“I didn’t plan to go to college. I dropped out of high school and barely got my diploma at an alternative school. I decided to go to college after about a decade of carpentry. I got good at carpentry, made good money, and figured I’d always be a builder… then I broke my back. Lying in a bed unable to walk that first week, I had a lot of time to think. I’d been a firefighter, a flagger, a dishwasher and short order cook, a gas station attendant, a roofer, a painter, a builder. I thought that I could keep doing all of those things, but none of them paid enough to ever ‘retire,’ and I didn’t want to be stuck lugging plywood up a roof when I was seventy. Also, I had just finished up a job involving mentoring ‘at-risk youth’ in carpentry, and realized I really wanted to be able to counsel youth. Everything coalesced around the need for a degree. I realized I had survived some trying circumstances due to a lot of support from others (dropping out of school, being homeless, starting over after a tough divorce, etc.). I wanted to pay it forward and secure a sustainable future at the same time. I started going to community college classes at night in my paint-stained overalls, leaking sawdust down the hallways, with just enough money to pay for the first semester… and then I discovered the VSAC scholarship booklet.

If I hadn’t found VSAC I would likely have dropped out after the first semester when I ran out of savings Due to the Curtis Fund, I graduated with no debt and was able to save enough money to buy a house and go to grad school. Working for the VT Agency of Human Services as a Field Director, I am currently financially secure and my family enjoys a comprehensive health insurance and benefits package. I have savings, investments, and a retirement pension waiting for me at the end of my career. My MPA should pave the way for additional career advancement and the opportunity to help effect systems change for the betterment of many Vermonters still living in grinding poverty and adversity. Education has been absolutely key to my journey – without it, the best I could have hoped for was a life of manual labor for as long as my body tolerated it.

Please know that the money you donate to the Curtis Fund doesn’t just pay for people in need to go to college, it transforms people’s lives. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”