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‘Lifelong learning’

Sarah DixonVail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily
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Sandwiched between the Edwards I-70 exit and Miller Ranch lies an oasis of self improvement, cultural enrichment and broadened horizons.

The Edwards-based Eagle Valley campus of Colorado Mountain College (CMC), enables locals to take classes that can advance them towards the goal of a degree or simply enrich their lives through learning. Classes range from cooking to early childhood education and mountain safety to foreign language, so even doctorates can learn something new.

Campus diversityThe courses offered at CMC fulfill a variety of different needs – for a variety of different candidates. “We have a really diverse group of students,” said Dawn Murphy, student activities and marketing coordinator for CMC. “We have students right out of high school, but also students of all ages who have decided they want to come back to school and ultimately do something else with their lives.” The community college strives to serve goal-driven students who already lead busy lives, but CMC offers flexible class schedules to accommodate their needs.”We’re really a commuter campus – so a ton of our classes are offered at night,” said Murphy. “This building is more full in the evening than it ever is during the day.”Even if degree-seeking is not the main reason for enrolling, Murphy said that CMC has something to offer to, well, just about anyone. “We call it lifelong learning,” Murphy said of the school’s non-credit, developmental offerings. With courses in ceramics, dance, conversational Spanish and sushi, CMC is a great place to build on existing knowledge or learn a new talent.”If you have a special interest that you want to learn more about – and, while learning it, spend time with other people from the community that have the same interests as you – these classes would be a good fit,” said Murphy. “We feel like in addition to our other roles, we need to be a resource in this community for potential students who already have degrees and careers, but want to come to us for learning that is more enrichment-based than credit-based.”Try something new

CMCs offerings make for interesting reading, and even more interesting class hours. Students can choose one-day computer classes to brush up on Excel skills, a cooking class to impress a date, a belly dancing class to tone the abs Middle-Eastern style or even a first aid class to help maximize your rate as a babysitter. “I love the avalanche safety course – it’s so relevant in our Valley,” said Murphy. “There are so many people here who want to get the fresh powder, but don’t know how to do it safely. Instructor Dan Aguilar is so experienced – he really makes people so much more safe.”Other highlights on the fall roster include American Sign Language, rock climbing, West Coast swing, multiple cooking seminars, CPR/First Aid classes and more. One of the most popular classes at the Edwards campus is, not surprisingly, conversational Spanish.”The conversational Spanish classes are really popular, they fill up early,” Murphy said. “The really cool thing is that they’re geared toward the community member who wants to learn to speak Spanish, and isn’t quite so focused on learning the language intricacies or grammatical perfections. The point is to come out of the class and be able to communicate. We do offer the state-mandated Spanish class for degree-seeking students, but for this course, the point is that you can go in, and in four or five weeks, actually speak some Spanish.”Many of these “lifelong learning” courses are also offered in several-hour blocks in the evenings, and a number of the culinary classes are even offered in a single-day format. “We’re offering a sushi rolling and fish cutting demonstration (and) participation class,” said Murphy. “The class is just one day, and sushi rolling mats and green tea will be provided to the students. We’re also offering ‘Let’s Make Soup’ with Chef Kirk Weems from Allie’s Cabin and ‘Let’s Make Pasta’ with Chef Todd Rymer. Both classes will also be in the one-day demonstration/ participation format. The students will be able to taste and enjoy the meals that they create.”As a relief to those still paying student loans, students can experience CMC’s diverse offerings without breaking the bank. Reasonable prices are made even more affordable if you are a local resident. “It’s important to us to make these things accessible – it’s expensive to take dance classes, Pilates classes or even first aid classes,” said Murphy. “If you sign up for a swing class, but aren’t sure of how serious you are about it, instead of hundreds of dollars for a professional course, it might cost you $100 for 8 weeks of classes. (That’s) almost unheard of.”


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