Jennifer Currier is a 2002 graduate currently working for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in Morrisville, VtGoing to a small college seemed like something I would always do. I grew up in Morrisville, Vt. and loved the small-town atmosphere and Castleton seemed to be a community that I could thrive in.
When I got into my senior year of high school, I knew that Spanish was my passion. I was intrigued by the language and the culture and wanted to pursue that interest in college. All the schools I looked at had huge Spanish programs. They couldn’t talk about great professors, great study abroad opportunities or a great “familia” within the department.
Castleton, on the other hand, offered me an incredible opportunity. Although many thought the Spanish department was “too small,” it led me to have an instant family and instant friends. We would often find ourselves staying after class to have hour-long conversations (in Spanish, of course) about anything. We were really immersed in the language.
The most eye-opening experience of my time at Castleton is when I studied abroad for a year. I lived in Mexico for a year with a Mexican family and spoke only Spanish for a whole year. I learned so much about myself in addition to having a true appreciation for Mexican culture. Trust me, Mexico and Vermont are very different!
The faculty at Castleton was amazing and still inspires me to this day. Ana Maria Alfaro-Alexander continues to serve as my mentor. I had no idea where my Spanish major would take me, but she assured me that Castleton was preparing me for whatever I wanted to do, even if I didn’t know what that was going to be. So many students look at college and think it’s four years of classes, professors, projects, papers and a little bit of fun mixed in. Professor Alfaro-Alexander encouraged us to treat it as the best four years of your life. She made sure we saw college as more than just education. She made us view it as more of an experience.
Looking back on my experience at Castleton, I am so proud of the people and the place. When I left five years ago there was a lot of discussion about all the “changes” that were going to take place. There was discussion of new residence halls, new academic buildings and more students. I think many alumni started to get nervous about what those changes would mean for their alma mater, but I am encouraged by the positive changes on campus. As President Wolk has commented many times, Castleton is a “small college with a big heart.”
My post-Castleton career has taken me back to Morrisville to work for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in their sales division. In addition to getting free coffee, I have a great opportunity to use the skills I learned at Castleton – not to mention being one of the only people there who can speak Spanish!! GMCR does a lot of humanitarian work in the predominately Spanish speaking countries they import coffee from. I hope my next step within GMCR affords me the opportunity to travel to these countries.
My advice to anyone who is currently a Castleton student is to take advantage of every opportunity that is offered. Take a Spanish class for example! You’ll never have the opportunity to explore your life and yourself as you do when you’re in college!