Small classes, supportive faculty and staff, and a sense of community at CCV helped Thato Ratsebe develop her skill set and prepare for her future. “The amount of attention that I got was incredible. Not only from the teachers; the staff was extremely supportive. I think what I really liked about CCV was the idea of building a community within the school…So creating that kind of environment helped us not only to support each other, but to know that we had a supportive environment that could also support our learning process and progress.”

After completing her CCV degree in liberal studies, Thato went on to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree at Saint Michael’s College. “In so many ways CCV was instrumental in helping me transition to Saint Mike’s because there was an intention in figuring out what it is that I wanted to do, and then ensuring that the classes that I was taking at CCV would actually transfer to Saint Mike’s. So that was very very helpful.”

At CCV, Ratsebe identified a desire to help others. One of her instructors was receiving treatment for cancer. “One day we just got talking, and I said ‘why do you come to class when you are sick? And she said ‘because I care deeply about all of you.’ I was like ‘oh, so people care this much.’” Ratsebe says this instructor helped her develop the skills that she relies on today as assistant director and programs manager for the Association for Africans Living in Vermont, a Burlington-based social services agency helping new Americans and their families gain independence and establish themselves in new communities. “I don’t consider myself a social worker. I think the nature of what I do falls into that category…I’m just there, available to help people when they need help. I just avail myself however I can, to the best of my ability.”

She says the most rewarding part of her work is seeing families thrive. “They may come here a little gloomy, and they leave the office with some sense of hope, some sense of ‘oh, I can do this,’ or some sense of ‘I have people who can do this along with me’…That’s what life is all about, right? You don’t live for yourself. I don’t live for myself—it’s about serving the other people.”

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