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City serves as junction between college and career

City and university partnership benefits students through scholarships, internships, and careers

Partnership that connects Colorado Mesa University with the surrounding city forms a relationship that benefits town and gown — and more than 150 students so far through scholarships, internships and careers with the City of Grand Junction.

Mikayla Brewer worked as an intern with the Human Resources Department of the City of Grand Junction while completing her bachelor’s in business administration with concentrations in administration and human resources. Her internship was funded by the City of Grand Junction.

Even before her graduation this spring, Brewer will put to good use the skills she learned as an intern with the City. She took a job as a senior administrative assistant in the same department in which she had interned this past December.

“I’ll be doing a lot of the same duties” in her new job as the ones she learned to handle as an intern, Brewer said.

Dalton Baker, who is also graduating this spring, has a job awaiting him. His job is with the U.S. Forest Service with a wildfire module on Grizzly Ridge near Cody, Wyoming, next to Yellowstone National Park.

Baker interned with the geographic information system unit at the City, where he learned the skills he’ll translate to guiding his module, or unit of 10 wildland firefighters as they’re on the ground, battling blazes.

An environmental science major, Baker minored in GIS and immediately realized how important his minor could be.

“I just saw endless opportunities that GIS could be used for,” Baker said. “This minor is gold. It will pay for itself.”
The City has funded more than 200 scholarships making college possible for many local students.

“The partnership between the City of Grand Junction and CMU is unlike any other I’m aware of and it’s one I’m proud to be part of,” CMU President Tim Foster said.

Students are not the only ones benefiting from this partnership. The City stands to gain much from the partnership, not least being the potential for stabilizing the Grand Junction economy, which has long been characterized by booms and busts, according to Grand Junction Mayor Rick Taggart.

“To do this, we have to have an educated workforce,” Taggart said. “The scholarship program was conceived to reduce the financial burden on students and their parents. In most cases, the recipients would not have been able to achieve
their dream of higher education without the CMU-City partnership.”

In 2018, Grand Junction devoted $250,000 to scholarships to encourage students to attend CMU or Western Colorado Community College.

In 2019, the city upped its funding to $400,000 and will invest $550,000 in 2020.

“While it is probably too soon to determine the success of the program, I am very confident that these students will make the community proud and will make major contributions to our economy in the future,” said Taggert.
Baker, a Commerce City, Colorado native, decided to attend CMU at the urging of his sister, herself a CMU graduate.

“Dalton, you should come to school here,” Baker said his sister told him. He soon decided she was right after realizing all the outdoor-recreation opportunities that were available to him in western Colorado, along with the educational advantages. “I’ve liked it a lot,” Baker said.

Brewer enrolled at CMU when she received a Distinguished Scholar scholarship and later the City-funded scholarship.

“I just loved the campus and I decided this is the place where I belonged,” Brewer said.

Her internship at the City has allowed her to apply her classroom work to work-world realities, Brewer said. She has been involved in payroll, recruiting and testing applicants for jobs in the city-operated emergency-dispatch center and a variety of other human-resources issues. •

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Written by Gary Harmon