Opening new doors: Colorado Mountain College 2007 graduation
SUMMIT COUNTY – A husband, four children and a full-time job is more than enough to keep a mom busy. Then, when you add going back to school after 20 years and earning a degree with honors, you have what Eileen Morrison recently accomplished.”She’s simply the most superb student I’ve ever taught,” said Gary Ketzenbarger, Colorado Mountain College adjunct faculty. “She could easily be studying at any top notch graduate program in the country.”He went on to describe Morrison, 43, of Silverthorne, as brilliant, conscientious and always giving 110 percent. And this evening her hard work will pay off as she receives her Associate of Arts degree from CMC during the graduation ceremony at Keystone Conference Center.Morrison grew up in Leadville and went to the University of Colorado at Boulder after graduating high school in 1982. However, after a year she dropped out to take time off. Then, she married her husband, Andy, and they had four children, Brendan, 20, Keller, 17, Casey, 14 and Ciara, 11.In 2004, about a year after the family moved from Leadville to Summit County for the schools and so Andy could be closer to his construction work, she started taking classes at CMC. Morrison had worked as a teacher’s aid in Leadville so she applied to Summit School Districts after the move. However, she needed some additional credits at the time to continue as a teacher’s aid so she started at CMC while she waited to hear back from the schools.A month later she was hired Summit Middle School, where she has worked full-time ever since.”I kind of ended up biting off more than I could chew. … But once I got a taste of it (college) again, I realized I really missed it and wanted to go back and finish what I started,” Morrison said.So, she became an expert in time management, particularly during ski season. Her daughter races and since her husband was often busy coaching wrestling at Summit High School, she traveled with Ciara for the races. Despite the constant time crunch, Morrison made the President’s List every semester, is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and received two scholarships, Datatel Scholars Foundation scholarship and Colorado Mountain College Foundation scholarship.”I’ve been fortunate to really have some phenomenal teachers at CMC who’ve made the experience meaningful,” she said.The classes challenged Morrison in new ways, she added. She wrote and produced plays, studied comparative religion and was exposed to different aspects of learning that inspired self-confidence and a wiliness to try new things. One of her favorite times was when she took a class with her oldest son, who is currently doing a Wild Rockies Field Institute course in Utah.”I owe a lot to my family,” Morrison said. “They’ve had to do without me when they may have needed me … and if they didn’t support me, I couldn’t have done it.”From here, she doesn’t know exactly what her plans are, but she has been accepted to Regis University where pursuing a teaching license is one of her options since she has a background working in the schools.”On one hand I’ve worked really hard to get here, but on the other it feels like a baby step,” Morrison said. “It’s a milestone, but not an end for sure.”Ketzenbarger, who she took many classes with, said, “She deserves every bit of praise. … I don’t even have enough words.”Lory Pounder can be contacted at (970) 668-4628, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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