Faculty Spotlight: Monica Perez-Rhodes

by Jan Weeks

Monica Perez-Rhodes has made a long journey, from dishwasher to controller at Colorado Rocky Mountain School, a journey she’s rightfully proud of. Perez-Rhodes first came to Carbondale at age three. Her father moved the family from Parral, Chihuahua, Mexico, to work in a coal mine. When the mines closed, they went back to Parral. Yet Perez-Rhodes never forgot her early years in the Roaring Fork Valley. “I love the area and always wanted to come back,” she said, and when she was 18, she did.

In 1994 she began working as a dishwasher at Colorado Rocky Mountain School, a local day/boarding school for high school students. In 1996 Jim LaFramboise, the business manager, asked her if she’d be interested in covering the switchboard when the receptionist was out. Soon after, LaFramboise asked if she wanted to move into the business office, where she handled student billing.

Education has always been important to Perez-Rhodes. She went through high school in Parral, but she didn’t want that to be the end of her education. While working at CRMS, the administration recognized her aspirations and worked with her so the thirty-five-year-old could earn a BA in business administration. “If the school had not supported these efforts, it would have been difficult for me to complete my education,” Perez-Rhodes said.

It paid off for both parties. Perez-Rhodes is now the controller at CRMS, responsible for monthly internal audits, financial statements, overseeing employee benefits, processing payroll, and managing the school bookstore. Because of the variety of tasks, Perez-Rhodes loves her job. “The school has been an amazing place to work,” she said.

Perhaps her proudest moment came in 2001, not long after 9/11, when she pledged her allegiance to her adopted country and became a citizen. She’s also delighted to volunteer. For over 15 years she was a victim advocate with the Advocate Safehouse Project, a resource for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. For the past five years, she has volunteered and was recently appointed president of the board of Mountain Family Health Centers, which provides integrated health, dental, and behavior health care for over 21,000 people in Eagle, Pitkin, and Garfield counties. Perez-Rhodes said, “Health care should be a human right to us all, not a privilege for just the few who can afford it.”

Perez-Rhodes hopes that everyone will continue to do his or her part to make the world a better place, and she has some advice for all people. “Be kind to one another, never stop learning, and just be happy.” Words to live by, indeed.

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