Attending a big school doesn’t mean you give up the benefits of going to a small school, at least not for CCV Springfield students.
“We put a lot of thinking into creating good community at CCV through activities and ways that students can connect,” said Deb Grant, an academic coordinator at the College’s Springfield academic center. “So we came up with this great idea to gather, campus-wide, and do a story sharing activity.”
That’s how Grant introduced another night of What’s Your Story at CCV Springfield, a monthly event at which students, staff, faculty, and family or friends of CCV community members gather for an evening of stories and potluck. On one particular Thursday in December twenty-two community members gathered in a classroom, plates piled high with homemade mac n’ cheese, salad, and desserts, and listened as a few brave souls told of how they came to be at CCV.
“After I found out that I was accepted to Wells College, which was my top choice, I soon found out that I couldn’t afford it,” said Mariah Olmstead, a second-year student at CCV.
Olmstead went on to talk about attending Johnson State College for a year before she came to a realization. “I didn’t fit in and I couldn’t afford to go there either.” From there she and her mother decided that her best route to a college degree was through CCV.
“I felt like going to CCV was going to be difficult and a long road but now I realize it was the best plan for me,” Olmstead said. “Now it’s December and I plan on graduating in two weeks and then I move to Florida to begin an eight-week internship with Disney World. After that I look forward to earning my bachelor of arts.”As the evening moved on, students and faculty members shared their stories, both unique and similar in their tone and outcome. The group heard from a woman who started out as a photographer, became a licensed nursing assistant, moved into a nursing program and graduated with an LPN, then put her career on pause when she became pregnant with her first child. Now, nearly two years later, she’s attending CCV in preparation for transferring to Vermont Tech to become a registered nurse. She said that while she’d gotten to the places that she wanted to be, she “had to take the long way around.”
Alan Hicking landed at CCV after a circuitous route that took him to the Horn of Africa, Guam, Okinawa, and Afghanistan with the U.S. Navy. When he joined the armed forces he was given the option of being a medic or a mechanic. He chose the latter, and during four tours of duty over the course of six years Hicking climbed four pay grades from mechanic to shop supervisor. The experience taught him a lot, he said, and he hopes to apply some of that learning to his new role as a CCV student.
With each bite of oatmeal cookie and each sip of iced tea, insights were shared and lessons learned. Grant even stepped in to share her story, explaining that she wasn’t a strong student but that she persevered and earned college degrees over the years. She noted that in all of the stories a common thread she was hearing involved creative problem solving—figuring out the logistics of just getting things done. And both she and Hicking made the same observation: that college isn’t easy, but it’s doable and worth it.
“The last time I was in school was ten years ago…so this isn’t going to be easy for me,” Hicking said. “But I can take on a challenge, and nothing good comes easy.”