Colorado Mountain College commencement set for Friday, May 4, at Beaver Creek’s Vilar Center | VailDaily.com

Colorado Mountain College commencement set for Friday, May 4, at Beaver Creek’s Vilar Center

Heather McGregor
Special to the Daily

After graduating this week with two associate degrees in history and business, Gloria Chairez plans to continue at Colorado Mountain College to earn a bachelor's degree in business. She setting her sights on earning a law degree at the University of Colorado Boulder to become an immigration attorney.

EDWARDS — While Gloria Chairez was growing up, she loved talking with her father about world history.

"He and I have always been history nerds," said Chairez, 21, of Gypsum, a student at Colorado Mountain College Vail Valley at Edwards.

Now that Chairez is graduating CMC with an associate degree in history, she said, "We can have actual conversations about what's going on."

And by earning a second associate degree in business, she can help her parents, Pedro and Olga Chairez, run Indios Landscaping, the family business.

Chairez is the first in her extended family to earn a college degree. Her parents immigrated from a small community in Zacatecas, Mexico, and started their family in Colorado. A graduate of Eagle Valley High School, Chairez is setting an example for her three younger siblings, along with six cousins in Dotsero and Leadville.

"I am the oldest grandchild on both sides," she said. "It's been important for me to be a good role model, to show them what you can do if you put some effort into it."

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She spent extra time to earn two associate degrees because history and business both align well with her goals. Chairez is looking toward a career as an immigration attorney.

"I have always wanted to do that," she said. "I worked with a couple of lawyers around the area and saw that they made a big impact on families, helping people be in the United States. I feel it would be a good way to help out the community."

To reach that goal, she plans to continue at CMC to earn a bachelor's degree in business and then earn a law degree at the University of Colorado Boulder.

She said reaching this milestone of two associate degrees has made her very proud. She is also grateful for the help of her CMC faculty, as well as the TRIO Student Support Services program. TRIO is a federal program that provides services for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The nationwide program, which serves about 375 students across the CMC district, helps students succeed in college. For Chairez, that support included academic tutoring, community service days and several visits to other college campuses in Colorado.

Katherine Osten, coordinator for the TRIO program at CMC Edwards, said the campus visits helped Chairez "see beyond CMC and see all the different opportunities out there for majors and careers."

"They helped me decide what schools I could go to for a bachelor's," Chairez said. "With the academic work, they look at your grades. If you are not doing well, they address that."

"Gloria is really dedicated to pursuing an education," Osten said. "She loves learning. Student Support Services helped her in staying committed to her education."

Osten said Chairez has been an asset for the program on campus.

"She is so animated and personable, and she is very proactive in sharing the knowledge she has with other students. If she hears someone talking, she will share her perspective, her experience," Osten said.

CMC graduation is Friday

What: Colorado Mountain College Vail Valley commencement exercises.

When: 5 p.m. Friday, May 4.

Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, 68 Avondale Lane, Beaver Creek.

Cost: Free.

More information: The commencement speaker is Magda King, general manager of the Antlers at Vail hotel. Born in Ecuador, King was named the Hospitality Professional of the Year by the Vail Valley Partnership in 2014. In 2016, she received the Community Partnership Award for her efforts advocating for employee literacy, financial stability and citizenship status. Call CMC Vail Valley campus at 970-569-2900.