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Get to know Middlebury College through our newest series of webinars designed specifically for you. 

These webinars are hosted by many of the Middlebury faculty, staff, and students that you will meet and get to know better once you are here on campus as a members of the class of 2024 and 2024.5! 

Each one focuses on a different topic that we’ve heard is important to you and your families. See the descriptions for each webinar below, and be sure to register in advance to join. If you can’t make the scheduled time live, please note that we’ll be saving the webinar recordings here for you to view later.

We hope to see you online and we look forward to welcoming you to campus!

Webinar Schedule

How Middlebury Supports Students

Middlebury cares about the well-being of our students. Join us to hear from some of the folks who spend their days supporting students in multiple ways.

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Making Middlebury Affordable

Middlebury strives to make the college affordable to all admitted students. Join this informational session with the staff of Student Financial Services to understand how we calculate aid and support all students’ financial needs.

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Fabulous Febs .5!

For more than 50 years, Middlebury has welcomed a mid-year class of Febs. Join the Febinar to hear from a panel of our fabulous current Febs and ask them your questions.

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Careers and Internships

Middlebury’s Center for Careers and Internships (CCI) provides an array of services to help students find the right internships, jobs, and graduate programs. Join us to learn more about how CCI supports students during—and after—Middlebury.

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Meet our Faculty #1

Middlebury is known for its inspiring and supportive faculty members. Many students and faculty form lasting relationships well after their undergraduate years. Join us to hear more from a panel of Middlebury faculty members.

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Meet our Faculty #2

Middlebury is known for its inspiring and supportive faculty members. Many students and faculty form lasting relationships well after their undergraduate years. Join us to hear more from a panel of Middlebury faculty members.

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Diverse Experiences at Middlebury

Meet a panel of students who have had diverse experiences at Middlebury. Each has found their voice, place, and community here on campus, and they are excited to share their thoughts with you!

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Community Engagement and Innovation at Middlebury

Middlebury’s mission encourages students to engage with their communities and creatively address the world’s most challenging problems. Join us for a discussion with staff from the Center for Community Engagement and the Innovation Hub at Middlebury.

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Middlebury Language Schools and Schools Abroad

Middlebury’s international and language programs are world-renowned and offer rich opportunities for students to engage across language, culture and global issues. This webinar will provide an overview of the many ways Middlebury students engage with the world.

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To, Through, and Beyond: Alumni of Color on Middlebury and Life After College

We’ve addressed how Middlebury supports students as undergraduates. Now let’s speak with four alumni of color about their very different journeys to, through, and after Middlebury.

WATCH RECORDING

Previous Webinars

How Middlebury Supports Students

Middlebury cares about the well-being of our students. Join us to hear from some of the folks who spend their days supporting students in multiple ways. Recorded March 27, 2020.

- Hello, everyone! I am Santana Audet and welcome to our webinar on how Middlebury supports its students. I am a Senior Assistant Director of Admission here, I’m also coordinator of diversity, access and inclusion initiatives. This is one of several webinars we’ll be hosting over the next month, to show admitted students and families life at Middlebury. So, I want to start off by just encouraging all of you to use the Q&A feature that you see on your screen to ask questions of our panelists over the next hour. We would love to have that interaction live with all of you. I also am going to ask our panelists to introduce themselves. I’ll call on each panelist to do that. And, please include your pronouns in your introductions and the office that you work in and then we’ll start off with some questions. So, welcome, everyone. Let’s start with Janae.

- Hello, everyone. My name is Janae Due. My pronouns are she/her/hers. I am the Assistant Director at the Anderson Freeman Center, which is the intercultural center on campus. We support first gen students, so those who are the first to go to college in their families, students of color and queer and trans students. So, if you have any questions regarding any of that, please let me know.

- Maya.

- Hi, everyone. My name’s Maya Gee. I use she/her pronouns. I’m a current sophomore at Middlebury. I come from Waikoloa Village in Hawaii. On campus, I am a sociology major and I’m minoring ed studies. And, for some campus activities that I do, I’m a part of Residential Life. So, I’m a first year counselor, which is basically a first year RA. I oversee a hall of about 40 students. I’m a part of the student government. I’m on the water polo team. And I’m a part of Tavern, which is a social house on campus, which we’ll talk probably about later.

- Barbara.

- Hello, everyone. My name is Barbara McCall. I use she/her pronouns and I’m the Director of Health and Wellness Education here at Middlebury. We support students in health skills development through violence prevention and advocacy, bystander skills in our advocacy program, alcohol and other drugs, we work with students who choose to use and those who do not and help them build meaningful connections and senses of belonging outside of alcohol and other substances. We also do mental health promotion, where we help students bolster their protective factors, things that we know improve and support good mental health. And then, we provide general health coaching, programming and consultation on lots of health issues, like stress, sleep, nutrition and sexual health.

- Baishakhi.

- Good afternoon, everyone, welcome. My name is Baishakhi Taylor. I serve as the Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students and I’m also an assistant professor in the gender, sexuality and feminist studies program. This is my fifth year at Middlebury, at this incredible institution and my port folio includes overseeing Residential Life, health and wellness service, our Parton Center for health services and counseling services, office of community standards, student activities and orientation. So, I’ll stop right there.

- Amy.

- Hi, my name’s Amy Morsman. My pronouns are she/her. I have been at Middlebury as a history professor, teaching American history since 2001. And, last year, I was an academic dean and in that role, I oversaw the Center for Teaching, Learning and Research, which has offices in it that deal with a lot of various kinds of student support. Academic content, writing skills, time management, learning challenges, all those kinds of things. So, I can try and help you answer any questions that you might have in those areas and I can also speak to the first year seminar, having taught several of them in my time here and also college driving courses.

- Sandra.

- Hi, my name is Sandy Robinson. I am the managing nurse practitioner at the health service portion of Parton Center for Health and Wellness. The Parton Center is comprised of the health service, the counseling service and sports medicine. And I use she/her pronouns.

- And Derek.

- Hi, everyone. My name’s Derek Doucet. I use he/him pronouns. I’ve been at the college for 16 years now and I work in the Dean of Students Office, overseeing a port folio of offices and services that include Residential Life, student activities, new student orientation and a team of people focused on student success, so those of us who bring support to bear when students are encountering challenges in their time here.

- Great. Well, first off, I want to say that this is one of several webinars and you can see the full list of webinars that we’re going to be offering over the next month on your admitted students website. So, we are hoping that you will gear your questions towards student support services today, how we support students. We won’t be able to get to all of your questions, but we will try to get to as many as we can. We’re going to first start off with the new Residential Life structure and what first years will be encountering for next year.

- Great. So, we embarked about two years ago on a comprehensive review of our Residential Life system, The Commons, and not surprisingly, when you undertake one of these projects, we learned that there’s lots that works really well and there were some areas for improvement. And so, what students can expect here next year includes the best of our previous system. We’re gonna build on some real strengths and we’re introducing some really interesting new elements to the program as well. So, one of the best strengths of particular interest for this group, that was found in that review has to do with the ways in which we support first years. We have a really strong first year support system in place and it involves close-knit relationships with deans, with whom you will maintain a relationship for four years. It includes geographically consolidated first year communities, we’re going to bring our first year communities even closer together, geographically, than they have been in the past, into two areas of campus, so we’re excited about that. As Amy mentioned, the first year seminar program will persist, so students can expect that and can expect to be living near people in the same first year seminars that they are in. And we’re gonna add some really compelling and interesting material as well, so one of the things we learned that we can do better is a curriculum or residential education program associated with our residents’ life system. And so, we’ve been working hard to develop that and working in close collaboration with offices across campus. One of our key collaborators is Barbara McCall and the Office of Health and Wellness Education that she oversees. We feel that bringing health and wellness education into the residential halls and into the residential system is a collaboration that will really help us enhance students’ wellbeing on this campus and we’re excited about that. We’ll also be bringing lots of community-building efforts into campus, or into Residential Life. For example, the restorative practices model we use to build community on this campus is being deployed and enhanced in the residential system in the future. And then, we’re also layering on a developmentally appropriate collection of life skills, practical life skills work that we’ll be doing with students. So, that’s things like budgeting or resume development or conflict resolution and mediation and so on. So, lots of exciting new stuff going on as well and preserving the best of the model that we’ve had in the past.

- Great, thank you. I think we should also touch on maybe why we are on this virtual setting. And I’m hoping that Baishakhi, you could speak about Middlebury’s response to the international spread of coronavirus and how we supported students throughout the most recent process of leaving campus.

- I’m happy to answer that question, although I wish the circumstances were different and I also did not share my pronouns, it’s she/her/hers, I’m sorry, I should have said that in the beginning. So, like everywhere across the world and definitely across the United States, we’re working very closely with all our students and we are going into remote learning, starting Monday, so our faculty and many colleagues have been really hard at work to get those classes going. We’re also, right now, putting together a remote resource guide for all students that should go out next week. In terms of technology, we’re working very closely again to make sure that all of our students, no matter where they are, will have good technological assistance so that they can join Zoom meetings like this and class meetings and class discussion sessions like this, no matter where they are, from afar. We are also, our Student Financial Services office is working closely with students on a case-by-case basis right now, to make sure that all students have their financial need met, whether it’s around paying for internet, whether it’s around any kind of food and home insecurities that they might have. And students and their deans are working closely to mitigate some of those challenges. Our students who are living off campus, we have a small number of seniors who live off campus, but right now, don’t have access to meal plans, our dining service is working with them to make sure they have access to meal plans. And, you know, it has been amazing to see how the community has come together. Our students run a newspaper, The Campus is still posting articles, keeping everybody up to date on what is happening. We have a Middlebury comedy club and they are offering comedy online that you can log in and watch them do it. And then, you know, there has been a tremendous amount of effort happening at an individual level, between students, community members, staff and faculty and, you know, I just wanna thank every one of them, although I couldn’t mention everyone by name. In terms of the COVID-19 situation that’s effecting the state, we have started a workforce with town official as well as our local hospital administration and Middlebury College Administration to look at, you know, how we can best utilize some of our buildings to help the local hospital. For example, we have freed a couple of our buildings that’s not directly on campus, so staff from the local hospital who are well but cannot go back and forth between houses can stay in those buildings. We are offering meals, or our dining staff is offering meals to local nonprofit organization who are in need of meals being cooked for their clients. We are partnering with our local business bureau, it’s called the Better Middlebury Partnership, as well as with the United Way of Addison County, so you see how we continue to support local businesses at this particular time. Our human resources team is working on making sure that we have wage continuity for all staff, as well as there is enough, what we call CTU, our time-off bank is enough to sustain the staff who has various needs because of how the COVID-19 situation, which is fluid and evolving. For example, our governor announced that all schools are going to be closed for the rest of the semester, so parents who now have to stay home, has enough time off so that they can spend enough time taking care of their children or parents or other family members and friends, as needed. So, there is multiple different ways we are supporting the day-by-day work that’s happening, both on campus, also in the community and then we’re also thinking about, you know, somewhat longer-term challenges of if this continues, how do we better prepare for summer, how do we better prepare for onboarding and welcoming, all of you are the new class of both 2024, but also 2024.5? So, those are just some of the ways we are currently addressing the issues around COVID-19.

- Thank you. Keep the questions coming, everyone, we’ve got some great ones so far. Maya, I’m gonna kick it off to you. We’ve got a question. What is food like on campus? And what is nightlife like at Midd?

- Awesome, so for food on campus, there are a couple of options. So, first, we have three main dining halls. We have Proctor Dining Hall, Ross Dining Hall and Atwater. Proc and Ross are open three times a day, which is really, really nice. So, that’s kind of where a lot of students go. Atwater is kind of unique, because it’s only open on the weekdays and it’s only open for breakfast and lunch, and that’s because Atwater’s usually reserved for, like, some special events in the evenings. But, they have some really, really great food. So, those are kind of like the traditional dining halls on campus, but there are also, kind of, more, I would say, like, cafe-style places that you can eat too, so in the Davis Family Library, there’s a cafe called Wilson Cafe and they make some really great bagels, they have good coffee down there, so when you’re studying in the library, you can easily get a quick, little late-night bite, which is nice. We also have The Grille and Crossroads Cafe, so The Grille is kind of like an on-campus restaurant. Kind of your typical college kid food. There is something called a Dr. Feel Good, which is basically a grilled cheese with chicken tenders inside, that’s kind of like the MiddKid hit. So, a lot of people like to go to The Grille. The Grille’s also open later at night, so you’ll see a lot of students, kind of, coming in and out throughout the night, which is a lot of fun. And then, we also have Crossroads Cafe, and that’s a completely student-run cafe and they’re basically doing smoothies, tea, coffee, which is really nice. And then we also have Midd Express, which is our on-campus convenient store. And then, for the second question, what’s nightlife at Middlebury? So, it really depends what you make of it. If you’re looking to go out, if you’re looking to be a super social person, those opportunities are there. I mentioned earlier that I’m a part of a social house called Tavern. Tavern is basically the community service house on campus, so that’s kind of like their main emphasis, but all the social houses are really built around designing community in Middlebury, so Tavern has a lot of events that are open to members, but also open to everyone on campus. So, that’s one way that you could be involved with nightlife on campus. If you’re looking for something a little bit more relaxed, I definitely look for something a bit more relaxed on campus on the weekends as well. Residential Life is always putting on a ton of events. Your FYC, your first year counselor could be putting on a ton of different events. I know that some FYCs last year, did, like, a painting event, some do, like, a cookie-making event. Also, like, the bigger Residential Life team, the professional staff as well is always putting on big events as well. We also have a group called MCAB and they basically plan a ton of different events on campus, so that could be anything from concerts to trivia night to movie night, so nightlife is whatever you want it to be at Middlebury, which is something that I really like.

- Thank you. We also have a question about what the transition is like for Febs coming into Middlebury’s community mid-year. We do have a Feb panel. Our Febinar will be later in the month, but would anyone like to briefly speak about the transition for Febs into Middlebury’s community mid-year?

- Sure, I can provide a little bit of context there. So, the first thing, I think, that’s really interesting about Febs is they tend to cling fiercely to their Feb identity, and yet still, not surprisingly, wanna be integrated with the folks who have arrived in the fall. And so, we’re thinking about always how to balance those two elements of the Feb experience. So, in terms of how we integrate Febs, we think about it from a number of different perspectives, you know, it’s largely a function of housing and space. And so, we a have a couple of ways. Unfortunately, there’s no Feb consensus on the best way to house them, to integrate them into the overall community. Some feel like they wanna be in Feb-only communities, but have lots of opportunities to interact with fall admits, others tell us they wanna be sprinkled amongst the fall admits in the housing, and so we try both approaches and then we collect feedback from students to understand which ones are working best for them. So, we’re mindful of where we place Febs. We take a couple of different strategies when we’re trying to meet those needs. There’s certainly Res Life programming and social programming that’s aimed at engaging and integrating the Febs with the overall community. There are lots of opportunities for Febs to become involved on a co-curricular level. So, for example, not long after you arrive here, if you’re a Feb, there will be a student activities fair, where all the student organizations and club sports and so forth have representatives and you can become involved that way. So, lots of ways to jump right in as Febs.

- And we offer the same first year seminar model for the Feb class as well, which is very key so that they have the same kind of academic experience as well.

- Great, thank you. Janae, this question’s for you. Do you have any minority student centers? What is inclusion like at Middlebury? And how does the institution address diversity?

- Yeah, so the Anderson Freeman Resource Center is the intercultural center on campus and we support first generation students, so those who are the first to attend college in their immediate family, students of color and queer and transgender students. So, we do programming and have other support-based things that we do for students. So, for example, we have a mentorship program, which is for students who are, if you are part of any or three of those identity groups, you can be part of this mentorship program. So, first and second years can be paired with a junior or senior to help them go through the first couple years of college and figure out how to navigate Midd as a marginalized student. We also have AFC outdoors programming to help under-represented students get outside, especially students of color, it can be kind of a stigmatized thing and an access thing, so we have, we partner with Middlebury outdoor programs to have programs for students of color and other under-represented students to feel comfortable going outside. And that’s hiking, kayaking, apple-picking, we have other types of activities than that too. There’s First @ Midd. This is a big program of ours, it’s a four-day pre-orientation program for first generation students that come to Midd, so you come a little early, before normal orientation on campus and you’re able to kind of get the in and outs of Midd with other first generation students and you have peer leaders and everything as well. As for LGBTQIA+ support, we have coming out day activities, trans day of remembrance, we’re gonna be doing pride week in October with the student organizations. We have four student organizations, well, two student organizations and two student initiatives that focus on queer and trans identities. So, we have Queers and Allies, Queer and Trans People of Color, the Trans Affinity Group and AceSpace, which is an initiative for asexual students. And then, we also have Queer Faces of Midd, which is a photo series for queer and trans students to get their photos taken and displayed and kind of show the pride of being queer. And then we also have a couple graduations that we do as well, which is Lavender Graduation, which this year was going to be the inaugural year, but next year will be the inaugural year for that, for queer and trans students and then we have the first gen graduation, which has been done for a few years as well.

- Thank you. We have a question about student athletes and their relationship to other students on campus. If anyone would like to speak to how many student athletes there are on campus and what that relationship looks like with the larger community, please feel free.

- I’m happy to answer that. Just about 27% of our student body typically identifies as a member of an athletic team or varsity sport. We are a very small campus, so for most parts, student athletes are very well integrated into our community, we work very closely. And, when I say we, like, faculty, all staff, different organizations, we work very closely with all the student athletes. Obviously, student athletes have some more demands on their time, in terms of when they’re in season and between their practice and travel and we work to make sure that their needs are met in relation to what’s happening in their athletic part of their lives. We do a lot of programming that also integrates student athletes and I’ll turn to Barbara in a second, maybe talk about the Green Dot initiative we have with some of the teams. But, at large, I would say that student athletes are very well integrated in the overall community and, you know, students are encouraged to go to many different sporting events, which they do, that’s a big part of the Panther identity. And then, you know, it’s vice versa. Students, they live together, it’s not like we have separate housing for student athletes, housing is done for all students, so there is integration both there as well.

- Or I can just add onto that. Some of the programs that we have really been successful with on campus have had their roots in our athletic teams, so we work very closely with coaches to not only bring to them, workshops, consultations that help them emphasize and lift up the wellbeing of their teams, but they also come to us to be the faces of some of our campaigns. So, our Green Dot program, which is our bystander intervention program for violence prevention on campus, has really deep roots with the hockey team, softball team, field hockey and football and truly, without their support, I’m not sure that we would be able to do some of the amazing programming that we do on campus. And so, our student athletes, in many ways, are also seen as student leaders and they take on causes that are important to them as individuals, as teams, and to our community. Something new that we’ve begun this year is wellbeing assessments for teams, where our office staff meets with coaches and captains and we do a little assessment. What’s going really well? What goals would they like to set? And then, we are offering them ways to coach their teams internally, to increase their wellbeing levels. So, collaboration is really high with athletics. They provide not only social outlets and ways for us to involve community spirit, but they’re also leaders on our campus, which is really important.

- Thank you. We have a question about, what are the housing options like for Middlebury first years?

- So, all first years are housed, or will be housed in the new model, in one of four residence halls on campus. Those are Battell, Allen, Stewart and Hepburn. And, almost all first years, the overwhelming majority of you will have roommates. And, I should say that I’m gonna address the fall admit class first and then I’ll talk about the Feb admit class. There are many similarities, of course. You’ll have professional Res Life staff living in the residence halls, in each first year residence hall, so you have someone you can turn to if you’ve got questions or concerns or just wanna chat, they’re pretty friendly folks too. And, in terms of the Feb first year experience, they are housed in a couple of different ways, as I alluded to before. One is that sometimes as first years move around or circumstances change, openings occur in first year residence halls and those are ideal places to put Febs, ‘cause they’re with other first years and there are always other Febs around too, but that’s one way that Febs could be housed. And then again, some Febs tell us that they prefer to be housed in an all-Feb community, again, which is integrated well with the rest of the campus community through programming, you’re not isolated, put away and left to fend for yourselves. So, those are the broad strokes of what first year housing looks like for both groups of our admits. And, those first year buildings that I talked about are grouped in two clusters, one on the north end of campus, one on the south end of campus, so there’s a lot of first years around, but you’re never far from members of other classes too, the campus just isn’t that big, so.

- And then, we’re all still going to continue housing first year students based on their seminar choice, so students in the same seminar are living together, which is what we do right now. And, Amy, feel free to jump in at any point, but every student gets to pick their top three or four first year seminars and then we try to match you to your top choices as closely as possible. Usually, almost all student gets a seminar that’s in their top three.

- We’ve got a question. What is it like to be a first gen college student at Midd? And before we answer that, I just wanted to say that we have over 90 questions in our Q&A feature right now. We won’t be able to get to all of them, but we will follow up with you all via email after the webinar, to make sure your questions are answered. Janae, maybe, do you wanna talk about being a first gen student?

- So, at Midd, we have a lot of first gen programming through the AFC, the Anderson Freeman Center, so like I had mentioned before, we have First @ Midd, which is a four-day pre-orientation program, but that also continues on into the first gen experience, which is tailored programming for first generation students throughout the year. And then, you’re also going to be included in any other types of programming that we do, like I said, with the AFC outdoors programming or any other programming that we have. With the peer mentoring program as well, I think that’s a really great way for you to be able to pair up with another first gen student, to kind of get the works of what Midd is like in the campuses. The AFC, we have two full-time staff. So, there’s me and then the associate director, well, there would be three full-time, I suppose, ‘cause Roberto is our director, but he’s on sabbatical right now, but, so there’s the director, there’s the Associate Director, Jennifer Herrera and then there’s me. And then, we’re always there as well to support students one-on-one or anything as well, so I hope that answers your question a little bit.

- Thank you. Next question. Is it easy to get off campus? Are there hiking opportunities? How do I get to Burlington, Montreal or Boston? Does Midd feel stifling and boring because it’s a small town? Maya, maybe, do you wanna take this one?

- Yeah, I can take this one. So, kind of talking about, like, getting in around town. Town is a really, really short walk to get to the downtown area, which is really nice, so oftentimes, I’ll get, like, a group of my friends together or I’ll even get, like, my own residents together and we’ll go to town, we’ll go downtown for a little bit. If you wanna go to, like, a grocery store in town, there’s a free bus, which is called the ACTR and you can basically take the ACTR to get around town, to go to the grocery store. If you’re looking to go to Burlington, you could also take the ACTR, I think it’s like four dollars for a bus ticket, which is really, really nice, so that’s what, sometimes, I’ll do with my friends. But, you are allowed to have a car on campus, beginning your first year, so more often than not, you’ll probably know at least one person who has a car, you know, maybe do a trip up to Burlington every now and then, which is really fun. If you’re looking to get off campus, going to, say, Boston, Montreal, New York City, there are a couple of options for that. So, a lot of students will usually go to the bigger cities over breaks. So, fall break, spring break, winter break, Feb break. Those are kind of like the big ones where students will be going to the larger cities. The college actually organizes buses to go to those cities, so they will literally pick you up on campus and take you straight to those areas, which is really, really nice. So, it’s all kind of run through the college, it’s run through the student government association, which is really, really nice. But, if you also just say you wanna go to Montreal for a weekend, or if you wanna head back to Boston for a weekend, you could take the Greyhound bus, which there’s a stop right on campus, which is really convenient and I think tickets to Boston, for example, are maybe only, like, $30 one-way, which is really, really nice. So, those are a couple of options. But, overall, since we are a more rural campus, the college does a really great job of having a lot of things happening on campus and bringing a lot of different activities or hosting a lot of different things on campus. So, for me, personally, I never feel like I go into the weekend and have nothing to do, which is really, really nice. So, I think the college does a good job at realizing, like, what else can we offer on our campus to make it feel really, really lively? And the college does a really great job of that. One big event that’s really, really big at Middlebury is called Nocturne. It’s basically like an outdoor arts festival, so basically, everyone is doing all these different art projects. Some of them are, like, 3D models, some of it is short films and it’s all taking place outside, so that’s, like, a really big part of, like, the Middlebury community is having a lot of these student-run activities and events happening on campus. So, I would say that I never feel like I need to escape from Middlebury, because there’s always a lot happening on campus.

- Thanks. This question is for Sandy and Barbara. What happens when my student gets sick? How do you help students stay healthy proactively? And also, how does the college support mental health?

- Barbara, do you wanna start with the proactive part? We may as well start at the beginning.

- Sure, let’s do that and I’ll hand it off to you. So, that’s a great question and I think one of the strengths that Middlebury has is that we are both proactive and reactive in really meaningful ways with our students, and so the whole mission of our office in Health and Wellness Education is to be proactive. That we are helping students identify protective factors, the things that we know improve and contribute to good mental and physical and social and emotional health and helping them identify risks, things that can deteriorate health and how to have tools, skills and ways to talk about those things so that before anything ever gets too big or too hard, they know the resources that are available to them. So, some of the programs that we are going to be offering, that are actually new, that we’re really excited about, we have a new mental health peer education group that’s launching this fall. So, that’s going to be students teaching other students about good mental hygiene. We have a project called Project Connect, where we pull student in together in groups of five or six, and they meet and our peer-facilitated over six to eight weeks, having conversations and going out and having experiences together off campus. We know that sometimes it takes a while to find your people or your friends or your group, and so we’re working hard to make sure that we normalize that we can sort of move in and out of social circles at different times throughout our time at Middlebury and frankly, throughout our lives as adults. And helping people to build some of those skills along the way. So, we’re focused on protective factors, recognizing warning signs and then making really good referrals to our campus offices, including our colleagues over at the Parton Center for Health and Wellness.

- Thanks, Barbara. So, I’m a nurse practitioner here, we have two other nurse practitioners and one medical doctor. So, the way that the health center operates, we’re open Monday through Friday, 8:30 to 4:30. Students can call and talk to a nurse and get some self-care advice if they have some acute illness symptoms that they just don’t know how to manage on their own, they don’t know if they’re sick enough to be seen by someone here and that access is usually really good. So, they can call in the morning, often make direct contact with a nurse or get a call back very shortly after that. And, if it’s determined that it would be best for them to be seen here at the health center, we can typically do what I like to refer to as today’s business today. So, most often, you can get a same-day appointment with a nurse practitioner and that might involve some care outside of the health center, but it may not, so anything that is provided here in the health center, we don’t bill insurance for. However, if a student needed a prescription or an x-ray or a lab test, those things would be billed to your insurance. And, they would go to the local hospital, which was actually within walking distance. It’s a short walk from campus, so it’s very convenient. So, we do lots of different kinds of care here. Some of it is preventative, like contraception, STI screening. We also do a lot of acute injuries and acute illnesses, so just before Feb break this year, we had a big boom of influenza disease on campus and we were able to see and advise a lot of students in a short period of time. And that sort of, as soon as students left campus for Feb break, when they came back, it seemed to have settled down. But, we offer flu vaccines, we can do allergy shots, there are a number of services that we can provide right here on campus.

- Thank you.

- Could I just add one think about counseling, Santana? Just wanted to mention that for counseling, health service and certainly for our office in Health and Wellness Education, we not only are available during office hours in rapid response like the registered nurse triage line, but also we have something called the counseling support line that’s available to students 24/7 worldwide, whether they are here on campus as first years, they are studying abroad in one of our programs. And the counselors that are on that line can help students immediately assess a crisis, talk them through something that’s feeling really hard in the moment, or if they’re worried about a friend or someone else, give them support in doing that, so I think what’s great about many of our resources is that we’re very relationship-based and person-based, but we also have access to 24/7 resources on the phone and online that support our students’ health and wellness.

- Yeah, I’ll just add to that, that the counseling service and the health service are co-located in the same building, so we work very closely together, we do a lot of what we refer to as warm handoffs, so a student comes to the health service and then it turns out that it’s more likely a mental health concern and we work collaboratively and sort of can hand that student off in a really personal way to a counselor and make those services accessible easily as well. And in reverse, we do the same.

- Also, just to add on that as well. I think Barbara could expand a bit more on this, but there are also a lot of different student support groups that are on campus. So, Residential Life is always referring their residents to, like, go out and maybe sit in a support group as well. So, there are, like, other models beyond just one-on-one counseling too, which is really, really nice.

- Thank you. This question’s for Amy. How approachable are faculty members for first year students? Other than the first year seminar, how does Midd promote these personal interactions with faculty? And what advice would you give to new students, in terms of getting involved with their faculty members and their work?

- Good question. So, the single most important thing I wanna stress to you has two words. Office hours. Or student hours, as we like to call them now. I have taught multiple first year seminars in my almost 20 years of working here and I’ve had students who I kept in touch with and as seniors, they would come admit to me, I was so afraid to come to office hours. I never go to office hours. Office hours are for people who are having difficulty and I can’t appear weak. Which is preposterous. I mean, I understand the thinking behind it, but it’s preposterous, office hours are there, faculty are mandated to have at least three office hours every single week. And, plenty of times, we’re sitting there in our office, answering email or talking on the phone or doing our own work, because students aren’t coming to talk to us. Office hours are surely not the only way to access your faculty members, but it’s a very good way. And, we have to be there with our door open, ready to embrace you and to listen to whatever you wanna say and to answer any questions that we can. So, definitely come to office hours. And, that’s for your first year seminar instructions faculty, who you either have in a class or want to have, want to take a class with or want to do research with. That’s what I tell people all the time. Talk to a faculty member after class. You’re walking out of class with them. Stop and have a conversation with them as they’re walking back to their office. Or, as you’re walking out of the building. I think the faculty, if they know that you are challenged, or if they know that you are really engaged by something, they will be delighted to help or to further that engagement with you, but we don’t know what you’re thinking unless you tell us. So, really the onus is on your communication first outside of class. The faculty have chosen Middlebury for a reason, they like the small classes and they like the individual interaction they can have with students. And so, we want to make the most of it, but it’s up to you to sort of initiate.

- Thank you. This is for anyone that would like to answer it. What is the greatest challenge you find first year students have when transitioning to college?

- So, I’ll take this one. I just had a daughter who started first year in Colorado. And, I would say, the first thing she said she was afraid of was not making friends. You know, the social part was for her, and we see that on our campus too. Some of that anxiety and stress that comes with joining a new community, being on your own for the first time, away from, for many students, first time away from home is really hard and finding, you know, finding another community, leaving your high school friends behind, finding another community and a place, where, yes, it is cold, six months of it is cold, there is still a lot to do, but, you know, it might be the first time you’re going on a hike or it’s the first time you are experiencing pretty dark weather for a significant amount of time. So, in my experience, it’s part of the social adjusting and the first couple of months can be really challenging and that’s why we have, as Maya mentioned, there are students like Maya. We have an incredible Res Life team, which is mostly upper class students who support that work and are with students in the halls, living there to form a great sense of community.

- I would add one related pitfall that I always caution students against when they arrive here, so they’re hungry for the social engagement and to meet new friends and they see this amazing repertoire of opportunities before them, with student organizations and academic opportunities and social opportunities and man, there is a lot going on. And, the impulse, naturally, is to jump into all of it at the same time, right after you get here. And, students, oftentimes, when they take that approach, end up feeling kind of overwhelmed. There’s so much going on, so my advice after having watched many students navigate this over the years is, when you get here, pick a few things that you’re really interested in, that you’re really excited about exploring. You got four years to explore some of the other stuff as well, but don’t overextend and over-commit, just because you’re really interested in that social engagement. That’s completely natural, but it can get overwhelming too. So, pace yourselves a little bit.

- I’ll add to that as well, as someone who is now in her second year and just finished her first year, I think the biggest takeaway that I had from my first year and the advice that I give to everyone is, don’t think that it’s going to be the perfect college experience overnight. It takes a lot of time, no matter where you go, it takes a lot of time to adjust to the college life, to, you know, meeting about 2000 people that you never knew before, to being in, like, a completely different classroom setting, and that doesn’t happen overnight. And, I came to Middlebury and I was all shiny and ready to go and then I realized that, you know, it’s a really hard transition, kind of, you know, being in this completely new environment, so it doesn’t happen overnight. And, if anything, you’ll notice in the span of the semester, so many things will change and I’d say the first semester of your first year in college is when you really learn a lot about yourself in different environments and different settings with different people. So, give yourself that slack. Don’t feel like it needs to be a rushed process, it takes time and that will usually happen throughout your first year, it’s not going to happen within your first week. And, also kind of on the social aspect as well, you will probably find the friends that you’ll make throughout college within, like, the first semester of your first year. Rarely will you find, like, everyone that you’re gonna always be friends with your first week, so don’t feel like it’s a rushed process, it’s going to happen when you give it time as well. So, be relaxed with it.

- I like that. We’re getting a lot of questions about the cold weather, so can we talk about the winter? What is it like in Vermont? How long does it last? How cold does it get?

- Can I just, I’m just gonna jump in, because I’m from Virginia, and so I was worried about that when I moved here too. But, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I don’t wanna live anywhere else. As with anything, it’s gradual. The change is gradual, and so there are spectacular falls here and equally spectacular winters and spring feels oh, so sweet when it finally comes, even though the students are wearing flip flops about a month too soon, because it’s all wishful thinking for them. So, just, you know, take it as it comes, it’s not going to drop below freezing as soon as you get here. And, I imagine, you know, for lots of you, where you’re living, there’s a gradual move between the seasons and it is the same way here. And, layers really matter when it does get cold. You just have to make sure you have some good gear for your feet, a good hat, some good mittens, a decent coat, layers for fall, winter and spring and, I think you’ll be good to go. It’s not as intimidating as it seems.

- I was just gonna say, I can also add onto this, so I’m from Hawaii. We don’t have any seasons, it’s just hot and humid all year round. It’s currently 85 degrees right now. So, I was really excited, but also really intimidated by going to Middlebury, because I’ve never experienced seasons before, I never really saw snow before. But, like it was previously said, it’s really not as bad as you think it is. It definitely gets pretty chilly, but we have the most beautiful seasons. Like, that is absolutely true, like, our winter this past year was absolutely beautiful. So, for everyone who’s from a warmer climate from the west coast, it’s not as intimidating as you think it is.

- And I would say, those who are from the Midwest, because I grew up in the Midwest and it gets horribly cold there and the winters are probably longer than in Vermont, I will say that Vermont is a lot milder of a winter than I’ve ever been used to. So, and this was my first winter in Vermont and I will say that it was, I was readily prepared, having lived in Wisconsin my entire life, so if you’re from the Midwest and that, that might make you excited too.

- And I also want to add that the college also has a snow ball, as well as a Nordic ski facility. And, during our J term, which is a month long in January, a student also runs ski lessons and we provide financial support for students so that they can also take ski lessons while they are here. So, we have amazing opportunity and it’s definitely worth taking advantage of the outdoors in winter.

- And the ACTR bus can take you up to the snow ball and the Nordic center, so you don’t have to find a car to get you there.

- And I would say that January in Vermont is the most vibrant time on campus, because of our academic model, where you are taking one class during the month of January and so I think the institution at large really encourages students to get out, learn how to play in the snow if you don’t know already and to really embrace the winter months. And, all of our buildings are gray here on campus. You have the big, gray Vermont sky, the snow-covered mountains on either side of us and I think it’s the most beautiful time on campus as well. Okay, so we have time for one, maybe two more questions. We are getting a question about the relationship between the college and the town. Do you feel welcomed in the town? What does that relationship look like?

- So, I’ll start us off and anyone, please feel free to jump in. So, the town and, you know, the institution, the college started as the town’s college. This has always been the college on the hill and there’s a long history of a wonderful collaboration with the town. We, as Maya mentioned earlier, we are very close to what is the downtown, we are a small town of just about 7500 people including myself and I live very close to campus in town. So, we have a very, it’s like, almost an open campus, the lines between the town and the campus is pretty blurred. And, you know, community members come to campus, many of our events are open to the town, so people come from the town to watch events on campus. Students go off campus, there are many students who work in town, when they can. We also co-sponsor and co-host lots of events with the town and we have a really beautiful town hall theater there where we co-sponsor events. We have a movie theater where we do special screenings, including the film festival that happens over the summer. So, I would say that, you know, for the last 220 years now, this has continued to be the town’s college.

- Okay, final question. What do you value most about the Middlebury community? And I think a few of you can jump in on that one. I think I’d actually like to jump in. And, I think it is because this is actually a community and I think one of the most lovely things to see recently, when students were leaving campus so quickly, was this community support that came into place. There were people in town who had no relationship with college students offering places to stay, offering rides to the airport, offering to plant-sit for the remainder of the year and to see how much the town’s people really value the college community and how much the college students give to the community in volunteer hours and their experiences and their perspectives. I think it’s just a really symbiotic relationship and a special place. I graduated from Middlebury in ‘13 and ended up staying here and making this my home, because I think I love that Middlebury community quite a bit.

- I think I would say, the size of our community is really important and impactful, that I think it is big enough and expansive enough for students and faculty and staff to grow and to expand and to explore, and yet small enough that we get to bear witness to each other doing all of that wonderful work. And so, I’ve really enjoyed how close our community can feel, how big and limitless it can also feel and that we get to experience that together in really meaningful ways and relationship with each other.

- And I’ll add to that, that, you know, there is also entrepreneurial spirit to that collaboration. Our president, you’ll hear her talk about the collective genius and in Middlebury, that is really true, not just in partnership with the town, but a lot of collaborative genius and we also consider parents and families a part of that collaborative genius. It’s really coming together, I mean, as Santana mentioned, we saw that when we had to ask students to leave campus. And, in many different moments, we see a really strong entrepreneurial spirit which has allowed us to grow and meet the needs of the changing student body. And, maybe to the fact that we also have a really amazing entrepreneurial center, our Experiential Learning Centers on campus. So, I don’t know if it’s co-related, but I also really appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit.

- I just wanted to add that I agree about the community, but I also, I wanted to point out the intergenerational dynamics of this community. I imagine this could be the case, if I worked at any institute of higher education, but the Middlebury College students keep me young, or at least I hope they keep me young. And so, I have these young adults with whom I’m constantly engaging in class and outside of class and over dinner and they are keeping me up to date on all the issues that are shaping their world and I hope that I’m also helping them become adults. So, the interplay between older adults and young adults, I think, is a really, really valuable part of this community. I think we work well together.

- I’m gonna add one thing as well. Kind of just going back to, like, the living-learning community, it’s really, really special to have about 99% of the student body live on campus. When I decided to become a first year counselor, I had a lot of my friends being like, why would you ever wanna go back to living in freshman dorms again? Don’t you wanna, like, live with your friends? And, I was like, I want another opportunity to meet students from all different classes, meet students from around the world that I would never meet otherwise and I think that was my best choice at Middlebury, was joining the Residential Life team, because you really got to see what that living-learning community does for students and I got to see what that does for my residents and there were so many times when I was able to go into town with my residents and all the freshman dorms also have kitchens, so we’d sometimes cook together. Sometimes we would just hang out in my room and watch movies, so I think that living-learning community is really, really special to Middlebury too, ‘cause we really know how to take advantage of that as well.

- [Santana] Great. Well, I wanna thank all of our panelists so much for giving the time, energy and your perspectives to our admitted students and families. Admitted students and families, you can see that if you have any additional questions, you can reach out to admissions@middlebury.edu. These are all of our panelists and their titles here on the final slide and we hope to see you again, on another webinar in the next month. And, if you did not get your question answered, we will follow up with you via email at another time. And, thanks all for joining.

Making Middlebury Affordable

Middlebury strives to make the college affordable to all admitted students. Join this informational session with the staff of Student Financial Services to understand how we calculate aid and support all students’ financial needs.

- Hi everyone, my name is Karen Bartlett, and welcome to our webinar about making Middlebury affordable. I’m an Associate Director of Admissions here and I use she/her pronouns. This is one of a series of webinars we’re hosting this month to help students and families get to know a little bit more about life here at Middlebury. And I wanna start off by encouraging you to use the question and answer feature at the bottom of the screen to ask your questions. We have a few wonderful panelists here with us today from the Student Financial Services office, and we’re looking forward to having some interaction between you and them, and I will sort of help facilitate that. So I’m gonna start by asking these folks to introduce themselves, and I’ll start off with Kim Downs-Burns.

- Hello, good afternoon, morning, evening. I know we’re Zooming in from all over across the country, around the world. First of all, Kim Downs-Burns. I’m the Associate VP for Student Financial Services here at Middlebury. I have been here 16 years, and in a similar position at Boston College prior to that. I’m excited to be a part of the Middlebury family, and I’m excited to talk to all of you today. And I just wanna really quickly give a shout-out, a congrats to all of you students because this has been quite a journey I’m sure and your support systems, your parents. If there’s parents or relatives that are on the phone that have been with you throughout this process, congratulations to all of you. I will touch a little bit about Middlebury’s financial aid policy, our philosophy, but mostly about our commitment to making a Middlebury education affordable to all of you. That is so important to us, and Middlebury is one of a small group of schools that actually upholds a need-blind admission policy which means you were all admitted without regard to your financial circumstances, your family’s finances. And the other piece of that is and so important, the fact that Middlebury will met the full financial need of every student for all four years. So if there’s a change in financial circumstances, a loss of income, and I know there’s so many unknowns now and we’ll talk a little bit more about that in a little while, but we are committed. Student Financial Services is committed to all of you to see you through this. As we know, you’re all going to be making som big decisions in the next few weeks. We wanna be here to talk to you, make sure that we’re going to be as transparent as possible. It’s difficult to make some decisions right now, but we are going to be here with you. We’re going to work with you. We’re going to, you know, so many unknowns so we don’t know what your financial circumstances are going to look like in the immediate future, but we’re going to be here with you to work through all of that, and we’ll talk about that a little bit more in detail in a few minutes. But the only other thing I wanted to mention right off the bat is that Student Financial Services is here for all of our undergraduates, also our graduate populations. But our financial aid is portable as an undergraduate student to not only the traditional academic year but to the Study Abroad Program. So so many of our students attend, you know, one of our 38 Study Abroad locations in their junior year. Financial aid is portable for that. We’re still meeting your full need. We have summer populations, our language schools, a semester at Monterey, MiddCORE programs, so I just wanted you to be aware that Student Financial Services is here to talk to you and work with you for all of those programs, not just the traditional academic year. And I think that’s it for now because we’ll talk a little bit more later, so maybe turn it over to Mike.

- Hi folks, my name is Mike McLaughlin, and I’m Director of Financial Aid here at Middlebury College. I use pronouns he and him. I have been at Middlebury for 15 years now all within Student Financial Services. My job entails overseeing the financial aid process for not just our undergraduate population but also our summer populations which a lot of our students take part of, the Middlebury Language Schools, Bread Loaf School of English, School of the Environment and MiddCORE. Congratulate you and welcome you and are looking forward to answering any questions that you may have today, and I will turn this over to Michelle.

- Hello everyone, thank you Mike. Preferred pronouns, she, hers, Michelle Almeida. I’m the Bursar within Student Financial Services which means I oversee folks who work on student accounts, billing, payments, refunds. So we help with payment plans. I’ve been in Student Financial Services for over two years now. I understand the financial aid aspect of the house as well as our student accounts, and I’ve been at the college for now over 11 years. So I’m really glad to be a part of this opportunity to share more about how we can be a part of your potential future Middlebury experience.

- Thanks Michelle, so once again, please use the question and answer feature at the bottom of your screen to ask us questions, and we’ll field as many of those as we can today. If we don’t get to your question today, we will follow up with you in an email in the next few days. But our first question really deals with sort of the uncertainty in the world right now. Kim, maybe you could field this one. You know, things are changing quickly, and the finances of many families are changing in a way that we couldn’t have anticipated. How are you working with families to address that and to deal with that as people are wondering about affordability in the next year or two or three?

- Sure, thanks Karen, and my preferred pronouns are she and her, so apologies for missing that. Yeah, as I mentioned and Karen alluded to, there’s so many unknowns right now. This is in a whole new reality for all of us, and of course this is such a big decision that you’re all making. We know that this is a significant financial investment the next four years, so this is why I wanted to really hit on what our financial aid policy is number one, that commitment to meeting the full financial need every year whether there’s a change in financial circumstances, whether it be a parent losing a job. I mean all of the unfortunate things that can be happening and are so likely happening to many of you right now. We understand that. It’s just so brand new, and we are dealing with it as best we can. I will tell you that we will review every single request for reconsideration. I’m speaking directly to financial aid applicants, so if you’re a student and a parent that filed a financial aid application, you would have received an award of financial aid offer by now, and that as long as the financial aid application was complete and again you completed those financial aid applications back in November, so certainly things have changed for so many of you, we will absolutely work with you. It is difficult to say right now what the next two months is going to look like or next January, but we’re going to work with you to ensure that we are capturing the most accurate information. Our goal is to arrive at that family contribution that is perfect. That is, perfect is not really a good word, but it’s what you should be able to contribute based on all of the information you’ve provided our office with. And that’s income and assets. I know we talk about, you know, for those of us that have retirement assets and concern about where that is right now, where the numbers are falling, and the one good piece of this is that the value of your retirement assets are not figured into our financial aid formulas. We’re not actually looking at the value of the retirement asset. And I know that’s one small piece of it, right. It’s, as many of you know, the financial aid formula is pretty much an income-driven formula, and so many of you are seeing reductions in income and experiencing layoffs or furloughs. And that is so unfortunate, and I assure you we will work with you through this. We will work with you as a parent and the student to really look at the entire situation, the academic year. And I will say, even if you’re in a good place now, and you make the decision to commit to Middlebury and then in October or November, a parent loses a job, we will look at that. We can go within the same academic year; we can do a retro award. So I just want you to know that we’re here to work with you. We know that this is, you know, nobody’s experienced this in this, you know, just it’s so hard to even describe. But I want you to know that we will be here with you. And Mike can talk about the financial aid appeal process. Now this is just for the financial aid applicants. For those of you that, you know, are looking at other financing options, maybe you thought you could prepay or pay the full tuition, and if you’re not looking at financial aid, we have monthly payment plans. We have student and parent loans that we can talk about. But again, my goal is really just to tell you that we are going to work with you on this. We’re gonna work with you through this. And yes, you need to make a decision sooner than later on a school, but know that we will work with you. I cannot promise that you’re going to receive another 20 or $30,000 in grant funding, or if you hadn’t received some, you will receive some. But I will tell you we will sit down with you and go through all of this. One-on-one appointments we find are best. We have talked to so many of you. We can do Zoom calls or if you prefer not to be on a video, we can just call you. We all are working remotely now, but working 8:15 to five and can be flexible with our schedules if we need to take an evening call or anything like that. But we are here to work with you, and, you know, not just through May 1st, right, beyond that. Like I said, if things change into the academic year, we’re going to sit down with you and we’ll review that award. Typically, we review the aid application every year, but we will do it sooner within the academic year if there is a change.

- Okay.

- Is that helpful, Karen?

- Yeah, I think that’s great; that’s nice to hear. I have a question. How does the school support low-income students who live far away? Mike, do you wanna take a shot at that one?

- Sure, so low-income students no matter where they’re located, we do have specific programs targeted at our highest needs students. Some of those programs include covering health insurance costs and providing laptop computers. Again, not all students will qualify for that, but students that we’ve designated as our highest needs students, those are some of the programs that we’ve incorporated to assist them in their journey at Middlebury.

- Great, thanks. We have a couple of questions that may work together. First of all, can you, can someone define the comprehensive fee, and how does the financial aid office calculate our estimated financial contribution?

- Sure, so the comprehensive fee is a nice fancy word for bundling your tuition, your room and board, and your student activity fee, so it’s kinda rolled all into one. And as you may have seen with financial aid decisions for this year, our 2020-21 comprehensive fee will be $74,946. And again, those are all of our billable charges, tuition, room and board, and student activity fee. With regards to the expected family contribution, we utilize two applications to gather the information we need to calculate a family contribution. The FAFSA is utilized to help determine eligibility for federal student aid which could be in the form of Federal Work-Study, federal direct loans, federal Pell grants, Federal SEOG grants. And then the FAFSA will come up with a figure, their expected family contribution that oftentimes differs from what we calculate as an institutional expected family contribution. We utilize the information from the UCSS profile as well as the tax return information that we have collected, and that institutional family contribution is what you will see on your financial aid awards. I’d like to take it a step further and just talk to you a little bit about the awarding process based off of that. We take our budgeted cost of attendance which includes that comprehensive billable charges, and we also incorporate non-billed expenses that we realize families will have, and that will incorporate books and supplies, travel expenses, personal expenses. So our budgeted cost of attendance will always be higher than what just the billed charges will be. We take that budgeted cost of attendance and we subtract what we have calculated as the expected family contribution, and the remainder is the family’s need. We then meet that need 100% as determined by our office by awarding a self-help component of college job or federal work-study and then a student loan. The remainder of that family need is then met with need-based grants or scholarship assistance. One other thing I just wanted to add ‘cause some folks, and these are questions I’ve been fielding from students and parents through email and phone calls recently is well, my EFC says one number on my financial aid award, but when I get to page two, it says that the estimated cost is a different figure, and I just want to explain the difference between that. That expected family contribution that we talked about is a figure that we use to help determine the amount of assistance we can award to you, but when you get to the back side of that financial aid award and it talks about the estimated cost, that’s really more of a direct cost to you. What are my billable charges, your tuition, your room and your board and your activity fee minus grant assistance only, so it’s not incorporating any of the loans that have been awarded in the financial aid award is all. One other side to that is the Federal Work-Study, or Middlebury College families often ask, does that deduct from a student bill? How does that factor in? What I like to recommend to families is most students will take the earnings from their work-study position, and it doesn’t get applied to the bill. Most students will use that towards those non-billed expenses that we realize students are gonna have, books, supplies, and travel. So students will earn the work-study earnings in the form of a paycheck or have it come through direct deposit, and then they use those funds to help with those non-billed expenses.

- Great, thanks so much Mike. The question next is, is there financial aid to cover gap year or Febmester experiences?

- So no, not for a gap year, so that’s not the answer we wanna say, right, but no, we do not, our office does not provide any funding when a student is taking a gap year, so that’s a no.

- I would jump in there and say tomorrow we’re having a Febinar that will be a panel of six Febs who talk about their Feb experiences. And if you are a Feb, I encourage you to log in, and you’ll see that not every Feb experience or gap year experience needs to be an expensive experience. A lot of students will choose to work or do some low-budget travel or do some service work, but don’t feel like you need to sign up for an expensive gap year or a Febmester experience. Okay, next we have a question. How does work-study work, and how do students get jobs on campus? Is everyone guaranteed a job?

- Sure, so we touched a little bit on work-study just a few minutes ago. We have a Student Employment Office on campus that keeps an online listing of all eligible positions for work-study on campus. The great thing about our work-study program students who are awarded work-study in their financial aid award have a two or three-week head start on finding all of those positions that are available on campus before students that do not have that as part of their financial aid award. What we have found is if a student wants to find a job on campus, they generally have that opportunity. I usually recommend students when they’re researching and looking for jobs that they don’t just focus in on one job, they try and branch out and look at three or four potential jobs ‘cause not only does it need to a be fit for the student, it needs to be a fit for the employer. It’s got to work into your academic schedule, and as you see by the financial aid award, students generally have $2,600 they can earn during the academic year, 1,300 a semester. I’d say that averages out to about eight to 10 hours per week if students want to earn that full amount. Again, that does not deduct from a student bill. Students earn that money in the form of a paycheck, and then they can use those funds as needed.

- Great, thanks. Is the meal plan included in the comprehensive fee? That’s an easy one, yes .

- Yes, that’s an easy one.

- In fact, the meal plan at Middlebury is really pretty wonderful. The dining halls are open most of the day. There’s no point system or a declining balance. You literally use your college ID card to swipe into the dining halls whenever you want and you eat what you want. So don’t worry about not having enough food. Let’s see, next question, run down my list here. If a student receives an outside scholarship, how does that affect their financial aid?

- Sure, so outside scholarships are always a popular topic when we get to these types of events. Because we are a need-based financial aid and we’re meeting full demonstrated need as determined by our office, the way we treat outside scholarships is that we let them first reduce or replace the self-help component of the financial aid award. So for, you know, average financial aid recipient, that would be $2,600 in work-study and $3,500 in loan so students could earn up to that $6,100 in outside aid before it would ever reduce or replace a portion of the Middlebury grant. The next question I usually get is does it reduce or replace my family contribution at all? And unfortunately no, it does not. But it can replace that self-help. Now students will ask, if it’s going to replace my work opportunity, how does that work? It will reduce or remove your Federal Work-Study, but you still have an opportunity to work a Middlebury College job on campus, so you will still have that employment opportunity.

- Great, thanks Mike. Kim, maybe you can speak to this. This family is wondering how the economic circumstances of the current situation are impacting the institution itself, and how Middlebury sort of plans to weather this economic storm.

- Sure Karen, so Middlebury remains committed with regard to financial aid, number one. We, you know, I think like all of our peers right now, we’re looking at our endowment perhaps wishing we had a bit more, but that said, the college, the institution remains committed number one to financial aid. That is something that our trustees, our senior administration has never wavered on. That’s number one top priority, and I really truly believe that we will never move away from a meeting full financial need philosophy. I think there’s so many programs that the institution has. You know, we’ve been around since 1800. So this, you know, I wanna say it could take a lot more than this. Sure, this is going to cost us quite a bit. Right now, we’re taking care of our current students, and when I say taking care of our current students, we are for those students that were unable to continue working because they are now participating in distance learning or remote learning, they’re not able to work jobs that they had had on campus, or at one of our community service agencies in the community, we are actually providing them with what’s called an unearned wage payout because those students were counting on those wages throughout the remainder of the spring semester. So we’re providing that to those students that had been working, our financial aid recipients, so they will have that, receiving that in the next two weeks. And I know this is all for potential students, right, or future admits or admits, but the other thing we’re doing is so on the work-study side, so if they had work-study or a college job, we’re taking care of them. Certainly, providing credits for prorated room and board credits for those students of course because they needed to leave campus. So, you know, the institution is certainly managing our finances and reviewing all of our costs, but I can tell you, our office worked very closely over the last three weeks to move our students off campus, providing what we needed to do. We provided gift cards for transportation, booked flights for our highest needs students. We really wanted to ensure that we were taking care of all of their needs because this is such a drastic change for so many of them that might not have, you know, a home to go to or, you know, are staying with friends or staying with a relative. And we needed to ensure that they were able to afford food and other costs. And laptops, we’re providing those services for our students now, funds to purchase or to be able to have wifi or the internet. So, you know, this is certainly, you know, it’s not that we weren’t prepared for this financially. The institution is in a good place. And I will say the federal government has provided or promised to provide some federal budget relief for financial aid recipients in particular which is really nice because there is that recognition that this has just changed everybody’s, you know, reality. So I would say it’s not been easy, but I assure you that the trustees and our senior administration are reviewing everything, and there’s a commitment to you know, not lay off, lay off anyone, faculty or staff right now. And again, we only know so much right now, right. So we don’t know what two months is going to look like, but I will say, you know, we’ve been around since 1800 so we’re not going anywhere. But I truly believe that that commitment to making the Middlebury education affordable for all students, that’s going to remain. That is such a critical component of who we are, of our philosophy. So I believe that we’ll weather this; we will. But we’re also very sensitive to our current students, potential students, their families, what they’re all experiencing. So this is why we’re, you know I’m so proud of our Student Financial Services team, we really are talking to these families. In just the last few weeks with our current students, what they’ve been going through and working with them to ensure that, you know, we’re just really being flexible with payment arrangements, all of that type of stuff. So the institution, you know, we’ll get through this, but we’re looking at everything, right? But again, the financial aid, that commitment remains.

- Great, very germane to that is if a family has had a very recent change in economic circumstances, how do you suggest they reach out to you? What information do you need to know from them?

- Right, so for families who are immediately impacted by what is going on around the world right now, we have to plead with you to be patient. We cannot make an immediate change which will be difficult as folks prepare for that May 1st deadline. There’s just too many unknowns right now as to how families may or may not be compensated due to a lot of the newly voted on stimulus package, and all of the programs that are now coming online. We’re gonna need a little time. But like Kim spoke to earlier, we are committed to work with families throughout this process. It’s just we won’t be able to make a change immediately.

- Okay, good to know. This is a question from a family that has two students in college right now. How will their aid package change after one of those students graduates?

- Sure, that’s a great question. We get this question oftentimes for families who are either going to gain a sibling in college or lose a sibling in college. The expected family contribution that we have awarded for you or calculated for you is based on two in school. When you see that older sibling graduate, that family contribution will be recalculated to that specific year, so instead of having a contribution split between two children, it will then solely be focused on that one child. So you will see a change, an increase in that family contribution which would correlate to a decrease in the grant assistance.

- Great, what are the best student loans that you’d recommend at this time?

- So when you get to the area of student loans, first we can’t really give preference to any type of loans, but I can review the loan type of programs. First and foremost, most students will have some type of federal direct loan eligibility as part of their financial aid award. For our international students, that may be a Middlebury College loan instead of a direct loan, and those are the primary loans that students should start with. The Middlebury College loan is at a fixed 5% interest rate, has a nine-month grace period after graduation so it’s a nice loan for students to have. The Federal Direct Loans both subsidized and unsubsidized, this year’s interest rate is at 4.53%. I wanna quickly explain the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized. Subsidized means that the loan is interest-free. The government is paying the interest on that loan while you are in school. Unsubsidized means that interest will start accruing on that loan right away. Once you get past those loans, you’re really getting into two different loan categories, a parent plus loan which is another federal loan. Instead of being in the student’s name, it would be in a parent’s name. Interest rates on that loan this year are 7.08%. It’s a higher-rate loan. The benefit is that it’s not in the student’s name. And then the third category are private education loans, and those are through your traditional lenders, Sallie Mae, Discover, Citizens, your typical private loan lenders. I would say those are different again because they are in the student’s name, and they generally need a parent or a family member as a co-signer on those loans. Those are the loans we can try and push off, kind of like the loans of last resort. We do have a nice tool on our website if families want to utilize that option, and it’s a tool where you can take up to three different lenders. And the schools or the lenders you’ll see in our website are historical lenders, are lenders who our students have used in prior years. And you can use a comparison tool, matching interest rates, repayment terms and so forth.

- Great, thank you. For Febs, is the EFC the same for one semester as it would be for one year, and will Febs end up paying for five years of college instead of four?

- So for any Feb who received their financial aid award, if you look at it, everything is for 1/2 year. Your cost of attendance is for half a year; your family contribution is for half a year; your grant, work, and loan amounts are for half a year. You will not end up paying for five years. What you will end up doing is paying eight semesters. So you have one semester your first year, your next three years, and then one final semester as you graduate as a Feb as well.

- How does financial aid work when students decide to study abroad?

- Great question, and you’re not just thinking now, you’re thinking a few years down the road. Financial aid travels to all of our Middlebury programs, and as Kim said before, we have over 30 Study Abroad programs all around the world. We have a few exchange programs, both domestic and international, so our Middlebury financial aid does travel to those programs. We do have some students who apply to and are accepted to non-Middlebury programs, and institutional aid does not travel to those programs. Federal aid may, federal loans, federal Pell grants can travel with those programs, but institutional aid does not. I always like to say rule one, students are traveling to our Middlebury programs, it should not cost a family more to study abroad than it would be to remain on campus. The cost or the way that we award our financial aid is the same; we always take cost of attendance minus family contribution, and that is your need. And then we will meet that need. So for programs that are high-cost programs such as China or Russia, cost of attendance and financial aid will look very similar to being on campus. For programs say in South America that are far less expensive, well, you will see your grant assistance go down as well, but it’s all directly related to the cost of the program. Your family contribution is the same regardless of being on campus or studying abroad.

- Great, thank you. So I’m sensitive to the fact that some policies deal differently with international students than domestic students, and I think this next question might hit on that difference. But, if a student doesn’t initially apply for aid, can they apply in the future?

- So if there is a change in circumstances, an extreme change in circumstances, for domestic students we will allow, again this has to be based on you know, because obviously we have budgets we need to adhere to while we meet the full financial need of every admitted student, if we’re still projecting those budgets out. But that said, again we’re concerned with ensuring that the finances are not the student’s concern when they’re at Middlebury. It’s the academic experience and beyond that. So with extenuating circumstances, we would then allow a student to apply for financial aid if the student had not applied when they first attended.

- Does that extend to international students as well, or is that just for domestic students?

- We do exercise a need-aware policy for international students, and really it would truly have to be, you know, because international students would have to show that they can provide the funds for the first year whether it be a financial aid award or funds in the bank. So it would really have to be, you know, catastrophic I guess I wanna, that’s not a good word, but we rarely make exceptions in that case.

- Okay, just to be clear, Middlebury does give financial aid to international students but they would’ve applied for that at the time that they were applying for admission. And so we do have quite a few

- Right so we do, sorry

- students on campus who are international who have financial aid, yeah, yeah.

- Right.

- Let’s see, related to the last question, considering that the spread of COVID-19 has impacted the economic situation for multiple families including mine, can students now apply for financial aid even after being admitted to the college? So I guess this is a student who didn’t apply for aid this incoming year, and now suddenly may need it. Can they reach out to your office and apply for it now?

- Yeah, so we would ask this student to appeal that because they hadn’t applied for financial aid. So they would address their appeal, their request to now apply based on a significant change in financial circumstances. And I believe Mike can take this a little bit further with regard to what they should be providing us with, some type of documentation. But like I said, you know, in extenuating circumstances, we wanna recognize that families are facing, you know, just what none of us have faced in the past. So we absolutely want to see what we can do for those families, and we will do a review. So Mike, is the process to send the formal appeal to our SFS inbox, go ahead.

- Right, for families that may have already even reached out to us, we do have a response to family that will say you are late in applying, and there’s an appeal process to go through, and you would need to document what that extenuating circumstance is. You know, in the situations where we deem, yes, it’s an extenuating circumstance, we would recommend that you complete the regular materials that would be required, which are the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the FAFSA, and then the CSS profile, and then continue with uploading tax return information to iDoc. But you would need to reach out to our office and start with that request.

- Great, thank you. And related to that, what does the appeal process look like? What can families expect when they’ve asked for reconsideration of their aid package?

- Right, so I kinda break this into two categories, the families who are immediately impacted with the COVID-19 pandemic. We touched a little bit about that. We’re not prepared to do anything just yet, and we’re still formulating what we would need to collect to document those types of changes, so those are items we’re gonna have to work with over a period of time. Then there’s families who have had some type of extenuating circumstance that happened before this pandemic that probably happened sometime during the year 2019. At that point, I mean, we don’t have an official paperwork that students and families have to fill out. It’s more reaching out to our office, explaining what the circumstance is, and then from that point we’ll say perhaps we need your 2019 tax information, get a little bit more of an updated picture, but it really depends on which category you fall into.

- Great, if a family had a student going into graduate school as well as entering into Middlebury, would that have an effect on the EFC as well?

- It has an impact in the sense that a graduate student for institutional purposes is not considered in school. Therefore there’s no sibling split as we call it. Graduate students are considered independent students once they’ve completed their undergraduate studies. You may see when completing the FAFSA that that may factor in for a federal effective family contribution but not for an institutional family contribution.

- Great, thank you. So do you think there’s a stigma attached to having a job on campus at Middlebury? I would say no. I see students across the campus holding jobs whether or not their family finances would require it. Would you agree with me on that one?

- I do agree

- I would say.

- We have several work-study students who work just within our office. We’ve seen aided students, non-aided students. It’s a nice mix, and I think students are proud to work their jobs on campus. We could not do many of the jobs we do within our office without their help, and we are greatly appreciative. And as I’m sure Karen, you understand.

- Yes very much so.

- you have so. In my opinion, I don’t believe there’s a stigma. Kim, you wanna add to that at all?

- No I absolutely agree. There’s so many students that are not financial aid recipients that are working college jobs across campus. I wanna say it’s maybe 700, and this if off the top of my head because this department doesn’t, student employment does not fall within SFS, but 700 that are actually aid recipients but then another five or maybe 600 that are actually non-aid recipients working. There’s so many work opportunities on campus and at the community service agencies around us, so not at all, absolutely not.

- And it’s a great way to get experience, have recommendations for the future and that kind of stuff. So I have a tough question here. This is a student whose parents really only want to cover what a public institution would cost, and they have told him that they will not cover any more than that even though the family could probably afford it. How do we, is there any hope or help for that situation?

- Right, so

- I can

- When working with financial aid and working with so many students and trying to be equitable with the aid that we are awarding, we’re not awarding our need-based aid necessarily on what a family is willing to pay. We have to be able to award that on the ability to pay, so that’s a difficult situation, and we understand students will oftentimes run into that. But for the equity of how we award aid to all students, it’s gonna be based on a family’s ability to pay.

- Great, thank you.

- And we do see that. We have those conversations, and it really is, it becomes a family decision. It’s not just a student decision because the funds have to come from somewhere. So we do see that, but to Mike’s point, you know, we have to be the best stewards of our funds, right, the college’s funds. And it’s all about equity, and, you know, there are students where, you know, a parent wants them to go to whether it be a state school or only willing to pay so much, but it’s about all of our aid is need-based so it is about the ability, what the family is able to contribute, so.

- Do students at Middlebury find themselves taking out big loans, and sort of what’s the average indebtedness of a Middlebury student?

- Sure, so I would say first and foremost, our student indebtedness is among the lowest in the country. I believe this past year, according to our latest report, I think it was between 19 and 20,000 was our average student indebtedness which is tremendously low, and a credit to our students in the way that they repay our loans, our cohort default rate is hovering right around 1%, which is again towards the tops in the nation. Do we see some outliers in our student borrowers sometimes? Yeah absolutely, and sometimes those are made by student choices, could be a potential situation like we were just discussing. You know, parents may only wanna contribute X amount based off of an in-state tuition school, and a student is choosing to finance the remainder of that, but I’d say those are outliers and far and few between. The majority of our students are within that range of what our average student loan indebtedness is.

- I’d just like to add to what Mike has just said. Our highest needs students, as we talked about earlier Mike mentioned the self-help component in a financial aid offer, and it is a minimal loan and work expectation for our highest needs students. That student can graduate with 7,000 in undergraduate indebtedness because of the first year, the loan is at 1,000. So they could graduate with 7,000 in undergraduate indebtedness. To Mike’s point, students are also borrowing sometimes to replace that family contribution or just the example we talked about earlier where there may not be a parent willing to contribute what we determine is the appropriate family contribution. But so when you look at the average loan indebtedness, that’s where it is for, and that’s including our unsubsidized loans, again, beyond what the student needs to borrow based on our financial aid formula, but it is really low compared to the cost of education.

- What’s the best way to get in touch with your office? Would it be though email, the SFS@middlebury.edu, or should students be calling your office? I think they’re just eager to figure out how to connect with you best.

- Sure, so as most folks probably assume, we are working remotely off-campus right now, so initial communication I think right now is always best to go through our office email which is SFS as in Student Financial Services @middlebury.edu; that’s a great way to open the line of communication, always asking that you put student’s name and ID within the email, and then from there we can get back to you by email and then we can arrange phone conversations or even Zoom appointments as well. We’re open to all types of communication, but the SFS email is a good start.

- And that’s the student ID number that you’ll find in your portal and on your admit letter and that kind of stuff, so be sure to use that as well. So I have a question. If a student decides to take a gap year, will that aid carry over to next year? Do they have to reapply?

- Sure, good question. Students who take gap years or traditional students who are matriculating right away, you will need to reapply for financial aid each and every year. We will continue, we always send reminders out to our students, but we do a reevaluation of that need-based financial aid each and every year. We understand there’s gonna be circumstances that will have an impact on family contribution from year to year. That could be a change in family income. That could be the addition or loss of a sibling in college, so there are multiple factors that will play into calculating it, which is why we do it on a yearly basis.

- And a last question, is student health insurance included in the comprehensive fee, or is that separate?

- I’ll take that one. Student health insurance is not included in the comprehensive fee. We partner with a company called Gallagher Student Health Insurance, and the cost this year for that yearlong insurance starting August 15 going to August 14, so full calendar year is $2,522. In the summer, students are sent an email by Gallagher, and the students are asked to either waive the insurance or enroll in the plan. We bill the student accounts, so then the families can pay for the insurance through the student account billing system, and all other customer service is handled directly through Gallagher.

- And I have a related question about books. And does that ever get covered by SFS or is that always sort of a student responsibility?

- [Michael] So books are factored into our budgeted cost of attendance, and we calculate financial aid on the anticipation that students will have roughly $500 of book expenses per semester. That being said, we do not have a program where we are purchasing books for students. I would like to say that for our highest needs students, we do have a program where students if they do not have the funds to purchase their books at the beginning of the semester can get what we call a bookstore advance so they can get their books without delay, and if they need to pay that amount back over the course of the semester, they may do so.

- Great, well I just wanted to thank all of you for taking time out of your day. I know that your office is incredibly busy right now. You’re doing important and difficult work every day, but I truly believe that Middlebury is doing its best to meet the need of all of the students who have been admitted, and we hope that that’s not the reason why you can’t attend Middlebury next year. Be in touch with us, either in our office or SFS, and we’ll do our very best to work with you on that. So thanks again Mike, Kim and Michelle for your time today, and if we didn’t get to your questions today, we just had, we were overflowed with questions in the question and answer box, we will get back to you by email either from SFS or from our office.

Fabulous Febs .5!

For more than 50 years, Middlebury has welcomed a mid-year class of Febs. Join the Febinar to hear from a panel of our fabulous current Febs and ask them your questions.

- Hi, everyone, and thank you for joining us for our first ever virtual Febinar. I’m Karen Bartlett, I use she/her pronouns. I’m an Associate Director here in the admissions office at Middlebury. I’m also a member of the class of 1995.5, So I’ll be wearing two hats today as I moderate the Feb discussion. Both as a member of the admissions staff, but also as someone who was once a Feb. So I’m really excited to host this panel today because I really feel like the Feb Program is something that makes Middlebury unique. It’s a big part of our culture here on campus, and it’s a program that really enriches the entire college community. For about 50 years, the college has been enrolling a significant number of students to start in February, usually about 100. And they start their experience in February and so we lovingly call everybody Febs. I’m really pleased to have six wonderful Febs online with us today, to help respond to your questions as well. So before we get going, I just wanted to alert you to the question and answer box at the bottom of your screen. That is where you can ask us questions, and we will try to get to as many as we can in the next hour. Please don’t use the chat feature, we won’t be monitoring that for questions. So, again, use the question and answer feature at the bottom of the page. So let’s start by having our Febs introduce themselves. Ben, do you want to start us off?

- Yeah, sure. Hi, everyone. Hope everyone is staying safe and well, right now. My name is Ben Slater, I am a senior Feb at Middlebury College, so that means I’m graduating next February. I’m an international politics and economics major. I am also a member of the Middlebury College Dissipated Eight which is one of the all male a cappella groups on campus. I also played on the varsity golf team before I went abroad. I’m happy to talk about athletics on campus as a Feb as well, if that’s of interest for anyone. I use he/him/his pronouns. I’m sorry, I forgot to mention that earlier. And yeah, happy to answer any questions and excited to be here.

- Great, thanks, Ben. Red, you want to go next?

- Sure, hi, everyone, I’m Red. I am a sophomore Feb. So this is my third semester in school. I am on the rugby team at school, So again, I can also talk about sports as a Feb. I’m in a band, I run the Middlebury Music United, which is a music club on campus. I also run a Jiu-Jitsu club. And yeah, I’m really involved in the music scene, mostly on campus and if any of you do music, I’m happy to talk about it.

- Okay, Julia.

- Hi, everyone, My name is Julia. Like Ben, I’m also a senior Feb at Middlebury. I work in the admissions office as a senior fellow as well, so I’m pretty well versed with the admissions process and all things Febs. This last February, I was one of the co-chairs of Feb orientation, so I can speak a lot about what the orientation process is like going into Middlebury. I also have been a member of the club soccer team and the club running program, so I can speak to club sports and Middlebury as well.

- Okay, and Una.

- Hi, everyone, my name is Una. I use she/her pronouns. I’m from New York City. I’m a sophomore Feb. On campus, I work as a tour guide in the admissions office. I am a ski instructor at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl. And I am part of a mentor program called Community friends, so I am partnered with an 11 year old girl who lives in Middlebury and I hang out with her once a week and it’s a great time.

- Okay. And Niki.

- Hi everyone. My name is Niki Kowsar, I’m a junior Feb so I’m a little over halfway done with college. I’m a neuroscience major and my pronouns are she/her/hers and I’m involved in GlobeMed, our community service social house on campus tavern. Also model United Nations and I’m pretty involved with our on-campus radio station, WB-RMC, and I’m excited to be here.

- And Sean.

- And hi, everybody. My name is Sean. He/him pronouns. I’m also a senior Feb. I’m an international politics and economics major. I also study German. I’m from New Hampshire, I guess I missed that bit. On campus, so I’m on the men’s Ultimate Frisbee team and I also work at the observatory.

- Fantastic. So I’m going to start with a question that you guys have all had 1000 times, but could you quickly tell us what you did during your Febmester? Again, let’s start with Ben again.

- Yeah, sure. So I had… Studied Spanish language throughout middle school and high school, so I was really excited for this the opportunity to take this semester and travel to a Spanish speaking country. I found myself in Argentina and Uruguay for 10 weeks, mostly based out of Buenos Aires, and I was teaching English at a secondary school and also traveling to international corporations that wanted to increase the proficiency of their employees in English language. So I was spending a lot of time speaking English, unfortunately, but also got to to learn a lot about living independently and living abroad, and it certainly made coming to coming to Middlebury a lot easier. So after those 10 weeks, I came back home and worked in a pizza shop for 10 weeks, which was a very different experience and really valuable in itself, and really made me appreciate the opportunity I had to go to Middlebury starting in February.

- Okay. I think you’ll find that most Febs do, sort of, combination of different things and that’s what we’ll probably hear from the next folks as well. So Red, tell us about your Febmester.

- I also did a combination of things. I took that summer to live out of a tent in Shenandoah National Park, down in Virginia, because I’m from the DC area. And I lived there for about two and a half months. I mean, I’ve worked here. I was work for the National Park. Then in August, I moved to Mongolia, where I taught English at a university in the western province, and my goal was to help, obviously, improve the speaking level of the students, and writing level, but also help develop a better English program to serve them.

- Red’s told me a little bit more about his time in Mongolia. It was… It was pretty rugged, it sounds like. Maybe we’ll hear a little bit more from him later. Julia, what’d you do?

- I, similar to Ben, studied Spanish in high school and so I kind of used that as something that pulled me towards Spain. And so, I spent all my… My whole summer and the first half of the fall working at a restaurant and I lived in Ithaca, New York, and saving up money. And then I went to Spain, and lived with two different host families in two different parts of Spain, volunteered and kind of just really immersed myself in the culture there. And then I came back home later and earlier in the winter, and continued to work at that restaurant until I arrived at Middlebury.

- Great. Luna, how about you?

- Um, so during my Febemester, I from New York City but I moved out to Vail, Colorado and I worked at a local environmental center out there. I’ve always been really interested in sustainability and environmental studies and, sort of, how that takes shape in, like, policy. So getting to work there and sort of tackle local environmental issues was really cool. And also I got to ski every weekend, but that was a bonus.

- Nice. Niki.

- I worked, for the most part, in a movie theater that was close to where I lived. And I decided to travel on my own for a little bit, so I went to Europe, visited some family there, and then I went… I was in Canada for a little bit and then New Orleans, and then I just worked for the most part.

- Great. And Sean.

- Yeah, similar to a lot of these guys. I worked… I worked in a warehouse for like the majority of my Febmester like earning money, both to like, you know, tuition and also, I was able to afford a trip and I went and explored Europe, primarily Germany, for a while there. So…

- Great. I worked as well as a Feb and I think that my takeaway from that was I was, really, probably even more grateful for the opportunity to go to a place like Middlebury and study for the next four years. And it also gave me a chance to sort of reset and think deeply about what I wanted to study in college. So I think you might hear that kind of attitude from students. But what I want to point out is that a Febmester does not need to be expensive or organized by an outside organization. This is your time to design how you see fit and it might be a combination of different things as you sort of go through your months of the summer and then the fall before you get to Middlebury. And one last question that I’m going to pose to everyone. I know that there’s usually a variety of different reactions to getting that Feb acceptance, so can you just quickly tell us what it was like that day that you opened your portal and found out that you had been admitted to Middlebury as a Feb? Were you excited? Did you ask for it? Or was it something that was totally new to you? And we’ll go around the rotation again, so Ben, tell us about your experience.

- Yeah, sure. No, I mean, I vividly remember getting the email that I had been accepted for me. I didn’t say that I had a pre… On my application, I think it still says you either have a preference or not, and I said I didn’t have a preference. My priority was being at Middlebury. I really thought it was the right place for me to be in, and so getting into Middlebury as a Feb didn’t really sink in for a couple weeks, until I’d sort of reflected on that a bit. It was more about just my excitement to be a part of the community, which you definitely do become as a Feb, even though you’re starting a semester after the people who start in September.

- Okay, thanks. Red.

- So I was admitted as a Feb and I mean, I remember I was in my aunt’s house in Vermont and I was so elated, I just jumped on all my friends who happen to be standing with me at the time, because I was like, “Man, I got into Middlebury! “I got into Middlebury!” And I had planned on taking a gap year anyway but the second half of my gap year wasn’t really planned out as well as the first half, so it kind of worked out perfectly, you know? Because you can only plan so far ahead of time and so I’d planned for, I don’t know, about six or seven months, which was the amount of time and so when we came to school in January, I’d finished everything that I’d already wanted to do so it was perfect timing.

- Great, excellent. Julia.

- Um, so I think a big difference was that I… Like, the difference between when you apply early and regular and so, I think, that kind of shapes your minds as well, and so I received my decision regular. And Middlebury, similar to Ben, had been my top choice and I was really excited to just take whatever option Middlebury gave me. And I think my excitement definitely grew as I learned more about the program, the different opportunities I could pursue. All throughout high school, I was really set on going to college right away, and I was like, “This is the only way to do it.” And I think having Middlebury provide me with this Feb opportunity was really positive, looking back at it. And I was definitely a little apprehensive at the beginning, but I’m super grateful I had that time off in general before starting college.

- Una.

- Um, so just like Julian and Ben, I clicked “No preference,” I think, on my application. I sort of as… During the application process, I sort of toyed with the idea of a gap year. I didn’t really feel like 100% ready to start college but I also kind of had no clue what I would do if I had an entire year, into summer, off of school. So then when I got word that I was accepted as a Feb, I was sort of just like, really relieved because it seems like the best of both worlds. I could take a little break from school, do something that I was really interested in and then come to Middlebury, which was like something that I was super excited about, and have a really nice community when I got there.

- Excellent. Niki.

- Um, I actually, on my application, I put that I wanted to be admitted for September. So I was pretty confused and shocked a little bit when I got in as a Feb because, similar to what Julia said, I just thought that, you know, I wanted to start college immediately after the summer, after my high school graduation, but I thought about it a little more and kind of realized I was kind of burnt out and overworked in high school and needed that break. And with Middlebury giving me that opportunity, I definitely thought it would be a right decision to come in as a Feb and I did not regret it.

- Okay. Glad to hear it. Sean.

- Yeah, and so I was also a regular decision Feb. I like toyed with the idea. I wasn’t really sure if it was something that I wanted to pursue, but I was open to it. So I also clicked “no preference.” When I got it, it was definitely something that I needed to like, you know, think through like, what am I going to do with this this time off? But I decided to go with it. I wanted to work, earn something for myself. And in hindsight, I definitely think that I really did need that little break, that time, like, for myself to figure some things out, and I really get me excited to get to Middlebury and just do my thing once I got there.

- Excellent. Good.

- So our first question from our panel… from our folks online is “How does orientation different for students “in September and students in February?” Julia, I don’t see your hand, but maybe you’re a natural start to this question since you were involved in organizing Feb orientation this past year.

- Yeah, so I would say orientation is just as comprehensive, if not more than September orientation. Um, you arrive on Wednesday and then classes start the following Monday. So you have a solid five days or so on campus. This is during our February break so the majority of the student body is not on campus then, so you have this time to really meet your fellow classmates in a cohort of about 100 and then really get to know campus. And so there’s a lot of similar fun traditions that happen in September, like very… Like a square dance, a bunch of ways to get to know your classmates. One of the differences is, for September orientation, they incorporate two day trips into their orientation and we do that in February as well, you just do that the following weekend. So we really use that time you have when you first get to campus to get to know the campus, the different resources, your faculty advisors, all the other resources and outlets on campus. And so, I would say they do a really good job of combining getting to know campus and each other while kind of getting adjusted and gearing up for classes.

- Yeah, you want to add Niki?

- So I had the great opportunity to help organize fall orientation this past year, and I was also involved with orientation my sophomore year and a little bit this year, and I’ll be in Julia’s position this coming year, so for the upcoming orientation, and I would say having gone… Having, kind of, seen both orientations, I would say, the Feb orientation’s a lot more intimate. You get to really get to know your peers through the different events and through all the different activities. So I would say, personally, I really liked Feb orientation a lot more because I actually got to know a lot of my friends through that.

- Okay. The second part of that question is then, “How do Febs integrate and is it difficult “to sort of jump in mid year?” You know, just to start us off, I would say it’s never easy to start college, right? Even in September, you’re meeting new people, you’re getting situated, you’re figuring out systems and classes and, you know, life is new. So remember that. But yeah, we do a lot at Middlebury to help students integrate. Does anyone want to talk about sort of experiences that they had getting integrated? Ben, I see your hand.

- So I think there are a lot of opportunities to get involved right away. Speaking from my own personal experience, I within the… I knew that I wanted to be a part of one of the acapella groups on campus, so one of the first things I did and during Feb orientation, the last night, usually Sunday night, all the groups performed for the incoming Febs and then the host additions in the spring, and groups do that every year so that was a really great way for me to get involved right away. I instantly, once I got into the group… I mean, I instantly felt like I had a whole network of people to meet, in addition to the people that I had met through Feb orientation. So there are certainly opportunities like that and I’m sure everyone else has had similar experiences where they found clubs, whatever that may be, to get involved. And I think there’s a club fair usually in the spring as well, where people can get acquainted with the different opportunities. So I think the school does a really great job of making those opportunities that are available really clear to the student body.

- Una.

- Um, yeah, so just like Karen was saying, any start to college is a little bit scary and new, and it takes a little bit of time just to adjust. But I think something really unique about being a Feb is during that really intimate and close knit time in orientation, you get to start school with this smaller, more tight knit community to sort of jumpstart your experience at Middlebury. And it’s really nice because I feel like after orientation, you have a good idea of pretty much mostly everyone in your Feb class. So it’s a nice way to start school, feeling like you have a good group of people that you know and familiar faces. And then, just what Ben was saying, the school does do activities there in the spring semester so it’s really easy to join different clubs and groups on campus, and everyone’s always super excited to meet the new Febs.

- Great. One thing that’s a little bit different for Febs is Feb housing, and I do see a question specifically about what’s going to happen this coming year. I would say, sort of a blanket statement about this year is, nobody knows what’s coming this year. We’re doing our best to adjust based on what’s happening day-to-day. We sincerely hope to be in session in September, but housing for all students at Middlebury is guaranteed, whether you start in September or in February so don’t don’t worry about that. But can anyone speak to the differences in terms of housing and where Febs might live as opposed to most first year students? Red, you wanna take that one?

- Yeah, so I mean, there are several different places to stay on campus and most first years, there are first year dorms. And a lot of Febs do get put in first year dorms, basically, wherever they’re going to fit. But honestly, I think that works out in our favor because we get to meet just about everyone. So my first semester, I roomed with a sophomore, regular student, so a freshman students who came in in the fall. And, I mean, it was awesome, I got to know so much from him. And, you know, not only did I have my Feb group that I got to know really well, which is what all Febs will get to do, I had about 100 people in my Feb class and I know every single one of them. And, you know, not only did I have that, but I got through them with a freshman, which was just, you know, it really exposed me to the community and I got to know a lot about Middlebury through that.

- Okay. Anyone else? Yeah, Julia.

- I would say for the majority, however you are, you were most likely to have another… Your roommate be another new Feb, which I think is really nice because you get to know that person in your Feb class and you’re going through the same experience, the same time or your situation will be like Red’s, where you have this other student who is so excited to have you there and will help kind of guide you and be a resource throughout the whole thing. And, like Red also hinted at, your orientation group is… That’s something unique to Feb orientation, is you get this group of eight to 10 students that you kind of go throughout orientation with. And these are likely people who are not living on your floor or in your building, so you get to know people all over campus and all different dorm buildings. And so it can really helps build that network of friends right off the bat.

- Okay. “How does study abroad work for Febs?” Does anyone wanna take that on? Sean.

- Sure. So I, actually, just got back from studying abroad. I was over in the fall, in Germany and the… So it’s interesting. The window for Febs to study abroad, I think, it’s one semester wider. So we can go, like, the last fall that I just went… I mean go in the spring before or even the fall before it, so it’s really three semesters where like you can go. In terms of like meeting study abroad requirements, sometimes that can be actually difficult with certain languages. I know Arabic, Russian, I’m sure Chinese as well, they have that first semester of that language is solely in the fall, and then they kind of continue throughout the year. So sometimes you do need to wait to start your language learning, but you still like have the time to get like enough credit to still go abroad and have a good, successful time. Other languages, I guess, again, if you want to learn new language, they have these like accelerated learning programs offered in the spring, so I took the accelerated German class. I didn’t know German before I got to Mid. It’s called Turbo Deutsch, that like the sort of like nickname for it, and it’s like, a full year of language in one semester so there’s a lot of flexibility. Like if it’s something that you want to do, the Study Abroad Office, everyone, they’ll help you like get there.

- I would tell Feb… Some Febs are curious about whether or not they can do a Middlebury study abroad program in their Febmester and that is something that’s not possible. Middlebury’s programs abroad are really for higher level proficiency and, specifically, once you’re already a matriculated student, either at Middlebury or at another college. That said, our office… There’s a few offices at Middlebury that will help you sort of find programs, if you’re looking for them. The Innovation Hub, the Center For Careers and Internships and the Center for Community Engagement are all three places on campus who are open to having them sort of reach out to them and they can probably help you with some ideas of things you might want to do in your fall semester. Did anyone work for a campaign? That’s something that’s coming up this fall that a lot of Feb’s do if if it’s sort of coincides with the election cycle? Nope, not in this group? Well, it’s coming up and I would just throw that out there. If there’s a candidate that sort of is someone that you wanted to do something for, this would be sort of a perfect opportunity to take that on. Alright, so I have a question about the end of your Feb experience, and I know none of you have actually gotten there yet. A couple of things. Number one, let’s talk about graduation and then number two, just graduating mid year puts you at a disadvantage for either jobs or grad school or anything like that. So anyone want to speak to those? Ben.

- Yeah, sure. I’m super excited to graduate, not because I want to leave but I grew up ski racing and for those of you who don’t know, you’ll quickly find out that what a lot of people know about the Feb program is that you get to ski down the snow bowl after your formal commencement in the chapel. So that’s sort of what that looks like. It’s a… I’ve never actually been to it but from what I’ve seen through videos and photos, it looks like a really great time. And for anyone whose family can come to Middlebury in the winter, it’s a really unique opportunity. The second half of the question, in terms of the jobs, graduate school, internships. I think being a Feb can actually be an advantage in the sense that you start school in the spring, and then you essentially have an extra summer after that first semester of being a college student, and yet the people with which you will be essentially interviewing against are also graduating high school at that point. Because the way that a lot of internships are structured is that they have classes, and most businesses or grad schools are going to hire or take in new students at the same time, and the people that you’ll be applying at the same time as are actually going to be graduating high school, that same time that you’re finishing your first semester in Middlebury. So having that just additional maturity and experience, I think can actually be a huge benefit and it certainly has been for myself, sort of, as I think about leaving Middlebury and what my next steps are.

- And essentially, you have an extra summer because you will have that… Your last summer before your last semester on campus where most students who started in September would have graduated and they’re going out into the job market, you have one more summer to have sort of an extra internship experience.

- Yeah, so for example, I’m going to be working in New York this summer, where most of my peers will be juniors or having just finished their junior year in college, I am going to be only going back to one more semester.

- Nice. Julia, did you want to add to that? Your equation is looming as well.

- Just building off what Ben said, we’re in the same class so we’re in the same boat with all this. It was really interesting this last year, I was living with all seniors who weren’t Febs and so they were gearing up like trying to figure out grad school and applying to jobs, and I was like, “I’m just applying to another internship.” I feel like, what Ben is building on, having an extra summer of experience really helps applying to jobs, interviewing or anything like that. And so, it was really nice to be able to just be looking for internships rather than full time gigs at this point in time.

- A couple of things. When I graduated, I felt at an advantage that I was not graduating in May with the rest of America and the rest of the world, and there were some opportunities that were available that hadn’t been during May, so that’s something to think about. And if you’re thinking about a grad program, this gives you sort of another breather. You could have another gap semester at the end of your February graduation, before your September start in a grad program. So, for those two reasons, I think Febs really do have some advantages over students who start in September. Anyone else wanted to add to any of that? I will say that about Ben’s description, yes, students get to wear their caps and gowns and ski down at the snow bowl for really fun, probably the most unique tradition at Middlebury where the Feb class gets to graduate together. Don’t worry, I know some of you are not skiers. You do not have to be a skier to be a Feb. We do offer lessons if you want to become a skier and you’d like to do the ski down, and there are other options for students to sort of go up and walk or be part of the tradition, even if you’re not going to ski down the hill as a Feb. Let’s see. “Do Febs have first year seminars?” That’s easy. Yes. Una, do you want to add to that?

- Just that, yes, you do. It’s the exact same thing and you are paired with your advisor, who is your professor in your first year seminar, and you get to kind of continue that relationship throughout your time at Mid.

- I see a question about do Febs… “Do folks that travel for their Febmester do so “through a program or do you do it independently?” I guess it’s really up to you, but anyone want to talk about that? Julia and Red, I think you can both address this.

- So I personally went through a program. I know there is a list on our website of frequently used programs or ones that Febs have really spoken highly about, and so you can definitely check that out. There is no specific one that you should do or you need to do, and I think there are so many options out there, so it’s definitely worth some time looking into all the different possibilities of what you really want out of that specific program. You also don’t have to go through a program, I know Brad can speak more about that. But I think, kind of, the beauty of your Febmester is there’s no right way to do it and the doors are really limitless. And so I think, using the list of resources we have to, kind of, help guide what you want your Febmester to look like would definitely be really positive for a start.

- Okay.

- Yeah, just like Julia said, there’s nothing you have to do. There’s also nothing you can’t . I didn’t go through a program and I will say that my Febmester was definitely the best time of my life. And I mean, it was extremely inexpensive. You know, I looked around, and I’m sure some of you will look at some programs that cost a lot of money and you’re just like, “Wow, this is like crazy. “Like, I could never do this” or whatever. And, you know, some programs aren’t like that. But, you know, I was, you know… I definitely looked at some and I was kind of nervous. And I was like, “Okay, well, “Why don’t I just talk to people?” So I just started talking to people and I found people I knew, and just through a friend of a friend of a friend I happen to be able to go to Mongolia and live there and teach there, and meet so many new people and do so many new things. And I mean, it was just, it was wonderful, you know. I had such a great time. And, you know, there are so many things you can do that you just don’t realize yet.

- Great. Would you guys say that most of your friends are Febs or do you sort of mix in with the rest of the college campus? Niki and Sean, let’s hear from you guys.

- I would say, right now, it’s a nice, healthy mix of Febs from my class and also Febs from different classes, and also people who are considered Regs, or came in September. That definitely wasn’t the case, my first semester. The first semester, I mean, it was touched on that orientation is pretty tight knit and intimate, and you go into college with this really tight knit community. And I would say, for myself, I was mostly friends with Febs in my class that I had met through orientation. But through joining different extracurriculars, and then going through different classes and stuff, I was definitely able to kind of branch out and meet a lot of new people through those.

- Yeah, and I had a pretty similar experience. So like that first semester, because they were the first people I got to know, I was pretty close with like a lot of the other Febs in my class. I still like, you know, maintain all those friendships. I still considered some of those guys my best friends, but you also have plenty of opportunity to branch out. And I would say, especially through clubs and classes. So my two, I would say, like, major friend groups are those Febs that I’m still close with in my class, and then all the people, like the great people I’ve met through the Frisbee games. Those are sort of like my two, kind of, like, avenues for people I’ve met and there are only like, I don’t know, a handful of Febs on that team. Not even, so. Yeah, it’s a mix, you know.

- This is an interesting question. This Feb was excited to go to Middlebury as a Feb because the thought of traveling and living in different countries was really appealing, but with the coronavirus, that kind of plan is really not maybe so possible. Do you guys have any thoughts about how to address that? That’s a hard one for all of us, I think. Ben.

- Yeah, I mean, I would say definitely put the safety of yourself and of the people around you and everyone else in the world as a top priority. So don’t don’t do anything that, you know, if at the time, it still seems like it’s a risk, that you could get sick. It’s probably something to consider. But at the same time, I think there’s a lot of really cool things that if you end up getting sort of stuck at home for a little bit, I think there’s a lot of cool things you can do personally. We had an extra week of spring break this year due to the coronavirus, so I started to make sourdough bread and learn how to do that. And that’s been a really rewarding experience and I’ve really enjoyed doing it. I know other people have, you know, taken up other hobbies, like learning how to play guitar or starting a new exercise, like ways of exercising. All these types of things are things that you won’t necessarily have time to do once you get to Middlebury. And I think it’s hard to see that when you’re sort of stuck in the middle of it. You’re kinda not really sure what the next move is but I think you’ll look back and I’m sure there’ll be things that you wish you did with that time. So I would just say, you know, as Red alluded to earlier, just be really open to a lot of things that come your way. And just treat it as an opportunity to learn as much as you can from whatever experiences that you take on.

- Luna, did you have something to add?

- Yeah. So basically, I think being a Feb, yes. Like, one of the main part is you got this semester off, but there’s a lot of other parts that come with it. Sort of like, you get this community, you get an extra summer. And so, while yes, you might not have the exact semester that you could have planned, being a Feb comes with lots of different exciting pieces that I think even if I didn’t get to travel or do the internship that I wanted, just being a Feb at Middlebury makes it 100% worth it. And, just adding on to what Ben was saying, I know plenty of fellow Febs in my class who stayed at home during their Febmester, and one of my good friends, she started a blog for all the books that she likes to read. Another one my friends, he started like a cooking show. So yeah, I think I think being a Feb is worth maybe not the exact ideal semester off.

- So whole vocabulary around being a Feb, and so then I would have to say learning how to bake sourdough bread is very Febby. When we’re reading applications in the admissions office, we are sort of keeping in the back of our minds, we’re looking for students who are Febby, and somehow we saw that in you and that may be why you are a Feb right now. Some students Feb themselves, and so you will find September students at Middlebury who decide to take a semester off at some point during their four years, and we call that Febbing themselves. And then they will sort of join the Feb class and graduate mid year with you. Some Febs accelerate their time at Middlebury and will graduate in three and a half years. But I do think that the Feb Program at Middlebury really gives flexibility to all students. And so, whether or not you decide to accelerate or slow down or graduate in four years, there’s always a group that you will be a part of and there’s a class graduating during that semester. It also makes our student body very dynamic. There is never a new semester at Middlebury that doesn’t have a whole host of fresh faces on campus. Whether that’s people coming back from being abroad or new Febs arriving on campus, every single semester is really like new and fresh. I’ll walk into the admissions office at the beginning of spring term and there’s a whole group of people back that I haven’t seen in a while, and a whole group of new Febs coming in to volunteer. So keep in mind that that’s something that sort of enriches our whole community. So I have a question. “Is it difficult to get involved in student organizations, “like music ensembles or anything, if you’re a Feb “or is it pretty easy to get involved?” Red, you’re really involved in the music. Do you want to sort of take that on?

- Yeah, sure. So, I mean, I was pretty typical college student. As soon as I got on campus, I signed up for literally everything and made myself way too busy. But the thing you guys can realize is that you don’t have to go to everything. You can even sign up just so you have the option. You don’t have to go but it really helps you figure out what you want to do and I mean, everybody was so inclusive when I got here. And I mean, I say here, I’m in DC, but you know, at Middlebury. And they were really helpful and if I needed to go so… I mean, I joined an acapella group, I joined like three clubs and everybody was so kind and so nice, and it was really easy to just get involved. I started a band in the first three days of going to school and we had our first show three days after that. So, you know, it’s really it’s really not hard at all and there are plenty of people who are willing to start something with you, if it isn’t there already.

- Anyone else? Julia.

- I know, because of the circumstances, you can’t necessarily see the campus right now, but I would describe the way that every building on campus has at least one surface plastered in posters, flyers, everything about different events and clubs, and organizations. And so it’s really easy to learn about all the different offerings that the school has, not even just through word-of-mouth or the club fair, but I think programs do a really great job at really advertising the different clubs, organizations you can get involved in. So it’s really easy to find out about everything there is to do.

- I’m getting a few questions about switching semesters and whether you’re going to try to go for a full gap year or whether you wanted to switch to September and come with the first year class in September. From the admissions side of things, all switches are going to have to go through the dean of admissions. So if you wanted to request a switch, whether you’re a Feb and you really think you would prefer being in September or whether you’re a Feb and you think you want a whole gap year, you would write a letter to the dean of admissions, you can email it to her. We are receiving them and we are going through them as quickly as we can to try to get back to folks as soon as possible. It’s not entirely likely. We don’t guarantee it, but we’ll do what we can if we have sort of the ability to find someone we can switch you with. Let’s see. Okay, we’ve got, “What is the biggest advantage of being a Feb “and what is the biggest disadvantage of being a Feb?” Alright, Ben. Brave Ben.

- Well, I’m not really sure I can come up with a disadvantage right now, but I think the advantage is just everyone that you’re seeing right now on the screen. I think Febs just are such a wonderful community. And like Sean said, you know, some of my best friends to date are Febs. And I live… I lived, I should say, on campus, before we left with all Febs and it’s really just a wonderful community that I can call home. The way I see my social experience at Middlebury is like I have this home base and from there, I’m able to pursue a lot of different things and they all have supported me through those. And so I think the biggest advantage is just coming in with a really, really solid group of people that have all had these tremendous opportunities to either be at home, work, gain new experiences, or see the world. And then through that, you just really form these really rich relationships with people.

- Una.

- I just want a second everything Ben just said about the advantage. When I first got to Mid, my orientation leader, I was asking a similar question about sort of how you meet reg student who got there in September, and she basically just said, like, I didn’t understand this at the time at all, but when you’re a Feb, your fellow Feb class is sort of like your family, you can rely on them your whole four years at Mid, and then the whole rest of your school, you can make friends with anybody that you want but you always have this community to rely on. And then disadvantage, I guess, like, the only thing I can really think of is it, at least for me, in my experience, it was a little tricky to watch my best friends in high school, go off to college and start a new chapter in their lives while I was sort of in this weird in-between time. But obviously looking back on that, it doesn’t compare like at all to the experience that I did get to have and sort of being able to take a little break between high school and college.

- Even 30 years ago, I can say that was the hardest part of being a Feb, was watching all my friends go off to college and going and getting all their comforters and their stuff for their dorm rooms. And then, the other hard part is explaining it to everyone, right? Why the heck are you still at home? What are you doing? Did you not get in? Is this some sort of secondhand admission? No, like, we’re very excited. This is a big part of who Middlebury is, but it’s just hard because the rest of the outside world doesn’t really understand. Any tips for getting over that or talking about it or… telling your grandparents what you’re doing?

- I learned once I decided to be a Feb that a lot of other schools, not… Well, it’s not as much of a part of the student body but they do have midyear programs. And so I often wouldn’t use the word Feb, I would just say, “Oh, I’m starting midyear at Middlebury. “They have a great program for it.” And so I found that not necessarily using the word Feb and saying, “I’m a Feb at Middlebury,” because my grandparents didn’t know what that meant at the time. But yeah, just saying, like, “Oh, I’m starting mid year. “I still have the same four years, “it just shifted one semester.” And I think by telling people, there’s a full orientation, there’s a full group of students doing this together really kind of normalized the whole thing to an outsider.

- Is there any sort of one thing that you would say characterizes somebody as Febby? As you can see, I mean, I think there’s a lot of different types of people who are Febs, but um…

- Okay, so this is kind of funny. My, um… There was a senior Halloween party, I think. It was outside of… It was made by the school and my friend dressed up as a Feb for Halloween. And, you know, he was a senior, and, you know, he wore Birkenstocks and a flannel, and, you know, was eating like granola or something. And then I was like, “Well, yeah, but how does that make you a Feb?” You know, “what else makes you a Feb?” He was like, “I don’t really know.” And honestly, I mean, I genuinely think there’s a big stigma, I don’t know, created about the differences between Febs and regs. But, you know, I find that we’re similar in so many ways, and that, if anything, Febs are just a little bit more adventurous and, you know, willing to try new things. And I took it out as an honor to be selected as a Feb, I thought was really cool, so.

- I think you once told me, Red, that you thought that Febs or people who said “Yes,” a lot. You’re people who are up for a challenge, you’re willing to try things differently and I love that description. You know, Febs say yes to a lot of things. Let’s see. Does being a Feb mean you have less time to declare your major? Is there still enough support for students to come into Mid not sure of what they want to major in. Niki?

- So funny story. I was supposed to go abroad this semester but there were some logistical issues, so I ended up coming back to Middlebury and maybe it worked out in my favor with this whole situation, but going through the study abroad process, you… I mean, students who are Febs, who want to go abroad their fourth or fifth semester, so their sophomore, all junior spring, you do have to declare your major a semester earlier, to be able to complete all those study abroad forms and applications. I mean, for me that was that wasn’t much of an issue because I knew coming into Middlebury that I wanted to major in neuroscience, but I found that it was slightly hard for some of my friends. But once you declare your major, you can still change it. It’s not that it’s a set in stone thing where once you declare your second semester, you have to stick to it. And yeah, so I mean, there was that piece of it, but it wasn’t much of an issue for me.

- You do have a first year seminar and the advisor… Excuse me, the professor who teaches your first year seminar is, by default, your academic advisor until you choose a major, and that’s for students who start in September and in February. So right from the get go, you have someone on campus who’s helping you, sort of, choose classes and sort of map out your academic path at Middlebury. Let’s see. Julia, you had something to add.

- Just adding on academics as a whole, as a Feb. One of the best support systems I had at Middlebury was the faculty because the faculty are equally as knowledgeable about the Feb program. And so they are aware that it’s your first semester, they’re going to help guide you through transitioning to college classes to getting to know all the different departments on Middlebury’s campus. And so, the faculty themselves are really fabulous at helping you decide what major you want to pursue or what minor you want, how to find an advisor, anything like that. So that, in addition to the Feb program being really well-integrated on campus, it’s very well integrated into the faculty and the staff on campus as well.

- Someone asked, “Why did Middlebury start the Feb program?” And it’s funny because it’s been in place for so long, it’s hard for us to even know. But as I understand it, the college did have a lot of students going abroad, especially in the spring term. A lot of colleges would have gone the route of bringing in transfer students at that point, but our dean of admissions at that time, 50 years ago, decided that it would be a really great thing for the college to bring in a new group of first year students. And so, the Feb program was born. Now, it’s interesting because as we graduate a Feb class at the end of every J term, it kind of is a self fulfilling class where the Febs coming in will be replacing the Feb class that’s leaving. Of course, there are some sort of… There’s a little bit of some students going abroad in the spring, but it’s really, sort of… It helps Middlebury with enrollment. We can bring another larger Feb class if we anticipate that it’s going to be a bigger… We’ll have space on campus for them or we can sort of pare down and have a smaller Feb class if the campus is gonna be really crowded in the spring. So again, we don’t know what’s really going to happen this year. This is a very unique year for all of us. The college is working really hard to, you know, be thinking about all the contingency plans, what’s going to happen in the fall? I think for Febs, this might be a great opportunity to sort of sit out some chaos and have time to do whatever you feel like you’d like to do and then start metal gray in February. And hopefully, by that time, we will all be in a more settled space, and you can really focus on your studies. Does anyone have anything that they would like to add or leave with? I’m just gonna thank all of these guys and gals for taking time out of their academic day to do this webinar with us. This Febinar! I thought it was really successful. I’m happy that it’s actually even more accessible to folks who are living all around the world. So welcome Febs. We’re really excited to have you at Middlebury next year, and thanks again to our panelists. You’ll see their names on the screen right now. So if you’d like to try to reach out to them, just email us at the admissions office and we can forward it to each of them, if you had anything in particular you wanted to ask them. Thanks so much, and I hope you have a good day. Bye.

- Febs

- Thank you.

- That’s rule.

- Thank you.

Careers and Internships

Middlebury’s Center for Careers and Internships (CCI) provides an array of services to help students find the right internships, jobs, and graduate programs. Join us to learn more about how CCI supports students during—and after—Middlebury.

- Hello, welcome to our fourth webinar. My name’s Glenn Hartman-Mattson. I’m the Admissions Counselor at Middlebury College. And today our webinar is about the Center for Careers and Internships. And I’ll pass it over for them to get started with their presentation. It’ll be about 30 minutes and then afterwards it’ll be followed by 30 minutes of questions. Make sure to ask those in the Q&A box as the presentation is going or as you think of it. And we likely won’t get to all of them but we’ll make sure to follow up and give you any answers that you don’t hear. Thanks so much.

- Great, thanks so much Glenn. Good afternoon everyone. I’m Peggy Burns, the Executive Director for the Centers for Careers and Internships, or CCI as we’re known. And I would like to extend our warm welcome to students and families joining us virtually today. We wish could meet you in person. Preview days is always the highlight of our year. But we’re so grateful to be able to connect in any way that we can. We’re coming to you from six different places so please bear with us if we have any technical glitches. And just a reminder that you can find everything discussed here today on our website at go.middlebury.edu/cci. So we’re an integral part of the Middlebury advising family. We’re advisors, educators, mentors and connectors. We talk to students about life, about work, about purpose. And we guide them through the career exploration process throughout all four years with personalized advising, dynamic programming, a robust alumni network that’s invested in undergraduate personal and professional success. And internship opportunities that help students apply their liberal arts learning beyond the classroom and provide them with real world experience. And I’d like to take a moment now to ask each of the CCI team here to introduce themselves.

- Hi everyone I’m Jeff Sawyer, I’m the Director of Employer and Professional Network Development.

- Hi everyone I’m Amy McGlashan and I’m the Director of Academic Outreach and Special Projects.

- Hi I’m Mary Lothrop, Director of Health Professions and STEM Advising.

- Good day my name is Ursula Olender and I’m the Director of Career Advising and Employer Relations.

- And hi everyone I’m Matt Kuchar, I’m the Associate Director of Alumni Student Mentoring, it’s nice to have you with us today.

- Thanks everyone. So at CCI our mission is to prepare students to translate their Middlebury experience into successful pursuit of their post-graduate goals. And this is really a compact of sorts as CCI staff and student commitment to each other to work together to advance student goals. And that’s why our tagline is let’s explore what’s next. And we believe that mission also entails a responsiblity to ensure that such preparation is indeed ripe with possibilities and potential. And that life after Middlebury includes living a life of purpose as well. And here’s how we do it. Individualized advising, we meet students wherever they are in the process. Employer outreach and development, we connect with employers and alumni in all fields and industries. And on the academic front we work closely with departments to connect liberal arts learning to post-graduate goals. There we go and then CCI by the numbers. So we just wanna give you a look at CCI by the numbers and my colleagues now will jump in with explaining some of these figures.

- Hi everyone, so we’ll just start with who we are. We are seven advisors, seven career advisors who each focus in an area of expertise and support a specific career path. Including arts, media and communications, education, finance consulting and business, government law policy, health professions, science and technology and social impact. Additional staff develop and support the work of career exploration, internship and job development, mentor programs and collaboration with faculty. And our eight PCAs, our peer career advisors help deliver programming and lead our quick question drop in hours. And around campus you’ll find us delivering about 200 programs a year in a variety of topics that connect our employers and alumni to students, help students explore career paths, develop career readiness and make connections within the world of work. In a typical year, again we offer about 4800 drop ins and individual advising appointments with our staff. And in the past year, about 4500 people attended our programs.

- This slide gives you some numbers, some context for how we connect students with job and internship opportunities. 90 on-campus information sessions with employers. About 750 interviews on campus. 22,000 opportunities in Handshake so no shortage of opportunities both internship as well as full-time job opportunities. Also three quarters of a million dollars we give to students to support summer internships that are unfunded or unpaid or under compensated. Given the importance of internships, about 75% of our students had at least one internship by graduation. You’ll hear more about this in the Alumni Network where we currently have about 2500 alumni in our Midd2Midd mentoring platform.

- So I’d like to address some of the questions that we frequently hear from students and families. First, I know that some of you are thinking well why? Wait, why do students have to start thinking about life after Middlebury already? Can’t we just let them be students? And the answer yes of course. We could not be more supportive of the extraordinary eduction that Middlebury provides. But career exploration and being student of the liberal arts are not mutually exclusive. And in fact actually really complement each other wonderfully. And here’s a fact that may surprise you. For several years now in a survey follow up to orientation, first year students name career planning as one of their top five concerns after being on campus for only one month. And then for our first-gen students it was the number one issue facing them. And that’s not driven by our office. So we try so hard to work in a way that encourages students to embrace thinking about life after Middlebury as part of the undergraduate adventure and journey. And we want students to know that thinking about their future in an intentional manner and embracing it can be exciting. An antidote to the stress they often attach to the process.

- I’m excited to talk to you a little bit about how many of our seniors have had jobs. So this graph shows sooner after graduation, stats for the class of 2019 six months out. It’s a standard first destination survey metric and it’s worth noting that there are the last three years we’ve had a trend hovering around 79 to 80% employed. And about 11 to 12% going to graduate school. You’ll also see that we have a 94% acceptance rate to medical school. And the national average hovers around 40% so we’re pretty excited about that. We also wanna note that our law school acceptance rate for the 2019 cohort was 94% as well.

- And the third big question that we get is where do students go? What are the fields they’re choosing? While financial services is currently number one on the list, please note the five way tie for number two. Our students career interests are diverse and varied. It’s important to note there is also a lot of overlap in some fields. For example someone working for the EPA can be coded as both government and environmental.

- And here’s a quick snapshot of some of our signature programming from the academic year. You’ll hear a little bit more about these programs from my colleagues shortly. But we bring back alumni from the same industry or the same major. We have CEO alumni talk on major issues. We work with the Student Government Association to deliver workshops on life after graduation and so much more. Virtually everything that we do has some degree of alumni involvement and they’re so very vested in our students.

- Student Treks are a great example of how our alumni network supports our students. Treks are career path focused and out in the world. And typically include visits to specific employers to get to know them, job shadow experiences for the students which gives students a glimpse into the day in the life of certain professional roles. And informal networking with professionals either through small group dinners or larger receptions. Two example you see on your screen. The Sustainability Trek is a week long version of a Trek, it’s fully funded which removes any barriers to access. And that happened this past February out in San Francisco in Monterey. And then on the other side you see Media and Entertainment Trek to Showtime in New York. We do one to two day treks into Boston, New York and D.C. And again they’re focused on very specific career paths. The themes that are consistent across the Treks are career exploration for the students, access to employers and relationship development exercises for them.

- And here are the foundation of CCI’s work. And Ursula, can you kick us off and tell us a little bit more about what you do?

- Sure, as Peggy mentioned previously, the advisors meet students where they are. Coaching, guiding and advocating for them whatever their career ambition. While each of our seven advisors, our seven career path advisors offers expert advising to support specific communities. I mentioned those earlier. They are also well prepared to support students who are exploring various career fields. Advisors are all prepared to work with students to explore careers and pursue internship experiences and post-graduate education, Mary?

- Of course, so my colleague Hannah and I are also career path advisors and we focus on health professions path as well as students who are interested in pursuing STEM. What’s slightly different about the health profession side is that we sometimes play a little bit more of an academic advising role. And we support candidates while they are students and alumni throughout the medical school application process. Which includes a committee process for interviewing and getting an endorsement from the college. So they receive a lot of support from our office specific to graduate school advising and academic advising side related to health professions. The science and tech fields are much more similar to the other career paths with some graduate school advising but primarily career and internship related conversations, Jeff?

- In Employer and Professional Network Development, we really have two key objectives. One is to build enduring relationships with employers who offer a portfolio of opportunities that are of interest to our students. And I really wanna underscore enduring. The second is leveraging our professional networks of alumni and parents to reach more students and better serve them. Aside from the traditional sourcing of opportunities, together these two resources help us accomplish three things. One is to inform and extend our advising capacities to help students prepare. Second is to deliver profession relevant content in our programs both on and off campus to help the students better compete for the opportunities that they’re interested in. And the third is to enable active advocacy for our students. Specifically influencing the hiring decision process within employers, Amy?

- And with Academic Outreach which I think it’s worth noting is a unique feature at a liberal arts institution and shows a commitment that Middlebury and CCI have made to these connections. And Academic Outreach from CCI happens in three ways. First is collaborating with academic departments and programs to promote the value of a liberal arts education. And reinforcing that belief that you can major in what you love and the liberal arts skills and dispositions you learn will serve you in any future career path, industry or function. We do this primarily in two ways. One is through alumni panels by major. So we bring alumni back and the chair of that department will moderate a conversation that demonstrates the breadth of the many possible directions regardless of your major. And then we also have for every major a major guide. A printed and PDF version of a sheet that illustrates how the learning outcomes of the major translates into professional competencies. And then also lists some internships and jobs that some of our alumni in that major have pursued. We also provide resources and communication to faculty to make sure that they have the information they need from us in their role as academic advisors with you about the resources and opportunities that we provide students. And then the third way is by promoting and creating curricular and co-curricular programs that integrate experiential learning and academics through internships, project based learning and things like that, and Matt?

- Great, thanks Amy. So you’ve heard all of us talk a little bit about the connection with alumni. I want to share a little bit about Middlebury’s approach to mentoring here at CCI. And we believe as you’re probably gathering that your experience at Middlebury is enhanced by a deep and meaningful connection to our talented alumni community. And I wanted to share a little bit about how we support that. But first at high-level, mentoring done well is one of the most impactful things that you or your son and daughter can do to the make the most of your time at college. And something that will impact your career and even as a raft of recent studies have shown make you feel engaged and happier in other aspects of your life. And in fact relative to graduates who did not have mentors, students who had a strong mentor as undergraduates were 2.2 times more likely to report feeling engaged within their careers. And 1.7 times more likely to report that they’re thriving across all areas of well-being in their lives. And if we could go to the next slide I’ll share a little bit about a new program that we launched last year at Middlebury called MIDD2MIDD. And MIDD2MIDD is an online platform that allows students to connect with our colleges global community of alumni. We’re in our first year of operation and we’re already the biggest program of it’s kind in NESCAC schools. And in fact we’re even larger than networks like Georgetown’s which has a significantly bigger alumni network. And we think that that says something really positive about the kind of community that you’d be joining here at Middlebury College. So within MIDD2MIDD we have close to 3,000 alumni who made themselves available for quick networking conversations. Or for formalized longterm mentorships. This is a talented group representing executives and CEOs at global corporations. Innovators and entrepreneurs, government officials and humanitarians, including the former governor of our state of Vermont. Hollywood producers who write the shows that you’re probably watching today as your holed up at home. And a host of other people including physicians, Cirque du Soleil aerialists, playwrights and young alumni who are early in their careers and just starting to build a vibrant career or work their way through grad school. That said, we wanna move on to social media. And we’d love to see you connect with you. You can find us on Instagram @MiddCCI or at Facebook @MiddCCI. We’re on LinkedIn under Center for Careers and Internships. And I think it’s important to note that no matter how compelling or impactful our program is here, no matter how great our panelists and employers, they will probably never get as many likes as a feature we run called the dogs of CCI. We are a dog friendly office and a dog friendly campus. And we hope when you do come to campus you’ll come in and you’ll meet some of our happy canine workers here at Adirondack House.

- We also hope that you’ll access our Career Path Pages. These pages connect students with advisors, top resources and internship and job opportunities across a variety of industries. You can access them at go.middlebury.edu/careerpaths.

- Great thanks. And before we break for questions we just wanted to give you a look at some of our wonderful first year students who actually are now sophomores who had CCI funded summer internships last summer. I suppose we probably should have had some music for all these, but I think it just gives you a real sense of the depth and the breadth of what our summer interns do. And again these were all first years. This was the summer after their first year here at Middlebury. So again taking a look at that diversity of the types of internships, I would just like to end to say that students, whatever your calling is. Law, acting, journalism, medicine, writing, teaching, social justice, dancing, Wall Street, conservation biology, international development and even and perhaps especially if you don’t have one yet, we are here for you every step of the way, thank you.

- And we realize that some of you may have questions that we’re not able to to get to today. So we’ve created opportunities for you to have some time with our career advisor team. If you’d like to schedule a slot with any of the advisors listed below on the slide, what you’ll do is go to the website go.middlebury.edu/Advisor A-P-P-T-S. And there you will be able to schedule a 10 minute slot with one of the career advisors. If you’re not sure of your career interests, you can click on any name that happens to appeal to you. Any of the advisors will be able to address CCI related questions. So don’t let the career path area worry you at all but please free to sign up for a slot on this page. I think we’re ready for questions.

- Yes.

- Great, now that we’re on to the questions, thanks so much everyone for sending your Q&A’s to that chat. And I’m gonna get going with some of them. Quick question from a student is how easy is it to get a research opportunity or internship as a first year?

- Well I would say that certainly in terms of research the first step is to work with faculty and faculty advisors to see what some opportunities might be. As Jeff mentioned earlier in terms of internships with our Handshake opportunities database, with 22,000 opportunities on there. We have so much choice for the students to be able to take advantage of. But absolutely we would encourage all students, first years to come on in, talk to us about what their interests are. Check out what all the resources are. I would say that the summer between first year and sophomore years tend to be the one that if you’ve been doing something like say summer camp counseling or whatever that it is absolutely fine to continue to do that. Life guarding at the pool, of course depending on the field that you’re interested in pursuing. But after that is when we really look for students to get serious about thinking about their summer and really using them for career exploration. But Mary and Ursula if you’d like to jump in on that.

- Mary do you wanna jump in?

- Sure, so I would also encourage you to be looking at some of the really cool programs that Middlebury has. So there’s a STEM Innovation group so there’s some things that are a little bit researched and a little bit allow you to explore a lot of different fields. And it’s faculty run, multidisciplinary and they collaborate on developing a project. And it’s typically some STEM majors like computer science, physics doing engineering of some problem. But they’re coming up with a problem and they’re going through the whole design process and the solution. And so I think things like that can be really good opportunities for first years in particular who are exploring or even a little bit further down the line when you might take more of a leadership role. So we can absolutely help any year explore those different types of options, Ursula?

- The only thing I would add is that Middlebury does have a summer research program that students can absolutely get involved with. The CCI doesn’t coordinate that program but we partner very closely with that office and there are many opportunities for students to engage in research with faculty. And also depending on your interests, our career advisors can help students explore opportunities to do research in other places off campus at other institutions and organizations.

- And can I just have one of you clarify Handshake and why that’s unique to Middlebury?

- Ursula?

- So Handshake is a platform that is used at probably now up to 1,000 schools across the U.S. It’s a really fantastic platform that provides access to opportunities around the world. The unique part for Middlebury is that every opportunity that comes into the platform is vetted and reviewed by our team to make sure that it is of the quality, of the variety that our students seek. So every employer first has to gain access. And so we review them and then they submit opportunities. So we try to make sure that our platform is not cluttered with opportunities that might require degrees that we don’t offer for example. In addition, it is our one stop shop for everything CCI. So it is the place where you schedule appointments. It is the place where you connect with your peers to learn about their experiences with internships and with job opportunities. It is the place where you can get feedback on interviews that students have participated in. It is the place where you submit your application for internship funding in the summer. And it is the place where you gain access to resources that are only available to Middlebury students. So it is a very robust, powerful platform that brings us all together at Middlebury.

- Great thank you for clarifying. The second question is does Middlebury have a program where current students can shadow Middlebury alumni at their current jobs?

- Jeff you wanna take that?

- Sure, typically as part of our Treks we will design in an element which involves the students participating being assigned to an alum. And they actually shadow them for a day or two or three, really just depends on the span of the Trek and the availability of the alumni. And when we do that, we do a couple of things. We certainly are interested in trying to satisfy the specific interest of the student. But sometimes we wanna expose them to something that maybe they’re not familiar with to just kind of open up the aperture of their thinking in terms of possibilities. So typically that’s how we approach job shadowing. Now clearly, Matt perhaps can comment a little bit more on this. Through the MIDD2MIDD platform, there’s an opportunity for students to reach out to alumni who are within the platform to engage with them. And as part of that mentoring engagement, they clearly have the opportunity to arrange job shadowing possibilities as well. Matt, did you have anything you wanted to add to that?

- Yeah I’ll just piggyback on what Jeff is saying and say that MIDD2MIDD does support job shadowing. However, this would be something that’s up to the individual alumni and student to arrange. As you can imagine, it may not be a proposition that works out for everyone. That said, we do have alumni across almost every one of the 50 states and on every continent except Antarctica. So we have great representation across the globe. And many of our alums are very eager to show off their careers and serve as guides to expose students to what they’re doing and what their passionate about in their careers or in the rest of their lives.

- Great, Mary this is probably for you. If I’m interested in health professions, how soon should I schedule an appointment with CCI to be sure that I am on the correct path?

- Right, it is both never too soon and never too late. So we talk to high school students all the time during the selection process. We talk to students once they’re on campus, trying to help figure out how to layer in the premedical course work. But we also talked with folks who weren’t considering it while they were at Mid and they’re two years out alums and they’re trying to figure out how to navigate that system. So I think if it is in the back of your mind as a possibility, that is something you wanna do. Talking sooner than later so that we can make sure that we’re keeping all of your options open for as long as possible. It’s a good idea, we’re happy to talk to anyone anytime.

- Awesome, so earlier in the presentation you mentioned that med school and law school both have a 94% acceptance rate. This question is what is the general acceptance rate to grad school?

- So I can start by saying I don’t think that we have nearly as reliable data on that. There are actual databases of information for both law school and medical school. So we can say with confidence that this is how many applicants applied and this is how many were accepted. I think for the general graduate school population it’s more anecdotal and we have a sense that our students are very successful in that process when they do choose to engage in it. But often they’re doing so even a couple of years out after graduating and not utilizing campus services in quite the same way. So I think it’s less reliable. I would say that I have not had experiences with students who have struggled to fulfill that goal if that’s been what they’ve aspired to do.

- Yes I would just also like to add that some of you as you may have been looking at other schools see a higher percentage of students who go to graduate school right after graduation. But Middlebury tends to be a little different. Not because the students aren’t having success in terms of getting into graduate school. But there’s just kind of something about the Middlebury personality that just really wants to experience some life and get some other types of experience under their belt. Whether it be professional or climbing mountains or whatever the case may be before they do make that decision to pursue graduate school. At least 50% of our students upon graduation expect to go within the next five years. It’s just that they tend not to go immediately afterwards.

- The next question is how are STEM students in particular supported towards career and grad school?

- I should just stay unmuted. So I think it is a mixture combining things that everyone on this panel has talked about. So we have a very robust undergraduate research program. So less so in the first year but as students progress throughout their time at Middlebury, many many of them are doing very substantial research projects in STEM and outside of the STEM fields just within their own departments. The undergraduate research office funds students for doing that in the summer. Many of them do very successful thesis. We also have done as Jeff described on some of the Treks, we’ve done several related to technology and other fields to get students exposure. We also if we’re seeing a need for students to prepare more fully than we’re capable of helping them with. So something like technical interviews for Comp Sci majors, we can certainly be leaning more on our alumni. We have a great globe alums across the board in MIDD2MIDD. So I think we’re very proactive in helping students but we can also be very supportive in figuring out what their needs are at each step and even in this coming year as we’ve been helping students transition into more remote opportunities. There’s been a lot of opportunity to support students in that way as well.

- Great, this is a two part question. Can funded internships happen internationally? And then are these resources available to international students?

- Oh absolutely yes on both fronts. So last year we funded about 300 students for summer internships and of those 65 were international internships so it’s a good percentage of students that are doing internships internationally. And everyone is eligible for internship funding. So international students, domestic students, everyone is.

- Great, can you talk about the dual degree engineering programs offered with Middlebury?

- Yeah.

- Mary.

- So we have a very strong partnership. I help advise on sort of the career side and then there’s also a faculty member who oversees the actual making sure the students have the correct courses for those programs. Middlebury has dual degree program relationships with two schools, Dartmouth and Columbia. And they’re both five year programs. In the Dartmouth programs you do it’s a two, one, one, one program so you’re at Middlebury for your first two years and then you’re at Dartmouth for your junior year. And then back at Middlebury for your senior year, get your degree from Middlebury and then do one more year at Dartmouth to get a second bachelor’s. And then you have the option of doing a six year to get a master’s in engineering. And that is the one that is slightly more popular I think because of the fact that you are off campus in a way while a lot of your peers are also studying abroad. You get your senior year on campus, all those things. But we do also have some students pursue the Columbia program which is three years at Middlebury and then two years at Columbia. And you sort of retroactively get your Middlebury degree when you’re done. There are a variety of different engineering programs. There’s biomedical engineering. There are a lot of different versions that we can talk to students about. But their receiving and admissions folks are also very very helpful at helping guide students through that. The vast majority of students on the Middlebury side major in physics but you also don’t have to. So we’re happy to talk through any of those options.

- Great, how often does your office bring alumni to campus and do you bring companies as well?

- Jeff?

- A lot is the short answer. We’ve engaged about 500 alumni in our programming over the course of the year as both on campus as well as in field out in the world, the Treks that we described. So it’s quite a large number in various programming that we do. Employers as well. One of the things that we’re very interested in doing with our employers is to engage them with our students and programming. So not just on the campus to do information sessions or just to do interview schedules. But to actually participate in the career development programming that we do. And it has many elements to it, not the least of which is remember I mentioned building enduring relationships. Well the more time you spend with people, the closer you become with them. And that goes for employers as well so it’s very important. And so short answer, a lot.

- And Ursula do you wanna jump in on that? On the employer relations side?

- Sure, just to add to that. Jeff and I work very closely together on this. We do have a number of employers who come to campus every year and I would say the vast majority of them are alumni. They are committed to recruiting. We have Middlebury interest groups at a number of organizations and firms that are teams dedicated to recruiting more students into their organizations. And it’s a really large part of our effort. I would say that we probably have multiple alumni on campus every week of the academic year. So it’s unusual if there’s a week when we aren’t doing something with alumi in the office.

- How do you support students who are undecided on their major?

- Ursula, you wanna take that one?

- Sure, so as I said all of our career advisors are prepared to work with students who are exploring various career options. We like to think of students as exploring as opposed to undecided. Oftentimes we find that they’re interested in many different things and are perhaps looking for opportunities to explore, connect with our alumni, connect with our resources to learn more about the various options. As Amy mentioned, we produce a series of major and minor guides that outline the various skills and competencies that a student can gain through studying various majors. As well as the kinds of internships and career opportunities that students graduating in those particular majors end up pursuing. Also with the help of our MIDD2MIDD program, students can take a look at what alumni have done and sort or filter those alumni by major to learn more about those options. So with all of the resources and the advising and experience that our career advisors bring, we work one on one with students to help them just look at, compare and contrast the different options that are available to them to choose the right major. Keeping in mind that major doesn’t have to equal career. Choose to major in a field at Middlebury just for pure love of learning and still make a career in almost any field using the resources that we provide at CCI and the expert advising that is complimented by our alumni.

- This student says I’ve heard Middlebury allows for internships during the day term. If this is true, are they limited to the area around Middlebury since that’s where they’d be living?

- Yes, Middlebury allows students to do internships during their time here, during J-Term. Not their first year. You do have to take a class your first year. But after that you’re able to. There are two types of internships you can do during J-Term. One is for credit internship. It’s the only way we do allow credit for internships here at Middlebury. And that will under obviously some faculty supervision. That can be here or it can be anywhere in the world. You can also opt out for one of your J-Terms and you can choose to do an internship and not have it be credit bearing if you don’t need that credit. And again it can be anywhere, anyplace that you choose to do it.

- Does Middlebury provide funds for housing when doing a summer internship in a different state?

- Yes, we have $3,000 grants for students who have unpaid or low paid internships. And for our first years, for that first summer between first year and sophomore year, we have what are called $1,000 explore grants. So yes we do have funding.

- Good, and that was the number that was three quarters of a million dollars.

- Right yes.

- Awesome, can we join the mentor program now or should we wait until starting our first year?

- So it’s a great question and we love the enthusiasm. What I would suggest is to hold off until matriculating in the Fall. We do have some orientations for it. And we stagger this out with a couple of different programs. For all students regardless of class year we have something called Midconnect. Midconnect supports one off outreach that’s facilitated by you. Where you have access to anyone who’s on the platform and can reach out to schedule video call or if you choose to meet in person if your geographies are conducive to that. We launched our long-term formal mentoring program to sophomores but we are flexible with that. Reason being is there’s so much programming at Middlebury to support first year students that we don’t want to overwhelm you. And we also want to allow you to get a foothold here on campus before you start to turn your eyes out and focus to the world beyond Middlebury, Vermont.

- This is question from a Feb I’m assuming. Are the opportunities for the first summer after the first semester, so Feb equivalent to students that are starting in the Fall?

- Yes absolutely. Febs are eligible for funding even though they’ve only had one semester under their belts. And also many Febs come to campus with their Feb-mester experience behind them. And whether that has been a learning experience, a volunteer experience, a working experience, whatever the case may be, have that much more experience in terms of thinking about what they might wanna do with that first summer. So I think Febs are supported very heartily by CCI for sure on all fronts.

- How available are CCI services to alumni in the years after graduation?

- Ursula, you wanna take this?

- We don’t turn anyone away. So we do remind alumni that there are points during the year when we’re very busy and it may take us a week or two to get to them. But we don’t have a cutoff. In fact our alumni have full access to Handshake and all of the subscription resources that we make available to students and of course to our career advising. And I know Mary spends quite a bit of her time.

- Mary you wanna talk a little bit about working with alumni?

- Sure so we have a couple different sort of versions of working with alumni. I would say the vast majority still are alumni we had continued to work with all the way along. And their first step out of Middlebury was a planned one with a plan to then continue on to something else a few years later. And so that’s been an ongoing relationship. But there are also quite a few who maybe predated me in their time at Middlebury and they’ve come back either as career changers, people who wanted to go into their medicine in their 40’s that we’ve worked with. It really really runs the gamut. And sometimes I think well, Jeff can probably even speak to this. You will be talking to alumni using them as a resource and all of a sudden they’re like hey wait a minute I’m thinking about a career change. And then it just sort of morphs. So alumni kind of shift back and forth between using our services and being our services fluidly.

- Yeah I would just build on that comment. The Middlebury professional network, while we established it for the primary purpose of helping our students find their way, it also serves as a career support network for the alumni. And so Mary’s right, I find myself in conversations with a number of alums who are working with me and the advisors in programming who are saying hey you know what, I’m thinking about a career change. Who would you think I should talk to if I’m interested in fill in the blank. And we will connect them. The other comment I would make is that and there have been many of those transitions that occur. But the other comment I would make is that the MIDD2MIDD platform is resident and administrated to by CCI through Matt who’s one of the boxes on this page. To demonstrate the importance of that network, not just to the students but the alums to each other. And if you put all of that together, it’s really how we contribute to delivering the opportunity for Mid alums to engage with the institution for life.

- What opportunities are there for students with entrepreneurship interests?

- Oh CCI is part of three different groups called experiential learning centers. And the other one is the Center for Community Engagement. And then the third is the Innovation Hub which is really kind of a nickname because it’s got quite a lengthy name that includes entrepreneurship in that. And we have just a fabulous office who supports students who are interested in entrepreneurship and all kinds of funding possibilities and challenges and pitch competitions. And just working with a variety of alumni who are in the startup industry themselves. So it’s just a great team over there just down the hill from us that would work very closely with students on that front as well. And we collaborate all the time with them on programming and on bringing back alums and internships, etc. And Ursula, I don’t know if you wanna mention at all some of the students you might work with in terms of those interested in entrepreneurship.

- I don’t know that I have anything to add except to say that it’s a wonderful partnership. We have student groups on campus that are very active, maker spaces, almost anything you can imagine it’s definitely available here related to social entrepreneurship or more traditional entrepreneurship.

- Yeah I think too they will be featured in a webinar I believe next Friday Glenn or maybe in two weeks, I’m not sure. So you can learn some more there. And also Jeff if you just wanna mention very quickly about the Innovation Trek.

- Sure, so going back to the Treks that we talked a little bit earlier, one was focused on innovation. And so we brought students out to Silicon Valley to visit a number of different organizations. And it was really the focus was again this notion of broadening people’s perspectives on what innovation is. We visited very large established organizations and functions within those organizations that are very much focused on innovation to startups. And so it was a pretty good broad spectrum for students to get exposed to. Not only industries and organizations that might be innovative but functional roles from a professional standpoint that may be more predisposed to innovative type skillsets.

- Yeah and to answer when that webinar is, it’s April 15th.

- Thank you.

- And we’ll be talking about Innovation Hub and all that entrepreneur. The next question is does your office work with students interested in pursuing scholarships such as Fulbright and others?

- Middlebury has a separate office for that, an office of fellowships and we have a wonderful track record on that front. And Amy maybe you could speak a little more to that because I know you’ve been involved in some of that work. But again it’s not part of CCI but yet work very closely with that office.

- Yeah sure, yeah we have an Office of Fellowships and Scholarships and they work both on the kind of financial scholarships for graduate school but also the more traditional and aspirational ones, all the British scholarships, The Rhodes and the Marshall. We consistently every year have high numbers of Fulbright scholars throughout the globe. And our office actually starts advising in the Spring for all of those Fall deadlines so it’s a year round process for all majors and all kinds of possibilities.

- Yeah we have a great track record with Watson as well.

- Yeah, that’s right sorry.

- Oh Glenn, Glenn you’re muted.

- Oh I’m sorry. What are the typical summer jobs like for Mid students, especially for first years and sophomores?

- Well there’s summer jobs and there’s summer internships. And sometimes they can be one in the same and sometimes different. So as I mentioned earlier that very often the summer between first year and sophomore year is when a student might continue to do jobs that they may have had during their high school years. I think quite honestly when you looked at the funded interns, the slideshow that we had a little bit earlier, this is not about cherry picking the most interesting students and what they did. This is actually what Middlebury students do and this is very typical of what happens during that summer between first year and sophomore year. That said, take the pressure off about oh my gosh I have to do something amazing. It is just fine to have that summer still be a summer post your first year here at Middlebury. And just to kind of unwind and also think about what’s ahead.

- Great and then our last question, why do you like working with Middlebury students?

- Oh my goodness. All right I’ll start but I think we should go right down the line then. So I’ve been with the college for 15 years and I started in the Center for Community Engagement. And I just find our students to be so smart, so creative, take so much initiative, have really big hearts and just brilliant ideas. They’re doers, that’s one of my favorite things about Middlebury students. And I’m not gonna use up all the adjectives, I’m gonna leave some for my colleagues.

- Yes please, thank you. Amy how about if you go next?

- Sure, in addition to all of those adjectives that Peggy’s already mentioned, I think that Middlebury students are really curious and pursue a line of inquiry with a degree of agency. I can’t tell you how often just walking around campus and overhearing little conversations of students walking by or in front of me or behind me. And it’s all about their work. It’s not about social gossip. It’s not about who’s dating who. It’s because they’re excited about it and that always inspires me everyday. I’ll stop there and leave all the other ones.

- Mary how about you?

- Sure, I would say I feel especially lucky that I get to typically have relationships with the students for even more than the four years. And just to see that growth and they’re just so inspirational. But I think the other piece that I am most excited about working with Middlebury students is that they are just so collaborative. So when Ursula and I and in particular are working in what could be very competitive driven environments and that is not at all how the Middlebury student population is. And that’s not how they are as alums. And I think just how giving and inspirational and collaborative they are is one of my favorite things.

- Ursula?

- Yeah just to pick up on what Mary was saying. Most of the work that I do is with first years and sophomores. And I find Middlebury students to be authentic. I would definitely agree with collaborative. So much of the energy around building new opportunities, new organizations, new clubs is all about paying it forward. How can I take what I’ve learned and pass it on to the next group so that it’s easier for them? So I’ve worked all the last year with a group called Middlebury Women on Wall Street. And their whole mission is about helping women find their path into the world of finance in an easier way. Helping them become better prepared so it’s that pay it forward kind of culture that I love so much.

- Matt?

- I would agree with everything that’s been said. And I would add that Middlebury students love learning. They are voracious consumers of information and they are always puzzling over new questions and solutions. Some of them could be really scrappy and some of them are just big picture thinkers who just apply these fabulous minds to some of the world’s biggest problems. I would also say that Mid students tend to build each other up as opposed to compete with one another. It’s a very collaborative culture and it’s really neat to see them put their minds together and as Ursula was just saying help each other out and kind of elevate who they are together as opposed to just their own personal brand. And then last I would add that they’re a lot of fun and they work hard but they also play fun. Adirondack House is positioned just back from the bus top that goes up to our ski hill. Just behind us is the Office for Outdoor Programs and it’s really neat to hear the conversations and see students who are crushing it in class and then they’re taking the afternoon to run up to get some runs on the skill hill or get out for a weekend backpacking trip. And just do something else here in Vermont.

- And how about Jeff, do you have any adjectives left?

- I sure do, I mean they’re different words but I think they kind of echo the points that have been made. But I would sum it up this way. Caring, sharing and daring. So what you’ve heard about caring and sharing. On the daring front, willing to take chances. And I don’t mean bad choices in terms of chances. Willing to try new things and get into different spaces and learn from them. Now I tend to spend most of my time with the alumni. And when I see them together with the students in our programming, it’s kind of funny. It brings a smile to my face because I can project the students forward into what I see in the alumni.

- Yeah, yeah I think, if I can just throw one more adjective in there. I think a generosity of spirit really characterizes Middlebury students. That’s why they’re such a pleasure to work with.

- Thank you, if any of the students or parents watching now still have any questions, you can email CCI directly. All these people on the screen, cci@middlebury.edu. And any questions that we didn’t get to and there were plenty, we’ll get back to you and make sure you’ve got an answer. Thank you so much for tuning in today.

Meet our Faculty #1

Middlebury is known for its inspiring and supportive faculty members. Many students and faculty form lasting relationships well after their undergraduate years. Join us to hear more from a panel of Middlebury faculty members.

- Hello from Vermont and welcome. Congratulations again to the Middlebury class of 2024 and 2024.5. We’re so glad that you and the trusted adults in your life can join us for today’s first Meet our Faculty webinar from wherever you are in the world. Thanks to those who have joined us for our previous webinars, and note that there are several more coming over the next two weeks. My name is Michelle Nelson, I use she/her pronouns, and I’m an Associate Director of Admissions here at Middlebury. I will be moderating today’s webinar and I’m excited to introduce you to five fantastic members of Middlebury’s faculty. At Middlebury over 300 faculty members teach courses across 45 different majors and programs. Our faculty are at the core of providing students with an immersive learning environment and close mentorship throughout their four years here. We hope that this sampling of faculty voices, experiences and perspectives will help you get a better sense for the type of academic experience we offer. We’ll begin our session with some introductions, and then we will move to answering questions from you about the topics related to academics here at Middlebury. We would encourage you to ask questions related to more general aspects of the academic experience, as opposed to questions about specific departments or programs. Please be sure to submit your questions via the Q&A box that you’ll find at the bottom of your screen and not the chat feature. It’s very likely that we won’t get to all of your questions during our hour together. The Admissions Office will follow up with you via email if we don’t get to your question today. So thanks again. At this point, I’d like to turn it over to our panelists and have them introduce themselves. They’re each gonna speak for just a couple of minutes about important aspects of the academic experience here, and then again, we’ll move on to your questions. So we’re gonna start off with Dan.

- Hi, I’m Dan Brayton, I’m Professor of English and American Literatures, and Director of the Environmental Studies Program. I use him/his/he pronouns, and wanna say a few things about why the liberal arts. To me the bottom line about the value of the liberal arts is that we are relatively less siloed than many Research 1 institutions. To take an example that’s near and dear to my heart, I got my PhD at Cornell and I loved it. One of the things that was really noteworthy to me was that my students were strongly identified with particular programs, majors, almost as if they were on teams. I particularly remember the engineers because Cornell is very strong engineering. And it seemed as if they ate, breathe, slept, lived engineering, which is great, and they were often very good writer too. But what I experienced when I came to Middlebury, 20 1/2 years ago, was a surprising amount of student nimbleness between disciplines, programs, majors and what I consider to be a very healthy commitment to developing the whole person and to interdisciplinarity. So my pitch for the liberal arts and the value of a liberal arts education can go on for a very long time, but I would say that at the heart of it lies multiplicity and integration of the discipline. And so I think I’ll pass the ball to my next colleague now.

- Catherine.

- Hi, congratulations everyone, first of all. So I’m Catherine Combelles. I’m a faculty in the biology department and I also direct the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry program. And I use she/her/hers pronouns, and I’ve been at Middlebury since 2004. So my prompt is about our research. So what about research? At Middlebury can students have research experiences at a small college? And I couldn’t say more loudly, absolutely. And I would add that at that it can be and it is a terrific, genuine, high quality, high impact and meaningful experience. So it really I think, we can blow away a lot of the what a research experience will look like at the undergraduate level when compared to other institutions. The big contrast will be to larger universities. And there are several reasons for this and maybe I’ll just highlight some bullet points and through the Q&A we can expand on any of them. But I think it’s flexible, there’s different ways to get involved. You get involved in different capacities through your four years. It’s typically voluntary, I think that’s a good way to look at it, you do this for yourself, you’re self motivated, and you do this alongside faculty, and that’s the key thing. So you really, you’re collaborating with faculty, you are not, faculty individual, faculty members, we don’t have graduate students. We don’t have postdoc fellow, we don’t have a full time research assistant in the lab, for example. So you the students are our hens, your its, and there’s nobody else in the lab, I’m speaking for the sciences, but if wherever your environment is for your scholarship, there’s nobody else doing the work, it’s you and the faculty. And that’s huge because then it means that you are doing the work, you’re doing it from its creation, so from the ground up. So what I think is fantastic is how you experience the whole breadth of the process from implementing, creating a project, getting funding for it, doing it, and doing the work, and then sharing it. So many opportunity for presentations, including national and international meetings. You go to conferences with your mentors, you present the work, you get to network, you get to publish your co-authors. So you just see the whole thing, and I’ll say that it can be lasting relationships too. So the research may begin while at Middlebury but I have plenty of examples from myself and colleagues where we then become lifelong collaborators and we continue to write together on our research. So, those are some of the highlights that probably will stop out but be happy to expand on any of them.

- Okay, Alex,

- Unmute yourself.

- Hello, I’m Alex Draper. I’m the Chair of the Theater Department and I’m also an alum. I use he/him/his pronouns. And I’ve been asked to speak about what is particularly distinctive about Middlebury from that point of view, from the sort of being a faculty member and an alumnus. And I would say, one of the things that struck me the most about being a student here was because, it’s remote and we’re small. So we have, the classes are small, and your relationship or the students relationship with the faculty is very different because of that. I see my students way more often than just in class. And so because of that, you’re really involved with them in a much broader way. They know my family, they know my kids, they know my dog, we see each other in town, it’s all part a pretty tight knit community and what that means is that your time here is really the beginning of what is for many people, a lifelong relationship with the school and with your mentors and with your faculty advisors and people who then become your friends. So what is very clear is that alumni come back a lot and not just in the theater department, they come back to campus a lot and a lot of what that is, is people come back because they wanna to sort of tap back into something that they feel was foundational, not just to their maybe their careers and how they built them, but really to their lives and their time here is something that they come back to to sort of retap into, and then they also come back to give back to the students in the way that alumni come back and give to them when they’re students, if that makes any sense. So there’s a sort of a cyclical relationship to people’s connection to the college. And when people graduate from the department there’s different little ceremonies that we have, but we always remind them that they’re leaving, they’re really just changing the title of their relationship with us and it keeps evolving from there. So I’ll just give you one of many examples. This past fall, we did a reading of plays that were commissioned for the public in New York. We did the reading here with students, and the agent who commissioned and put together the whole package, the big agency in New York, is an alum of the program here and she was able to be here for that event. And in the talk back, she was able to trace the impact that she’s able to have now in her career and in the theater world in New York, back to a specific class with a specific teacher who was there in the audience, and recap that arc in front of all the students and the participants who were there in a way that made a lot of sense. So that’s sort of just a snippet of what I think is one of the distinctive features of not just any small liberal arts school, but specifically Middlebury, so I hope that helps.

- Thanks, Tamar.

- Hello, I’m Tamar Mayer. I go by he/she/hers. I am a professor of Geography and I am the Director of the Program in International and Global Studies and the Program in Hebrew and some other administrative positions. And I wanna talk a little bit about interdisciplinarity and the ability to do interdisciplinary majors at Middlebury. So Michelle was talking about 45 or 47 different majors of those, there are some traditional majors like physics and chemistry and English and history and geography. And you would have about six or seven different interdisciplinary programs that they’ve cut across several disciplines where faculty from different programs come together to create a major. And we have in the sciences we have molecular biology, neuroscience, we’ve got environmental studies that Dan Brayton, raise your hand again Dan, that Dan Brayton is the director IGS and I’m the Director International Global Studies, there is a program International Politics and Economics, there’s American Studies and there’s gender, sexuality and feminist studies. So, we have ways that that we bring together different disciplines with an epistemology, with way of thinking, with methods, with theories, that are particular to this new form of creating knowledge, producing knowledge. So students in Middlebury can major in a regular major, or in an interdisciplinary major. Students can double major, students can have a major and a minor, students can have an interdisciplinary major and yet the minor in one of the other disciplines. And so there are many different possibilities and I think that one of the strengths of Middlebury is that the curriculum is very flexible and it is possible to create these new kinds of programs that many times work together with the interests of students. We have a couple of minors that are interdisciplinary as well, one in global health and other one in global food systems. And so when there is an interest, when there is interest from the faculty side, but also interest from the student side, that those kind of, that there is room at Middlebury to create an academic programme that works this way. In addition there, if in all of those 47 majors a student cannot find a major that suits them sometimes students can also apply to be an independent scholar and create their own major. So the curriculum in Middlebury is very flexible and one always finds something that is home, that is interesting to them.

- All right, thank you. Before I ask Sujata to introduce herself, I wanna remind the audience to please submit your questions via the Q&A box down at the bottom of your screen. As soon as we finish hearing from Sujata, we will jump into your questions. Sujata.

- Hi, everyone, I’m Sujata Moorti. I am the Dean of the faculty and a professor of Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies. And I use she/her pronouns. And first of all, congratulations and I look forward to welcoming you at convocation in fall. I’ll be there welcoming you along with everybody else who is here. So I was asked to talk a little bit about how we as faculty responded to the COVID pandemic. And I think one of the things I do want to sort of highlight was, as everybody else has pointed out so far, one of the hallmarks of the Middlebury education is that no matter the class size we have highly interactive modes of teaching and learning. And this was one of the biggest challenges that we thought we would encounter because the majority of us have never done, practice remote instruction. We ended up starting Spring Break early, everybody left campus on March 13th. And remarkably, faculty ended up spending two weeks to radically transform their syllabi, and I think we worked collaboratively and now we’ve all become Zoom experts and I think all of us hate Zoom at this point at the same time. But we learned in some ways to transform what we teach and how we teach. At Middlebury we use a learning management system called Canvas and that allows for us to hold small group discussions. So we were able to transfer the in person interactions that we conduct in classes into the Canvas discussion forum, we were also able to figure out how to do group work. Some of our faculty who teach in the sciences, at least one faculty member I know has used our 3D printers to figure how to teach students how to do lab work remotely. We have a professor in Oratory now who’s learnt or who’s set up all these workshops so that we can have oratory practice sessions conducted remotely. And we’ve also figured out how to do that kind of intensive college writing courses, which are the hallmark of a Middlebury education. And I can tell you from personal experience, I’m teaching a theory course this semester and it’s been really both a challenge and it’s been a wonderful experiment to see our students come back every two days for class sessions and also practice in small groups, and we are beginning to learn how to do things that we’ve always done face to face through different kinds of technologies. And I’m happy to answer all the questions about it or about the curriculum as well.

- All right, thank you all for those wonderful introductions and we’re ready to jump into questions and they’re starting to come in at a rapid rate. So the first question, could you describe the relationship between mentors, advisors and students?

- Speaking from, I’ll speak a little bit from the theater department and then much of this extends beyond, for example, Catherine was mentoring a lot of the stuff about research in the sciences that applies directly to the research opportunities that we share with our students, but many departments have required senior work and we do. And so our advising and mentoring of students goes from sort of the the initial advising that you do to plan courses and get through the major and through the curriculum, and then as we move into independent senior work, you will have a special advisor in our program as in many programs for that, for your thesis or your senior independent work. So those are at least two tracks that the advising follows. And, again, the mentoring. What’s amazing about working here is that our research, so for example, we have a theater company connected to the college, and our our research in our work directly involves the students almost as peers. It sounds like what Catherine was saying about the way students work on science projects, you go from being a student teacher in a class, to in the research realm, it’s much closer to just colleagues working towards this shared goal and that strengthens and broadens the relationship in ways that are fantastic and often lead to mentor-mentee relationships that really become friendships that lasts way past the four years that you’re here. So that’s a short beginning of an answer and people can pick up from there.

- Tamar.

- It’s important to note that every student who comes to campus will have an advisor for the first, at least three semesters, and that person will be the person who will teach the first year seminar. That person may be your advisor until the end of your career, or at Middlebury or you will go to another advisor once you declare your major. But that particular advisor that you started with or another faculty member you have taken a class with who you love that particular subject can become your mentor whether or not this is your major or not. Oftentimes the mentors are within the major and once you have taken, once you have decided what your major is, then that person becomes your mentor. But it’s important to know that everybody coming to campus is going to have an advisor already starting this summer.

- Okay, next question. What is the student to faculty ratio and how does that look for intro classes and later once you decide on your major? Sujata.

- So, the official faculty to student ratio is eight students per faculty. The reality is our intro classes and the faculty student ratio in individual classes is radically different. So the intro classes cuts on teachers in biology may have 45 or 60 students, but other courses like the languages, they are restricted to between 12 and 15 students. So you can get the whole range of classes from I think 60 students is considered a large class for us and the average class is about 25. But once you get into the upper level courses in a major the 300 and 400 level courses, often the classes are significantly smaller. But even in the large introductory classes, we have devised ways of making sure that you never have just the lecture format but there are other ways for you to engage directly with the materials and with the professors.

- All right, next question. Who would like to comment about the Feb student experience from your faculty point of view? Or maybe several of you would like to chime in on that.

- I was a Feb. So I, just bringing it right back to. So, to me it was fantastic. And part of, I don’t know if I’m supposed to say sort of the attributes that people think the Feb class had, I’m not sure if that’s, but they tend to be people who can hit the ground running, and who can join in with the flow in ways that. Well to put it, often at graduation, you’ll see a bunch of people who are being recognized for a bunch of things, a lot of them are in the Feb class. And that just tends to be something and I don’t know if that’s scientifically correct, but people who they tend to be people who start things, who stir things up in a good way. They make stuff happen in all kinds of different facets, whether it’s inventing Quidditch, or being the editor of the newspaper, whatever it is, they tend to have in what’s already a small class, a separate and sort of proud identity that they share and make known, and that’s a start.

- Can I maybe add an expand on that question? I don’t know if anyone has ever taught a Feb First Year Seminar, but, how does choosing classes work for Febs when they arrive on campus?

- Could you repeat, could you repeat that?

- So when a Feb arrives on campus, how do they choose their classes? How does that work? And if you’ve taught a Feb First Year Seminar, maybe you can comment on that.

- Why would you think it would be different than in the fall? It’s the same kind of things, just that there are some courses. Right now there are some courses, for example, in the language departments that do not, languages do not start in the fall, in February, and people have to wait until the fall. The same thing with some of the required courses like for example, in international Global Studies, the 101 course that is open to everybody only is taught in the fall. So students adjust and if they wanna do language, or if they want to do one of the courses that does not start in second semester, then they take lots of different courses and they go to those courses in the, they register in the spring for the fall. There’s no difference in terms of what courses or how do they choose the courses. You work with advisor and the advisor helps.

- All right, thanks. Next question, how accessible are art classes for students not majoring in art? Maybe we can say the arts.

- For the most, I know more about specifically the theater department, but I think it applies, again, it applies beyond. There very few classes, if any in the theater department, are restricted to majors. So they are accessible to everyone. What classes do have are some classes have prerequisites, so if you can’t jump into an advanced directing class, say without taking the prerequisites for that, but certainly our introductory level classes are open to everyone and we cap our performance studio introductory classes at 18, which is very, it’s a luxury that we are happy to have because often in schools like ours those introductory classes are much bigger. But we work individually a lot with the students, so we make sure that we kept them at 18 so they are accessible to majors and non majors alike.

- This is a question for Catherine. Are there are REU research experiences for undergraduate opportunities for students in the sciences?

- Okay, so I assume research experiences for the summertime at Middlebury. I’m assuming is how I’m interpreting the question. I mean, I guess I can say a couple of other things. I mean, so a lot of our students when I spoke to mentioning that, there’s flexibility on how you get involved with research and you can get involved in different capacity. So one example will be summertime, and it could be here at Middlebury or elsewhere. So many of our students in the sciences will indeed go on and apply at one point in one of their summers to an RUE in another institution, and our students are very competitive and successful IDs. The coursework prepares them. It’s an amazing experience, they experience a different environment, network, it opens new areas of research that we may not have here. So we have that and it’s well supported. I should mention that we have a whole system too, with a center for career and internship that help support you in locating these opportunities. So great support network there, long existing and robust. And then what comes to mind too in answering the question is the opportunities that we have at Middlebury, so kind of like in our core RUE because we’re not getting the funding through NSF, or individually of faculty may, but we get our funding from different federal agencies or internally and we carry on our own summer research opportunities. So RUE science building is booming and super busy in the summertime. We have students in every one of our lab, I mean, this is the busiest time because then the student is your full time. So we have fantastic experiences. They’re eight to 10 weeks, the students will stay and work in a lab full time, they’re paid internships. You live on campus, you get to do research, and you’re working right alongside the faculty and a small team of students. So that’s a nice thing. You’re working together with other students. You get to experience Middlebury in the summertime, it’s quite a special place. And you get very productive with your research too, you’re not juggling it as you’re doing your other coursework. And so, these are opportunities and it can happen at any one of your summers. I would say the most common is when you’re a rising senior that’s a very common model. You might do that at the end of your junior year and carry on the research through your senior year. But it doesn’t have to be and it is busy, and there are a lot of opportunities across the science disciplines.

- All right, the next question is for Dan. Do environmental studies majors incorporate the physical environment on campus? Is this a problem due to the weather? And are there farms and greenhouses on campus?

- I like that question. Simple answer is, yes. Environmental studies majors do a lot using the physical plant not only the campus proper, which surrounds us and is beautiful and has diverse opportunities for student research and collaboration and learning, but also Middlebury College owns a lot of other properties beyond campus, other campuses. There’s the Bread Loaf School of English, the Bread Loaf campus up in Ripton, which is a cold, a higher, a colder one climate zone, a colder and higher elevation campus where there’s a great deal of woodland, different kinds of habitats. Students do research projects out there, they help manage college forests. There’s a Jackson property which has about 400 acres of pretty varied woodland for the most part, different forest regimes where students study flora and fauna, all kinds of different opportunities. There’s also a pretty large and active group of folks in what we call Environmental Affairs, devoted to campus sustainability initiatives and projects, both ongoing and new, ranging from the biomass plant. We run the energy on campus through diverse sources, but one of them is that we’re burning wood chips in a great big wood stove, and that was originally a student initiative, largely a collaboration between students working with our campus sustainability coordinator and the folks in Environmental Affairs. We have a college arborist who does wonderful collaborations with students. I could go on probably for an hour describing the kinds of uses to which the college physical plant is put. The last one I’d mentioned though, is The Knoll, which is the college’s organic garden and farm where students work with staff and in some cases faculty to grow vegetables, among other things. So there’s all kinds of stuff going on using the physical plant.

- I’ll just say that the organic garden was started by students.

- That’s right.

- Class of 2004.

- All right. I think anyone could probably answer this. In general, how accessible are professors outside of the classroom? Go for it Dan.

- So I’m because I’m Director of the Environmental Studies Program, which is like being Chair of a department. I am available all week, usually five days a week, sometimes four, where I have regularly scheduled office hours and extra office hours, office hours by appointment, but pretty much students can can nag me almost any time when I’m not in the classroom or in a meeting, and that’s quite a few hours of the day. Normally, I meet with students continually four or five days a week and really enjoy it because students wanna get to know all the ins and outs of the Environmental Studies program which is got a lot of moving parts. So, I consider it a very important part of my job to be available nearly all the time.

- And I would just echo that unlike schools where you may be coming in and out if you’re closer to a big city or whatever, where you may have faculty who are only here for a couple of days for the most part, many of us are really here. So we are available and meeting the students formally and informally pretty much all the time. And that’s part of one of the joys of being in a small school like this is that you really are involved in all kinds of ways so that conversations that started maybe in office hours, continue while you’re both walking in the same direction somewhere or when you run into each other in the library or whatever. So there does tend to be a lot of interaction between the faculty and the students.

- I think we all share the same. It’s the same for all the departments.

- I’ll move on to the next question, and maybe I’ll direct it away from Catherine to begin with. Since Middlebury is a smaller institution, where does research funding come from? And is the scope of research smaller than at a large university? Tamar.

- So, there are lots of different opportunities on campus for students research. There are, I’ll just give a couple of ones that I’m aware of, and I’m sure that my colleagues will be able to add some more. So I run also the center, it’s called the Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs, which is an endowed center that is sort of the epicenter for co curricular activities that are about the global and international. And we have a couple of different programs for students research. One part of money that we set aside is for students who go abroad and propose a research project that could lead to a senior thesis or senior work. The students write a proposal and there’s this funding and we choose the people who will get it. Another part of another funding that we do is research in the summer. So we have, and this is all because our center is endowed. Research in the summer that students help faculty with the research, the same thing during the year. There are five or six students students a year who are doing research projects or assisting faculty in International and Global Studies. There is a part of money in the career counseling, I don’t remember the name right now for that center, that students who want to do research and work on some campus they can apply for money there. In other words just to say that there are many different opportunities for students to pursue research, funded research, and in addition to all that which is available, and sometimes students get their own, faculty get their own fund, NSF or others and take students in as part of the team. There are ways to apply for money through the different offices on campus that will enable students to pursue research.

- Does anyone wanna add? Catherine.

- I know you wanted to divert from me, but I’ll just add because maybe I felt maybe in your question you also had the piece about the size of the project and maybe the quality and I just want to catch on this to make sure that because that can be a very common misconception to think that the research that we do is not gonna to be as high impact as meritorious and it couldn’t be further from the truth. Because I can tell you, for example, in the sciences, we gotta get our funding from somewhere. It’s very expensive to do the work in the sciences. So we are externally funded. And so you go into the National Institutes of Health, to the National Science Foundation, you’re competing right alongside the larger research universities and ultimately your research has to be meritorious, you’re not getting the funding because you are Middlebury working with undergraduates, you’re getting it because you’re doing good research and it’s contributing to the whole venture. So that’s important. It’s you’re getting as high of a quality and I would argue more because then our research university is you get to do it. You know, working under the shadow of a graduate student, you actually do more running those experiments. But this are our highly competitive funding thus reflects the high quality of the work that gets done here.

- All right, thanks. Thanks for all the great questions, keep them coming, and I just wanna remind our audience that if we can’t get to your question in this session, we will certainly follow up with you afterwards. Next question. Is there a mechanism for students to receive credit for doing independent study with faculty? How many students do faculty typically work with independently at a time? Catherine.

- I can jump in. So we have in the sciences, and I believe that’s true of a lot of department, there will be a class called they have a slightly different name, but we have a class called independent research and independent studies. And so it’s a class you’re registered for and I think the beauty of the system is it’s gonna be one of your four classes. So it’s carving out, you’re getting credit for it. It’s carving out that time in your schedule, that commitment not coming from only you, but from the faculty and giving you the feedback and the close mentoring, because they’re teaching you that class, right? So they’re working with you. So that is one of the mechanism by which beyond the summertime will you do research and to speak to the size, there’ll be some variation surely across the disciplines and the labs. But I would say for us in the sciences, an average lab size, group size, maybe three, four students on average, and then it might range from two to eight for a larger group. So, that will be to give you a sense there for the sciences at least.

- Go ahead Sujata.

- So I think as Catherine implied, I think almost every department has the capacity for you to do an independent study, and you can think of the independent study like an Oxford style tutorial. You set up the agenda, you decide the kinds of things you want to be doing and then you’re working closely with the professor, and in any given semester. I would say, faculty, if it’s not a lab setting, faculty will not take undertake more than two or three of those independent studies. I think those can be really time consuming, they’re exciting and exhilarating, but each one of them is the equivalent of a separate class. So there are limits to how many people do them outside of the sciences.

- And I would just, I was gonna say the same thing that it’s mainly two or three, but I would also share that. Currently, right now, I’ve spoken to a lot of faculty who are continuing independent studies under this new setup that we’re in, and they tend to be some of the most rewarding experiences that they’re having right now because it lends very naturally to this kind of just basically one on one checking in and advancing things. And we have some students who came back from Oxford, who were in that tutorial set up there and they said that it is very similar, so it’s a great kind of parallel structure that we have.

- Here’s a great question. How do faculty collaborate with each other? You’re gonna go for that too Alex?

- I was just gonna the college has for many years now been encouraging us and promoting interdisciplinary collaborations of all kinds. So we get a lot of support and encouragement from the college to branch out into these things. So there are some great classes that have come from it. Steve Abbott and Cheryl Faraone teach a class on math and science in theater, and they teach it together and it’s really directing and doing math sets all at the same time, and it’s a pretty astonishing class. I’m currently co teaching and acting and directing for the camera class with a colleague in the Film and Media Studies Department. But also, one of the great things about being in Middlebury is that you are surrounded by these fascinating people who teach with you. So, we collaborate in ways that are not directly actually a classroom so that I have colleagues from music department who compose music for plays that I’m directing, I have people who are from the dance department coming in and working with us on all kinds of things anytime we do a play. I did a play a fantastic play about Moscow, and four different faculty members with four different very specific specialties came in to reinforce our casts awareness of the things that we were talking about to enhance the experience. So that’s another, there’s a lot of sort of just coming into class collaboration that isn’t necessarily officially targeted anywhere.

- Tamar, did you want to add to that?

- I just wanna say that there, there are some courses that on campus that our team taught, and that’s fantastic. But there’s also and sort of in the International Global Studies, there was sort of the bare bone of the way that we put together the introductory course and at the time also, the senior seminars, but there are also other ways that faculty collaborate. And faculty do research together, and they write together and they publish together. And sort of that kind of common work together outside the classroom also then lends itself to changes in classrooms themselves. So the students benefit from the fact that faculty collaborate and research, it also translates into the kind of questions, different questions that then appear in some faculties classroom as a result.

- Sujata, I’m wondering if you would be able to answer this question. A very straightforward one, but lots to say about it. What is the First Year Seminar?

- I’m sure everybody else can jump in too. But the first year seminar is something which I think of as really distinctively Middlebury. And what we do there is we limit students to courses that have, I think, between 15 to 16 students, Those are the maximum numbers but most often it’s about 12 students. And the courses are around topics that faculty pick, and they’re normally interdisciplinary, and they are giving you, the course offer you a very broad introduction to the topic but also to the transition from high school into college. So part of it is getting you to become an autonomous, independent thinker and setting you on the path to becoming a college student, and at the same time, we’re also teaching you race specific content. So, I think, for example, I’ve taught courses, or take courses like Sherlock Holmes across different media genres. I’ve taught courses on crime dramas, and there are courses on how to think like a scientist. So the range is really broad and it’s not necessarily about the topic as much as using the topic as a way to introduce you to thinking like a college student, thinking independently but also thinking across disciplines at the same time. Others.

- Dan.

- The First Year Seminar is also a writing intensive course. So, one of two required writing intensive courses, required of all Middlebury undergraduates, all students, we call them college writing courses. The first one you will take is your first year seminar and there is a good deal of writing involved. What I find really exciting about this, is that there are many kinds of writing, many genres, many modes, many moods from, in literary study from writing poetry and creative works, to critical works. Often the emphasis in a first year seminar is on mastering the writing standards and expectations within a particular discipline, but often too the writing can be very experimental. And it’s really the kind of dynamic interplay of the two, the kind of reaching for something new, new forms of expression and mastering disciplinary standards that makes a First Year Seminar so dynamic and so transformative.

- I’m just gonna add. Unlike other courses, the first year seminar is, it’s both intense, because you are going to be living for the most part, in the same dorms or in the same floors as those in your class. And they become in some ways, the key cohorts that you travel with, even though you may take up different majors once you’re here, but those friendships that are formed in the first year continue. And I know for me as an instructor, I touch base with those students at least once a year and my last First Year Seminar cohort is graduating this semester, so I’ve actually been in touch with them now because We don’t quite know how we’re gonna celebrate their graduation. So it’s a fairly tight knit cohort, and even though you take it in your first semester, it continues with you through your career at Middlebury.

- All right, I think that’s a good segue to the next question. Could faculty comment on the distribution requirements, pros, cons, opportunities, et cetera?

- I think that one of the greatest things about Middlebury is that we have distribution requirements, that no matter what major people take, no matter what direction somebody has, if it’s in the art or it’s in the sciences or in the social sciences, there is a group of courses that fulfill this distribution requirements so that this is really the quintessential liberal arts so that if they do arts, let’s say they do have to take at least one course in let’s say language or science or in deductive reasoning and I think it is one of the things that makes Middlebury unique from among liberal arts colleges and I hope that this stays because this is a fantastic thing for us. And I think that students come to realize that there are a lot of choices with each of the course, and students have to take seven out of eight distribution requirements. It is best if they do it within the first two, two and a half years but it’s not always possible. But it is really a way to ensure that students get a well rounded education and I’m a big proponent of that.

- And I’ll just add to what Tamar said, I think those requirements get to the core of the liberal arts education, which is what makes Middlebury so distinctive. So no student will graduate from Middlebury without having had some experience across the curriculum. So we go back to the classical sense of the liberal arts, but we’ve clearly modified it for 21st century sensibilities. So I think that’s integral to the Middlebury experience.

- All right, we’re winding down here. I think I’m gonna ask one last question, and maybe see if we can get a brief answer from each of our panelists. Can you describe or talk about one highlight from your experience as a faculty member at Middlebury?

- One, a lot.

- Who’s ready to go first?

- I can go really quickly. So, this is connected in multiple ways to Middlebury students. One of my Middlebury graduates is from Afghanistan and she has set up the first girls high school dorm, residential high school in Kabul, Afghanistan. And she has been really interested in bringing a liberal arts education to those girls. And so every January she brings those high school students to India and we take four students from here to go work with those students. And it’s been one of the most transformative experiences for me, for our students and for the Afghan students. And for me, this is a place where you can see our students becoming teachers and at the same time, they are learning from those Afghan students about what it means to be a student and the value of an education.

- I’ve been here for many years, I’ve had many students and I think the thing that has made this so such a wonderful place to be, is the kind of connections that I have forged with the students and the relationships that I still have with people who graduate in 1991 and 1990, and to look at the kind of good that they do in the world. And then they say, “Well, you know, “that came out of that course that I took with you.” Or that came out of the geography major and it just incredible, it’s just really incredible. One of them right now is very involved in, she’s an Indian woman, she graduated in 1991, she’s in public health and she keeps on talking about the courses that you took in the geography department and how it has pushed her to what she’s doing right now working with the pandemic. So this is really this wonderful thing about these connections that a small place like ours afforded me.

- Alex you’re muted again.

- Sorry, I muted myself. I’m picking up on this in the notion of keeping in contact with our students. One of our fantastic students who was a, who really wanted to be a theater major, his parents really didn’t want him to be a theater major so he was a double theater neuroscience major, and he was just a fantastic all around student and person, and graduated and went to New York, and was pursuing his studies and then applied to and got into a very prestigious, I think it’s a human-centered Medical Engineering Master’s program. And in his interview they said to him, “How did you get this background. “This is actually the background “that every person should have “who wants to apply to this school “because it is the perfect combination “of the scientific smarts that you need, “and an actual awareness of the fact “that there’s a human being involved “in all of these decisions, “and the kind of empathy and hearing and listening “and understanding and seeing people that is required.” And it was just so heartwarming that he’s there and thriving with all the things that made him such a valuable student to us when he was here. So those are the kind of things that you hold on to and cherish, and they come in waves.

- I mean, I was gonna echo everything because that was my first reaction. It’s all so much about, it impossible to pick a single example because it’s about all the things that our students are doing and all the great places they’re going. And for me, it’s just the fact that I was a small part of their journey and training the next generation of scientists. But, I think one piece I’ll share is, you go to conferences, I go to conferences where students, my students are presenting, they’re giving a talk, or they’re giving a poster presentation either national or international conferences, and I’ll talk with their colleagues after, a faculty, and they’re blown away when they find out that these were undergraduates. I mean, they just couldn’t be more blown away. They’re just of course assume this was a graduate student or postdoc, what do you mean this is you undergrads? And it just speaks again, to the high quality of the work that goes on and all the great places they are going so many instances along the way.

- So I have to share a story in answer to that question, which is that a couple years ago, I was at a conference at the University of Virginia and a former student of mine walked into the room when I started to speak. And after the panel, I went up to my former student and we hugged, and I said, “What are you doing here?” And he said, “Well, you know, I’m on the faculty “at the University of Virginia Medical School.” And I said, “You’re too young to be on the faculty.” He said, “Yeah, I am.” I said. “You weren’t even pre med at Middlebury. “How can you be on the faculty “at this prestigious medical school?” And he says, “Well you know, I was mostly pre med, “but kind of crashed out of where to go “and did a postdoc year and everything went really well “and here I am.” He’s teaching humanities and medicine. This is a kid who had worked with me on a novel in his senior year as an English major at Middlebury. So we’ve kept up and we’ve exchanged manuscripts recently. But it’s wonderful instance of the just unpredictable and sort of multi disciplinary nature of the Middlebury community, that here is this young person, this young man, still young man to me, I guess he’d be 30 now, who was on this amazing faculty and I didn’t even know that he was really in medicine.

- Well, thank you all for that. And thank you again for being with me and being with all of our admitted students and family members today. I’m afraid it’s time to draw our webinar to a close. So I’ll say thanks again for joining us.

Meet our Faculty #2

Middlebury is known for its inspiring and supportive faculty members. Many students and faculty form lasting relationships well after their undergraduate years. Join us to hear more from a panel of Middlebury faculty members.

- Hello from Vermont, where it’s six o’clock in the evening and welcome. Sending my congratulations again to the Middlebury class of 2024 and 2024.5. We’re so glad that you and the trusted adults in your life, can join us for today’s second, meet our faculty webinar from wherever you are in the world. Welcome back if you attended the earlier faculty webinar and bear with my very familiar introductory remarks, and thanks to those who have joined in our previous webinars. Note that there are several more coming up over the next two weeks. My name is Michelle Nelson, I use she/her pronouns and I’m an Associate Director of Admissions here at Middlebury. I’ll be moderating today’s webinar, and I’m excited to introduce you to five more members of Middlebury’s faculty. At Middlebury over 300 faculty members teach courses across 45 different majors and programs. Our faculty are at the core of providing students with an immersive learning environment and close mentorship throughout their four years here. We hope that the sampling of faculty voices, experiences and perspectives will help you get a better sense for the type of academic experience we offer. We’ll begin our session with some introductions, and then we’ll move to answering questions from you about topics related to academics here at Middlebury. We would encourage you to ask questions related to more general aspects of the academic experience as opposed to specific departments or programs. Even though you may hear some of the same questions, if you’re joining us again, you are likely to get different perspectives on those questions from these faculty members. Please be sure to submit your questions via the q&a link that you’ll find at the bottom of your screen and not the chat box. It is likely that we won’t get to all of your questions that are submitted during our one hour together, and we’ll be sure to follow up with you via email if we don’t get to your questions today. So at this point, I’m going to turn it over to our panelists, have them introduce themselves and give you a little bit of information before we get started on your questions. And we’ll start with Jeff.

- Hello, my name is Jeff Buettner. I am Director of Choral Activities, Professor of Music, Chair of the Music Department. He/him/his pronoun. And one of my important duties I feel at the college is to work with students in the college choir, and to nurture that community. And that’s basically what I would talk to you about at this moment. I’m addressing the question of, “why liberal arts?” And it’s a good question for a musician because oftentimes, people seeking studies in music go or think about going to a conservatory. Or going to a place that specializes in the teaching of music education to prepare people to teach music. And those are wonderful institutions. But for me, and I think for the students that I work with, at Middlebury College, the value of the arts and culture, in campus life and studies is truly palpable here. But what really speaks to the liberal arts is the value of everyone else’s studies outside of music, in the life of music on campus. As faculty, and in our classes, we are constantly thinking about what is going on across campus, and how music can potentially integrate into other areas of studies. We’re also interested in what our students are interested in. And so we make a continual effort to get students together to talk about their various areas of studies and think about how music or the arts are a part of that. And that’s a conversation that is actually fairly easy to start with students and easy to see take off. The college choir is a mix of majors as an example requires a mix of majors across the campus. Some students in music continue to professional careers, some take on teaching careers. Many seek out music in a myriad of ways in their lives after leaving Middlebury College. But they all are a part of a community when they’re at the college. And so the thing I would leave this introduction in this response to the liberal arts with is the idea that community is central to a liberal arts study. And Middlebury College specifically has a campus that I think is particularly conducive to fostering community and allowing students to express themselves, to find like minds, but also to interact freely, and safely, and respectfully, with people of different opinions.

- Thanks Jeff, Anne.

- Hello, I’m Anne Goodsell. I’m in the physics department. I’m an associate professor, and I’ve been at Middlebury for about 10 years now. The pronouns that I prefer, are she, her and hers. And I wanted to speak to a question that Michelle had posed to me, which was, “how does an undergraduate education at Middlebury prepare you as students for graduate or professional school?” I see several facets in answering this question. Those facets include your experiences in the classroom, our campus resources, including the Career Center, faculty advising and several other things. And I’m going to focus on the first, that aspect of classroom experience, but the others are also important. Student preparation is important to us as faculty members as we teach. For example, about a third of the students in our introductory physics courses are considering work in the health and medical professions. Each year we have majors in physics, who’d partake in the dual degree engineering programs during their undergraduate years. And I would estimate that about a third of our physics majors are enrolled in graduate programs sometime within the first four or five years after graduation. So when we teach in any discipline, we have in mind the many students who are curious about or committed to graduate and professional school. So your Middlebury will help you learn the content or the techniques for a particular area, whether it’s dance or computer science And it’s important for professional and graduate work, you need content knowledge, you have to be really good at something. In physics that means we teach calculus based introductory we emphasize persuasive reasoning in physics from the very beginning of the major. It means we develop a faculty body with diverse experience and diverse expertise. And it means we offer elective courses and research projects that are appropriately rigorous for students who are considering graduate school. So in your Middlebury education, you develop depth of knowledge in your major, or sometimes majors. You develop a breadth of knowledge in your coursework outside your major. There you also develop confidence and adaptability together as you learn to shift your focus and your techniques to match different contexts. And that’s important for graduate and professional school. Becoming an expert means becoming a knowledgeable, creative thinker, on whom other people depend. Middlebury faculty plan our courses in ways that offer you the opportunity to improve how you generate and develop ideas. Elements of your courses, help you improve your thought process, your troubleshooting ability, your individual accountability, the presentation of your work, and your ability to document your work in writing, even as you develop that deep mastery in a particular area. So your high school education helps you to develop routines for learning. And then what follows during your time at Middlebury is a window when you are becoming better at reasoning, and decision making. A path in graduate school or professional school, entails a big decision a concentrated commitment to a particular field or area. With an undergraduate education at Middlebury, you can determine that of all the things you’ve learned that field to which you’re committing, is the one to which you’re strong on at that time. Also, you have experience with writing, and quantitative skills, social collaboration, cultural fluency, that help you make the most of that commitment to a graduate and professional training. So, with that in mind, if you have specific questions about preengineering, you can find my contact information on the physics or preengineering websites. But I’ll turn it back over to Michelle.

- Thank you Anne. Next we’ll hear from Sebnem.

- Hello. I’m Sebnem Gumuscu, and I teach in the poly sci department, Political Science Department. I’m using she/her/hers pronouns. And I will be briefly talking about research experience at Middlebury College. So, there are a lot of things that we kind of, do with our students. But I wanna start with how faculty actually kind of views their research here on this campus. So it’s very important that unlike many other liberal arts colleges, possibly Middlebury faculty has a very active research agenda. And they usually collaborate with their students to do certain research outputs. And we have significant resources as funds available for both faculty and students to conduct their research at Middlebury. So faculty members, for example, can benefit from a number of different funds to support collaborative agendas and research with their students. And I just recently got one and I will be working on my book this summer with one of my teaching research assistants. So that’s a very good opportunity for us to kind of, work together with our students. And there are also other opportunities available for students to do their own research, especially for example, if they’re studying abroad, and they can get certain funds from different centers here at college like the Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs. And they can get funds to do field work in the country that they study for their study abroad programs. And of course, finally, we also have a big component in our curriculum where students who wanna do independent research, they can carry out those research projects by either doing independent study with their professors, or writing their own pieces in the honors thesis program. And their significant support again for their research and their independent projects given by the professors and college in Middlebury. So I think this is more or less I want to cover. Maybe it’s kind of an introduction to research experiences here at Middlebury. I’d be happy to answer further questions. Thank you.

- All right, thank you. Just wanna remind the audience to start thinking of some questions that you have and submit them via the q&a box on the bottom of your screen. Next, we’ll hear from James.

- Hi, my name is James Chase Sanchez and I’m an Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric here at the college. I go with he/him/his pronouns. I was asked to talk about the relationships that students have with faculty professors here at the college. And another question, “are our professors approachable?” And I hope that all of us are approachable. So I’m never very, I think one of the great things about Middlebury College is our small class size. And this allows for especially in the liberal arts, but even in the sciences, they’re much smaller than at state schools. And this allows for professors to really be able to interact with students in more one-on-one situations. For classes that are writing intensive, writing based courses, they’re actually capped at 15 students. And being a writing professor, I teach mostly those courses. And those allow us to have multiple one-on-ones with every student in the class. Some professors mandate those one-on-ones, many professors just keep them optional. But in some sense for writing based classes, it’s almost expected for you to have these interactions where you’re meeting a Professor, perhaps in an office, perhaps, in the library or somewhere getting coffee or lunch or something like that and talking about your work. This is my third year at the college and I find that students, many students don’t often understand how much professors enjoy when students stop by our offices. Of course, some students can stop by our offices too much sometimes. But for the most part, when you stop by a professor’s office, it’s a great way to form a relationship with that Professor, and for that Professor to better understand you and your work and what you’re interested in. That’s how you eventually you need to form those relationships to find ways to when you’re applying for internships or looking for recommendations for graduate school, or going into the workforce after you leave Middlebury. These are the professors and the interactions, you need to be having to form those relationships with professors who can help you. Also, there’s a great opportunity to be a research assistant that Sebnem was just talking about as well. I have a research assistant who helps me with various documentaries that I’m producing. And so some of these research assistantships, they’re great ways to better understand professors and their work. And they can be doing things like working on books, doing laboratory research, with our science professors and even doing things like, working on film, and stuff like that. So there’s a lot of great opportunities for you to interact with your professors at a liberal arts college like Middlebury and I think you’ll have a lot more of those one-on-one interactions at a place like here. I’ll turn it back over to Michelle.

- All right, thanks, James. And last, we’ll hear from Carly and then we’ll be answering some of the questions that you all are submitting as the audience. So keep them coming.

- Hi, everybody, I’m Carly Thomsen, and I am an Assistant Professor in the Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies Department. And I’m in my fourth year. And so I’m gonna talk a little bit about the interdisciplinary nature of Middlebury’s curriculum. And the question I was asked to address is, “how can students combine their interests here?” And so I’m gonna talk about my perspective, from my perspective as a feminist studies professor here. So interestingly, most of our Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies Majors also have another major. So most of our majors are either joint majors or double majors. And there’s a wide range of other disciplines that our GSFS students attach to their GSFS major. We have Computer Science students, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Art History, Environmental Studies, Sociology, Geography, you name it, we’ve had them in the last several years. And I think that in many ways that speaks to the interdisciplinary nature of the thinking that is valued at a place like Middlebury. And so that’s the first thing that there are ways that students can combine their interests very formally through the majors and minors that you declare. So that’s the first one. The second one is also speaking to some of Sebnem’s points, and also some of James’s points about research opportunities. So I have several research assistants right now and I’ve been working on this collaborative project with a geographer, Pete Nelson. And we’ve also been getting some support from an economist Caitlin Myers to do this massive national mapping project of crisis pregnancy centers and figuring out where they are at in location to abortion clinics and then examining the demographic makeups of the neighborhoods using census tract data around the locations of both of these. And so now we’re producing some really cool maps and hopefully some op-eds and an article that we hope to have done by the end of this semester. And that’s all because, there’s interdisciplinary collaboration among faculty but also among the students who are our research assistants. So the research assistants on this project, one was a Computer Science and Geography double major, one was a Gender Studies and Geography double major, and one was a Geography major. And I got to know all of these students because they took classes with me outside of their majors except for the Gender Studies student. And they approached me and asked if there were research opportunities for thinking about something totally unrelated to this project. And so we got talking about a different project and then found ourselves working on this one together. So I think that that speaks to both the interdisciplinary nature of the knowledge production here, but also the ways in which students can approach faculty and also really shape faculty research that ends up being done in collaboration with students. The third thing that I want to mention is that we’re developing a new Humanities Center on campus. And one of the tracts that is being discussed is a medical humanities tract. And the great thing about that is that’s another site where we can figure out how to bring humanistic knowledge production together with scientific knowledge production. And there’s a lot of conversation on campus right now about what it means to bring the humanities to the sciences and to data. Like how do we take a humanistic approach to thinking about big data? But also how could the humanities be benefited from using different types of sources or sites than we typically consider? And so I think that the commitment to interdisciplinarity is deep and it’s something that happens between students and faculty, between or among students and among faculty, as well. And I am happy to provide some additional examples if people have more questions about that.

- Right, great, thank you all for those introductions and introductory information. We’ve got some great questions lining up here. And the first one is, “if you double major, will you still have time to take courses in other disciplines?” Jeff.

- I would be happy to speak to that one from the perspective of an advisor in the music department, because many music majors are double majors, and majors at Middlebury require a certain number of courses of the total courses that you take, and there are a few that might be higher in that number, but most accommodate the idea of studying another subject really remarkably well. My advice, though, especially to musicians out there, is to find a department of interest early and take some introductory level course that is a prerequisite. Or is that something that introduces you to the topic because then you get to know a little bit more about it. You may not know everything you think you knew. And you also sort of get some knowledge of the faculty and of course, get a course underway.

- Is anyone else dying to chime in on that one? All right, oh, James, go ahead.

- I don’t know if I was dying to jump in. But I would just say, I think in your first year, or year and a half, you don’t have a major yet. You are looking at classes and, hopefully good advisors are telling you to take classes that are maybe outside of your comfort zone, maybe something that you’ve been interested in and you’re not really sure about. And so, your first three semesters, especially on campus should be taking a bunch of classes that might relate to your major or your double major, but many of which would not.

- Thanks, next question, “what do you most appreciate about Middlebury, and what do you think Middlebury could do better for students?” Anne go ahead.

- So that question about what I most appreciate about Middlebury rings especially true right now, as we are adjusting to the way that these weeks unfold with students off site and our research taking a little bit different form. So those are the two things that I really appreciate. I really appreciate the Middlebury students faculty community, the way that the classroom feels with students present, the way that it feels to see my faculty colleagues in the hall to see students that I’ve had in class in prior years or that are in my classes during this particular semester. The research environment at Middlebury i think is vibrant. And one of the things that I really enjoy and appreciate is being able to do the research right on campus in my physics lab that I’m really especially interested in. The question about, “what could Middlebury do better for students?” I’m not quite sure how to implement this. But I think one of the most valuable things that students have reflected back on after finishing at Middlebury has been specific personal interactions with faculty members, especially around scholarship and research. And so having more wonderful interested students coming, give’s more opportunities for those kinds of situations. And I, but I also hope that Middlebury and the larger Middlebury community continue to find good ways to find those kinds of chances ‘cause that’s something that really, really benefits students.

- Great, thank you. Jeff, this one’s definitely for you. “What opportunities are there in the music department outside of classical music? Is it somewhere that I can minor in music and lean towards musical theater pop and jazz instead of strictly classical?

- Indeed, I’ll address it pretty concisely. So, for the big picture, the department thrives on nonmajors, because we have ensembles and lessons and classes that are filled with various topics. So it is definitely not a music major driven department. So that broadly said is specifically ensembles and opportunities for things other than classical music include African Music and Dance Ensemble, Afro-pop Band, Sound Investment Jazz Ensemble, various other curricular ensembles such as the All-Arts Improvisation Ensemble and the Ensemble Singing course. Private lessons often emphasize various styles of music that the individual student is interested in. And we have a musical production a full scale musical that is produced in winter term every year.

- Nicely done. So, next question is about research and specifically, “can students secure funding for research?” Sebnem?

- Let me specify a few things about what I said about research early on. I think this is a good question. So I had several students in the past years who actually got significant support from different centers on campus, and also from other sources where they could actually embark upon on their own research, independent research, especially abroad. So I had several students in Jordan, for example, who did amazing research with refugee camps in Jordan, studying Syrian refugees in these camps. And they did amazing research and then came back and also wrote wonderful papers and theses on these topics. So usually we have support coming from the Centers for example. That kind of gives significant funding for student research but we also have plenty of opportunities and funds for faculty research and and student collaboration. So they’re not really that competitive because we have significant funds allocated for those opportunities, and faculty usually gets supported for those projects, and we can work with our students.

- Carly you wanna add to that?

- Yeah, I do. So in addition to what Sebnem just said, often departments have pots of money that they also allocate. So, for example, we have senior research funds or funds for your senior research for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies, Majors, and anybody who is then doing work on anything global and global in nature, they’re eligible to apply for the funds that Sebnem was just talking about through the RCGA. And the other thing that’s really important is that there are funds available that faculty apply for. So you wouldn’t apply for this to be research assistance during the school year, but there’s also separate research assistant funds to support faculty with their research in the summertime, and that’s really great because it allows you to stay in Vermont at the nicest time of year and to really work in a deep and in sustained way with a faculty member. And so there are really a lot of pots of money both for your own research and then also to support faculty with their research.

- All right, thanks. All right, here’s a really good question. It has a couple of parts, or maybe it’s an extensive question, “as educators, how do you distinguish and balance the demands of technical training in your respective fields, versus the general task of providing liberal education? I consider liberal education to be essentially nonspecialized, whereas the technical training in all disciplines is essentially specialized.” James.

- The beautiful thing about Writing and Rhetoric, is that it’s very interdisciplinary in nature. We don’t have a major or a minor. We’re currently working on a minor in Writing and Rhetoric. But a course, like that, that I teach such as, like the Rhetoric of Public Memory, or Cultural Rhetoric or something like that is very interdisciplinary in nature, where you’re looking at Geography, Sociology, Anthropology, Feminist Studies, etc, to sort of do that sort of scholarship. And so I feel like one of the great things about many of the courses here are the collaborations that colleagues have with one another in different departments. I’ve taught a course with someone in Education Studies before. We taught a course together. And so I feel like many of the professors who teach at a liberal arts college like Middlebury really try to be interdisciplinary in nature.

- Anne.

- it’s fun to piggyback off of what James was just saying, because I am a physicist, but I’m currently teaching a college writing course. And this ties in with exactly this question. So I’m teaching an Advanced Physics Lab right now. Juniors and seniors are enrolled. But that Advanced Lab course, is a College Writing course. And so what I see in part is the specialization that students are developing in physics is actually entirely integrated with this sort of skill that on the surface is perceived to be a liberal arts skill. It certainly is. It’s a liberal, life and scientist skill, the ability to express yourself in documented writing. But also I wanted to just mention, the departments and programs at Middlebury, within which the majors generally exist, are composed of faculty who are constantly thinking about what would a student need in this in this major or in this field to be developing in a sort of specialization, to know what this field is all about, to be becoming an expert. But also we’re so aware of the value and the balance, as you said, between that training and the liberal arts training. So for example, in physics, we require a set of core courses in the major, but we make sure that among the electives that students can select, we are constantly cycling through a set of electives that we are aware are good preparatory electives for specialized work after Middlebury. And we advise and encourage students to be picking from those electives in ways that support their own goals in their specialized training. So the process of becoming sort of trained in the discipline becomes a project that that student and advisor are all sort of planning together in that way.

- Next question, probably for Jeff, “I’m considering a dance major, what sort of training and opportunities do performing arts students receive while in a liberal arts environment?”

- Much of this depends on the individual student. So you receive that the kinds of training I would classify as individual training. So one-on-one lessons from the perspective of a music department that’s fairly typical, but I believe dance instructors have one-on-one opportunities with students as well. And then you have other kinds of as a previous question outlined, specialized study. So issues that are specific to your area of study. And then there are also often social groups or in the case of music, ensembles, I think in the dance department, there are different dance ensembles and different collaborative opportunities. So those are the levels of training that I would assess to a degree of speciality. And then, of course, as we all talk about, we reach outside of our disciplines to bring in ideas, inspiration and a quality of learning from other disciplines into our focus study. And that’s definitely true of the arts.

- I’ll add a couple of anecdotes bullet points, from my own sort of knowledge. Obviously, the dance program can speak in more depth to this. But I would highlight The Dance Company of Middlebury. It’s a audition based kind of professionally oriented dance company that students can become a part of as part of their coursework here at Middlebury. And within the dance department, there are opportunities for students to choreograph to work on production. Faculty definitely helps students find sort of summer opportunities that allow them to test their interests in a professional environment. So those are some specific things to dance obviously, those departments would be able to elaborate on that. And Carly wants to add.

- Yeah, so I’m not in the dance department at all, but we’ve had several double majors in dance and GSFS and one of them I advise their thesis which ended up being a year and a half long project that culminated into an actually three different semester long. They were semester long. Geez, what am I trying to say here? It was a semester long attempt to produce a culminating dance, and then a thesis out of that, and it was a really, really rich experience. And so I’ve seen firsthand how intensive the dance faculty, how intensively they treat the material and how supportive they are of the students. And also that, like all of us are talking about, they’re really, really great at working with faculty and other departments to advise students so that you can produce something that will satisfy, say a thesis requirements in one department and thesis requirements in the Dance Department. And so I found that to be a really generative site for faculty collaboration, even though I’m not in the dance department. And then another point that I wanted to make is in regards to theater. I know it’s not dance, but it is the arts, and we had a question about that. And this January, I taught a class that a student actually proposed to me. We read in a different class, an article about a play and she said, “I wanna put this play on, could we teach this together as a J-Term class?” And so we did and it was incredible. Now neither of us know anything about theater, and so we met with the chair of theater Cheryl Faraone, who gave us a lot of her time and insights to help us out. We applied for money on campus to bring in a professor of theater from UC Riverside, and she came for a week and helped us like, get into shape and be able to actually produce what was an incredible performance. So I think that there are again, like the interdisciplinarity makes possible all kinds of collaborations that might seem hard to imagine if you haven’t been here.

- All right, next question, “what is the transition between high school and college like at Middlebury?” Sebnem.

- I taught a first year seminar last semester. So I think I can speak to that a little bit in some detail. So I think first year seminars do a great job in helping students to transition from high school to college. And the way we designed our first year seminars is very much kind of focused on that transition and how to make sure that transition is as smooth as possible while we’re supporting our students in the best way possible. The way I designed my course, and many of my colleagues did so for their own first year seminars is very much kind of, mobilizing all the resources that we have here on campus for students from writing center to library, from oratory now for speaking skills to all sorts of other sources. So we socialize together, we have dinners at comms houses or we come together and socialize in our classroom or outside of our classroom. So we have significant support, especially for that transition coming from the college through the first year seminar program. So I think it helps substantially for students to make that transition in smaller groups because we have only 15 or 16 students in first year seminar classes and the advisor is there and students have very kind of, quickly develop a close relationship and they get to know the college quite well through their advisors, but also through their, small community that they grow into in their seminar.

- James.

- I also taught a first year seminar in the fall on conspiracy theories, which was a lot of fun, and I found that, I feel like students sometimes are just like, “oh, conspiracy theories, that is easy, and you don’t have to look at that with a scholarly lens.” And so that was sometimes tough. I would say that one of the things Middlebury students are known for is doing too much. They all want to be a part of, I’m taking four classes, maybe five classes, and then I have three or four extracurricular activities I want to do. And you see some students come in and try to pull that off from the get-go. So I would say, when you’re really starting out in that transition from high school, going into college, that there are a lot of activities that you will want to participate in, and you should look into those and you should participate in some of them. But make sure you have enough time for your academics because sometimes that can be really tough for some students. So just a little piece of advice.

- I’d like to piggyback on that question a little bit with a similar or related question, “how do you go about advising students before they choose a major?” Anne.

- Just briefly, I’m not sure if the prospective students if you all are aware, but the first year seminars are taught by faculty members from all the different disciplines on campus. And so one of the aspects of that, as you’re making the transition from high school into the college, academic and social world is that you are paired up with a group of 15 or 16 students and then a faculty member who it may be from a disciplinary area that you’re interested in. Or maybe something that the first year seminar was a course that you got yourself interested in, like conspiracy theory. And so, the selection on the first year seminar that you’re in, is often a topic that’s kind of interesting, and juicy and gives a good context for learning about all the different resources at Middlebury. And that faculty member who is your your academic advisor at the beginning, is somebody who’s seeing your coursework there in that seminar gets to know you through the experience of all the different aspects of the future seminar. And that faculty member may have other connections across other parts of campus and can help field questions that you have, even if that person isn’t specifically teaching in the area that you think you might want to major or things like that. And so the network of advising right from the very beginning is very broad and extensive across campus. It’s not sort of narrowly concentrated only in one part of the academic world here.

- Great, sorry I’m cruising all these wonderful questions that have been submitted. “So if a student is struggling in class, what ways can they get help? And how accessible is that help?” And related to that, “how does tutoring work at Middlebury?” Carly or Jeff, we haven’t heard your voices in a little while. Do you wanna chime in on that?

- Sure, as also having someone who’s taught a few first year seminars, this does come up and I think we, as a college, I’m sure my colleagues can can chime in a bit on this but as a college we strive to have tutoring and various kinds of academic support a part of the culture from the first semester. So that it is not a kind of red-flag or SOS kind of late in the game, saving effort, but rather, we have tutoring resources available on campus especially for writing. In individual subjects, we also have both the faculty and student network that includes office hours, of course, but that also includes student TA’s or students in a major who can be a kind of TA or a kind of a mentor, that’s what I mean it’s student mentors. Anyone else want to come add to that?

- Anne.

- Just from the perspective of the Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields to the introductory courses in most of those STEM disciplines have student TA’s associated with the courses who hold regularly scheduled study sessions that are open to any student in the class. And it’s a chance to get together and do homework together. So that’s a really good starting point. If you are a student who simply wants to be working in an environment where there are some other students around and you can have conversations about the work. Sometimes those conversations might be, “I don’t understand this yet, can we talk about it?” Sometimes those conversations might be like, “whoa that was really an interesting calculation,” or whatever it might be. And so that aspect of open study sessions that are led by or attended by a peer tutor, a teaching assistant is one of the aspects of tutoring. And then as Jeff said, the one-on-one tutoring that happens on campus is coordinated through our Center for Teaching, Learning and Research. And that is, like the group sessions that is free of charge for students. So there’s not a financial burden that comes along with that.

- Carly.

- Yeah, so I would add to this conversation by saying that it’s okay to struggle, and if we’re not struggling, it means we’re not doing something right because we’re not pushing ourselves enough or we’re not taking classes that are outside of our interest area and so struggling is good and we should embrace that feeling of things being hard, not run from it. And that is something that I think to get back to an earlier question about “what is something we could do better for our students?” I think it’s making that sensibility clear a lot earlier and a lot more often. And in addition to that, there are ways that students have found to support one another through formal and informal networks and mentorship programs, some of which Anne was just mentioning. In my classes, for example, in all of my classes, students have two course buddies, and they contact that person before they contact me if say they miss class, or they have a question about the reading that it’s midnight, and I’m not going to respond to the email before 2am but maybe their course body would. So I think the different faculty build in nets within their classes too so that we don’t get overwhelmed by the struggle. But again, like, we should stick with the feeling of struggle. That’s that’s my feeling.

- Sebnem, did you still wanna add?

- Yes, I also I completely agree with my colleagues, they they made wonderful points. But I wanna also kind of, put a little bit more emphasis on your desire to contact your professors if you find something really challenging and difficult. I think one of the best things about Middlebury is availability of professors. I mean, we have regular office hours, extensive office hours, and we love students coming in and asking us questions. So I have very close relationship with my students. And I love that kind of relationship and talking about their challenges what they need to thrive and improve their work. So this is a very important part of student-professor relationship here in Middlebury and it’s more than welcome to ask questions and ask for help from professors.

- “Is it possible to do research with humanities professors?” I’m looking at James but maybe someone else wants to jump in Jeff.

- Yeah, I can go first. Of course it is. I’m thinking of research even in a sort of broader sense. I’ve had one student who is my research assistant, we’ve worked together on a national memorial project, looking at Confederate memorials in the South and sort of the rhetoric of how these tried to display information and build community for the Southern communities. But I’ve also had a research assistant who right now is going to be an associate producer on the film that I’m producing. So the research there that she’s conducting is less even on the, doing the what we think of typical academic research, and doing more getting a byline on her resume that’s gonna help her if she decides to go into a field that wants to take advantage of film. So I think there’s a lot of different angles. And there’s a lot of money that we can utilize for research assistants to do your own research as well. And I think a lot of research assistants, at least with me, I’m not sure for everyone else it works out as partnerships where I will have them working on something I’m working on, but, if they have some interesting angles that they want to take, I’m there and I’m supporting them as well.

- Yeah, I would concur. And I think it’s maybe part of the idea of the question comes from understanding what research might be in a different various disciplines. But I have a student who is researching chant transcription. And that is because we have a monograph in our library that no one knows a whole lot about. And I wanted to learn more about it and perform it, but that goes out of the scope of my time. So I have an assistant basically helping me and this student is particularly interested in that study. So they will be able to take their research assistant work and make it their own ultimately. We also have students researching in ethnomusicology fairly frequently in different areas, quite similar sometimes to what James is talking about.

- Thanks. “Could one of you talk about the J-Term at Middlebury?” Carly.

- Yeah, I can. I just taught a J-Term this last January and it was so much fun. So there ended up being 27 Oh, I should back up and just be a little bit more broad I guess first. So J-Term is January term. And it’s a condensed, intensive, four-week semester essentially. And there are really fun and creative classes taught during J-Term that you can’t take it any other time. And sometimes faculty teach a different version of a class that they do teach during the regular semester. I mean any of you can take those but you can also take canoe building classes or the class that I taught was a class about the Jane Collective, which was an organization in Chicago in the late 1960s. Before abortion was illegal, before it was legal when it was still illegal. And a group of housewives and college students learned how to perform what we think of as this highly medicalized procedure. And so the class was trying to provide greater context for the material that circulated via the play that we then put on, and most of the students in the class were not GSFS majors and they weren’t theater majors. In fact, almost nobody had ever taken a GSFS class or a theater class. So we were quite a hodgepodge of hooligans. And it worked out perfectly because we all showed up every day, we were excited, we were committed, and students gained a lot of amazing skills, but also a lot of knowledge. And the best part is because you’re together for like, three hours a day, four days a week, you develop these intensive friendships and this real community in a very short time and it’s I think teaching a J-Term class is really special and from what the students say it’s a really unique and wonderful opportunity to take J-Term classes too.

- I’m gonna keep us moving to see if we can get maybe to two more questions. “How do the distribution requirements impact students education?” Sebnem.

- I think distribution requirements is a very important part of the liberal arts education we have here on campus and students are expected to take seven out of eight distribution requirements to graduate and they need to take those courses from a number of different disciplines. So that gives a good exposure to each and every one of the students we have here on campus to different disciplines, different ideas, different methods, different subject areas. So I think that that is a very key part of our curriculum that enriches student experience from liberal arts perspective.

- Okay, oh, Anne.

- I’ll just say briefly to you. It can create a really nice variability in your schedule when you’re planning a semester to have a few courses that have frequent deadlines, like weekly homework, and a few that have a longer arc for an assignment two or three papers over the course of a term. Those are sort of typical kinds of assignments. There might be much more creative things too. But having some variation in your schedule means that you get to flex and shift as you go. That can be really, really good just for your own sort of sense of productiveness and creativity.

- Okay, last question. “If each of you could, briefly as briefly as you can talk about why you chose to come and teach at Middlebury?” And I will go with Anne yep.

- You’re welcome to take the order. My own undergraduate work was at a small liberal arts college and then my graduate work in physics was at a larger university. And I really liked the combination of teaching and research that Middlebury has to offer. So I’m so glad to have ended up here.

- James,

- I teach writing almost extensively. So writing courses at many other universities can have a lot of students in them sometimes 25, 30, 35 students, and writing courses here are capped at 15 students. And it’s not just about easier work, it’s about being able to meet one-on-one with each of my students and talk about the work, talk about what’s working well with their writing, what they need help with, questions they have, and that is such a wonderful resource that you don’t get at many schools and I had to take advantage of that when I had the job offer.

- Sebnem

- Like Anne, I also had my undergrad degree from a small liberal arts college and then went on to a large public university for my PhD. And I love the environment we had in my undergrad. So, and on top of that, Middlebury, again, unlike many other liberal arts colleges has an amazing balance of teaching and research. And I like both teaching and researching. So that’s why I am really glad I’m here.

- Carly.

- I would say one of the things that most excited me about this job and that continues to bring me a lot of joy and pleasure is the intense focus on experiential, innovative and project based learning. And so as a lot of my examples suggested, I use projects In all of my classes. Students produce some kind of thing that allows the ideas that we’ve been discussing in class to circulate beyond our classroom. And that’s a really exciting way to teach, I think, because it means that you’re engaging not only with the students in your class, but also then all of the people they engage with. And I think that’s a really powerful way to imagine teaching, and it’s a way of teaching that’s encouraged here.

- I also, oh this is Jeff. I had the liberal arts education myself and conducted choirs at three liberal arts colleges for periods of time before coming to Middlebury. So I believe that perhaps like some of you, rising college students, those about to hopefully, consider coming here. You have something that seeks out the liberal arts environment. What I can say is that having come here, I have found the intellectual stimulation. I have found all the elements that my colleagues speak to. I’ve also found a fantastic student community to be a part of. I often tell colleagues that it’s a funny thing that some of my social life is actually my choir rehearsals. And maybe the thing I’d close with is that I also like living here. Middlebury is a lovely place, as a town, as a countryside. And so that is something that I’ve realized over time is actually really quite important to me.

- Thank you all again for joining us today. A huge thanks to our panelists. And hope you have a great rest of your day.

Diverse Experiences at Middlebury

Meet a panel of students who have had diverse experiences at Middlebury. Each has found their voice, place, and community here on campus, and they are excited to share their thoughts with you!

- Hi everyone! So we’re gonna get started today. Welcome to the Admissions Office’s panel, the Diverse Experiences of Middlebury Students. My name’s Maya. I’m an access intern at the Admissions Office. The main role of my job is to promote different diversity and inclusion opportunities at Middlebury. Today I have the awesome job of moderating our panel. What we’re going to do is we’re gonna have each of the students introduce themselves and then we’ll kind of dive into a variety of the questions that you guys have. Feel free to put questions in the Q and A box. It’s at the bottom bar. So feel free to type in Q and A questions in there. If we have a lot of questions we probably won’t get to all of them today but we will definitely follow up with you all via email. So we are just going to get started with some introductions. How about we have Mauricio go first?

- Hello, my name is Mauricio. I’m from Los Angeles. I’m a sophomore at Middlebury. I’m majoring in molecular biology and biochem and then double minoring in mathematics and Chinese. Outside of the classroom, I’m on the men’s rugby team and I TA for a couple of classes as well. Thank you.

- Awesome, Yasmine?

- Hello, my name is Yasmine. I’m also a sophomore, she/her/her pronouns. I’m majoring in international global studies with a focus in global security. I’m also doing the Spanish track. Some things I do outside of class, I do a lot of dancing on campus and I’m part of Middlebury Debate Society as well.

- Awesome, thank you, Sabian.

- Hi everyone, my name’s Sabian Edouard, I’m from Chicago. Pronouns he and his. I am a third year right now. I haven’t been on campus for awhile. Let me backtrack and think of what I do on campus. Community Friends, shoot, Community Friends Coordinator. Also on the men’s track team. And I just kinda bounce around a lot of our clubs around campus.

- Awesome, thank you, Tre?

- Hi, okay so my name is Tre. I am a junior. I’m from Chicago. I use all pronouns. So if you ever see me on campus, just know I use all pronouns. Oh wait, I am a education studies major, double majoring in theater, so I have two majors. Some of the things that I do on campus is that I am one of the current co-presidents of PALANA Social House, one of the Social Houses at Middlebury. I also am a fellow at the Anderson Freeman Resource Center.

- Awesome, great and we also have Araceli here who’s having some technical difficulties but she’s here on the phone. Araceli can you introduce yourself?

- [Araceli] Hi everyone, sorry about the technical difficulties. My name is Araceli Arizpe I’m a junior from San Antonio, Texas studying international global studies with a focus in the Middle East and a history minor. Outside of studies, I work and I also volunteer with Juntos, which is a migrant justice organization.

- Awesome, great, before we dive into questions, I’m gonna backtrack a little bit. Tre could you talk a little bit about what PALANA and the AFC are on campus.

- That’s a crazy question, no. Yes, I can. So let’s start with PALANA, Actually no let’s start with the AFC. The AFC stands for the Anderson Freeman Resource Center. It is a center that started five years ago and it’s run by some lovely people, I wanna say that I’m a part of that team. It’s a resource center for students, for low-income students, for LGBTQIA students, is a resource center for students looking for counseling services. There are an array of professors that work in that building. Probably one of the more familiar faces that you’ll see, once you’ll get onto Middlebury’s campus is Jennifer Herrera Condry who is the, not coordinator, what is the word, the co-director of the Anderson Freeman Center. So it’s, in a nutshell, it is a center that provides resources for underprivileged students at Middlebury. And then PALANA, PALANA stands for Pan African, LatinX, Asian, Native American. It was a house that was started 30 years ago by Middlebury students, mainly students of color who wanted a house that represented them on campus. So PALANA has gone through a lot of changes over the years. It started out as the Black and Latino Bicultural Center 30 years ago and then it re-morphed into an academic interest house where it stayed for awhile on 97 Adirondack Street, for I guess for students who had, I don’t know, similar academic interests, and so they all lived in the house together. And now, it’s one of the Middlebury Social Houses which I was a part of changing it to last year. Basically what that means is that we still have our academic interests but now we’re saying to the campus that minority students and POCs on Middlebury Campus, their main focus isn’t necessarily always academic, there has to be some leeway for us to have a good college experience. So we added the social factor into that. And now we’re a social house. I hope that you all get to come see it because it’s pretty great.

- Awesome thank you so much Tre. Please keep asking questions into the little Q and A box. We wanna have lots of questions answered by our lovely students today. The first question is, “I saw that there is a Black Student Union at Middlebury “but I want to confirm that they hold meetings and etc.” Could anyone talk a little bit about that?

- Yeah I can speak a little bit about that. Last year I was actually on the board of the Black Student Union at our school. It was kind of revitalized from a somewhat, not the best position a couple years ago. Now we actually have a great student body that follows, that comes to every meeting I believe they host every Sunday. But you know it changes by the year depending on the availability of the people on the board and such. I can confirm that they definitely hold meetings. They also hold some really cool events, really cool social gatherings and also some really cool activities outside of campus. I know they attend the Black Solidarity Conference every once in awhile. I think this year was a little hectic because of the whole coronavirus situation but I know they plan on doing that as an annual thing.

- Awesome, thank you. Another question is “What was your first semester “at Middlebury like academically? “What did you do for extracurriculars “and what were some challenges and victories “that you faced during this time?”

- I can answer that a little bit. My first semester was I think similar to a lot of people who come from inner cities because Middlebury is so different in terms of its environment. It’s surrounded by a lot of nature. It was a place that was really different from home. I went to a pretty big high school and going to a college that didn’t have as many students had like its own little learning curve. But what I really enjoyed was that even as early as your first semester you can just really dive into a whole variety of activities. So like in high school I did soccer and golf, random things, but then at Middlebury, I decided to do something different and I joined rugby which was something I had no experience in. Just knowing that you can go and try something new and you’ll have a community there, that the people are gonna be very welcoming it was just really nice. It really helped with my transition, to just feeling more comfortable on campus. There was one less thing for me to worry about so I could work on my studies and all that. Another thing was I was able to take a variety of different classes. I’m a science major but my first semester I only took one science course and the rest were like in film history and language and social justice, just all types of things that really help you see what you’re interested in so that you can further pursue those things. So that’s a little bit about my first semester.

- So another question that we had is “How does it feel to be a person of color “at a predominately White institution?”

- So I would say that sometimes it is very hard, especially in the classroom. I’ve had classes where I was the only Black woman in class and it’s hard wanting to answer a question, or either answer a question or ask a question in class because you’re the only one in there and you don’t want people to look at you differently. So I’d say it’s definitely, it is hard, but there are always support groups on campus, like other students who know exactly what you’re going through. So even though it’s difficult there are other people that you can talk to and it’s really not too bad, it’s not that bad.

- I can also speak on this too. I’m from Chicago. I went to a super big high school, over 4000 kids in my high school and it was incredibly diverse. I think it was half Hispanic, 40% White and then sprinkle other types of people. So I thought I had discovered whatever diversity was and what it could be, coming from Chicago I’m like, “Oh I’m diversified, “I’m good, I don’t have to worry about going to Middlebury, “and like meeting people.” And this touches upon my first semester, how that went. It was very stressful coming into the PWI and experiencing how it is that you feel like outed, not outed but feel like somewhat of an outsider to a somewhat exclusive feeling of identity. I think it was tough to grapple with at first. After awhile you sort of assert yourself in a way on campus that make other people respect who you are and it allows you to gain a sense of identity and a sense of respect for your background, where you come from. I think I learned a lot about myself, about my family’s culture, about how I want to be seen, not only on campus but in Chicago and in the world, based on how I present myself. So I think it may be a little difficult when you first arrive on campus, if you are a POC at a PWI and for those of you guys who may not know, PWI is predominately White institution. We’re just throwing all these terms around. A POC is a person of color. I think sometimes it may feel a little bit uncomfortable but you also have so many great people like us on campus, also staff, more and more staff are POCs now at Middlebury. You can find people that you can have a connection with and people that you can share experiences with.

- So I wanna also share. I agree with Sabian and Yasmine that like, especially if you come from the city, you’re probably used to being in different surroundings, having different demographics of people, and so yes, I think there is like a learning curve especially when you go to a PWI, just learning to navigate spaces or being comfortable in spaces without trying to change your identity. What I think that I’ve experienced and what maybe some other people have experienced is that the learning curve is just, well, for me, it was just understanding that sometimes you just gotta reach out. I think a great resource that made me feel more comfortable on campus is just knowing that the faculty, especially at Middlebury, they’re super welcoming and considerate and they really wanna get to know their students more. So that’s really cool. Another thing that I think is pretty evident with the student body at Midd is that people are interest-driven and so if you joined, I don’t think anybody does anything that they don’t want to do. So if you join a club or you take a class it’s because you’re interested in that topic or that subject, so if you join a club that’s surrounding a certain theme, whether that be like sports or stand up comedy or poetry you’re gonna be surrounding yourself with other individuals who like that so that’s another great way to get to know people, even if they don’t come from the same background as you. Another thing, I was surprised by was that I found that by going to a PWI, a predominately White institution, was that I kind of developed my own identity more and I took more pride in my own culture, something that being at home and my parents would just put on Spanish I did not want to listen to that. Now I find myself when I’m on campus just blasting my music and kind of indulging in it. So that’s kind of a beautiful thing that I’ve found. I don’t know if other people have experienced that or not.

- Great, thank you everyone for sharing that. So we have a question about academics. “Going into Middlebury, did you guys know what major “you would be setting your eyes on? “If not, how did you end up choosing your major?”

- Could I answer this question? Oh my God, so when I got to Middlebury I was under the impression that I was gonna be a biology major . I worked at it for a semester and let me tell you, my heart was just not set on being a biology major any more. Not because it was hard but I realized it was something that I did not wanna do. That’s the great thing about college in general is that you have the opportunity to figure out what you’re good at, what you wanna do. So to answer the question, I had an idea of what I wanted to major in when I got to Middlebury but that decision quickly changed and I’ve truly found my home being an education major and being a theater major. But if I could offer one piece of advice is don’t limit yourself when you come to this school because other people have said on the panel already there’s just so much of an opportunity to explore and to really like get different, whatever you need from all the classes that are offered. So yes and no.

- Can you repeat the question really quickly so I can make sure I’m answering it correctly?

- Yeah. “Going into Middlebury, did you guys know what major “you would be setting your eyes on? “If not, how did you end up choosing your major?”

- Okay so a big reason as to why I wanted to go to Midd was because Middlebury has an amazing environmental studies program. I don’t know if any of you guys who are tuning in are interested in that but I did a lot of research into it and I’m like wow, it’s amazing. So that’s what I wanted to do. I didn’t get into the intro environmental studies ES course first semester but then I took a chemistry course. I never took chemistry in high school. I thought I was going to hate it. I didn’t like the teacher I had in high school, didn’t think I was going to like it. And then after taking one semester of that I saw that I actually really enjoyed it. So then I just kind of forgot about environmental studies and just went down with Chemistry. I think that something that as Tre mentioned, that a lot of students need to keep in mind is that there’s always going to be a lot of time and opportunity to change. In fact, even when you fill out your Common App, you put down what an intended major might be but everybody comes in undeclared because they expect for you to try out new things for you to figure out what you actually want to do, whether it’s what you had initially intended to do or if it’s something different. That’s what admissions counselors and faculty, they know it’s going to happen. I think that throughout your first year, even second year, you’ll continue to take courses that seem interesting and then you’ll figure out what you want to do and study. That was the case for me and Tre.

- Awesome, thank you. Araceli, could you talk about what the vibes are on campus. “Does Middlebury ever feel small? “Would you say that it attracts the same type of person? “What does it feel like to walk through campus?” That’s a great question. I always find that, so I actually came from a super small school. My graduating class was 33 students. … because I enjoyed the familiarity, with having, you know, walking around campus and being able to recognize most faces and have a conversation with most people within that 15-minute period of time, walking from class to class. Especially on a sunny day, I think that’s when Middlebury’s campus environment really shines through is because you see students just like littered on the lawn with their blankets out or swinging from hammocks, throwing Frisbees, I think it’s just such a really cool vibe. It does have a very outdoorsy vibe, which is something that I wasn’t used to, coming from the city, I’m not a very, like different types of groups and different types of personalities, everyone has opinions on which dining hall is better than the other, the really, things that may seem really simple are things that I’ve come to appreciate, the small traditions about Middlebury.

- Awesome, thank you. So another question we have is “what are your favorite “and least favorite things about Middlebury?”

- Least favorite thing is that it’s almost as cold as Chicago. We have four vortexes in Chicago so I thought that was enough. Let me go to Vermont, that might be a little better, you know, Bernie Sanders and Ben and Jerry’s and everything, but it’s still cold, so it’s terrible. But besides the cold weather in the wintertime, it’s so beautiful. All the trees are just covered with snow. The mountaintops are also covered. One think I love about Middlebury is just like the environment, the amount of activities they have outdoors. I recently got my, I never thought I would have ever gotten this but, I recently got my outdoors first aid certification. Next term in the fall for anybody who’s gonna be coming to Middlebury, I’m gonna be like having a canoe trip. When I go back home and I tell my friends that, they’re like, “What, you’re going canoeing, “you’re going backpacking, “you’re doing all of these outdoorsy things?” These are things I wouldn’t normally do, I can’t really do in Chicago. It’s really opened my eyes to the amount of activities I had never had the opportunity of pursuing before. One of my favorite things about Middlebury is like how much you can actually do with the resources they give you and also what new activities they can really expose you to that you might have never have thought of trying before.

- Awesome thank you. I’m going to direct this question to Yasmine. “How are the research opportunities at Middlebury “and is it easy to join extracurriculars?”

- I haven’t done any research at Middlebury. I don’t know if Mauricio’s done any research. But joining extracurriculars is very simple. We have a fair at the beginning of the school year, a social organizations fair. We have those at the beginning of the school year and then we also have another one, it’s smaller, we have that in February, so when the Febs come, they’re able to see the organizations that we have on campus. It’s really big, you go and you sign up for mailing lists and you’ll get emails all the time. It’s just about showing up to the meetings. It’s super simple and super easy to get involved in extracurriculars on campus.

- Awesome, thank you. Oh Mauricio.

- As Yasmine was saying I think it’s pretty easy to get opportunities as early as your first year for extracurriculars to join as well as to do research, and not only do research but also TA for labs and lectures. I didn’t do any research my first year but Maya and I have a common friend, Michaela, who did research after freshman year and the way she got it was that she took an intro ocean floor class and then halfway through the semester, the professor said he had a position available in his lab for that upcoming summer, to let him know if they were interested. Michaela applied and she got it. So she spent the whole summer working on the research vessel that we have out in Vermont on Lake Champlain gathering core samples, sediment samples, mapping the current of the water and just doing fantastic research after her first year. Myself, I did a little bit of research this past semester or two semesters ago with our psychological statistics professor. One of them, Professor Gurland. The way I got that was that I took her class on psych stats and then I TA‘d for her and then she was like, “Oh, you know I might need some help “doing research, let me know if you’re interested.” So it’s pretty easy. A lot of the time what it takes is just asking, ‘cause there’s a lot of opportunities. It’s abundant, yeah.

- Awesome, thank you, thank you. Another question we have is, “Are any of you Febs? “If so, what has it been like? “If not, how do you view the Febs?”

- I think that I can go ahead and confirm that none of us are Febs. But I have a lot of Feb friends and let me tell you they are a joy to be around. I don’t view any student differently if they’re Febs or “regs.” So yeah, Febs are cool people. We love to get to know them. So if you’re a Feb, trying to think, if you’re a Feb I’ll still be around by the time you’d be coming to Middlebury. So look me up.

- Like he said there isn’t really, I don’t think there’s any stigma of like “Oh you’re a Feb, you’re a reg.” this or that. It’s just kinda like you take the same classes, you join the same clubs, it’s just really nice. What I do enjoy is that Febs, they come in mid-year, right, so after we’ve already, all the regs have taken, or have been on campus for one semester, then they come in with this new burst of energy and I think they really revitalize the campus, especially in the winter when they come on campus. I think they bring a lot of great energy. There’s a pretty funny thing where, I forgot what it’s called, it’s a corny thing that people ask Febs like “Oh what’d you do on your Febmester?” And yes it’s corny, that people always ask Febs that but I’m actually really interested in hearing about it ‘cause it’s people who maybe travel or they go and do research in Bolivia, they were studying a remedies and how they come from plants, just really cool stuff. People go and travel, learn new languages. I think I heard one Feb this past year was getting their real estate license in New York so they do a lot of really cool, just great things. So I love that.

- Awesome, thank you. Another question we have is, “Is there a supportive environment “for LGBTQ students?”

- The answer is yes. There is support for LGBTQAI students. You can come to the AFC, the Anderson Freeman Resource Center for that support. Right now on Middlebury’s campus, there are, I wanna say four or five LGBTQ groups and they do different things. They’re all a part of the Queer Coalition at Middlebury. There is QTPOC which stands for Queer Trans People of Color. There is Q and A, which I was a board member of my freshman year. And that stands for Queers and Allies. There’s also the Trans Affinity Group, TAG. There’s also another group. My point being is that there’s tons of support. There’s also in the Anderson Freeman Center, the assistant co-director, her name is Janae Due. She specializes in resources and support for queer students and is also a part of the Queer Coalition at Middlebury. So look out for that.

- Awesome, thank you Tre. We’ve had a couple of questions about the town of Middlebury and also what it’s like to be in the state of Vermont. Vermont isn’t the most diverse place. Could you guys talk a little bit about what it’s like to be engaging in the town, and engaging in the state.

- Yeah, so I think I can start us off. When I was a freshman, the spring of my freshman year, I started to work at the children’s center in town ‘cause I’m an education major, I was like, “This is gonna get me experience with working with kids.” One thing you should know about Middlebury is that everyone knows everyone. So as soon as I worked at that children’s center, I started seeing these kids and their parents around the campus, around the town, in the grocery store and so like, it’s a small town. In a sense, it’s very nice that you get to meet these townspeople and I feel in a lot of college towns there’s always this disconnect between the students and then everyone else. So Middlebury is the exception to where you will be able to go into the town, and the librarian knows your name or the cook from Sabai Sabai remembers your order. This is really nice. I’ve had a really nice experience in the town. Maybe other people can attest to their experiences also.

- [Araceli] I can talk a little bit about getting involved with the community. I think the best way to really get to know Middlebury as a town and Vermont as a state is having the opportunity to get involved with the Center for Community Engagement on campus. It’s a really great resource. Actually, if you guys are accepted, there’s like, you guys know that we have MiddView trips which are like orientation trips that students get the chance to take part of right before starting classes during their orientation week. I’ve had the opportunity when I was a first year I participated in a community engagement trip where we volunteered with schools, within the town of Middlebury and also around Vermont. Two years after I was a MiddView trip leader doing different trips like going to animal shelters and working with the immigration or the migrant community within Vermont. So I think you really get to see a different side of Middlebury as a town and Vermont as a state that you probably wouldn’t normally get to see just like inside of the Middlebury bubble. ‘Cause there is like, every college campus has its own little community but Middlebury definitely has great opportunities to get to know the community outside of campus.

- Something that we like to talk about a lot is that there aren’t a lot of colleges or universities that are founded by the towns that they’re in. Middlebury was founded by the town, like we wanna maintain those positive relationships between the students, the faculty and the town members. We have a lot of performances, whether that be orchestra or theater performances, plays, or we have a Hirschfield foreign film series every Saturday. Those are activities that are not only open to the students but then they’re also open for community members to go and enjoy as well. So every weekend with every performance, you’ll see that it’s pretty evenly split. You’ll see a lot of students but then you’ll see a lot of people from the town. You’ll see the faculty come in with their partners and children, it’s just really nice that you can go off campus and really engage with the community but then you also can engage with them on campus as well. And then another really cool way to kind of contribute or help out in the community is through the local Charter House in town which I really love. I go there maybe like twice a month on Sundays with a couple friends from the rugby team and we make lunch for the people who live there and use the Charter House’s resources. There’s just so many ways. And like Araceli was saying, the Center for Community Engagement is a great resource to kinda get connected to other places as well.

- Awesome, thank you. Another question we have is, “Do you feel there is “a divide between STEM and humanities majors?”

- Okay, so I came into Middlebury as a STEM major, molecular biology and biochemistry. I was taking chem classes, CS classes, bio classes for the last year and a half until this semester when I decided that it wasn’t for me. And so I left and I started taking classes in the IGS major, which is international global studies. I would say that there isn’t necessarily a divide, like if you wanna go from one to the next, it’s pretty simple. But you don’t see the same people. So it’s like, in all of my classes, there are people that I’ve never met before just because everyone I knew was in all these chem classes with me and these bio classes with me and so you won’t see the same people, especially because once someone starts a major, a lot of times they just stay within that major. So you won’t see the same people and it’s kind of weird having to adjust from seeing the same kids in your class that you’re comfortable with to seeing other people that are completely new to you. But with that being said, I think it’s easy to mix courses as well. So next semester, I’m taking a geography class and I’m still planning on taking STEM classes just without being a STEM major. It’s just the types of people in your classes aren’t the people that you’re going to see all the time.

- Awesome great, thank you. Sabian, can you talk a little bit about what students do for fun, what they do to unwind. What does a Saturday at Middlebury look like? We do a lot of things, depending on who you are, you can either go party on a weekend, you know very wholesome gatherings that we have in Middlebury for sure. There’s also like so many other things you can do. A lot of people just hang out with their friends, especially in PALANA House, which I’m a member of. I’ll see Tre around the house and then out of nowhere we’ll go kick back and invite all of our friends, play some music, have some Capri suns and some really good wholesome drinks. And then some people, they go to bar night, depending if you’re a senior, if you’re 21, you can go to bar night in town, which also is like a great way to engage with the community. Other things, clubs, such as the BSU organization. They’ll host a party maybe once a month. It’ll be a BSU, like with a certain theme sort of party. You also have other clubs that do the same thing. I know, I wanna say, I don’t wanna get this wrong, I’m pretty sure Alianza they throw like the I don’t know how to say it again. If anyone else wants to jump in too. What is it called? The party at Crossroads they have every month I think.

- Cafe Con Leche?

- Thank you Ro. Cafe Con Leche, they have that. There’s also just like so many like night time activities. I remember my freshman year I think there’s an event that Middlebury hosts called Nocturne, I think it’s a student organization that might host it. It’s like an art gallery all across and over the campus and most of it’s outside, some of it’s inside buildings. I remember there was one art display that was a projector outside, and it was projecting artwork on a building on a dormitory, I think it was Painter Hall. Honestly like it’s pretty amazing how creative Middlebury kids can get. I think you’ll find that the nightlife, the weekend events and the things you can do with your friends on your free time, there’s a variety of things that you guys can do.

- Yeah and I can add on a little bit to that too because I’m part of Residential Life. So I’m a first-year counselor so basically I’m a freshman RA. First-year counselors are required to be hosting events regularly for their residents. So just about every month I’m hosting some sort of event for my residents but there’s also a lot of weekends when we’re on duty or we’re just hanging out in our rooms. So even if you’re interested in having more of a laid-back weekend, there’s usually always something going on, whether that’s in your dorm, with your first-year counselor. We also have the Middlebury College Activities Board and they put on a ton of different movie events, trivia nights, so the options are pretty endless, which is great. Another question we have is, “How’s the food?” so that could be food in the dining halls, on campus, in the town, how’s the food?

- I would say the food in town is really good. There’s one restaurant that you’ll see a lot of students at which is called Sabai Sabai. People are there all the time. Very good, yes. The food on campus, I don’t know, I think I prefer my mom’s cooking, like it’s okay, but when they do recipes from home, which is the student sends in recipes that they know, that their parents have made, recipes from home usually are really really good, especially because they’re following exactly what the student has sent in, so those are really really good.

- Yeah I also wanna plug in a lot of our affinity orgs we have like, community dinners, like once a month. I’m gonna reference BSU again because I was part of that group last year. We hosted an event puddings, some really great stuff like . You’re gonna have friends on campus, you’re gonna meet them and they’re gonna know how to cook. You can also bring your cooking skills into the AFC’s kitchen like Tre said, the Anderson Freeman Resource Center. Personally I think the food on campus is it’s food, you know, you gotta appreciate it, like it’s really good. It may not be as good as your mom’s cooking or your cooking but you can also, you have like, in town options as well. You can also just go to just go to Hannafords, buy some ingredients and just cook it up, chef it up in your dorm.

- I just wanted to add on to Sabian. I’m also the president of another student group called the Distinguished Men of Color and like BSU, we also hold dinners. I think our most recent one was with a group called UMOJA. We had like a big community dinner, where students can come and then they can cook and then everybody will eat together. There’s also events at PALANA where we’ll make sushi together. So there’s always stuff to do in terms of cooking.

- Yeah and also on campus we have a couple of retail dining options in addition to the dining halls. So we also have Crossroads Cafe, which serves a lot of smoothies and coffees and drinks and I think Sabian works at Crossroads, I’m surprised he didn’t mention that.

- I forgot about that, y’all come through. I can hook it up.

- Sabian can make you a smoothie at Crossroads. We also have Wilson Cafe which serves a lot of bagels, a lot of snacks too which is nice. We also have The Grille, which is our on-campus dining option, our on-campus restaurant. So they have a lot of your college kid food, kinda the big Midd kid hit is called, why am I forgetting the name of it all of a sudden? A Dr. Feel-Good. So basically what a Dr. Feel-Good is is a grilled cheese sandwich with chicken tenders inside and that’s kinda like the big Midd kid item that everyone likes to order at The Grille. But we’ll move on to another question.

- For our vegetarians and our vegans out there, we’ve also got those options, don’t forget that.

- Yeah.

- Impossible burgers.

- Yeah and that’s both in the retail dining options and within the dining halls, usually our staff has vegan and vegetarian options separately from meat options and if you are lactose-intolerant and you need another alternative, you can just ask the staff and usually they can keep it in the back, which is really nice. Another question we have is, “What made you choose Middlebury over other colleges?”

- I was choosing between Middlebury and Northeastern. Those were my top two schools. I came in, as you all know, a STEM major, and I was originally gonna do pre-engineering. At Northeastern I could’ve done straight chemical engineering but at Middlebury, they have the three two program at Columbia. And so in my mind I was like okay, I’m gonna do all this STEM and then go straight into Columbia after junior year. So that was one reason, was because Middlebury gave me the option to go to two different institutions in the same time frame that I’d be in college anyway. I also chose Middlebury because the financial aid package was just really good and it was much better than Northeastern was offering me. I didn’t really have much motivation to go to Northeastern besides the fact that I would have done chemical engineering and I would’ve been on their cheer team. Middlebury offered like a really good financial aid package and then the opportunity to do more than one thing, if that’s what I wanted to do. I also talked to students who already attended Middlebury and got their, learned about what their experience was. I didn’t talk to any students at Northeastern, so I just knew more about Middlebury and they were also offering the best financial aid package and do that’s why I decided to go here.

- Thank you. Tre, did you wanna add on?

- Yeah, I just wanted to talk a little bit about one of the kind of Midd kids that you will meet at Middlebury is a Posse scholar. That’s actually how I chose to go to Middlebury. Mauricio and Sabian are also Posse scholars. I’m a Posse scholar. I’m a scholar for Chicago, Sabian is MI Posse and Mauricio is a Posse scholar for L.A. When we applied to Posse, we’re given a list of schools that we would like to go to and so like there’s, I cannot tell you, describe how hard this interviewing process was but we go through a certain number of interviews and then there’s essays and then we meet some Midd representative to talk to, and then yeah, I only had two options for college. Fortunately I had Middlebury through Posse and then I had my safety school which was the University of Illinois. But I chose Middlebury because I already knew I wanted to go to Middlebury. I knew a lot of people there. I was happy to be 17 hours away from my home. I was like, “Let’s do it. “It’s a new experience, let’s go for it.” And so, that’s how I chose Middlebury.

- Awesome. We have about seven minutes left. So we’ll get in a couple more questions. Can you guys talk about what your dorms looked like your first year, the quality of the space, the lighting, the storage. Even just like the vibes of the dorms that you may have lived in your first year.

- So I lived in Allen Hall, which is part of Atwater Commons, I don’t know what’s happening with that next year. Allen Hall is really nice. It’s all doubles. I think there’s probably like one single. There’s lots of storage space. I had a lot of stuff. The rooms there, honestly, really really big, which I’m not sure which dorms are gonna be freshman dorms next year but Allen is really good quality. As soon as you walk in, there’s a huge common room or lounge and you see everyone every time you go to your room. You will always see people there and so it’s really good at building community.

- I’ll jump in really quickly to kind of talk about our evolving residential life.system. For the past several years we’ve lived in a common system. This year we’re actually going to be transitioning to a new system which is more of a cluster system. Basically it takes a lot of the same things that we have in the common system, which is when you come to Middlebury, you’ll be placed into a first-year seminar and everyone who’s in your first-year seminar will also live in the same dorm as you. So that will remain the same. We’ll still have, everyone will have their own they will still have a Dean as part of there cluster which is really nice. Next year the first-year dorms that we’re gonna have are gonna be Allen Hall, Battell Hall, Stewart Hall and for the first time Hepburn Hall. Those are kind of just like the minor changes but all the good things that came from the common system, the kind of community aspect, the student-faculty relationship still remains. Does anyone else wanna talk about where they lived their first year?

- I lived in Hadley Hall which won’t be used as a freshman hall for next year but some things that I really liked is that you really get to know the people that live in your hall. So we were very close and we still keep in contact and we still meet up. There was like close to 20 or so in my hall, we get dinner sometimes, just whenever anybody’s free. I think it’s pretty easy to have that sense of community and build friendships with people who live across the hall from you or live down the hall. Another thing is that the way that you get, so whether you get put into a single or a double, it’s kind of random, but if you get put into a double, the way you get it is you fill out a questionnaire with about what’s your lifestyle habits are, what time you go to sleep, what sport, do you play any sports, what’s your involvement, so they can pair you up with someone who has similar interests as you. I haven’t really heard from a lot of people that have bad experiences with their roommates, you’ll be able to at least be able to live with them even if you aren’t necessarily best friends. I didn’t have a bad relationship with my roommate, I actually like never saw him, but yeah. It’s all right.

- Awesome, thank you. We have a couple minutes left, so we’re gonna wrap up with one question maybe one or two people can answer this question. “What’s a piece of advice that you would give “to an incoming Middlebury first-year?”

- I can answer. Something that I would tell incoming first-years which is what I always tell incoming first-years is the opportunities at Middlebury are endless and so don’t, just explore and try to become involved in as much as possible within reason, obviously, because you don’t want to burn yourself out. Freshman fatigue is a thing. Just go out there and do it all because you only have four years and I’m in my third one and I’m just like, there’s so much that I could’ve done. So just take advantage of the opportunity.

- This is something I would, oh sorry, Sabian, you go.

- Okay, I’ll just go real quick. I was just gonna say some wisdom from the junior class. Like Tre said, go in headstrong. I think freshman fatigue, to a certain extent, is okay. Put yourself out there. Just try all these new things, join all the new classes, join clubs, all that stuff. Just so you know what your boundaries are. You know how many classes, how many clubs you should join before you get too tired and you’re not able to balance the social life with the academics. Also, a lot of people just like receive everything that you would tell them. I would say make sure you know, this is just basic advice for life, like when you go anywhere, be aware of your surroundings, be aware of your environment and be aware of the people around you. Form your own opinions first before you listen to what someone else says and then create opinion off of that. Also, man, just have a good time. Just ‘cause you’re only here for four years. I’m a junior now. Everybody says this when they get through high school and college but you really gotta enjoy every single day like it’s your last ‘cause it’s gonna be up soon. Or you might be stuck in the situation that we are now we’re doing online classes. When you get to campus, really it’s gonna be great.

- Mauricio, do you wanna have the last word and last piece of advice?

- Yeah, I pretty much had the same thing to say as Sabian. A lot of times people are scared of pushing themselves out of their comfort zone but it’s really nice to just, maybe this is your comfort zone. I don’t think you should push yourself all the way out there. Maybe that’ll be too much of a jump. But if you kinda push yourself just a little bit outside so you can try out new things and you never know what you’re gonna like. Pretty soon your comfort zone will expand and you’ll just be more comfortable doing different things. And I think what Sabian said holds a lot of truth that doesn’t necessarily just apply to going to Midd, but no matter where you end up.

- Great. Well that is the end of our webinar. I’d like to thank all of our panelists for joining us today from across the country. Sabian is also abroad right now. So thank you everyone for joining us. If we didn’t get to answer your question today we will follow up with you via email. Feel free to also reach out to us at admissions@middlebury.edu and we’d be more than happy to answer any of your questions. So thank you so much for joining us today. Have a great day everyone.

Community Engagement and Innovation at Middlebury

Middlebury’s mission encourages students to engage with their communities and creatively address the world’s most challenging problems. Join us for a discussion with staff from the Center for Community Engagement and the Innovation Hub at Middlebury.

- Hello everyone, I’m Karen Bartlett, and welcome to our webinar about community engagement and innovation at Middlebury. I’m an Associate Director of Admissions at Middlebury, and I use she her pronouns. As with previous webinars we hope that you will submit your questions in the Q&A box at the bottom of your screen. And if we don’t get all of your questions today we’ll be getting back to you via email. I am really thrilled that we have both staff and students here today to talk to about how Middlebury offer students opportunities for engagement and innovation, and also the experiences of some of our students in those areas, it’s also interesting to note that everyone on the panel today, including myself, are Middlebury students or Middlebury graduates, so engaged as usual, right? So let’s get started and we’ll have everyone introduce themselves and then we’ll get them to some questions and answers in a little while. So Ashley, if you’ll kick it off, that would be great.

- My name is Ashley Laux, I’m the Director for the Center for Community Engagement. I use she her pronouns, I graduated from Middlebury in 2006.

- Hi everyone, my name is Meron Benti, I use she her pronouns, and I work at the Innovation Hub as a creativity and innovation associate, I graduated last May with a degree in anthropology and African studies.

- Jack?

- Hi everyone, my name is Jack Carew, I use he him his pronouns, I’m a senior member of the class of 2020 studying Comparative Literature and Global Health, and I’ve been so fortunate to have been involved in so many CCE, or Center for Community Engagement an Innovation Hub programs. Including TEDx, Clinton Global Initiative University, and the Innovation Hub, and Page One Literacy Project, Language in Motion. Middlebury Alternative Breaks, among some others in the CCE.

- Great, thank you. Francoise?

- Okay, I was muted. Hi, my name is Francoise Niyigena, I’m from Rwanda, and I use she her pronouns. Neuropsychology and psychology double major and doing a minor in education studies. And I guess first before I just wanna say congratulations to all the students who made it to the class of 2024, I love Middlebury and I’ve had so many amazing opportunities here including all the different activities I’ve been able to engage in at the Center for Community Engagement, in the Innovation Hub and all these different things on campus too, so I’m really, really excited to be able to share my experience with you today.

- Great, thank you Francoise. And Ben?

- Hi everyone my name is Ben Yamron, I’m a junior, I use he him his pronouns, I’m in international global studies major with a focus on Latin American Studies and a minor in sociology. Like them, I’m also involved in a lot of programs with the Innovation Hub, I work in their office, I’m a head coach for Oratory Now, which is a public speaking organization on-campus. I’ve participated in MiddCORE and Middlebury Social Impact Corp, which are both awesome programs. And also a member of the swim team as well.

- Thanks Ben. So in order to decode some of those organizations that you just heard mentioned, I think Ashley and Meron are going to cover some of the programs that are available through the CCE and the Innovation Hub. So Ashley, why don’t you go first and tell us a little bit about what the CCE offers?

- Sure. So the Center for Community Engagement help students connect with communities both here in Addison County and around the world. We offer programs including our student community service organizations, funding, and connect community projects within courses. I’m gonna be signaling to Nia to switch the slides, thank you. Over 1500 college students annually engaging our programs, doing about 65,000 hours of volunteer service each academic year. And over the course of their time at Middlebury, around 75% of students participate in some way through our programs, which is wonderful. Our program areas include what’s listed here, and I’ll just briefly share some of the highlights. We offer Alternative Break Trips, week long, immersive experiences over Feb break that are completely student designed, student led, and both Jack and Francoise can speak a little bit more about their experiences leading trips, we have both domestic and international trips. We’ve got eight youth and mentoring programs and for example the spring, many of our 120 Community Friends Mentors, which is a Big Brothers, Big Sisters Program, are continuing to mentor the youth remotely connecting with families even while we’re separated based on the coronavirus. Language in Motion helps students share their inner cultural experiences with K-12 students in Addison County. Both some of our students who have spent considerable time outside of the United States, or in different languages and cultures, it’s a wonderful chance to connect with local K-12 students as well. Our Privilege and Poverty Academic Custer connect students with courses related to economic inequality and offers internships that are related to those themes as well over the summers. And we also help students access the right to vote, and support in a nonpartisan way both voter engagement and voter registration. For those of you who are eligible, we hope you’re considering how to register to vote before starting college in the fall, or next February. And we offer a real range of funding to students, from immersive community-based experiences, both domestically and in international communities, including for our first years who are just starting out. Again we connect with many communities, both here and around the globe throughout the academic year and summer. And that’s our last slide, and so I’m happy to dive more deeply into our programs, but I’d love to pass it along to Meron, to share about the Innovation Hub, and then our students can share a bit more about their experiences as well.

- Thank you Ashley. So the Innovation Hub is a center dedicated to fostering creativity, innovation and social entrepreneurship at the college. We offer a variety of resources that are funding, mentorship events or coursework and those are all divided into five main programs that we offer. The first one is MiddCORE, which Ben has mentioned already as one of the programs that he did. And MiddCORE is basically a four week leadership and innovation program that happens, either in J term or over the summer, there are a lot of mentors and Middlebury alumni that are involved in it that come to teach a variety of workshops and just mentor the participants of the program. We also have a social entrepreneurship cohort-based program, which starts your sophomore year and goes up until your senior year. Francoise is part of the social entrepreneurship program, and social entrepreneurship fellows or change makers are eligible for up to $7000 that they can use towards their social entrepreneurship idea, or towards other initiatives that revolve around those themes. We also have creativity innovation programs that provider funding and mentorship and creative program for students that are interested in specifically entrepreneurial and innovative pursuits. And we also have global health programs that are hosted under the Innovation Hub, we have coursework where you can take global health classes towards a global health minor, and we also offer global health internships around the world. Like for example there was one this past January, 10 more students went to Ghana to work with a global health organization. And lastly Oratory Now is one of our programs as well. It’s a peer coaching program, public speaking coaching program where students are trained to be public speaking coaches and other students can book a private or group sessions and receive coaching and advising from other students. And you can move to the next slide. So as I was saying, all of our five main programmatic areas are divided in five types of resources. One of the end is funding, the social entrepreneurship funding sources, such as the one that I already mentioned, we have others that are called Midd Challenge, which is a pitch competition which actually just wrapped up, and basically students pitch their idea, whether it is a business idea, social impact idea or a tech idea, and they can receive up to $3000. We also have Projects for Peace, which is a $10,000 grant that is awarded to a group of students that are interested in implementing a project a round peace globally. Credit-wise we also added to MiddCORE we also offer other classes that are around again, creativity, innovation and social entrepreneurship. One of them is Middlebury Entrepreneurs, which is a J term class that helps students that already have a business idea get that business idea into a real thing to an actual business that you can run out of the college, or out of your home if you are about to graduate. Nia, next slide. And the last three main resources that we offer are space, mentorship and events. Space-wise we have a building that’s called Old Stone Mill, which is an entire building dedicated to students that already have a creative idea or entrepreneurial idea and just need some office space to either store their materials, their artistic materials or their products, if they are selling products, and they set up to be tenants of this building that’s called Old Stone Mill. And we also offer mentorship, one of them as I mentioned is Oratory Now, which is a public speaking, coaching and mentorship program. But we also have a relationship with the Vermont Small Business Development Center, which provides business advising to students that are launching their businesses. Lastly we also have a variety of events that are again, geared towards fostering creativity and innovation. One of them is TEDx Middlebury, Jack here on our panel was actually on the board for this year’s and other previous years TEDx Middlebury events. Basically it’s like any other TEDx, just with Middlebury themes and speakers that are invited by our TEDx board which is all made by Middlebury students. Lastly other event I wanted to highlight is The Hunt, which is a scavenger hunt that happens every J term, it’s a very creative scavenger hunt and the winning team receives $1000. As you can see there are a lot of programs that we offer, I tried to go through most of them as quickly as I could but feel free to ask any questions, or to reach out directly to me if you have specific questions.

- Great, thank you Meron and Ashley. We have a student who heard you mention MAlt Trips, and they were wondering if you could expand those students who have been involved in MAlt Trips, expand a little bit and tell us more about what a MAlt Trip is. Francoise?

- Yeah, sure. So my first year I think, coming in I really had no idea what I wanted to do, at first I thought I wanted to do like global health or public health and health care, but also I’ve always loved working with young people, and just wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, because I think I felt like I needed to know what I want to do in college. But then I think so my first semester I learned about the Middlebury alternative break trips, and I was like I’m gonna apply, and actually Jack was leading the trip. And the theme was empowering through education, and this trip was in Haiti. So basically what the Middlebury alternative break trips are is that students who apply to lead a trip to anywhere. And these serve as learning trips, and you spend a week in February, during Feb break to learn about whatever field you are interested in, but also give back in terms of service, depending on what your theme is. And so for this specific one we went to Haiti, and I think for me, being there and just we were interacting with these young kids who were staying in a school that was also an improvised kind of like orphanage for these kids whose parents just couldn’t take care of them, and so they had left them in the school. And so we spent time with the kids and we also went to other schools, and we learned about the education system in Haiti. As for me I think growing up in Rwanda I hadn’t really realized how similar other education systems could be to mine, but also in a way that wasn’t necessarily a positive way. Because I learned about just learning about Haiti’s education system, and just seeing how it was very much like my own education experiences. And I felt like I think for me it just was a throwback, it just threw me off and I was like oh my God, I didn’t really expect to have these educational systems in a whole different part of the world be so similar, and just realizing how much needs to be done in terms of rethinking some of these educational systems in developing countries. So then I think from that time that’s what I was like maybe this is something I wanna do more, kind of explore more in other contexts. And so I decided to apply to also lead a trip to Jamaica. So I was able to apply and co-lead a trip to Jamaica, and our thing was education beyond the classroom. And we were exploring the same themes. So learning about the education system in Jamaica, but also each one of us was leading different workshops throughout the week. So we had workshops on creative expression through dance and theater. We had workshops on social entrepreneurship and personal development and parent development. And talk to a lot of the young people about different opportunities after college. Because I think for me I think in my own context looking at that education that was so similar to mine, I didn’t really know about a lot of the opportunities, like in college and what learning outside the classroom looked like, because the education system is just so rigid, and it’s just like everything is about the class and you don’t really learn much after besides that. And I feel it kind of stunts young people’s potential. So we spend the week just working with these young people, and it was just really amazing I think for me to be able to connect with all these different young people, but also learn about this different education systems, and then think about what it is that I want to do and that has really informed a lot of the courses I’ve taken, and the different projects I’ve been able to do. Yeah, so I think that was really helpful and thinking about what I want to study, and that’s how I ended up Deciding to do psychology and neuroscience and education studies major minor, because now I want to work in education development, but I think a little bit it’s because of my experiences in that.

- Did you have anything to add, Jack?

- Yes, Francoise described that so well, but I just want to add too, the organization that we worked with, my sophomore year with friends for the first year, I was able to travel to and work with my first year with the support of another Center for Community Engagement Program or grant called the Cross-Cultural Community Service Grant, which are $500 grants given to a number of students every year who want to do community connected work. Domestically or out of the US. And the same organization that we work with, or that I worked with my first year in sophomore there. Another mid grad who graduated a couple of years before I matriculated in the fall of 2016, has worked with fairly extensively. So it was a very nice continuity and a nice way for Middlebury to show their connection to this community organization over time. Yeah, that’s a great program, thank you.

- Good. I have a student asking if do you have to have an idea for the business to do one of the entrepreneurship classes or programs? Meron, do you wanna?

- Yeah, I was wondering if anyone want to answer, but no you definitely don’t have to have a business idea when you get started either with MiddCORE or Middlebury Entrepreneurs, which are both of our classes that are geared towards helping students start a business. Especially MiddCORE is actually oriented towards students that have an interest towards entrepreneurship, but maybe are not really sure what business idea that they can implement. And so it revolves around a lot of self-discovery and just understanding what you’re interested in doing and what impact you are interested in bringing in whatever business area you are interested, and then throughout those four weeks you develop that, you research further your interests and then by the fourth week you come up with an idea of a business that you could get started with and the type of questions that you need to answer in order to actually make that business an actual thing.

- Now Ben, you did MiddCORE, do you want to speak a little bit more about your personal experience there?

- Sure. So as Meron said, you do not need to have a business idea, or be any sort of business person to do a program like this, they actually encourage you not to have any idea at all. Because the way MiddCORE works, is it’s a very intensive month, whether you do it in J term or in the summer, it’s about 40 hours a week of class time where you are getting the mentors they bring in come from all walks of life, all industries. You have hedge fund managers and artists and accountants and designers, and really a wide range of people who talk about their experiences. Which really in a lot of ways helps you figure out what you want to do, just by telling you how many things there are that you never knew existed. And so I came in with an interest, with nothing planned or nothing in my head, and I ended up with a business idea at the end, which was a really cool experience in such a short amount of time.

- Yeah, go ahead. Great, you did MiddCORE, yeah.

- I also did MiddCORE in my first semester. My first summer freshman year. And I think I didn’t really have any idea, Just about education, but that’s also very general. And I wanted to do something really related to that. But I think MiddCORE brings together so many amazing mentors who are experts in all these different fields, and you get to talk to them and really think about your own ideas but with a lot of mentorship, and sometimes even just by talking to them you are like oh, maybe this is something I could do. So I think going in I didn’t really know that this was my idea and this is what I was gonna do, that talking to the mentors was really, really helpful. And then of course I think the cool thing about what MiddCORE I think was for me, is I was able to think about this project that I wanted to do for about four weeks, and then coming back to the college I was like oh, okay, I thought about this project and now I actually want to implement it, and so I was able to apply for funding, also from what I have with my fellowship at the Innovation Hub, which is the social entrepreneurship fellowship, to then actually implement that project. And then I also got more funding from the CCE, the Academic Endowment Grant and just put together all that. But I think that was like, I just wanna say that you don’t necessarily need to know what business idea or what project you wanna do, but once that idea sparks you kinda have people to support you, And then you also have access to finding resources that you can actually implement that.

- I wanted to mention in the middle here that the CCE, the CCI, Center for Careers and Internships, as well as the Innovation Hub are all offering one-on-one virtual sessions that you can have a little bit time with these folks to ask your personal questions, so that might also be a sort of an avenue that you can investigate opportunities for yourself here at Middlebury, or for Feb maybe even before you get to Middlebury.

- Hello, sorry, another thing I’d just like to add on quickly is, you will see MiddCORE is basically like an entrepreneurial leadership program, and it definitely is that, but it’s also super applicable for people who aren’t looking to be business people, who aren’t entrepreneurs. Like we had a doctor come in, and an environmentalist come in as mentors who were super interesting and super helpful. So it really looks at leadership in general and working with other people and it can be in any industry it can be super helpful.

- Great, we have a student who’s interested in creating a non-profit. So it sounds like they already have an idea, where would they go, how do they start?

- Can I chime in and just say this is an example of the collaborative relationships between all three of the experiential learning centers so I can let Meron chime in about resources from the Innovation Hub, from the Center for Community Engagement we can talk about the requirements for starting a 501 in Vermont, and also point to community organizations and and mentors including the United Way of Addison County that we work with collaboratively to guide students who are interested in this process, there have been students who undertake this type of work when they are a student here and there’s also been students who might have started some work on this, before they come to college and want to continue to connect with their home community, so happy to support. Meron, do you have anything to add on that?

- Yeah that’s a really good point that all of our three centers can definitely help you find the work on your nonprofit. The Innovation Hub in particular provides a variety of funding sources. So as Ashley mentioned, there is then Midd Challenge Grant which is a grant of up to $3000 that you can use towards a summer project, which can be seed funding for your nonprofit. And we also provide more technical support on the logistical aspects of the work, filling out paperwork and connecting you with small business development organizations. And by business we also include nonprofits. Because at the end of the day the organizational information that you need are similar both for small businesses and small nonprofits. But we also provide just general advising by connecting you to other people that have nonprofits in Vermont, or if we know individuals from across the globe that might have experience within the type of social impact or nonprofit work that you are doing, we will try to connect you with them as well.

- Great. The next question is has any, for the students, has any of the work or projects you’ve done led to meaningful research?

- I can take that and maybe it looks like Francoise, well Francoise, how about you go for it and then I can share a couple of examples too?

- Okay. So one of the programs that I was able to participate in was the academic endowment grant and basically what it is is an opportunity for students to take something that excites you from class, some course that you are really interested in and maybe it’s something that you learned in any one of your courses and you were like oh, I really want to use this to actually do something. And so you connect what you’ve learned in class to do something that has some kind of community impact. And so over this J term I was able to lead research on the history of colonial education in Rwanda, and the prevalence of colonial legacy in our current education system. And then work with high school students to basically present that research to about 1000 other students. And then challenge a group of about 60 students to design projects that are rethinking colony education in Rwanda. And so that was really phenomenal I think for me. And just really inspiring but also very challenge for me, like I learned so much doing that research project but I think I hadn’t really thought about how I could connect something from one of my classes to doing a community project to community impact and just bring the two together, and that just makes classroom experiences I think more lively for me, just to know that I can take whatever excites me in class and actually do something with that. But I guess that’s one example.

- Ashley, you had something else to add?

- Yes, I was also just gonna add that through the privilege and poverty academic Custer, many students study economic inequality through a range of disciplines, and through that may decide a certain research question they are interested in and connect with the CCE, both in terms of accessing our academic outreach endowment grant that Francoise mentioned, as well as finding local partners who might be willing to participate in a research experience over this summer, or academic union with those students.

- Great. I’m gonna combine a couple of questions here, so how easy is it to start a new service organization on campus, and how competitive is the funding opportunities within these organizations?

- Jack, did you have any comments on that, or do you want me to take it? Okay, so Jack is just involved with multiple, as are all the students of our organizations. So the Center for Community Engagement supports about 20 community service organizations already, and we also include robust partnerships with nonprofits such as Habitat for Humanity and others, so if a student has an idea we often recommend that they plug into what’s going on already, since the breadth and depth of our clubs is quite extensive, and then each year we have students who apply to start their own service organization, and I would say as long as the students ideas meet real community needs, and seem appropriate in their scope, then it’s not that competitive of a process I would also say from my point of view that I love those students to chime in, that for quality projects, whether it’s an internship or an idea that you have to connect with a local or global institution, I think that there is relatively a lot of funding available. I think the real thing is, if students take time to meet with staff and faculty advisers to pick out which funding resources would best support their projects, then there’s a good amount of funding available. Would any of the students like to chime in on funding availability or how you could go about finding funding? Jack?

- I could definitely chime in on that. I was a little hesitant because I thought Ashley wanted me to talk about new organizations, which at least as far as I can remember, I haven’t started any new organizations at Middlebury, but there are so many it’s hard to keep track of. But one of the best parts of my Middlebury experience was finding this webpage that is like the Middlebury funding sources page, where it talks about, and Meron and I, she’s laughing, because we have had conversations about this. Where it lists everything from the Innovation Hub, from the Center for Community Engagement, and from the Careers and Internships Center. And there are so many that so much of the time it’s just a question of what is my idea, what is my project, what is the research that I’m trying to do, which one do I apply for. Because there are so, so many and so many people like Ashley said, that are willing to meet with you and help you develop the proposal within yourself to say I a qualified person to be proposing such a project, and I have this idea, what’s the best way to accomplish the goals or to make the change in the world that I want to. But my experience is that there have been so many sources of funding.

- Yeah, I think in addition to the website that Jeff mentioned, I think one other really helpful thing is talking to other students, or even professors, like Ashley was saying. I think when you have an idea or you want to do something you just talk to people about it, you always find people who tell you, here’s an opportunity you could apply for. And I think for me, from what I first learned about was from Meron, when I first got here, my first term I talk to Meron all the time, and she was like, you can apply to this and apply to that. I was like oh, how is it that there are all these places you can get funding from? And she calls that biting the panther. I think talking to people definitely makes a huge difference.

- That’s a great segue into my next question. I have students who are wondering if you can give examples of alumni who have done programs in the CCE, or the Innovation Hub and then have turned that into a first job or career? So do any examples of alumni, Young alumni come to mind? Jack, you must have some friends who are out in the wider world right now?

- There absolutely are, I’m just trying to think. Actually Meron, do you want to—

- Jack, while you think, while others think, this is not a reason alone, but just one example is that, Rory Hefferman is an alum who participated in Community Friends Mentoring Program and often comes back as a MiddCORE mentor and connects with the campus, and he is the chief operating optimist at the Life is Good company. And so we have many alum’s I think who use their varied experiences here to connect back. We’ve had, I think of one alum who went on a MAlt trip to the Dominican Republic to connect with the Mariposa Foundation, and then went back to teach English and worked for the organization after that. So I think often these experiences help to distill what students hope to do in the future, or what not to do. And lead to future pathways and connections for graduate school or jobs.

- I’m actually this summer I’ll be working with an alum from TUPs who did MiddCORE a few years ago, and now he is developing his idea into a start-up and I’ll be working with them. So that’s really exciting and it definitely does happen.

- Ben, can you tell us what the start-up is or is that top-secret?

- It’s pretty early stage I don’t want to give away too much information. But it’s a platform—

- Enough said.

- It’s a platform for people to find restaurants and other attractions that made ADA accessibility standards, because on places like TripAdvisor and Yelp, that information isn’t always available. So this is a bit more a targeted experience.

- Someone who is not as recent but who is an alum of Middlebury is this professional named Seth Croup I believe his name is, and he works at the CDC now. And I’m interviewing him on Friday as part of my involvement with the global health program in Middlebury’s office in DC, in conjunction with the career office on Middlebury’s College campus in Vermont, they are offering an advice on careers series that they typically would offer in person at the college. And they are having these webinars style panels online, and so the head of the global health program at Middlebury reached out to the global health minors to see who would like to have this opportunity to connect with someone who went through Middlebury and took the lessons that they’ve learned from being part of the global health program when it was in its infancy in the early 2000’s. And seeing where they are now 20 years later. So I’m really looking forward to that.

- I was just going to say I have some examples form the Innovation Hub of students that started their ideas at the Innovation Hub, or through programs at the Innovation Hub and then continued them after graduation. So for example, there is a company that is called Ski Dive, a Vermont-based company that makes winter gear, or winter apparel, and that was started by a few students in the early tens, 2010’s. And they are still working, they are still upgrading and it’s their main business. We will also have some very recent graduates from last year, or two years ago that started a company that’s called She Fly. It’s not their only job right now, but it’s definitely a company that is growing pretty fast, and they make pants that are, that help women pee in the outdoors. You can Google it, it’s called She fly, and they are getting a lot of attention and they are receiving a lot of funding through their fundraising initiatives. Another idea is also Share to Wear, which is a company that was started through a MiddCORE idea a few years ago. Basically it’s a group of students that started a dress renting service on campus, basically students would bring in clothes that they didn’t need to wear and they could rent it to other students that needed formal wear for different events. And they actually copy the same business idea to other colleges. And although the students that first started it have graduated now, other students have taken on that business and the ones that first started it are still working on it as graduates. And there are a few more examples like that. But from the Evolution Hub we have a few students that have continued working on their initiatives after graduation.

- Great. Ashley, could you describe a little bit more about the privilege and poverty cluster, this is a pretty new thing at Middlebury and I think that a lot of us are sort of wondering what the details are?

- So this is not a major or minor, but an opportunity for students to explore issues of economic inequality across the disciplines. Students take a capstone introductory course that shares a little bit about how we can think about issues of privilege and poverty and economic inequality, both domestically and internationally. Then students take some electives in their own disciplines, perhaps in the program that’s also part of their major or minor. They have the opportunity to do a paid summer internship in Addison County or across the United States we’re part of the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on the study of poverty. For some students they may be working new American families in Atlanta. Students have shadowed judges and worked in legal settings, all with the thread being thinking about the complexities of poverty and poverty alleviation work. And then there’s the capstone course where students have the opportunity to distill their learning and reflect on what they have learnt. What we’re finding is that students are really engaged in thinking about the issues of our day across disciplines and that this is a chance to get out of just having classes with your maths major friends, and to convene with their peers across different majors and minors, as well as having the experiential learning component over a summer.

- Thanks Ashley. Ben, can you talk a little bit more about Oratory Now and who you coach and why they come to you and what students hope to leave with once they have worked with you?

- Yes. So as Meron mentioned, Oratory Now is a peer coaching service. So what happens is students will go through a training period to become a public speaking coach, and then from there our staff approaches, gives workshops and classes and also books private sessions for individuals or groups if they have a presentation coming up, or just want to work for whatever reason. We also do other things like public speaking events. The two main ones are the Parker Merrill speech competition, which is a whole school-wide event, which I actually produced last year. And then the Spencer Prize competition, which is for first years only. And then right now we’re working on moving our services to be remote which is really exciting, so we’re working on video annotations for coaching, as well as workshops over Zoom for our remote classes right now. People come to us for all sorts of reasons as I said, and it’s growing really quickly so you’ll see all of it all over campus.

- Fantastic. We have some students wondering what or that some of the local organizations in Vermont that students get involved with and do community engagement with?

- Sure. So in Addison County, students are involved across many sectors, including our Addison Central School District. So schools in terms of poverty alleviation organizations, there are students who both volunteer and do internships at some of our homeless shelters including the Charterhouse Coalition as I mentioned, the Habitat for Humanity. And really we see students who come to Middlebury who may be already have a passion for connecting with a certain community, or volunteering with the animal shelter, and through the CCE you can connect with pretty much lots of types of organizations. I think that sometimes students are surprised to come from more urban settings, or from large cities at the range of community organizations and opportunities to connect directly with local community members. And so while homelessness or poverty may look different in Middlebury, as a rural community those issues are still very present, and something that many students want to contribute positive to during their time here.

- Anyone want to jump in there and add their experiences? Jack?

- Yeah, if I can help in real quick. I was thinking about this past February when I led a community engagement February student, or through Feb orientation trip. I was like, what are the words? And I had never been on the community engagement branch of trips before, because all of MiddView, or the orientation program is divided into the wilderness programs, the community engagement ones, and then the Vermont Explorer which kinda give you a taste of different Vermont things around Addison County, which is where Middlebury is located. And so this past February I had this amazing opportunity to co-lead a community engagement trip where we had a group of between eight and 11, maybe there were 10 new students. And my co-lead was a first year, she had only been on campus for six months or five months or so. So I brought my perspective of someone who’s been involved with different organizations around Middlebury and Addison County, and then she brought her perspective of someone who is newer, a little bit less jaded perhaps, had a fresher instead of eyes of everything. So I guess my point in saying this is that there is really an opportunity to get involved with community engagement from day one, or from the very beginning of your Middlebury experience. And the organizations we worked with were ones that I had never worked with before, which I think testifies to how many opportunities there are to be involved, because even though I’m involved with so many, like the three that we worked with over that trip, which were the New Community Project, the John Graham Shelter and the Charterhouse Coalition, I had never done anything with before, so it was amazing to learn about those before having to lead.

- My own kids are in the local public school system, and I would say that more often than not they have a Middlebury student who’s working in their classroom in some capacity, whether it’s through an education studies course or through the Center for community engagement. Or Language in Motion where students are sharing their cultural background with students. It’s really great for us as community members to know that the students are really engaging and bringing so much to our community. So it’s really lovely to see. Someone mentioned the Davies Peace Prize, no, Projects for Peace, sorry, and does anyone want to cover that what? I believe you were granted one of these, correct?

- Yeah, I was awarded one in 2018. So earlier when someone asked about how competitive the grants are, I think this is one of that. Of college because it’s, and people apply for it, a variety of people apply for it every year, so since it’s just one award it’s harder to get. It’s also the biggest lump of award money that is awarded for one student project, so that’s why it’s so difficult to receive it. But again, receiving feedback from students, from the staff members or professors that are running it always helps you craft your idea to be more competitive. Basically the projects for peace grant is part of a national program that’s run by the Davies Family Foundation, and this foundation has 100 $10,000 grants that they distribute across colleges in the US, and basically they are all connected by the idea that the project has to revolve around the idea of peace, and peace can be understood in very broad ways, but it really needs to bring some sort of peace and reconciliation in the communities where your project will be implemented in. We have had projects, it’s actually really cool to see the map of where the projects that have been assigned have been implemented in. They have been implemented in most continents that I could remember of, and it’s just a very global initiative, and every year we get a variety of projects that seek to use the funds to either help a specific demographic, or bring peace within different ethnic groups that might have some sort of ethnic conflict, or use language as a way to foster peace in a specific community. So it’s a way for students to get very innovative in the way in which the approach peace.

- And I guess I would piggyback on that a little bit. The CTLR is also a place where students go to think about getting fellowships. And students at Middlebury are extremely successful in getting really high end fellowships. So if you’re interested in pursuing a Watson, or another one of the really prestigious fellowships, the CTLR is willing to help you with that and your Grant proposals. Let’s see, what percentage of students are involved in community engagement, or in the Innovation Hub? I think there’s a lot of overlap, but maybe you guys could give us.

- As I said earlier about 75% of students by the time they graduate are involved in CCE programs, and we have a phrase, something like find your place, and so just to say that every student’s involvement in our programs can vary quite a bit. Some students may just want to connect with us for a summer internship going on a one-week MAlt trip, while some students may be a community’s friend’s mentor for all four years of making a weekly commitment for multiple years. So I think what’s so great about all three centers is there is chances to just jump in and get support and mentoring as you are ready as you need it, and get back out and focus on other things or opportunities to dive more in more deeply.

- At the Innovation Hub we have again, two thirds of the student body one way or another gets involved with some of our programs. Oratory Now is the program that definitely reaches the highest number of students because of the nature of its programming, being a peer oriented and going into classroom specifically. So in the fall semester they reached 4000 students through their programs, and they are definitely growing very fast as well.

- We’re actually coming down to the end of hour here, so in order to wrap up I’d love to hear from everybody on the panel. If you could share a highlight of your time at Middlebury, since everyone is a Middlebury graduate. And particularly if you have experiences through these centers that you would like to highlight, that would be something that I loved here, and I hope that the folks who are logged on would like to hear from you as well. So does anyone have one that is jumping to mind who want to start, looks like Ben is gonna be very—

- I can start, this was a program that I didn’t get a chance to talk about, I mentioned it quickly, the Middlebury Social Impact Corp. And what that is is they take a cohort of Middlebury students over the summer, and then they go to the Institute of International Studies in Monterey, which is also run by Middlebury, and we do a project there. So I went with a group of three other Middlebury students over the summer, last summer, and we got to work on a project with the United Way of Monterey County, I know they do a lot of work here with Addison County United Way, but we were over there working on research for United Way about how service providers Could recalibrate the resources to help people in need. And it was really cool, definitely a highlight for me, because all of us were in the same boat, we were all Middlebury students looking to make an impact somewhere else in the world, and we all got to do that together and see a very different environment to what we see in Middlebury. So then coming back gave us a lot of insight about where we want to go going forward, so that was really cool.

- Anyone else?

- I can go.

- Go for it.

- I just wanna say that one thing I really, really appreciate about all these centers, is that they are all really accessible. And I think especially for me coming in as a low income International student, I wasn’t sure for instance when I applied to the MAlt trip in Haiti, or thought of leading a trip to Jamaica, like how was I gonna afford these things. But just knowing that there is always financial support and financial aid in any of these programs I think has been really huge, and so really appreciated that and that’s allowed me to just not limit myself in terms of what I want to do. I just dream about something and I’m like yeah, I know I can get funding wherever. And then I think another huge thing is other of these experiences have made my learning experiences way more exciting, it was just like you sit in a classroom and you are like, it just feels like you don’t necessarily, I feel like for most of my high school experience it was just taking in a lot of theoretical knowledge, and looking back I’m just like could I have done more maybe with what I learned, but didn’t really have those opportunities just to do more, and now I can sit in a class and I’m like oh, here’s one thing in my child’s development class that stood out to me, and so over the summer I did some project that is like with kids, because of something I learned in that classroom. So yeah.

- Great, thank you.

- I can hop in briefly, something this past year that I’ve been so grateful for, I think it’s been the experience that’s allowed me to synthesize a lot of things that I’ve learned throughout the past 3 1/2, almost four years now, was serving as one of the MAlt presidents. So in this position I helped to organize and facilitate all the trips, we picked the leaders last May, and then we helped each trip leader pick their participants throughout the fall, and then have them plan their trips and figure out the logistics of all the trips with our community partners when the trips happened in February. But more so than just the logistical nitty-gritty of the details. I enjoyed planning the curriculum in a way for students and for the trip leaders, and helping them learn the skills like reflection, and skills like building effective relationships with their community partner and how to perform their trip and how to work on their service in a way that was equitable and in a way that was collaborative with the community partner. And I think having had the past 2 1/2 years since I led a MAlt trip my sophomore year, and having had that time to reflect and grow throughout classes and throughout experiential learning and then being able to return to a similar role or to return to being connected with the MAlt program and to pay it forward and talk to people that were working on it the first time. It was so meaningful to me. And I think I echo Francoise’s point, entirely with people you’re doing something you’re excited for, and it’s learning and you’re not just sitting in a classroom. Because sitting in a classroom is great and all, but when you have something that your gonna go to the elementary school after school that day and your gonna give a presentation about Spanish culture, your gonna give a presentation about some culture you are familiar with, or your gonna go in and read a book to children that you haven’t read since you were five years old. And your gonna revisit “Green Eggs and Ham” or whatever and maybe you’re going to share something with locals with people in the Middlebury or Addison County community. I think is super special and has been something I can’t even put into words how grateful I am.

- Ashley, Meron?

- Thank you so much for saying those, and I think for me, I guess I will just say participating alongside students in some of our one-time events, whether it’s helping out to paint a local library, or to do a shift at one of our homeless shelters, I think for me it seeing how that volunteer service can then then deepen into much more meaningful long-term engagement, whether it’s research, a student organization or connection is one of the two joys of why I come to work every day inspired and glad to be part of this community.

- Yeah for me I think that my experiences as a student with all these reasons. Therefore community engagement, the Innovation Hub the Center for Careers and Internships have been definitely the highlight of my time at Middlebury. Before coming to Middlebury, or even when I was a freshman, I would never have imagined that the following three years would have been so exciting, filled with so many programs and opportunities and traveling that I got to be involved with thanks to all these different resources that we shared with you today. And definitely made my time at Middlebury memorable, and that shaped my interest in what I wanted to in the long run as well.

- Excellent. And I’ll just finish off with the story that I got to meet Francoise before she even got to Middlebury I was traveling to meet with students in Rwanda. So I met her just before she got into Middlebury, and the highlight of my professional life is watching students like her come to Middlebury, come and discover all of what’s available to them, and just watching her make use of those resources and take that back to Rwanda and to other parts of Africa has been really a highlight for me. And so I hope that the students who are online today are getting inspired and thinking of all the different ways they might get plugged in here at Middlebury. If you want to sign up for a one-on-one with any of these centers the chat box on your screen shows some links, you can also find it on the Facebook page. And we really appreciate all of those of you who are online as our panelists today, thanks for taking time out of your day to do this with us. And thanks to everyone who logged on today. So we look forward to seeing you at Middlebury.

Middlebury Language Schools and Schools Abroad

Middlebury’s international and language programs are world-renowned and offer rich opportunities for students to engage across language, culture and global issues. This webinar will provide an overview of the many ways Middlebury students engage with the world.

Hi everyone. Thanks so much for joining us today and welcome to our webinar on Middlebury’s Language Schools and Study Abroad. My name’s Ace Adelworth. I work here in the admissions office. I use she/her pronouns. And while I didn’t attend Middlebury as a student, I did have the opportunity to study abroad through Middlebury at their school abroad in Yaounde, Cameroon. So three years ago, back in 2017, I spent five months speaking French and taking classes and doing lots of other things there, through Middlebury. It was a really incredible experience. We’re gonna hear from a lot of folks today who have incredible experiences through the Language Schools and study abroad. So I’m gonna turn it over to Molly, but first, I’d just like to point out the Q&A feature at the bottom of your screen. So through this webinar, feel free to type in any questions that you have for any of the presenters there and then at then end, we’ll try to answer those questions. Thanks, and Molly.

- Hi, my name is Molly Baker, and I’m the Director of Enrollment for the Language Schools. I’m originally from Virginia and have moved all over the world, actually, growing up. And I use she/her pronouns.

- Hi everyone, my name is Susan Parsons. I use she/her pronouns. I am class of 2001, and an alumna of the Middlebury School in France. I am the Assistant Director of International Programs. I work with the schools in France, Japan, and Russia. And France is behind me.

- Hi, I’m Virginia Schultz. I’m a current student, class of 2021. I use she/her pronouns. This past summer, I attended the Russian Language Schools at Middlebury and then this fall, for four months, I was studying in Moscow, Russia.

- Hi everyone, my name is Josh Sims Speyer. I use he/him pronouns. I’m a member of the class of 2021. I’m from Newton, Massachusetts. Last summer, I studied at the Middlebury Chinese Language school and then this fall, I spent time at the Middlebury schools in Kunming and Hangzhou, which are both in China.

- Hi everyone, my name is Zoe Lynds. I use she/her pronouns. I’m also a class of 2021, and I’m from Florence Italy. I last summer attended the Japanese Language Schools and spent seven months this year in Tokyo, Japan at our school abroad there.

- My name is William Garcia. And I’m also class of 2021. I’m from California and use he/him pronouns and I studied at the Middlebury French Summer School, and I studied my academic year in Poitiers, France.

- So, thanks for joining us today to learn more about Middlebury Language Schools and the schools abroad. First of all just congratulations to all the students and families for your acceptance into Middlebury. We are so excited for all of you. We of course wish that this presentation was in person, and that we could be with you one-on-one. We hope that all of your families are safe and healthy during this time, and we also look forward to a time we can celebrate being back together here in Vermont on this beautiful campus. Next slide. So, today my colleague Susan Parsons and I will dive into really who we are, what we offer, and what makes Middlebury really a truly international institution. We will be brief, as I know you really want to hear from our students, who just did our language and international programs. So, we’re gonna save plenty of time for a Q&A session and this is where we’ll really dive into the details. Middlebury really separates itself apart as a global institution. You can see from this map, we are located all across the world. We have 36 international sites all around the world with our schools abroad. We’re also located from coast to coast. We’re here in Vermont of course, but also the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, students can attend there as both undergraduates and graduate students. And then finally we have the Middlebury Language Schools. We’ve really established ourselves as the absolute best language program in the world, and we’re located right here on the campus of Middlebury College. I should point out that all of these global opportunities are also available to non-Middlebury students as well. We of course hope that you will attend Middlebury as an undergraduate though and really take advantage of this global network, because as Middlebury students, you’ll really have access to all of these opportunities, most students will study at the Language Schools before their third year. However, this is really up to the individual student and our students will go into a little bit more detail about this, and then students are typically gonna study either their junior year, fall or spring and go abroad. Next slide. So, now a little bit more about Middlebury Language Schools. As I mentioned, we are really the leading place to learn a language. And I always point out the three main reasons of how that really has come to be. First of all is the language pledge. This is a promise to speak, read, and write in a target language for the entire time students are on campus. So this is seven or eight weeks even for complete beginners all in language. No English 24/7. This model really makes our students have huge gains. So students usually improve about a year’s worth within that short time or even more. It really almost forces students to really make that large improvement. The second thing that really separates Middlebury Language Schools apart is we were founded over a 100 years ago. So we continue to really perfect language and learning language, and this has been going on for over a century, and we continue to innovate, which leads me to the last point on this slide. Year after year we were really the top school for language innovation, and this is just a process of tinkering and making sure that our students are continuing to have the best experience as possible. Next slide please. So, a little bit more about what we offer through Middlebury Language Schools. So you’ll typically hear about our seven and eight week summer emergent programs and you can see the languages listed on this slide, but there’s even more that are beyond these programs. For example if you look on the lower right of the slide, this is the German for seniors program. So students spend seven weeks studying German. A lot of these students are complete beginners and then at the end of the seven weeks they perform an opera. We are also piloting this summer for the first time a two-week language program in Abenaki, which we’re really excited about. Students will typically earn either three or four Middlebury units, which is the equivalent of nine or twelve credits at most universities. So again I mentioned the year’s worth of language increase, but this is also a huge opportunity for students to get ahead with their credits. Many students will first do the Middlebury Language Schools before they go abroad. And this is to meet the language requirement before they study abroad, and Susan will go into a little bit more detail about that. Our graduate programs, specifically are for students once they’re done if they want to continue in language, these are pretty unique to Middlebury and that you can complete them over four summers, and a lot of language teachers will do it this way, or we have quite a few students who start at Middlebury in Vermont and then they will go abroad for the year. So they have the opportunity to spend the year in Paris or Madrid or Moscow and then earn their MA within the year. This summer for the first time, we’re actually moving to an online model. So students will still receive the same amount of credits, either nine or 12 credits, but it will all be online and all be virtual. And this was just announced last week. So we’re still accepting applications for that through June through the summer. Next slide please. And last but not least about Middlebury Language Schools, I always get the question who comes to Middlebury Language Schools. It’s often thought that it’s only college students or that it’s expert language learners who come to the campus but it is really a wide array of types of students. We get high school graduates up to adults, up to retirees. Last summer we had an 84-year old do the seven-week French school. We have lawyers, we have nurses, we have quite a few government employees who come every year, authors, you name it. It’s a really really wide group of students who come to Middlebury Language Schools and make up the population, but of course Middlebury students are always a huge group of the students who come every summer, and this includes alumni and includes our current students, our students from Monterey. Oftentimes it’s really a life goal for people to come to Middlebury and learn a language. We hope that all of you one day will all be able to come for a summer and start either at the complete beginning level or get up and improve into the advanced level. And so we would love for you to join this community. So, now I’m gonna hand it over to Susan, who will talk a little bit more about our schools abroad and I’m more than happy to help answer questions at the end.

- Thanks Molly. So, yes, so Middlebury operates its own programs. The Middlebury schools abroad in 16 different countries and about 36 different sites. So in many countries where we have programs, we offer multiple cities where students can choose to study. Between 50 and 60% of the student body does study abroad before they graduate. The vast majority of students as Molly said do study during their junior year, although we occasionally have students who will study second semester sophomore year and occasionally during part of their senior year. Of those Middlebury students who study abroad, I would say about half of them study at a Middlebury school abroad, and I’ll talk about what the schools abroad offer in just a second. But I thought I should also mention the other half of Middlebury students who study abroad, go on what we call externally sponsored programs. So that is also an option that is available to students while they’re at Middlebury. There are other third-party study abroad providers that operate programs in countries, where we don’t operate ourselves or often we have students who will enroll directly in a host university in another country. So, for students who aren’t studying a language, sometimes they’ll choose English-speaking programs in Australia or New Zealand or their English-speaking programs in non-English speaking countries. Prague and Copenhagen for example are very popular programs currently among students, who choose externally sponsored programs. We also run a few summer programs out of our office as well including the Middlebury School of the Environment in China and the Museum Studies program at Oxford, both of which have been suspended for this summer, but in an ordinary summer, if you can call it ordinary, we would be operating those programs. Next slide please. So, it’s a little funny to be considering study abroad right now, just because you’ve just gotten into Middlebury and I imagine the excitement about coming to Middlebury Vermont is palpable. And so it’s hard to imagine leaving Middlebury and heading off to locations further away, but there are a lot of really good reasons to study abroad. The first perhaps, first and foremost, the schools abroad much like the language schools really pride themselves on your linguistic immersion and the language acquisition. Students complete a language placement test at the beginning and then at the end of the program to track their progress, and it’s amazing to see how you know we have a language pledge at the schools abroad just as Language Schools do. And it’s really impressive to see how much students language skills improve and I’ll let the returnees talk about that as well, if they want to share that how they feel their language has improved. And there are a couple of more slides, if you just don’t mind clicking again. Great, thank you. And so you know cultural immersion is another really important aspect of our programs. Many of our students are living with locals when they study abroad. Certainly at the schools abroad anyway, many of our students are living with either an international roommate in the student dorm at the local university or they’re living with a host family and they’re speaking the language, they’re having meals together. They’re really immersing themselves in local culture. A lot of students are gaining independence that they may not have had before studying abroad. I mean certainly College offers some newfound independence and then studying abroad even more so in terms of figuring out what to do with some unstructured time during the experience, studying, navigating public transportation as students adopt to that commuter lifestyle, and then finally employability. I mean it looks really impressive on a student’s resume to show that they have had an experience studying abroad, because a lot of those skills that you gain while you’re studying abroad are transferable to the job market. You know talking about adaptability, intercultural communication, having proficiency in another language, being able to navigate new and unfamiliar surroundings. And our Center for Careers and Internships offers some workshops for students after they’ve come back from studying abroad on how to market their study abroad experience to future employers. So, those are all benefits to considering study abroad. Next slide please. Now just to run through quickly, this varies by site. We don’t have a sort of cookie cutter program that we copy in all of our sites. So, a lot of it depends on what we’re working with, but the academic structure will depend from one site to the next. Feel free to just click through until you get to there’s some text and yep perfect, great, thank you. So there are three different models. In many of our locations we have a Middlebury Center or we at least rent out classroom space at the local universities, so that local professors are teaching classes to the program participants in the host country language, and so the class sizes are a little bit smaller. They know that they are teaching a class full of typically non-native speakers, and those are classes that are arranged by Middlebury. In other locations, students are just directly enrolling in classes at the local university and then the staff on-site are helping to support them through course registration, identifying academic tutors for students and then arranging all of the non-academic components such as extracurricular activities, weekend excursions et cetera. In some of our sites we are offering a combination of the two. So, some sites have just center courses; some sites have just direct enrollment at the local university and then some of our sites are offering sort of a hybrid of both of those types of courses. In all of our countries, we do offer students the opportunity to complete an academic internship. They have to complete a certain number of hours. They work with a supervisor, they also work with an academic tutor to write a research paper and then present in a symposium at the end of their time abroad on their experience, and that replaces one of their courses and having an internship while studying abroad can also be something that can be a real resume booster. So that’s sort of you know again depending on the site. That’s how the academic structure might vary. Next slide please. And you can click through, yeah perfect, and just as the academic structure does vary from one country to the next or one site to the next so do the housing options. So, in many of our locations we offer the option for students to live with a host family and those host families are always vetted by the program. Students complete a questionnaire so that they’re matched with a family that can either you know accommodate pet or food allergies or dietary restrictions those kinds of things. In some locations students live in an apartment with other local students. So, they’re still having that cultural immersion and linguistic immersion. In some sites where we work closely with a local university students might have the option to stay in a dorm, and then in some sites there are independent residence halls that are sort of like dorms, but they’re not affiliated with any one particular institution in the country, and we try not to have all of our students living in one residence hall for example, where there might sort of develop a Middlebury bubble. We want them to be spread around and meeting other people. Next slide please. So, that is it for me actually. So, I know that’s a really brief and wide-ranging overview of the schools abroad, but we have advisors in our office, who advise for different countries where we operate our programs. We have an advisor for all of the externally sponsored programs and we’re happy to talk with any students or family members, who are interested in learning more about our schools abroad opportunities. And so now I think the students have all introduced themselves. We’d love to open it up, I think create a surface for some questions now from participants, and…

- Yeah thanks so much for that, and so now we can start with some questions that we’ve received from audience members. The first question is do you have to do the summer language programs to study abroad?

- I can answer that question, no is the short answer. Different locations do have different language prerequisites. So, it’s typically anywhere from two years to three years, four or five or six semesters of a language. I should note also that we do have two sites at Oxford and in India, where there is no language requirement before studying abroad. For the other countries, sometimes we have students who decide to start a language in their sophomore year and they really want to study abroad in their junior year. So going to language school is a way to satisfy that requirement to be eligible to study abroad. Students who are coming in with previous language experience or who start their first year, often don’t have to go to language school, but choose to anyway, just because it’s a great way to bolster their language skills before they go. So that’s it in terms of requirements. I don’t know if students want to weigh in with your experience about attending language school prior to study abroad.

- I would say there is a large benefit in attending language school beforehand, in the means that you become comfortable with living in a language, and that makes the adjustment to abroad a lot easier.

- And so for any of the students, did you come to Middlebury and start a language that was completely new for you, and show of hands maybe. Okay wow everyone. So did you take a language class every semester for example for your first two years or what did that kind of look like for you?

- I couldn’t take this one. So I started Russian my freshman year and for the 100 level and 200 level Russian specifically and I think Chinese you have class five days a week for the first two years, which seems like a lot, but they’re usually only 45 minute or 55 minutes and then an hour 15 minutes once or twice a week, and you actually get really close with the people studying your language, which is really helpful because the more comfortable you are in the group of people you’re around, the more you talk and the more you improve in your language, and I found that my improvement at language school kind of doubled the improvement I had made in the first two years of just taking in at Middlebury during my regular courses and I went to Moscow with some other Middlebury super senior FEBS. So they were going abroad their final semester of Middlebury before they graduated in February, and they did not attend the language school, but they had taken Russian for two years and they struggled a bit in the beginning and obviously they still made a lot of exponential improvements in the end, but I felt really really lucky that I had been able to attend language school and felt so comfortable in the country of my host language in the beginning.

- Does anyone else wanna share thoughts on that question?

- So, Japanese also happens five days a week for the first two years of your schooling there, and adding on to what Virginia just said, because you have it five days a week and seems like a lot, but just the work is broken down and you’re just constantly practicing whereas if you just had two classes a week, you might be overloaded with other classes and not really given the time and there’s no secret to learning a language. You need to invest time in it. So, it’s nice that it’s built into the curriculum, because you’re forced to pay attention to your class. You can’t skimp on your homework because otherwise you won’t be making progress and the professors at least in the Japanese department and I believe in every other department they’re really good about helping you and drilling you and just encouraging you and like Virginia said you all become really close because it’s not easy to learn a language but you’re doing it all together and with professors that always are there to support.

- And so we have someone who asked if international students study abroad as well. And so you said you are from Florence, Italy. So, could you maybe speak to that or do you have a perspective on whether or not international students come to Middlebury and then are really excited to go study abroad as well?

- So, I’ve actually lived in the States for a while as well. So, I don’t think I really count as being international completely. I mean it’s a little complicated, but anyways I would say from my experience and from my friends, many of them are international students they actually do go abroad, because there are some who say no and this is already my kind of abroad experience. So, I want to stay at med. And other students who, because they’re learning the language, they really want to employ it in the host country or a country where it’s spoken. So many of my friends who were from other countries decided they wanted to spend at least a semester, if not a year, to really acquire the languages they’ve been working at, and also have a different experience because it’s not Middlebury, but is not their home country either.

- Another question, is it possible to do scientific research during study abroad?

- I can answer that, unless we have any science students who want to chime in, but I don’t think we do. Yes, so students with any major certainly can study abroad and we see them all complete a study abroad experience. Again it sort of varies by location what’s offered, but we, in particular where direct enrollment is available, I think it’s a little bit harder to have scientific research opportunities when we’re just in a site where there are center courses arranged by Middlebury, but for example we have a STEM track in Poitiers. William was studying in Poitiers, but there are some locations where we have STEM tracks or pre-med tracks and there are opportunities to conduct scientific research or complete an internship in a science lab for example. What we have started offering our STEM info sessions for study abroad. So we’ll have meeting in Bicentennial Hall with STEM majors or potential STEM majors and talk about all of the different opportunities for them with study abroad, and there’s usually somebody as well from the Center for Careers and Internships, who attends, who works with students, who are majoring in a STEM subject or who are on the pre-med track to talk about those opportunities, but yes absolutely, we have students complete, we actually had a student a few summers ago, who stayed on into the summer after the spring semester ended abroad and conducted research in a lab and is a co-author now on a publication that’s coming out on their, the findings of their research. So, it’s pretty cool.

- I can also chime in on that because I’m pre-med. So the schools in China are Middlebury centered program, you take classes out of, like you take the Middlebury classes at the program you’re in. And I had the opportunity to do a one-on-one on traditional Chinese medicine. So, no I didn’t have the chance to work in a lab but I did get to spend a whole semester with the professor just learning about one, just the language you need to use to talk about science, but two, this kind of idea of science from a whole different culture, so that was a really true experience in there.

- Is it possible to study abroad during J-term, the winter term at Middlebury?

- I guess I’ll take this one too. We don’t have any programs that we run out of our office that are just for J-term. The schools abroad programs aside from the two that we currently offer in the summer, are for a semester or for the full academic year, but there are faculty who run programs that have an international component over J-term. A few faculty members in the biology department have taken students to the Bahamas. The geology department has taken some students to Costa Rica and I can’t remember what department, but there was a group of students who were in Tanzania, I think, in one J-term. So, there’s no school abroad during J-term but there are like individual professors, who might take a class abroad.

- A couple of books have asked, if there are extra expenses for study abroad and whether or not financially it transfers for the schools abroad?

- I feel like I’ve been talking a lot. So I don’t want to monopolize the answer portion of the Q&A and any of the students should please feel free to chime in with your own experience, but financial aid does travel to the schools abroad, and so the billing looks a little bit different. In some places we only bill for a tuition amount. In others we bill for tuition and housing or even tuition room and board, but the figures are different than during the academic year. We have out-of-pocket expenses and estimates for those out-of-pocket expenses that we communicate to student financial services, and they factor those out-of-pocket expenses as well as the tuition amount when they are calculating each student’s aid award. So unless a family’s financial situation changes, their financial contribution to Middlebury should not change for a semester or a year abroad, compared with a semester or year on campus.

- This one is definitely for students. How did you each pick the language that you are now learning and basically our food then?

- I think I can take this one. So I in the past during high school, I dabbled a little in French and then come down to a registration right before we started freshman year, and I was between studying German and Russian, the French wasn’t an option. I wanted to explore something new. Come registration day, I mistake the registration numbers and in the panic of trying to get my classes, I decided I’ll go with French because I had verified it twice. And then from then on, I spoke with French ever since my freshman year and that’s kind of how I ended up here.

- Does anyone else have a similar and/or different story?

- So, actually I’m Franco-American. So my native languages are English and French and then I grew up speaking Italian as well. So I’ve learned a lot of Latin languages in my life and I thought I wanted to learn something completely different, and I was really just drawn to Japanese culture, and I like the sounds of the language, and if I could just, honestly my advice, when you’re picking your language is be sure that you’re interested in the culture behind it, and that you can possibly imagine yourself living in the country for a little bit at least, even if it’s just study abroad, because you can’t separate the language from the culture, and so if you don’t like that place, then I would recommend studying a different language.

- Just to go off of that I kind of chose Russian for the opposite decision just, I knew I had studied a lot of Russian history in high school and I was so interested in it, and I thought it was just the weirdest place and I wanted to know everything I could about it, because I just like the media portrays it as completely different than it actually is. And I also knew I wanted to be a political science major and looking back I kind of just tagged on Russian because I was interested in it, but it’s kind of become my whole life at Middlebury. Like I live eat and breathe Russian, and the Russian department’s my family. And yeah so I also think if you are so interested about a place and you kind of have no idea what you want to do like, choosing a random language that you think might not be your first choice at Middlebury is the best possible thing to do, because I’ve created friendships with people that I would have never met, and I lived in a country that seems very far off from normal for most people in America. So, yeah I just going off from the Sally’s point, I think there’s a bunch of different reasons people can choose a language but every option is good.

- I took a little bit of Chinese in high school. I didn’t learn that much and then I decided I wanted to do something other than like the STEM classes I was taking my freshman fall. So, I decided okay I’ll take Chinese and I fell in love with the language, I fell in love with the department kind of like Virginia, the Chinese department has become my family. But I think even more so I learned that by learning the new language and especially language that’s so, so different from English. You’re really able to gain a new, the tools to understand the world through different lens, and I think that’s kind of been the most invaluable part about learning Chinese and going abroad.

- So this question is it okay to not take a language at Middlebury and to still study abroad?

- I was the only one of my friends to go abroad and take the language pledge. All my other friends went to English-speaking countries and they had equally amazing opportunities, albeit very different, very, very different, but completely fine and both completely rewarding experiences in their own ways.

- And I would also say just from my perspective and speaking to Middlebury students and alum and prospective students while studying a language at Middlebury isn’t a requirement. Everyone I know who never even tried a language or took a class in another language for even just a semester at Middlebury really regretted it later on. And so I think it’s definitely good to just even try and you could absolutely study a language and then study abroad in an English-speaking country or study abroad in a program that isn’t kind of language intensive like the . I think there’s a lot of options for sure. This question is are the study abroad programs and/or the Language Schools very selective?

- I can answer that. So they’re not as selective as this application process that you just went through when you were applying to Middlebury College. So the Language Schools will take complete beginners and we really want to know that you will work hard, and come and sign the pledge and give it your all, but we’re not looking for top academic requirements when judging applications. The main thing is that you really want to be there and that you want to put yourself through a really challenging experience. For schools abroad, you will have to meet the language requirement, if you are taking a non English-speaking country, and then they’ll look at your general application too, but it won’t be as challenging as when you apply to Middlebury.

- I don’t know any Middlebury student who was taking a language and applied to language school or schools abroad and got rejected. So, I wouldn’t worry about it.

- Could any of you speak to internships that you did abroad, either through the schools abroad or maybe on your own over a summer? Did anyone do an internship while they were back?

- Yeah I did actually. I had to do two. One of them was shorter than the other, but I at least in the Japanese program you’re allowed to choose where you want to intern, and based on your interests or something you just thought you might want to try. So my first internship was helping middle school students learning English and then my second internship was working at a store that sold rice and like particular goods from a particular area in Japan. It’s completely different, and through that I learned various skills, quite different from each other, but I really took away, for me at least they were, I had to interact with a lot of people in Japanese all the time and in Japanese there’s a lot of ways of being polite or just casual. So it was very good practice for me to be able to speak and learn how to use them comfortably. And so, but my biggest takeaway from these internships was becoming comfortable with different ways of speaking, because every language it has its own particularity, and so when you have to use them day to day in different settings, it’s very useful.

- I actually did an internship while I was in Yaounde, Cameroon. I got there and didn’t really know that I wanted to do an internship. I talked to my program director about some of my academic interest and kind of the thesis work that I was planning to do once I got back to my home institution. And she was super well-connected, I think all of the program directors and all the programs are, and she knew people who knew people in this huge city and connected me with folks, and I ended up interning at an inclusive school, getting connected with a lot of really interesting community-based organizations and nonprofits, and were working across Cameroon, across Africa and really around the world. And I also did research alongside a professor at a local university. So, that was completely in French, learning how to kind of do data things in French, write research papers in French doing questionnaires, and handing out surveys throughout the city. And so it really connected me with a lot of different people, was great for my language skills, great for my research skills and kind of going forward it was really invaluable to the research I ended up doing my senior year after I studied abroad. I think it’s great because program directors are so well connected in many senses, and they can always kind of find an internship that fits exactly what you’re interested in doing, and I don’t think you can find that at just kind of any study abroad program. Let me get another question. What about FEB students studying abroad? Do they study abroad? When would they typically study abroad?

- Yeah FEBs can definitely study abroad. FEBs often tell me that they feel they have a little bit more flexibility. I think it depends on whether or not they come in with previous language experience and if not, if the language they want to study offers an accelerated beginning semester, the spring semester, because if it doesn’t, then it’s true students have to wait a semester after they’ve arrived before they can begin the language, but I have not seen a FEB who has come to me asking about study abroad not to do it in the end. So, I think you know sometimes FEBs will go there. Technically their fourth semester or fifth or sixth. I haven’t seen any issues with FEBs. I mean again you might have to wait a semester. You might not be able to start a beginning language until September which might make language school a really attractive option to get up to speed on the language before your desired semester to study abroad. That’s all I can say.

- Does anyone have experience with the turbo language classes?

- No, and the turbo classes are kind of I think the idea is that if you are used to speaking in one language and then you could kind of jump into another language that is maybe similar, but a little bit different, I think one example is with Spanish, if you’re familiar with Spanish you could jump into Portuguese and kind of get up to speed in this turbo class and much more than that I can’t really say but, what about, can you speak at all to the professional areas that students from Middlebury, who have studied a language or specifically are majoring in a language? What kind of fields are they going into based on who you know friends, that sort of thing?

- I guess I can only speak for like the people I know. A lot of Chinese students will do something related to government intelligence. Others will do other sorts of international relations a lot, will going to consulting and a lot will pursue literature and other more culture related areas. It’s kind of the world is your oyster when you want to watch.

- Going off of that the CCI which is the Career for Centers and Internships at Middlebury did a really really good job last summer when I was at language schools coordinating different government factions to come to Middlebury and different consulting firm to come and talk about why they value language and where you can take that with your career. So someone from the State Department came; someone from a big consulting firm came and was saying that every time they hire someone they need to have them be proficient in a language, so you can do so much more with proficiency in a language than you think. But for Russian that’s kind of the same. Chinese I think people either go into academia or because there’s so much with Russian literature and et cetera, but you can also go into the government or into a consulting firm or into finance or any other company that needs to do business with any country where you speak the language is so helpful. We have a CCI does a really good job, if you have any questions regarding that you can reach out.

- I think with my experiences from the people I’ve met in France and other Americans who were in the University of Poitiers, they’re I guess for French, and I’m pretty sure this might apply for other languages. There’s teaching programs, and so I met these students who did the program called Tap Keys, which is a teaching program, where we teach English and France for a year, and the students who I met were doing that program would do it as kind of a gap year leading towards applying to graduate school, med school and other types of professional programs. So, I think that would be something interesting would be like look at would be like teaching programs abroad to kind of get a lay of the land and experience for professional work, and then as well as postgraduate work afterwards. And for Japanese, there’s also the Jet program, which is kind of similar. It can be both teaching where you can also be doing research I think are working somewhere in Japan. But apart from that I’ve seen a lot of people use Japanese in another field of choice. So, their major will not be Japanese, but the limit so they’ll be majoring say, I don’t know in computer science and therefore they’ll use their Japanese language skills to work either in Japan or somewhere where there’s a gap needed. They need someone to be able to speak Japanese as well as English or whatever language proficiently. So, there’s really a whole wide range of places people have gone from the Japanese Department.

- So, this is a quick language school program. If a student who would technically be an incoming student mid September or February to Middlebury, could they do the language school this summer before they officially join the class?

- Yes, so they they definitely can. They would just complete the same application and when you’re a med student too, it really speeds up the application process too. So just submit your application and you’ll be fast-tracked.

- So, this is a really great important question. How strict is the language pledge?

- Are you talking about the Summer Language Schools or study abroad?

- And I guess both you could talk about it in either context. I know it from the study abroad context, and I would say it’s strict, but I’ve seen it in the context of being on campus in the summer, it also seems pretty strict.

- Yeah I mean I can only speak for Japanese but it was very, very strict. I think it also depends on I think it overall is strict everywhere, but each language has its own culture and so there’s like varying levels that comes out with the language pledge. In Japanese culture of respecting rules is super important, so all of the professors really, really emphasize the fact that three strikes and you’re out. You cannot break the language pledge. So, it’s quite daunting but on the other hand everybody’s doing it around you. So you’re all kind of like, “Oh man this is tough but I’m not the only one” and you can you find ways around it, it can be really hilarious when you don’t know what you’re saying, and you try to get it across in a different language that you’re learning but everybody’s understanding of it.

- I think another thing to add on to that is at least my experience with Chinese school is like Japanese school it’s very strict. But it doesn’t feel like a rule and more sort of like the result of everyone just wanting to speak Chinese. There weren’t many like problems with people wanting to speak English. I think the people who go to language school are very driven and they’re there to learn a language and they’re there to speak the target language. So, it doesn’t become a problem, and you know they aren’t wild about it, like if you need to call your parents or you know speak to someone on the phone, like as long as other people can’t hear you like it’s okay, it’s reasonable but again I think it’s there as a formality but I haven’t really seen people trying to break it.

- I would say it’s not so much trying to scare people like “Oh you’re gonna get kicked out if you “speak in English,” but it’s more something to drive you to try your hardest to speak in the target language. And I personally followed it very strictly at Middlebury language school, and I found myself thinking and dreaming in Russian. So it’s really just to benefit yourself, and it’s harder, I will say it’s harder abroad to follow that as strictly, because you know you’re in a foreign country. You need to sometimes like talk to people more often in English but if you’re really trying to do the same amount of immersion as you did in language school, when you go abroad, I really, really would recommend staying with the host family, because my host mother did not speak a word of English. So, I literally had to speak in Russian all the time, which also helped a lot and it was a completely different type of language pledge in that sense, like it was more of a necessity instead of me wanting to, but yeah I would say Middlebury students are mostly just motivated based on their own passion for the language instead of fear.

- Sorry go ahead William.

- I was gonna say opposite to Virginia, I stayed in a university residence, and I think that it was in those moments where I was to myself where kind of the language pledge is something that you do for yourself, because in kind of having more autonomy, not really, it was up to me to search and find French friends and people to speak with, as well as those who, my peers from Middlebury and at the school. And so I think that when you keep the language pledge in mind, and kind of how beneficiary it is come to your day-to-day when you’re kind of on your own, the sense of accomplishment you feel afterwards it just kind of like helps you motivate to kind of want to learn the language even more.

- So, kind of wrapping up, does anyone have any last things they’d like to say about what you think the most distinctive kind of aspect of the Language Schools or study abroad programs at Middlebury are? You can keep talking while the screen pops up with all the contact information of the folks in this panel, but does anyone want to add anything?

- I would just say that, oh sorry Zoe and Josh, I’ll just be really quick. If you’re on the verge of wanting to take a language and you know you’re going to Middlebury. There’s no reason not to follow that hunch, because it’s the best place in the world arguably to follow that. So I would just say don’t be scared, just take the leap, because it’ll be really worth it.

- I agree with that. So, at this point just want to let you all, well one thank you all for joining us virtually or Zoom, thanks to all of our panelists for joining as well. If we didn’t get to your questions, I will be reaching out to you over the course of the next week or so via email to answer those questions. Thanks for asking them and if you want to get connected with any of the folks on this panel, you can send an email to admissions@middlebury.edu, and we’ll connect you to answer any other questions or curiosities that you might have. And so thanks so much everyone again for joining us and hope to see you on campus soon in the fall or maybe in February for FEBs.

Alumni of Color

We’ve addressed how Middlebury supports students as undergraduates. Now let’s speak with three alumni of color about their very different journeys to, through, and after Middlebury.

- Hi everyone! Welcome to our webinar entitled To, Through, and Beyond, Alumni of Color on Middlebury and Life After College. I am Santana Audet, I am Coordinator of Diversity, Access, and Inclusion Initiatives at Middlebury. I’m class of 2013 and I am a Senior Assistant Director of Admissions. I prefer she/her pronouns. And I do want to say, please use the Q&A feature, we want this to be an interactive experience for you all and for us. And so, if you use the Q&A feature, we will be able to see you questions and pose them to the panelists. If we do not get to all of your questions today, we will follow-up via email in the next few days with you. And also, please remember that tonight, we have a meet and greet with Cultural Orgs at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time. We have Alianza, which is our Latinx and Caribbean affinity org, we have BSU, Women of Color, the International Student Organization, and Junco, so we’ve got some really good representation in that meet and greet and I know they’d love to see you all so if you can tune in, please do. The link is in the Facebook groups. So, welcome panelists. Thank you so much for being here. Would you mind starting off introducing yourselves, class year, majors, minors, let’s see, where you grew up, where you are now, and sort of your path, your career and education path after graduating Middlebury. I’ll call on you so you know which one to go next, so, but we can start with Cameron.

- Sure. Hey guys, my name is Cameron McKinney. I graduated in 2014, I was a dance and Japanese joint major. And I started, I grew up in Tennessee, in Memphis, Tennessee. And going to Middlebury was the furthest away from home I had been at that point. When I came into Middlebury, my goal was to major in international politics with an East Asian focus. But I ended up discovering dance when I was at Middlebury and it kinda took over my entire life. So, as it tends to. So, I graduated with dance and Japanese joint major and then now I have a company called Kizuna Dance that works professionally in New York. We tour nationally and internationally every season. We actually were supposed to be at the Olympics this year but that didn’t work out. But, maybe it will for 2021, we’ll see. And, what else was there? My journey to Middlebury, like I said, I went to Middlebury because I knew, I heard of how great the language program was. And so my focus was on learning Japanese and trying to master Japanese. Still very much a work in progress. But Middlebury hands down has the best language programs out there. So that’s why, that’s what drew me to Middlebury initially and I’m also alumni of the language school program so I can talk about that as well if that’s of interest to people. And I also have the experience, I took Japanese and Chinese and Italian also, so I kinda jumped around some languages there. I also worked at Middlebury. I was a manager of the language tables for my last two years so if anybody is interested in what working at Middlebury is like and how to balance that, I can talk about that as well.

- Toni?

- A little bit of overlap with Cameron. I’m Toni Cross, 2018. Originally from Orlando, Florida and I literally Googled best college to study languages and that’s how I ended up at Mid. So I was an international and global studies major focused on Russia and Eastern Europe and an Arabic minor. I also worked at language tables and can talk about that. I worked as research assistant, as a peer tutor, did a lot of the volunteer groups in cultural orgs as well. Straight after Mid, I went right into grad school to study my, I have one more class to go before I have a Masters in National Security. And because I’m just wild and out there I’m going straight into law school in the fall, hopefully, so I’ll be at Vanderbilt University in Nashville this fall hoping that, oh yeah sorry, she/her pronouns, is there, trying to think of some other stuff but I think that’s mostly it for now.

- And Annie?

- Hi everyone, my name is Annie Onishi and I guess I’m the old lady of the group, I’m class of ‘09. I’m a she/her/hers pronoun person. I am from Westfield, New Jersey. I think my dad’s actually on the line, hey dad! And I ended up at Middlebury because I actually only got into two schools. I got into Middlebury and University of Michigan where my dad had gone and when I was 17 and 18, I think I probably would have just gotten lost at a place like Michigan. I think I didn’t have a lot of direction, I didn’t know what I wanted to do and the small liberal arts way of life is really what shaped my adult life. And I’m really thankful for that. I did a biochemistry major, I did a Spanish minor, I was one class away from a film studies minor. I took a year of Japanese. I worked at the climbing wall as a monitor there and I was very active in the common system which I heard is no longer a thing, which is devastating, but that’s okay. I also completed my pre-med requirements. And I went straight from Middlebury to Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and I graduated med school in 2013. Stayed at Columbia for residency and general surgery, and so just finished up there last year and now I am doing a fellowship in trauma surgery and surgical critical care, University of Southern California in Los Angeles County Hospital. So that’s where I am now.

- Nice, thank you all so much. I think we’ll start off with the first question. Do you feel like Middlebury supported you in your career and education goals and if so, how so?

- Well sure, I can start. Yes, to be the short answer. You know, the small liberal arts experience, you kind of, you have a little bit of flexibility to cater toward what you’re after. And my major, in terms of dance, they really were very open about combining it with anything I wanted to. And I actually started off as a dance and politics joint major and ended up switching to Japanese. And they were very much open about that. During my time at Middlebury, the professors in the dance department were very open about the realistic prospects of what a dance career would be like post-Middlebury in the sense that, liberal arts education gives you such a broader scope of different topics that is often what informs the more complex, in my opinion, the more complex and the more interesting kinds of dance making. But then at the same time, I mean, I’m speaking if there are any dancers out there, at the same time, the Middlebury program at that time wasn’t as focused on this idea of technique. And so, going into the professional world, they were very realistic about saying, you know, you’ll be able to think about your dance a lot but you might not be able to pull your leg up as far as some ballet people might. And so, going into the professional world, my company has been back to Middlebury actually twice for week-long residencies where we perform, we taught, and all the professors in the department have been very active in my post-graduate life from simple things like writing recommendations to also, you know, providing us performing opportunities and sending our work to other people and speaking on a high note. My Japanese thesis advisor, he has been very active in my post career, post-graduation career as well. We were actually were supposed to perform at the language school this summer but that didn’t quite work out. But he’s always been around, bringing me into the more Middlebury alumni for more kinda helping where anybody can as well.

- I can go. So, because I knew I was going to grad school right after Mid, I didn’t really take advantage of the career services, I have a ton of friends who did and they’re all gainfully employed, all loving what they do now. And the career services people were very helpful for that. My goal, when I entered college, was to leave speaking Russian and Arabic better than I already did and as far as my advisor knows and he has been at Mid for 40 years or something wild, I was the first person to come to Mid and learn enough Russian and Arabic to study abroad in Russia and Morocco being a non-native speaker. So, that was a huge life goal, career goal of mine and Mid really, the language program is excellent. The teachers are amazing, they’ve written me recommendations for so many things, I Facebook message them and send them memes and that’s fine. And I ask them for life advice and that’s fine. And so, you don’t get that at a bigger school, obviously. And that’s something that I’ll be forever grateful to Mid for. When I finally decide to start working, maybe at age 27, who knows, if that ever happens, I’ll for sure feel comfortable reaching out to Mid’s career services and to the alumni network. The network that people that you meet are amazing, even the people that you don’t personally know, I’ve been connected to, even graduated years before me just to ask questions, and they’ve been so friendly, it doesn’t matter if you were in class with someone or, you know, if they’re class of 1995. My mentor was class of 1995, I think. If people see that Mid behind your name and they’re willing to help. And everyone’s so friendly, it’s great.

- I think that’s a great point that Toni makes, that that Middlebury name, it goes so far in the adult world. This school has a ton of brand recognition which, unfortunately, the reality of the world is that’s just what gets your foot in the door sometimes and that it is what it is. So the learning environment at Middlebury is second to none, I got so much amazing personal attention my freshman year. I, my Chemistry 101 class, I swear to God changed my life. I did well in that class for the first time, I wasn’t an awesome high school student I will be honest with you, my Dad can probably chime in and attest to that, but I did very well in Chemistry 101 because of Jim Laraby who was chemistry professor there. And he sent me a note at the end of the course saying what a good job I did and how much, how hard I worked and how I should consider a major in the sciences. And it was that personal attention that made me think, well maybe I can do it, maybe I can be a science major, and maybe I can handle all this stuff. And all of a sudden, a semester later, I was pre-med. So, I had no plans to do that coming in but it was the attention from that department in particular that really encouraged me and fostered an interest. And really all that attention made me realize that I could do this and it wasn’t something that was really intimidating and too hard. So I am very grateful for all the personal attention that I got as a junior student which extends right up onto the senior years.

- Awesome, thank you. So this question is, curious to hear from Cameron and Toni, what advice would you give students contemplating going from the South to the Northeast for college?

- Oh my God, yo. So you gotta be ready to just be cold, man. I was, I honestly was gonna leave Middlebury after the first semester, I got snowed. I was in Allen, we got snowed in, we couldn’t open the door and I was gonna transfer, I was like, I’m over it. And it was honestly the language program that made me stay ‘cause I was taking Japanese and Chinese at the time. And you just really have to be ready to be cold, you know. And don’t come with the clothes of the South cold, where you put on a good hoodie and you know, just let it rock, it’s not gonna fly. You really just, you have to mentally prepare yourself. Like maybe, go to Alaska or something to train beforehand. That’s my biggest thing, sorry, Toni, you can go, I just had to say that!

- Walk down the freezer aisle of the grocery store!

- That is so real! Both my parents are from the Caribbean, I was born and raised in Florida. That first winter hit, and I was like, what am I doing here? But I lived in D.C. for the past two years and it’s not as cold as Mid obviously but now I’m walking around in shorts in 50 degree weather and I’m slowly but surely acclimatizing. One big thing for me is realizing that just because people don’t smile doesn’t mean they’re not friendly. Where I’m from, you smile at random people on the streets, you wave hello, yada yada, but for the first week or so, I was like, does everyone hate me? Like, what is this? No, it’s kinda just a Northeast thing. It’s fine, people are very nice. I still smile at people and I think I’ve gotten a couple more people to start doing that as well but everyone’s nice, they just, they’re just not used to, they don’t have those Southern mannerisms that I’m used to, visibly.

- Yeah, I would say also, because Middlebury is where it is, there’s a culture around what you can do in the cold. In terms of the sports and the ski mountain and you know, snowball fights before midnight breakfast and stuff like that. But, so you just kinda have to prepare yourself to at least, speaking from my own experience, like, being in the cold and feeling like I was suffering in the cold while at the same time, people are running around and skiing and snowshoeing to class and just having a blast, can feel a little bit isolating. Because you don’t really know how to insert yourself into that without personal suffering. So that’s just something to keep in mind. But at the same time, my roommate was a cross-country skier and you know, he pulled me up there and tried to get me to do it and it was fun, so as long as you come up with an open mind, you know, and a couple extra layers, I think you’ll be okay.

- Layers, huge.

- Layers, yeah.

- I was, I didn’t even know what a spring jacket was when I got to Middlebury.

- Yeah, I didn’t have a jacket.

- But you learn. By sophomore year, you learn.

- Yeah.

- Yes, and I feel like by, probably by the end of October, you don’t have to come with a winter coat or parka, but maybe by the end of October, beginning of November, you should acquire one. And a good pair of snow boots. And if you can keep your feet and your head warm and your core warm, then you will feel a lot better. And something that I only sort of just recently come to realize is that, if you are tense in the cold and you’re shivering like this, you feel just as cold if you make an honest effort to just relax and just to breathe. And it helps with your mentality a lot, so I’d say, it is a good, like the first winter is the toughest but you’ll be okay. Okay, this question is for Annie. Did you do many science classes in high school? I want to pursue science at Middlebury and hopefully pre-med, but how do I prepare myself?

- I dropped out of AP Physics my senior year ‘cause I was too intimidated. I did AP Chemistry my senior year but didn’t sit for the exam ‘cause I didn’t think I could do it, and so I was really, so science was a new thing for me at Middlebury. It was brand new, it was really intimidating but I have to tell you, you just have to stick with it. The professors in the, who teach the intro bio, intro chemistry, intro physics, they are unbelievable. They have office hours all the time, they have TAs to help. Middlebury, there is always help if you ask for it. And I think that was a new thing for me. When I was a high school student, I was more likely to just quit something rather than work my way through it or ask somebody for help. But they jam the help down your throat when you’re a freshman in those intro science courses. So I would encourage you to take the 101s in the fall, go in with an open mind, do the reading, work hard, go to the office hours, do problem sets, study with friends, and you’ll find a way to study and learn that works for you. If you haven’t made those habits already.

- And a follow-up question to that is, did Middlebury help you prepare for and apply for medical school from the MCAT to the application process?

- Absolutely. There is an entire pre-med advising office. They provide you with amazing information about timelines, for example, these are the courses you should be taking when, these are when, these are the opportune moments to be studying for the MCAT. There is an amazing alumni network of MDs from Middlebury, there’s a great shadowing program at the local hospital for the J-term course. I did that and that also really just changed my life, just shadowing a family medicine physician in Addison County. So yeah, the resources are abundant. So I went straight through from Middlebury to medical school, so that’s pretty rare. You’ll find most medical school classes, most people have been out and about in the world for a couple a years, doing other things, so I was the youngest person in my medical school class by a long shot and I felt really well-prepared. The entire first year of medical school is basically a repeat of your sort of sophomore and junior level chemistry, biochemistry and physics coursework. And I felt really well-prepared at Columbia.

- Awesome. And what about you, Toni, when you were applying to grad school, did you have support or help or did you speak with any alums who went to the school that you decided to apply to and go to?

- Remember if I spoke to any alums, I do think that most of the support I got was from my professors who wrote recommendations for me. I had friends look over my essays and my personal statements. I kind of, so, I did a scholarship program that was helping me in that way, but I wouldn’t have found out about the program without Mid so I was getting help from them. I do have friends who have used Mid more in their master’s applications, I personally didn’t. But I know that if I had any questions about that, I’d go to career services or the Center for Teaching, Learning and Research and they would have helped.

- So what piece of advice would you give a prospective student of color who is considering going to Middlebury or another predominantly white institution?

- I would say that my advice would vary depending on what kind of high school, knowing what kind of town that student grew up in. And I do alumni interviews for students who are applying to Mid and that’s something that I talk about with them frequently. I’ve gone to predominantly white high schools, or predominantly white high school and elementary school. So I thought I was more prepared for a predominantly white college but that North and South divide is kind of what threw me for a loop at first. Mid is a place that, it can feel like there’s a division on campus sometimes, racially. But a lot of that gets cut through when you’re in class. Like, I would be taking the Comparative Politics class with guys in the rugby team who were from Boston or girls from the hockey team from New Hampshire. So, and I was in the Russian department, I was the only black person in the Russian department. So it’s not like segregated or anything. And you’re gonna find people you like and you know, sometimes you’ll find them because you’re in Black Student Union or in Alianza and sometimes you’ll find them because you’re taking, oh somebody, I saw somebody also ask what J-term is, J-term is a mini-semester, a four-week semester between the fall and the spring. So you might be in a class during that time that has people from classes and from clubs and orgs that you wouldn’t have normally met. So I would just say, be open to meeting new people and making friends who are your race or aren’t your race. I personally, because I, of the nature of the schools that I have gone to before college, I make more friends of color at Mid than I had ever seen in my life before college. For some people, that wasn’t the case. They were coming from more diverse places. So I would just say, be open but make sure you find your community because you know, anywhere you go, there’ll be a microaggression in class and you wanna make sure that you have your group that can support you and talk to you, yeah.

- Yeah, I think Middlebury is a special bubble, you know? Like when you’re there, you’re surrounded by some of the most extraordinary young people you’ll ever meet. And, you know, everyone’s out there, trying to save the world and cure cancer and there’s kind of a unique sense of woke-ness that attempts to pervade the space, you know. Like, if you’re in this little, this small liberal arts place and you want to present yourself as being woke to the general idea of people of color being on an equal playing field, right, and for the most part, I feel like my experience at Middlebury really was great about that, for the most part. But like Toni was saying, there are times when you have these little microaggressions that kind of shake you a little bit away from your bubble. And having that support network, and that’s important, everyone also can apply to professors as well. ‘Cause my main dance mentor was a person of color as well. And we were just both kinda trying to figure out how we make our way through Middlebury. So I would say, look to the professors, too, because they, if you’re just coming in, they’ve been there probably longer than you have.

- I think it’s, Cameron, I think it’s so appropriate that you used the term woke-ness and wokefulness because I myself, I had a little bit of a racial awakening at Middlebury. I grew up in a predominantly white town in New Jersey. The only other half-Asian person I knew was my sister. And when I got to Middlebury, I was like, oh my God, there’s like a lot of other people out there who look like me and have a similar experience to me of maybe outwardly looking like a white person but you know what, I’m just as Japanese as I am white. And I didn’t intellectually understand that until I was 18 years old and at Middlebury. Which is kind of, almost a reversed experience to what other students of color may experience. Having grown up, sort of more outwardly, where your identity is more outwardly identified as a person of color, my experience was almost reverse. I discovered my colored identity at Middlebury. Which is kind of unusual I think and I am very grateful for having met other people, other kids who look like me, who had the experience of asking all the time when you’re a kid, what are you? No, what are you? But are you American? That kind of thing. And I really had never met anybody else like that until freshman year, there was six other kids who looked just like me on my floor at Allen. And I do think, yeah . And I do think when Cam refers to this bubble, I think that’s very accurate. I think there’s a really idealistic and forward-thinking and open-minded mindset at Middlebury.

- But that idea of the bubble is really interesting because, just by virtue of going to Middlebury and you all know how much it costs, so, like we don’t have to, you know much about that. But people outside of Middlebury will generalize because of the cost of the school and because of how white it seems. And so, and I think it’s important for people of color, for alumni of color from Middlebury to you know, keep pushing back. Like no, not everyone is white and privileged in certain ways, like there are other experiences. And no one’s gonna know about those experiences unless we speak up about them. And you know, just as learning from the kid sitting next to me in seminar who is white from Boston who, you know, I might have stereotypes when I got there, just as I learned from him, other people are learning from us in all sorts of different ways. So, you know, your job is not to go to college and be a teacher for your white classmates. But be open to sharing your experiences with others and be open to learning from others.

- And speaking on the microaggressions.

- Which I feel like is ultimately, pretty good practice for professional realms and spheres. I feel like that, like I feel like learning how to navigate a predominantly white institution helped me professionally navigate predominantly white spaces. And have had experiences with that prior. Let’s see. This question is for Annie. What is the percentage of students of color in science departments? Were there, and so, you can maybe not say a specific percentage, but you can talk about sort of, your feelings of your observations of representation in the science department. And were there faculty of color?

- Faculty of color, a handful. There is many women faculty in the sciences. So, a few, a couple of my important biochemistry mentors were women which was really important for me. And then in terms of, in the science department, I think the student body is probably about representative of the rest of Middlebury. So I’m not sure what the percentages are these days, when I was there it was about 25% students of color. I would say that’s about fair for what it was. And I’m speaking more pre-med rather than just chemistry, ‘cause that’s such a small department. But for the pre-med coursework, I would say that was pretty representative of the rest of the school.

- Okay. Let’s see. Which spaces on campus did you find the hardest or the most unwelcoming and which spaces did you find the most welcoming and how did you handle situations where you might have felt unwelcome?

- Whoa.

- I found a home in the common system. I don’t know about you guys. The common system was a way for the school to break down dorms into little communities and so I really found a home in my freshman dorm. And those ended up being my best friends going forward. I will say, there was never a time where I felt uncomfortable or unwelcome at Middlebury.

- I was also a part of the common system as a tri-chair or co-chair for my dorm. I will say that, and this is something that my friends who are people of color from Mid have talked about as well, I think you really see a divide kind of when it comes to parties. So not necessarily clubs and student orgs but Saturday night, there are some parties where you don’t see a lot of people of color at all. And, you know, sometimes that’s just because like, the music they’re playing is not what we wanna dance to. But there were some party spaces and dorms that host functions like that that just have a reputation of not having a lot of people of color there. I’d also say, I don’t know if it’s changing, but the economics department didn’t tend to have a lot of people of color when I was there. And still, walking into the building classes were, didn’t see as many people of color. I took a stats class in there, it was like a whole different part of campus I had never seen. I wouldn’t say I think I ever felt unwelcome. But it just wasn’t necessarily the place I wanna be sometimes. And I will say the most segregated and hated, the day where you can rest the racial divisions at Middlebury is Derby Day where the mostly white students dress up like they’re going to the Kentucky Derby and it happens to fall on the same day as the block party as our distinguished men of color group. And I studied abroad all of my junior year, but three years I was on campus at Middlebury. Every year it was the same. And I had plenty of friends who would go to Derby Day and I could probably go over there just to hang out with them but that was not my scene and there were definitely fewer people of color there.

- Yeah, I would definitely echo that I never felt unwelcome. I generally felt that people were interested in having me around. I think I felt most comfortable in the dance department and then also with my, with the people that I started off with in Allen. We had a whole little crew. And I’m actually Skyping with one of them after this. They keep in touch still. And I think having that kind of support really helps you to move forward because it’s such a small school, I feel like I end up knowing most everybody. Even if I don’t know you personally, like I know that you play on the rugby team or I know that you are an economics major or something, you know, I know a little bit something about you and so having that group of friends who kinda keep you in check really helps. I would echo the parties for sure. I can, like you were talking about the block party, I can remember going to a, I think it was a party behind Proctor and just showing up and it being almost entirely all people of color. And you know, not that many, as there aren’t that many on campus, you know, having a great time, but then you know, it was an open event, it was an event for the whole college but there were only people of color there. And I remember thinking like, this feels a little bit strange, you know everybody else was just kinda walking by and not really partaking in what that was. But definitely for the parties, for sure there are times when I would go out and feel like I needed to, feel like I was expected to be at a different place. You know, like I would show up and yeah, I feel like I’d be expected to be someplace else. Which made it like a little bit weird. But definitely, I always felt welcome overall.

- And I think something that I’ll add is that since Cameron, Annie, and I have graduated, the Anderson Freeman Center on campus has, I think, really changed the social space and dynamic on campus along with Polana social house. But these are spaces on campus that feel intentionally welcoming for students of color, LGBTQIA students, international students. And both of these spaces have kitchens and dance spaces and study spaces and Polana is a social house so it has dorms and there are 30 something students who live right there in that space and I think that has changed even more sort of intentional welcoming spaces on campus. I think one thing I wish I had had as a student at Middlebury was an Anderson Freeman Center, so I’m really glad to see how students have taken ownership of that space and really created these dynamic, vibrant living spaces. Another thing I’ll mention is, since we have been talking about the common system, which I also was dearly a part of and really loved and felt very welcomed in that space. We still will have living, learning communities here and so you still will have a similar first year seminar process where you, your first class at Middlebury, everyone in that class will also live in your first year dorm with you. And that’s sort of how students were designated in commons in the past. Everyone who lives in your first year dorm will still move with you to the second year dorm. And so you still have that designated cohort of people. And you still will have a dean. They won’t be called your common’s dean, but you still will have a staff, a faculty member here who has a part-time teaching load so that they can really invest in their student’s lives and be mentors and presences in there. So, please know that even though the commons system is changing, it is, I think some of the heart and the spirit of it is still preserved in what will be your first year experience.

- And I think the punchline of the commons system is you live with these people for the first two years and I don’t know about Cameron and Toni, but those are my best friends. Like, those are the people who I’m friends today, and,

- Yeah.

- The people that I see.

- I started a band. I was in a band with people from my commons. Like, we, love those guys, it was just, I stayed with,

- We were, there was, at Allen, I don’t know if it’s still there, but in Allen, there’s on the first floor, there’s a stairway and if you go through the stairway there was two rooms that were by themselves. And so I was in those two rooms and we called ourselves The Alcove. And we did everything together.

- So, back to sort of your experience as an alum. How have you felt connected to Middlebury since graduating, are you in contact with other Middlebury students? Have you met other Middlebury grads since graduating? And how do you feel connected or not connected to that community now?

- Well, being in New York, there’s a huge Middlebury population. Population? A huge group of Middlebury people who are here, based in New York. You know, I feel like a lot flee to New York and Boston post-graduation. So, here in New York, there are, I haven’t been to one, but I get the emails, and there are a lot of events you can go to. Middlebury Happy Hours, I think there was a party on a boat a little while ago that maybe happens once a year. There’s a huge, huge Middlebury population here. And I definitely have felt very much supported by my Middlebury network. Both my immediate network in terms of people I felt comfortable with and also the people who were kinda on the fringes, like the people I kinda knew one to two things about. Some of them have become, one of them is one of the larger, largest donors for my company now. She went to Middlebury. Whenever I, we go on tour someplace, I can always access the Middlebury alumni network there. And people will show up. We were just in Boston in March, right before the world shut down, reached out to the Middlebury alumni community and you know, they posted stuff about it, or responded by email, you know, invited Middlebury people. And yeah, I found it to be just a very supportive community. Sometimes I find it to be a little bit hard to connect to if you come from, like for example, if I were, we’re based in New York, but when we went to California, it was a little bit harder to connect to that community in a meaningful way in a short period of time. It was a short period of time. But for the most part, I’ve found it very supportive.

- Yeah, I’m still in daily touch with my Middlebury friends, so.

- Oh, and Annie was saying before this session went live about monthly dinners I think, right?

- Oh yeah, when I was at Columbia, there was just, between, in the medical school and the hospital there was probably five or 10 Middlebury alums, you know, back from the 80s. So even when I was a first year medical student, brand new to New York City, I was meeting with alums from the 80s and 90s, professors of medicine and surgeons and anesthesiologists and the pathologists and so that was awesome, yeah.

- My best friends are from Mid. One friend that I met in my first year international global studies seminar, we met in September, by Halloween we were absolute best friends. She moved back to Japan. And she and I were on Skype for three hours the other day.

- Yeah.

- I love her so much. When I go to Boston, I stay with Middlebury people who also lived in my dorm freshman year. I was looking for an apartment in D.C., I reached out to Middlebury in D.C. group and people were recommending neighborhoods to me and one was like, oh, there’s a space open in my apartment, would you like to move in? You’re from Mid, I know you’re cool. But, you know, she was too far away from Georgetown so I didn’t live with her, but yeah, everyone is so nice. Even if you didn’t know them while you were on campus, everyone is so willing to,

- Oh, it’s an automatic, like, when my husband was interviewing for a job, I’m pretty sure he got the job because one of his partner’s husbands went to Middlebury and so he and I were talking for like an hour. So, yeah, it is a foot in the door.

- Yeah, my first apartment here in the city was with two Middlebury alumni who I didn’t really know but they were just like, yeah, well your Middlebury, like, come through. Right after we get off of this, I’m meeting with my very first friend from Middlebury who I met orientation weekend freshman year and we’ve been friends ever since, so.

- I think another nice connection is there are these MESCAC meet-ups as well so if you are in a new city and you are feeling like you’re wanting to make more social connections, our athletic conference will hold some happy hours or some get togethers for alums in the area. And so, I think that even, there’s a very specific Middlebury experience and then once you graduate I think you can also find easy connection with people who went to other small liberal art schools that are either in the same athletic conference or in the same maybe academic sphere or of interest or geographical area as well. Okay. So, let’s see. When you were at Middlebury, did you feel a wealth gap? Was it evident to you?

- There was some really, really rich people at Middlebury.

- It can be kinda hard to tell, but you’ll learn to spot the signs like if they’re wearing Canada Goose jacket, okay we’re not in the same tax bracket. And actually, my last year at Mid, there was a big push for people to start talking about socioeconomic diversity. And there was a push for us to think about it in terms of our interactions with the town and with our professors and with the faculty and staff as well. So it definitely exists but the student body is so conscientious that you know, we’re not trying to tiptoe around it as much, we’re actually trying to bring it up and grapple with it and see how it affects our interactions with each other and how we treat each other. But yeah, definitely exists, you know, some people have the ski passes and can afford to do all that kind of outdoor stuff that other people weren’t doing. But they were nice about it, but yeah, you could tell sometimes.

- Yeah, I would definitely echo that. Just, on a broader scope of things you can really think about it, I feel like I really didn’t think about it that much until we got to things like spring break or summer break or fall break and you know, people are going off on these crazy adventures and you’re just like, yeah, I’m just gonna stay here. And you know, but for the most part, I didn’t notice it too much. But we just had these little moments that kinda jostle you out of your bubble for a second there.

- Yeah and I think Toni’s point about more of the different between the average level on the campus versus the surrounding area. Like I, when I was shadowing the family practice physician, she would do home visits. That was my first real exposure to rural poverty which looks really different from other forms of poverty. And it’s, you know, not six miles from campus you’ve got people in unreal conditions. So, very eye-opening for me having grown up in a upper-middle class New Jersey neighborhood. But yes, there is a noticeable wealth gap both in campus and in the surrounding area, for sure.

- What is J-term and were some highlights of your J-term? So Toni, you’ve already explained was J-term was, but maybe if you all have some memorable experiences you can share?

- Oh yeah!

- It’s the most wonderful time of year!

- Yes, exactly! J-term, yo, if you take intro Chinese, your first J-term is four weeks of your Chinese professors yelling at you to be perfect and it is the most amazing and bonding experience, one of the best times of my time at Middlebury. That’s the first one that comes to mind, for sure.

- Same with Arabic, I did Arabic my first J-term, same thing. Yelling in a loving way, yelling in a way that your school leader, people are like, wow, your accent’s so good, like thanks, I suffered for it, but it was fun, so I would say.

- Yeah, yeah, yeah.

- So it’s four weeks in January, it’s treated like a semester but you’re only taking one course. So it’s fairly intensive, few times a week, multiple hours. It ends up being the same amount of course time as a regular course but the topics are far-ranging and just profoundly interesting and it’s the things that the professors wanna teach. So I took a class about witchcraft and female persecution which was awesome. I took a class about how to poison people. I took my gym credit for, to learn about,

- Who taught this?

- Climbing. How to poison people? That department, Jim Laraby. Yeah, we would do real case studies of like, this is how the Russian government poisons people and gets away with it. It was awesome. Anyway, super interesting stuff. And then it’s also a time to sort of decompress and play broom ball and maybe take, learn how to ski or roll around in the snow and drink a lot of hot chocolate and other stuff, and.

- You can also get funding to do things off-campus as well. So, if you can get funding, I’ve been in a group a couple times and people have come from Middlebury and spent a month in New York getting to know the dance scene and kinda figure out what they might wanna do with that. So there’s a lot of different ways you can get little bits of funding to kinda explore things that are more specific to what your own interests are. The J-term is a great time to get into that.

- And there are also workshops that will be lead by either local experts or even your friends, so I’ve seen twerking workshops, there’s always bartending one, my friend did a Japanese boat building class. My best friends and I did Zumba and salsa. And Zumba was taught by the local dance teacher and salsa was taught by our friends who were two years ahead of us. So you really get to see what your classmates are secretly good at. I took a workshop about interpreting dreams. But it was taught by someone who was a psychology major so there was actual science behind it. It’s an amazing time.

- The best, the most wonderful time of the year.

- I agree with that. And back to that winter question, J-term definitely helps break up the winter because you are, people are just more energized and excited about what they’re doing day-to-day I think that the semester is more of a marathon than a sprint and so it has a different energy. Can you all tell me if you did, Cameron you brought up a great point about funding, did any of you do or have internships or find internships or other life after Middlebury experiences that you found through the Middlebury network as a student?

- After Middlebury, well the first one that comes to mind is one I had at Middlebury. Which is that I declared a dance major late and so I had to catch up on those credits. So I didn’t study abroad my junior year but instead I got funding from the college to actually travel to Japan for six weeks. And you know, they paid for the travel. Paid for the travel, paid for the classes, paid for the food, paid for everything basically. So I kinda got to re-live that study abroad experience for a shorter time but through Middlebury funding.

- Over the summer?

- Over the summer, yeah.

- Yeah, my first summer research job, so if you’re thinking about being pre-med, one of the things the medical schools likes to see is that you have an interest in academic research. And I did a summer between, I think sophomore and junior year in a lab at NYU with a cardiac surgeon who, his only connection to Middlebury was that he had a kid who went there and so he really liked Middlebury students. And that’s how I got that position, so.

- It works!

- I got funding to do research for my thesis between my junior and senior year. And they paid for me to go to Russia and I interviewed subjects and did archival research and I just had to present on it in front of interested people who were also in international studies or for international center. But it was basically all paid for, as long as you keep receipts. Always keep receipts!

- Cool. How has it felt developing your careers? What would you tell your senior year self to prepare for the years after Middlebury?

- Senior year self, whoa!

- Yeah.

- Wow. I mean, I think, after four years at Middlebury, you have, when you get out into the real world, I keep talking about this bubble because it’s what I experienced. But when you get out into the real world and you know, not everyone around you is attempting to be as woke, and not everyone around you is attempting to cure cancer and not everyone around you cares about your Middlebury experience, you know? I think you have to prepare yourself for that bubble to be burst a little bit. I would say also that, in terms of socially, this is something that I wish I know a little bit more of, but really trying to stay in touch with some of the people that you meet. I feel like especially senior year, I met a bunch of people because I had more free time in my schedule, I could take things like archery and other random stuff, you know, and I kinda let some things go down, fall apart and as I was always thinking about the future and graduation and then your senior week and everything’s so much fun, but everything’s so sad. So I would really find ways to keep in touch with the people you met across your time at Middlebury, especially those who were graduating before you because you never know when you’re gonna show up in the same city again, for sure.

- I would say stop and smell the roses. I, we were, before the webinar started, we were all sort of reminiscing about how amazing and beautiful Vermont is in the spring. And I haven’t been back in a few years and I, there’s just, it hurts my heart to think of that view of the Adirondacks and the sunset and the smell of cow manure in the evenings, and.

- Yeah.

- I’d say maintain that network senior year, try to connect with as many people as possible and then follow them on Instagram and Facebook so you can keep up and when reunion comes around you can actually hang out with them more than you did during those four years. I see participants, a couple of new friends who were my year who work for admissions now, but we didn’t really get to know each other that well until we started following each other on Instagram. Like wow, everyone at Mid is so cool. Like try to meet as many people as you can. Shout out to Natalie in Korea.

- Okay, well we are winding down now. This will be our final question. But could you tell us about a highlight you had at Middlebury outside of the classroom, something that really sticks out to you about your Middlebury experience outside of academics?

- I, so, the dance department at Middlebury has a pre-professional company, Dance Company Middlebury and if you, you can like audition to be a part of it and they tour to random places that different professors are connected to, right? And so my junior year, we toured to Trinidad and Tobago. And were there for 10 days. And I think that was one of the primary experiences that made me decide to continue doing this professionally. Just being around a culture that’s more accepting of dance and the value it places on people’s lives and then my professor was Crystal Brown who some of you may have seen her here in the arts, she’s pretty outspoken. And being able to connect with her on a really deep level and getting to travel to this amazing place, I was like I could definitely, I could do this for the rest of my life, for sure.

- I think some of my fondest memories are on the weekend hikes with friends, just like buying a block of cheese from the co-op and just going for a walk in the woods and, I mean it is, if you guys haven’t had a chance to visit Middlebury, I hope that you can someday and I’m jealous that you’re about to start a journey there but it, Vermont is profoundly beautiful. And the outdoor activities there are unreal. And the Middlebury Mountain Club is a great, if you don’t have any experience hiking or doing anything outdoorsy like that, the Middlebury Mountain Club has little introductory hikes and things that are really not intimidating and can get you outside and get you to see the area. So those are my fondest memories, I think.

- And the, what I love about the outdoor club is that they have a whole gear library so you don’t have to come with anything to experience the outdoors. They have hiking boots and they have snow shoes and pots and pans and tents and anything that you would need to really access it along with I think the general philosophy of not just letting the outdoorsy, the people who came to Middlebury outdoorsy experience it but I think really trying to make it accessible to students who might not have come to Middlebury thinking the outdoors was going to be a priority for them. But really being able to discover it.

- I think a highlight for me would just be the ability to live around people you like and support them in whatever they’re doing. Every spring there’s a research symposium where people present what they’ve been working on independently or what they’ve been doing with a professor. And I just got to see how smart my friends and classmates were and they were presenting on topics that I knew nothing about and you could see the kind of work that had gone into it. And you know, my friends would come watch me perform in my singing groups and my band and orchestra and everything. And just, you might never have that again. The ability to live a couple doors down from your best friends and go see each other and support everyone’s different hobbies. It’s an amazing experience. Like Annie, I’m so jealous that you guys are starting with this.

- Well thank you so much panelists for sharing your perspective and your experiences, for being open about it. I know that our prospective students and families really value it and I do, too.

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