CCV held its 52nd commencement at Norwich University’s Shapiro Field House on Saturday, June 1st. Thousands of Vermonters gathered to celebrate the nearly 500 students earning their associate degrees.
Ric Cabot, president and CEO of Cabot Hosiery Mills/Darn Tough Vermont, was this year’s keynote speaker. Cabot told graduates the story of nearly going out of business in the early 2000s. “We went from five days a week down to three. We cut the staff from around 70 folks to 35, and got rid of all benefits, 401K, health insurance, what have you. We were insolvent on the edge of bankruptcy. It was tough. It was darn tough,” he said.
“Fast forward to today. We run six days a week on three shifts and we have close to 300 hardworking Vermonters coming to work every day.” Cabot encouraged students to keep striving. “You must force yourself into the stuff, into the unknown, the abyss, the fear, and only when you’ve given all you can, have experienced the pain of growth, have hit rock bottom, gone through versus over or around, will you be able to achieve anything truly worth having. Go deep. Hit bottom. And when you’re thirsty for more—remember—the coldest, sweetest water sits at the bottom of the well.”
Vermont Governor Phil Scott also addressed the class of 2019. He honored the many different paths the graduates had taken: “Some of you may have already had a career, joined the military, had a family, became parents, or grandparents, and came here to take your next step in life. That’s what I love about this graduation…I can see it in your faces, how hard you have worked. And I know how much time you’ve put in to chart your next course—the nights, weekends; many of you were working, supporting your families while taking classes. You should be very proud of what you’ve accomplished.”
CCV President Joyce Judy officiated the event, and highlighted the richness of perspectives within the class of 2019. “Graduates, you came to CCV from different families, high schools, countries, and careers. Some of you speak multiple languages. Some of you work many jobs to make ends meet. Some of you are parents, some grandparents. The class of 2019 is remarkably diverse. You represent all fourteen of Vermont’s counties. You come to CCV from 8 different states, and 13 countries. Our youngest graduate is 17 and our oldest is 76. Each of your stories is different, but each of you now have a CCV chapter in common.”
Judy shared the stories of several students, from an eighteen-year-old CCV-Bennington graduate who took advantage of CCV’s secondary education opportunities to get a head start on college, to a CCV-Morrisville mother of grown children who came back to school as an adult because she wanted to advance her career.
The student speaker for the class of 2019 was CCV-Upper Valley graduate Kayce Penn. She echoed Judy’s message, adding a touch of the student—now alumni—perspective. “We have faced unique challenges as students, navigating both life experiences and the weave of higher education,” said Penn. “Together, we create the colorful tapestry that is CCV. We are bound by the single silver thread of perseverance.”
Video by Tom Shahan
Photos by Jade Premont