This article was printed in the Vail Daily News. By Randy Wyrick.
EDWARDS — Tassel turning season opened yesterday as Colorado Mountain College conferred its second group of four-year degrees, along with dozens of associates and professional degrees and certifications.
“For me, this is the happiest day of the year,” said Peggy Curry, CMC’s vice president of its Edwards campus.
Colorado Mountain College is home to many non-traditional students, said Celia Franklin, who gave the graduate address.
Franklin earned her bachelor’s degree in sustainability studies. She has been accepted to four different master’s degree programs and plans to start this fall. Her two sons are also in college.
Feels Like Family
Earlier in her life she gave up on college because she couldn’t afford it. She traveled, landed in Colorado and a bunch of life happened. The stars aligned a few years ago and she was able to go back to school to pursue her bachelor’s degree.
She’s thrilled to be done, but also a little sad.
“CMC has become like a large family, and I’ll miss that,” she said.
Think about the future, but not too much, she said.
“Nothing ever happens in the future. Everything happens now,” Franklin said.
‘A Progressive Discovery’
As the graduates were presented their diplomas, CMC’s Larry Dutmer read a quote each graduate had prepared. Pearls of wisdom ranged from the time honored to the graduates’ own inventions.
“Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance” (Will Durant) was matched by heartfelt thanks to the graduates’ families and those who supported them.
“Finally, I’ve made it! Thanks to my family!” wrote Carolyn Schneider, who earned her bachelor’s in business administration.
Michael Rowe earned his college degree just a few months after his 65th birthday, in early childhood education. He thanked his wife for putting up with all this.
Speaking of non-traditional students, because of CMC’s dual enrollment through local high schools and the Eagle County school district, four seniors earned their associates degrees two weeks before their high school diplomas: Eagle Valley High School’s Reagen Gass, Tiffany Sheehy and Marisol Chacon and Battle Mountain’s Maria Villarreal.
Dave Vroman won this year’s campus community service award. Vroman worked in local firefighting for 35 years and was chief of the Gypsum fire department for 30 years. He retired this past year.
Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser, president of Colorado Mountain College, talked about life. Stuff changes, but what’s important does not.
“Ten years ago, Facebook was a playground for Harvard students. Google was an emerging concept. Now, it’s an action verb,” Hauser said. “Imagine what the world will be in 10 or 20 years from now.”
Some of Friday’s graduates will have 10 or 12 careers in their lives. Some have had that many already, Hauser said.
Hauser recalled Sir Edmund Hillary, the New Zealander who summited Mount Everest first with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. He greatest accomplishment, though, was building hospitals all around Nepal.
Despite that, Hillary said, “Life’s greatest challenges is exploring the leader within.”
The path will have its blisters, its oxygen deprivation, but you’re at a summit and you’ll reach others, Hauser said.
Finally, it was time to turn their tassels.
“Moving your tassels from the right side to the left signifies the achievement of your educational goal. And how about throwing those hats!” Curry said as the auditorium filled with blue mortarboards.
And with that, the graduates turned their tassels from right to left, and strode confidently into the rest of their lives.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.