By Mike McKibbin

ASPEN – An Aspen native who returned home to receive his bachelor’s degree and an international student from Mexico who refined her English-language skills and wants to put her Associate of Arts degree to work are among this year’s Colorado Mountain College Aspen graduates.

Yessica Morano Cervantes and Christopher Bright joined fellow Aspen students in graduation ceremonies at Colorado Mountain College Spring Valley Saturday, May 5.

Photo of Yessica Morano Cervantes

Yessica Morano Cervantes from  Colorado Mountain College Aspen received an associate degree in one of three graduation ceremonies held at CMC Spring Valley May 5. Photo Charles Engelbert

Bright received a Bachelor of Science in business administration from CMC. Born and raised in Aspen, he graduated from Aspen High School and then attended Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction for two years.

“The school was great, but I wasn’t crazy about Grand Junction,” he said. “I was a ski instructor at the time, too, so I decided I might as well move back to Aspen.”

His classes met in Aspen, Glenwood Springs and online, while Bright worked part time.

“That was pretty hard to balance, but I liked every instructor and always tried to build a good relationship with every professor,” Bright said. “There were times where I took a full load of classes three days a week, had an internship and then worked four days a week.”

Bright now lives with his girlfriend in Seattle and will complete an internship with the Nordstrom chain of department stores. After that, he hopes to move into the company’s human resources department.

“I’m really happy I got my four-year degree from CMC,” Bright said. “I’m done, but now the question is what do I do next? I might like to eventually be the manager of an outdoor program, own my own business or maybe work for a major business in Seattle.”

‘Never too late’

On May 5 Morano Cervantes received an Associate of Arts degree from Colorado Mountain College. “I always wanted to improve my English because everything starts with language, you know?” she said. “CMC offers great opportunities to learn English, and I have always liked the arts.”

Her goal after graduation is to find a job such as working in a museum, where she can combine her refined English skills and her love of the arts.

“I like the different tastes, smells and feel of all the arts,” Morano Cervantes said. “I took classes in sculpture, painting and a lot more so I could learn what I like the most.”

Morano Cervantes said she admired all her Colorado Mountain College instructors, especially Tom Buesch, a professor of arts and humanities at the Aspen campus.

“He was just extraordinary,” she said. “He has a natural instinct for teaching so his classes are always really interesting. And all the people that work at CMC are always happy. They enjoy what they’re doing.”

Morano Cervantes also appreciated the “international community” at Colorado Mountain College Aspen, with fellow students from many countries such as Canada and the Czech Republic.

“This has been one of the best times of my life,” she said. “The subjects and teachers were amazing and it really shows that it’s never too late to learn.”