Ben Saheb is pictured with his bachelor's degree diploma during the Colorado Mountain College graduation ceremony Saturday at The Steamboat Grand.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Ben Saheb is pictured with his bachelor's degree diploma during the Colorado Mountain College graduation ceremony Saturday at The Steamboat Grand.

CMC graduation highlights school's unique qualities

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CMC faculty and staff awards

Faculty of the Year: Tim Baldwin, assistant professor, EMS

Adjunct Faculty of the Year: Betsy Frick, geology

Staff of the Year: Kevin Williams, library director

— Like most departing high school seniors, Alex Orton sat down with a big copy of The Princeton Review.

The book is a wealth of knowledge on colleges and universities across the country.

It rates just about everything, from education to lifestyle, putting it all in a pecking order.

Some schools are ranked high, and some low. Some offer the best value; some offer the best programs.

Orton found a college that scored 80 overall, or a "B-minus” he said.

He attended the B-minus college for a two years, leaving after his sophomore year.

On Saturday at the Korbel Grand Ball Room at The Steamboat Grand, Orton walked across the stage barefoot at the Colorado Mountain College graduation finding the right situation for himself.

Colorado Mountain College wasn’t in The Princeton Review. But what Orton and his classmates learned the past several years at the Steamboat campus is tough to quantify.

CMC isn’t your average college. Every person is known on a first-name basis. It’s not a school, but rather a community.

Oh, and the setting doesn’t hurt. Powder days and river trips are the norm.

“I had a friend tell me the mountains change a person,” said Orton, who gave the bachelor degree graduate speech. “They’re always on the horizon reminding of us what’s on the horizon.”

On Saturday, that horizon seemed endless.

CMC awarded 82 associate degrees, 25 bachelor’s degrees and 12 certificates of occupational proficiency.

Several students earned multiple degrees and most walked with honors.

“Colorado Mountain College has given me the skills and outlook to continue forward in life with how I want to live,” said Breyanna Waldsmith, who gave the associate degree graduate speech.

CMC President and CEO Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser gave the commencement address, encouraging students to look at the world around them. She said look at 10 years ago when Facebook was a “just a digital playground for students at Harvard.” Or Google, which now has become an “action verb.”

But mostly, she encouraged students to keep learning and keep pursuing things. Relating to a trip to Nepal, Hauser found a quote in a tea house that she said speaks to each person, and especially new graduates.

“Life’s greatest challenge is exploring the leader within,” she said.

And with that, this group of CMC graduates walked across the stage, unsure of what’s next but better for it.

Some will continue with their education, some will find jobs and some still remain unsure of what they will do.

But the sentiment Saturday was each was better for adventure that CMC provided.

In the Princeton Review, “there was little information about the real experience,” Orton told the crowd and his fellow students. “The Princeton Review was missing the point.”

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229, email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @LukeGraham

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