CMC Rifle’s graduation shows what’s great about community college

Nick Isenberg
Special to the Post Independent

RIFLE ” Everything that’s wonderful about a community college was highlighted in Rifle Friday night. Forty-seven people, including GED-seeking middle-school dropouts, university-bound recent high school graduates and a few grandmothers, received degrees, certificates or diplomas at Colorado Mountain College’s Rifle Campus graduation.

“It’s never too late to learn,” said Elaine Lawson, 55, who received her GED Friday night. As a teenager, Lawson had dropped out of high school as a junior.

“It was great going back to school, ” she said. “CMC’s instructors were great and very supportive.”

“I see myself as an example of life-long learning,” said Jennifer Marvin after being awarded her associates degree in bilingual education.

Marvin already had a nursing degree from a Texas community college before starting CMC in 2000. But after hurting her back, she had to find a new career that was less physically demanding.

Her new career path may be less physical, but is just as demanding. Now, she works full time as a teacher’s aide at Hyland Elementary School. She had a grueling schedule working at the school and taking CMC classes on nights and weekends for the last four years.

After an equally tough schedule for several more years, she plans to earn her bachelor’s degree in Spanish through classes from the Metropolitan State College of Denver in CMC classrooms here on the Western Slope.

“All of us in these degree programs face immense odds,” said Marvin. “But the scriptures say we can do it all through Messiah Yeshua who gives us strength. I encourage anyone who is continuing your education. You can do it.”

Twenty-seven years elapsed between Kristy Evans’ days in high school and beginning college. Evans said she was “unbelievably proud” after receiving her associates degree from CMC.

The 50 year-old co-ed said her new diploma is just the beginning for her. She is going to take some additional courses at CMC and then finish her bachelor’s through a combined CMC-Mesa State College program in elementary education.

Her Mesa classes will be taught in CMC classrooms in Rifle, so she won’t have to commute to Grand Junction.

“Never give up ” no matter what,” said Evans, who worked full time as a special-education teacher’s aide while attending CMC. “No matter what happens in your life you can make it better.”

Evans’ school-aged daughter Mallory was almost as excited as her mom. Mallory knows how hard her mom worked towards her new degree.

“Sometimes we’d do our homework together,” she said. “I’m extremely proud of her.”

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