River Valley Community College
Associate of Science in Adventure Recreation Management and Leisure Studies, 2008
Keith’s journey took him from being a complacent high school student to a professional who sets high standards and goes above and beyond to achieve them. He credits his approach to River Valley Community College (RVCC), and the instructors who saw his potential and encouraged his best efforts.
“In high school, I had plenty of ideas of what I thought I wanted to be when I grew up. I went through a phase where I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, then a professional athlete (very short lived!) and even a college coach, but at 18 years old, I wasn’t motivated to do anything about it. I was not driven.”
Keith grew up around sports. His father was a physical education teacher in Bellows Falls and a track and field and cross-country coach for more than 25 years. In his senior year of high school, Keith started to think about becoming an athletic trainer.
“I never took any Advanced Placement (AP) courses in high school. Only one four-year college accepted me, without financial aid and on a probationary status.”
The idea didn’t sit well for Keith. He toyed with the idea of enlisting in the military to pay for college, but his mother suggested another option.
“My mother graduated from the Occupational Therapy Assistant program at RVCC. She encouraged me to consider RVCC and offered to set up a meeting with Joe Perron, a professor in the occupational therapy department who was a classmate of hers when she attended.”
She made Keith promise to meet with Joe with an open mind to what his future could
“I met with him, and within five minutes, he had me hooked. I decided that I would go for a semester and if at the end of those four months, decide whether it was the right fit.”
Keith had so much fun those first four months that he decided to stay. “It really was the best thing for me.”
Keith attributes his success to the care and dedication of the professors at RVCC.
“Professors like Joe made a point to figure out how each student learned best and taught in a way that was engaging while also putting us in real-world situations.”
Memories that stand out for Keith during his time at RVCC and helped to shape his professional aspirations include experiences outside the classroom with his instructors and fellow students, such as a wilderness survival trip.
“Our survival trip was during a four-day downpour. We had to find a way to build shelter with a tarp. We developed bonds that you wouldn’t normally have in a classroom setting.”
Keith cites the influence of his teachers who recognized his potential and helped him grow, achieve success and develop a strong work ethic.
During his time at RVCC, Keith worked full time while also coaching high school basketball in the winter and junior high school track in the spring.
“It wasn’t easy, but I learned to juggle it all with the time management skills I learned at RVCC.”
In 2008, Keith graduated with an Associate of Science in Adventure Recreation Management and Leisure Studies.
After graduation, Keith was offered multiple jobs, but his professors and family suggested that he focus on furthering his education.
“I took their advice, enrolled in a four-year college and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Sports Administration from Castleton University in 2012.”
Keith then began working for the Springfield Parks & Rec Department in Vermont where he started a few new programs and revived others.
“Working with the kids is hands down my favorite part of the job. I went out and fundraised with a handful of parents to get a youth football program for grades 3-6 up and running. This pushed me to get out and meet business owners and parents and build a rapport with the community.”
During his eight years with the department, Keith’s passion for sports has helped him raise over $100,000. Today, he’s also the junior high boys’ basketball coach for the Springfield School District.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without my experience at RVCC.”
As Keith recounts his time at RVCC while coaching and working full time, he remembers the extra effort his instructors put into him as a student.
“Joe would always check up on his students to see how life was going outside of school. That was normal for him. He didn’t see it as going above and beyond, but rather as doing his job well.”
Keith believes that philosophy of doing more than what’s required rubbed off on him.
“Just gliding by is something I no longer do. I’m giving as much as I can, whether in the professional setting or in my personal life. I have more in me to give than just 100% and that’s what I try to do every day.”