On Thursday, 13 students received CCV Leadership Scholarships during a luncheon with President Joyce Judy. Students, family members, and CCV staff gathered at the Montpelier campus for lunch and an award ceremony.
One student from each of CCV’s academic centers, including the Center for Online Learning, was awarded the $1,000 scholarship, which is given annually to students who demonstrate outstanding service to their classrooms and communities. (For the full list of this year’s recipients, read “Introducing CCV’s 2017 Leadership Scholars” on CCV Now.)
At Thursday’s luncheon, Vermont State Colleges System Board of Trustees Chair Martha O’Connor, CCV Scholarship Committee Chair Ryan Dulude, and Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan offered remarks. Donovan addressed the students directly, drawing from his own story and experience. He spoke about the importance of being authentic, and of remaining loyal to a personal value system. “Be true to yourself, be true to your experiences, own those experiences,” said Donovan, who has taught courses for CCV. “That authenticity of that experience, as it plays out in your own leadership—whether it’s public, whether it’s personal—people will follow. When you’re genuine, when you’re real…people are starving for that type of leadership.”
CCV President Joyce Judy handed out the awards and introduced each student by sharing excerpts from their nomination letters. The scholars are engaged in an impressive variety of leadership and service activities. Many of them have taken on roles as tutors, mentors, or Job Hunt Helpers at CCV, and are also involved in volunteerism in their greater communities: Winooski recipient Dodit Tshibamba Buabua volunteers to help New Americans from Africa adjust to life in Vermont; Middlebury recipient James Sanchez works with the LGBT community as a facilitator in youth group meetings; and Erin Betters of the Center for Online Learning coaches 3rd and 4th grade basketball, to highlight just a few.
The most inspiring moment of the event came when CCV Dean of Students Heather Weinstein invited students to speak. Montpelier student Eryn Christian shared that CCV allowed her to develop as a leader by encouraging her sense of self trust. “Leadership is about trust. This means trust in your community, trust in yourself, and trust in the people who are closest to you. When I first came to CCV, I didn’t trust. Like, at all. It took a lot for me to walk through the doors here at CCV. It took a lot for me to take this chance.” Christian said when she started at CCV, the idea of attending New Student Orientation was overwhelming, and basically out of the question. Now, she leads those orientations. “Getting involved in leadership here has actually increased my sense of trust in myself. And that to me is so important because it has allowed me to pursue so many things in my life.”
St. Johnsbury student Kim Payne spoke about wanting to pass along the support she was shown at CCV. “When I started at CCV, I had no self-worth,” she said. “CCV has given that to me. Not just the faculty, although they were important, not just the staff, although they were instrumental, but my fellow students. Learning to help somebody else humbles you, and in that humbling I found my value. I hope that someday I can give someone else that same sense of value. So I aspire to be the kind of leader that my fellow students have been for me.”
In closing, President Judy offered gratitude on behalf of the College. “[Past students] have said, ‘I never thought of myself as a leader,’ but clearly people in each of the 13 centers think of you as leaders,” she said. “You have emerged as a leader and you’re seen as that in your community. You have made CCV a better place because of who you are.”