Danielle Soliz’s memory lives on through her Human Development and Family Studies scholarship

Close up of Danielle Soliz and her son
Danielle Soliz and her son.

On September 2, 2016, tragedy struck the family of Danielle Soliz. At the age of 34, Soliz unexpectedly passed away. At the time of her passing, Soliz was a wife and mother of two who was actively working to enroll in Colorado State University’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies. Soliz’s surviving parents, Carla Barela-Bloom and Dan Bloom, are both CSU alumni.

Barela-Bloom got her graduate degree in sociology; she is also an adviser at CSU for undeclared/exploratory students.  Bloom received his degree in mechanical engineering.  Both were excited and supportive of their daughter’s plans to pursue a human development and family studies degree from CSU.

“Danielle was an incredible wife and mother,” Barela-Bloom explained, “but she was a bit of a late bloomer. She always had a calling to help others, especially marginalized populations. It took her a while to realize her passions and strengths could be applied in higher education. We saw how her soul emerged to all and knew this was her path!”

Danielle Soliz Scholarship

Danielle Soliz takes a selfie in a Broncos jersey
Danielle Soliz

In her late twenties, Soliz decided to pursue an associate degree at Front Range Community College. While attending FRCC, Danielle worked as a health companion for developmentally disabled adults. She found this work to be deeply meaningful. She finished her AA from Front Range and then set her sights on earning a B.S. degree in the HDFS program.  Her strength was understanding what others needed and trying to aid in filling those needs.

Tragically, Soliz’s life was cut short, and she never got to achieve her dreams of completing her CSU degree. Her family and friends wanted to carry on her legacy and celebrate the amazing person that she was by creating a memorial scholarship in her name. With that, the Danielle Soliz scholarship was launched in December of 2016.

Danielle Solis and her family
Danielle Soliz with her husband and children.

The scholarship is designed to support HDFS students, who like Soliz, juggle many roles and responsibilities. Preference is given to non-traditional students and/or students who have demonstrated involvement in the student diversity center, El Centro.

“Danielle’s scholarship is our way of providing a legacy for our daughter,” said Carla Barela-Bloom. “Danielle had a heart for social justice, and she was very aware of inequities towards marginalized groups of people.  She always wanted to offer help to those who needed it. With this scholarship, we can keep Danielle’s memory alive, and we can share what an incredible woman, wife, mother, daughter, and friend she was!”

Scholarship recipients

Portrait of Joselin Rivera
Joselin Rivera has received the Danielle Soliz scholarship two years in a row.

2021 marks the fifth year a HDFS student has received the Danielle Soliz scholarship. The inaugural recipient Joselin Rivera was fortunate enough to receive this scholarship two years in a row (2016-17 and 2017-18).

“The Danielle Soliz scholarship meant the world to me,” said Rivera. “Without it, I’m not sure if I would have graduated. Tuition was always a big stressor and I needed an opportunity like this to help me out. When I received the scholarship, it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I was able to meet Danielle’s family at the College of Health and Human Sciences scholarship event. Meeting her family remains a highlight from my time at CSU. It was really touching to see a family use their pain to create something so beautiful that helps others.”

Karen Sandoval was the 2020-21 Danielle Soliz scholarship recipient. “The Danielle Soliz Scholarship meant so much to me, especially after I learned the story behind its creation,” she said. “I feel honored that I was selected. 2020 was a really difficult year for everyone. I truly appreciated knowing I had Danielle’s parents, Carla and Dan, supporting and believing in me last year.”

Outdoor portrait of Karen Sandoval
Karen Sandoval was the 2020-21 recipient of the Danielle Soliz scholarship.

Sandoval graduated in the spring of 2021. Today, she is a proud HDFS alumna who is working for La Cocina, a purpose-driven and community co-designed mental health organization focused on leading Latinx health equity and social justice in Colorado. At La Cocina, Sandoval serves as the Mil Días de Amor Program Coordinator, which is focused on infancy and early childhood mental health. Eventually, Sandoval hopes to go back to school to study occupational therapy. Her future career goal is to work with BIPOC children who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Carla and Dan are cherishing their daughter’s memorial scholarship and enjoy meeting their new recipients every year.  When asked what inspires them most about their scholarship recipients over the last five years they shared, “All of our recipients have been strong, resourceful individuals who have had to overcome obstacles to make their dream of obtaining a college degree come true. We truly believe our daughter is smiling down on each deserving recipient of her scholarship award.”

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is a part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.