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Working, Risking, and Dreaming for Southeast Colorado

Tags: Stories of Impact

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Nathan Mackenzie

In 1937, Spencer and Julie Penrose started El Pomar Foundation in Colorado Springs. That same year, 130 miles southeast of the Springs in a community surrounded by golden plains, Lamar Community College (LCC) was founded.  As LCC History Professor Kelly Emick described in a letter published in the Limon Ledger, 1937 would have been an unexpected time to start a rural college. The region was hard hit by the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression recovery had not yet reached Lamar, and a return to recession seemed imminent. But, so the story goes, “Enough determined individuals believed it was worth it, and the college grew and thrived.”

As Professor Emick poignantly states, starting a college in these circumstances was “very much in character with the men and women who workedinvestedrisked and dreamed for Southeastern Colorado.” Over 75 years later, these same characteristics are inherent in the culture of Lamar Community College. In 2014, the college received a $10,000 grant from El Pomar to support technology upgrades in one of the school’s computer labs. 

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History demonstrates the people of Lamar have always balanced tradition with technological innovation. By 1900, Lamar had telephone service; many rural communities in the country would wait until the 1940s. In Professor Emick’s words, “the people of our area clearly had the will and initiative to join the crest of this wave of change, rather than be left behind.”

If the telephones were the wave of change at the turn of the 20th century, evolving computer technology is the wave of change of the 21st century. Once again, Lamar will not be left behind. At LCC, students can utilize the now upgraded computer lab to once again drive innovation and improve their community in a new technological landscape. As Computer Graphics instructor Robert Vazquez noted in a follow-up report on El Pomar’s grant, “Our new workstations have allowed me to pair advanced and beginning students together for collaborative learning. And the new technology has opened students' eyes to what is possible.”

Read into the history of Lamar and the trajectory of Lamar Community College and one thing is clear: while technology has changed, the enterprising character of Lamar remains steadfast.


To read the entirety of Professor Emick’s letter, click here.