Emily Deibler has always loved dogs.

Her mom, Mindy, says there’s never been a question about what Emily is going to do with her life—it will, of course, involve working with her four-legged friends. “The finish line is pretty clear,” said Mindy. “The question has always been ‘what’s the path to get there?’”

Emily missed a lot of school when she was growing up. She was born with a medical condition that required frequent intervention and often interrupted school. She worked hard, and earned good grades, but it wasn’t always easy. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to college,” she said.

When COVID-19 disrupted everything this spring, Emily made a successful transition to remote learning, and graduated from Essex High School in June. She wanted to get a job, and thought of working at an animal care facility. But her medical condition puts her at a high risk for the virus, and she and her parents were concerned about exposure.

That’s when she found out about an opportunity that was too good to pass up: in June, the J. Warren and Lois McClure Foundation announced a generous gift of one free CCV course this fall for the entire Vermont high school class of 2020. The Foundation recognized just how much these students, who were graduating amid such uncertainty, could benefit from the College’s one-on-one advising model and extensive college and career resources.

For Emily, the opportunity was also a chance to stay home and stay safe—the large majority of CCV’s more than 700 fall courses are taking place remotely, in five unique formats.

Emily and her mom explored the options together. “We were so surprised and pleased at how many classes there were,” Mindy said. “The number of classes, the different types of classes, how they were available. I was very impressed.” Emily decided to take Principles of Animal Behavior online.

“I really like it,” she said. “I like learning about animals and why they act the way they do.” Her instructor is helpful when questions arise. The online format is a good fit for her learning style, and still provides a sense of connection to the supportive CCV community. “I can do it on my own time. I can be at home and by myself, and at my own pace.”

Her mom agrees. “The silver lining of the pandemic is that remote learning works really well for Emily. It’s really struck me that when you think about how do students learn, maybe the traditional being in the classroom isn’t for everybody. This class opened the door to look at online vet tech programs. And really finding not just a degree that will help her meet her dreams, but a program that is suited for her.”

Emily is one of more than 600 students from the class of 2020 who are taking advantage of the McClure Foundation gift. Upon their arrival at CCV, students were assigned to one of four subject area-based advisory groups, with special assignments to complete throughout the semester. Those who completed all assignments were eligible to win one of 10 free courses for the spring 2021 semester—generously sponsored by the Vermont Community Foundation (of which the McClure Foundation is an affiliate) and the Raven Ridge Fund.

Emily was one of the 10 students selected for this scholarship. She’ll continue taking classes in the spring, and hopes to eventually attend an online program to become a veterinary technician. “It’s given me the confidence to continue my education,” she says of the Principles class.

“CCV really came through for us,” Mindy added. “This was just the exact right opportunity for her at exactly the right time. It’s kind of like the pieces all just fell into place for her, and it’s changed her life.”

“Please know that the McClure Foundation has opened a door for at least one Vermont senior,” Mindy wrote in a letter to the Foundation earlier this fall. “Indeed, it has flung it wide open.”

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