Adapting to the adversity in the world due to COVID-19, the annual Leadership Scholarship celebration at CCV looked a little bit different this year, but there was no lack of pride and support from the CCV community. The event was pushed from the spring of 2020 to this fall, and on Thursday 13 students were honored during a Zoom celebration for their achievements as leaders. In her opening remarks, CCV President Joyce Judy reflected, “it’s amazing how we can all be resilient” despite the wish that the event could have been held in person.

The CCV Leadership Scholarship is awarded annually to one student from each academic center who demonstrates exceptional leadership abilities at their centers, in their classrooms, and in their communities. In total, 13 $1,000 scholarships are given to CCV students as recognition for being outstanding leaders.

Vermont State Senate Majority Leader Becca Balint offered remarks and congratulations to the students at the award ceremony. Balint spoke of what leadership means to her. “Real leadership, as I’ve come to understand it, is trying to see beyond the words that someone is saying to you, and understand the feelings that are underneath the words.” She reflected on her work in the Senate and said that how we conduct ourselves as leaders during controversy is just as important as the decisions that we make. She added that “as leaders it’s really important to acknowledge our own fears and not pretend to be invincible. I don’t think people truly want perfection in their leaders, I think they want authenticity.”

This message of leadership authenticity resonated with Celeste Perrino, a student from CCV-Rutland. To her, “it’s so much more beneficial to follow a leader who’s vulnerable and willing to admit that they don’t have all the answers, and they’re willing to get input from other people on the team.” She added that there are also benefits to expressing gratitude for others and said it’s “important for leaders to acknowledge the contributions of everyone on the team” to build a strong, effective team. The CCV staff member who nominated Celeste for the scholarship shared that “she is a leader, and Céleste builds community both inside and outside of CCV. This phrase comes to mind when thinking of Céleste; ‘The most selfless people plant trees knowing that they shall never sit in the shade of their foliage.’”

A sense of team and community is what CCV-St. Albans student Sonja Kivela attributes to her success. “I don’t think of myself as a leader, I think of myself as someone who believes in community, and I once heard that ‘you can’t have community without you and I in unity.’” Kivela was chosen for this scholarship because of her dedication to CCV and her compassion and support for fellow students. She is a work study student, a part of the TRIO program and Student Leadership Advisory Committee, and advocates for CCV in the community while being a single mother of two. She says the community in St. Albans has helped her get to the place she is today with her education and helped her earn the student Leadership Scholarship.

CCV-Winooski graduate Tian Berry was honored with the scholarship for her many years of serving as an advocate for substance misuse prevention and healthy communities, and for her dedication to bringing about change on both personal and systemic levels. Berry shared that she is inspired by Glennon Doyle and Doyle’s messages about the importance of vulnerability, community, commitment, and compassion. She said that these values have influenced her own leadership style and that her style reflects the quote, “leaders don’t create followers, they create other leaders.”

CCV Dean of Students Heather Weinstein congratulated the Leadership Scholarship recipients, saying that “it’s incredibly rewarding to watch all of you, our students, grow into the leaders that you have become.” As he concluded the celebration, Leadership Scholarship committee member Ryan Dulude left the students with a final thought: “We are the only leader like us in this world and it’s important for us to be our authentic selves, our real selves, and to make sure we’re bringing that to what we do each and every day.”

Students received care packages which included their Leadership Scholarship certificates. Here are courtesy photos from students with their certificates.

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