“I chose to go back to school because I always told my children, ‘never quit,’” said CCV-Brattleboro student Trina Reynolds. “I quit high school when I was a senior. The year my daughter graduated from high school, I got my GED. In the fall of 2015, as my son was getting ready to graduate high school, I began taking classes at CCV…[I want] to show them that I can be a role model to them.”

Family was a powerful theme at Friday’s Leadership Luncheon at CCV-Montpelier. Despite last week’s storm, students, staff, and family members traveled from all corners of the state to gather for the annual luncheon with President Joyce Judy. This marks the sixth year CCV has gifted the $1,000 Leadership Scholarship to one student from each of its 13 academic centers. The award recognizes exemplary leadership demonstrated through academics, involvement in student life at CCV, volunteerism, and community engagement.

Winooski student Sean Connolly said he wants his young daughter to know how to respect others and contribute to her community. Middlebury student Farhad Khan shared that he has spent his life emulating the leadership of his father. Like Trina Reynolds, online student Amanda Osgood said she chose to go back to school for her children. Heather Page-Class of St. Johnsbury says her mother, who graduated from CCV in 1992, is her biggest inspiration—and she hopes to be the same for her own three children.

This year’s honorees are peer academic mentors and new student orientation leaders; an Army veteran; a Job Hunt Helper at a local library; an athletic coach at area schools; a volunteer at a recovery support center; and a town selectman. They are wives, husbands, mothers, and fathers. In addition to their work as CCV students, they are balancing jobs, community service, and taking care of their families.

Many shared that they didn’t consider themselves leaders, and that the scholarship came as a surprise. “So many people don’t realize the leadership that they offer to others,” said Dean of Students Heather Weinstein in her remarks to the students. “It’s a reminder that it’s important to have gratitude and appreciation for the leadership that is extended to all of us. I think that’s what helps others develop confidence and begin to see themselves as leaders too. So now that you are all recognized leaders, and you know this about yourself, I challenge you to hold that as a responsibility to bear.”

Keynote speaker Mary Alice McKenzie reflected on her own experience in a myriad of leadership positions. She served as CEO of McKenzie of Vermont, Vermont State Colleges System General Counsel, and Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Burlington. “It’s an extraordinary moment to celebrate leadership,” she told students. “No matter where your politics are, it’s just an extraordinary moment to be a leader in our communities and in our families. My hope for you is that you see yourselves as leaders and that you receive the celebration that you all deserve.”

Check out more photos from the Leadership Scholarship Luncheon:

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