This summer, we caught up with CCV alumna Sophie Decker, who was originally featured on CCV Now four years ago this month. In 2020, Sophie had just finished the Early College program, meaning she had spent her senior year of high school enrolled as a full-time CCV student, earning free college credits that also counted as credit toward high school graduation.

When we talked again a few weeks ago, Sophie was sitting in a clean, well-lit living room, with framed photos on the wall and a bouquet of bright yellow flowers on the kitchen table behind her. The early-20s-something reflected, with grace and humility, on the life goals she’s already accomplished. Competitive dancer: check. College graduate (twice over): check. Full-time early childhood educator: check. Homeowner: check.

Sophie graduated from CCV in 2021, and from UVM two years later—and between Early College, living at home to save on room and board, and being generally hyper-conscious about money, she doesn’t owe a cent on her education. “It’s pretty fantastic to graduate debt-free,” she said. Before UVM graduation, she already had a job lined up as the preschool teacher at Christ the King School in Burlington. (She explains, modestly, that she had multiple job interviews the spring of her senior year, and was lucky enough to “be picky with my choice.”)

Sophie walks with preschool students.
Courtesy PhotoSophie and her students.

Growing up, Sophie was homeschooled along with her two brothers, and she said this more independent educational setting was key to discovering her career path. “Just having that kind of freedom from very early to find what interests us and then be able to pursue it from a really young age.” For Sophie, those interests were psychology and early childhood development. She comes from a large family—with 19 cousins, to be exact—all of whom live within 30 minutes of each other. So there were always babies being passed around, and toddlers underfoot.

Sophie’s love of children also comes from her career as a dancer. At the age of three, her mother put her in a gymnastics class “because I was breaking everything in the house.” She danced competitively, including at the national level, until she was 18, and continues to teach dance classes. This fall, she’s participating in “Dancing with the Burlington Stars” at the Flynn, an event that doubles as a fundraiser for the Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired—she’ll be dancing with a pediatric ICU doctor from UVM Medical Center.

From a young age, Sophie was driven. She started taking dual enrollment CCV classes at 16; she took American Sign Language I and II, which she relies on to communicate and work with preschoolers. She then enrolled in Early College during her senior year, ultimately graduating from high school with 36 college credits under her belt.

Sophie was savvy about finding the right academic programs, and also about financing her education. “I want to do this in the smartest way possible,” she recalled thinking, and for her that meant starting at CCV and transferring to UVM. “I had very early seen the 2+2 pathway,” she said—referring to an agreement between the two institutions that guarantees students junior status when they transfer to UVM—“and it just seemed like the easiest path, and I knew that UVM had a great early childhood education program. The transfer over to UVM was seamless. It was the easiest thing in the world. I called my CCV advisor, I called my UVM advisor, and switched right over. In like two hours they’re like ‘yup, you’re a UVM student.’ It was fantastic.

Sophie works with students in the classroom.
Courtesy PhotoSophie works with her preschool students in the classroom.

For Sophie, getting a head start at CCV was pivotal. “I felt like I walked into CCV very much like a young kid…and leaving very much with a clear vision of what I wanted and where I wanted to go and how I was going to go about that.”

That clear vision has materialized, and today Sophie is a dedicated educator whose passion for her students shines through. “All you think about at breakfast, lunch, and dinner are these little ones, and all you want to do is just take care of them and give them happiness and sunshine and everything they deserve.” This year, she’ll be following many of them when she moves from preschool teacher to pre-K teacher at Christ the King. “I’m really excited to kind of hit the ground running with them in the fall.” 

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