CMC Rifle celebrates students at fall commencement in December
By Carrie Click
Students graduated with degrees, certificates and diplomas from Colorado Mountain College’s Rifle campus on Dec. 8. Even though not everyone who earned a credential walked in the campus’s Dec. 8 commencement, all 300 seats in the Rifle Clough Auditorium filled with graduates, families, friends and members of CMC. The ceremony also streamed to 40 guests in an overflow classroom, while still others watched from out of town, out of state, and out of the country on YouTube. Most of the ceremony was in both English and Spanish.
Student speaker Louis Morales earned a certified nursing assistant credential several years ago and an Associate of Arts degree on Dec. 8. While a CMC student, he has also been a community advocate, health care worker in pediatrics and internal medicine, and full-time employee at Grand River Hospital. His ultimate plan is to become a physician assistant. His speech celebrated risk taking and working to achieve goals.
Commencement speaker and Colorado House Rep. Elizabeth Velasco represents District 57, from Parachute to Aspen, and is the first Latina to represent western Colorado. A 2008 CMC alumnae, she has also taught translation and interpretation at the Rifle campus.
“I’m so proud of you!” Velasco said to the graduates. “It’s such a big day!” Velasco told the audience she came from a small town in Mexico and was newly arrived in the U.S. when she discovered CMC. “CMC was a lifeline for me,” she explained since she was able to go to school and work to help her family.
“If I have advice for you, it is to be lifelong learners,” she said. “You are a container of infinite potential,” telling the graduates that they never know where life will take them and using her own history as an example. Velasco started as a chef, then was a small business owner, a translator, a firefighter, a public information officer, a mediator and now serves as a Colorado state representative.
“I have no doubt that you will make a significant impact in your chosen fields,” said Dr. Matt Gianneschi, CMC chief of operations and chief of staff, before graduates came to the stage one at a time and collected their certificates, diplomas and degrees.
May isn’t the only time for commencement ceremonies at the Rifle campus. Because CMC Rifle consistently produces so many graduates through concurrent enrollment programming, where high school students earn college credentials; through adult high school and high school equivalency diplomas; plus professional certificates, associate and bachelor’s degrees, the campus hosts two ceremonies: one in May and another in December, in order to provide many opportunities for graduates to celebrate their achievements.
CMC Rifle offers dozens of programs, from certificates in the skilled trades, to early childhood education, to bachelor’s degrees in leadership and management. For information about Colorado Mountain College Rifle, its campuses and programs, visit https://coloradomtn.edu/campuses/rifle.