CFES Brilliant Pathways scholar alumni now at the University of Vermont received strong support from UVM President Tom Sullivan at an October 15 luncheon that highlighted the university’s commitment to diversity and CFES’ role in increasing it.

Sponsored by the president’s office, the event was part of a new CFES initiative to increase student success by connecting students with UVM support services and mentors including upper class CFES scholar alumni. CFES plans to replicate the UVM Success Cluster model across the country at other colleges and universities where 2,500 CFES scholars enroll each year.

“We are very appreciative of President Sullivan’s commitment to the success of our students by hosting this luncheon,” said CFES President and CEO Rick Dalton. “A lot of universities talk about supporting their students, but by being here today President Sullivan walks the walk.”

The event marked the recognition of a partnership between UVM and CFES that began in 2000 with the arrival of 14 students from Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx. Since then, some 380 students have attended UVM from CFES schools in New York City.

“Thank you CFES for your support over the years and welcome CFES students,” said Sullivan. “Our University – now your University – is committed not only in recruiting, but also to graduating more students of color. We value diversity and inclusion throughout the University, and are committed to making sure that each of you are successful, and that you graduate from UVM, ideally in four years.”

Students talked with Sullivan and other UVM staff about their experiences in Residential Learning Communities and offered suggestions for how best to support first-year students. Sullivan asked if they had any unexpected surprises – good or bad – since arriving at UVM, and if so, how he could address them. He also asked students how they were engaged in campus life outside the classroom.

“I learned about mentoring from my CFES program at Eximius High,” said Lasana Drame, now a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering. “I came to UVM because I knew more students from my school would come here and that I could help them.”

In addition to President Sullivan and his wife Leslie (a 1977 UVM alumna), students met with Ryan Hargraves, executive director of undergraduate admissions; Tiffanie Spencer, assistant director for diversity, retention and student services; and Jaydeen Santos, student services advisor for the Mosaic Center and a member of the inaugural 2001 Christopher Columbus class; and Shadey Trinidad, CFES Alumni Network director.

At the CFES National Conference on Nov. 2-3 in Burlington Vt., CFES will recognize the individuals who started the Christopher Columbus partnership and students who have gone on to successful careers over the past two decades.