By Donna Gray
RIFLE – When Cheryl Barker and Trenten Hagerty stepped up to the podium at this year’s Colorado Mountain College graduation ceremonies in Rifle, they saw their futures bright and clear.
For Barker, graduation was a milestone moment.
The mother of three and grandmother of nine is proof that you are never too old to go to college. Barker, who lives in De Beque, said that she decided that after working all her life, “I needed to go somewhere.” That somewhere is an Associate of General Studies degree that will put her on track for a new career in social work. But the path to this defining moment has been long and winding.
At 25, she enrolled in college in California, where she’d grown up, after passing the high school equivalency exam. Then her dad had a heart attack and she had to cut her college career short. Now, after raising her kids, she has decided to complete her education. She chose Colorado Mountain College Rifle because “it seemed to fit with me.”
While attending college, Barker has also held down a work-study job on campus. She loves her job at the front desk. “It’s like a big family,” she said. “The social atmosphere is great.”
And she loves being back in school. “After 30 years, it’s a completely different experience,” she said. “These young kids, I’m so impressed with them. I love it. I like the small campus. The people are so approachable and so helpful.”
Tinker Duclo, CMC Rifle assistant dean of student affairs, applauds Barker’s efforts. “Cheryl worked really hard and got straight As,” Duclo said. In fact, Barker graduated Phi Theta Kappa with a 4.0 GPA for all two years of her degree program.
Trenten Hagerty will graduate with two degrees this year: an Associate of Applied Science in entrepreneurship and a Bachelor of Applied Science in leadership and management.
He is a Clough Scholarship recipient, which covered the cost of the four years of his program. The scholarship, established as an annual gift in 2008 by longtime Rifle resident Genevieve Clough, became an estate endowment when she passed away in 2010. The scholarship is intended to give young people a chance to succeed by enabling them to pursue a postsecondary education.
“The Clough Scholarship set me up to not have any excuse not to go to college,” he said.
Although he’d originally intended to gain a two-year associate degree, Hagerty decided to take advantage of the related bachelor’s program. The leadership and management program correlated well with his associate degree in entrepreneurship.
During his CMC career, Hagerty has worked as the manager of horse trainer John Lyons’ ranch in Parachute. It has given him some experience in business. Now he’s ready to strike out on his own.
“I know I like money and I want to run my own business,” Hagerty said. “The associate degree was for me, and the bachelor’s for my credentials so I can start my own business.
“I have two business ideas,” he said. “They’re secrets. They’re big ideas. It will be very exciting if I can pull it off.”