Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Haley Lyndes
I'd practically given up on my journalism dream after applying to a handful of colleges in the Northeast. For one reason or another, I couldn't attend or I just straight-up got rejected. My options were dwindling, until one day my English teacher told me about a small state school in northern Vermont. She had gone there and swore by it, and their journalism program was nationally recognized (it was in the top 10!). I remember this moment vividly, and was shocked to learn of a small college in Vermont with such impressive stats. "How did I miss this in my research?" I thought. I immediately booked a tour, applied, and was accepted a few weeks later. I had no idea what was coming, but I knew one thing was for sure: I was moving to Vermont.
I remember my first day distinctly — Vermont's rolling green hills and its gorgeous mountain ranges that extended far beyond the eye. If I had any reservations about attending this school, Vermont's natural beauty erased them. Sure, it was small (1,200 students), and the town itself felt even smaller, but it all contributed to its charm. I knew right then and there that this college had something special, which is why it's so heartbreaking that this school I love so much and so many others like it may be closing down for good amidst this global pandemic.
Image Source: Haley Lyndes
Over the course of my four years there, I got to know everyone. The dining hall workers, the faculty, the students, and even the town's community members. The college's journalism program had its own 30-minute news broadcast that aired live on our local PBS, so as the station's student reporter, I was always out and about in the community. The senior citizens in the neighboring towns would watch us on TV, and some even knew my name! I guess you could say I was a small-town celebrity. I built a life in that community, made lifelong friends, and experienced some of the largest ups and downs that changed me for the better.
My education in Vermont opened my eyes to so many things, and gave me an opportunity I wouldn't have otherwise had at a larger institution.
My education in Vermont opened my eyes to so many things, and gave me an opportunity I wouldn't have otherwise had at a larger institution. My professors knew my name, and I could sit down with them and fiddle with a camera or laugh about a joke in class. They could also listen to all my rants and problems at times when I was feeling down. If I wasn't given the chance to study journalism there, who knows if I'd be across the country working for POPSUGAR in California right now. Life works in crazy ways, and I hate that other people might not get those same opportunities from a truly wonderful school.
I feel bad for those who might not experience the diner on Saturday and Sunday mornings, the pizza place that offers 25 cent wings (a lifesaver for broke college students), the Chinese buffet with the nicest waitress in town, the gas station that may or may not be the most happening spot, the hockey arena I froze my butt off in watching games, the ski mountain that gave my news station tons of stories, the dive bar filled with locals downtown, or the bar that used to be a meatpacking house (I'll admit I don't have a lot of memories with that one, it just makes me laugh).
My little college town was quirky, but that's what made it so special. Thanks for having me LSC — I and so many others are rooting for you.