The college that I went to might be closing, more specifically the campus of the college that I went to might be closing. While many of the smaller colleges in Vermont have been struggling with declining enrollment, this has been exacerbated by the economic impact of COVID-19. This would, in effect, put all of my past professors out of work, as well as some beloved friends that are part of the staff there, and it would turn what was once the lively place of my higher education into a ghost town. It would displace students and would likely either move them out of state, or for some remove them from college all together.
Vermont Tech is the only technical college in Vermont and the Randolph location is geographically central to the entirety of Vermont and more closely resembles the “rural” landscape of Vermont. The proposed closures would result in no colleges in the Vermont State College System operating in central or northeastern Vermont (outside of Community College of Vermont offerings). In addition, the economic impact to the surrounding areas would be catastrophic, the impact to Vermont’s long term economy would be even worse. In addition, it is important to know that Vermont Tech not only offers a variety of Associate and Bachelor’s degree programs, a Master’s program, and Certificate programs but also continuing education courses and outreach programs. For a better idea of what Vermont Tech offers, please visit their website: www.vtc.edu.
Vermont Tech is a value to Vermont’s students as well as all aspects of it’s economy. From Engineering to Dairy Farm Management to Nursing (PN, ADN, BSN), Automotive and Diesel Tech, to Business Management. Vermont Tech offers programs that help to strengthen Vermont by helping students develop their passions in lab based practical settings that enable them to enter the work force upon graduation as an asset to whichever company they join or build themselves.
Before I go into my story I want to ensure that everyone has as many facts as possible:
This situation has presented itself publicly incredibly quickly. What was happening behind the scenes I do not know. The Board of Directors for the Vermont State College System had an informational meeting yesterday and will be voting on their decision next week on April 27th. This is too short of a time frame to make such a lasting decision. The Chancellor’s office latest press release emphasizes the financial urgency of the situation and that change of some nature is necessary for the survival of these vital institutions of higher learning and basis for so much of Vermont’s future work force. Please also read through the President of Vermont Tech, Patricia Moulton’s latest update. The Governor’s Office as well as the Speaker of the House and Senate President have offered their input and it seems that they all have in mind the economic impact to communities, employees, impact on students, as well as the future of Vermont’s higher education system and opportunities.
If you went to Vermont Tech (Randolph Campus), have a family member that went to Vermont Tech, had an employee that went to Vermont Tech, that you see the value in Vermont Tech for Vermont, or that when you have children or grandchildren, nieces of nephews, you would like more avenues available to them for higher education than primarily private or out-of-state schools, please voice your support on this survey.
Additionally, if you are able (I know it is a challenging economic time for everyone right now) and would like to make a donation in support of Vermont Tech (in any amount you are able – small amounts by a lot of people can add up to make a big impact) please donate here.
in addition, the Facebook group ‘Protest Vermont State College (Permanent) Closures!’ is very active and is providing real time information as well as call to actions on the situation.
I personally have been able to live the life I am living because of the career opportunities that were available to me after graduating as well as the affordability of Vermont Tech. I graduated from Vermont Tech with an Associate’s Degree in Architectural and Building Technology, a Bachelor’s Degree in Architectural Engineering Technology, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Sustainable Design and Technology.
The first professional job that I had relating to my degree was for an engineering consulting firm. Not only were other Vermont Tech graduates at this firm, many starting out just after graduation and continuing on to earn their P.E., but also on the higher management at this company. They saw Vermont Tech on my resume and within about a week of applying I had an offer, a start date, I was able to negotiate a somewhat flexible schedule with options to work four, 10 hour days. I had health insurance, a great HSA, would be eligible for a 401k match in 3 months, a few weeks of paid vacation, paid holidays including President’s Day (the owner loved to ski and this was a good excuse for a three-day weekend in February). Add in the fact that we had a big project lingering overhead with a whole lot of overtime at time and a half and there was no doubt that Vermont Tech had served me well. I was hired to do HVAC design and CAD work. I was able to jump right in to this large scale project because the work I was doing was nearly identical – in scope but also with the technology I was using – to my senior design project at Vermont Tech.
Fast forward a bit and while that company wasn’t the right fit for me, we made it through the project and I moved on. Turns out that sitting behind a desk doing CAD wasn’t where I was meant to be. Anyone that has met me could probably tell you that I am a bit too social for sedentary work. Sometimes it takes living it to learn it.
Next, I applied for an was hired to work as a Client Coordinator, a position that was later renamed as Marketing and Selections Coordinator. If you’re wondering what this has to do with my education, this company almost only builds houses using sustainable design principles and worked very closing with Efficiency Vermont to certify their houses to various green-build certifications. My degree in Sustainable Design was certainly paying off as the code work I had to do with Efficiency Vermont nearly matched the code work that I had to do in school at Vermont Tech. Plus – I got to mix my time between office work and client meetings – a great balance for me.
I was once again earning good money. There is a lot of talk by people that Vermont is not affordable, but it was enough for me to live on comfortably. I gained first hand knowledge on home design, small businesses, project management, and had some terrific coworkers. Once again my degree from Vermont Tech was paying off in dividends. Armed with a brand new job and a strong income I bought a house (I was 23), started coaching gymnastics at a local high school, and played violin with the Vermont Philharmonic. I went to college in Vermont, got a job working in Vermont, bought a house in Vermont, and then gave back to the local community that I settled in.
Now, anyone that has paid attention to my life knows that right now I am literally half a world away from Vermont. Right now I am on a ship outside of Singapore. That doesn’t diminish the value that Vermont Tech has provided in my life though. It gave me the economic stability to create the life that I want to live, and right now that is traveling the world. Some people joke that they went to college, paid a lot of money, and all they got was a piece of paper. When you graduate from Vermont Tech you do not just get a piece of paper. You get a diploma that comes with knowledge, experience, and a balanced education. I graduated with an education that I can rely on, and use. Even half a world away I know that job opportunities would still be available to me because of the strong education and strong reputation of Vermont Tech.
Vermont Tech provided me with a practical education that has provided the foundation for my financial success. While Vermont Tech has done that for me I believe there is so much support for Vermont Tech right now from it’s alumni because Vermont Tech had so much support for us.
Let me tell you a quick story:
Once upon a time there was a girl. She was sitting alone in a bathroom stall crying when someone walked in. It was one of her professors. Not knowing who was on the other side of the stall door the professor said, “Are you alright?”
“I’m okay,” the girl said.
“Are you sure? You know, my office is just across the hall, would you rather go sit in there for a bit? I’ve got a class in just a minute, so if you want to be alone you could,” the professor replied.
The girl without much strength in her voice replied, “okay”, and came out of the stall. The professor, recognizing her as one of her own students wrapped her in a surprisingly strong hug considering the professor was a rather small woman.
“It’s going to be okay. Let’s get you to my office,” said the Professor.
They walked just down and across the hall to the professor’s office where she got the girl some tissues and promised to come back in a bit to check on her and see how she was doing.
It’s been nearly ten years since I graduated college (how is that possible?) and while I remember a lot from college, that single moment, where a professor that I wasn’t even that close with took me in still stands out as the most profound moment of my education. It was just a couple weeks after my dad had died and I was having a hard time. I recently saw a post on Facebook from one of the professors my brother had in the agriculture program while at Vermont Tech, “Like cows in Vermont, Students at Vermont Tech have names, not numbers.” (Prof. Dutton). This was never so apparent to me as it was the semester that I lost my father.
Vermont Tech offered me a great education and an incredible future. I can attest to the value that a degree from Vermont Tech has – not only in the hiring process, the increased earnings potential – but also on the job. What else Vermont Tech offered me was a family away from home, and while I didn’t know how much I would need that family when I first went to Vermont Tech, when I faced the most challenging part of my entire life, they were there for me. Whether it was a professor offering me her office to cry in, classmates helping keep me on track with assignments, friends, and especially my soccer teammates, they were there for me. I don’t know if I would have gotten that same combination of factors anywhere else: a strong, practical education that translated directly to employment, an affordable education that allowed me to buy my first house (no student loans translates to increased spending power after graduation), and an environment where not only your classmates and teammates cared about you, but the faculty and staff did, too.
Even if I hadn’t gone to Vermont Tech I understand the value that it provides to the students, to Vermont’s economy, and Vermont’s future workforce.
I urge you to help keep Vermont Tech open for future generations to find their families away from, but also for all of that family that helped me so much all those years ago and offer your support, whether in words or by contributing financially (or both!).