Champlain College Ready: What Does it Mean?

If you ask employers to describe a Champlain College graduate in one word, they often say “Ready,” which is an extraordinary word.

They’ll say things like, “Champlain graduates hit the ground running.” “They are kind, collaborative, and creative.” “They can look at a problem from several different perspectives.” “They are entrepreneurial.”

This is no accident. Champlain College’s career-focused  approach to higher education is different by design so you can be Ready. Ready for work. Ready for life. Ready to make a difference. Students come to Champlain College to build a better future.

Our students work at the intersections of technology, design, business, and social innovation. And in the next few years, Champlain College will take its hands-on interdisciplinary approach to health and the bio-life sciences.

“On my first day of class at Champlain, my marketing professor brought in a guest speaker to talk about their journey as a business leader. I ended up working for that company when I graduated.”

Stiller School of Business and Marketing alum Ricky Fitzpatrick ‘13

Fitzpatrick recently told me this at a Champlain Connect event in Washington, D.C. He continued by saying: “I really appreciate how Champlain College professors bring real-world, professional experience to the classroom.” Present day, Fitzpatrick serves as the Vice President of Marketing at Full Measure Education.

An Upside-Down Education

Our education model gets students Champlain Ready. We start with our “Upside-Down Curriculum,” where students take courses in a career-focused major in their first semester. This approach is powerful because students can use this early learning to get a meaningful internship during their first year or take on an incredible project through one of our Centers of Experience. By the time you graduate, your professional experiences will stand apart from those of your peers at other institutions. If you’re unsure what you want to major in, you can sample classes from a few majors and quickly figure out what does and doesn’t interest you.

Computer & Digital Forensics major Laila Martinez ‘25 took advantage of the Upside-Down Curriculum right away. She interned at the Leahy Center for Digital Forensics & Cybersecurity as a Security Intern in her first semester.

“The Leahy Center let me apply what I learned in class to real situations at work, and provided an environment where I can make mistakes and learn from them,” Martinez said. This first-year combination of classroom learning and work experience helped her build important skills: investigating incidents, assessing what the results mean, and communicating those results to others. The following summer, this hands-on experience led to a cybersecurity internship at NuHarbor Security right here in Burlington, Vermont. This fall, she shifted into the role of Information Assurance Intern and works directly with Champlain alumni, who make up more than half of NuHarbor’s workforce.

Computer Networking & Cybersecurity alum Mackenzie Marsocci ’20 (right) interned for NuHarbor as a student, and has been working for the company since. She has earned multiple promotions in the past couple years and is now a CTAC Team Lead.

At the Core

The second dimension of our education model is our Core liberal arts curriculum. Core is where students learn to ask important questions, make ethical decisions, communicate across lines of difference, and think globally. Students take classes like Heroines and Heroes, Ethics and the Environment, and Human Rights and Responsibilities. We expand the Core over four years and each year has its own theme. These Core skills are what drive long-term career success and help us thrive as human beings.

Emma Dannenberg ‘24 is a Creative Media major minoring in Environmental Policy & Studies. Her career journey has been truly interdisciplinary, weaving together fieldwork from Dr. Kristin Wolf’s environmental science Core class and volunteerism as an Eco-Rep cleaning up the beach turtle nesting area in North Hero State Park. An Intro to Painting course ignited a realization that she can use art as a way to educate others about environmental issues, such as climate change and deforestation. “The intersection of my fields is where I have truly found my life’s passion and purpose,” she says.

The hands-on opportunities Dannenberg has experienced give her the skills and knowledge she needs to achieve her dream career of using art as a channel for wildlife conservation and advocacy of environmental issues.

A student holds a piece of colorful artwork on a table.
Creative Media major Emma Dannenberg ‘24 showcases some of her environmental-based artwork in Champlain’s Center for Communication and Creative Media.

InSight Into Your Future

Last but not least: our InSight life skills program. This is a series of workshops and experiences designed to give you real life “adulting” skills: how to prepare for your career, manage your personal finances, and support your personal wellbeing. Adulting can be challenging. We want to do everything we can to prepare you for life after graduation.

Our students take this comprehensive education out into the world. We want every student to have a global experience. Champlain College has campuses in Montreal and Dublin, a partnership in New Zealand, and study abroad relationships around the world.

A student throws their hands up in the air after spinning a colorful wheel.
First-year students spin the wheel at this year’s Game of Life, a signature InSight event where each student creates a budget for post-graduation expenses based on the average salary for their major.

Why Hands-On Matters

The Leahy Center employs over 100 students at any given time. Students provide security services to local businesses and non-profits while gaining valuable, real-world experience. Our Emergent Media Center (EMC) contracts teams of students with local companies to prototype new products, conceptualize innovative ideas, and produce media and design-related solutions to create positive impact.

What can data visualization in a Meta-inspired world look like? A team of students, alumni, and faculty are currently exploring this through the EMC. The team is leveraging a game engine to produce AR & VR prototypes in 3D space that allow users to represent, interact, and manipulate data in unique, novel, and intuitive ways. The goal? Produce a series of data visualization concepts and prototypes—pushing the boundaries of existing methods—that client and two-time Champlain alum Ray McCarthy Bergeron from InVision Communications can use in the company’s digital campaigns.

“I’ve been working in Unity and Google Sheets and it’s been really fun to see the software used in ways I never could have imagined,” said Game Design major and EMC Junior Programmer Harper Bennett ‘24. “I practiced industry skills crucial for success, such as communication, different programming languages, documentation, networking, version control, and more. We’ve given many presentations about the work we’re doing through the EMC, which has led to numerous industry connections.”

This hands-on, project-based learning in the community is exactly what makes a Champlain education so unique.

A student holds her hands up, pointing at a wall of artwork she created that displays a variety of words including "our values," "collaboration," "creativity," and more.
Champlain’s Centers of Experience, like the Emergent Media Center pictured here, provide a collaborative space for students to get hands-on project and work experience as early as their first year on campus.

Build a Better Future, Together

Our world-class Career Collaborative helps students take all these experiences and get jobs and valuable internships. Over the last six years, 91% of our students had a successful career outcome within 6 months of graduation, earning jobs at companies like Google, Ben & Jerry’s, Rockstar Games, 1% for the Planet, and Fidelity. More importantly, 87% of our students work in jobs related to their major.

While Champlain College is known for being innovative and future-facing, the “magic” of our College starts with our small, close-knit community. This is a place where you will know your classmates and your professors and they will know you. We have one of the best Student Affairs teams around. Recently, we launched a new program called Champ 101 to help our first-year students transition to college life. We want Champlain to be a place where you feel seen, where you feel like you belong, where you feel at home.

I chose Champlain College because career-focused learning helped me and my family be Ready. I chose Champlain because of the people, the community, and Vermont. I chose Champlain to help our students build a better future.

What about Champlain College makes you excited about your future?

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