This article was printed in the Glenwood Post Independent. By Kristin Carlson.
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Brent Bagen graduated with an associate degree in nursing, an admirable achievement for any student. But it’s especially impressive for Bagen.
“I have dyslexia,” he explained, “so I read quite a bit slower than the average student.” Rather than letting the hurdle curtail his ambitions, Bagen faced the challenge with determination, ingenuity and tenacity.
His hard work, passion for learning, and stellar academic and clinical performance earned the notice of the staff at Colorado Mountain College in Spring Valley, particularly Dr. Anne Moll, disability services coordinator, and Karen Hamick, associate professor of nursing. Both nominated Bagen for the David Allen Outstanding Student Award.
The award is given annually to students who have overcome obstacles, provided outstanding service to CMC or the local community, or achieved outstanding academic success. In addition to Bagen, graduating business student Bob Farmer was also selected for the honor this year.
Graduate lauded as an ‘extraordinary student, nurse, leader, human being’
An emergency medical technician class Bagen took at a Wyoming community college about five years ago steered him toward a career in health care. He’d always loved science and math and thought he’d pursue computer engineering. But the EMT class opened his eyes to another path. “It made me realize I had life-saving aspirations,” he said.
In addition to earning a 3.8 GPA, Bagen has earned the respect of his colleagues and instructors as a driven learner and a caring health-care provider. “Brent has chosen to be a strong, overcomer,” said Moll. “He has climbed beyond the predicted and unexpected to stand out as an extraordinary student, nurse, leader and human being.”
In recommending Bagen, co-nominator Hamick cited an instance when he brought his tool box to the Colorado State Veterans Home to repair a patient’s leg splint. “He followed up several times with this veteran to ensure that he was doing well,” she said.
For his capstone project, Bagen spent 120 hours following the nurses in the Valley View Hospital oncology department, learning all he could about hands-on care and the science behind it. “The science behind oncology is amazing, and they’re continuing to learn more all the time,” he said.
One of Bagen’s foremost goals is to further his education. He hopes to continue his studies, earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing and build a career as an oncology nurse.
One class led to career path, bachelor’s degree
Farmer, the second recipient of this year’s David Allen Outstanding Student Award, is a nontraditional student who started taking classes at CMC at his wife’s urging.
“I never thought of myself as student material,” said Farmer. But his wife, Gloria Farmer, an administrative technician at CMC’s Glenwood Center in Glenwood Springs, saw opportunity in the course offerings. “Having her as a foundation led me to start taking classes,” he said.
Farmer left his job at a computer store, began using his computer skills to do freelance work, and signed up for the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification program at CMC in Glenwood Springs. A self-proclaimed “computer geek,” Farmer had always gravitated toward technology. One of his contract jobs was serving as a network consultant for the City of Glenwood Springs.
But it was the Cisco CCNA training he received that Farmer credits with landing him a full-time job with the city as the broadband superintendent. “It greatly improved my knowledge and gave me a level of training beyond the basics,” he said.
The class also increased his confidence and spurred him to learn more. While earning his Associate of General Studies, Farmer was offered a promotion to director of information systems for the City of Glenwood, with one condition — that he earn a bachelor’s degree to maintain the position. “The City has been a great employer and I’m grateful for the opportunity,” he said.
To his good fortune, the college started offering select bachelor’s degrees the next fall (2011). “As a nontraditional student, I think it’s a tremendous value to have this opportunity in our valley,” he said. “I attribute my success to a combination of dumb luck, hard work and the education that CMC has offered — including the opportunity to come out of college debt-free.”
After graduating with his Bachelor of Science in business administration, Farmer now hopes to pursue a master’s degree in information technology management or public administration. “The education bug is still with me,” he said. But for now, he’s content to have a little more time with his 6-month-old son.