Trailblazing Women Leaders – January Feature Nicole Sherman

In our January blog, immerse yourself in the inspiring journey of Nicole Sherman, a true trailblazer whose commitment to kindness and empowerment is shaping a community and forging pathways to success. Prepare to be moved by a story that exemplifies the transformative power of mentorship and the boundless impact it can have on the lives of those who need it most.

Tell us a bit about your background and please share the inspiration behind founding HighView, and what vision you had in mind for the program when you started?

After starting my career as an investment banker on Wall Street and a private equity investor, I joined the Denver tech scene and helped two companies scale to “unicorn” status. While I was working in tech, I mentored an incredible DPS high school student, who opened my eyes to the enormous disparities in educational resources & professional opportunities between students from lower-income and higher-income families. My mentee was smart and driven, but did not have access to the fundamental tools necessary to succeed in school. She could not afford a laptop and did not have a quiet place to study at home, with 10+ people living in a two-bedroom apartment. This determined and scrappy young woman would type up her 3-page essays on her tiny slide phone and wake up super early to edit them in the school’s computer lab before anyone got there. She kept her focus on her education, and with my support & encouragement, became the first in her family to graduate college. She is now a Junior Architect with a promising career ahead of her. 

I had always wanted to devote my time to giving back to my community in a meaningful way later in life, but seeing the obstacles my mentee had to overcome inspired me to make a major career change and launch HighView. My vision was to open doors for motivated high school students from low income, first-generation & underrepresented backgrounds and ensure that they have the same educational and professional opportunities as their peers.

HighView focuses on connecting high-achieving students from underserved communities with local companies. How do you see this unique approach impacting both the students and the companies involved?

For the students, our immersive approach prepares them with the social capital, connections and confidence to thrive in college and in upwardly mobile career fields. Through our rigorous Student Accelerator program, we immerse high school students in professional office environments biweekly throughout the school year. By participating in interactive sessions at top companies like Salesforce, Amazon, Accenture & Guild, they gain valuable career exposure, make professional connections and learn soft skills that will help them thrive in college and in the workforce. We see this positive impact on students already with a 0% college drop-out rate among our alumni, compared to a staggering 89% drop-out rate nationwide for first-gen/low-income students. We’ve also helped place our Alumni in summer internships at prestigious companies, setting them on a career trajectory with significant economic mobility.

On the partner company front, companies are looking to increase the overall funnel of diverse talent and ensure that their workforce is more representative of the communities in which they operate. We figured out a way to tap into this “long game” of fostering a diverse talent pipeline, while allowing companies to engage their current employees in this mission. This is a win-win, because employees are looking for purpose in their work, and supporting HighView students through their workplace builds employee satisfaction & retention… while at the same time inspiring these students to join these industries following graduation. 

Partnership and Collaboration are key elements in the success of HighView. How have your partner companies contributed to the academic success and personal growth of the students in the program?

HighView’s partner companies each sponsor one cohort of 6-12 students. This entails providing dedicated volunteer mentors to meet with their student mentees monthly, along with additional employee volunteers to lead Career Presentations, professional development sessions (mock networking, interviewing, public speaking, etc.) and ERG discussions throughout the year. 

By pushing students outside of their comfort zones and having them network with professionals from different companies on a regular basis, they are prepared to thrive in academic and professional spaces that historically were not designed with them in mind. The majority of our students go on to attend predominantly white colleges and universities, where they are both the first in their families to pursue a bachelor’s degree and often one of the only BIPOC individuals in the room. HighView and our partner companies instill the belief that they have earned and deserve their place at these institutions, and that they will excel in their chosen career paths. 

The personal growth over the several years in the high school program is astounding, with many shy students becoming confident, outspoken, mature young adults ready to pave the way as a first-generation college student and professional. 

Mentorship is a crucial aspect of HighView’s support system. Can you share a specific success story where mentorship has played a pivotal role in a student’s journey through HighView?

Maria B. initially joined the HighView program with uncertainty about attending college, low confidence, and difficulty expressing herself in classroom settings. Due to the impact of COVID and online learning, her grades significantly declined. However, with the support of her mentor Danielle, and participation in HighView workshops that pushed her out of her comfort zone, Maria improved her grades and transformed into a confident and accomplished student with high career aspirations. In May 2023, Maria graduated high school with Honors, won two awards at graduation and secured full-ride scholarship support to attend Metropolitan State University this fall as a first-generation college student.

Launching an innovative program like HighView undoubtedly comes with its challenges. What were some of the obstacles you faced, and how did you overcome them to make this incredible initiative a reality?

I launched this company two months before the pandemic began – not the best timing to launch any business! I’m proud of being able to adapt our program’s model (which relied heavily on in-person, office experiences) to a virtual setting and maintain 100% student and partner company retention. Since then, we were able to expand to sign marquee company partners and eclipse 100 students and 130+ volunteers. 

What are your long-term goals for HighView and do you see opportunities for expansion beyond Colorado?

My long-term goal is to solidify the program model here in Colorado before expanding to every major metropolitan area in the country. With opportunity gaps and network gaps widening significantly over the last several decades, there is such a critical need for this programming across the US. 

Can you articulate the philosophy that underlies HighView and the guidance you offer to students when they first enter the program?

When students first enter the program, we reiterate that the bar is very high. They are all stellar students with an innate drive to succeed. Success doesn’t come to you – you have to show up, get out of your comfort zone, and take full advantage of opportunities presented to you. 

We also provide guidance around the importance of gratitude and cultivating connections you make through this program. With 85% of jobs filled through personal recommendations and 70% of jobs never posted publicly, many first-generation students are at a network-gap disadvantage from the beginning.

Most importantly – we encourage them to aim high! One of our students entered the program unsure whether college was even for her. She is now on a full ride scholarship to Barnard College / Columbia University in New York City! 

This has been stated by many, but “talent is equally distributed – opportunity is not.” Our philosophy is that if given the proper exposure, connections, and belief – motivated students can and will succeed in life-changing careers. 



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