Carrie Riffee “epitomizes what the power a personal vision can do,” said nominator Jon Stepleton, executive director of the Pikes Peak Community College Foundation. He met Riffee while she was working as an administrative assistant and attending college.
A non-traditional student who was at one time an abused, homeless, single mother of three children, Riffee began pursing her education at PPCC in 2003.
Her resume today reads like a textbook for how to become a civic leader.
The 2006 graduate of PPCC not only served as student body president and received the 2006 Outstanding Student Leadership Award, but she also was elected to represent the student body on the PPCC Foundation Board of Trustees. During her tenure, she initiated the PPCC Alumni Reach Scholarship program with a $10,000 personal commitment, founded the College Republicans and was elected to membership on the El Paso County Republican Party executive committee following the 2004 elections.
Today, she attends Colorado College as a political science major on full scholarship, valued at $84,000. She also drives to Denver three days a week to work as a Colorado House of Representatives legislative aide to Rep. Kent Lambert.
Prior to that, she served as legislative aide to Sens. Lewis Entz and Doug Lamborn.
Riffee’s work at the Capitol includes policy writing and drafting legislation, both which will be useful as she pursues a career in public service or public administration.
She sees promise for Colorado families and believes “this legislative body will do more for families this year than in the past.”
“We’re asking more of our legislators; we’ve got our freshmen listening,” Riffee said. “The voters are asking for innovative legislation on funding for health care. Families deserve better than working two or three jobs and still not being able to afford health insurance or gas.”
Riffee sees her background as a catalyst for her career focus and motivation.
“You’re only a victim as long as you allow yourself to be,” she said. “The minute you can see yourself above where you’re at, that’s when you really start to fly and grow.”
Riffee’s children, who are 14, 13 and 12, also have benefited from her life experience.
From her job as a 20-hour-a-week work study student at Pikes Peak Community College to her current college coursework, Riffee is a believer in the power of education. She and her family will be moving to Widefield, where her children will attend School District 3 middle and elementary schools.
“They’ve been my biggest motivator,” she said. “I want to provide a better life for them and set a good example. They need to know education does matter — and realize the alternative if you choose to do nothing.”
“Her vision was grounded in reality — that’s not true of many young people. She has extraordinary perseverance,” Stepleton said. “All things combined, she’s a special human being and someone who will be a leader in state for a long time to come.”