Colorado Mountain College graduates one of largest classes (with photo gallery)
At the Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs campus, a mix of tears and smiles dawned on students’ faces as they celebrated their college graduation with family members and friends Saturday at The Steamboat Grand’s Korbel Ballroom.
Eleysa Schofield of Steamboat received her Bachelor of Science in business administration and an Associate of Arts in business. A first-generation student, Schofield credited financial assistance through programs, grants and scholarships with making her college education possible.
“As a scared teenager trying to figure that out, it was hard to navigate,” Schofield said. “But CMC really helped.”
Schofield considered her two years as the Student Government Association’s student body president as a highlight. And, she capped off her college experience by being named as this year’s student commencement speaker for bachelor’s degree recipients.
“I am just grateful to realize how well-rounded I feel as a person after attending CMC and with these degrees,” said Schofield, who hopes to earn a master’s degree in the near future. “Being part of CMC has been priceless.”
For Janisha Williams, the path to earning an associate’s degree of applied science in ski and snowboard business started, strangely enough, in Miami.
“Growing up, my parents were very supportive of me,” said Williams, who now calls Steamboat Springs home. “When I had an interest in camping or snowboarding, they didn’t put up barriers. We went and did it.”
Williams’ passion for snowsports grew, and having snowboarded much of the Pacific Northwest, she made her way to Colorado.
“You know, I lived the snowboarder life for a number of years,” Williams said. “But I knew I wanted more.”
As a nontraditional student, she enrolled at the Steamboat campus and participated in Saturday’s graduation ceremony but has a few credits to finish up in the fall. Once her degree is official, she will make history by being the first female Black student to graduate from the ski and snowboard business program.
Her goal is to continue and finish her bachelor’s in applied science in leadership and management and one day, open her own ski resort that “lifts people up as opposed to judging them for not having the latest gear,” she said.
“Diversity in this industry is very important to me, and I hope my example can be an inspiration for others,” explained Williams. “But I also think the cultural shift in this industry needs to come from a place of kindness. We need to learn to treat each other with respect.”
When Pike James Wipperfurth graduated from Steamboat Springs High School, he was ready for a change.
“I graduated and pretty much walked off stage and boarded a plane to Uganda,” Wipperfurth recalled.
But the plane ride was not for pleasure, he was there as part of a service trip for the organization Come, Let’s Dance. What was supposed to be a couple of months stay in Africa turned into two trips over the course of two years.
“I was dropped into an environment where everything was completely different,” Wipperfurth said. “That kind of woke me up, you know, some people might call it culture shock.”
The experience ignited a passion in Wipperfurth to help others, which lead him to the Steamboat college. He earned his EMT certificate in 2017 and then began working as a ski patroller.
A few years later, he made the hard choice to switch careers, enrolling again at CMC, which started him on a path to earning degrees in political science, anthropology and outdoor education this May. He was also named a student commencement speaker, representing the associate degree graduates.
“It’s going to be hard to leave CMC; I’ve built some amazing friendships here and so many great relationships with my professors,” Wipperfurth said. “But even though my chapter at CMC is ending, I know those relationships aren’t over. They will evolve and continue.”
After graduation, Wipperfurth is transferring to Colorado State University, where he will pursue a bachelor’s degree in political science. But reflecting back his biggest piece of advice is that life doesn’t have to look traditional.
“You don’t necessarily have to follow pathways that may have been built for you in your past,” he said. “Take control of your own destiny.”
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The Steamboat Springs Board of Education and the Steamboat Springs Education Association agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement Monday night, giving licensed teachers an average pay bump of 5.5% for next year.