Author Archives: Kailee Brickner-McDonald

Tiffany Nourse Sargent ’79 Retires, Leaving Strong Community Engagement Legacy

In this story, we celebrate some of Tiffany’s major career accomplishments, announce the new Public Leadership Award created in her honor, and share reflections from colleagues and from Tiffany herself during this time of transition.

After working at Middlebury for the past 35 years, Tiffany Nourse Sargent ’79 retired this March. During her tenure, Tiffany contributed in innumerable ways to the College, our local communities, statewide initiatives, and beyond.

Tiffany began at Middlebury College as a student, where she studied religion. Working over the summer on campus, she met her husband who also worked at Middlebury College. After graduation, Tiffany worked in the admissions sector of higher education at four other institutions, including as the Director of Admissions at Trinity College in Burlington, Vermont, until 1985. She returned to Middlebury in 1985 and helped create the College’s volunteer and student employment programs, and then direct student activities, before launching Middlebury’s service-learning program in 2000. Tiffany worked tirelessly to develop relationships, partnerships, and programs that enhance learning opportunities embedded in our communities.

Tiffany (standing) greets Addison County Privilege & Poverty interns and community partnerships at the summer 2018 P&P dinner.

Career highlights include creating Vermont Campus Compact, a statewide network of 26 Vermont college and university presidents committed to promoting the public purpose of higher education; Academic Outreach Endowment service-learning grants; cohort-based local Addison County and national Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty internships; the Privilege & Poverty (P&P) Academic Cluster with Professor James Calvin Davis; the Vermont Educational Alliance on Poverty with Professor Davis and colleagues from the University of Vermont; programs like Language in Motion and the Japan Summer Service-Learning program; and serving on the Experiential Learning Centers Leadership Team. 

Qualifying for institutional recognition through the Carnegie Community Engagement Elective Classification in the inaugural round in 2006 (and again with reclassification in 2015) and anchoring the Center for Community Engagement offerings through Academic Affairs have been key professional benchmarks. She leaves a legacy of strong campus-community collaboration through curricular and co-curricular means that promotes civic engagement and helps meet community-identified needs.

Six volunteers pose with a panther statue.
Tiffany (middle) poses with fellow volunteers at a United Way Days of Caring service site.

Spanning four decades, Sargent and her colleagues have expanded community engagement from including dozens of students participating in a handful of programs to current offerings where the vast majority of Middlebury College undergraduates participate at some point during their undergraduate years, in and out of class, offering tens of thousands of service hours, locally and around the world, each year.

Liz Robinson ’85, former director of the Experiential Learning Centers, reflected that “[Middlebury College’s] liberal arts tradition has us appropriately rooted in a commitment to foster community engagement to prepare ostudents to be ethical and thoughtful citizens,” and that we are fortunate “…to have had Tiffany at the helm of these foundational, yet vital initiatives for a very long time.”

Liz celebrated qualities Tiffany brought to that important work: “Tiffany is collaborative, empathic, authentic, loyal, generous and thorough. Her standards are sky high in every aspect of her work. She was also, frequently, an unsung hero who worked behind the scenes, assisting others and always putting students and community needs first. She is known for her integrity. She modeled these qualities and characteristics for her students and staff around her in a way that always inspired.”

Peggy Burns, director of the Center for Careers and Internships, shared: “I can state unequivocally that Tiffany spent her career at Middlebury changing lives and changing the world.” Peggy admires, “…the extraordinary commitment, passion, and generosity of sprit that Tiffany brought to her work here, not only in terms of countless hours spent advancing initiatives but also in her thoughtfulness and deep, deep sense of purpose and obligation to building community in every sense of the phrase.”

Ashley Laux ’06 first worked with Tiffany as an undergraduate student, and then as a professional colleague. Ashley became the director of the Center for Community Engagement this spring. She reflected: “I am grateful for the care and particular attention to building reciprocal relationships that Tiffany brought to her work on campus and in our local community. Tiffany’s approach towards working alongside community has shaped my own professional path and the efforts of her work have positively influenced thousands of students, staff, faculty, and community members. I know that the values around which Tiffany developed the CCE will continue to infuse our vision and shared work for many years to come.”

Tiffany smiles and greets faculty member.
Tiffany greeted Professor James Calvin Davis at the 2019 Public Service Leadership Awards.

To recognize the impact Tiffany’s leadership connecting Middlebury College and the town of Middlebury in her roles at Middlebury College, the Center for Community Engagement created a new Public Service Leadership Award in her honor. The Tiffany Nourse Sargent ’79 Engaged Partnership Award will be given annually to honor an educational partnership between Middlebury College and a community organization to address community needs. The partnership honored could be a collaboration that supported academic coursework, research, student organization(s), or another meaningful learning endeavor. The first winners this year, The Wild Middlebury Project and Hannaford Career Center, are an excellent example of the kind of reciprocally beneficial, thoughtful relationship that enhances learning for all involved– the kind of partnership that Tiffany championed throughout her career.

Staff in the Center for Community Engagement asked Tiffany to reflect on her career in three areas as she finished her work at the College. We are happy to share the wisdom and insights Tiffany provided in her responses:

Tiffany, you created a culture, in the CCE and the College at large, that holds deep responsibility to infuse the values of reciprocity and accountability with the wider community into its big-picture and day-to-day functions. Why does that matter to you, and how has that evolved?

At the core of just about all of my work are the relationships formed and to be true to these relationships, reciprocity and accountability are essential. Seeing and hearing about the College and local issues from the perspectives of the community was also enlightening. Working alongside of and listening to our community colleagues fostered authenticity. These connections have deepened both my love for and nuanced understanding of this community (and beyond!) and served me well in my roles.

The centrality of reciprocity and accountability were further reinforced through my work with Vermont Campus Compact (VCC), a network of Vermont campuses dedicated to promoting the public purpose of higher education. Through VCC, I was able to attend several national and regional meetings with practitioners and leaders on the forefront of the civic and community engagement movement at a pivotal point in time. I learned so much from these amazing people, including affirmation about the importance of reciprocity and accountability, locally and globally.

On-campus, I was always grateful for the support and flexibility to build our programs, accordingly.

What’s something you’re especially proud of in your work?

Dedicating a career to connecting students, faculty, and community partners in ways that deepen academic learning, cultivate civic identity and skills, and contribute to addressing community needs was a labor of love. Helping individuals (and the institution!) find their connection to and value in community engagement, complicating understandings, and leveraging resources in ways to contribute to the public good was a joy. Hiring and collaborating with generations of colleagues as we continued to evolve and expand our programs, including national and global initiatives and supporting participation from across the Middlebury enterprise (“the Big M”), has been incredibly profound. And now in retirement, knowing that our team will carry us into the future during these unprecedented times is a real source of pride.

One area that stands out, especially, is the energy among faculty, students, community partners, and the administration to further build and deepen opportunities for experiential learning. Having spent twenty years nurturing this foundation, I’m thrilled to see dedicated energy and commitment from among all stakeholders!

What will you miss about the work, and what do you hope to bring with you into retirement?

The great thing about this work–besides being deeply meaningful and important–is that you can approach it from multiple perspectives. I can continue the “work” whenever I want, wherever I am, regardless of whether or not I’m formally “working.”

I will miss the people, but it is the right time for change. The values continue on and new doors are opening. I’m finding time for reflection in ways that I had trouble prioritizing while working. For me personally, retirement has aligned with beginning treatment for a cancer diagnosis and the global pandemic, so it has rushed me to quickly grapple with so much and reimagine my priorities and daily practices almost overnight. I’m so grateful for how well I am doing and the great team of professional and personal support I have. I am, indeed, treasuring this time at home–walking every day, reading, cooking, deepening my meditation practice, and pursuing a sort of spiritual pilgrimage. Bill and I are enjoying our time together, becoming novice “birders,” and look forward to when we can spend more time with the rest of our family.

To all my dear friends, past and present, feel free to drop me a line at P. O. Box 103, East Middlebury, VT 05740. Cheers and thanks, for everything!

Thank you, Tiffany, and we wish you all the best in your retirement. 

Celebrating 60 Years of Community Friends: Remotely…as Planned

The Center for Community Engagement wanted the approximately 5,000 current and former Community Friends mentors and mentees to be able to celebrate sixty years of mentoring relationships together from across the globe, even before the pandemic. We’re pleased to share our audio story about the program’s impact over the years, accessible from all over.

Here are some reflections from CCE Program Director Kailee Brickner-McDonald about the listening process that produced the Community Friends audio story.

This fall, I couldn’t have imagined where we’d be this spring, spread out remotely to keep ourselves and our communities healthy. But, even before the pandemic, I did know that the majority of total participants in Community Friends’ years of mentoring relationships were spread around the world, and however the Center for Community Engagement was to honor this year’s Community Friends 60th anniversary, that it would be better if we could connect within and beyond Addison County with our celebrations.

After attending Mary Wesley’s Vermont Folk Life Center workshop on listening projects at the Vermont Story Lab Summit at the Bread Loaf campus in September, creating an audio story from the voices of past and present mentors and mentees seemed like a beautiful way to bring folks together around what Community Friends has meant to them both during and after the experience. The program was originally run through the Counseling Services of Addison County and is now supported by the Middlebury College Center for Community Engagement. There have been nearly 5,000 participants over the years, and currently 140 college student and elementary school students meet one-on-one on a weekly basis in mentoring relationships through the program—so, many transitions of the program over the years, and many voices to hear!

We gathered a team of three passionate Community Friends mentors—Rasika Iyer ’22, Patrick Wachira ’23, and Alison Wheeler ’22– brought Mary Wesley in to train us, and embarked on a journey this past winter and spring to hear from a diverse range of former and current mentors, mentees, and program supporters.

We asked questions like: What drew you to participate in Community Friends? How do you or did you see your role as a mentor or mentee? What are or were some of the most meaningful aspects of your mentorship relationship for you? By the end of the process, we interviewed 27 people in a mix of in-person interviews (before social distancing) and interviews over Zoom with folks from around the country.

When things turned remote this unexpectedly this March, we were able to continue the project, thanks to CCE’s AmeriCorps VISTA member Ellie Dickerson ’19 (a former Community Friends mentor herself!) taking the lead on the audio mixing– which apparently is much harder to do collaboratively when spread across several states.

Our production team loves the outcome, and the process was just as rewarding! Rasika Iyer ‘22 reflected on interviewing past mentors, her favorite part of the process: “Many of their stories reminded me of similar moments I’ve had with my mentee, and it was touching to hear how passionate they were about the program years, and even decades, after they had graduated from Middlebury.” Rasika is also a current member of the 11-student leadership team that coordinates Community Friends, now leading the efforts to support remote mentoring this spring. Her connection to the audio story helped ground her engagement in the program, as “working on this project underscored the tangible impacts that Community Friends has on both mentors and mentees and how the work we do for the program really matters.”

Please listen to the story yourself, and hear about the power of the Community Friends program from across the years, directly from the voices of participants. They are stories that inspire us to make connections with those different than us and find common ground, have some fun together, find belonging, and learn about ourselves and others.

Click here to listen to our Community Friends: 60 Years of Mentoring story, and find more information about the project here. Enjoy!

Ken’s Ride, Ride of Hope (May 11th)

You’re invited to Ken’s Ride, Ride of Hope!

Date: Saturday, May 11th , 2019
Time: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Location: Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail – St Albans to Sheldon Jct VT
Or
KEN’S RIDE, THE VIRTUAL RIDE OF HOPE via Facebook.

The Ride of Hope Bikeathon if organized to celebrate the life of Ken Appel, Vermont attorney and passionate cyclist, who passed away from Prime of Life neurodegenerative diseases, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) and Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD). The proceeds of the event will be shared between CurePSP, a national organization that helps support research efforts to find a cure and treatment for Prime of Life Brain Diseases (PSP, FTD, MSA, ALS,CBD) and a local agency, Franklin County Home Health Agency that offers comprehensive health care within the home setting.

More details and registration can be found online:  http://cpsp.convio.net/kensride2019

A Week in the Life of Middlebury Community Engagement

In a typical week, Middlebury College students, staff, and faculty engage in our community beyond campus in dozens of meaningful ways as
volunteers, activists, educators, and collaborators. For National Volunteer Week, the Middlebury College’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE) wants to highlight a selection of 24 experiences supported by the CCE from the past week (April 4- April 9).

To learn more about the CCE and the programs we offer and advise, visit go.middlebury.edu/cce. Thanks to all involved!

Wednesday, April 3

Wednesday’s photos show mentorship as one of the key components of the work we support at the CCE, whether it be through language and cultural learning with high school students, connecting as a reading buddy, or mentoring through Community Friends.


Wednesday, 12:00 pm:
Faim pour le déjeuner! Through the Lanugage in Motion (LiM) program, Middlebury Union High School French language students came to campus to learn with Mme Crouzières’ Middlebury College students. Meanwhile, six high school exchange students from France got an English-language tour of campus. Then both MUHS and Middlebury students converged for a French language table over lunch! In a typical semester, LiM prepares 34 Midd students to offer presentations in local schools for over 600 local middle and high school students, bringing language and culture to life.
Mentor and mentee at table.

Wednesday, 12:30 pm:
How about a side of mentoring with your lunch? Nine Middlebury College students, including Parker Ferguson ’19 (pictured) who is also a member of the Football team, head over to Mary Hogan Elementary School every week at lunch to build relationships with children over books and games through the Everybody Wins! program. This is one of the many community-based volunteering options the CCE gets out on a weekly basis in its Opportunities Newsletter, which in a typical semester shares over 130 opportunities from over 75 community partners.
Wednesday, 3:30 pm
Basil Alfaro ’22 and Hailey Kent ‘21.5 meet with their Community Friends mentees —
a sibling pair from the Middlebury community– on Wednesday afternoons. This time, they were jamming out to tunes and getting creative with paint in the CCE Living Room! There are 140 pairs of mentors and mentees that meet weekly through the Community Friends program, advised by the CCE, which has connected Midd students with children since 1960.

Thursday, April 4

The CCE helps connect community experiences to the college’s academic curriculum and internships. Thursday features the Privilege and Poverty Academic Cluster, Environmental Studies capstone projects, and the Charter House.

Class meeting
Thursdays, 11:30 am
Students in Pam Berenbaum’s Critical Frameworks for Social Change
(INTD 0426), the capstone course for the Global Health, Food Studies, and Privilege & Poverty Academic Cluster, use an exercise in Design Thinking to hone their plans for social change projects. Twenty seven faculty across disciplines partner with P&P.
Middlebury college student and community member
Thursdays, 1:30 pm
In this section of ES401, a capstone course designed for senior Environmental Studies majors taught by Jon Isham, students partner with Vision for Vermont and are conducting interviews focused on visions for a more just, inclusive, and sustainable Vermont. Pictured here is Gabby Davis ’19 with long-time activist Priscilla Baker in her condo in Middlebury speaking about her experiences with the environment and her visions for sustainability moving forward.
Three students cooking food
Thursdays, 5:40 pm
Community suppers are a tradition at the Charter House! Each Thursday, students in the Charter House Club like Mayher Patel ’19 gather and help cook meals together. Patel says, “I enjoy talking with the individuals at Charter House especially over a warm plate of food.”
The Charter House also hosts Privilege & Poverty interns over the summer. Over the course of a semester, Midd students serve over 1805 meals with local community partners.

Friday, April 5

Friday is a busy day for CCE programs! As the week comes to a close, students have more flexibility to move and think beyond the campus bubble. From workshops and board meetings to climate marches, this day is full of the different kinds of work and projects that take place in any given week.

Examining maple syrup
Friday, 8:45 am
It’s sugaring season! Jenny Pushner ‘21.5, Jacob Freedman ’21,
Kufre Udoh ’21 and other members of The Wild Middlebury Project teamed up with a group of high school students at The Hannaford Career Center to practice their maple sugaring skills on Friday morning. Jacob and Kufre scope out different grades of syrup. Wild Midd is a new student initiative that is now part of the Service Cluster Board, 20 student organizations advised by the CCE.
Marchers with climate justice signs
Friday, 10:45 am
Middlebury students and Vermonters met at the Town Green to kick off the 350Vermont Next Steps: A Climate Solutions Walk that concluded five days later with a Mass Action at the State House in Montpelier.
Divya Gudur ’21 was awarded a CCE Community Engagement Mini-Grant to support Sunday Night Environmental Groups‘ students’ involvement in the walk! The CCE gave out $15,930 last semester in grant funding for student initiatives.
Two students with community member
Fridays, 11:15 am
All smiles from Butch’s Team! Each week, students like Samantha Enriquez ’22 and Beth Neal ’20 share visits with Butch, a long-time friend of the College. This is in addition to the nearly 60 year tradition where the basketball team brings Butch to home football games and the football team brings him to home basketball games. Butch may well be our #1 Panthers fan!
Student coordinators planning event
Fridays, 12:45 pm
The Community Friends Board members (Sabian Edouard ’21, Jocelyn Tenorio ’19, Hannah Kredich ’20, Maddie McKean ’22 ) discuss how to improve the mentee referral from to allow parents to request social identity-based matches! The eleven student coordinators meet weekly behind the scenes to recruit and train mentors, create meaningful events, and maintain community partnerships. Across all our student organization Boards, in the process of making their groups better, members learn how to operate effective community-based organizations!
Middlebury College and Winooski High School student pair
Fridays, 2:30 pm
Middlebury Refugee Outreach Club works with Winooski high school students from refugee backgrounds to establish connections and prepare students to succeed in college. Pictured are Liz Perrotta ’19 and Lulu Zhou ’19 with their respective tutees, Rewati and Hiba.
Students reading to children
Fridays, 3:30 pm
Many Middlebury students share a passion for reading, and Page One Literacy Project allows them the opportunity to visit local elementary schools and work on literacy development skills through reading and storytelling activities.
Students cleaning a play house
Friday, 4:15 pm
The weather is getting warmer in Vermont and members of Midd Volunteers took advantage of the opportunity to help John Graham Shelter do some spring gardening and outdoor clean up!
Friday, 4:30 pm
Privilege and Poverty students engage in a Bias Response Training facilitated by Kristen Mullens, of the CCE, to help them consider what bias looks like within ourselves and our communities, and how to better respond to it.
Friday, 4:45 pm
1, 2, 3, GO! Directing through Recreation, Education, Adventure, and Mentoring (DREAM) is all about community building through mentoring and Friday afternoon activities. Janice Zhang ’20 and Seamus Nolan ’19 plan afternoon activities and direct a group of mentors from the college working with Middlebury-area children.

Saturday and Sunday, April 6 – 7

Bring on the weekend! Outreach with adults in our community often works best outside of the workweek.

Student leading a circle group in an activity
Saturday, 10:00 am
Audrey Olsen ’21, Hannah Bensen ’21, and Lizzie Friesen ‘20.5 helped coordinate the Women in Tennis Together program with the Women’s Varsity Tennis team. Before hitting the court, Middlebury students led group activities among the players. Audrey described how they designed this Saturday, with hopes: “…to promote deeper conversation and learning among new friends… for players to be able to engage and learn more about those among them, why they chose to come to Women In Tennis Together, and different personal things such as what goals they have in life.” She used a CCE Community Engagement Mini-Grant to support the program!
Saturdays, 4:45 pm

Student Coordinators of Juntos, Middlebury College’s migrant/student solidarity network, prepare for a Companeros gathering, where they teach English to community members.
Group photo in gym of college students and community members
Sunday, 2:15 pm
Special Olympics started its season on Sunday with its first practice. Members of the men’s and women’s basketball teams, the women’s ice hockey team, and the football team met with Special Olympics athletes at the Pepin Gym. Julia Keith ’20 and other members of the Special Olympics team are pictured leading activities with local children who participate in the program. “I love the reaction from the families, children and adults after a successful day of practice – it is incredible seeing how much a team environment can change a person’s life!”

Monday and Tuesday, April 8 – 9

From saving lives to preparing for intercultural immersion, the beginning of the week starts strong.

Student in the back of an ambulance
Mondays, 1:30 pm
Margo Reigle ’19 prepared the ambulance for its next run, before she got called to join a team responding to a 911 call. Dylan Montagu ’20 and Derek Cronin ’21 had just headed out for a transport between Porter and Burlington’s hospitals. Middlebury students who get EMS certified, often in a J-Term course taught by the MREMS Training Director, can join the MREMS teams on weekly shifts up to 12 hours. Margo helped start the Middlebury First Responders organization to provide trainings that prepare students for the field and mental health resources for post-call support. Margo appreciates how her MREMS experience expands her community to beyond campus: “I meet a wide range of people through the different places I volunteer and enjoy all of the stories I’ve heard and conversations I’ve had.”
Staff team meeting around tables
Tuesdays, 9:15 am
The Center for Community Engagement Staff meets to discuss the big picture and the details behind supporting our programs. Special thanks to Jason and Sarah for their photographic support of this “Week in the Life” project.
Tuesday, 11:30 am
High school and Middlebury students share lunch as part of the Language in Motion Spanish Language Day.
Tuesday, 4:30 pm
The Japan Summer Service Learning Program cohort met for the first time!
Tuesday, 7:15 pm
Celebrating so many impactful people in our Middlebury community at the Dean of Students Leadership Awards! Special congratulations to winner Saif Panday ’21, a Middlebury Alternative Spring Break leader for this year’s Jamaica trip.
Be sure to nominate students to the Public Service Leadership Awards on April 30th, hosted by the CCE, by April 11th at go/psla.

Many thanks to photographers, coordinators, collaborators, and editors in the CCE for helping create this selective snapshot of the Week in the Life of Middlebury Community Engagement. Special thanks to CCE student staff members: Meg Pandiscio, Lia Swiniarski, Will DiGravio, Jocelyn Tenorio, Madison Holland, and Amanda Rodriguez.

H.O.P.E. Holiday Shop Contributions Request

Each year H.O.P.E (Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects) hosts a Holiday Shop that helps families provide gifts for their children that make the holiday season that much more special. Please consider supporting Addison County families through H.O.P.E’s annual Holiday Gift Shop! Sign up by visiting go/holidayshop or visit the Center for Community Engagement (20 Old Chapel Road, DKE House) to pick an idea off of the Wishlist Tree. You can sign up any time before December 12th, either individually or with a group of colleagues or friends, and bring an unwrapped gift worth $25 (ideas provided in sign-up) to the Center for Community Engagement between 9:00 am – 5:00 pm by Wednesday, December 12th.

If you have any questions, please e-mail Sarah Litwiller at slitwiller@middlebury.edu.

Thank you for your continued support of this wonderful program. H.O.P.E. counts tremendously on Middlebury College’s consistent and generous participation.

Middlebury Classic Quidditch Festival: 9/29, 10am-5pm

Middlebury College, home of Muggle Quidditch, is continuing its tradition of magic with this year’s Middlebury Classic Quidditch Festival. Over a dozen teams from around New England will battle on the pitch in this goofy sport. Last year, over 700 people took part in the festival, enjoying potion demonstrations, quidditch workshops, food trucks, acrobatics, face painting and visiting bands. All are invited to participate in activities and watch performances throughout the day at this family-friendly festival.

The Middlebury Quidditch team proudly hosts the festival, but creating such a magical day is a community effort. Information and interest forms for teams, vendors, non-profits, and volunteers are available online at: www.go.middlebury.edu/quidditch. For more info, check out the Facebook event.

Also: Starting now, keep your eyes out downtown for five snitches hidden in local businesses in the “Snitch Hunt” leading up to the event!