Colorado state senator and teachers talk about how growing up poor shaped their lives

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Growing up in Poverty adult panel
State Senator Jessie Ulibarri of Westminster, Lori Ventola, of Denver, and Diana Howard, of Denver say the experience of growing up poor affected their careers later on.

As part of our coverage of poverty in Colorado, we asked a group of adults to talk about their childhood memories and what might have helped them through the challenges.

Colorado Matters spoke with Democratic state Sen. Jessie Ulibarri of Westminster, Lori Ventola of Denver, who holds down several jobs, including tutoring kids, and Diana Howard, who was principal of two schools in Denver and now teaches. Here's a few of the things they told us:

Howard on having to move around a lot as a child

"I remember all the places that we lived. Basement apartments, once an old abandoned storefront, once a couple of rooms behind the desk of a train station in Creston, Iowa. Whatever my mother could afford."

Ventola on the challenges of escaping poverty

"I think when you're in a systemic poverty situation, when everyone in your neighborhood is poor, and your mother is poor, and your grandmother is poor, and all of your friends are poor, there's a sense that this is who I am. I don't have any choices."

Ulibarri on raising your own kids when you've grown up in poverty

"I look around sometimes and see the things that they have, and some of the things I perceive as excesses, and [I'm] always trying to go back to what is most important."