This story is written in memory of Jennifer Frey ‘97, who passed away in November 2001. Her parents, Lois and Bob Frey, established the Jennifer Frey Memorial Scholarship in 2002. Over the years, the scholarship has helped 45 CCV students continue their education. From its modest beginning, the Jennifer Frey Scholarship Fund endowment continues to grow with annual support from family and friends.
Jenny Frey loved spending time with other people. She was opinionated. She was eager to learn new things. “She absolutely took care of herself,” said her mom, Lois. She needed a surgery at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital during her senior year of high school, and “I used to have to bring her the paper every day. She’d sit in her bed and read the newspaper. They used to get the biggest kick out of it,” Lois says. Her husband Bob smiles at this memory of his precocious daughter. “She was very interested in politics,” he adds.
Jenny earned her associate degree in secretarial studies in 1997. She took one class at a time, studying at both the Morrisville and Montpelier academic centers. After finishing her first degree, she started making plans to pursue a second.
“She had a real interest in learning,” Lois says. “I think she also really enjoyed the sociability of being in the groups at CCV. There’s so many real special people. They look out for each other. I’ve always thought the CCV students are there because they really want to be there…it was such a healthy environment. She loved it.”
Jenny was born with a rare condition called trichorhinophalangeal syndrome. Despite the near-constant surgeries, illnesses, and handicaps she faced, she was tough. Nothing could stop her. “If she wanted to do it, she would have seen that it got done,” said Lois. “That’s just how she was…she was very good at overcoming the obstacles that got thrown in her way.”
Bob and Lois Frey are proud and loving parents. They are also exceptionally generous people. Since retiring from long careers as a land surveyor and an educator, they’ve been volunteering at the local Ronald McDonald House; starting and running a historical society and conservation commission; and working alongside neighbors to strengthen their northern Vermont community. For close to 20 years, they’ve supported CCV students through the endowed scholarship memorializing their daughter. The scholarship is intended to help students with special learning needs, or those who are studying to work as special educators.
Angela Audet came to CCV-Morrisville as an adult student four years ago. Motivated by one of her children, who has autism, she is seeking a human services degree in order to become a case manager so she can help others like him. But it had been almost twenty years since she graduated from high school, and returning to the classroom wasn’t easy. “For me, going back to school was a little scary because I hadn’t been in school for many many years…I wasn’t sure how well I would do in the college environment just because I wasn’t a great high school student.”
“My grades weren’t great,” she explained. “I struggled in school. I just never thought I would ever end up being able to actually get that degree, knowing that I had to work really really hard in school and felt like I was never ever succeeding.”
Angela has been very successful at CCV, and she credits that success to the support she’s received. “It’s been great,” she says. “I love it. I find the community is wonderful, the staff is wonderful to work with. I have a great advisor, she goes above and beyond. [My financial aid counselor] has always been there whenever I’ve had a question or needed anything, he’s always been willing to give me that extra hand. Teachers have supported me in whatever I need, and always offered extra help or anything that they could do to make it a successful time.”
She has also been supported by financial aid, including, this year, the Jennifer Frey Scholarship. Angela says that when the barrier of cost is reduced, she can focus on academics. “I’m able to just put my effort into my class completely, and I’m actually very proud of what my grades are. I care about my grades. I spend my time invested wholeheartedly in my classes.”
CCV-Montpelier student Rebecca Busichio is also a recipient of the Jennifer Frey Memorial Scholarship. She’s known from an early age that she wants to work with children, and she is completing a liberal studies degree at CCV this fall before transferring to Northern Vermont University’s inclusive childhood education program. “I decided to start at CCV because I wanted to save money. I knew I wouldn’t have been able to do all four years at NVU; I wouldn’t be able to afford it. With financial aid, [CCV] was really affordable for me.”
“I’ve always kind of known that I’ve wanted to be a teacher or working with kids,” she said. “When I was five, I would always play teacher. I would have my parents or grandparents be the students.” Rebecca wants to finish her degree and become either a classroom teacher or a special educator. “I’ve always liked working one-on-one or with students that just needed a little extra support. I can really relate to them, because when I was in elementary school I was constantly pulled out of the classroom and I was always working with special educators or literacy teachers, so I can understand what they might be going through.”
Simply put, the Jennifer Frey scholarship, and other financial support, has made Rebecca’s education possible. “Without it, I don’t think I would be able to go to college. I wouldn’t be able to afford the tuition and the fees associated with it, so it’s been a really big help.”
Lois Frey says that over the years, the scholarship has provided solace. “For one thing, I think having something like this to think about, and from the beginning on, is what helped me to deal with [Jenny’s] loss. There was always something good coming from this. Other folks would benefit, and I always think, ‘Jennifer would like that.’”
In both Angela and Rebecca, there’s a glimmer of the same determination that was clearly a force in Jenny Frey’s life. “If you put your heart and soul into it, you really can accomplish anything you want to,” says Angela. “It’s just a matter of putting your mind to it and moving that foot forward. I would never have dreamed I’d be an honor student, which I am now, just from dedication.”