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Higher education is rarely a solo venture, and Antonio Huerta knows this better than most.

Huerta’s father, a migrant farm worker born in Mexico, changed the course of his future children’s lives for the better when he decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree — an accomplishment that would have been impossible if not for Huerta’s mother, who worked two jobs to support her husband’s education.

Now, as donor relations manager for the Colorado State University-Pueblo Foundation, Huerta, 25, believes it is his responsibility to support all people in southern Colorado as they work to reach their highest potential.

“Access to education definitely takes a village,” said Huerta, who grew up in rural Granada and holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and a master’s in business administration, both from CSU-Pueblo. “That is why I love working at the CSU-Pueblo Foundation, because everybody rallies behind supporting southern Colorado students.”

Huerta was a tireless voice for his peers as a student at CSU-Pueblo, serving as president of the Associated Students’ Government and helping raise more than $10,000 to create a community center for low-income students. When he returned to his alma mater as an employee in January 2019, he was ready to amplify that voice.

“I went from being a voice for the students to helping with time, talent and treasure, and being a conduit between those who do have time, talent and treasure and the university,” Huerta said.

Most recently, Huerta is working on the “Leading the Legacy” project, an initiative committed to engagement, leadership and philanthropy to achieve a level of impact, influence and generosity at CSU-Pueblo and in the Pueblo community at large, said nominator Marie Humphrey, vice president for student affairs and dean of students at CSU-Pueblo.

The initiative was born 10 days into Huerta’s career, when he attended a session on gender matters and philanthropy at a conference in Denver. One year later, the foundation is about a quarter of the way to its goal of bringing together 20 female founders who will help establish resources to support students.

“The founder’s level will never be touched. That will be the purpose … because we’re hoping to get at least $200,000 from 20 founders to kick off $45,000 a year in perpetuity for a scholarship,” Huerta said. “… If we can get this large enough, we can actually have multiple scholarships that are leading the legacy.”

Huerta hopes this project is only a sliver of his own legacy in southern Colorado.

“Long term, I’d love to be the CEO of a community foundation, but also one of the major donors in that community,” he said. “…I think that’s why the foundation is good for me because it’s been pushing the ground for me to grow, and I’d love to water where I’m at now.”