Homegrown Brilliance

  • Written by: Eunice Peinado
  • Photos Courtesy of the Alumni

These three people are doing amazing things with their lives, and they have one thing in common — they are all products of St. Vrain Valley Schools.

These three alumni may have their own story, but one thing they have in common is that they are giving back to the community that helped them become who they are today – St. Vrain Valley Schools.

Do you ever wonder what happened to that classmate that stood out to you the most? The one you would ride the bus with, or the athlete you looked up to in high school? How about the one that you just knew would one day change the world?

These three alumni have made a name for themselves – each with their own journey through the St. Vrain community.

Major General Mark Schwartz

Major General Mark Schwartz

Skyline High School
Class of 1983

From an early age, military service always caught Major General Mark Schwartz’s attention – whether it was his grandfather’s service during World War II, or the encouragement he received from his best friend in college, or his military science professor, MG Schwartz knows that his life experiences guided him to a life of service. Mark began his service in 1986, and now 31 years later, he continues to be on active duty as a Major General in the United States Army and a Special Forces Officer, assigned as the Commander, Special Operations Command Europe.

Looking at his high school experience, MG Schwartz was sure he would go to college on a football scholarship. “Frankly, I was an average student and enjoyed the social side of high school more than the academic rigor,” admits MG Schwartz. Unfortunately an injury during his senior year changed his plans. “The colleges that were previously interested in me dropped off the net, they had no desire in recruiting a high school athlete who was severely injured – that was a wake-up call for me. I realized that I might actually have to get into college based on my academic performance,” recalls MG Schwartz.

Skyline High School was known for its exceptional teachers. “They truly cared about the students and wanted us all to succeed,” he added. However, it wasn’t until MG Schwartz joined the ROTC in college, that he realized how much he enjoyed being around the military. “My life changed when I joined the ROTC, I became serious about academics – I had focus and a purpose.” During his time in ROTC, Mark remembers two Master Sergeants that inspired him to become a Green Beret when he was eligible to apply.

Being part of the Special Forces, he has had the opportunity to serve around the world, and most importantly, he’s had the honor of serving with the finest men and women in the United States Army. “I love the Army,” he added. “I have honestly never had aspirations of being a General Officer. I have taken one assignment at a time and tried to serve the soldiers I am responsible for in the best way I know how.” MG Schwartz has a profound appreciation for the great mentors and leaders who have seen the potential he had when he himself didn’t see it, “for this, I am forever grateful.”

Reflecting back on his high school experience, Coach Mike Flynn stands out the most. “He taught me more about dedication, commitment, and work ethic, than any other teacher or coach. I had a great high school experience because of the faculty at Skyline,” he recalled. “My advice for students is that academics are what matter and choose a career you are passionate about. I am passionate about the Army and the soldiers I serve with. I love what I do.”

Gina King

Gina King

Niwot High School
Class of 1988

“I never thought about becoming an executive for the company,” shared Gina King, who attended St. Vrain Valley Schools through high school, graduating from Niwot High in 1988. She remembers every day, her school bus would go by the IBM building, and “never in a million years” did she imagine her career trajectory would lead her to one of the globe’s top companies.

Now as an executive for the Fortune 500 Company, Gina has had the opportunity to give back to the district by working with students who are part of the P-TECH program as an IBM mentor. “This program is giving students an opportunity to have exposure and give them a preview of what it might be like to work in that type of environment. This is a way I can give back to the community in which I grew up in.”

Gina remembers a specific high school teacher that challenged her to reach her highest potential, “he really made me apply myself and realize how much more I was capable of.” Looking back at her own experiences as a student, she recalls how each opportunity in St. Vrain prepared her for future success. “I had teachers who inspired me to step up. If I could become an executive for a company like IBM, anybody can do it – I want students to understand that through perseverance, determination, and focus, everyone can achieve great things.”

Reflecting on the impact she is having today as a student mentor, Gina says that she “can see her students blossoming, and becoming more confident, and more grounded with technology.” Her hope is that students continue to be encouraged and take advantage of the many opportunities throughout St. Vrain because “there is a path for everyone, if they apply themselves they can really succeed… it’s a matter of not giving up and leveraging the things at your fingertips.”

Delfin Lozano

Delfin Lozano

Skyline High School
Class of 2003

Moving from Peru to Colorado, Delfin Lozano, 2003 graduate of Skyline High School, admits he was shocked with how “everything was different,” when he came to Colorado in 1999. He did not know what the expectations would be once he began school but quickly found a community ready to champion his success. “All my teachers made me feel welcomed, they were supportive.”

Whether in Peru or in Colorado, Delfin always made sure his education was a priority. “Once I obtained my technical degree, I knew I couldn’t stop there; I didn’t want my motivation and dreams to slip away.” After going back to school and earning his associate degree, “I realized I wanted to be more and do more with my life, that’s when I went back to school to earn my Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering; I became an engineer.”

Shortly after, Delfin decided to move to Miami to earn his MBA. When he came back to Colorado, he says that he “realized that education itself was my motivation, I knew I wanted to have some sort of an impact” on the learning and success of others.

Delfin launched QuestBotics Inc. three years ago in Longmont. It’s an organization that develops and manufactures technology to foster coding skills and STEAM learning in students ages three and older. “It may look simple, but in reality, it’s not,” shared Delfin. The QuestBot is a robot that builds math and logic skills, emphasizes teamwork, problem-solving, and communication, all in a fun, hands-on environment. The blue robot moves according to the code that the user creates with Qubes in a logical mathematical sequence to create a movement pattern, which is then placed on the accompanying QuestController. Kids interact with each other as they practice logic sequencing, refine coding skills, review the robot’s movements, and plan future adventures for the QuestBot.

QuestBotics is currently being used in 70 schools throughout Colorado, as well as in Asia and Latin America. “My advice to students now is that they stay focused on achieving their goals and to find their passion. I want them to do something they are going to enjoy every day.” As he looks back on his accomplishments, Delfin realizes that “the only thing that helped me get to where I am today, was my education. I worked hard for so many years and learned so much; being able to pursue my dreams taught me to have an open mind, education itself became a big part of my life.”

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