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Calaway goes beyond writing check for scholarships program

Everyone who funds scholarships for college students wants them to succeed. However, Jim Calaway has gone much further. He has developed a program to see that the scholarship recipients of the Calaway Scholars program he has created succeed not only at Colorado Mountain College, but in life.

Calaway Scholars scholarships are designed to help recent high school graduates from within the CMC district. They are directed to students who would not be able to attend college without help, and are from families who have never had a college graduate.

The students must live on the CMC Spring Valley residential campus, and work at an on-campus job while in school and at a summer job during vacations. The recipients must also be involved in a mentoring program.



Carbondale resident Calaway was born the son of a Texas tenant farmer. He feels that education was the key to his success and he would like to give others the same opportunities he had.

“I want to show some high achievers [in high school] that they can better themselves,” said Calaway. “And I want them to have the pleasures and the benefits of living on campus.”



This year’s Calaway Scholars are Heather Bentson from Leadville, Cassie Ricotta from Breckenridge, and Jen Stroder from Silt.

In November they met for lunch with Calaway and three of the nine mentors who have volunteered to work with them.

“I would like them to have an active relationship with their mentors,” said Calaway. “We have bi-monthly meetings to see how they’re doing ” really doing. It’s not just idle chitchat.”

Instead of “what’s for dessert,” they discussed what they need to do to turn B’s into A’s, and how their mentors can help them.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity. I’m incredibly lucky,” said Bentson. “My dilemma was that I changed majors. I was going to go into physical therapy. Because of financial reasons I was going to head back home to Leadville. I wanted to graduate here at Spring Valley. For me an important part of college is to get away from home ” growing up and becoming independent.”

Benson, who hopes to be admitted into CMC’s nursing program next year, will be spending some time with mentor Herb Feinzig and his retired pathologist wife Dr. Kate Feinzig.

“The mentors provide exposure to a much broader world than the average CMC student would get and can offer advice on what they did to achieve their success,” said Feinzig. “The mentor can also be somebody they can turn to for help. We advise them and explain the broader outside world.”

“Heather is very bright and I think she will benefit from meeting Kate. What I’m hoping will come out of this is that Heather will think not only of becoming a nurse but what else she can do in health care, even maybe becoming a doctor.”

Calaway says having the students work for the college during the school year and elsewhere during summer vacations is more than just an opportunity to earn money. It’s an important part of the learning experience.

“I pay five-eighths of the cost and the students earn three-eighths of the cost. I want them to be able to say, ‘Mr. Calaway really helped me, but I really helped myself.'”

“They have to have summer jobs and I expect them to come back with $600 in the bank. That’s $75 a month walking around money for haircuts and toothpaste that they make themselves. We’re looking at the whole person. We want them to become a well-rounded and well-balanced person.”

“The scholarship has helped me immensely. I’m very pleased with all the mentoring and all the help Jim Calaway’s been with his mentors,” said Ricotta, a wilderness studies major.

“I’m paying my own way through school so this has made it really much easier for me and it’s made it possible for me to spend more time studying.”

“Jim’s like a grandpa. He knows exactly how to talk to you,” added recipient and business major Jen Stroder. “He knows exactly what to say. He knows how to make you feel good about your life, your future and your education. He believes that you’re going to have a great future no matter what your choice.”

The program is so successful, other colleges, including the University of Denver and Colorado State University, are looking at helping Calaway Scholars complete their bachelors’ degrees at their colleges.

For more information on becoming a Calaway Scholar, call Carol Brown, 947-8355 or 800-621-8559, extension 8355.


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