NHTI – Concord’s Community College
Associate of Arts, General Studies, 2015
Steven Kidder found his voice as an advocate for students thanks to pathways through NHTI.
Steven didn’t want to follow anyone’s footsteps in his career journey; he wanted to be the trailblazer and see where life would take him. As his interests developed and his world widened, he found his calling in advocacy work helping learning-disabled students. Thanks to NHTI, he’s confident in his current career direction.
But it wasn’t always easy going. When he graduated high school, Steven neither considered nor explored college. While their needs were always met, his family had always lived paycheck to paycheck. No one in his family had yet taken that first step toward a college degree.
“I thought I wanted to be a fashion designer,” said Steven. “But I didn’t know how to start or where to go. I was overwhelmed with the process and didn’t look any further.”
While he struggled to overcome his obstacles, Steven held several minimum wage jobs that eventually led him to find his passion.
“I tested the waters to see what worked and what didn’t,” he said. “I started doing a lot of advocacy work, mostly around the LGBTQ community, and then I happened to stumble upon a job with President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign in New Hampshire and thought, ‘I can see a future here.’”
An opportunity within the campaign went on to change his life: A field organizer suggested he was ready to attend college. But that wasn’t all. “I was scared, I didn’t know where to start and I had no money,” said Steven. “Then, the field organizer said she’d give me her laptop if I went.”
This push – and the possibility of getting financial aid to offset the costs – made him seriously consider college for the first time. “I told myself, ‘I guess I have to go now because I have no reason not to,’” he said.
While he knew it was time, he was intimidated. Steven confided his fears to a family friend, who led him to check out NHTI based on its flexible scheduling, convenient location, and affordability. His 5-year gap since high school made it hard for him to take the next step, but he was quickly accepted and found he was eligible for three scholarships that would offset the financial burden.
Once at NHTI, Steven thrived. Despite not having seen himself as “college material,” he earned a coveted spot on the Dean’s list a member of the Alpha Upsilon Omicron Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society for students attending two-year colleges.
“NHTI was a foundation for me and set me up for continuing my college,” said Steven. He went on to attend Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., with a full scholarship. He earned a BA in political science and gender studies and graduated with zero debt.
“NHTI prepared me for a career. It helped me trust myself more and work toward my goals. It put me in the driver’s seat and pushed me. I don’t think I would be where I am without this experience.”
Today, Steven lives in New Hampshire and works as an education assistant at Concord High School with learning-disabled students. Advocacy is still a strong theme in his career: He has spent the last 16 years supporting the LBGTQ community with the ACLU and now with disabled students. He credits this success and path to his time at NHTI.
“Community college is a great way to start and figure out what you like. It’s affordable and allows you to prepare yourself for the next step.”