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Katy Muñoz Leaps Into Her Bright Future

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Katy Muñoz takes big leaps, learns along the way, and makes the best out of things. 

The PCHS 2024 graduate joined the softball team in 10th grade - and she’d never touched a bat in her life. “I loved it,” she said. 

Katy buckled into a snowboard for the first time that year and learned to shred, which was “really fun.”

She also signed up for PCEF’s Bright Futures - and knew almost nothing about it. It will come as no surprise that Katy, who earned a SOMOS scholarship and heads to SLCC in the fall, is on track and having a positive experience in this endeavor, too. 

“I now see the impact Bright Futures has. You get closer with your peers and you have similarities.”

Bright Futures begins in 10th grade, with its 3-day Summer Academy. Nearly all incoming BF students also take the 4-week Dream Big summer course. Dream Big and Bright Futures provide a full spectrum of support for PCHS students who are the first in their families to go to college. Together, the two programs ensure Park City’s motivated first-gen students have what they need to get to college.

Katy, who participated in Dream Big and Latinos in Action (LIA), says her favorite part of her high school BF experience was the budget meeting.

… The budget meeting? 

“Yes,” Katy explained. “That meeting made me realize how expensive college is - and how it gets more expensive as the years progress. Seeing those numbers encouraged me to apply for all the scholarships I could. To see how much it could cost made me realize I need to raise more money!” 

Katy kicked into high gear. She worked full-time through the ski season – while she attended high school, of course – and says most of her paychecks go directly into her college fund. 

“I worked 4-5 days a week during the winter - usually three until 11 p.m. I fit homework in after I got done. I finished it around 1 a.m. Luckily, I don’t start school until 9 a.m., and it was all just easier if I was busy… I have pretty much always worked.”

Katy also earned the SOMOS scholarship -  though she had to stay late at work that night and crash-edit her application draft with moments to spare.

“I didn’t think I’d get it in on time. I worked that day and when I finally got home, I logged onto the site. It was due at 11:59 p.m. and the answers I had written were too long when I plugged them in. I had to scramble to shorten them and have them make sense - and I wasn’t sure if I made the deadline!”

She did - and became one of just ten high schoolers to earn the scholarship - $1,000 to apply to anything college-related. With her Bright Futures Scholarship, prize money from her 3rd-place finish in an LIA writing competition, and savings from work, Katy says she’s in better shape financially to make college happen - though she knows it won’t be easy.     

Her intense work ethic is something many BF students share. In most cases - including Katy’s - it’s modeled by incredibly hard-working parents. Katy’s mom has two jobs and takes on additional work whenever possible.

“My mom has an education but it’s not transferable here,” Katy reflected. “She couldn’t get credit for her accounting background - and she loved that work. She always loved school.”

Katy helps out at home as much as she can, but her mom still does most of the caretaking, cooking, and driving for the family. 

“Even when she has a day off, she has to work at a different job. When does she have time for herself? I want to be financially stable. To have that college degree means I will do something that allows me to survive without working myself to death.” 

Students and their families work with Dream Big and Bright Futures staff on everything from preparing for college, choosing the right school, creating and following college budgets, finding scholarships, completing financial aid forms, touring campuses, and gathering dorm room essentials. 

Bright Futures is more than just a resource for you to learn about college - it’s also good for your parents. We all translate for our parents. We’ve all had to do it - 100% of us have translated for our parents. It’s different when Bright Futures speaks directly to parents. They get their own specific communication about it - and we just get to be kids for a second.” 

For Katy, part of being a kid means making her mom’s sacrifices mean something. 

“My mom wants me to go to college- she doesn’t care what I study as long as it’s something. It’s the least I can do for her - and show her that all her hard work was worth it.”

For Katy, no matter how tough it is to get through college, we're certain she will make the most of it.

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