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Meet More Graduates

Don't see an alumni feature for a degree you are interested in? Continue to explore the 83 majors we offer.

Meet Drisa Carrizo, '08 drisa-carrizo-professional.jpg

Certified Public Accountant, DAC Advisory Services
BS Accounting & MBA (3+2 Program)

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

I work with individuals and small businesses as a tax and general business advisor. As the owner of my own business, I do a lot of networking and practice development as well as technical tax work for my clients. I also volunteer in my community, serving on the Board of Directors for an organization called Sandpipers, which accounts for time in each of my days. You can also find me playing tennis or golf on a daily basis or swimming laps in the pool, practicing yoga or getting my butt kicked in a spin class. Life is all about balance.

How did your experience at CMU prepare you for your career? 

My experience at CMU helped mold me into a well-rounded human. Earning by BS in Accounting and MBA ensured I was compliant with all requirements to practice as a CPA in Colorado and in California, where I currently live and work.

What was your transition like from being a student to your current career position?  drisa-carrizo-throwback.jpg

I remember it being a bit of a shock, but a fun challenge. The hardest part for me was going from wearing comfortable gym clothes each day to dressing in business casual attire.

What do you think set you apart from the other applicants for your current position?

I believe my attitude and personable demeanor have set me apart throughout my journey in the accounting world and have taken me a long way in growing my tax practice.

What advice would you give to incoming college students?

Embrace every experience as an opportunity to learn and grow. Take personal accountability for your experiences and try not to dismiss anything as pointless. There will likely be a time down the road when you will realize how important and impactful all your college moments were. Oh, and have FUN!

Connect with Drisa on LinkedIn

Meet Christa Campbell, '17 christa-campbell-throwback.jpg

Business Development, Bonsai Design
BA Business Administration, Marketing Concentration 

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

I work in the business development department at Bonsai, a custom turnkey company in the aerial adventure course industry. My job tasks include working closely with the CEO and the general manager to engage with current clients and strive to develop new relationships within industries looking to bring an innovate and exciting activity to their guests.

How did your experience at CMU prepare you for your career?

By being an active student at CMU, I learned time management, the value of networking and, most importantly, skills that have helped me build a foundation to start an exciting career in the outdoor recreation industry.

What was your transition like from being a student to your career position? christa-campell-professional.jpg

My transition was easier because I actively job hunted before graduation, which was key. I learned short-term achievement was more important when I attended CMU, for example grades and test scores. However, in the full-time position, I have learned to stay motivated completing small tasks that help accomplish the long-term goal. 

What do you think set you apart from the other applicants for your current position?

During my freshman year, I thought about what it would take to obtain a full-time position after graduation. I worked hard in different jobs, strived to get great grades and took advantage of every opportunity to learn and volunteer. Because I am detail-oriented, I created a well-rounded resume to not only find a job but a career that I would be passionate about.

What advice would you give to incoming students?

To help incoming college students succeed, I advise them to continually work hard and network. I wouldn’t be in this position without perseverance throughout my college years.

Meet Robin Toomey, '17  Robin Toomey at golf course

Estimator & Project Manager, Martin Marrietta
BA Construction Management

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

In my current position, no day is the same. Everyday has different challenges and solutions. One compelling thing about Martin Marietta is we work on small driveways and state highways, and everything in-between. My job starts when a customer contacts Martin Marietta wanting work done. I will typically go out and look at the area or download site plans to take measurements. After that is completed, I will send our proposal to the customer. When the work is awarded, I then set up jobs and communicate between my co-workers and the customer of when and what work needs to be completed. I am the contact throughout the project. I will meet with customers before, during and after the work to ensure they are getting the best product. Once the work is completed, I am responsible to invoice the work and make sure we receive the payments from the customer and pay our vendors.

How did your experience at CMU prepare you for your career?

The four years I spent at CMU prepared me for my career in many ways. Being in the construction management program, it was important to think of the unwritten and be self-motivated. Being at a smaller university like CMU, I was able to build strong relationships with professors and many of the students in the program which has helped me to network in the industry.

What your transition like from being a student to your current career position?

I was fortunate enough to take a job with a company I interned with while I was a student at CMU which made the transition extremely rewarding. For me personally, school became a routine, and in my career every day is different which has challenged me to be critical of my own work.

What do you think set you apart from the other applicants for your current position?

What I believe set me apart from other applicants was my experience. I had three different internships throughout my time at CMU which allowed me to experience diverse projects and companies in Colorado. Having these opportunities allowed me to apply my coursework to “real-world” scenarios, so when it came time to interview I was confident talking with professionals in the industry.

What advice would you give to incoming college students?

Take advantage of all the opportunities CMU has to offer. From social events to the career center workshops, the time you spend at CMU will build you up to be the person you are once you graduate.


Meet Camille Arnn, '17 Camille Headshot

Satellite Systems Engineer, NASA
BS Mechanical Engineering

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

Currently, I am training to become a flight controller. This requires learning all about the ISS external thermal system (space is really hot when you’re directly in the sun, and really cold when you’re not) and the electrical system that uses power generated by solar arrays to provide power to the Station’s crew and science projects. Eventually, you can catch me on NASA TV working in Mission Control. 

How did your experience at CMU prepare you for your career?

The hands-on nature of the engineering program at Mesa really helped me learn how to be a part of a team while working to solve problems.

What was your transition like from being a student to your current career position? camille-arn-throwback_updated.jpg

The transition was smooth. A large portion of flight controllers are hired on newly graduated, so having such a large group of people who have recently gone through the same thing helped.

What do you think set you apart from the other applicants for your current position?

Internships and projects I worked on while still in college provided me the basic set of skills NASA is looking for in new hires. 

What advice would you give to incoming college students?

Finding a major (and ultimately a career) you’re passionate about makes those 8 AM lectures and all-nighters easier to power through.

Meet Rachel Wright, '11 headshot of Rachael

Author, Rachael Wright LLC
BA History & BA Political Science

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

My days are divided into two camps: writing a first draft and editing. While writing a first draft, I write from 9am to 1pm and aim for four thousand words. This is an exercise in both ignoring myself and immersing myself in the story. First drafts are unpolished, often terrible, but a quick way to get the entire story down on paper. After I’ve completed the word count for the day I will spend an hour or so working on my website, blogging, marketing or my social media accounts. If however, I am editing a draft then my days are much more structured. I edit a novel at least four times before it’s ready for my copyeditor. My first edits are largely done to correct plot holes and any glaring issues with the structure of the novel (i.e. too many secondary characters). After the first edit is completed I send the draft off to Beta Readers who send me their thoughts on the novel and any issues that they’ve seen. After the Beta Readers finish I begin adding layers of character development, adding a local flavor to the setting, flushing out adverbs, and superfluous words.

A typical day editing looks like this: 8:30 read through an entire chapter, making notes and determining what needs to be changed; 9:00-12:00 input changes into the Scrivener app that I work on, 12:30-1:30 short break for lunch, 1:30-4:30 research for novel (police procedures, layout of streets, read Greek newspapers) as well as preparing for tomorrow’s chapter. At 5:00 I leave to pick up my daughter and at this point I’m finished for the day, although I will print and read through a chapter in the evening, to prepare for tomorrow’s work.

How did your experience at CMU prepare you for your career?

The majority of my preparation came from fantastic faculty. Regardless of what gorgeous buildings or fantastic sports complexes or gyms colleges build, the heart of what makes a ‘good’ degree are the professors. Three professors contributed inordinately to my success; Dr. Vincent Patarino, Dr. Tim Casey, and Dr. Douglas O’Roark. Dr. Patarino has twice now edited my query letters for literary agents and sat with me discussing everything regarding the publishing business and the ways in which my novels could improve. I double majored in History and Political Science and the sheer amount of books to be read, essays to be written and primary source documents to be mined for relevant information was, at times, vastly overwhelming. However, it was this discipline, this work that transformed me into the writer I am today. There isn’t much difference between writing a thesis and writing a novel (I cried during both). There are arguments to be made, vast amounts of research to be gathered, questions to be answered and underlying it all – passion. One of my political science professors said to a class, when asking what our thesis’ would be “it’s no surprise that Rachael’s chosen to study the UK.” English/UK history has been my passion from a young age: its myths, legends, stories, and my own ancestry, are what propelled me to writing.

What was your transition like from being a student to your current career position? Rachael at graduation

The most difficult part of my transition was suddenly being my own boss. I was not hemmed in by deadlines but I also didn’t have professors that I could see multiple times a week to ask for assistance or to pick their brains about what was weak or needed work in my novel. But as I have had some distance from college, 6 years, I’ve found that I have to start becoming someone else’s mentor. I have to give away what I’ve learned and use it to shore up the next generation. It’s always more comfortable to be the mentee, but vastly unrewarding in the long term.

What advice would you give to incoming college students? 

It’s quite a challenge coming from home where your parents have always made sure your homework was completed, and that you ate a decent meal every night and went to bed at a decent hour. The sheer amount of freedom is very disorientating, at least it was to me and my friends, and it’s very challenging to find a new rhythm for yourself. My best investment was a planner, the paper kind. Write down every assignment ahead of time and always keep your syllabi. Have fun with your new freedom, and start to build friendships with your professors – especially those that are in your field of study. 

Meet Paul Rice, '12 paul-rice-throwback.jpg

Activities Director/Personal Care Coordinator at Grand River Health & E. Dene Moore Care Center
BA Kinesiology, Health and Wellness Promotion concentration

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

The Person Centered Care/ Activities Coordinator helps further develop E. Dene Moore Care Center’s Planetree model of patient-centered care.  Planetree is a holistic approach to healing the mind, body and spirit and the model empowers patients through information and education, encourages more active participation by patients and emphasizes healing partnerships among caregivers, patients and their families. The Person Centered Care/ Activities Coordinator also oversees the Activities department and their daily functions.

 Activities Coordinator

Daily tasks associated with my job as an activity coordinator include: developing meaningful and purposeful activity programs to enrich the lives of the residents and families, developing and implementing a monthly activites program calendar based on the therapeutic scope of programs, providing a forum for residents and family members to meet regularly and share their ideas, thoughts and concerns regarding their daily living experience, etc.

Person Centered Care Coordinator

Daily tasks associated with my job as a person centered care coordinator include: providing oversight and leadership for all processes related to improving patient-centered care at EDMCC, providing updates on Planetree activities to the CNO (Planetree executive sponsor) and seeking senior leader approval for patient-centered care initiatives as needed, providing support to component teams as they work to implement Planetree model, etc.

How did your experience at CMU prepare you for a career?

After suffering a heart attack in 2008, I decided to make a career change after years of working as a residential designer. It was during my rehabilitation that I discovered I enjoyed being part of the recovery process. Originally graduating with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin in 1988, I went back to school at Colorado Mesa University to study Kinesiology. I graduated in 2012 Magna Cum Laude at the top of my class.

 It was during my time working as an intern in cardiac rehabilitation that I was able to work with many of the elderly/frail population. I was also studying physical activity and aging. Working with this age demographic became my calling in life. This is where I discovered the Planetree philosophy as part of my curriculum.

What was your transition like from being a student to your current career position? paul-rice-professional.jpg

After graduation, I was hired in November 2012 at E. Dene Moore Care Center. I initially served as a Social Services assistant. I worked in this capacity until the opportunity to move into the Activities Department arose. Taking on the role of an Activities Coordinator, I was quickly appointed the Department Head and Activities Director. With a good understanding of the Planetree philosophy and an award winning published background in design /environment, I became a natural fit to guide implementation of activities that advance organizational progress toward person-centered care goals.

I found the training and education I received benefited me well. I was prepared to learn new information and apply what I already knew. Having some practical clinical experience while interning, really helped me to understand many of the clinical challenges that our residents face daily.

What do you think set you apart from the other applicants for your current position?

I was highly motivated to make a difference. When I submitted my letter of interest with my resume I made sure that it wasn’t a generic letter even though it was an entry level position.  I found a reference from an old song that spoke to the care these people do. I quoted that song. I was turned down for that job as they thought I was over qualified. As it turned out something else opened up a few months later. That song quote stuck with the Administrator. She called me back in to interview for another position and here I am today.  The point is if you are passionate about something you have to find a way to get that across.

What advice would you give to incoming college students?

First and foremost, never miss class unless you have a really good reason. As someone who went through college more than once, I can tell you that by going to classes and paying attention, your stress level will be far better and you will enjoy the college experience even more than if you don’t.  Take pride in what you do. Ask a lot of questions, get to know your professors... they hold the key to your future.

Read more on what motivated Paul to study kinesioogy at CMU.


Meet Dom Lewis, '13 Dom Lewis on Seahawk Sideline

Seattle Seahawks Social Media Producer 
BA Mass Communication, Journalism & Broadcast concentrations

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

In my current role, I’m the voice of the Seattle Seahawks on social media. As the Social Media Producer I create content for our social media channels; I’m responsible for the brand voice and copywriting on our posts; I analyze trends within the social community and strategically provide topical, engaging and newsworthy content to our followers.

How did your experience at CMU prepare you for your career?

My experience at CMU prepared me for my career in a number of ways. With my major, it prepared me how to think critically in the mass media field and also how to produce and execute creative ideas. My degree challenged me to think outside the box and against the status quo. In the social space, time management and organization is key. CMU’s Mass Communication program helped me hone in on those skills which are valuable today.

What was your transition like from being a student to your career position? Dom Lewis playing football for Mesa

The transition from a college graduate to a social media professional was one that was steep yet beneficial. My first job out of college was the Community Manager for US Nike Football in New York City. From Grand Junction to the Big Apple was quite the adjustment. Very quickly, I had to develop my skills in an area I wasn’t too familiar with at the professional level. After nearly two years on the job, I had developed the skills necessary to perform at a high level and take my career to the next step which helped me land in Seattle.

What do you think set you apart from the other applicants for your current position?

What I believe set me apart was my passion for the social media space, my creativity, being a great communicator, the ability to conceptualize and execute ideas, and it helps to have background knowledge of the game.

What advice would you give to incoming college students?

My advice to incoming college students would be to get involved on campus with a club, seek internships to get valuable work experience, and be adaptable in regards to your major and interests. Get as much experience as you can in your time at CMU and don’t be afraid to take risks or try something new.

Connect with Dom on LinkedIn

Meet Joshua Garland, '09 Josh-Garland-professional

Omidyar Postdoctoral Fellow, Santa Fe Institute & Founder, Complexity Analytics LLC
BS, Mathematics: Colorado Mesa University
BS, Computer Science: Colorado Mesa University
MS, Applied Mathematics: CU-Boulder
PhD, Computer Science: CU-Boulder

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

My days are usually split between two jobs. During the day I am an Omidyar fellow at the Santa Fe Institute, and during the evenings and weekends I run my data analytics consulting firm. As an Omidyar fellow at SFI, I spend my time applying, developing (and often bending) mathematical theory to describe and understand the complex world around me. The nature of this fellowship provides me with complete academic freedom and as such the “day-to-day” is often quite diverse and I regularly switch between fields---making each work day exciting and new. Some of the fields I spend my time contributing to include paleoclimate science, cardiac electrophysiology, dominance hierarchies and collective animal behavior. At my consulting firm, Complexity Analytics LLC, I work with a diverse range of companies in multiple industrial sectors (e.g., quantitative finance and social media) providing them with state-of-the-art data and mathematical analysis tailored to the demands of their company.

How did your experience at CMU prepare you for your career?

The one-on-one engagement with faculty, as a CMU student allowed me to get a handle on the material in ways that would not have been possible in a larger university setting. In addition, the capstone research project I completed as part of the Mathematics major equipped me with key skills I use as a professional researcher every day.

What was your transition like from being a student to your current career position?

The transition for me was pretty seamless. As an undergraduate at CMU, I built a fundamental knowledge base around Mathematics and Computer Science. I was then able to build upon that base as I embarked into research as a graduate student, and I continue to leverage that knowledge as a full time research fellow today.

What do you think set you apart from the other applicants for your current position?

Determination, passion and work ethic. When I first heard about the Omidyar fellowship I knew it was THE job for me after I graduated. As such, I did absolutely everything in my power to make that dream a reality. I knew that in this application process I would be competing against the top scholars from all over the world, and so I worked incredibly hard day and night to prepare myself and be ready for this opportunity. I am not the smartest person out there by any means but I am willing to work as many hours as it takes until a job is done or a problem is solved, and I believe it was that drive and work ethic that got me where I am.

What advice would you give to incoming college students?

Don’t rush and enjoy every minute of it. I see so many students rushing through undergrad and cutting as many corners as possible so they can get out in the real world and get a job.  Take the time you have in college to be curious about the world around you and learn broadly. You’ll have the next 60+ years of your life for a 9-5 job. 


Meet Emilia Ludwig, '16 Emy Ludwig

Cardiac Telemetry Unit Registed Nurse (RN), St. Mary's Medical Center
BSN, Nursing

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

On a day-to-day basis I care for patients when the most important muscle of the body is compensated, the heart. I am fortunate to be able to provide hands on care to treat patients who are having heart attacks, irregular heart rhythms, high blood pressure, heart failure, pre-operative and post-operative open-heart surgery, heart valve disease and vascular disease. On the Cardiac (Telemetry) unit we also have a variety of other conditions we get the opportunity to work with, including sepsis, COPD exacerbations (lung issues), minor burns and suicide attempts, to just name a few. We also have the opportunity to float to other floors within the hospital. My other priorities include providing education and comfort to patients, their families and friends. Last but not least I have the opportunity to SAVE LIVES.

How did your experience at CMU prepare you for your career?

My experience at CMU prepared me for my career because in the nursing program we had the opportunity to have over 1,000 clinical hours in multiple specialties throughout our community and state. This allowed me to experience many different areas in the hospital setting and outpatient setting first hand, allowing me to have a good idea of which areas of nursing I am interested in after graduation. Also, the small class sizes at CMU made it easy to get one-on-one help with my instructors, be able to ask questions and make lifelong friendships with my classmates.

What was your transition like from being a student to your current career position? emy-ludwig-throwback.jpg

My transition from being a nursing student to a registered nurse was fairly flawless. CMU’s nursing program works with Kaplan test preparation to prepare us for the state board exam at the end of the program. It was very helpful to teach us tricks for the test. I was hired right after graduation and able to work as a graduate nurse until I passed the state board exam, NCLEX. I had a preceptor on day shift for six weeks and then a preceptor on night shift for two weeks before I was working with patients on my own. My team in the Cardiac Unit is very helpful, too. I can ask as many questions as I need at anytime and everyone is willing to help each other. We have an amazing team that works together and I never feel like I am alone caring for my patients. This has helped make the transition smooth.

What do you think set you apart from the other applicants for your current position?

What set me apart from other applicants during the job search was that I came to work, school and clinical with a smile and a “can do” attitude. Also, I had done 12-24 hours of clinical on the floors that I applied to at St. Mary’s Hospital. I also had 144 hours of “Senior Specialty” in the Intensive Care Unit, which allowed me to meet more of my current co- workers and managers. At CMU we are given the opportunity to choose where we want to perform our 144 hours of “Senior Specialty” clinical and our Leadership hours so we can make connections and become a familiar face to our future employers.

What advice would you give incoming college students?  

A few words of encouragement and advice I would give to incoming nursing students:

  • The most important tip is to take care of yourself!
  • When you have an opportunity to do something out of your comfort zone, do it!
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Meal prep on the weekends so you have quick meals while you are studying or going to clinical.
  • Stay positive & have fun.
  • Do not be overwhelmed with the amount of work, make a list and complete one item at a time.
  • Find a good study environment to study in.
  • Enjoy the college life- meet new people, join clubs & organizations, and support the mavericks.

Connect with Emilia on LinkedIn

Meet Lucille Benoit, '17 Lucy with Rowdy

Teach for America, Little Wound BIA School 
BA, Political Science

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

Being a 3rd grade teacher your day-to-day routine is always in flux. Every morning I wake up at about 6am, crank up the pot of coffee, listen to a podcast and get ready for school. I live about a five minute walk from my school.

When my students come into the classroom, the first thing they sit down to is a “morning journal” prompt. This was actually an assignment given to me as a student in Dr. Miller’s Philosophy class The Examined Life. While it was intended to promote mindfulness, I find that it really helps kids get into the school mode and reset from whatever is happening at home.

Besides the daily curriculum of reading, writing, math and science I try to promote our three class values: advocacy, empowerment and inquiry. My students are only about eight- or nine-years-old but all of them know what it looks like to be an advocate, to empower one another and to inquire - and they do it every day. While delivering the content and trying to meet common core standards I am also charged with incorporating Lakota values, language and culture into their content. One way I do this is by burning sage every morning, to cleanse the room. We also discuss what it looks like to be a Lakota leader everyday and why that is important to their community.

After school I usually stay and prep for the following day for another hour or so. If there is a football game, basketball game or volleyball game I usually stay to watch. If not I finish up work and head home

How did your experience at CMU prepare you for your career?

Attending a small college like CMU gave me the ability and access to build relationships with faculty, staff and advisors. These relationships allowed me to have access to an opportunity like Teach for America and be able to thrive in the education world. I didn’t study education in school, I actually got a political science degree, but it was my interest in tribal politics, educational equity and sociology that got me involved in the opportunity to move to Pine Ridge.

CMU’s professors also gave me the one-on-one time to develop my social skills, fine tune my academic viewpoint and expand my understanding of social issues. This connection to my professors and the ability to witness first-hand, their love and passion for the work really ignited the fire in me to fight for educational equity. Being molded by my professor’s ability to teach and do so in an entertaining and effective way inspires me to inspire my kids everyday.

The atmosphere at CMU also gave way for my success in this unique situation. It was my time out of the classroom, just as much as my time in the classroom that prepared me. I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship to the Colorado Capital Conference where I heard Senator Cory Booker talk about the importance of education in low-income and disadvantaged communities like the one he lived in during his first campaign. It was these snippets that encouraged me and guided me into the position that I am in today and CMU opened up nearly all of those doors for me.

What was your transition like from being a student to your current career position?

Transitioning from student life to being in the professional world can be a bit chaotic. The common myth that working is easier because the work ends when you go home is completely false. I am working 24/7 trying my best to do home-visits, student and family outreach, and be as prepared as possible. Lucy with her students

What do you think set you apart from the other applicants for your current position?

My experience 100% set me apart from other applicants. I am in a very competitive program that only accepts about 14% of its applicants. My experience was a result of the care of my professors to write amazing references, my boss JoAnna Gillespie who cared so much and advocated for me to be hired at such an amazing program in the Office of Student Success and the leadership of my peers who elected me to the position of student Trustee, at-large senator and treasurer.

What advice would you give to incoming college students?

My advice to incoming college students is to be whoever you want to be. College success is absolutely possible no matter what. I graduated high school with a 2.7 GPA and a 21 on my ACT. I had also failed two or three classes. I chose to be successful in college and Mesa was the perfect place to do that. Their resources and professors will make sure you are successful if you reach out and ask.

Also, seize every single opportunity. Be a leader; take a class that you are scared of; study abroad (which I wish I did); reach out to professors; start a club, interest group or organization; explore the wonders of the western slope and Utah - do EVERYTHING!

Meet Mary Bowles, '11 Mary holding a brain

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Certified Clinical Neuropsychotherapist, Rapid Resolution Therapist at MindWise Institute
BA, Pysch Counseling: Colorado Mesa University
MA, Marriage & Family Therapy: Touro University
PSYD, California Southern University (pending)

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

Most of my days are filled with meetings with clients (couples, families, children and individuals) to help them understand and improve their relationship problems. Other days I am teaching suicide prevention, Co-parenting Through Divorce, 1-2-3 Magic Parenting and how to make relationships brain-wise. I am also preparing for my presentation on Brain-Based Applications Toward Rapid Memory Reconsolidation at the 2nd International Conference on Neuropsychotherapy in Australia next May. On my days off, some of the things I enjoy include spending time vacationing with my husband, spending time with family and reading about neuroscience and its connection to relationships and psychotherapy. Yes, I’m a full-on neuroscience junkie!

How did your experience at CMU prepare you for your career?

I had such great experiences at CMU! CMU helped me prepare for my career in many ways, but first and foremost, by instigating my love of learning. CMU is where I started developing my early interests in memory, learning and relationships. Dr. Ford’s Pysch of Learning course still sticks with me today. It was a hard course, but invaluable for my current and future learning and work. I’ve continually applied knowledge acquired in Dr. Becker’s Counseling Psych and Dr. Bishop’s Interviewing courses. Dr. Parry’s Social Psychology course was a great foundation for the Social Psychology course I taught at Colorado Mountain College. My anthropology classes were equally valuable in teaching me that every other person is normal within the context of their own lives. I better stop there or I’ll get choked up. I’m just a sap like that!

Beyond academics, I met some great friends at CMU! I met people with similar interests in, both, personal and professional capacities. Both made learning fun and I am in touch with many of them still today, personally and professionally. I genuinely have such great memories at CMU!

What was your transition like from being a student to your current position? Mary at graduation

For me, transitioning from a student to a therapist was easy, but only because I had a plan when I started my degree. I modified my plan as I went along, based on new knowledge and new experiences. While in college I saw myself as more than a student. I had to be a worker! School was my career at the time…and considering I am in school again, it must be a life-long career, but one I enjoy! My job in school is to learn. In my career, learning is equally necessary. Using primitive medical practices doesn’t help a patient any more than using primitive therapies. Fortunately, learning about brain-based therapies comes easy to me. Math…math does not. That took work, but it was equally important. So, to answer a common question…yes, I do still use stats, almost daily while I am reading current research.

What do you think set you apart from the other applicants for your current position?

While I work for myself in private practice, I still interact with others in my field. What sets me apart, currently, is that I am one of less than a handful of certified clinical neuropsychotherapist’s in the United States. I traveled to Australia to complete my certification because it wasn’t offered in the U.S. at the time (Oct 2017 was the first U.S.-based training). At present, Neuropsychotherapy is flourishing in Australia and will soon be inundating the field of psychotherapy in the U.S. Knowledge of brain-based techniques for treating stress and trauma are critical to be effective today.

What advice would you give to incoming college students?

My best advice for incoming college students is to get involved, meet people, follow YOUR dreams, listen to advice (but don’t require yourself to take it) and because every time you access a memory it changes, challenge yourself and everything you’ve ever been taught or think you know. Lastly, always remember, you’re a genius. “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” ~Albert Einstein

Connect with Mary on LinkedIn


Meet Shyanne Halalilo, '17 shyanne-halalilo-professional.jpg

Case Manager and Director, She Has A Name House
BSW, Social Work

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

Anyone who has ever been to Africa will understand there is a saying, “This is Africa.” My interpretation of this would be that you never really know what you’re going to get that day. You may have plans to begin a counseling session at 10:00, which actually won’t even start until 11:30. You just have to go with the flow of things. With that being said, the bulk of my day consists of mentoring the girls through academics, spirituality development and basic life skills such as developing healthy relationships, obtaining high self-esteem and various other topics depending on their needs. My job description varies from being a house mother, to counselor, to tutor, to mentor, to friend. I do this by organizing multiple volunteer opportunities for us, teaching bible studies and having both group and one-on-one sessions with each of the girls.

How did your experience at CMU prepare you for your career? 

Playing basketball at CMU prepared me in the sense that even in a third world country, the aspect of hard work is always affiliated with success. The social work program at CMU also equipped me with some of the best professors that truly prepared me for the organizational, counseling and case management skills needed for this job.

What was your transition like from being a student to your current career position? shyanne-halalilo-throwback.jpg

As a college student we tend to be in our own world. We go to class, hang out with friends, go to work, do homework, maybe hit the gym and then do it all over again the next day. Working over here in Kenya you never know what you’re going to get that day. The idea of having a set routine that revolves around you and your success isn’t the number one thing in your life. It is a lot less self-focused and a lot more focused on success of others. 

What do you think set you apart from the other applicants for your current position?

Something that set me apart was that I wasn’t looking to get paid lots of money. I think college students often want to jump into working right after they graduate so they can make some decent money and stop being a “typical broke college student.” That wasn’t the case for me, I’m ok with being broke. I consider the experience, stories and great relationships I’ve made to be equivalent to a paycheck.

What advice would you give to incoming college students?

Never underestimate the opportunities college can bring you in life. Not only am I proud of the degree I earned, but I am also so blessed to have the experiences and opportunities to have met some of the greatest people I will ever meet in my life. There will never be anything like your time spent in college, so go for it!


Meet Josh Dillinger, '17 Josh with President Foster and John Marshall

Monument Valley High School Art Teacher, Kayenta Unified School District
K-12 Art Education

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

I teach drawing, painting and ceramics to students in 9th-12th grade.

How did your experience at CMU prepare you for your career?

The education program gave me training in new and upcoming practices in education, so while my veteran coworkers are just learning the new ways I already have them down. My student teaching with District 51 gave me experience with programs that many other schools use, which meant that I was knowledgeable, and did not have to make up ground learning new software on top of everything else.

What was your transition like from being a student to your current career position?

It has taken some adjusting, going from a college schedule to a full-time job schedule is not easy, but ultimately it has been a smooth transition. Post-grad life is tricky, all of the real-world things you have to do can seem to just pile up. But thankfully I was well prepared for my career, so while I am learning a lot about the art of adulting, I am confident in my ability to do my job which meant one less thing I needed to learn. Josh on hike with students

What do you think set you apart from the other applicants for your current position?

The variety of training I had in all mediums and my willingness to get AP certified made me valuable since here at MVHS I have to teach all the art courses. I also was valuable to a small high school because I had great experience with student activities (such as clubs and organizations), and a background with college recruiting; all of which I developed during my time as a Mav. 

What advice would you give to incoming college students?

Go to class, take every opportunity you can and enjoy it because it goes way to fast!


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