Tag Archives: Student Stories

Weekly Highlight: Japan Summer-Service Learning

Application deadline for Summer 2020–TODAY! Visit: go/jssl and access the application on the bottom of the page.

The Japan Summer Service-Learning Program (JSSL) is a collaborative, intercultural service-learning program that brings together undergraduates from Middlebury, International Christian University (ICU), and multiple member universities of the Service-Learning Asia Network. Participating students work, learn, and engage with local residents in the Tokyo metropolitan region as well as in Tenryumura – a small village in the mountains of Nagano Prefecture. While this is usually a four-week summer program, our summer 2020 session will be for three weeks, ending prior to the start of the Tokyo Olympics.

Xuan He ’20, a JSSL alumna, shares about her experience with the JSSL Program during the Cross Cultural Community Service’s (CCCS) 10th Anniversary.

Last year, student participants reflected on their time in Japan using the new Middlebury Experiential Learning Life Cycle (ELLC) hub website. This is a new reflection resource that educators across Middlebury College created together to support students across different immersive learning experiences to reflect on their learning.

Below are reflections from some of last summer’s participants.

Xiaoyu Wu ’22:

My name is Xiaoyu, and I am a participant in a summer program called JSSL (Japan Summer Service Learning). This program lasts for one month and provides participants the opportunity to experience urban and rural life of Japan. I enjoyed every minute of this program, but the thing that gave me the strongest impact was the monument of Chinese soldiers, which I saw in a rural village (Tenryu Village) in Japan.   

Sometimes I wonder why I am doing volunteer services in Japan while my own country needs help. The answer became clear after my journey to Tenryu Village. There were a lot of tragic stories in this village during WWII— Families broke apart because of the war; foreign soldiers and prisoners of war were forced to participate in the construction of the dam. When Kawakami san was giving this speech about the local history, I felt a mix of conflicted feelings— Anger, unfamiliarity, frustration… Why do we have to uncover the scars of the past again? The purpose is not to re-trigger the hatred but to remember the war, just as Kawakami san mentioned in his speech, “悲劇を忘れないように語り継、この事実を後世に伝えるのも我々の役目かなと思っています (I think we should not forget the tragedy, and it is our role to convey the story to the future generations).” 

There are indeed a lot of stereotypes exist between China and Japan, and it is our mission, the younger generations’ responsibility, to rediscover the good in humanity and break down these stereotypes. Because many people do not know that when forced labors were suffering, villagers shared their limited resources with them. Even after the war, there is a Japanese lady who places flowers in front of the monument every day for over 50 years.

Sam Hernandez ’22:

Hello, I’m Sam Hernandez and I am a participant in the Japanese Summer Service Learning program. During the month of July, me and an international team of students set out to participate in various service projects throughout the city of Mitaka and the rural Tenryū village. Something that has pleasantly surprised me about this experience was how easy it has been to work with people from various different cultures in a country where we are foreigners to make a difference in people’s lives.

While I say it has been easy, that means relatively. We have worked incredibly hard as a group and put in a lot of effort. But the reward we get, the memories, the experiences, the connections, they’re all so incredibly valuable that having to put in some effort is nothing. The benefits to this program will be lifelong. Not only that, but we have done meaningful service as well. The benefits for those we served are hopefully even more meaningful. Essentially, I learned that it doesn’t take much to make a difference. Whether it be helping your members make paper at a service center or pulling up ragweed in a park. Even just listening to an elderly citizen recount their youth and most valuable memories. We made an impact together as a team of various people from different backgrounds, beliefs, ideals, and goals. In only a month, we became friends. Our differences were embraced and welcomed. It was a most pleasant surprise.

Japan Summer Service-Learning program alumni – Brenda Martinez ’22, Sam Hernandez ’22, Xuan He ’20, Xiaoyu Wu ’22, and Stephen Chen 19.5 – gather for a light-hearted reunion with CCE’s Kristen Mullins and Atsuko Kuronuma during Ms. Kuronuma’s recent visit from Tokyo.

Consider applying for this amazing program. Visit go/jssl and access the application at the bottom of the page.

ASIA Students Attend the annual ECAASU Conference

Queenie Li ’22 writes about her and three other students’ experience in attending the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) Conference in Pittsburgh, PA early this Spring.

Asian Students in Action (ASIA) took four undergraduate students to the East Coast Asian American Student Union conference in Pittsburgh, PA early this Spring. The annual ECAASU conference brings together various colleges to participate in workshops about the Asian and Asian Pacific Islander (AAPI) identity and diaspora, form connections between students, and to celebrate the AAPI identity. This conference is the largest and oldest conference for Asian Americans in the United States. Due to the support in part by funding from Community Engagement at Middlebury College, we were able to attend, gain knowledge, and make connections with other AAPI college students.

Nhân Huỳnh ’23, Shuyi Lin ’23, Lia Yeh ’20, and Queenie Li ‘22 pose for a photo during their free time.

Being surrounded by other AAPI students, we were empowered, reaffirmed, and felt deep sense of belonging. The conference was comprised of a diverse selection of workshops and caucuses. One workshop of note that two of us attended was entitled “Why Are We Here? The Role of Collegiate Asian Organizations,” inspiring us to reexamine ASIA’s mission and the community we serve. We left that workshop inspired and are now working to put on an inaugural AAPI conference here at Middlebury to serve colleges and folks in the northeast who were unable to attend ECAASU.

Lia Yeh ’20 with workshop facilitator and Midd alum Krysty Shen ‘17.

Of the caucuses, we were able to attend closed affinity caucuses or open caucuses about broader issues that we wanted to discuss. In light of recent news, there was a caucus dedicated to examining the coronavirus and the subsequent rise of xenophobia towards the AAPI community. The topics of discussion at ECAASU were reflective of current events as well as of continual issues that impact the AAPI community. Workshops and caucuses tackling recurrent issues offered deeper and niched perspectives that allowed for a new approach and understanding of the issues.

[The caucus focusing on coronavirus and the rise of xenophobia] was personally very powerful for me to be able share my emotions with many people and see that people share the same concern and frustration as me

Shuyi Lin ’23. an ASIA member at the ECAASU Conference

Apart from the workshops and caucuses, we found the conference valuable as it introduced us to other AAPI students from other schools. Due to our location in rural Vermont, being an AAPI student is often very isolating and we have little to no relationships with other collegiate AAPI organizations and AAPI students. The conference fostered those connections and we have left with new friends and collaborators. We are excited to have found companions and support on our journey as AAPI students. More importantly, we are thrilled to also be able to provide support to our new friends and to begin to provide support to AAPI members of the Middlebury community.

Shuyi Lin ’23, Lia Yeh ’20, Queenie Li ‘ 22, Nhân Huỳnh ’23, Rachel Jeong ’22 with members of Tufts Asian Student Coalition eat dinner together at the Conference.

Stay up to date with Asian Students in Action! Like our Facebook page (go/asiamidd/) or follow us on Instagram (@asiamidd)!

More information about ECAASU can be found here: https://www.ecaasu.org/

My MAlt Spring Break: Intersections of Faith and Climate Action

I spent my February break this year a little differently. I went back to Los Angeles, the place I have been calling home for the past 11 years, with nine other Middleury students. At 6:00 p.m. on a Saturday our plane finally landed in LAX, and I felt our group’s collective excitement and eagerness to learn about the intersectionality between climate change and religion and what roles we can play in helping mitigate this global crisis.  Although it is true that our trip was not the most physically demanding–we may have gone to the beach this week more than I ever have in one summer–I believe that it was one of my most intellectually and emotionally engaging experiences at Middlebury College. 

MAlt LA 2020 Participants in Long Beach, California for the beach clean-up with Algalita Marine Research and Education, a non-profit organization. Participants from left to right: Chima Dimgba ’21, Julia McClaine ’22, Rachel Jeong ’22, Nhi Do ’22, Isabella Primavera 21.5, Soyibou Sylla ’20, Bo Liu ’23, Anna Cox ’21, Bayu Ahmad ’21, Huiming (Sam) Liang ’22.

On our first full day, we visited the Metropolitan Church of Christ, a church centered on Creation. The whole community welcomed all of us with open arms, reflecting the core of their sermon that day: we humans are “the salt of the earth.” They shared the message that humans are one of earth’s most valuable resources and we have a duty to be kind to each other. This kindness must also extend towards all of God’s creation. We have a duty to protect and nurture the earth and everything that resides in it because we are simply sharing the earth with other living beings. Theirs was a call for responsibility. Although this was a clear articulation of the connection between climate change in religion, the most powerful experience I had in this church was more personal.

A banner hangs outside the Metropolitan Church of Christ. The church’s members are known as the “Queer and Quirky of Cahuenga Street” as they practice love for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, race, and other social signifiers.

They did the Holy Communion a little differently from other more traditional churches. We were invited to join if we desired. I took the “body of Christ” with my own hands from a tray and dipped it in the chalice filled with the “blood of Christ.” After eating this, the deacon took my hands and touched our foreheads together in a very personal prayer. My eyes started to water as her words touched my heart. She said: “Blessed be are those who are young. For they really are the hope of the future.” At that moment, I realized that the older generation places so much faith in us to do better and to take better care of our shared world.

The most physically demanding–and emotionally exhausting–day that we had came on the third day of our trip. Half of the group, including myself, worked from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Hippie Kitchen situated in the middle of Downtown Los Angeles’ notorious Skid Row. This neighborhood, called “Hell on Earth” by some, creates a stark contrast from the bustling and wealthy area of Downtown Los Angeles as you see streets upon streets filled with tents, shopping carts, trash, and items usually found inside a house. When you leave this neighborhood, you can immediately see a completely different set-up of the city: high-rise buildings, fancy restaurants, expensive apartments. As a native Los Angelena, I knew of and have seen this place in person–but only from the outside. Going inside the heart of Skid Row was, therefore, a surreal experience. I felt exposed and, admittedly, scared. When we got inside the Hippie Kitchen, I felt a sense of relief–no longer would I have to stand outside surrounded by the marginalized and unrepresented as the Kitchen’s four walls became my temporary refuge. I felt weird and I felt wrong.

Going inside the heart of Skid Row was, therefore, a surreal experience. I felt exposed and, admittedly, scared. When we got inside the Hippie Kitchen, I felt a sense of relief–no longer would I have to stand outside surrounded by the marginalized and unrepresented as the Kitchen’s four walls became my temporary refuge.

Isabella Primavera ‘21.5, MAlt LA Participant

As we rotated jobs once the Hippie Kitchen opened, I found myself serving salad to those experiencing homelessness. At this station, I distinctly remember one moment: One of the regular volunteers asked a regular patron where his wife was. He answered: “She’s in our tent today since she’s not feeling well.” That response hit me hard. In my everyday life, the “tent” would be substituted by “home” or “room,” sturdier and more personal spaces, places that are supposed to provide a comfortable shield from the outside. Hearing this man’s response, I felt a sense of shame. It was shame for being able to find comfort in going back to a comfortable house–with a bed, a heater, running water, a warm blanket–while my counterparts lived in their tents.

A billboard in Downtown LA stating “Homeless Republic,” depicting the California flag’s bear as a man outside of his tent– his home.

Before we started our shifts, we came upon the volunteers praying in a circle, holding hands. When they saw us (Middlebury students standing outside the kitchen), they opened up the circle and invited us join the prayer. The prayer, I faintly recall, was a prayer by St. Vincent de Paul–a priest who has dedicated his life to serving the poor. The prayer talked of our duties to the poor–that it is our duty to help them and even when they disrespect us, we must treat them with more kindness. I deeply respect all of the volunteers; their belief in the word of God drives their selflessness in serving the community in Skid Row. I respect those experiencing homelessness as well. Despite their situations, some of them come to the Hippie Kitchen filled with hope and gratitude. It is another day that they are alive and another day that they can eat and for that they are thankful. 

A wall in the Hippie Kitchen says “Make Beans, Not War.” The Hippie Kitchen, whose official name is actually Lost Angeles Catholic Worker’s “Hospitality Kitchen,” makes food (including beans) three times a week for those who need it.

There is so much that we did on this trip–so much learning, engagement, reflection–that one blog post would not be enough to talk about all of it. I’ve highlighted these two days of the trip because they contained the most impactful moments for me. While the first experience shows the direct connection between climate change and religion I experienced, the second experience shows that solving the climate crisis cannot stand in isolation from creating broader social justice. Climate change is a social justice issue. For how can the marginalized and underrepresented worry about the environment when everyday they have to worry about satisfying their most basic needs–food and shelter? This trip has made me realize that climate change is not just this abstract, global problem but a systemic problem–those who are not in the top 5% wealthiest parts of the population are the ones who experience most of climate change’s effects, but those with the most wealth are responsible for creating and maintaining most of the systems of dependence on, and actual emissions of, fossil fuels and greenhouse gasses that are causing the problem in the first place. The marginalized hold some of the fewest choices for taking personal action, too. People who need jobs must take the jobs available, even if they are in places like oil refineries. Those experiencing homelessness use single-use plastic because they don’t have access to sturdier containers. All of these complex problems are part of climate change.

 Climate change is a social justice issue. For how can the marginalized and underrepresented worry about the environment when everyday they have to worry about satisfying their most basic needs–food and shelter?

Isabella Primavera ‘21.5, MAlt LA Participant

Although these issues seem so big and unsolvable–believe me, I was feeling hopeless for a while–the communities that we have seen in action are all doing their part to try to fix the system from the ground-up. Faith communities as well as normal neighborhoods are all working with the people in their communities to tackle the climate crises–the Metropolitan Church of Christ and the Hippie Kitchen are just two of these examples. Because of these groups, I have hope that we can work together to change the world for the better. 

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/

Celebrating International Education Week at the CCE

Every year, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education celebrate international exchanges and education through their join initiative called International Education Week (IEW). This program is meant to “prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences” (iew.state.gov).

Here at Middlebury, we are committed to bringing global perspectives into one space as well as developing intercultural experiences through many ventures. Some larger educational opportunities include study abroad, language schools, and language classes. The Center for Community Engagement also supports ventures that allow students to explore new cultures and share their own cultures within the Middlebury community and beyond. Some of these are the Language in Motion (LiM), domestic and abroad MAlt trips (Middlebury Alternative Break Program), the Cross Cultural Community Service (CCCS) fund, Japan Summer Service Learning Program, and Academic Outreach Endowment grants.

We’ll take this International Student Organization’s (ISO) International Week as an opportunity to highlight three of these internationally focused programs!

Language in Motion (LiM) connects students who have a cross cultural experience through Middlebury’s international, study abroad, and upper level language programs with Addison County high school and middle school teachers, students, and classrooms. After training and with guidance from CCE staff, students provide lessons that promote global awareness, cultural competence, and world language acquisition. 

I love Language in Motion because it makes me think about my experiences as a bi-cultural person who grew up in both Thailand and the US, and how that impacts how I see my two cultures, the world, and also a new language and culture (Spanish/Hispanic culture) that I was introduced to when I was 15. It is always an exciting challenge to think about how to relate my experiences (and make them accessible) to different age groups, whether it be 3rd graders, 6th graders, or high schoolers, and the opportunity to go off campus to present is always a welcome break from the Middlebury College bubble.

Pim Singhatiraj ‘21.5, a Language in Motion participant teaching Spanish and Spanish/Hispanic culture
Pim Singhatiraj ’21 conducting a reflection session about global perspectives for students from the Addison County area

The MAlt Program allows Middlebury students to design and plan six trips during February Break in both national and international destinations. The goal of these trips is to allow students to engage with outside communities by providing service when and where it is needed and learn from these engagements.

Being from the Caribbean, I didn’t quite know what to expect from my MAlt trip. I had only been to Trinidad & Tobago, an island that I related to and knew as a second home. The Dominican Republic showed me a completely different side of the Caribbean, where people spoke Spanish, ate Mangú and listened to Bachata. My MAlt trip taught me that there are never-ending perspectives no matter what your expectations might be.

 Melynda Payne ‘21, a participant in the Dominican Republic Alternative Break Trip
Melynda Payne ’21 at the Dominican Republic MAlt trip with a view of the natural landscape of the country
MAlt participants in the Dominican Republic spend time with Dominican students, doing crafts and participating in student-led lessons

The CCCS Fund (CCCS) supports international service-learning and community-building internships and/or related volunteer service opportunities for undergraduate students. These internships and service initiatives may be student designed while preference is given to those opportunities in a culture distinctly different from the applicant’s background, usually outside of the U.S. Since 2009, the CCCS fund has supported 315 student-led projects, in 70 different countries!

My time in Nosara provided me essential context for my studies at Middlebury, as well as real-world experience in what can often be a stale research-based field. I was encouraged more than ever to pursue my goals of teaching English abroad after I graduate, in the many forms that this might take.

Spencer Royston ’21, supported by CCE’s Cross Cultural Community Service Fund last winter to work with a library in Nosara, Costa Rica 
Spencer Royston ’21 engaging in the Nosara community

Besides LiM, MAlt, and the CCCS fund the CCE has other programs that are also focused on global engagement and perspectives, and you can explore them via their websites linked here: Academic Outreach Endowment, Japan Summer Service Learning Program, and Jiran

We encourage students to engage in communities beyond of our Vermont Middlebury experience, through the many connections offered here. As we can learn from students’ experiences described above, global experiences can expand our perspectives within our increasingly interconnected society. The numerous opportunities that the CCE offers are meant to do just that!

Homelessness away from home

Middlebury Privilege & Poverty interns stay the summer in Vermont, engage with issues of poverty throughout Addison County.

This is the first in a series highlighting the work of our CCE Privilege & Poverty Interns, who are working in organizations, nationally and locally, that intentionally engage in issues of poverty. This week I sat down with Cynthia Ramos (intern) and Samantha Kachmar (co-director), of Charter House in order to enrich my own reflection about what it’s like working around poverty.

Photo courtesy of Charter House website

Cynthia Ramos is one of several Middlebury students who have been thrown into the daily operations of various social service organizations throughout Addison County this summer. From homelessness, to access to nutritional food, to advocating for women and migrant rights, Privilege and Poverty Interns are engaging with manifestations of poverty on a daily basis, and gather weekly to reflect and discuss their experiences. 

Cynthia is working at Charter House this summer, a non-profit, volunteer based organization that provides basic necessities like food and shelter. Though her job description might sound simple at first – cooking and cleaning, checking in residents – it has quickly become much more than what it seemed at the beginning.

“This job has been both easier and harder than I expected. I don’t have to know calculus to do it, but I have to have endless willingness to always do more, take on more. I have to be generous with not only my time, but my emotional availability…it’s exhausting, but not in a bad way. I feel more fulfilled now than I do during the school year,” says Cynthia.

Exhausting, yes. 

Worth it? Definitely.

Samantha Kachmar, Co-Director of the Charter House, agrees that the experiential learning that Privilege and Poverty Interns are receiving is unique in its own right – and difficult to digest at times. “It gives [students] a chance to really see it – in its reality. And it’s not always a pretty really. Sometimes learning and knowing something from material you’ve read or watched is much different than when you’re faced with that reality.”

“It’s exhausting, but not in a bad way. I feel more fulfilled now than I do during the school year.” – Cynthia Ramos

There’s a quote that hangs, pinterest style, next to the front door of my parent’s house that says “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.

That’s about as corny as they come (right behind “Live, Laugh, Love”, “Family is FOREVER” and “You can find me at the beach”). Nevertheless, I have always felt unduly motivated by its message. This summer as a Privilege and Poverty Intern through the CCE myself, I am beginning to understand not only the value of living into that quote, but the value of the home that holds that sign up.

At times the John Graham Shelter in Vergennes, where I have been placed, seems not twelve but twelve thousand miles away from the housing, dining, and education that I often take for granted in the middle of a semester at Middlebury. But perhaps the most valuable lesson I’m beginning to learn is that these “different worlds” are not so different; all it takes is intentionality and effort to connect the two.

That connection, perhaps tragically for the more bookish of us (myself included), takes place beyond the essays we read, the money we donate or the “likes” we give on Facebook. Ultimately, however, that connection gives us the chance to discover universal aspects of human nature. 

“It allows people to see that though we come from different backgrounds and different walks of life, we have a lot in common. And everyone has the same desire for a stable life, and just different ways to go about it, different resources to attain it,” says Kachmar.

As my first full year of living in Middlebury draws to a close, I have become more and more conscious of the divisions between college and community, wealthy and poor here in Addison County. Whether you are from “up the hill” or “down the hill”, or whether you shop at the co-op or Hannafords, has tangible consequences on how you perceive Middlebury – and how you are perceived by others. Undoubtedly, there are some parallel realities of experience here, just like in many other places.

But (as I’m beginning to see, thanks to my work this summer) more often than not the effort it takes to bridge these divisions is smaller than we think. And I’m grateful to be given the chance to try.

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.