Lorena Martinez is ready to finish what she started | VailDaily.com

Lorena Martinez is ready to finish what she started

Lorena Martinez of Gypsum is participating in Colorado Mountain College's Finish What You Started program. The program, which honors CMC's 50th anniversary, offers students the opportunity to return to complete degree studies with a 50 percent discount on tuition.
Pam Boyd/pboyd@eaglevalleyenterprise.com |

EDWARDS — A couple of weeks ago, Lorena Martinez was signing up for classes at the Colorado Mountain College Vail Valley campus in Edwards when a friend happened to notice a poster advertising the college’s Finish What You Started Program.

“She said to me ‘You should try this,’” said Martinez. That off-the-cuff advice is going to save Martinez a whole lot of money and help the local woman as she works toward earning a nursing degree.

“It’s awesome. I have taken so many courses, 10 or 11 already, and they are expensive,” said Martinez. “But I am more than half way through and I want to finish what I started.”

Honoring 50 years

In honor of CMC’s 50th anniversary, returning in-district students who have put their higher education goals on hold are eligible to complete their associate degree at a 50 percent tuition discount. The Finish What You Started program is being introduced at all of the college’s 11 learning locations to qualified students who currently do not have a two-year or higher degree and who have not attended college for one year or more. The first 50 eligible in-district students at each CMC location will receive the discount, paying as little as $31 per credit for in-district students.

Finish What You Started will continue through fall semester of 2017 — which marks the college’s 50th year of serving western Colorado — or until the scholarships are gone, whichever comes first.

“According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people who have completed an associate degree will earn substantially more than those who only have some college,” said Doug Stewart, director of marketing and communications for the college. “But we understand how changes in personal circumstances, or tight finances, can make it difficult to finish. So as part of our 50th anniversary year, we wanted to express our gratitude to our communities by making it more affordable to complete an associate degree.”

Or, as in Martinez’s case, the program will make it more affordable to realize a long-held dream.

Nurse to be

Since 2010, Martinez has been working toward her nursing degree. She has lived in the valley for 21 years and attended Battle Mountain High School. She dropped out before graduation but then returned to earn at GED through CMC. She has since chipped away at the required classes for an associates degree and obtained nursing assistant certification.

Back when she first started taking CMC classes, Martinez was the single mom of two kids. She had only recently earned registered alien status and she was working full time. “That was so hard,” she noted. She eventually had to step back from school to meet the needs of her family life.

But since that time, many things have changed for Martinez. Today, her daughter Daisy is 11 years old and her son, Jesus, is 9 years old. Martinez is now married and the mother of a second daughter Delilah, 2. She was ready to return to college this fall, with her family’s blessings.

“My husband Ricardo is helping me and encouraging me and my kids are very proud of me,” said Martinez.

Martinez eventually dreams of becoming a pediatrics or obstetrics nurse. “It is how I have always seen myself, helping people, and I want to work with kids.”

She is now four courses away from finishing up her prerequisites. Martinez plans to take one class this fall and another in the spring. She wishes she could take more classes, but with two kids in school and another at home, she has a lot of responsibilities to juggle.

“Hopefully, but the end of next year, I will be done,” she said.

In addition to working toward her degree, Martinez is also studying for her U.S. citizenship exam. “In December, I can apply for my citizenship and that one more big goal,” she said.

While she is following her own, long-held dream to become a nurse, Martinez noted she’s glad that she can set an example for her children.

“It is never too late. I think everything is possible if you work for it,” she said. “I see myself some day being a nurse and I will be so proud.”

Details about “Finish What You Started” are available at coloradomtn.edu/finish. Anyone interested in applying or learning more is encouraged to make an appointment with a counselor at any CMC campus.