CCV student leaders were celebrated on Tuesday at CCV-Montpelier surrounded by CCV staff, students, family and friends for the Leadership Scholarship Celebration. The CCV Leadership Scholarship is awarded annually to one student from each of CCV’s academic centers and the Center for Online Learning. Students are nominated and chosen based on their demonstration of exceptional leadership abilities in their CCV centers, classrooms, and communities. Each scholarship recipient is awarded $1,000 as a recognition for their outstanding leadership.

This year’s speaker at the luncheon was CCV Controller David Tabaruka. He shared the story of his life, from the challenges he faced growing up, to how he overcame them to create the life he has today. David was born in Rwanda and said that as a child he “didn’t know what poverty was…I was privileged in my life.” These circumstances changed when his father was killed, and shortly after in 1994 the genocide in Rwanda started. His family escaped, moving around and living in refugee camps, facing poverty, war, political unrest, sickness and loss for years. In 2004 David, his mother, and siblings were accepted by the United Nations to be moved to the United States, where they ended up in Winooski, Vermont.

“There were many challenges moving to Vermont,” David said. He adjusted to the weather, cultural changes, and learning English. After becoming fluent in English, David became a student at CCV, earning his associate degree in business then a bachelor’s degree at Champlain College in 2010. Now, years later, David is back at CCV as a staff member. “I really enjoyed building my career the last twelve years, traveling around, rewriting my story, and taking advantage of the opportunity this beautiful nation offered me…the same opportunity you’re getting today attending CCV,” he said. “You can build something new…the sky is not the limit, it is only the beginning, you can expand and reach the galaxy. Leadership starts with you…this is momentum you need to keep building on and create something amazing for your future. Take control of your life, no one can do it for you. Your life is unique and you have your own strength that no one has… I can’t wait to see what you’ll do with it.”

2023 Leadership Scholars

Following this story of challenges, resilience, and words of encouragement to students, each of the scholarship recipients in attendance had an opportunity to share what leadership means to them. “I think going above and beyond not knowing what’s going to come is what makes you a leader,” CCV-St. Johnsbury student Katelyn Bent said. Talyn Brown-Wolf from CCV-Montpelier remarked “what leadership means to me is just going out of your way to make something less uncomfortable to help someone else.”

Many students also spoke about the importance of following, attributing their leadership abilities to those around them that they’ve learned from. “Everybody has leadership qualities, but not everybody is meant to be in a leadership position. In order to be a good leader you have to be a good follower first…you’re tailored from the good leaders before you,” said CCV-Newport student Glenn Nutting. CCV-Brattleboro student Angel Jardine had a similar sentiment, saying “I think it’s important as a leader to inspire people around you…having great leaders to follow has been really helpful.” 

For CCV-Morrisville student Wolf Whitney, the environment that you’re in also has effects on someone becoming a leader. “I personally believe that leaders are forged, no one is born innately knowing anything, we all learn,” she said. “I think we have to surround ourselves with the right people at the right time to make strides to become the leader that you want to become and see and effect the change in society you want to see.” As a CCV student, and now CCV staff member working with veteran and military students, Wolf is taking those strides at the College. “I think everyone can be a leader, you need to find yourself a place that’s nurturing and that will foster that possibility within you, and CCV is the place to do it.”

CCV President Joyce Judy awarded each student their certificates, congratulating them on their achievements. “This is an honor for us to be able to give these awards and scholarships. You are all amazing, tremendous leaders,” she said. CCV Director of Financial Aid and CCV Leadership Scholarship Committee member Ryan Dulude closed out the afternoon with a final remark and vote of confidence for the students: “You are the future leaders in Vermont, and that is a big responsibility but also a really big opportunity…we’re all in good hands.”

Students and CCV President Joyce Judy
Jade PremontLeft to right: Talyn Brown-Wolf, Matthew Moore, Joyce Judy, Daniel Johnson, Wolf Whitney, Angel Jardine, Amy Lear, Katelyn Bent

View the full gallery from the Leadership Scholarship Celebration:

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