Tag Archives: Student Leaders

MiddCAM Remote Communication

During the past few months, many have recognized and lamented the sadness of seniors as they’ve missed out on milestones including their graduation ceremonies, their final seasons of sports, their senior proms, their senior week traditions, and their final few months with friends before heading in different life directions.

Perhaps fewer have thought about COVID-19’s effects on high school juniors. Physical distancing has significantly complicated the college applications process, adding stress and uncertainty to their lives during a time that, for many, is already fraught with both. Understanding this, Middlebury College Access (MiddCAM) mentors have prioritized continued support for their mentees this spring, despite the difficulties of remote communication. Each mentor-mentee pair’s communication has looked a little different: some text, some email, some video chat, and some do a combination of the three. No matter what form they’ve taken, the relationships have provided crucial support to the high school students as they’ve navigated canceled tests and canceled college visits.

The mentees are not the only ones benefiting from the relationships, of course. Mentors are also finding comfort in their remote connections with their mentees. Eleanor Pontikes ‘22.5, a MiddCAM mentor, reflects: “my weekly FaceTimes with my mentee Anna have not only been grounding, but also fill me with hope for the future.” Even with time apart, having a set time every week to meet has sustained their relationships with their mentees: “[it] has been something that both of us look forward to each week and helps keep us connected to other people during these difficult times,” writes MiddCAM mentor Abbey Tinsley ‘23. 

MiddCAM Mentors video-calling there mentees, from left to right: Eleanor Pontikes ‘22.5, Jack Summersby, and Abbey Tinsley ‘23.

Despite the difficulties and challenges that remote activities entail, the mentors are positive about the future thanks to modern technology. As MiddCAM mentor Jake Summersby states: “While posing its own unique and new challenges, remote activities including work and school have challenged our abilities to adapt to new circumstances. Mentorship is no different, and while nevertheless a different experience, modern technology brings us closer together.”

Jack credits websites like Naviance and Khan Academy, which “help bring the college process online, while video conferencing apps supplement the lack of physical proximity.” Despite the unknowns, Jack says, he and his mentee “are still confident in a bright future ahead.” Indeed, not only are the mentors confident about the future due to technology, they also credit their mentees for having a positive and dedicated mindset:  “Anna, like the rest of the MiddCAM mentees, is so hardworking, dedicated, and compassionate—it has been such an amazing program to be a part of,” states Eleanor. 

Thank you to both mentors and mentees for continuing to inspire each other during these very difficult times!

Celebrating National AmeriCorps Week: Ellie Dickerson ’19

This week, we are celebrating National AmeriCorps Week by highlighting recent Middlebury graduates currently serving as AmeriCorps members in Addison County!

AmeriCorps is “a network of national service programs, made up of three primary programs that each take a different approach to improving lives and fostering civic engagement.” Members, including some of our recent Middlebury graduates, commit to serving the community by engaging in youth and mentoring, fighting poverty, increasing academic achievement, and more. 

The state of Vermont produces the 3rd highest rate of AmeriCorps members per capita! We are proud of our alumni who contribute to that ranking and the role that their community engagement experiences as students played in their decisions to serve as AmeriCorps members in Addison County.

Read below to learn more about our first AmeriCorps member spotlight, Ellie Dickerson ‘19, and her trajectory from student to CCE’s AmeriCorps VISTA member.

Ellie Dickerson ’19, CCE AmeriCorps VISTA Member, Youth & Mentoring

Where did you grow up, and what did you study at Middlebury?

I grew up in a little North Central Nebraska town called Ainsworth. I studied International & Global Studies with a focus on Latin America, and spent my Junior Spring in Montevideo, Uruguay. During my time at Middlebury, I was involved in Community Friends and the Privilege & Poverty (P&P) Academic Cluster.

How did community engagement shape your time as a student at Middlebury? 

I became a Community Friend during the second semester of my first year. My engagement with the community deepened considerably during the summer after my first year, when I was a Shepherd Intern with Charter House Coalition. I also became very involved in Middlebury’s Memorial Baptist and began leading the 7th-12th grade youth group during my Senior year.

These experiences allowed me to form relationships with community members, learn about community needs first-hand, and feel like a member of the larger Middlebury community. They offered me a break from the constant demands of campus, and they helped me gain perspective on those demands. Getting out into the community helped me to remember that I am only one part of a much bigger world, and that connecting with and serving others is so much more important than getting good grades.

Ellie Dickerson ’19 engages in an interactive exercise during the January 17 workshop Learning on Your Feet: Literacy, Transferable Skills, and Community Building, a collaboration between Page One Literacy Project and Courageous Stage, with funding from the New Perennials Project.

How did these experience deepen your understandings of civic engagement and service?

My internship with Charter House, combined with weekly CCE reflections and P&P academic coursework, allowed me to reflect deeply on what it means to “serve,” especially from a place of privilege. I analyzed and questioned my actions and thoughts in an effort to unpack my own biases. Was I saving, or was I serving?  Was I projecting, or was I relating?  The “real-world” piece combined with the academic research and classroom discussions complicated my understanding of service and helped me to grow as a person.

I analyzed and questioned my actions and thoughts in an effort to unpack my own biases. Was I saving, or was I serving?  Was I projecting, or was I relating?

Ellie Dickerson ’19, AmeriCorps Member

What led you to decide to serve as an AmeriCorps member in the CCE?

My involvement with the CCE played such a huge role in my experience at Middlebury. I wanted to be able to support students in their connections with the community just like CCE staff and faculty partners had supported me. My love for Vermont also influenced my decision. Vermonters care about vulnerable populations, as is evidenced by the hundreds of non-profits in Addison County alone. I know that if I have an idea for making change, I will have a supportive community behind me. My husband and his family all live in Addison County, which has further connected me with the community.

I know that if I have an idea for making change, I will have a supportive community behind me.

Ellie Dickerson ’19, AmeriCorps Member

How has living as a non-student in Addison County been?

Being here as a non-student has honestly been lovely. So far I’ve found that without the stresses of student life I have been able to take advantage of all that Vermont has to offer. I get some of the perks of student life (such as access to the fitness center and the library) without the drawbacks. Beautiful.

Have you given any thought to what comes next?

At this point, I am still unsure of my next steps, but I would love to continue to serve in the area if possible. I have so much Vermont pride. I have also formed relationships with people here, from Charter House Coalition to my Church Family to my husband and in-laws, that make each day meaningful and root me to this place.

Stay tuned for more upcoming blog posts about our other Middlebury alumni AmeriCorps members!

Complementing Community-Based Experiences: How the CCE Supports Students’ Civic Learning

Through the CCE’s Service Cluster Board (SCB) trainings, Civic Leadership Certificate (CLC) cohort, and civic skill building Winter Term Workshop (WTW), students in Middlebury College’s 17 student service organizations develop their leadership knowledge and capacities. These experiences complement their community-based experiences, helping them to become effective leaders and change agents during their time at Midd and beyond. 

During monthly SCB trainings, two student leaders from each organization learn resources for organizational and leadership development, such as how to manage conflict or practice inclusive member recruitment. CLC cohort members amplify this learning with additional reflections and workshops that allow them to connect with other passionate leaders, design cohesion across their service and learning experiences, and focus on social-issue-specific areas of their choosing.

Here are two examples of the kinds of trainings we’ve supported in 2020 so far!

Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops
As the first Winter Term Workshop (WTW) of its kind, Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops equipped students with tools to become effective facilitators of skill-building workshops for their peers. Five students participated in this workshop, each with connections to one or many Service Cluster Board organizations and several as members of the Civic Leadership Certificate cohort: Zeke Hodkin ’21 (MiddVote), Sophia Johnson ’22 (WildMidd and CLC), Viv Merril ‘22.5 (WildMidd and CLC),
Gardner Olson ’22 (Community Friends and CLC), and Chloe Zinn ’22 (DREAM).

The CLC cohort reflects during an initial meeting and workshop outside of Axinn at the beginning of the Fall Semester.

During the first three weeks of J-Term, these five students worked together to select civic skills that intrigued them and then co-designed interactive workshops around them to build that skill with others. With facilitation from CCE Assistant Director Kailee Brickner-McDonald and CCE AmeriCorps VISTA member Ellie Dickerson ’19, participants dove into resources on their selected civic skills and learned principles of designing quality curricula and practices of effective workshop facilitation.

Participants then had the opportunity to facilitate their workshops to leaders of all Service Cluster Board organizations, such as Brother to Brother, Butch’s Team, Juntos, MAlt, and NOM. Their three, 40-minute long workshops addressed Leadership Styles, Project Management, and Coordinated Leadership, and as part of the SCB training in the final week of J-Term. SCB members attending the workshops appreciated the “change of pace” in having student-led presentations, finding it both exciting and refreshing.

Sophia Johnson ’22 and Viv Merril ‘22.5 facilitate a Leadership Styles for Collaboration for SCB members during the last week of J-Term.

Students were able to acquire useful skills not just by attending the workshops but by being a part of the process of creating such workshops. As Kailee Brickner-McDonald explains, “Two of the best ways to deepen understanding of a skill is to practice it and teach it to others. Between the Winter Term Workshop on workshop facilitation and the facilitation experience itself on a particular skillset, our participants got to do both.”

Participating in the Winter Term Workshop helped students to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, allowing them to build on their personal leadership strengths and styles while also gaining skills and confidence in areas they didn’t feel so strong in, such as facilitation. One participant stated: “My comfort guiding a workshop (especially one with my peers present) grew exponentially through this WTW and final facilitation exercise… [the CCE staff] encouraged us to think with so much advance attention to necessary items, time constraints, and approach to the materials. I feel like my skill-set for learning and teaching grew widely in this WTW.”

My comfort guiding a workshop (especially one with my peers present) grew exponentially through this WTW and final facilitation exercise.

Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops Participant

The experience taught DREAM Co-Chair Chloe Zinn ’22 her that empathy and intention are just as important as quality curricula in creating effective educational presentations. She stated: “I learned that it takes effort and care to truly get through to an audience, and even more challenging workshops can be facilitated well with intention and genuine empathy.”

I learned that it takes effort and care to truly get through to an audience, and even more challenging workshops can be facilitated well with intention and genuine empathy.”

Chloe Zinn ’22, DREAM Student Leader and Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops Participant

Social Issue Panels to Dive Deeper

In addition to building students’ civic leadership skills, the Service Cluster Board and Civic Leadership Certificate programs also enhance students’ ability to support their community partners and connect their experiential learning with their academic understanding of social issues. Sixty seven organization leaders and members came together on Wednesday, February 26 to learn from two sets of community partner, alumni, and faculty panelists who discussed the topics: Engaging with Youth and Mentoring and Accessing Addison County’s Resources. Consisting of three experts each, the panels sought to deepen students’ understanding of social issues and local contexts to better support their personal and/or organizational work in the community. Students submitted their questions in advance, leading to interactive and insightful conversations in both panels. Ellie Dickerson ’19 (CCE AmeriCorps VISTA) developed and coordinated the event.

Engaging with Youth & Mentoring panelists included Laura Basili, a Middlebury College Visiting Faculty member a clinical psychologist whose therapeutic work focuses on children and adolescents living with adversity, illness, and loss; Mel Hurlburt, DREAM Program Director; and Elizabeth Burrows, an Addison Central School District counselor with more than 25 years of experience in the field. The panelists addressed critical questions about working with youth who have had adverse childhood experiences, engaging in meaningful conversations about difficult topics, and encouraging healthy behaviors without being overbearing, among others.

Panelists answer students’ questions during the Engaging with Youth & Mentoring panel on February 26 in Axinn.

Students will be able to apply the wisdom and resources from the panel in their work with community youth, strengthening relationships and enhancing the many socio-emotional, cognitive, and identity development benefits of mentorship. Speaking to those benefits, the panelists served as source of inspiration and reflection for students, reminding them why they became mentors in the first place. In the words of one student: “I loved having them here…it reminded me that what I’m doing is important and refreshed the patience I have with my mentee.”

I loved having [the panelists] here…it reminded me that what I’m doing is important and refreshed the patience I have with my mentee.”

Engaging with Youth & Mentoring Panel Particpant

Conversation in the Accessing Addison County’s Resources panel was similarly robust. Leading the panel were HOPE’s Local Food Access Coordinator Lily Bradburn, WomenSafe Services Director Christina Grier, and recent Midd graduate Luna Shen ‘19.5, a current AmeriCorps member at John Graham Shelter in Vergennes. Bringing a range of experiences and expertise, these three panelists offered many insights into Addison County’s most pressing social issues. The panelists’ broad overview of local issues and support networks was especially helpful for the many students who work closely with one or two local organizations but aren’t necessarily aware of other issues or the many ways community partners work together to address them. The panel also allowed for a deep dive into specific issues, such as the affordable housing crisis and the negative effects of state policies on homelessness. One participant noted that they “didn’t realize how transportation…impacted the people that live in Addison County. It’s a really large place geographically, and can be difficult if you don’t have shelter or means of transportation.”

It makes me excited that the SCB helps all student organizations deepen their connection with community, which is the reason I decided to work with the CCE in the first place!

Accessing Addison County’s Resources Panel Participant

Getting out of the Middlebury campus bubble and into the community is one of the primary reasons students get involved in CCE’s programs. As one student remarked, “It makes me excited that the SCB helps all student organizations deepen their connection with the community, which is the reason I decided to work with the CCE in the first place!” The community partner panels complemented their service experiences, deepening their knowledge and ability to engage meaningfully in their respective organizations.

Future SCB and CLC trainings this spring will include Budgeting as Storytelling on March 16th, and Leadership Transitions in April. Thanks to all who deepen their community engagement experiences by participating in our training programs!

Complementing Community-Based Experiences: How the CCE Supports Students’ Civic Learning

Through the CCE’s Service Cluster Board (SCB) trainings, Civic Leadership Certificate (CLC) cohort, and civic skill building Winter Term Workshop (WTW), students in Middlebury College’s 17 student service organizations develop their leadership knowledge and capacities. These experiences complement their community-based experiences, helping them to become effective leaders and change agents during their time at Midd and beyond. 

During monthly SCB trainings, two student leaders from each organization learn resources for organizational and leadership development, such as how to manage conflict or practice inclusive member recruitment. CLC cohort members amplify this learning with additional reflections and workshops that allow them to connect with other passionate leaders, design cohesion across their service and learning experiences, and focus on social-issue-specific areas of their choosing.

Here are two examples of the kinds of trainings we’ve supported in 2020 so far!

Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops
As the first Winter Term Workshop (WTW) of its kind, Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops equipped students with tools to become effective facilitators of skill-building workshops for their peers. Five students participated in this workshop, each with connections to one or many Service Cluster Board organizations and several as members of the Civic Leadership Certificate cohort: Zeke Hodkin ’21 (MiddVote), Sophia Johnson ’22 (WildMidd and CLC), Viv Merril ‘22.5 (WildMidd and CLC),
Gardner Olson ’22 (Community Friends and CLC), and Chloe Zinn ’22 (DREAM).

The CLC cohort reflects during an initial meeting and workshop outside of Axinn at the beginning of the Fall Semester.

During the first three weeks of J-Term, these five students worked together to select civic skills that intrigued them and then co-designed interactive workshops around them to build that skill with others. With facilitation from CCE Assistant Director Kailee Brickner-McDonald and CCE AmeriCorps VISTA member Ellie Dickerson ’19, participants dove into resources on their selected civic skills and learned principles of designing quality curricula and practices of effective workshop facilitation.

Participants then had the opportunity to facilitate their workshops to leaders of all Service Cluster Board organizations, such as Brother to Brother, Butch’s Team, Juntos, MAlt, and NOM. Their three, 40-minute long workshops addressed Leadership Styles, Project Management, and Coordinated Leadership as part of the SCB training in the final week of J-Term. SCB members attending the workshops appreciated the “change of pace” in having student-led presentations, finding it both exciting and refreshing.

Sophia Johnson ’22 and Viv Merril ‘22.5 facilitate a Leadership Styles for Collaboration for SCB members during the last week of J-Term.

Students were able to acquire useful skills not just by attending the workshops but by being a part of the process of creating such workshops. As Kailee Brickner-McDonald explains, “Two of the best ways to deepen understanding of a skill is to practice it and teach it to others. Between the Winter Term Workshop on workshop facilitation and the facilitation experience itself on a particular skillset, our participants got to do both.”

Participating in the Winter Term Workshop helped students to recognize their strengths and weaknesses, allowing them to build on their personal leadership strengths and styles while also gaining skills and confidence in areas they didn’t feel so strong in, such as facilitation. One participant stated: “My comfort guiding a workshop (especially one with my peers present) grew exponentially through this WTW and final facilitation exercise… [the CCE staff] encouraged us to think with so much advance attention to necessary items, time constraints, and approach to the materials. I feel like my skill-set for learning and teaching grew widely in this WTW.”

My comfort guiding a workshop (especially one with my peers present) grew exponentially through this WTW and final facilitation exercise.

Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops Participant

The experience taught DREAM Co-Chair Chloe Zinn ’22 that empathy and intention are just as important as quality curricula in creating effective educational presentations. She stated: “I learned that it takes effort and care to truly get through to an audience, and even more challenging workshops can be facilitated well with intention and genuine empathy.”

I learned that it takes effort and care to truly get through to an audience, and even more challenging workshops can be facilitated well with intention and genuine empathy.”

Chloe Zinn ’22, DREAM Student Leader and Generating Civic Skill Building Workshops Participant

Social Issue Panels to Dive Deeper

In addition to building students’ civic leadership skills, the Service Cluster Board and Civic Leadership Certificate programs also enhance students’ ability to support their community partners and connect their experiential learning with their academic understanding of social issues. Sixty-seven organization leaders and members came together on Wednesday, February 26 to learn from two sets of community partner, alumni, and faculty panelists who discussed the topics: Engaging with Youth and Mentoring and Accessing Addison County’s Resources. Consisting of three experts each, the panels sought to deepen students’ understanding of social issues and local contexts to better support their personal and/or organizational work in the community. Students submitted their questions in advance, leading to interactive and insightful conversations in both panels. Ellie Dickerson ’19 (CCE AmeriCorps VISTA) developed and coordinated the event.

Engaging with Youth & Mentoring panelists included Laura Basili, a Middlebury College Visiting Faculty member and clinical psychologist whose therapeutic work focuses on children and adolescents living with adversity, illness, and loss; Mel Hurlburt, DREAM Program Director; and Elizabeth Burrows, an Addison Central School District counselor with more than 25 years of experience in the field. The panelists addressed critical questions about working with youth who have had adverse childhood experiences, engaging in meaningful conversations about difficult topics, and encouraging healthy behaviors without being overbearing, among others.

Panelists answer students’ questions during the Engaging with Youth & Mentoring panel on February 26 in Axinn.

Students will be able to apply the wisdom and resources from the panel in their work with community youth, strengthening relationships and enhancing the many socio-emotional, cognitive, and identity development benefits of mentorship. Speaking to those benefits, the panelists served as source of inspiration and reflection for students, reminding them why they became mentors in the first place. In the words of one student: “I loved having them here…it reminded me that what I’m doing is important and refreshed the patience I have with my mentee.”

I loved having [the panelists] here…it reminded me that what I’m doing is important and refreshed the patience I have with my mentee.”

Engaging with Youth & Mentoring Panel Particpant

Conversation in the Accessing Addison County’s Resources panel was similarly robust. Leading the panel were HOPE’s Local Food Access Coordinator Lily Bradburn, WomenSafe Services Director Christina Grier, and recent Midd graduate Luna Shen ‘19.5, a current AmeriCorps member at John Graham Shelter in Vergennes. Bringing a range of experiences and expertise, these three panelists offered many insights into Addison County’s most pressing social issues. The panelists’ broad overview of local issues and support networks was especially helpful for the many students who work closely with one or two local organizations but aren’t necessarily aware of other issues or the many ways community partners work together to address them. The panel also allowed for a deep dive into specific issues, such as the affordable housing crisis and the negative effects of state policies on homelessness. One participant noted that they “didn’t realize how transportation…impacted the people that live in Addison County. It’s a really large place geographically, and can be difficult if you don’t have shelter or means of transportation.”

It makes me excited that the SCB helps all student organizations deepen their connection with community, which is the reason I decided to work with the CCE in the first place!

Accessing Addison County’s Resources Panel Participant

Getting out of the Middlebury campus bubble and into the community is one of the primary reasons students get involved in CCE’s programs. As one student remarked, “It makes me excited that the SCB helps all student organizations deepen their connection with the community, which is the reason I decided to work with the CCE in the first place!” The community partner panels complemented their service experiences, deepening their knowledge and ability to engage meaningfully in their respective organizations.

Future SCB and CLC trainings this spring will include Budgeting as Storytelling on March 16th, and Leadership Transitions in April. Thanks to all who deepen their community engagement experiences by participating in our training programs!

It’s National Mentoring Month!

Middlebury College students are involved in a myriad of community-connected organizations and activities that promote service, scholarship, and citizenship–the three tenets of our Center for Community Engagement. Today, we are excited to share the recognition garnered by one particular Middlebury student who has been a dedicated mentor in the CCE-advised, student-led, 60 years-strong mentoring program Community Friends: Nathaniel Klein ’21. In honor of national mentoring month, the statewide organization Mentor Vermont selected Nathaniel and his mentee, Tanner, as one of their 2020 Vermont Ambassadors of Mentoring relationships! Here we will share highlights from their nomination. When you see Nathaniel and Tanner around campus, give them a cheer!

Nathaniel and Tanner during Halloween

Nathaniel has been a mentor in Community Friends for three years now. He has been matched with his mentee, Tanner, for the past two years. They continue to spread joy to each other and to others wherever they go on campus. They play sports together, build elaborate forts in the forest, go on scavenger hunts, and spend a relaxing time just sharing meals together. 

Nathaniel has been a mentor in Community Friends for three years now. He has been matched with his mentee, Tanner, for the past two years. They continue to spread joy to each other and to others wherever they go on campus. They play sports together, build elaborate forts in the forest, go on scavenger hunts, and spend a relaxing time just sharing meals together. 

Community Friends Coordintators, Kira Waldman ’20 and Jacob Freedman ‘21

Although Nathaniel is undoubtedly strong due to his position as captain of the rugby team and top shot-put thrower on the varsity track and field tea, his real strength lies on the inside. His ability to challenge existing narrative tropes about masculinity and his guidance on impressionable young men such as Tanner show his inner strength. Nathaniel and Tanner have developed a close mentoring relationship that allows them to freely express their emotions with and gratitude for each other. They show that expressing one’s emotions and talking through one’s challenges is an important part of growing up and life in general. 

In college, most of the work I do feels somewhat intangible because homework assignments have little meaning outside of school. Mentoring has given me a chance to enjoy myself while creating positive change in my community friends life; if you can change one life, you change the world.

Nathaniel Klein ‘21

Nathaniel and Tanner’s relationship not only reflects their respect and support for each other, it also captures their commitment to being engaged community members of Addison County. Thanks for your dedication to this meaningful relationship, Nathaniel, and thanks to Kira Waldman ’20 and Jacob Freedman ‘21, student coordinators of Community Friends, who composed and submitted Nathaniel’s nomination for the Mentor Vermont recognition.

Celebrate mentoring and read more about other inspiring relationships across Vermont at https://www.mentorvt.org/ambassadors-of-mentoring/

College Access Passion Meets Practice: Brian Ketchabaw Reflects

This student leader spotlight features Brian Ketchabaw ’20, one of the future co-presidents for MiddCAM (Middlebury College Access Mentors).

MiddCAM is a one-on-one mentorship program that pairs Middlebury College student mentors with high school juniors who are primarily first-generation and/or low-income college applicants. Mentors help guide their mentees through the college application process by helping them coordinate standardized testing, come up with a college list, editing essays and personal statements, and providing information about the college experience. Recently, they also began supporting drop-in hours at both Middlebury Union High School (MUHS) and Mt. Abe High School.

I asked Brian some questions to learn about how his story and MiddCAM’s story intersect. Here are his reflections!

Let’s get a little background on you: Where are you from and what’s your major? What activities are you involved with on (and off) campus?

I am from Rye Brook, NY and I am a double major in Economics and Sociology with a minor in Education Studies. I am on the Men’s Varsity Ice Hockey team, co-president of MiddCAM, and I am going into my third year as student staff with ResLife.  

Why and when did you first join MiddCAM?

I joined MiddCAM my freshman year because the president at the time (Meg Poterba) was my FYC in Battell. I immediately felt a close connection with MiddCAM and joined the board my freshman spring.

What have you learned, both about yourself or the world around you, as a member of MiddCAM?

I have learned that all college students–especially students at a college like Middlebury–have a lot to give to their community. Whether it is volunteering at places like the Charter House, joining the Community Friends program, or joining MiddCAM, we can make a real impact in the community that has given us so much. I am a big believer in paying it forward. I was lucky enough to have a fantastic college advising team in high school which prepared me for the college process very well. Instead of just simply using those developed skills on myself, I love the fact that I can share my knowledge with MUHS students.

Congrats on your co-president leadership role in MiddCAM for next year! What are you looking forward to in that role?

I am looking forward to expanding MiddCAM. Since I joined my freshman year, we have more than doubled the mentors and mentees involved. I would like to continue that trend in order to increase our impact even further. Additionally, we are progressing “drop-in hours” so even MUHS students who are not involved in MiddCAM can come ask us questions about the college process.

We hear from Sociology Assistant Professor Matt Lawrence (the new Faculty Director of the Privilege and Poverty Academic Cluster) that you’re connecting this interest to your thesis. Tell us about how MiddCAM has shaped your academic interests and pursuits.

I have always been interested in education, but my experience with MiddCAM and at Middlebury College as a whole has accelerated my interest. The Education Studies department is fantastic here, and I have learned a great deal about the inequalities of education and how difficult it is for disadvantaged students to succeed in the current education system. Additionally, I have taken Sociology classes, such as Higher Education in Society, that helped me develop a thesis in my interests. Next fall, I will be writing my thesis about MiddCAM and the importance of pre-college access programs. Additionally, this will give me a great opportunity to hear real feedback from past MiddCAM mentees in order to figure out what parts of MiddCAM need to be developed further.  

Thanks, Brian, and we look forward to hearing more about MiddCAM as it continues to develop!


Brian playing at the rink for the Men’s Varsity Ice Hockey team.

Three Students Join United Way’s Community Impact Funding Team

A meeting of the United Way of Addison County’s Community Impact Funding team. Hira Zeeshan ’22 is second from the left.

In January, the CCE advertised in our weekly newsletter an opportunity for students to join the United Way of Addison County’s Community Impact Funding Team. Since then, three college students, Lulu Zhou ’19, Hee Yeong Son ‘20.5, Hira Zeeshan ’22, have worked as part of the 27-member team.

The students have helped allocate thousands of grant dollars, which will ultimately be distributed to 17 local nonprofit organizations. The grant dollars aim to support programs that improve the physical, mental, and emotional health of Addison County residents, such as hospice services, domestic abuse support, support for elderly, summer recreation, meal programs for local students, and more.

According to the United Way of Addison County, in April, the team will convene to make funding recommendations to the UWAC Board of Directors, with the goal of focusing philanthropic dollars where they will make the largest impact. In the past three years, CIF grant reviewers helped UWAC invest over $990,000 in 33 programs covering 28 different agencies across the region. 

“We were fortunate to have three Middlebury College students on our CIF grant review team this year. Their thoughtful questions and comments have been top notch and their status as non-Addison County residents has brought a fresh perspective to the process,” said WAC Executive Director Helena Van Voost. “Their participation has truly been invaluable and we are very grateful.”

Student Lulu Zhou, who has been a member of the team for two years, called the experience one of the highlights of her community engagement and college experiences.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to concretely understand social issues facing local communities, learn about the diverse programs local organizations offer to promote equity, gain insights into grant applications and NGO programming, and work with a group of individuals dedicated to social justice,” Zhou said. “This experience certainly reinforces my passion for doing community engagement related work after Middlebury.”

If you have questions about being involved next year or other local volunteer opportunities, please contact UWAC’s volunteer coordinator, Linnea Oosterman at linnea@unitedwayaddisoncounty.org