This CNM Graduate Proves It's Never Too Late to Go Back to College

Cindy Gerhardt was nervous to enroll as an adult learner but found lots of support
April 25, 2023

Cindy Gerhardt is frank about why she was drawn to CNM.

“I live near the Montoya Campus and I would regularly walk by and think, ‘What a beautiful campus, I should take classes there,’” she says. 

Eventually she did and decided that a Communications degree was her path forward. Cindy had spent 23 years working in the food and beverage industry and knew that clear communication made all the difference with clients and coworkers. 

“I saw that I could quickly and easily make someone’s day by clearly communicating, and that when people miscommunicated it caused all kinds of unnecessary trouble,” she says. 

As an adult learner returning to college after several decades, Cindy was nervous to be around younger students, and nervous about using technology for class.

“Back when I went to college the first time we had books, paper, and pencils,” she laughs. “I use a computer regularly, but I’m not like the younger students where computers are second nature.”

Her fears were put to rest almost immediately, however, when she realized that her instructors, her fellow students, and several organizations at CNM were all in place to help her succeed.

TRIO Support Services, which provides assistance to qualifying students who plan to graduate from CNM and then transfer to a four-year institution, was one place that offered to help and Cindy immediately felt like she was part of a community.

“I started studying at TRIO and if I had a question someone would be right there to help,” she says. “Studying at TRIO was like studying with a group of friends. It was helpful, but it was also like a social gathering. There was a lot of comradery.” 

During the first part of her time at CNM, Cindy worked a full-time job while also going to school. But during and after COVID she got financial assistance that not only paid for her tuition but also helped with living expenses so that she could concentrate on school.

She’ll be graduating this May and has already been accepted to New Mexico State University, which has an online Communications degree that she can complete while still living in Albuquerque. That will take a couple years and then the plan is to get a job with a large organization or company where communications is a crucial part of the organizational structure. 

“I want to be in a place where lots of people are coming and going and where improved communication will make a real difference,” she says.

More immediately, Cindy has also been using her communication skills to promote CNM to other adult learners. She says her message to anyone who’s older and thinking about returning to CNM is that there’s no time like right now. The help is there for anyone to succeed, and the power of an education is always valuable.

“If I can do it, anyone can do it,” she says.