PUEBLO – Pueblo Community College recently announced its 2021 employees of the year in four categories – faculty member, part-time instructor, administrative/professional/technical and classified.
The recipients are Brad Bowers (faculty), Maria de la Cruz (APT), Brandi Halvorson (part-time instructor) and Jake Renner (classified). They were formally recognized at PCC’s Spring Kickoff and employee appreciation breakfast on Jan. 13.
“While many things have changed over the past couple of years, one thing has not – PCC’s commitment to attracting, developing and retaining a highly qualified workforce, committed to student success and institutional excellence,” said PCC President Patty Erjavec. “Keeping with tradition, at the end of each calendar year our employees and students identify those individuals who have exemplified an unwavering commitment to student success. We celebrate the 2021 employees of the year and express our gratitude for all they have contributed to our great institution. Brad, Brandi, Jake and Maria are some of PCC’s finest.”
Bowers joined PCC in 2011 as a history instructor. He is known for his expertise, enthusiasm and kindness – not to mention his many hats and an office filled with pop-culture memorabilia.
He chairs PCC’s assessment of student learning committee and serves as faculty advisor for the school’s history club.
Bowers’ off-campus interests include reading, research, making music and playing video games. In July 2021, he published his first book, “Bound by Steel and Stone: The Colorado-Kansas Railway and the Frontier of Enterprise in Colorado, 1890-1960.”
The Newton, Kans., native earned his bachelor’s degree in history at the University of Southern Colorado (Colorado State University Pueblo) and his master’s degree in history at Utah State University.
De la Cruz is the academic excellence administrator for PCC’s business and advanced technology division. A native of Far Rockaway, N.Y., she has been with PCC since 2014.
Those who work with de la Cruz identify curiosity, work ethic, kindness, and authenticity as just a few of her attributes. She serves on multiple PCC committees and represents the school as a member of community and state groups. Before joining PCC, she held multiple positions with Trinidad State College and Huerfano School District RE1, including high school counselor, grant manager and director of recruitment. She received her associate degree in biology from Trinidad State Junior College in 1999 and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Adams State University in 2002.
De la Cruz’s passions are her family and preservation of her Native American heritage. She maintains cultural practices such as prayer, song, foods and storytelling as part of her everyday life.
Before becoming a key member of the PCC team, Halvorson was an award-winning Pueblo police officer. She had to leave that career due to a severe injury that happened in the line of duty; now one way she serves the community is by working with multiple PCC programs. She teaches health profession classes, is a technician in the Simulation Center, and is an assistant in the Human Anatomy Learning Center.
A Pueblo native, Halvorson is involved with numerous community events and groups and is in demand as a vocalist; she performs the national anthem at events throughout the state. She trains horses and enjoys “just being out with people.”
She majored in criminology, sociology and psychology at Colorado State University Pueblo, graduating in 2005, and earned her master’s degree in leadership and administration/crime management/crime mapping in 2012.
As a police officer with PCC’s public safety department, Renner is a familiar face on the Pueblo campus. He has held the position since 2010. He is professional and respectful in his actions and, on many occasions, offers his listening skills to students and others who simply need to be heard.
Renner is a native of Del Norte and worked as a deputy sergeant with the Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Department. He received his associate degree in criminal justice from PCC and a bachelor’s in law enforcement administration from CSU Global.
When not spending time with his family, he coaches youth football, wrestling and self-defense. Renner’s other interests include hiking, camping and hunting.
The Colorado Community College System will honor the employees of the year from all 13 CCCS schools at a statewide event in the spring.
Founded in 1933, Pueblo Community College is a premier teaching institution focused on providing academic and service excellence, without discrimination, to help its students acquire the 21st-century skills needed to better their lives. An educational and technological leader, PCC fosters economic development and utilizes strong partnerships in the communities it serves through its Pueblo, Fremont and Southwest campuses.