Working mom transitions into workforce |

Working mom transitions into workforce

Stefanie Kilts
Colorado Mountain College
Stefanie Kilts Colorado Mountain College
Staff Photo |

Robyn Kent was worried about the gap on her resume. Although she had been a licensed psychiatric technician for the State of Colorado for five years, she had taken time off to raise her two kids until they reached kindergarten.

“I hadn’t worked since 2005,” she said.

At that point, she was living in New Castle, and as she thought about getting back into the workforce, she found Colorado Mountain College was an easy choice to make. In addition to the location and flexibility of the classes, affordability was a big plus for Kent.

“I could afford to pay cash for my education so I didn’t have to take out any student loans,” she said.

When she considered universities outside Colorado, she said she was looking at $27,000 to $30,000 a year. She estimates she spent $5,000 last year at CMC for her education.

“I saved $22,000 to $25,000 [each year] on my education,” she said. “It’s a huge value to me.”

This spring, she will earn three degrees: Associate of Arts, Associate of Science and Bachelor of Science in business administration.

Inaugural bachelor’s grads honored on Friday and Saturday, May 3-4

This spring, across the multi-site community college, 58 students have petitioned to be the first to receive bachelor’s degrees from CMC.

“We are very pleased with the strong response to these new degrees,” said Dr. Charles R. Dassance, interim president of the college. “Enrollments are in line with what we’d anticipated, and we love hearing stories of how our students are able to put their education to immediate use.”

Only three years ago, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter signed the bill to allow Colorado Mountain College to offer a limited number of bachelor’s degrees. The bill was a result of extensive research the college conducted, showing unmet demand from employers and students in north-central Colorado.

“There was no physical location where our local residents could earn a bachelor’s degree within our service area, which is the size of the state of Maryland,” said Dr. Brad Tyndall, senior vice president of academic affairs at the college. “With overwhelming support from our communities and students, and a lot of hard work to prepare the curriculum and find excellent instructors, we were able to convince our legislators and accrediting body that we could meet this need.”

A few short months later, in the fall of 2011, CMC started offering bachelor’s degrees in business administration and sustainability studies. Now, two years later, the first enrollees who brought with them previous college credits or an associate degree will be among a historic class of graduates. All students earning bachelor’s degrees this spring will be given a place of honor in the college’s inaugural Alumni Hall of Fame.

Perseverance pays off in degree, new job

Kent, the only student from CMC’s Rifle campus graduating this spring with a bachelor’s degree, will be the student speaker at the campus graduation ceremony on Friday, May 3.

To finish her bachelor’s degree and two associate degrees in two and a half years, some semesters Kent has taken upwards of 24 credit hours, while still maintaining an “A” average.

The hard work has paid off. She was recently hired by a Remax real estate agent as a personal assistant in Glenwood Springs.

“She doesn’t let anything stop her,” said Susan Looney, a business instructor who mentored Kent. “She’s so driven and motivated to work through the program. She’s taking a full load and she also has to take care of her family.”

Kent’s new job will include working on contracts, appointments and marketing for the real estate agent. She credits her CMC business degree for providing what she needed to obtain the job.

“My degree opened some doors for me,” she said. “All the skills I have from class will be utilized.”

She said she may pursue a master’s in nursing down the road, but for now is enjoying the work that is adding to her resume.

“The bachelor’s program enabled me to transition from being a mom to the workforce,” Kent said.

“If it wasn’t for the bachelor’s degrees we have, she wouldn’t have been able to further her education,” Looney said. “It’s amazing to be able to give this opportunity to so many students.”

Spring commencement ceremonies for Colorado Mountain College in Rifle are set for 7 p.m. Friday, May 3, in the Clough Auditorium on campus, 3695 Airport Road.

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