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Daaliyah Dominguez — Driven to drive, now ready to cruise to Colorado School of Mines

For an overview of the Northfield graduating class of 2024 please go to the profiles of

Nashara Ellerbee and Wilson Harper.

Daaliyah Dominguez was born and raised in West Denver. She stayed there for elementary at Cowell and Denver Center for International Studies at Fairmont, and middle school at DCIS Baker.

2024 NHS grad Daaliyah Dominguez.

DCIS Baker, a 6-12, was her initial choice for high school but “it’s kind of underfunded and their programs were not guaranteed to get me to where I want go,’’ she says.

Clearly driven, Daaliyah also drives — her beloved ’98 Honda CRV with its 200,000 miles – nearly 35 miles round trip to attend Northfield High School in northeast Denver to take on its challenging International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.

“I know, people are surprised,’’ the recent Northfield IB Diploma graduate says. “ ‘How do you go here? It’s so hard,’ ” they say. “I go there for all the programs that they offer.’’

And that’s what’s helping her to most likely attend Colorado School of Mines next year; final admittance is expected soon. She’s earned nearly a semester of college credits by completing the IB program.

Her signature drive emerged in fourth grade when she began a years-long relationship at age 11 with Girls Inc. of Metro Denver located on West Colfax Avenue. Girls Inc. is a highly regarded national leadership organization that focuses on “the whole girl’’ to help them develop personal strengths and skills through mentor relationships and after-school and summer programs.

Girls Inc. was founded in 1864 to “serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War,” according to their organizational history.

They exposed Daaliyah to influential role models and a summer program for six years called Eureka that focuses on the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math. She first took a computer science course at 14 and “it’s been on my brain since then. They had a coding program and I loved it,’’ she says. “I either want to do web design or data programing.”

Freshman year was online due to the COVID pandemic. To be in-person on the Northfield campus for her sophomore year, Daaliyah took 30-hours of driver ed classes to get her license early to drive to school. Without that, “it would’ve been a pretty long bus ride.”

She’s been working since she was 14 every summer and during the school year at a variety of jobs at Water World, a senior living center, Wetzels Pretzels at Colorado Mills and now as a hostess at Homegrown Tap and Dough.

She did take a semester off junior year as course work grew more demanding. She was back at it her senior year on Sundays and two evenings during the week. “I feel more productive when I work my job,” she says.

And like most IB students, she’s learned academic discipline and being organized about everything. Her calendar is kaleidoscopic – blue for work, pink for major events, orange for holidays and huge deadlines, yellow for college stuff, purple for birthdays.

Daaliyah says with IB and work she’s lacked time for extracurricular activities like sports. That’s ok.

“I’m a very clumsy person, so I cannot do sports for the life of me,” she says.

She found much fulfillment in art courses where she worked in several mediums including acrylic, collage, sketching, and digital art including a flip book, an interactive, digital recreation of a print publication with a series of images that gives the illusion of animation when leafed through rapidly.

Her art teacher, Nolan Castanon, was especially influential. “He’s  supportive, almost like a friend. I could talk to him about anything.”

And her primary IB teacher, Peter Wright, helped her “grow a lot in what I’ve learned in such a short period of time, and he’s been there to support me. He definitely made a big impact on me.”

Now she is ready to drive herself further.

“I’m pretty excited to start college,’’ she says. “I’m pretty determined in what I want to do. I’ll shape it more and I’m excited to start that.”

 (The Foundation for Sustainable Urban Communities gives grants to Northfield High School’s International Baccalaureate Program.)


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