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The Mesa County Partnership Scholarship is helping employees chase their dreams at Colorado Mesa University

All too often, going back to school to further your career gets put on hold. You get busy, the finances need to be sorted out and it takes courage to pursue new opportunities. To make things easier, Colorado Mesa University is teaming up with local employers to provide financial support so people in the community can get back into the classroom to grow their careers. “We were looking at how to reengage adult learners and help them with credit completion. We did a lot of committee work to determine where we could build partnerships in the community and one of the things that came out of that process was the Mesa County Partnership Scholarship,” said Director of Financial Aid Lindsey Campbell.

In 2020, CMU began working with local businesses and organizations to help them develop their human capital with the introduction of the Mesa County Partnership Scholarship. This scholarship provides up to $500 for students taking at least twelve undergraduate credits or at least six graduate credits, with slightly lower amounts available for lower course loads and the scholarship is renewable for up to 120 credit hours. CMU is currently working with the following organizations: Mesa County School District 51, City of Grand Junction, Capco, Mind Springs Health, Family Health West and Hilltop Community Resources.

To be eligible for the scholarship, employees at one of the companies listed above must meet basic admissions requirements, show proof of employment with a participating business and maintain satisfactory academic progress. The scholarship can be used at any CMU campus and can be used for in-person or online courses.

One individual that has taken advantage of the Mesa County Partnership Scholarship program is Diana Velasco, a custodian working for District 51 that dreams of becoming an elementary school teacher. Velasco is a beloved member of the community at East Middle School and was recently honored with a White Iced Award from the School District 51 Foundation. She loves engaging students in conversation and is a beacon of positive energy throughout her building. Velasco exemplifies CMU’s values of curiosity and courage in her pursuit of a degree in elementary education.

Velasco moved with her family from Mexico to Colorado when she was seventeen and explained that becoming a teacher was “something that I always wanted to do since I was little.” However, the need to start working immediately, the language barrier and her confidence kept her from enrolling. With encouragement and support from the East Middle School staff, the inspiration of her younger sister that teaches for District 51 and with assistance from CMU’s Admissions Office, Velasco decided to try and make her dream come true by signing up for classes last fall.

Now in her second semester, Velasco reflected that “the staff members and professors are always there to help with any questions I may have, and they have been really supportive. I know that I am not alone and there is always someone I can reach in case I have any questions. I feel much more confident now. If someone asked me about going back to school, I would tell them to go for it. If I can do it, I think anyone can do it. The worst thing you can do is not to try.”

Velasco continued, “age is only a number, no matter how old you are you shouldn’t stop learning. Why wait longer if you can learn today?”

With the financial support of the Mesa County Partnership Scholarship Velasco is better equipped to access CMU’s high-value education. She is now on the path to achieve her dream of becoming an elementary classroom teacher where she can continue to positively impact the lives of students in our community. “I am so grateful to CMU and District 51 for this award, it has made a big difference by helping me pay for my tuition,” Velasco shared.

CMU is looking to expand the Mesa County Partnership Scholarship program and is actively seeking new employers to work with. If a local company is looking to provide a more robust education benefits package for their employees, they are encouraged to reach out to Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management Kim Medina. If you work for one of the employers listed above and are ready to enroll at CMU you can apply online and speak with the Financial Aid Office at 970.248.1177 to participate in the scholarship program.


Written by Giff Walters