A lot of factors go into choosing a college, a field of study, and eventual career path. To address all of these, Mike Magnotta asked himself a simple question: “What do I like to do?”
He originally envisioned himself becoming a military professional or a specialized surgeon. His partial blindness, however, made these endeavors beyond reach. And so he was left with his question again.
The answers led him to seek a small environmental college on the east coast to pursue his interests in the environmental studies, sustainable building, and history. His goal soon became to build electric motorcycles and retire eventually to teach history at his leisure. After a visit to Green Mountain College, Mike knew this was where he belonged.
He is taking 21 credits this semester and naturally is left with little free time between his studies and extracurricular activities. And somehow he has found a way to do it all.
As a freshman at Green Mountain, Mike did not seek out leadership opportunities but his organizational skills had a way of finding an outlet. Eventually, he found himself actively involved in the student financial committee, which, in turn, gave him the skills he needed to be elected, then re-elected, to student body treasurer.
As treasurer, Mike’s main charge is to coordinate and organize the clubs, and he is leader of the club assembly. He also is president of the Quidditch club on campus, which held a Quidditch tournament September 22nd.
“I love to organize; it’s what I’m good at,” he said. Most students surely wish they could be gifted with the same innate inclination for leadership and organization. Mike has certainly established his prowess in that field and the natural skill has proved instrumental in his achievements.
Over his time at Green Mountain, Mike’s most important skill learned is developing a critical eye, something most students strive to achieve and most adults fail to. Mike believes he owes this in great part to Andrew Duffin, professor of history. The ability to look beyond what is there, Mike says, will benefit him most in his future endeavors.
“He taught me that you can’t look at things as they are. And you’ve got to pick your battles,” he said.
Mike also credits Duffin with the vast improvements in his writing—he winces a bit when looking back on his early work as a freshman. These abilities of analyzing and critical reasoning are valued skills in almost all professions. And its use in renewable energy and design is exceedingly practical.
In Mike’s work to build green transportation, the critical eye he cultivated here at GMC will be invaluable. As with any environmental career path, the ability to tear open a problem and look at it inside and out is the key to success and innovation, two words Mike has his sights set on.
By Sara Bishop '16