This spring, 13 CCV students were pleasantly surprised when they found out they’d be receiving a $1,000 scholarship for being outstanding leaders.

“I was really surprised when [my advisor] Jennifer said that I had been chosen to receive this scholarship. I thought, ‘wait, what? me?’” said Maija Chamberlain, a peer mentor at CCV and a volunteer at the Charter House Coalition in Middlebury.

CCV’s 2019 Leadership Scholars are about the most humble group of college students you could find.

“If my life can inspire somebody else, then I guess I did a good job,” says Maija.

“I don’t see myself as much of a leader, just a community member,” says Cassey Kellner-Bourdeau. “Someone who works with others and helps everyone build themselves up to the best that they can be. That’s my goal anyway.” Cassey is an orientation leader and volunteers for events at CCV-Morrisville.

“When I opened the letter for the scholarship the first thing I felt was so much happiness. And then right after that I thought ‘I don’t deserve this, there are so many wonderful students at this school that contribute so much and help so many people in so many ways. Why do I deserve this? What makes me special?’” Winter Jackson serves on CCV’s Academic Council and teaches Sunday School at her local Unitarian Universalist church.


Visit CCV’s Scholarships page to read about all of our scholarship offerings and find out how to apply.

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Natural History of Vermont student checks out a barred owl feather.

Last week, Maija, Cassey, and Winter joined ten of their peers at CCV-Montpelier for the annual Leadership Scholarship Luncheon with president Joyce Judy. The scholarship is given to one student from each academic center who goes above and beyond to make a positive impact in their classrooms, at their centers, and in their communities.

Vermont State Colleges System Board of Trustees chair J. Churchill Hindes welcomed students and their families to the lunch and award ceremony. Hindes, who has held leadership positions in health care, education, and government over the course of his career, calls himself an “accidental leader.” He said that at pivotal moments throughout his life, he’s been “tapped on the shoulder” and asked to take on new responsibilities, new challenges, and new opportunities—despite not always feeling prepared. “Someone tapped me on the shoulder, like you’ve been tapped on the shoulder. As you’re looking ahead, open your life to surprises.”

That message resonated with students.

Betsy Trucott is a student at CCV-Newport. She says she started college at UVM in 2007 and didn’t think she’d ever get the chance to go back to school. But when she arrived at CCV, “I hit the ground running and I put myself up on a higher standard. I have just pushed myself to do the best that I can do. And then [my advisor] Cindy tapped me to start helping others.” In addition to her studies (she’ll graduate in June with a STEM degree), Betsy works as a Job Hunt Helper at Goodrich Memorial Library, is a tutor for English and math, and is a peer academic mentor for the Post-Secondary Readiness and Engagement Program, a college preparation program for first generation students in the Northeast Kingdom.

T.K. Lahey, a student in Brattleboro, feels like he used to be an “accidental leader.” But at CCV, people around him “starting pointing out to me the qualities that made me a leader….I wanted to nurture those qualities.” Now he considers himself an “intentional leader.” Today, he says, “I lead mostly with my heart…I care about how the other students do success-wise…That’s really what leadership is to me is just showing other people their own qualities and helping them nurture [them] and achieve the things they want.”

Amanda Reed has been working at Our Place Drop-In Center in Bellows Falls since 2012. She said she’s been “tapped on the shoulder” repeatedly: after a year as a volunteer at Our Place, she was offered a job in the kitchen; a year and a half later, she was promoted to a job in the office; today, she’s the head case manager.

For Cheryl Barratt, who started taking classes in St. Albans in 2016, being a work study student at CCV has resulted in a huge growth curve. “In 2016, I would not be up here speaking to anybody. I’d be hiding in the back…But through all the classes I’ve taken and everything else it’s really brought me forward as a person. Just being out there and thinking ‘what’s next, where can I go from here?’”

CCV’s dean of students Heather Weinstein thanked the students for their contributions and challenged them to keep inspiring others. “I think it’s clear that all of you are going to continue to be tapped on the shoulder, because you have tremendous gifts that you bring to the world…I thank you for all that you do to tap other students on the shoulder. I encourage you to continue to do that as you grow in your careers and in your communities.”

Video by Tom Shahan
Photos by Jade Premont

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