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Mavericks and Roadrunners converge on Colorado’s Capitol

University presidents surrounded by students advocating first-generation college student funding.

More than twenty Colorado Mesa University first-generation students joined CMU President Tim Foster and Metro State University President Janine Davidson at Colorado’s capitol on Tuesday. The university coalition stood in unity as the coalition testified before the Colorado General Assembly’s Joint Budget Committee (JBC). The JBC and its members play a key role in establishing priorities for higher education funding in Colorado.

On first glance the Denver Metro Roadrunners and Colorado Mesa University Mavericks don’t have much in common. One university exists in the heart of downtown metropolitan Denver while the other sits in the heart of western Colorado’s great outdoors. A closer look reveals that both universities serve a large number of first-generation students and both MSUD and CMU have been working together to secure necessary resources to expand opportunities for those who are the first in their family to attend college.

“As state funding for higher education in Colorado has shrunk, the need to support first-generation students has gone up,” said Foster. “I was proud that CMU and MSUD students did their part today in bridging the urban rural divide in the name of equitable funding for future Mavericks and Roadrunners.”

In August 2019, CMU hosted an on campus celebration of first-generation students. The event included a video that was retweeted by the nation’s first Hispanic female astronaut and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The video was mean to help people around Colorado take notice of what it means to be the first in your family to acquire a higher education. 

“For us students it’s not just about today’s students,” said Angel Bautista first-generation CMU student. “People who are first in their families to enter college contribute to the future by enriching our culture, increasing workforce creativity and per capita income, and adding civic capacity of our communities. This is important enough to me that I took time from my winter break to come to Denver to testify today.”

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Colorado Mesa first-generation college students testitfy

During his testimony to the committee Foster noted that serving first-generation and low income students is a key priority in the State of Colorado’s Higher Education Master Plan yet, to date, annual funding formulas have not kept pace with the State’s priorities. 

“In my opinion, if you want to know what’s valued, look at a budget — the numbers tell a story,” Foster said.  “First-generation students at Metro and Colorado Mesa are leading the way and I think members of the JBC enjoyed getting to visit with them today about ways we can work together to make progress.”

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Written by David Ludlam