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Higher Education in the Area

March 1, 2018

Dana Rozycki
I may be one of the few people who has attended all three of the main colleges in Bennington: CCV, SVC and Bennington College. This makes me uniquely qualified to let everyone know how lucky we are to have each of these institutions in our town.

In 1985, CCV offered a class called "Latin America in Crisis" and I signed up even though I was still in high school. An excellent teacher named Bob Brigham brought a wealth of knowledge as we dug into the Nicaraguan and El Salvadoran conflicts of the time.

CCV helped me understand the level of maturity needed for college classes, but even more importantly, my classmates there were incredibly diverse in terms of age, income and education. It was great to see people from 17 to 70 treated as equals in a classroom, an extreme rarity for sure.

I then attended Bennington College for 2 semesters, living on campus and immersing myself in the mid-80s culture of the school. At the time, the college was nationally known both for its high cost and for the high caliber of the writers and artists it was turning out. This included Bret Easton Ellis and Donna Tartt, as well as Tom Sachs, who became one of the most famous and controversial new artists of his generation.

The absolute brilliance of the teachers amazed me. Growing up in Bennington, I had no idea that a world-class collection of social scientists, musicians, writers and artists lived and worked up on the hill. Even more amazing was that they were so open and accessible. Not a single class was over 10 people, even for a first year student. The college at the time also had a reputation of elitism, although as a "townie" I felt no discrimination at all. I was absolutely accepted on par with the wealthy urbane students, and my MAU education more than adequately prepared me to work on their level.

Bennington College's legendary tuition became an impediment, so SVC became my next stop. At the time, SVC had just built its first dorms and was working to attract first generation college students from around the northeast. Some flourished and some floundered, but schools like SVC were important in those days when there was little middle ground between community college and the big universities. SVC has ushered many students into the professional world who otherwise would have skipped college altogether. After SVC, I transferred to UVM and graduated in 1991. But all my real education came from the small classes I took at CCV, Bennington College and SVC.

As Rotarians, we wave happy dollars in the air each week to celebrate life's victories. I would like to wave 3 happy dollars for our 3 great colleges, each of which fulfills an important educational niche in our hometown.

Author: Dana Rozycki
Sally Sugarman (Club Member & Windmill Editor)

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