Tag Archives: Student Leaders

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