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GJ Business and Community Leader is Classmates with Her Son at CMU

Sonia Gutierrez advocates for a prosperous community and brighter futures for youth while studying construction management at CMU

Sonia Gutierrez has lived in the Grand Valley since she was four years old. She started degree programs at CMU in psychology and business previously, but life and family took her in different directions. “I am confident that the third time is a charm,” Gutierrez said. “I think it’s even more nerve-wracking to come back to school as an adult learner and a parent than it was to start fresh out of high school, but I have been pleasantly surprised by how welcoming the other students have been, and I am so glad that I decided to do this.” 

In addition to her studies, Gutierrez is an active community and business leader. She is the Vice President of Sierra Concrete, Inc., which she owns with her two brothers. She also serves on the Board of Directors for The Western Colorado Latino Chamber of Commerce and as a community advisor on Colorado Mesa University’s Strategic Planning Steering Committee. Throughout the current strategic planning process, also known as CMU’s Forming the Future initiative, CMU President John Marshall has encouraged stakeholders to get outside their comfort zone and gain new perspective. He first announced this initiative with a video of his first skydiving jump earlier this year. 

Gutierrez is gaining some valuable perspective to contribute to her community-building causes in the classroom as she earns her Bachelor of Science in Construction Management and her son, Luis De La Torre, earns an Associate of Applied Science in Supervision, Construction Technology. “I remember coming to night classes with my mom when I was little kid, so it’s pretty cool to be back in the classroom with her again,” De La Torre said. 

The programs have overlapping coursework and so far, mother and son have been classmates in surveying and construction mechanical and electrical classes. “When I originally found out we had classes together, I didn’t want him to feel pressured to sit with me or anything. I told him that I’m just another student, I don’t have to be mom in class,” Gutierrez said. “Then our professor said we would be working in a group for the whole semester. I told Luis to feel free to work with whoever he’d like to, and he said, ‘I want to be in your group, mom, because I know we will get a good grade!’”  

“There were definitely times when I was able to explain things to Luis because of my work experience and he has really helped me, too!” Gutierrez said. “I hadn’t practiced math formulas in years and coming right out of high school they were fresh in his mind. Our professors are really helpful in the classroom and it’s nice to have each other to help with homework and studying.” 

Work and school come up quite often in conversation at their weekly family dinners, too. De La Torre is working as an intern at Sierra Concrete. “These classes have definitely helped me,” De La Torre said. “I worked in Steamboat with the crew over the summer and things really started clicking. I have also learned a lot about the business side of things from my mom, like how to bid jobs and how to create the best relationships.”  

Being in the classroom has helped Gutierrez realize how unaware some students are about what opportunities are available to them here locally. “I cannot emphasize enough how passionate I am about helping students reach their full potential and take advantage of all the opportunities the Grand Valley has to offer,” Gutierrez said. “I love CMU and I am honored to have a chance to help make it even better. I am very fond of the leadership here and it’s so inspiring to brainstorm with people from so many different backgrounds and perspectives on how we can improve minority enrollment rates and help all kids see a brighter future for themselves. Gutierrez sees her studies at CMU brightening her own future, by preparing her to transition out of her administrative, office-based role in her company and into a hands-on project management role. She is excited to see more women getting involved in the construction industry and to have female instructors in the trade programs at CMU.  

“I’m learning more and more about how the actual construction site works because that’s ultimately where I want to be,” she said. The view from their construction zones is something to be desired. Sierra Concrete specializes in mountain construction projects like resorts, gondolas and utility stations for electrical and solar.  

“My work with The Western Colorado Latino Chamber of Commerce really brings it all full circle,” Gutierrez said. “We have really exciting partnerships with District 51 and CMU and the one thing we all have in common is the love for our home and the desire to make it as prosperous as possible for our future and it warms my heart to learn in class with my son and his friends, knowing they are part of that future.” 


Written by Hannah Odneal