Kyler Blodgett, Middlebury College
Kyler Blodgett, a sophomore at Middlebury College, is a student leader who sets an example for his peers on campus through his desire to make a positive impact in the local community as well as his efforts to address the root causes of social issues. From his work with Page 1 Literacy Program to his leadership with a new male mentoring organization Brother to Brother, Kyler thoughtfully provides leadership on campus to help meet community-identified needs. Kyler also served as the Summer 2014 Addison County Shepherd Intern with the Charter House Coalition, joined an United Way of Addison County Community Impact Funding Team, and planned a First-Year Day of Service for many of his peers.
Community engagement has been a part of my life for many years, but only since coming to Middlebury have I begun to seriously reflect on the intention behind this work. Disparate volunteer activities in high school to fulfill various requirements or quell a restless sense of “do-gooder-ism” have evolved into a strong personal connection with my community engagement activities. The majority of my activities, including the Page One Literacy elementary reading program and the Brother-to-Brother male middle school mentoring program that encourages though about gender stereotypes and masculinity, are focused on youth. While other organizations provide material resources to aid in social progress away from poverty, education gaps, and gender-based violence, my involvement centers on changing young peoples’ mindsets about their own capability and self-reflection. The statement, from parents, peers, and media, that “You cannot do X or achieve Y” or that “Men act like this and anything else is unacceptable” is equally debilitating to a child as the constraining economic and social institutions that exist today. Addressing both personal and structural routes to progress is key, but I am at a place right now in my education and personal development that I can better provide the former.