Las Vegas, NM — New Mexico Highlands University marketing major and rodeo team member Chelsea DeMott received an academic scholarship for her success as an entrepreneur in organizing youth rodeos.
The Galesburg Business & Technology Center in Illinois awarded DeMott the $1,000 scholarship. The 20-year-old is from Rio, a small rural community near Galesburg.
DeMott, who has competed in rodeo competitions since she was 5, started a small business called Youth Rodeo Company three years ago. She also teaches riding lessons to youth and is the lead instructor at the Horse Camp during Carl Sandburg College’s Kids on Campus program.
“As I began my senior year in high school and my last high school rodeo season, I realized that I had grown up with the most wonderful opportunity participating in rodeo competitions,” DeMott said. “This rodeo experience is like no other. Through my youth rodeos, I wanted to give as many kids as possible some of the opportunities I had.”
Rodeo and horses run in DeMott’s blood. Her parents, Mike and Robin, met at a Kansas college where they both competed on the rodeo team. Today, they’re still competing in rodeo events. DeMott and her younger sister, Mikhayla, followed in their parent’s footsteps, building their own reputations at the national junior rodeo level.
DeMott’s grandfather, Gary Wessels, owns and operates the Galesburg Horse Market, which holds its place in history as the main horse supplier for the Civil War.
DeMott rode her first horse before she could walk, sitting in front of her mother on the saddle and quickly progressing to solo riding with her mother holding the reins.
“Rodeo is different from other sports because it’s a partnership with an animal, and that’s why I love it,” DeMott said. “Every single horse has taught me something different and made me a better competitor and person. I feel so blessed that my parents have always provided me with great horses to ride.”
Growing up, DeMott won numerous rodeo awards, ranging from being named twice as the Illinois Junior Rodeo Association All-Around Cowgirl to being a five-time national finals qualifier in the Wrangler Division. She saddled up as a Highlands Cowgirl fall semester 2010, splitting her time between the classroom and the rodeo arena.
“I love being able to put on the HU vest to represent my college in rodeos,” said DeMott, who competes at breakaway roping and goat tying.
For her business major, she’s taken three courses from economics professor Bill Taylor.
“Chelsea is a good student who is very capable at balancing her studies and her commitment to the Highlands Rodeo Team, which isn’t easy,” Taylor said. “She’s bright with tremendous potential. I expect her to eventually use all her abilities to succeed as an entrepreneur.”
Jordan Taton is DeMott’s rodeo coach at Highlands.
“Chelsea is a resilient competitor with a strong work ethic who always wants to improve,” Taton said. “She has the best attitude of anyone on the team, always upbeat and positive. She’s a great asset to the team inside and outside the arena.”
DeMott said Highlands is a good fit for her.
“All my business professors at Highlands are excellent and have supported me being a rodeo student athlete,” DeMott said. “I’ve also had excellent coaches at Highlands, starting with (former coach) Jonathon Peek and then my current coach, Jordan Taton. She has competed at the national college rodeo finals numerous times and that’s my goal. I really look up to her.”
Soon, there might be a second DeMott on the Highlands rodeo team.
“I’m encouraging Mikhayla to come to Highlands because it’s an awesome school, and my rodeo experience has been great,” DeMott said. “As her big sister, I’ve always watched out for her and want to be there for her in college too. She’s my best friend.”
Looking ahead, DeMott plans to complete her M.B.A. at Highlands with a concentration in marketing.