Real World Students in a Real Mountain Town
by Leah Elkins, originally published in the Leadville Herald
I enrolled in Colorado Mountain College (CMC) Leadville over a year ago as a transfer student from a university. Having fallen in love with the Rockies after a summer-long camping trip, I knew my education yearned for opportunities similar to what I would find at CMC. I spent hours researching specific programs, revisiting my career interests, finding CMC student success stories, and considering the various campuses CMC has to offer. I landed in the Outdoor Recreation Leadership program at the Leadville campus as the Senior Resident Assistant. This position has given me unbelievable opportunities to be successful, find new experiences, and work with some truly incredible people.
The faculty, staff, and students who contribute to the CMC community are unfailingly resourceful. They’ve given me many opportunities to engage within the college, develop as a student leader, reach out into the community, and grow as an aspiring professional. I’ve been able to connect the CMC community with Lake County High School, the Lion’s Club, the Lake County Public Health Agency, and more. But I’m certainly not the only student who’s had a chance to utilize CMC to embrace my future and the Leadville community.
Environmental Studies major Gabbie Ingram, age 21, is a great example of a student leader gaining real-world experience through one of the work-study programs CMC has to offer. Ingram is a Natural Resource Management Assistant, working with NRM faculty to conduct off-site water resource management. She has observed and recorded various NRM data in the field, giving her entry-level experience to lead her to her goal of becoming a US Forest Service Ranger.
The experiences Ingram has embarked on have taken her all over the community, even allowing her to meet professionals from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on her academic travels. Ingram values the chance to work with CMC and BLM professionals in field settings, allowing her to grow as a student and an active member of the community. She’s traveled to the Dinero Mine Drainage Tunnel, Sugar Loaf Mining District, and even land owned by Nestle in Buena Vista. CMC NRM Assistants monitor the water table on Nestle’s land to ensure it isn’t depleting due to Nestle’s activity.
The CMC NRM Department also analyzes water samples from all over the community. Ingram has tested samples for alkalinity and acidity from Lake Fork, from the Sugar Loaf Mining District, and even from the homes of Leadville residents. Samples collected are tested for various factors, including pH and dissolved oxygen content. Ingram is gaining hands-on experience related to her chosen field of study while also learning to work in an environment requiring collaboration, office work, data input, and structured work hours.
Another CMC student worth highlighting is Ian Morris, a 21-year-old pursuing his Associates of Arts with the goal of achieving a Bachelor’s in Cyber Security. He recently accepted employment at CMC as the Computer Technician, providing a resource for faculty and staff to address technical services as needed.
To Morris, the chance to work as the campus Computer Technician is a “dream job.” He values the experiences, knowledge, and connections he gains through this opportunity, further noting the value of getting his foot in the door to launch him into his career of choice.
Morris even utilizes his skills to reach out into the community and provide technical services to Leadville residents. Between traveling to clients’ homes and meeting them elsewhere, Morris has performed side jobs in his field to further establish himself as an aspiring professional.
CMC is full of star players who study hard and contribute to the Leadville community. With occupations at Ski Cooper, Copper Mountain, Monarch Mountain, Pastime Bar and Café, Tennessee Pass Café, The Elk’s Lodge, La Resistance, Safeway, Holy Family Parish Catholic Church, Lake County Search and Rescue, and more, we think you’ll have a hard time enjoying Leadville without running into one of us.