NM Opportunity Scholarship Sets Former Food Service Worker on Path to Become an Accountant

© Western New Mexico University

Dorrie Dennison had been working in food service for many years when she heard about the New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship, a scholarship that allows college students pursuing their first degree to attend tuition-free. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to work in food service my whole life,” she said, “I wanted something more.”

So at the age of thirty-six, Dennison, who is originally from Austin, Texas, decided to enroll at Western New Mexico University. “I honestly never thought I would attend college,” she said, “but then I learned about the Opportunity Scholarship . . . and decided that I was ready to have a professional career.”

An accounting major, Dennison said she is enjoying both her major and the other classes she has taken. “There is kind of a cliché about accounting being boring,” she said, “but really it can take you in all sorts of directions. Most every business you can imagine needs accounting, and then there are a range of non-profits one could work for, as well.”

Dennison was drawn to accounting partly because she enjoys analysis but also out of curiosity. “I spent so many years working in restaurants, but I never really got to know the business side of things,” she said, “I like learning about what makes a business work.”

Dennison plans to eventually become a CPA, and she sees her accounting degree as a good first step toward a stable, in-demand career.

In addition to her accounting classes, said Dennison, she has enjoyed her general education and elective coursework as well. “I am taking some other fun classes besides accounting. I had philosophy last semester, and I am planning on some art classes, too, because I have heard we have a really great art department here,” she said.

She is also enjoying the diversity of the student population at WNMU. “I like that there are a lot of people my age and older. There is a huge age range here at school. I was afraid when I first enrolled that I was going to be some weird, old kid hanging out with a bunch of teenagers. It is neat to get to know the younger students for sure, but I appreciate that in my business classes, we have lots of people my age that are learning to get ready for their second career.”

Dennison said she is grateful for the opportunity to attend college through the Opportunity Scholarship. “I have heard of so many people who have gone into debt to pay for college, and that was not something I wanted to take on,” she emphasized. “The Opportunity Scholarship has allowed me to enjoy the college experience without the stress.”

“I am looking forward to continuing my education here and learning more about the world,” said Dennison.


Dorrie Dennison was an understudy for the Mustang Edition of “The College Tour,” which premiered on campus Thursday, March 21. The episode is available online and will be released by Amazon Prime in May.

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