I Heart My School: Green Mountain College

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To give you the chance to tell the world why you love your school — and help you pay for it — we offer the I Heart My School Scholarship essay contest. Recently, we announced our fall 2017 winner: Trina Abdulnour, from Wayne State University

This week, we wanted to share our second-place essay about Vermont’s Green Mountain College, by Aubree Kozie. 

Scroll down to see Kozie’s pictures and read about why she loves GMC so much.

If you love your school, you can learn more and apply for our upcoming fall scholarship here.

Green Mountain College: First in Sustainability and Number One in my Heart

Admittedly, at least 80% of the people I know hate the song “Wagon Wheel,” and the other 20% go to college with me. While the country song has been remade and popularized to the point of making the ears of some radio listeners bleed, to me and about 200 other students, that song reminds us of coming home to Green Mountain College. Nestled gently beneath the maple leaves of southern Vermont, right on the edge of the New York border, sits a little piece of my heart. GMC is a beautiful place, with strong commitment to sustainable ideals, but what makes it so special for me, is the community it offers.

I came to GMC as a transfer student who left another small college in Vermont because it lacked a strong sense of community, and thank goodness I did, because what I found at GMC was more like a family. While there are many reasons to love GMC, I will highlight a few of my favorites. At the heart of all of them lies this amazing group of people which I feel blessed to be a part of.

While the community of GMC is small, the creativity of its members never ceases to amaze me. One of my most fond memories is of the Autumn Craft Fair. The lawn of Cerridwen campus farm was full of handmade goods made by students for sale: pottery, jewelry, clothing, prints, carved dishes, homemade food, leather goods, and more. It was freezing, but students from the Food Preparation class ran fresh, hot apple cider and soup back and forth to each other. This experience motivated me to plan a project that will open a gift shop on campus, to be filed with items made by students. This will create additional work-study positions, as well as generate profits and networking for student artists, and part of the revenue will also be added to a scholarship fund for incoming students. I draw so much inspiration from the beautiful creative community at GMC.

Part of what makes GMC students so creative, is that we are encouraged to think beyond and question existing paradigms to determine the most sustainable, healthy, and practical ways of knowing and being. Once, feeling utterly depleted from attempting to turn out page after page of an essay, I dejectedly decided to take a study break. In the stall of a bathroom in the basement of the library, I found a little paper square, which read, “You are worth so much more than your productivity.” This “Anti-Capitalist Love Note” really hit home for me. Someone out there knew how I was feeling, and made an anonymous effort to remind others to care for themselves. In this moment, I felt less anxious, less alone, and sitting in that bathroom stall, I took a moment to thank the universe for this beautiful community I am a part of.

As an environmental liberal arts college, GMC makes sure to provide and maintain a number of natural hiking trails for its community to enjoy. I have countless memories of frolicking among the trees, tall grasses, and river which frame the paths, of slack-lining over the swimming hole, or watching friends fall in off the rope swing, and come to the surface laughing. On cool, dark nights, students from all over campus flock to the river, to the roaring fire on its banks, where we sing, (cue “Wagon Wheel”) dance, swim, and warm ourselves after long days. It is said, “you know you went to GMC if you can make it back to your dorm room from the river sopping wet in the dark at 1:00 AM.” On your walk back, you might hear students let out a communal wolf howl, then echoing from other students across campus, as if recognizing we all really are part of one pack.

If you are adventurous enough to walk off the beaten paths of GMC campus, and venture into the woods, you will happen upon a number of natural structures build by students, many of them in the Renewable and Ecological Design (REED) Program. Many lazy weekend days have been spent sitting among the shadows cast by the branch and stick ceilings of these structures, and they can sometimes be picked out before they are seen, by listening for the laughter of friends as they relish these moments spent together, out in nature.

Lastly, I want to comment on the unique spirit of GMC students. We are truly some of the most genuinely adventurous, playful, and limitlessly free people I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of. This leads me to one of the club sport teams that exposes itself from time to time around campus: the streaking team. Particularly on rainy days, one will suddenly hear a roar of voices as a crowd of students dressed only in their birthday suits runs down the main strip of campus. Doors crash closed and clothes fly off as students rush out of the residence halls to join the parade. While this soiree used to be funded by the college, the group formally disbanded a number of years ago when they realized school funding meant that administrative officials could regulate their appearances. However, this colorful team remains strong and has made appearances at formal gatherings such as the former president’s retirement assembly.

So there you have it, five reasons why I love GMC with all my heart. This beautiful campus is home to some of the most creative, thoughtful, adventurous, and limitless thinkers I have ever met. And it is for this reason, that when I drive back to school this fall, I will put on “Wagon Wheel” and holler along to all the words, as I go back to the campus of a school which is first both in sustainability, and in my heart.

— Aubree Kozie, Green Mountain College