Thursday, October 30, 2008

Susan Raber Bray - Recent Work

Susan Raber Bray, a Vermont artist and CCV art faculty member, will have a show of her recent work on display at Frog Hollow in Burlington (85 Church Street). An opening reception will be held on Friday, November 7 from 5 – 8 PM.

The show is titled “La lumière intérieure des oiseaux et des chèvres” (The interior light of birds and goats) and will be on display from November 1 through 30, 2008. For more information on Susan Raber Bray’s work, visit her website at

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gail Salzman: New Painting Displayed SVAC

Gail Salzman, a Vermont artist and member of the CCV Burlington and St. Albans art faculty, will have some of her recent paintings on display from November 1 - December 2 at the Southern Vermont Arts Center (SVAC) in Manchester, Vermont (click here for directions)

The Bennington Banner reports that Salzman's "abstract paintings have their source in the elemental forms and rhythms of nature. Combining luminous layers of color with animated brushwork, she suggests both depth and continual movement, and reflects upon the shifting relationship between our internal and external lives. " (Click here for the complete article.)

Want to learn more about Salzman's work? Visit her homepage at

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

CCV St. Albans Transfer Fair: November 6, 2008

CCV St. Albans will be hosting its 3rd annual College Transfer Fair on Thursday, November 6th from 4:30 pm—6:30 pm. This is a fantastic opportunity to talk with college representatives about transfer options. You will also be able to talk with a representative from VSAC about career decisions and financial aid opportunities.

The following schools will be represented:

The event will be held at CCV St. Albans (142 South Main Street in St. Albans). For more information contact Kerri Brooks at 802-524-6541 or

DON'T FORGET! CCV Burlington's Trasnfer Fair will be held on Tuesday, November 18 from 10 am - 2 pm. For more information, visit

Friday, October 24, 2008

SAB Organizes Food Drive!

CCV Burlington's Student Advisory Board (SAB) is holding a food drive to benefit the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf in Burlington. Two shopping carts are set up to collect your donations. One is located in the lobby of our Pearl St. building, the other is on the second floor of the Cherry St. building (outside the Learning Center).

Many Vermonters are feeling the effects of the current economic downturn. As a result, the Food Shelf cannot keep up with the demand of providing food to Burlington residents. If you can, please make a donation to this good cause to benefit those in need. Collection carts will be available until mid-Novemeber!

Spring 2009 Course Schedule Now Available

CCV's spring 2009 semester schedule is now available! To view the schedule, visit this webpage:

Starting Monday, October 27, Burlington students can call (802) 652-2087 to schedule an appointment to register for the spring semester (Monday – Friday, 8:30 AM - Noon & 1:00 - 4:30 PM). Registration will begin on Monday, November 3. For more information on course registration at CCV Burlington, visit this webpae:

Register early to get the courses you want!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

CCV Burlington welcomes Natasha Pratt

CCV Burlington recently hired Natasha Pratt as a work study student in the Learning Center and Admissions office (110 Cherry Street, Room 204) and we would like to officially recognize her joining the staff.

Natasha was born and raised in Vermont. She has sophomore status at CCV and is pursuing the Liberal Studies degree. She also plans to transfer to UVM after her time at CCV in order to study Anthropology, where she plans to pursue both her bachelors and her master degrees.

After college, she would then like to do field work and research throughout the world, focusing on indigenous populations and Latin America.

Welcome to the staff Natasha. We’re glad to have you here!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Champlain College Fall Internship Failr

CCV students are invited to attend the 2008 Champlain College Fall Internship Fair. This event is co-sponsored by Champlain College's Career Services office and Student Government Association.

The event will be held on Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday, October 27th, 28th & 29th from 2:30 until 5:00 p.m. in the Hauke Conference Room. Plan to attend all three days since the list of participating employers changes each day! 100+ employers will be in attendance!

For more information, including a full list of employers that will be in attendance click here. For additional questions regarding this event, send an email to Patricia Boera at

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Opening My Eyes to the World of Politics

The following is a guest post submitted by Gary Walker, a CCV Burlington student in his third semester. He wrote this piece for his Fall 2008 English Composition class with Deborah Straw.

Growing up, I really never paid any attention to politics. In fact I often ignored it as something for older people to enjoy. In my neighborhood, the topic of the conversation was never why Scooter Libby lost his job, or how Elliot Spitzer disgraced himself by entertaining prostitutes. Most things I would see on the cover of a magazine and immediately dismiss because this is so far fetched from the reality I live in.

A reason why politics is not so attractive in my neighborhood is because there are always things that are more important than spending time worrying about politics. For instance some people are single mothers in college that have to work very hard on school work, so they have little time to get into politics. This is just one example of many, which echo throughout a lot of urban environments.

By no means am I saying that all people where I grew up are not into politics, I’m saying that I was not. I’m sure there’s a fair share of older people in my neighborhood that are glued to NBC, ABC and CNN. In fact, my grandmother is one of those people. By far I think for the most part politicians look at urbanites in America as people who don’t vote and are out of touch with things that are going on in the government and congress today. I think for a while that was a pretty fair argument.

It’s no secret that urban environments consist of mostly working class to impoverished minorities. Despite working hard from 9 to 5, they find it hard to make financial progress, living paycheck to paycheck. It is also no secret that the working class people are the backbone of our Democratic society and often work hard to do their part for America. When they need a little help with their daily lives to get by, they often find themselves on their own.

One reason for these feelings could be because in urban or impoverished neighborhoods, there are never any politicians coming to their aid. A few examples of this are Hurricane Katrina, the murder of Sean Bell, the Jena 6, and the list goes on. So many things hinder or hamstring the opportunity for a person in an urban environment that it is easier to stay focused on day-to-day operations than to dwell on things that are out of their control.

When things like Katrina and the Sean Bell murder happen, I think it builds on the distrust that some people in America harbor for politicians and their government. In return a lot of people tend to believe politics is rigged and that if you vote, it would not count anyway, so they can’t see the point in voting. Time after time, they go to the poll to vote, hoping they will get someone in office that will help average citizens. Time after time, they realize it is all political rhetoric and politicians are just telling them what they want to hear.

Recently all this has changed for me. It all started with the candidacy of Barrack Obama. In the last race for the white house I voted for John Kerry not because of his stance on issues or his values but because I was under the impression that he would bring help to average working class Americans. In a way this was a bad decision, not because he would not deliver on promises, but I really did not investigate whether Kerry comes close to the morals and values I believe in.

Believe it or not before Barrack Obama decided to run, I never heard of a primary race. In addition to that, there were many more things that I had never heard of like caucuses, electoral votes or a convention. Realizing this, I found myself wondering what other things I had missed over time by not being involved in politics. Often now I try to go back in time to find other presidential races, searching for things that I might have missed or discounted as irrelevant.

This presidential race I decided to get the facts on my own. So what I did was go buy John McCain’s book, Faith of our Fathers. In addition to that I also purchased three books based on Barrack Obama: Dreams of our Fathers, Audacity of Hope, and The Improbable Quest by John K Wilson. The reason I did this is because I wanted the facts in their own words without the idealism or spin you get from Fox or other new networks.

After reading all four books and not before reading all the books, I decided that Obama was the lesser of the two evils. Reading the books, I realized he stands for some of the same things I believe in like pro choice for women, universal health care and the thought of revamping the free trade system. Personally I like McCain. I think he has done outstanding service for the country and is a very funny and likable man, but when it comes to his policies and political agenda, this is where we don’t see eye to eye.

In my opinion, if you are a part of the middle class, a woman, or live in an urban environment, particularly if you’re African American, it just does not make sense for you to vote for John McCain. My reasoning behind this is that I have a sister; John McCain does not support equal work for equal pay, which means my sister will not get paid the same for doing the same job as me. Also John McCain does not support abortion, which could contribute to why some families in urban environments have to work harder, often enduring a lot of stress. Another issue where we don’t see eye to eye would be for me, as I am an African American, is he voted against the Martin Luther King holiday three times and conveniently had a change of heart when running for president.

The candidacy of Barrack Obama has opened my eyes to the world of politics, but I still find myself not enthusiastic about politicians. In light of Barrack Obama running for president, I have now been open to the thoughts of politics, and I am more aware of the political process. With that said, I often find myself watching this presidential race with a microscope for words, phrases and terms that are uncommon to me. Even if Americans don’t elect Barrack Obama, the candidate for change, he has brought change to me by opening my eyes to politics.

Monday, October 20, 2008

CCV Burlington welcomes Liz Thibault!

CCV Burlington recently hired Liz Thibault as a work study student in the Learning Center and Admissions office (110 Cherry Street, Room 204) and we would like to officially recognize her joining the staff.

Liz is a born and raised Vermonter and this is her third year at CCV. She is currently working toward her Associate Degree in Liberal Studies. After CCV, she plans to transfer to another Vermont State College to finish out a Bachelors Degree, and perhaps pursue a Masters later on. Liz says that her "goal would be to get into teaching or doing anything art related. And Iʼll be President at some point."

Welcome to the staff Liz and good luck with your run for the Presidency. We hope you'll give CCV a lot of credit when you make it there!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

VT International Film Festival: Admission Free for CCV

The Community College of Vermont is proud to again be a sponsor for the Vermont International Film Festival which is being held from October 23 -26, 2008, at Burlington’s Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center and the Palace Cinema 9 in South Burlington.

As a special bonus this year, all CCV students, faculty, and staff can attend for free! All you have to do is show your CCV ID at the door. The opening show on 10/23 is excluded from this offer as are any sold out events. See you at the movies!

Want to keep up to date on what is in store at the VT International Film Festival? If so, visit, and subscribe to, the VTIFF Blog:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: There IS help to succeed in college!

Today, the Community College of Vermont is participating in Blog Action Day 2008. This annual nonprofit event aims to unite people around the world on one issue on the same day. This year's topic is poverty. Messages from several members of the CCV community will be posted here throughout the day. The following post is submitted by Mel Donovan, CCV’s Director of Student Support Services.

There IS help to succeed in college!

Students living in poverty, or even moderate income levels, face multiple barriers in taking advantage of educational opportunities. These students most likely hold down not one but two, three, or even four jobs in order to make ends meet. They often have children and other family members depending on them for basic needs. Finding trustworthy, consistent, childcare can be difficult in the best of circumstances. Transportation is a car that often needs repair or public transportation with an inflexible schedule. The dependability of a new car is more than offset by the loan debt, especially when fuel prices are added to monthly payments. Housing, food, fuel, and medical care also compete for any available income.

So how can financially strapped students pay for tuition, get to every class (and on time), find the time not only for classes but also for homework, find someone to watch the kids, and manage to pay for textbooks? Community colleges traditionally serve students from all economic backgrounds but are especially structured to serve low income students.

The Community College of Vermont (CCV) has flexibility built in: classes meet only once a week, days, evenings, and weekends; many are offered online. Tutoring and other crucial services are offered at the sites and online. Degree programs can be tailored to meet student interests. But best of all, CCV has financial aid advisors and academic advisors to help strategize ways to overcome each student’s particular set of obstacles.

CCV also offers the TRIO Student Support Services Program. This federally funded program is designed to help students from moderate income succeed in meeting their educational goals. Each year, 200 students receive academic services, leadership and cultural opportunities, as well as close advising relationships thanks to TRIO funding. Beyond serving these 200 students directly, TRiO works to help CCV address barriers to educational attainment for all students.

Blog Action Day: We are the Majority

Today, the Community College of Vermont is participating in Blog Action Day 2008. This annual nonprofit event aims to unite people around the world on one issue on the same day. This year's topic is poverty. Messages from several members of the CCV community will be posted here throughout the day. The following post is submitted by Amy E. Stuart, LiCSW, a Coordinator of Academic Services at CCV Burlington.

First some disclosures: When I was growing up people never talked about how much money they “made.” Ostensibly, parents considered talk about income “impolite.” I knew early on I was a member of what is called the “upper middle class.” My dad, a dentist through my childhood, easily earned what would now be about $150,000/year. I liked that my parents taught me to save some of the money I received (birthday gifts) or earned (from my summer job). I also liked that my parents taught me to share the money I had. I didn’t have to get a job to help my family pay the bills – ever.

Now I am a full-time employed woman, married to a full-time employed man.
I earned a Master of Social Work degree in 1989; my husband earned a Master of Education degree in 1998. I am a step-mother to two school aged girls whom we care for every other week. Our gross household income was about $67,000 in 2007.

The income for 87% of all households in the United States in 2007 was less than $100,000/year. Smack-in-the-middle middle income households earned between $36,000 and $57,657. The poverty level for a family of four in 2007 equaled $21,200 or less. I spent one year of my life from Sep. 1984 through Aug. 1985 as a Jesuit Volunteer earning $365/month. And, while during that year I was “living simply” (college-educated speak for living on a very low monthly income) I really have no experience living in poverty. I don’t write about poverty from personal experience. I do write about poverty from what others have taught me through their stories and research.

For a class I taught at the Community College of Vermont, I assigned a journal article from the May, 1999 issue of Social Work titled “The Likelihood of Poverty across the American Adult Life Span.” Authors Mark R. Rank and Thomas A. Hirschl revealed from longitudinal studies that “…60% of 20 year olds in America will experience poverty at some point during their adult years.” The authors continue, “What this analysis strikingly reveals is that rather than being an event occurring among a small minority of the US population, poverty is an experience that will touch a clear majority of Americans at some point during their adult lifetimes.”

Alarmingly, other studies at that time showed that most of us believe that encountering poverty is a remote possibility, even people who are statistically living in poverty. The implications of such false beliefs contribute to our sense “that won’t happen to me…” and more dangerously to the shame or resentment we often hold towards ourselves or others who need cash assistance, food stamps or other public benefits. The reality is that “those” few of us are actually most of us!

Today we hear daily about the incomes, bonuses and benefit packages of some of the wealthiest executives in our country. We hear how much money millionaires lost in the last 20 minutes. We hear thousands are losing jobs, retirement income and homes. I’m so glad more people are talking about what for some of us used to be considered impolite, even taboo.

I’m having these conversations and I hope you do too. I’m also combining conversations about money with current, clear, unarguable data readily available from the Census Bureau. Speaking the truth rather than silencing ourselves, we are poised to change as-we-know-it economic policy. Economic laws and policies impact my wages, how much I pay for utilities, taxes and tuition, how much I spend on health care and the dollar amount of my individual retirement account… Air currently pours out of the largest hot air balloon – our stock market. Talking together about income, savings, spending and debt will help us create ethical economic policy changes and behavior. By talking openly and clearly about the realities, we’ll be able to create new economic policy on our experiences and needs. We are the majority.

Blog Action Day: No One is Above Poverty

Today, the Community College of Vermont is participating in Blog Action Day 2008. This annual nonprofit event aims to unite people around the world on one issue on the same day. This year's topic is poverty. Messages from several members of the CCV community will be posted here throughout the day. The following post is submitted by Kelsi Powers, a CCV student, Student Advisory Board representative for CCV Burlington and AmeriCorps volunteer.

Seven and a half months ago I walked into the local food shelf to volunteer my time. I thought I encompassed the very definition of a good Samaritan - young female, college student, AmeriCorps volunteer. It doesn't fill me with a sense of pride to admit that my first thoughts upon walking into the building was that not only did I have nothing in common with any of the people I'd be serving, but that I was better than them. I thought my education and my commitment to volunteering somehow placed me above everyone else. What I've come to realize through hard work, laughter, tears, frustration and satisfaction, is that I could not have been more wrong.

The stories have affected me the most. It’s easy to assume you’re better than someone else until you take the time to talk with them. Once the pathway of communication is open between two people you come to realize that you’re not that different. I heard the story of a woman who had been faithfully married to her husband of 50 years before he died. She sat in the chair across from me, tears in her eyes, not knowing how to pay her bills anymore. How easily I could relate to her sorrow, as I have lost too many loved ones in my life. I’ll see her time and again, in for her monthly groceries, and she is still as strong as ever, just trying to get by. I have also been moved by the middle-aged man, 19 years sober, who is down on his luck right now. The mother with bone marrow cancer who has to have her legs removed is trying to support her three children through these hard times.

I have come to realize that for every client that comes through the doors of the Food Shelf, their reasons for being there are pretty much the same. Through no fault of their own they have fallen into a patch of bad luck and need a little extra help to get by. I’m not better than any of these people. Having a college education doesn’t make me superior and it certainly doesn’t give me the right to walk around like I own the world. Some of the people I serve are educated, some of them are not. Some of them are black, some are white. Some are young and some are old. I see families and I see individuals. No matter what label is placed upon a person, we are all human and all deserve to be treated with the same amount of respect.

Despite not being proud of my first opinions, I am proud to admit that I was wrong. The learning that has taken place in the last few months far outweighs any other I've yet to experience. Here is what I have learned: Poverty has no simple definition and affects us all. Poverty is our neighbor, our tenant, our parents, our siblings, our coworkers, our loved ones, our grandparents, and our struggle. No one is above poverty and no one is a lesser person by being affected by it.

This too I have learned – we can all help put an end to poverty by volunteering, donating, or making or serving a meal. Before we can begin to alleviate this issue, however, we must first admit that it’s an issue, a big one, that doesn’t leave a single one of us untouched.

Blog Action Day: Community Colleges Can Help End Poverty

Today, the Community College of Vermont is participating in Blog Action Day 2008. This annual nonprofit event aims to unite people around the world on one issue on the same day. This year's topic is poverty. Messages from several members of the CCV community will be posted here throughout the day. The following post is submitted by Beth Kuhn, a Project Director at the United Way of Chittenden County.

Community colleges have not one but three unique and powerful roles to play in ending poverty:

  • They can support low-income students by forging connections with local resources to enable students to stay on track – transportation, child care, housing, etc. They can enhance that support by bringing resources on-site, offering direct assistance either in partnership with local nonprofits or by adding advisors who specialize in addressing the typical non-academic barriers to staying in school.
  • They can support low-income employees though innovative management practices to better meet their needs, such as emergency loan programs and worksite-based barrier support like that described above for students.
  • They can assure that they provide visible leadership in the community on the importance of ending poverty. They can and should be at the table on community-wide efforts in all their roles – as educator and employer. And they can use the classroom to be sure that successful and effective individual and community strategies to end poverty and build prosperity are taught and shared with others.
Let’s all work to engage the community college system in the important goal of building prosperous individuals, businesses and communities!

Blog Action Day: Is Higher Education an Option?

Today, the Community College of Vermont is participating in Blog Action Day 2008. This annual nonprofit event aims to unite people around the world on one issue on the same day. This year's topic is poverty. Messages from several members of the CCV community will be posted here throughout the day. The following post is submitted by Emily Spence, a CCV graduate and financial aid counselor in Burlington.

According to the US Census people with college degrees earn more than people without. This fact shouldn't surprise us as we see its evidence every day. So what's the problem? Why aren't more people making the move to enroll in college? What are the barriers preventing some of our potential students from attaining their goals?

College is expensive. It requires a large commitment of time and money, both hard to come by when you're living in poverty. Financial aid is available for students but often, even with grants and loans, students do not have enough to cover the cost of their tuition. They struggle to find a way to pay for college while at the same time keeping up with their everyday bills. It's true that scholarships are available, especially for high school achievers, but many people living in poverty don't go through high school planning for the next step of college. Those living in poverty, especially the intergenerational poor don't view college as an option, or if they do, don't know how to go about preparing for higher education.

Another barrier is that many students coming from a background of poverty are first generation college students. This means that they may not have the resources available within their own families or support networks as students with a family history of college. Not only do they not have the internal resources available but they don't know how to access the external resources that may be available to them. There are several programs like TRIO available to help students but the issue remains that they often don't know about these programs or how to utilize them.

Once a potential student overcomes these obstacles they can still suffer during the course of their education due to external stressors. When a student is worried about childcare or paying the rent or is skipping a class to pick up an extra shift at work, their academic work suffers. Because other matters are so pressing, education cannot be the priority.

Depressing isn't it? What can we do? We can demand an increase in funding for higher education both federally and locally. Increased funding would mean that the cost of tuition for students could be kept lower and therefore more affordable. We often hear politicians lament about "brain-drain" and the lack of a well trained, ready to work force. Education is the key to both of those issues so let's support higher education with more funding. Institutions of higher learning also need to get in on the act. We need more colleges and universities to make a commitment to creating and maintaining economic diversity on their campuses. Do what you can, whether it be allocating a portion of your endowment to low-income scholarships or hosting public information sessions to help low-income students find out about the resources available to them.

As individuals we can do more. Volunteer in a learning lab, encourage high school students to attend a college fair or help someone fill out their financial aid paperwork. We can all be doing things, both grand and small, to help those in poverty realize that higher education is an option for them if they so chose.

Students Host Movie Night: Hidden in America

Come join the Student Advisory Board (SAB) tonight, Wednesday, October 15th, at 6:30 p.m. in the Mac Lab (110 Cherry Street, Lower Level room LL19) for a viewing of “Hidden in America.”

The movie follows the story of a man who loses his wife and job and is left to support his two children in middle class America. The movie is being shown as a part of Harvest for Hunger week, beginning next Monday.

Popcorn and refreshments will be provided!

Questions? Contact Kelsi Powers, SAB member, at

Blog Action Day: Understanding Poverty via CCV’s Social Sciences Courses

Today, the Community College of Vermont is participating in Blog Action Day 2008. This annual nonprofit event aims to unite people around the world on one issue on the same day. This year's topic is poverty. Messages from several members of the CCV community will be posted here throughout the day. The following post is submitted by Yasmine Ziesler, an academic advisor and coordinator for Social Science courses at CCV Burlington.

Courses in the social sciences at CCV Burlington provide students with a diverse array of opportunities to explore and understand issues of poverty. Here are a few examples:

Students in Lawrence Ziegler’s “Introduction to Cultural Anthropology” course gain an introduction to domestic poverty issues via this video clip:

Larry also draws on his own research and book, Resistance in an Amazonian Community, to explore issues of poverty and political resistance.

“Introduction to Sociology” faculty Michael Ohler draws on his professional experience at the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS) and conducts class meetings at the COTS Waystation during college hunger and homelessness week.

I use my own book to facilitate an exploration of poverty and resistance, and we do an analysis of food policy, hunger, and the international financial institutions (IMF, World Bank, WTO, etc.) I've also started using relevant music to start each class and bring us back to the subject after a break (Sweet Honey in the Rock "Are my Hands Clean?" and Utah Phillips "We Have Fed You All For a Thousand Years" for instance) and much more!

Blog Action Day: Change Means: A College Education

Today, the Community College of Vermont is participating in Blog Action Day 2008. This annual nonprofit event aims to unite people around the world on one issue on the same day. This year's topic is poverty. Messages from several members of the CCV community will be posted here throughout the day. The following post is submitted by Adam Warrington, an Academic Advisor at CCV Burlington.

Teresa Lorenco, a former CCV student, and her son, Dylan Elliott recently posted a video to the "Change Means..." series on YouTube in which they give a glimpse into the difficulties of affording a college education in today's society. I believe that their story yet again helps eximplify the catch-22 that many American's experiencing poverty face... higher education is a necessary step toward relief from poverty and a livable wage... but individuals in poverty find the costs of affording a college education more and more out of reach. I'll hope you'll watdch the video below.

Blog Action Day: The Value of Higher Education as an Antidote to Poverty

Today, the Community College of Vermont is participating in Blog Action Day 2008. This annual nonprofit event aims to unite people around the world on one issue on the same day. This year's topic is poverty. Messages from several members of the CCV community will be posted here throughout the day. The following post is submitted by Dee Steffan, CCV’s Northwest Regional Director for Academics

I remember sitting in a graduate class at UVM in 1980, listening to a professor in a higher ed administration course forecast the cost of college 20 years hence. My jaw dropped to the floor when he noted that, by the year 2000, four years at a competitive private college was likely to cost students $150,000. I thought he had taken leave of his senses! Having recently graduated from such a college, and knowing it had cost my dad just over $25,000 for my gilded sheepskin, it seemed preposterous that those costs would multiply six times over by the time then-current toddlers walked across the stage to collect their undergraduate degrees. Honestly, I dismissed his projection as poppycock.

As it turns out, he was right and I was woefully wrong. It now costs about $50,000/year to attend my alma mater, where the annual tuition increases at it and schools like it are rising four times faster than the overall inflation rate. Tack on the expense of textbooks, and the fact that federal aid to education now takes the form of loans much more than outright grants, and it’s easy to see why graduates and their families are struggling under the weight of education-driven debt. Even in our public colleges and universities, rising costs have put an undergraduate degree out of reach for poor and middle-class families struggling to pay the competing costs of mortgages, health care, food, and gas. My daughter’s sister, who attends UVM as an out-of-state Mainer, plunked down $37,500 for tuition, room and board as an entering freshman last year, and that did not include books, laundry, and the occasional slice of pizza at Mr. Mike’s.

For decades, economists, sociologists, educators, and politicians have been able to agree on at least one fact of life: the definitive, causal relationship between educational achievement and poverty abatement. This relationship exists on an individual level (the higher one goes up the education ladder, the better off one is likely to be economically), as well as on a collective level (the better educated a society, the less vulnerable it is as a whole to the ravages of poverty). And in fact, the most recent census figures reaffirm the economic value of a college degree.

(Source: Bureau of the Census, U.S. Department of Commerce)

A second relationship has long been thought to exist: the more prestigious the institution and the more one pays to attend it, the greater its graduates’ earning power in the marketplace. That has certainly been the case in past decades, when college costs were generally affordable and financial aid (heavily subsidized by the Federal government in the form of grants and aid) was easily accessible. Only recently, in light of the rapidly escalating costs of an Ivy League education, have experts begun to question the ironclad validity of the ‘elitism’ factor.

So here’s the conundrum: There persists a strong and predictable relationship between education and income potential. No betting person can guarantee that a college degree will pave the road from poverty to prosperity for everyone. There are too many factors that underlie the root causes of poverty in America for higher education alone to overcome them. But the converse is a bet that most would take: without the benefit of higher education in the 21st century, there is a far greater chance that someone born or fallen into poverty will never dig out from it. The cost of education, however, is outstripping inflationary factors and appears poised on the brink of pricing itself out of reach for many low and middle-income families, who nonetheless, NEED the benefits that a college degree confers if our sons and daughters—or we, ourselves-- are to make it in an increasingly competitive workforce. This is particularly true in an era when we’re witnessing an enormous cost-shifting of high-ticket items like health care and tuition from employers and government to individuals.

The question becomes: does the value of higher ed hold true today, in the context of spiraling costs, reduced federal and state aid, and much tighter national and family budgets? Put another way, Does earning potential conferred by a college degree outweigh the up-front costs that will force the average student in the Class of 2009 to graduate $21,500 in debt?

I would argue that it does, but that students will need to be very savvy about how they approach their college education. For students who might be reading this blog and attending CCV, I venture to say that you are already ahead of the game. Because one of the very smartest options that you and your family can consider is the value of entrusting the first two years of post-secondary education to your local community college. The mission of community colleges in general, and CCV in particular, is to focus on teaching and learning, access, and affordability. With its small classes and active learning educational philosophy, CCV provides you with many opportunities to hone your skills as college-level learners. By hiring faculty from our local communities, most of whom work in the fields in which they teach, CCV opens doors to real-world experience that keeps your education current, pragmatic, and often inspiring. The small class size gives you ample opportunity for ongoing feedback from faculty and advisors, and the liberal studies core that underlies all of our associate degree programs aims to broaden every graduate’s communication, quantitative reasoning, and critical thinking skills that are considered absolutely essential in the job market.

The two-year degree carries some significant advantages beyond the financial gains you are likely to realize over a lifetime of employment. In completing an associate degree before moving on to a bachelor’s or master’s degree, you as a community college graduate:
  • Have saved an average of $10-20,000 on the annual costs of your education;
  • Have earned a credential that will confer and retain its value regardless of some unforeseen interruption in your college tenure that forces you to postpone school before completing your bachelor’s degree;
  • Have more likely ensured the transferability of all of your credits so that you pick up as a junior at your next chosen university or college.
  • Have avoided the typical freshman year experience of large lecture halls and professors who will never know your name;
  • Have benefitted from the importance that community colleges place on teaching and learning. This is nowhere more pronounced than at CCV, which has deliberately chosen to make the classroom the primary focus of our program.

All of that said, there are some things that you can do to optimize your time at CCV:
  • Carefully consider all of your competing obligations in any given semester—family, job, volunteer, healthcare, and school—before enrolling in classes, and make sure that you can devote the time it takes to be successful in your classes. On average, this really IS 6-9 hours outside of class for every three-credit course. Plan accordingly!
  • Borrow only what you need in financial aid. Remember, you will need to pay this money back, so it’s best to be as conservative as possible when taking on debt.
  • Work with your academic advisor to map out a plan for completing your degree, semester by semester. Do your best to stick to the plan.
  • If you find yourself overwhelmed, talk with people—financial aid, academic advisors, your teachers—before dropping a class. There are often costs associated with dropping, and the setbacks of time and money lost may not be worth it.
  • Make it to the finish line! The longer you stay at CCV, the more money you’ll save, and the more opportunities you’ll have to reap the rewards of persistence. (See list above!) Remember, attaining a degree makes you more employable in the job market, and serves you well in terms of transfer credits at your next college if you opt to go on.

You’ve already made an excellent choice in coming to CCV. For all of you who are first-generation college goers, congratulations on your achievements to date. Earning your degree can be a life-changing accomplishment for you and generations to follow. For those of you using an associate degree or coursework as a stepping stone to a Bachelor’s Degree, smart thinking! Whatever has brought you to our doors, it’s great to have you here. It is the fervent hope and goal of all of us who work at the College—faculty, administration, and staff—that CCV will provide an important firewall against poverty for all of our students, regardless of the circumstances that brought you here to begin with. Take full advantage of the academic opportunities that await you!

Dee Steffan
Northwest Regional Director for Academics

Blog Action Day: Significance of Community Colleges in Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

Today, the Community College of Vermont is participating in Blog Action Day 2008. This annual nonprofit event aims to unite people around the world on one issue on the same day. This year's topic is poverty. Messages from several members of the CCV community will be posted here throughout the day. The following post is submitted by Pam Chisholm, CCV’s Director of Financial Aid.

What role do community colleges have in helping break the cycle of poverty? A huge one. Always has been, always will be, and it is perhaps even more important now with our economic issues and the disparity between income levels.

Community colleges are access institutions. We welcome students for whom other colleges’ doors won’t open. The majority of our students are first generation college students (first in their family to go to college) and who come from low income backgrounds. Many do not come to us right out of high school, but start later when the economic realities of working two or three minimum wage jobs hit home. They come to us hesitantly, not sure they know all the hidden rules of higher education, not sure how to pay for it, but somehow knowing they need that piece of paper to break the cycle of poverty.

I work at a community college where we enroll approximately 8000 students a year at twelve sites across our small, primarily rural state. They stop in, they stop out, but many ultimately graduate. We hold our commencement ceremonies in the spring at a central location in the state, with about 500 graduates...and 4000 people attend, because our students bring every family member and friend who supported them for however long it took to earn their associate degrees. It is a true celebration of hard work, sacrifice, accomplishment and new beginnings.

And it is why we do what we do. And we can’t forget that, even as more middle income and college ready students start enrolling at our institutions because of our lower costs. There’s room for everyone at the community college table; we just need to make sure we save the head of the table for those from poverty.

Blog Action Day: Bridges and Pathways in and out of Poverty

Today, the Community College of Vermont is participating in Blog Action Day 2008. This annual nonprofit event aims to unite people around the world on one issue on the same day. This year's topic is poverty. Messages from several members of the CCV community will be posted here throughout the day.

The following post was submitted by Richard Maxwell Jr. , a 2008 CCV graduate and current Johnson State College student. The text below is the abstract for his final research project for Seminar in Educational Inquiry (HUM-2010, CCV's graduation seminar course). A link to the full text of the paper is available via the link below.

Title: Bridges and Pathways in and out of Poverty

Abstract: In creating positive strategies to bridge the gap between poverty and upward mobility in American society one must first identify and understand the causes of poverty. My research led me to two programs designed to develop better understanding of issues surrounding poverty. My direct service work with impoverished populations in Burlington and Portland Maine, and growing up and living in the Old North End of Burlington have given me hands on experience and insight not gained from a book, class, or training. I will relay my interpretation of poverty and how to give a hand up and out of it by interweaving what I have learned, observed, and experienced.

To read all of Bridges and Pathways in and out of Poverty by Richard Maxwell, Jr., click here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tomorrow is Blog Action Day 2008

Tomorrow, the Community College of Vermont will participate in Blog Action Day 2008. "Blog Action Day is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion."

This year's topic is poverty. Messages from several members of the CCV community will be posted here throughout the day on this theme. We hope that our contributions to this world-wide event will help raise awareness about poverty both globally and locally.

We hope that you will check back early and often tomorrow. And if you are so inclined, consider contributing to the discussion by submitting comments.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Live Online Library Sessions

The Hartness Library is offering free Live Library Sessions online for all CCV students! These instruction sessions presented by CCV librarians will be through Adobe Connect and will enable students to log in for research help and advice. Through December, three different sessions will be offered on a regular basis including...

1. Research Project Clinic: This is an open-ended workshop where students can get help identifying search terms, databases and other library and Internet resources. Students are encouraged to bring whatever they are working on and ask specific questions regarding their current assignments.

2. How To: Series – These interactive sessions teach how to search more effectively, get ideas, and other stuff. Two will be offered until the end of the semester (more to be added in the spring) including:

  • How To: Start Searching Smartly: Research basics—how find and narrow a topic, the best places to search, how to search successfully, etc.

  • How To: Select Super Sources: This workshop is designed to help identify and evaluate sources, develop critical evaluation skills for online resources, and become a better researching detective.
You can get more information about these sessions on the library’s portal page. Just log into Blackboard Portal (, click on the “CCV Hartness Library” tab then click on the “Live Library Sessions” button. For a full schedule of offerings, check out the interactive calendar below.

Want to join a session?
1. Choose a session from the calendar above
2. Call 1-800-910-2586 PIN: 225456
3. Click here:

Can't Make a Live Session?
View one of the Library Instruction Video Tutorials.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Smith College & Mt. Holyoke College Visit CCV Burlington

Don't forget! Representatives from Smith College and Mount Holyoke College will be visiting CCV Burlington on Friday of this week (10/10/08) at noon. The meeting will be held in room 100 of CCV's 119 Pearl Street building. Join us for lunch and learn about two exciting transfer options for women 24 or older.

For more information, click here to view our previous post.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Combat Paper Project

Drew Cameron, a US Army veteran and former student at the Community College of Vermont has launched a cooperative called the Combat Paper Project which is now receiving national acclaim and being presented throughout the country. Uniforms are boiled into paper and used for written and visual expressions of war experience - as a transformative process for soldiers, as well as being an awareness campaign for everyone.

The story of the soldier, the Marine, the men and the women and the journeys within the military service in a time a war is the basis for this project. The goal is to utilize art as a means to help veterans reconcile their personal experiences as well as challenge the traditional narrative surrounding service, honor and the military culture.

Through papermaking workshops veterans use their uniforms worn in combat to create cathartic works of art. The uniforms are cut up, beat and formed into sheets of paper. Veterans use the transformative process of papermaking to reclaim their uniform as art and begin to embrace their experiences as a soldier in war.

Cameron works from The Green Door Studio in Burlington with founder & paper artist, Drew Mattot, a former CCV staff member. Want to learn more about the Combat Paper Project? If so visit their homepage at and check out the video below.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sharon Webster - Art Hop Poetry

Sharon Webster, a member of CCV’s art faculty, was recently interviewed by the Burlington Free Press for her involvement in last month’s South End Art Hop. Webster has exhibited her work through the art hop on many occasions, but this time she worked in an unusual medium for the art hop… poetry. Professor Webster says that...

I thought it would be fun to subvert the dominant paradigm this year and acknowledge the writing side of myself. I’ve always written poems and used my studio as a writing place as much as a visual art place. Also, spoken word is a kind of performance thing that lends itself to the Art Hop. It feels important to emphasize how the arts so often overlap. I think of myself half-writer, half-visual artist. There’s always been pull toward both. Sometimes it works in cycles; after an intense period in one genre, I’ll move toward the other. I’m also interested in how word and image can coexist in art forms. I am currently working on a show for 2009 at Flynndog Gallery with a small group of artists around the theme of word and image.

To read the entire interview, click here. Want to learn more about Sharon’s artwork (including information on how to buy some of her poetry books)? Visit

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Meet Donavon Davidson - Learning Center Tutor

In the coming weeks, we will be posting short autobiographies of the fabulous tutors who are working in Burlington’s Learning Center (110 Cherry Street, Room 204). The first installment of this series comes from Donavon Davidson who works on Mondays from 10am – 4pm and Tuesdays from 10am – 2pm during the fall semester (no appointment necessary).

I was born and raised in Indiana. While living there I received a Bachelors of Music in Music Theory/Composition from Ball State University. Before Graduating I was honored with an award of “Best Original Score” for the theatre’s production of Othello. After graduating I toured the Midwest and New England performing in various ensembles. I am classically trained in the alto saxophone and classical guitar. I have also spent many years studying Shakuhachi and Japanese notation.

Although I have a life long love of music, I have also been an admirer and student of poetry for over twenty years. Since moving to Vermont over thirteen years ago I decided to attend graduate school. In 2007 I graduated from Goddard College with an MFA in Creative Writing (my primary interest being poetry as well as creative and critical writing pedagogy). I have been published in many journals, and I am currently working on a manuscript.

I enjoy tutoring and teaching because I firmly believe that a strong command and creative use of language is an integral part of an individual’s self-confidence and success in life. It is also a great pleasure to watch students get excited about their creative sides and express their unique voices. Another reason in which I enjoy writing, and this may be surprising, is that I continue to learn. Aside from writing and teaching, I am also a published photographer.

Want to know more about the Learning Center, including a full schedule of services? If so, click here.