This story was originally broadcast on WCAX.
When Courtney Banach was 11, she told her mom she wanted to be a farmer. So her mom sent her to a camp at Shelburne Farms.
"Thinking that was going to deter me, her plan really backfired on her, because I went back. I started working there, and I never left," Banach said.
Banach told the story Sunday morning to an audience at one of Vermont Technical College's three commencement ceremonies, where she graduated with an associates degree in Dairy Farm Management Technology.
"I worked full-time on our school farm here, so I worked 40 hours -- well 15 hours a week for housing -- and then anything above that was pay, but I'd average about 30 to 40 hours a week down on the farm on top of my traditional school work," she said.
Over 400 students graduated at ceremonies held throughout the weekend at the Randolph Center campus. Ken Squier, NASCAR Broadcasting legend, owner of the Radio Vermont group, and founder of Barre's Thunder Road International Speedbowl, gave the commencement address Sunday. "You are our hope for the future, 'cause we sure messed it up. I submit that you are better equipped than so many of your college or university brethren, because your learning is not simply for the mind. Your learning is that of the working man and woman," he said.
Graduates earned a number of degrees--from associates and certificates to bachelor's degrees. Thomas Cove studied Construction Management. "From here I'm going to work on a project at the University of Vermont Medical Center. I'm working with the company Whiting Turner on a project up there -- very excited for that," Cove said.
Banach says she'll be back in class this fall. This time in Burlington. "In the fall -- I'm actually 2 + 2 student, so I go to UVM in the fall for two more years. It's a full tuition paid scholarship through the state, and then after that I'm hoping to find a herdsmen job within the state," she said.
A celebration for graduates as they close one chapter of their lives and head on to the next.