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Editorial: True student success story

For all those who aren’t sure if college is for them, who have knocked around jobs since high school, who would be the first in their families to enroll in higher education, look no further than Central New Mexico Community College for inspiration.

The current vice president for academic affairs was just like you.

Sydney Gunthorpe worked in retail for six years after high school. He moved around. He had no idea how to find parking at a university, much less complete a class.

But 23 years and four degrees after first enrolling at CNM, he’s not only helping run the state’s largest college, he’s trying “to open as many doors as possible into CNM” for others to advance their educations and their job prospects.

Gunthorpe says college “was an environment that was totally unknown to me. I was first-generation, so I just didn’t know.” In fact he kept his options open, telling his boss if it didn’t work out he’d be back.

But it did, despite not going straight into college from high school, or having a stack of scholarships, or even any familiarity with the system.

That kind of achievement shows what a determined individual in a supportive environment can accomplish. It bodes well for Mission: Graduate, the community-driven program to add 60,000 extra degrees to central New Mexico by 2020. And it sets a real-life, local example that students who didn’t think college was for them can not only succeed at it, but exceed their expectations.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.