CMC Rifle celebrates grit, graduates and their stories at December commencement
Graduates at Colorado Mountain College Rifle’s commencement ceremony each stepped up to the podium the morning of Dec. 10 to mark a milestone.
CMC Rifle students plus their families and friends gathered at the campus Clough Auditorium to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishment of earning degrees, certificates and high school equivalency diplomas.
Keynote speaker Tommy Klein, post Rifle chief of police and current city manager, and graduate speaker, Aurelio Rubio, reminded the audience how much hard work, perseverance and grit it can take to live, work and graduate from college in western Colorado.
A student of law enforcement and criminal justice
Aurelio Rubio started school with Colorado Mountain College around 2008. He typifies the Colorado Mountain College student whose life leads him elsewhere, only to return to continue his education.
“I stopped attending after entering military service,” he said. “I served with the 10th Mountain Division as both an infantryman and a mortarman. I became a wildland fire fighter for a few years throughout my military service.”
Back at CMC, Rubio enrolled in the college’s Colorado Law Enforcement Training Academy where he graduated with a CLETA certificate and took a job with the New Castle Police Department.
Rubio continued taking classes in Rifle and at the Dec. 10 commencement ceremony, he graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in criminal justice.
As a veteran, Rubio has been involved with Common Grounds, a veterans’ networking group that meets regularly at the Rifle campus.
‘I am a graduate!’
For Nicole Gray, earning her Associate of Arts degree marks a significant turning point in her life and one she started in 2016. Newly divorced then, she needed a new start.
“I felt beaten and broken hearted,” she said, noting that she was facing challenges in going to college. “I had barriers. I was a single mother, a first-generation college student and I was an untraditional student.”
Fortunately, at CMC Rifle, Gray met Gethze Hammond, a college navigator and a TRIO coordinator at the time at the Rifle campus. Hammond introduced Gray to TRIO, a federally funded program that motivates and supports students in reaching their educational goals.
“I was welcomed, encouraged and uplifted,” Gray said. “Ms. Hammond supported my dream of someday holding an academic degree.”
Gray credits Hammond and Jennifer Boone, CMC Rifle assistant dean of student affairs, with helping her “push through periods of freezing up with anxiety,” to earn her degree. “I did it for myself,” she said. “I am a graduate! After many semesters, tears, perseverance and resilience, I have a degree!”
“Accomplishing this degree has meant everything for Nicole’s self-esteem,” added Boone. “It has shown her that she can rise above her fears and accomplish her dreams.”