Three CMC students on same path to finish dual bachelor’s degrees

Students find opportunities in combining business with sustainability

Tyler Jensen, left, works on a computer during a typical study session with twin brother Cody Jensen, top left, and Hayden Van Andel, right. The three students are finishing dual bachelor’s degrees in sustainability and business from Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge. Photo Stefanie Kilts

Tyler Jensen, left, works on a computer during a typical study session with twin brother Cody Jensen, top left, and Hayden Van Andel, right. The three students are finishing dual bachelor’s degrees in sustainability and business from Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge. Photo Stefanie Kilts

[BRECKENRIDGE] – Three of a kind beats a pair?

That might have been the strategy when twins Cody and Tyler Jensen met Hayden Van Andel during their first year at Colorado Mountain College. And the winning hand continues as the trio finishes dual bachelor’s degrees in sustainability and business.

That’s right – all three friends are completing two bachelor’s degrees simultaneously, as part of the college’s first graduating class to be able to earn those degrees.

“We all loved skiing and have similar tastes,” said Van Andel. “We’ve been on the same path ever since starting at CMC.”

Van Andel grew up in Breckenridge and trained for freestyle skiing while attending Summit High School. Cody and Tyler Jensen also sought out Colorado for skiing, moving to Breckenridge from Chicago for their senior year at that same school.

All three were introduced to CMC when they took a college class during high school. Beyond that first positive experience, all three wanted to keep enjoying the Colorado lifestyle while pursuing their educational goals. And with the small class size and affordability, the three students knew their college of choice was CMC.

“The transition between high school and CMC was perfect,” said Cody Jensen.

When the students started at Colorado Mountain College, they applied for and received Richard C. Martin grants. These unusual grants allow in-district students who earn an associate degree at CMC to have their first two years of tuition paid forward toward completing their bachelor’s degree at CMC or at another four-year college or university. Van Andel also received a Returning Student Scholarship and the Yob Business Scholarship.

And with CMC being so affordable, Cody Jensen said, two degrees in four years didn’t seem like a stretch, especially when the students weighed the advantage of having both degrees.

“Business lays the foundation and sustainability takes you to a second level,” Van Andel said. “We can understand the linear model of business and then with sustainability, we can bring a whole new set of skills. There’s some reassurance that more jobs are available.”

“It sets you apart from the rest of the business degrees,” Tyler Jensen said.

After they finish their degree requirements, the Jensens and Van Andel will part ways. The twin brothers are moving to San Francisco to explore the music scene and get jobs, and Van Andel plans to enroll in the graduate school at the University of Colorado in the fall of 2014 to study environmental studies and business.

“We’ve learned a lot from each other,” Tyler Jensen said. “We’ve had a similar education but we’ve had different approaches.”

Inaugural bachelor’s grads honored at campuses May 3, 4

This spring, across the multi-site community college 58 students have petitioned to be the first to receive bachelor’s degrees. About a dozen of those students attend the college’s locations in Breckenridge and Dillon. You can read the stories of many of the graduating students on the college’s “Four Year Stories” project website.

“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. And 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.

Colorado Mountain College will celebrate student graduation for the Summit County campus (in Dillon and Breckenridge) on Friday, May 3, at the Keystone Lodge & Spa, located just north of the ski resort on Highway 6.

By Stefanie Kilts

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