By Donna Gray
Jesus Salgado collected a second associate degree from Colorado Mountain College this week, in nursing, adding to the Associate of Science in biology he earned in 2017.
Salgado was among more than 1,000 students receiving degrees and certificates from Colorado Mountain College this week, at 10 different graduation ceremonies held throughout the CMC district. The nursing pinning ceremony was on the morning of May 4, at Spring Valley.
During the second of Salgado’s two years in the college’s well-respected nursing program, he worked at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs as a care technician, helping nurses care for patients in the acute care department. There he discovered a great passion for nursing.
“He’s friendly, personable, authentic and such a great team worker,” said Dawn Sculco, administrative director of inpatient services at Valley View Hospital. “Everybody loves him. It’s a great day when Jesus is on.”
Salgado grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico, and moved from “a harsh life, very violent,” he said, when he was 12 years old. He graduated in 2012 from Coal Ridge High School in Silt. Although he had always intended to go on to college, he did not have legal residency in the United States. But he applied for and was accepted into the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program. The federal program allows qualified undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year exemption from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. For Salgado, it allowed him to stay in the U.S., to study and work.
His plan now is to earn a bachelor’s degree from CMC, and then go on to earn a master’s, or doctorate degree – or he may apply to medical school. At this point in his career, Salgado is delighted to be in nursing.
“I have found a love for nursing. I get to help people and care for them,” he said.
“I’m impressed with his strong work ethic, his striving for improvement and desire to make a difference in people’s lives,” said Betty Damask-Bembenek, acting dean of the School of Nursing, Health Sciences and Public Safety at CMC. “He’s very caring and compassionate.”
Salgado believes he owes his present success to the quality of education and outstanding support he’s received at CMC. “I’m truly grateful for that,” he said. “I would not change anything. Every teacher has been great and worked with me very closely.”
He especially appreciates having access to many campuses in the area. “While working full time, if I couldn’t get one class at a certain time or day, I went to another campus.
“It was great to have that flexibility to line up classes on my days off.”
And, he said, working with different professors in different fields gave him a broader education.
“I felt so welcome,” he said. “Every opportunity and privilege I received I’m grateful for. I’ve found love and passion for a career, and have been able to fulfill a calling through CMC.”