All roads lead to Poultney during the final week of September when Green Mountain College hosts its annual Reunion/Alumni & Family Weekend. Among the many highlights of this event is the presentation of awards to two alumni who have distinguished themselves in their professional lives after GMC, and who go above and beyond in serving their alma mater. The presentations are made at the Alumni Banquet and Awards Ceremony on Saturday, September 24 at 6:30 p.m. in Withey Student Center.
The Distinguished Alumni Award for 2016 goes to Anna S. Whitcomb Knight ’71. Anna is currently serving on the College’s Board of Trustees for a three-year term. Anna has been a leadership donor to the Alumni Fund, the Careers, Advising, & Teaching (CAT) Center and financial aid for students. Most recently, she is a major donor to the Ackley Biomedical Science Lab project. Over the past several years, she has been helpful as an Alumni Fund volunteer, reaching out to classmates to ask for gifts. This year, Anna is the lead volunteer in welcoming back alumni from the class of 1971 for their 45th Reunion and a private class reception.
Anna continued her education after GMC at the University of Vermont where she earned a bachelor’s degree in human development. Following her graduation she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in community development, health and nutrition. After a stint in the Philippines from 1973-1974, she served as a New England Peace Corps Recruiter, eventually joining the board of the Boston Area Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Association from 1999-2004. She also served on the National Peace Corps Association Board from 2001- 2004. Recently, Anna was instrumental in helping GMC become a participating educational institution with the Peace Corps-Paul D. Coverdell Fellowship Program. This program provides an opportunity for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to further their education towards a master’s degree as specific colleges or universities with financial assistance and participate in community work. As a participant in the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program, GMC is accepting students for the master’s in environmental studies program who receive a tuition discount and a travel stipend for the MES residency.
Anna has considerable professional experience in the career counseling and personal development field. She worked in personnel and staffing positions in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the U.S. Office of Housing and Urban Development and the Peace Corps. She was principal and owner of Career Choices for sixteen years from 1995 to 2011. In 2012, Anna established a new consulting business, AW Consulting.
Anna has been a supporter of student career services efforts at Green Mountain College and UVM. For the past two years, she has been involved with promoting and participating in the Making a Difference Making a Living conference at GMC. At the 2016 event, she moderated the TED talk portion of the conference program.
Anna lives in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., with her husband, Sam Knight.
The Distinguished Alumni Award is intended to recognize those alumni who have distinguished themselves by outstanding achievements through their professional careers and/or civic charitable activities.
The College is proud to present the 2016 Young Alumni Award to Melissa Markstrom ’09, who currently works as an organizer at the Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU Healthcare in Boston.
Melissa has led the effort to organize and establish a vibrant young alumni affinity group called the Rogue Alumni of GMC. Formerly called the Young Alumni group, “Rogue” has engaged hundreds of young alums over the past few years. In 2014, Melissa and her alumni friends revived an effort to bring young alumni back to campus for an annual event around the time of the spring concert.
Melissa is also dedicated to connecting GMC students and alumni with potential job and internship opportunities. She created a public Facebook group—the GMC Alumni Career Network—that has almost 700 members today. Melissa has also participated in the “Making a Difference & Making a Living” career conference at GMC. In its first year in 2015, she was a career panelist, helping to showcase a career option to students. Melissa has been an active and influential director on the Alumni Advisory Board since her three-year term started in September 2014.
At GMC, Melissa was an excellent student, achieving academic honors and participating in numerous student activities, graduating with a BFA in writing in 2009. She attended Prescott College through the Eco League exchange and traveled to Kenya with other students to perform community-based activism work. Melissa completed a stint as an AmeriCorps volunteer, coordinating tutoring and mentoring programs at a Paradise Valley, Ariz., elementary school. From June 2009 through October 2008 she completed an internship at Ms. Magazine in Los Angeles. In her senior year at GMC, she received an English achievement award and the Robert Marsh Memorial Prize for excellence in writing and research.
At GMC Melissa organized and led several human rights initiatives including a two-day demonstration on Vermont’s marriage equality bill and advocating for indigenous land rights in Kenya and the U.S. through research, outreach and publication. She also co-facilitated the Gender Studies Club on campus and worked as a writer and editor for two college newspapers including The Mountaineer. Melissa’s GMC experience provided a springboard to her professional career in union organization.
The Young Alumni Award recognizes the exceptional accomplishments of an alumnus/a who graduated from Green Mountain College not more than 10 years prior to the year of the award. This individual’s achievements will have shown leadership and will have brought inspiration to young alumni, their peers and current undergraduate students.