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A personalized letter going out this month from Colorado Mountain College President Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser outlines a new scholarship designed to capture the attention of graduating high school seniors living in the college’s 12,000-square-mile service area.

The letter offers all graduating seniors the Colorado Mountain College President’s Scholarship of $1,000, to be used for tuition during the student’s first full year at any one of the college’s 11 locations from Rifle to Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs to Leadville and Chaffee County, Edwards to Aspen, and the Roaring Fork Valley. “It is an invitation to students to keep CMC top of mind for their college choice and a message to all young people in our communities that they are college material,” said Hauser. “We welcome them to pursue their dreams with us in an exceptional, inclusive, and highly personalized setting.”

The scholarship is also designed to incentivize proven actions and behaviors for success in college. “We also want to encourage students to attend full time because we know that those who do so are more likely to complete a college degree, which has become a minimum requirement for most jobs in Colorado and nationwide,” said Dr. Matt Gianneschi, chief operating officer and chief of staff at the college. “This initiative helps us fulfill several of our strategic goals: to increase access and success for our students and to prepare a skilled workforce for our employers, communities, and state.”

Added Hauser: “Through sound financial stewardship, we are able to make available an education that’s worth more than $14,000 for a fraction of the cost. In doing so, we’re reinvesting tax dollars right back into our local communities.”

Superintendents, community organizations praise scholarship

 “We applaud CMC for extending the possibility of college access to all students,” said Tamara Tormohlen, executive director of the Aspen Community Foundation. “This is a game-changer, especially for students who might not otherwise think that college is an option. A goal of ACF’s Cradle to Career Initiative is that all students in our service area of Aspen to Parachute graduate from high school ready for college and career. CMC is a critical partner in this effort and a true community asset.”

“The Aspen School District would like to thank Colorado Mountain College for opening doors to future opportunities for our high school graduates,” said Dr. John Maloy, superintendent of schools for the Aspen School District. “Hopefully graduates throughout the Roaring Fork Valley will take advantage of this offer and use it as a stepping stone to building a brighter future.”

“We are deeply grateful for the opportunities that the President’s Scholarship will afford many of our students,” said Dr. Diana Sirko, superintendent of schools for the Roaring Fork School District. “We know that our students will most likely need some post-secondary education for the jobs of the future. It is comforting to know that this may provide the opportunity to get many of our students started on that pathway.”

“What an amazing opportunity for our seniors,” said Dr. Heidi Pace, superintendent of schools for the Summit School District. “We are lucky to be part of the CMC community. Thank you for all that you do to support K-12 learning opportunities and for extending those opportunities to and through CMC’s doors. I look forward to continuing to work together on behalf of our students.”

“For our community to make good on the promise of the American dream, where every person truly has the ability to be successful and pursue their destiny, providing equitable access to education is an absolute necessity,” said Dr. Jason Glass, superintendent of Eagle County Schools. “Colorado Mountain College is to be saluted for making this opportunity a reality for every student in our region.”

Graduating high school seniors applaud it, too

 As the news spreads to high school seniors, they are expressing their gratitude, as well.

“This scholarship has opened a door in furthering my education,” said Edith Gonzalez, a graduating senior who attends Red Canyon High School in Eagle County. “I have the necessary desire to further my education, and this scholarship will now provide the funds to do so. I plan on using this aid to reach my full potential and in the future, give back to my community.”

Francisco Otero, a Rifle High School student who is taking concurrent enrollment classes in welding through the college, said that thanks to the scholarship he plans to enroll in CMC-Rifle’s new associate of applied engineering technician program. Previously he did not think that he would be able to attend college, but said that the $1,000 scholarship “was a spark that made me realize that it’s possible.”

Otero, and his sister who went to beauty school, are the only ones in their family who have pursued any education beyond high school. “My family was really happy when I told them I was going to go to college,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to go, and now that I know I’m going to go, it’s really exciting.”

Lucas Wampler, a senior at Aspen High School, said that he had been planning to attend the University of Colorado in Denver, but the President’s Scholarship is making him reconsider his options. “I am extremely grateful and flattered for opportunities that CMC is offering to the local high school seniors,” he said. Regardless of a student’s financial status, he said, “I think it will be incredibly beneficial and encouraging to all students throughout the valley.”

Steps to apply

 In order to receive the scholarship, a student must:

– graduate from a high school in Colorado Mountain College’s district or service area by June 30, 2015

– apply to Colorado Mountain College by March 31, 2015

– submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, which is available at any Colorado Mountain College campus or online at fafsa.gov, by March 31, 2015 (an alternate form is available for ASSET-eligible students)

– start at Colorado Mountain College no later than fall of 2015

– take 15 credits per semester

– maintain good academic standing with a minimum 2.0 grade point average during the first semester of study at Colorado Mountain College in order to receive second-semester scholarship funds

– attend a campus orientation, or meet with a Colorado Mountain College counselor or advisor.

For more information about the scholarship, students and their parents or guardians are encouraged to contact Shane Larson at 970-947-8328, go to coloradomtn.edu/ready or www.coloradomtn.edu/listo (in Spanish), or stop by any Colorado Mountain College campus.