By Caitlin Switzer
REGIONAL–(June 3 2014) Their missions are different, but the goal is the same–to serve the educational needs of the West Central region. So when officials from Colorado Mesa University and the Delta-Montrose Vo-Tec sat down last week to talk about the future, the conversation focused on how best to expand programming.
“We are talking about what makes the most sense for our communities and our students,” CMU Montrose Director Joey Montoya Boese said. “Right now the Vo-Tec serves both counties, and our advisory council has asked us to expand our programming. So at the end of the day, this is a conversation we need to have–about providing expanded knowledge and improving the quality of life for our communities.
“Do they have the resources to expand their programming here?” she asked. “We have a great working relationship with the Vo-Tec. Our number one strategic goal is to increase the educational levels attainable in our community; we are hoping we can find a win-win solution.”
With the expansion of the Montrose Campus has come a renewed emphasis on academic offerings, Boese said.
“What has been lacking are areas for our students to come together for group study,” she said. “Now, they will have a place to embrace and call their own–and they can get to know their fellow students.”
Among the exciting new classes available through CMU is Creative Writing, she said, while the nursing program continues to grow.
“We have graduated 120 RN’s,” Boese said. “With our renovations in 2012, our students are telling us they feel like they are attending a real college campus.”
CMU would like to be able to offer some certificate programs–particularly those not currently available through the Vo-Tec–through its Western Colorado Community College division. “We do hope to include more 16-week programs,” she said, “especially if there things that the Vo-Tec doesn’t offer–why not offer them here?”
The Vo-Tec has been serving the vocational education needs of the local community since 1978, Vo-Tec Director John Jones said.
“We currently do have a presence in Montrose, and we have had one all along,” Jones said. “Forty-two percent of our students presently come from Montrose County and from Grand Junction. We work quite well with CMU–we do want to partner with them, as it is beneficial for both schools.”
Jones cited the nursing program shared by the two institutions as an example of cooperation that benefits students and the communities. “The nursing program serves as a model,” he said. “We offer the CAN program, and first year LPN. After they finish here, many of them go on to CMU to become RN’s.” Some of the programs CMU has expressed interest in are currently taught through the Vo-Tec and are already available in Montrose, he noted.
“Ideally, the Vo-Tec teaches the hands-on classes, while CMU teaches academics and theory,” he said. “There’s lots of room to work together.”
For her part, Boese expressed excitement over the growing number of opportunities available to local scholars.
“One of the things we really stress is teaching students to think critically,” she said. “You have to do more than just show up, in class and in life–you have to learn, engage and interact. You have to push yourself beyond your limits.”
By Caitlin Switzer