CMC inspires hope, dreams during commencement address | VailDaily.com

CMC inspires hope, dreams during commencement address

BEAVER CREEK — Colorado Mountain College opened tassel turning season, as it always does, and it also opens the season of hopefulness.

All of that potential and positivity unleashed into the world cannot help but make it a better place.

On Friday, May 4, 290 CMC students earned college degrees and certificates, and stood in the Vilar Performing Arts Center, looking out into the crowd of loved ones gathered with skills to not only live their lives, but some to save others' lives.

For some, the road to commencement was relatively easy. For others, rough and rocky, but worth it.

Dr. Kathryn Regjo, CMC Vail Valley vice president and dean, acknowledged their struggle.

"We all ask ourselves, 'Can I do this? Can I make it?' You're here because you did," Regjo said.

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Happily Ever After is Possible

The top bachelors graduate, Petya Yosifova Konstantinova earned a business degree with an accounting emphasis, while having two children. She missed "a couple" classes.

Student speaker Faith Calvo's uncle was murdered, and had all sorts of other problems. She landed in therapy, and started working her way out of it because her therapist told her to wake up early to watch the sunrise – the world transforming from darkness to light.

She thought she might want to be a teacher, and thought she might want to take a class at CMC. So she did.

On Friday, she became part of CMC's first graduating class to earn an education degree.

Happily ever after is possible, but it's a daily battle.

"You'll have to slay the dragons that still live inside us," Calco said.

Larry Dutmer, college counselor announced that nine local high school students earned enough college credits for an associate's degree. That means they knocked out enough college credits to be halfway through college, at the same time they're finishing high school.

See the possibility, Be the opportunity

This year's CMC theme is the admonition, "See the possibility. Be the opportunity."

Commencement speaker Magda King knows a thing or two about long hard roads.

She's the general manager of Vail's Antlers Hotel. Born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, she says she has long been aware of her role as a Latina businesswoman, and dedicates herself to helping her employees find success through ESL and GED programs, Spanish language acquisition, book clubs, scholarships and other programs.

"This is the first triumph of many victories," King told the graduates.

None of them arrived here by themselves.

"Somebody helped. Sometimes we forget to see this in ourselves," King said.

King had never lived in an English-speaking Anglo culture before leaving Ecuador and moving to Vail.

When she left South America, her mom and dad gave her some sage advice: "Wherever you are planted, you have to bloom," he told his daughter.

She studied business because her dad insisted. During her first year in college, her dad was diagnosed with cancer. Her life was no longer about what she wanted to do, but what she had to do.

The hours of study were long, and so was the work. It showed her what was possible, and a Herculean work ethic is required.

Her father gave his five children the best education he could afford. King is skilled with languages, and when things got tough and she complained to her father, he advised her to practice her Russian.

One of her first experiences working in Vail, she was introduced to an angry guest. She extended her hand and the guest said, "I do not shake hands with the help."

Instead of cowering, she vowed to become the best version of herself, and help others do that, as well.

"Education does change the world, changes everything. Education gives it all to you," she said.

Slowly and generously, her peers began accepting and embracing her as she is.

"Never forget others on your path to success," King said.

And don't take yourself so seriously.

"There is enough drama in this world," King said. "You are here, right now, for a reason. You are not here to fill a job. Be a joy. Wherever you are planted, bloom."