When Levi Costa was a kid, he would sometimes visit his late father’s classroom at the University of Vermont. “He taught this class called ‘A Bug’s Life,’” says Costa. “It was all about the biology of bugs. [At that time] I thought college was cool; all of these students got together, and they were all doing their thing…It was a bit mysterious to me, too.”
Costa grew up in a Lamoille County town of just under 700. He was homeschooled through high school, with six siblings for classmates and his mother and father as teachers. He says college had always been part of the plan, but when his father passed away, everything shifted. “That spirit of wanting to go [was] dampened,” he says.
So Costa finished his high school work and started a job with a local carpenter (with whom he still works nearly full-time). Eventually he was encouraged to try a class at CCV-Morrisville, and reluctantly signed up as one of the first students in the Man Up program, which offers special support for young men in Lamoille County. “At first I never thought I’d do that well,” he says. “But eventually, I did. I pretty much kept just knocking out class after class and I really did better than I thought…one thing kind of led to another.”
Costa excelled in his classes, where he quickly became a vocal and energetic leader. He also worked as an academic mentor in the learning center, spoke on student panels at area middle and high schools, and was invited to serve as a student ambassador on CCV’s Academic Council. Still, he didn’t expect to be nominated earlier this spring for student speaker at commencement. “And then I heard my name was put in for being the student representative at graduation,” he says, with a tone of surprise, “and here we are now.”
CCV’s 50th Commencement Ceremony
Saturday, June 3, 2017 2:00 p.m.
Norwich University‘s Shapiro Field House
158 Harmon Drive
Northfield, VT 05663
Speaking in front of the entire college community will be a fitting culmination to his CCV journey. He says he considers himself an outgoing person, but as a new college student was reserved. With the support of family, friends, and staff at CCV, he says he was able to find his voice, and he was able to speak up.
Costa will address his classmates on Saturday, June 3rd at Norwich University in Northfield. He will be joined by more than 500 fellow graduates who represent all 13 of CCV’s academic centers and every county of the state. In addition, graduates hail from 11 other states and 10 countries of the world. CCV President Joyce Judy will officiate, and the ceremony will feature keynote speaker Eben Bayer, CEO and co-founder of Ecovative Design. Vermont Governor Phil Scott will also offer remarks.
Costa is looking forward to commencement, when he’ll get to put some of his classroom learning to practice. He says he took a course in effective communication this spring, which had a heavy focus on public speaking. “When I heard about this opportunity I [thought] this would be a good time to put everything to good use.”
Still, he says, it’s bittersweet to be graduating. He developed strong bonds with advisors and faculty during his time at CCV. He also speaks highly of his peers, many of whom have become his closest friends. “We’ve all just pretty much been pushing each other,” he says. “It’s where that community really comes in.”
Costa plans to continue his education. He will graduate with an impressive 67 credits, and hopes to take that momentum into a bachelor’s program in business. If all goes well, he says, he will be back at UVM—this time as one of the students he once watched with such curiosity.
In the meantime, he’s busy working on what he’ll say to his classmates on June 3rd. It’s easy to imagine that Costa will be a natural when it comes to speaking in front of a crowd: he carries himself with a sure and steady energy. He has a clear and genuine desire to connect with others, and standing at the podium next Saturday will give him the perfect opportunity to do just that.
“It was tough for me going through school, but it’s tough for everyone,” he says. “I know a lot of people who had much worse circumstances than me and still made it through. In a way, all struggles are the same if you ask me.”