“I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I couldn’t see myself working underground for the rest of my life”, says Cisneros, who was working as a miner at Climax Molybdenum Mine in Leadville.
He started taking classes at the newly opened Colorado Mountain College - East Campus, where he was able to study in between his shift work at the mine.
“My experience at CMC Leadville was exceptional”, Cisneros recalls, 50 years later.
He knocked out several core courses in science and foreign language, transferred to Adams State College and completed his bachelor’s degree in three years. Since that time, he has had an illustrious career, culminating with the founding of the Chamber of the Americas in Denver in 2001.
The Chamber fosters trade and investment relationships primarily between South American countries and U.S. business interests. His work has been lauded by numerous professional organizations, including Hispanic Magazine which in 2002 recognized Gil with the U.S.-Latin American Friendship Award at the Hispanic Achievement Awards. Prior to that, the Mexican government honored him as Businessman of the Year for the Rocky Mountain Region, 2000, and in 2007, the Institute of International Education presented Gil with the “Global Colorado Award.”
“I’ve been very, very lucky”, he says of the opportunities that have been available to him. “I was in the right place at the right time, several times in my life and it started with attending CMC”.
Now, at the age of 73 and a grandfather of two high school students, he encourages young people to look beyond the traditional college path and consider the advantages of community college. He tells his grandchildren about his time at CMC and how the flexibility of the faculty and class structure enabled him to find his path to a rewarding and fulfilling career.
“CMC was a wonderful, wonderful experience for me.”