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Hundreds of Grand Valley high school graduates on college to career path thanks to the city’s generosity

Colorado Mesa University and the City of Grand Junction have an exceptional partnership, which includes their joint investment in local individuals, businesses and the economy. For the past four years, the city council has voted to invest $550,000 in local students through the Grand Junction Opportunity Scholarship fund — giving Mesa County Valley School District 51 high school graduates the opportunity to study at CMU or WCCC and become the next generation of innovators and professionals.

“Ensuring Mesa County students are proud to stay here and can thrive in our community after high school is something our community has been working on since I was a local student,” said City of Grand Junction Mayor Anna Stout. “Higher education options give students reasons to stay, and we’re making it more accessible for families through the Grand Junction Opportunity Scholarship.”

Since its inception, this scholarship has been awarded to 532 students. So far, 118 of them have successfully graduated earning 96 certificates, 11 associate and 11 bachelor’s degrees. For the 2021-2022 academic year, the Grand Junction Opportunity Scholarship supported 446 students and the first class of recipients to earn a bachelor’s degree graduated this past May.

“Receiving the scholarship was amazing because it made me feel like there was someone who actually believed in me and believed that I could use this money to get on the path to graduating,” said local high school graduate and now CMU alumna Andrea Sheeks.

Sheeks earned a Bachelor of Art in Hispanic Studies and returned to her former high school as a Spanish teacher this fall. Her plans for the future include earning a doctorate in linguistics or teaching abroad.

The scholarship truly changed the trajectory of Sheeks goals for the future.

“I actually never thought I would be a college graduate because I thought that goal wasn’t attainable,” she said. “Thank you for the opportunity to continue my education with all the resources at my fingertips that helped me be successful in college.”

Beyond annual investments in local workforce development like the Grand Junction Opportunity Scholarship fund, the City of Grand Junction is a steadfast partner in funding campus expansion, vital program infrastructure projects like the St. Mary’s Medical Education Center and numerous other strategic partnerships in conjunction with other local economic development partners.