The Community College of Vermont has awarded Heaven O’Hara of Woodbury, VT the 2015 Legacy Scholarship.
“This was the first time I’ve ever applied for a scholarship so I’m really excited to have been chosen,” O’Hara said. “It’s a confirmation for me that I’m accomplishing my goals.”
The Legacy Scholarship is designed to honor former and current CCV faculty and staff members whose work for the college has benefitted students, faculty, and co-workers in substantial and meaningful ways. Each year, one or more current or former faculty and staff members are identified by the College and a student applicant is awarded the scholarship based on how closely their personal story aligns with that of the faculty or staff member.
For 2015, CCV has recognized long-time faculty member Dick Eisele as the Legacy Scholarship honoree.
“I was surprised,” Eisele said of learning that the scholarship would be given in his name this year. “It’s a very nice thing to hear. I actually had no idea there was a legacy scholarship and I certainly had no idea I would be named.”
Eisele has worked or taught at the College since it opened its doors back in 1972 and continues to teach at CCV’s Montpelier academic center. He is credited for writing the grant that brought the College’s Dimensions of Learning (DOL) course into existence. DOL is a first semester seminar required for all CCV students that has morphed into two courses today: Dimensions of Freedom and Dimensions of Work.
“In the early ‘80’s it seemed like we needed a course specifically designed for adult learners to reintegrate them into a college program,” Eisele said. “Dimensions seemed like a course that would provide the best possible beginning for students in that category.”
O’Hara’s decision to return to college, her love of learning, and her ability to overcome obstacles along the way were the reasons she was selected for the scholarship. The College felt these traits aligned closely with Eisele’s four-decade long commitment to CCV and the value of lifelong learning, said Katie Mobley, the College’s director of development and community relations.
O’Hara was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 17 and said health issues have caused her to take longer than she had hoped to finish her schooling. Born and raised in Lebanon, N.H., she attended college for a semester directly after high school then stopped to begin a family. Now, at age 26 and happily married with two boys aged five and six, she’s set to graduate in the spring with a degree in administrative management. She plans to become a volunteer Guardian ad Litem upon graduation and would like to work for CCV, where she currently serves as a work-study student in the College’s financial aid office.
Over the summer O’Hara and Eisele met and had lunch with CCV President Joyce Judy and Coordinator of Academic Services Kelly Young. Eisele said it was great to meet O’Hara and speak with her about her future plans, which are in part made possible by the scholarship.
“I think any time that a student can get some help with whatever in their life or in their education, it’s a great thing,” he said. “And even though it’s not a lot of money, most students don’t have a thousand dollars just hanging around, so I think it’s very important.”
For her part, O’Hara said she enjoyed hearing about CCV’s origins from Eisele and agreed that the scholarship would allow for some new educational adventures.
“The $1,000 is going to make a big difference for me,” she said. “My best experiences here have been going to Italy and Prague with study abroad and this makes it possible for me to go to Spain in the World Mythology class.”