Corey Bruce, 20, stands Friday near the Colorado Northwestern Community College campus in Craig. On Saturday, Bruce graduated from CNCC’s applied sciences program. He is the first person in his family to earn a college degree, and he was also the first person in his family to graduate from high school.

Photo by Ben McCanna

Corey Bruce, 20, stands Friday near the Colorado Northwestern Community College campus in Craig. On Saturday, Bruce graduated from CNCC’s applied sciences program. He is the first person in his family to earn a college degree, and he was also the first person in his family to graduate from high school.

Craig resident 1st in family to graduate college, high school

When Corey Bruce walked across the stage Saturday and collected his degree, he achieved two milestones at once.

First, of course, Corey graduated. Second, he became the first person in his family to earn a college degree.

Those accomplishments come on the heels of a similar achievement, when, two years ago, Corey became the first person in his family to graduate from high school.

“It was to better myself,” Corey said of advancing his education. “Growing up, we lived in a trailer — an older trailer.

“My childhood experience taught me you don’t need a lot to have a good life, but the struggles aren’t fun. So, I just wanted to succeed enough that life wouldn’t be a struggle.

“And, I can help out when anybody needs it.”

Corey, a Craig resident, graduated from Moffat County High School in May 2009. On Saturday, he graduated from Colorado Northwestern Community College with an associate’s degree in applied sciences.

His focus was in power plant technology.

Bruce said he hopes to eventually get a job as a control room operator at Tri-State Generation & Transmission’s Craig Station.

“It’s not a very active job, but it’s up there on knowledge,” said Corey, 20. “You have to know a lot about the power plant.”

His decision to focus on steam turbines came easily. Electric engines are in his blood, he said.

“My dad (Michael Bruce) works at Craig Electric Motor & Machine,” Corey said. “When he comes home at night, he tells me what he did, what the parts are, and sometimes I get to go down there and see what the inside of them look like. He taught me a whole bunch of stuff.

“So, small engines just come naturally. I’ve done it since I was a kid, so I got the basics down.”

Corey also credits his mother for helping him get through school.

“My mom definitely pushed me through,” he said. “She definitely pushed me.”

His mother, Kristie Bruce, said keeping Corey on target through high school and college was a team effort among parents and child.

“His daddy and I taught him everything not to do. So, it was a combination of both,” Kristie said. “He was pretty determined, and we stayed on him.

“It was just one of those things where he decided it was something he wanted to do.”

Corey said the parental encouragement was welcomed.

“I’ve always been good if somebody pushes me a little harder,” he said. “Under pressure, I do pretty good.”

Kristie said Corey’s achievements have had a positive effect on the family, particularly his older sister, Ashton Bruce.

“(Corey) graduated from high school, which encouraged her to get her GED. Now, she’s going to college also,” Kristie said.

Corey said he has advice for anyone who isn’t sure college is right for them.

“Definitely try it,” he said. “Try your hardest.

“I know college is scary and it tests a person’s responsibility, but once you push yourself to do it, and you get through it…you know you can succeed at the things you try.”

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