William Mundo: an excellent CU Denver student almost didn't go to school; now he's repaying generosity

When he graduated in May, William Mundo reached a milestone in his journey at the University of Colorado Denver.

It’s a journey that almost didn’t even start.

It’s good for him—and us—it did.

Before William devoted countless hours to his studies over four years and emerged as one of the university’s most well-known volunteers and respected student leaders, he and his mother had a pivotal conversation about whether he’d even attend college.  

“OK,” he recalls her saying. “You want to go to college. None of us have ever done it, but I’ll support you.”

But “it’s $10,000 a year,” he told her.

“We can’t pay that,” she said.

William insisted: “Mom, don’t worry.”

He had a plan.

William’s journey began modestly. Born in Los Angeles to parents who emigrated from Acapulco, Mexico, he and his family eventually moved to Leadville, high in the Colorado mountains. He remembers observing his father treating people in their community, so he assumed his father was a doctor.

“It wasn’t until I was much older that I figured out that my father didn’t get past sixth grade,” William says. “He had to drop out and help the family put food on the table since it was really difficult for my family in Mexico.”

Seeing his father care for his community inspired him: “I want to be a doctor. That really pushed me to pursue that career.”

At CU Denver, he studied public health and ethnic studies with an eye on medical schools. His goals include combating race-based health disparities and improving health care throughout the world, especially for impoverished communities. He’s also considering joining the Air Force with the hope to become a medical doctor in the military.

“I have a passion for serving others,” he says.

These paths wouldn’t have opened to him if he didn’t remain dedicated to his plan—the one he assured his mom would help him attend college.

“This doesn’t happen without scholarships,” William says. “They’ve made it possible for me to come to college and pursue my dream.”

CU Denver-based philanthropy like the Graham Family Scholarships and Alumni Association General Scholarships offered him assistance. So did the Latin American Educational Foundation and The White Rose Scholarship Foundation.

“They have really made an impact on my life because navigating the education system as a first-generation student is very difficult,” he says.

When others cared for him, he discovered the chance to care for others.

“It’s given me hope,” he says, “that there’s still people out there that really care about people like me and want us to do well.”