Dylan Giambatista is a bridge-builder. A former member of the Vermont house of representatives, current director of public affairs for a Vermont utility, and all-around champion of the Green Mountain State, he says “my work in Vermont is really about finding ways to bridge divides that are in our communities.” Giambatista is also a 2010 graduate of CCV, an experience he says helped launch his career in public service. “That work has continued, and it actually has its seeds at the Community College of Vermont.”
A proud alumnus, he describes himself as a nontraditional student. “Like so many CCV students, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, what I wanted to be,” he said. “I dropped out of high school. I faced some tough times as a teenager.” He eventually earned a GED and found his way to CCV-Rutland.
“I just think everyone’s different, and you can’t always force a square peg into a round hole,” he said of his journey to and through college. “The great thing about education for some is they’re just ready to do it. For others there’s a lot of twists and turns—that was certainly the case for me.” At CCV, formal education clicked. “It was really the small classroom, the one-on-one instruction, and also the comfort with not being judged for what you have or what you don’t have when you walk in here…The doors were always open. The teachers, the staff, the faculty, the students were all there to welcome me. And that allowed me to plug in when I was ready.”
He continued his education, earning a bachelor’s degree at Johnson State College (now Northern Vermont University). His interests are varied and his talents are many, from Vermont history buff to would-be teacher to former punk rock-band member, and all of that curiosity, enthusiasm, and drive was nurtured at CCV. He also gained valuable professional skills that he’s been able to apply directly to his career, from communication to critical thinking. “Almost every day I draw upon the skills that I developed at CCV: Sitting side by side with students from all walks of life, working with different instructors, and then seeing the opportunities in the surrounding communities to do something about the issues that interest me.”
Giambatista’s own story, coupled with his awareness of the challenges many Vermonters face when pursuing higher education—especially in the aftermath of a pandemic—has inspired him to become a CCV donor. Specifically, he’s giving to the College’s Life Gap Fund. Created in 2017 with generous funding from a private donor, Life Gap Grants are small, just-in-time scholarships designed to help students through challenging, unexpected situations that might otherwise disrupt their education: a computer repair, a flat tire, a surprise medical expense. Earlier this year, philanthropic support helped CCV expand the concept to create Life Gap Plus, which aims to provide greater visibility of and access to a myriad of resources for students facing basic needs insecurities. Life Gap Grants are just one essential piece of supporting the whole student.
Giambatista knows firsthand that this kind of support is critical. “You don’t always know where life’s gonna take you. As events play out, you might take a u-turn, you might even hit a wall,” Giambatista says. “[CCV] opened up doors, and it helped me be successful as I advanced in my career.” Now, he wants to pay it forward.
“When I look around in Vermont, there are so many worthy causes and great folks doing great things. But the Community College of Vermont, I know from personal experience, was there for me when I needed it, is there for so many when they need it, and this is really the critical access point for so many learners in our state who might be looking for skills, might be looking for a job. It starts at CCV. For me, being part of that, helping support those initiatives as best I can, it’s just something I have to do. I’m here for the long haul and I hope others will join me.”
Join Dylan in contributing to CCV’s ‘Bridging the gap!’ campaign, which raises funds for Life Gap Grants. Learn more at ccv.edu/donate.