use
institutional, merit, and/or need based support (or a combination) to support up to
the total cost of attendance for each scholar minus travel and other expenses.
Understanding how big of an opportunity this scholarship was, Osuna dove straight
into the five-month long application process, eagerly anticipating the results as
he moved forward from a semi-finalist to finalist and finally a recipient.
“It was crazy,” Osuna said. “I found out on a school trip in Madrid. My mom was able
to be the one to tell me because she was one of the teachers on the trip, and she
got a text with a picture of the acceptance letter from my dad.”
The Boettcher Foundation allows recipients to choose between nearly a dozen Colorado
universities, including the University of Northern Colorado (UNC), to put their scholarship
toward making the cost of college essentially free. Osuna said he already knew he
would be choosing to attend UNC before knowing he was a Boettcher recipient.
“UNC has everything I’ve wanted,” Osuna said. “It’s a good size, all of the staff
I’ve met seem like they would do anything for the students, and I love the environment.”
Still trying to wrap his head around a costless college experience, Osuna has seen
a glimpse of how impactful that is.
“I didn’t know how to process it until the other day,” Osuna said. “I was in my UNC
account, and I looked in the financial section that had my meal plan, housing and
everything on one bill. It showed the price, and then it said Boettcher had taken
care of all of it. It’s crazy. It feels weird, but I am so grateful.”
Osuna is studying Music Education in the College of Performing Arts with a minor in Spanish this fall, combining his
childhood love of singing with his connection to the Spanish speaking community. Since
both of his parents are teachers, he’s been able to witness the impact they have had
on their students. Some still come up to them and thank them for their kindness years
back. What ultimately led to Osuna pursuing teaching, though, was his high school
“He changed my life and everyone’s around him. He is a really special person,” Osuna
said. “I didn’t know anyone when I started high school, and I felt like the “new kid.”
It was terrible. But in choir, my choir director didn’t let me feel that way. He would
never let me sit alone or keep to myself. He always made sure I had someone to talk
to, and I met some of my best friends through choir because of him.”
Osuna has talked to others who have had similar experiences. During All-State Choir,
he heard others sharing similar stories about their choir directors who also created
a safe space for students to be themselves so Osuna realized how rewarding music education
“Talking to everyone really put it into perspective for me; the work that teachers
do is so important, and it just kind of clicked that this is definitely something
I want to do,” Osuna said.
– written by Sydney Kern
UNC is deeply committed to meeting students’ financial needs. In 2021-22, 98% of UNC’s
undergraduate students received some type of grant or scholarship aid that does not need to be repaid. Noah Osuna received the following UNC institutional
scholarships or other federal, state or grant aid:
- UNC Trustee
- Boettcher Partnership
- Boettcher Foundation
- Henry and Blanch Ginsburg Foundation Scholarship