Associate’s degree graduate found her place at Colorado Mountain College |

Associate’s degree graduate found her place at Colorado Mountain College

If you go:

What: Colorado Mountain College graduation ceremony

When: 10:30 a.m to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2

Where: Korbel Ballroom at The Steamboat Grand, 2300 Mount Werner Circle, with reception to follow at Neas Family student/community dining center at CMC, 1275 Crawford Ave.

— As a teenager growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, Molly Goldberg struggled with motivation in her high school classes.

She moved between five schools, held an all-time low grade point average of 0.3 and was kicked out of an all-girls Catholic school before landing in an alternative program.

“I ended up in an alternative school and started to realize that school didn’t have to be horrible,” said Goldberg, who after barely earning a high school diploma as a fifth-year senior moved to Steamboat Springs and eventually agreed to take one class at Colorado Mountain College at the insistence of a boyfriend.

The class was “Wilderness and the American Ethic” taught by John Saunders, and from there, Goldberg never looked back.

She graduates from CMC at 10:30 a.m. Saturday with an associate’s degree and will be a student speaker for the ceremony, along with bachelor’s degree graduate Cami Poole and featured guest speaker, NASA astronaut Steven Swanson, a 1979 Steamboat Springs High School graduate.

Next year, Goldberg plans to complete her undergraduate courses for a bachelor’s degree in sustainability studies before enrolling at the University of Denver for a master’s program.

Goldberg credits the accessible, laid-back professors at CMC for turning around her perspective on education and giving her the tools needed to flourish academically.

Though it’s taken the 27-year-old Goldberg five years to receive her associate’s degree, she accomplished this while working three jobs and packing in numerous extracurriculars.

Given the choice by Professor Bob Gumbrecht to write a research paper or join the campus Amnesty International club, Goldberg joined the club and rose within the greater organization to become a Colorado student activist coordinator for Amnesty International and the west coast representative of its National Youth Action Committee.

She recently collected the signatures of 100 dues-paying AI members in order to run for the human rights organization’s national board of directors — an election process that wraps up May 31.

“My competitors mostly have an academia background, but I know the activists in our movement,” Goldberg said.

Using her role in Amnesty International and her service as four-year CMC student body president, Goldberg has helped bring numerous human rights awareness campaigns to the campus, including those to support the lives of African-Americans and spread awareness about the prevalence of abortion.

She was recently elected to serve her fifth term as campus president next year.

Goldberg also strives to support the political goals of others, working on the re-election campaign of Barack Obama in 2012 and acting as campaign manager for the recent re-election of Colorado Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush.

While on the Obama campaign, she was selected as one of 10 Coloradoans to meet the president in Grand Junction, and she proudly displays a photo of the two together as the background of her smartphone.

For each of her accomplishments, Goldberg is quick to credit her experience at CMC for paving the way to her success.

“All of the teachers here are so dedicated, and the students who do care are really passionate about learning and teaching each other,” Goldberg said. “CMC gave me the confidence I needed.”

Gumbrecht, who Goldberg said encouraged much of her success, said that although he didn’t know Goldberg as a teen, he isn’t surprised to hear that she once struggled to find her place in academics.

“I think she was maybe just looking for the right opportunity to channel her energy,” said Gumbrecht, a social and behavioral science professor. “I think CMC has provided her with some focus.”

Gumbrecht said he’s enjoyed watching Goldberg grow into the person she is today.

“It’s cool to have been a part of that journey of her becoming a really dedicated activist,” he said. “She’s a great student and really motivated.”

Since her high school graduation occurred during the middle of a school year and she never walked at a ceremony, Goldberg said this Saturday’s graduation will be sentimental for her.

“My family is so proud. This will be the first time I’ve actually graduated, and it’s always been a dream of mine,” Goldberg said. “I’m excited to finally have a degree I can be proud of.”

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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