Kalvin Hassell, a History major and Political Science minor, recently spoke at the 2010 UVM Scholarship luncheon. Below are Kalvin's comments about what it was like to come to Vermont as part of the Urban Partnership Program. The program was designed to expand the options for students at Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx and to increase the diversity of the student body at UVM. This early introduction to UVM in his junior year of high school shows the importance of this program in his UVM education.
"Good afternoon everyone. My name is Kalvin Hassell, and I’m honored to be here today for this special occasion. I am a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, majoring in History and minoring in Political Science. I’m also delighted to say that I’m the Class President for the senior class.
When I was in high school, the idea of going to college didn’t even enter my mind. All I was thinking about was getting that good job after graduation. Sometimes I would say to myself, “You’re never going to make it in college.” As you can see, I didn’t have much confidence in myself at the time when it came to college. But at the end of my junior year, I participated in a program that took students to visit the University of Vermont. When I arrived on campus I noticed that it was quiet, and the scenery was beautiful. You could see the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain, and tons of greenery. I’m from New York City, so you don’t often have the ability to see something like this. I thought to myself that I would fit perfectly with this College. When I got my acceptance letter, I literally jumped up with joy. I knew it was my destiny to go to UVM and become the first person in my family to go away to college.
During my first summer as an official UVM student I did a program called the Summer Enrichment Scholarly Program (SESP). In this program I was able to take two classes with a total of four credits to start my semester off as a UVM student. This program helped me and other students of color and bi/multi-racial students adjust to their new environment and transition from high school to college. I was really pumped about doing this program because I got to know different staff members on campus, as well as learned my way around campus.
The week before school started, I had the great opportunity to broaden my mind about what UVM was all about by doing a program called Trek; I joined the Leadership Trek because I knew I needed to improve on my leadership skills as well as open up to certain ideas and opinions about different issues that have been set before me.
It wasn’t long before I started making friends and getting to know what UVM was all about. To break out of my shyness--yes I was shy at the time--I decided to join different clubs on campus. I joined IRA (Inter-Residence Association), Next Step program, Club football, Class Council, and Center for Student Ethics & Standards (CSES). All these opportunities helped me meet new people and also improve my leadership skills, as well as hear other people’s stories about where they’re from and what their life was like. With these connections, I was able to stick on a particular path to lead to my success on and off campus in becoming a student leader in the UVM community.
UVM tries to change the perspective of what college life is like by making the UVM community feel like you’re at home again. For the past four years of my life I have had the opportunity to take on roles that I would have never thought I could take on. I have learned and am still learning that you shouldn’t be afraid of pursuing your dreams. If you put your mind to it and motivate yourself, you will succeed. As my time is almost up at UVM, I know all my leadership activities as well as my scholarship will help me step forward into a new world, a new beginning in life that will embrace me as someone who succeeds according to his own hard work. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I had simply taken a job right out of high school. I would have never known what opportunity, what potential for true happiness and success, was waiting on me here in the Green Mountains.Thank you to every donor for all you have done to provide students like me a chance to know a world beyond our greatest imagination."