“I just hoped I wouldn’t trip on my gown.”
She didn’t trip, and she hasn’t stumbled once since then in reinventing herself from a bartender and food service worker into the co-owner of Stone Underground Construction, a successful Chittenden County-based business that employs 10 full-time crew members along with herself and her co-owner husband, Joseph Stone.
Immediately after graduating from high school Stone enrolled at UVM. It was a short-lived experience that ended when she decided she’d rather be making money than studying. Initially, she thought it wouldn’t be a long hiatus from the classroom.
“I decided to just take a little time off,” she says. “Before I knew it, ten years had gone by. Then I decided that I just wanted to learn. I didn’t want to be at the age I am now thinking about going back to college.”
So she signed up for Dimensions of Learning at CCV in Burlington, and that class altered the direction her life would take. A handful of years later she’d racked up enough credits in business management, computer, and humanities courses to earn her degree from the Community College of Vermont.
With her degree in hand and the skills in place for her to successfully manage the business side of things, she and Joe decided 2002 was the perfect time to start Stone Underground Construction. But her learning didn’t stop there.
“It’s so funny, after you receive one degree and there are no more papers to write, after a while, you start to miss it,” Stone said. “It was CCV that led me to Johnson State College. They encouraged me to continue on for my bachelor degree.”
In 2007 Stone completed her undergraduate work at Johnson through the school’s External Degree Program and earned a bachelor of science. Her ability to continue on, she says, came in part from the ease in which she was able to transfer credits from CCV directly over to JSC, and through the help and support she received from family, friends, and the staff at both schools.
Fast forward to 2013 and the construction company that began with a used excavator and a ditch witch now carries out work throughout the state with two excavators, a fleet of six trucks, Grundomat boring missiles, and multiple ditch witches. And she’s quick to note that she’s living proof that it’s never too late set big goals and meet them, so long as you’re willing to put in the effort.
“We’ve been very fortunate and blessed,” Stone said. “But you have to have the drive to learn. CCV will give you the opportunity to learn, but it’s the individual that has to have the drive to do it.”