Esprit de CORE

The “Student You Could Be Like” video that the MiddCORE students queue up on the final day of class is a funny spoof of that oddball Old Spice commercial with Isaiah Mustafa. Limperis is sporting a superhero costume and Australian accent, bragging about having “the key to world victory and domination” and straddling the panther statue. It’s all tongue in cheek, designed as a lighthearted opening to the final presentation for a panel of faculty, mentors, media members, and President Liebowitz on marketing MiddCORE.

But there’s something authentic about her closing words—“anything is possible when you’ve taken MiddCORE”—and about the confidence that Limperis exudes, superhero costume or not. With winter term ending and February break about to begin, confidence seems to be the one thing that each of these MiddCORE students is taking with them. Indeed, Limperis will soon write Claudon, from her semester abroad in Argentina, about feeling a sense of personal power that she never had before.

Engendering a paradigm shift in liberal arts education is exhaustive, so part of MiddCORE’s future is gauging its impact, also not the easiest task. Towbin was so impressed with her own transformation that she is now creating a database to track fellow students who have taken MiddCORE .

In some cases, MiddCORE’s success is tangible. Let’s face it: the course is a good networking opportunity. Google executive and MiddCORE mentor Brian Schmidt ’97 hired a student from last year’s course because, he says, of her poise and professionalism. “It’s a tremendous confidence booster that comes through in interviews,” he says.

And Boillot eventually hired Ashley Bell. But even before that, Bell found that MiddCORE bolstered her time at Middlebury. “It gave me confidence in my other classes,” she says. “I participated more, reached out to professors and lectures in a new way, and I actually dramatically improved my grades.”

And in other cases, the effects of MiddCORE are less apparent, but still felt. Gu says she still has no idea what industry she wants to enter, let alone who will hire her. “But I have the confidence to say, ‘It’s OK I don’t know where I’m going yet, but I have the skills to be prepared’—it’s having a different definition of confidence.”

After the presentation on this final day, Claudon will close MiddCORE 2011 and officially begin his retirement; he’ll be handing over the reins to Holmes, and his voice is extra gravelly with emotion. Before he can close though, there is one final twist: the students are supposed to be competing with each other in this marketing challenge, but instead they’ve decided to band together and collaborate.

It looks like they’ve figured out how to ride that horse.

Sarah Tuff ’95 is a writer in Burlington, Vermont. For more on MiddCORE visit

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