Nearly nine of every ten students who graduate from our competitive curriculum go on to pursue bachelor’s degrees at colleges nationwide.
Met and Married at Landmark- Doug and Kristin Killin Story
Landmark College has been helping students with learning disabilities succeed in many ways, but who would have ever thought that finding your lifelong significant other was one of them? Over the years, we have heard of an overwhelming number of alumni finding their “partner for life” because of Landmark College. But Doug and Kristin Killin could officially be our first Landmark College Alumni Couple.
Doug and Kristin met when the doors first opened at Landmark College in 1985. At their graduation, both received the President’s Award, recognizing them as students who had best exemplified the College’s guiding principles. Together they left Landmark in June 1987 and attended Seattle Pacific University. Kristin earned a BA in History from Seattle Pacific but Doug returned to Landmark as a Resident Dean and earned a degree at Keene State College. Doug later earned a Master’s in Education at the University of San Francisco. They married October 30, 1993. Today, they live happily in San Jose, California, with their three children.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years this month!” Kristin shared during a recent phone interview with Tricia Stanley, Associate Director of Alumni Relations at Landmark College. “Doug and I officially met in April 1986 during Mr. Godfrey’s geology class, but in a sense we all met at school at the same time.” With only 75 students, each with dyslexia, coming from all over the country, there was a surreal nature to the first year the doors were opened at Landmark College.”
Kristin credits not only common interests but also having a common group as the most powerful factor during her semesters at Landmark College. “As pioneers, we all were taking risks those first few years. As students, together we had finally found a place that understood us.”
Like many couples who stick together, Kristin and Dougss love grew out of their friendship. “We like to say friendship is the cornerstone of our relationship. Other than a few bumps in the road, we’ve been together pretty much the whole time”, shared Kristin.
Kristin whole-heartedly believes that Landmark played a huge role in their relationship. “As people with dyslexia, it was the first time ever we were with other people who thought as we did, that learned as we did and shared so many common experiences. We shared an openness and a willingness to connect with people, and to be honest. For some of us the walls came down and we made lifelong connections.”
Whether founded in a sense of desperation or possibly the realization that this could be their last chance to go to college, Kristin recalls that most of her 74 classmates realized they all were in the same boat together. “Not only did we want to make Landmark successful, we wanted to be successful at Landmark College to prove all negative voices in our heads - from our pasts and in education - wrong!"
Doug and Kristin studied a lot. “We took what the teachers said to heart and we implemented the study skills that were shared with us. We worked the master notebook and we worked one-on-one with the faculty.”
In Kristin’s opinion, Landmark still plays an important role in who she and Doug are as parents and as a couple. “Doug and I parent the same way, which I think comes from being more metacognitive in our own learning. It hasn't always been easy, but I think we view it similar to how we did while we were at Landmark.”
Doug and Kristin’s experiences at Landmark College, and in life, have also fostered tolerance. “We’ve taught our kids to embrace their differences that make each of them who they are and to accept and cherish themselves first. Even if it’s frustrating at times, we have tried to instill confidence and a willingness to accept themselves and others. We want our kids to never let a teacher make them feel less than who they are, just because they’re not the best spellers.”
Alumna Andrea B. Tolliver, M.Ed. Comes Back For More Than Convocation
Andrea earned her Associate of Arts from Landmark College in 2000. She then went on to receive her Bachelor of Arts in art education from Manhattanville College, and her Master of Professional Studies with a concentration in special education from Manhattan College of New York in May of 2012. In the fall of 2012, Andrea began in her role as an assistant middle school teacher at the Windward School in White Plains, New York, an independent, co-ed day school focused exclusively on helping students in grades 1-9 with language-based learning disabilities.
At the start of our conversation Andrea shared this reflection with us: “Many years ago I came to Landmark College with a heavy heart. I was scared and timid. I was certain I just might fail all over again. I barely graduated from high school; my guidance counselor encouraged me to stop pursuing college. I was devastated. I wanted to give up, but I just did not have the power in me to stop trying to learn.” Today she credits her struggles in her secondary education as the catalyst of her relentless drive.
We welcomed Andrea back to campus in January for Spring ‘13 Convocation, during which she greeted the incoming Landmark College students with heartfelt words of advice: “Today really is the first day of the rest of your lives. Many of you have faced a tough academic road. You have jumped through hoops, over fire, and looked the lion straight in the eyes. Some of you have wanted to give up, throw in the towel, and never look back. Today you have that chance, to never look back. I take great pride in conveying this message to you because I too have embarked on this tremendous journey of self-discovery at Landmark College.”
Some of Andrea’s fondest memories of Landmark College are of the friendships she made while attending the College. “Landmark provided the opportunity to build lasting friendships with people who really understood what it was like to be a minority in school,” Andrea reflected. She credited Landmark College as the first time that she ever felt like she fit in. She is still in contact with many of her classmates with whom she visits from time to time.
The reasons she enjoys coming back to the College and being active as an alumna are simple. While her studies at Landmark College were far from easy, today she truly understands the amount of courage and determination that goes into overcoming a learning difference. Because of this understanding Andrea enjoys giving back to the community and sharing her story to give hope to current students during challenging times, as well as to celebrate their successes with them.
Although her academic challenges are unique to her personal experiences, she feels that current students can relate to both her successes and failures. “It brings me much joy to feel like I can touch the lives of others the way that my life was touched while I attended Landmark.” And with that breath of appreciation, our conversation about new beginnings came to a close.
Thank you, Andrea, for sharing your story, and for making a difference in the lives of other students at Landmark College and now younger students as well through your work as a teacher.
Landmark Alumna Meghan Benzel Has Come Back To Serve
There’s no truth to the rumor Meghan Benzel’s middle name is volunteer. But for all the hours the 2011 Landmark College graduate has put in recently, it might as well be.
“I firmly believe that service comes before self, and I look forward to strengthening the communities in which I serve,” she says.
Ms. Benzel’s work as an AmeriCorps volunteer has taken her into neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and more recently, Superstorm Sandy She has worked with at-risk youth impacted and influenced by gang violence in northern California.
Even during her time at Landmark College, Ms. Benzel served as a resident assistant.
And she recently returned to campus as a member of the SerVermont VISTA Volunteer for Windham County. Since starting her VISTA work here at Landmark College, Meghan has organized many valuable events and programs. Her work is based on The Putney Student Corps consists of students from Landmark College, The Greenwood School, The Grammar School, Putney Central School, and The Putney School. The work that she has done has restrung connections with Landmark College and the Putney community.
One of her first projects was a Halloween trick-or-treat event that allowed the town’s young trick-or-treaters to have a safe place to celebrate. With Hurricane Sandy the event ended up having 276 participants. Landmark was known from this event as “the college that saved Halloween.”
Meghan has challenged Landmark College and the Putney community to work as a whole. She is creating traditions, memories, and most of all, the youth’s view on what “true service” is. One of her most impressive events was Hurricane Sandy relief trip to New York City. Meghan led a group of Landmark College students to New York to help in the relief effort.
Before the trip, they organized a food and clothes drive to bring to a local shelter. The group worked for two days cleaning out devastation, working on photo recovery, and helping those in need. You can review more photos from this time here: http://www.slideshare.net/LandmarkCollege
Landmark College has helped me become the person I am today. Everything that I learned during my time at Landmark has helped me get to this point in my life. Not only did Landmark teach me how to learn, but it taught me how to live — how to live in such a way that I know will carry me very far in life. If not for Landmark, I would have never known about AmeriCorps, and if not for AmeriCorps, I wouldn't have found my true passion in life.”
Landmark Alumna Stephanie V. Strauss Graduates Summa Cum Laude from University of Colorado, Boulder
Stephanie V. Strauss, who attended Landmark College from Fall 2006 to Spring 2007, graduated in May, 2011 from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities (with a primary concentration in Art History and a secondary concentration in Intercultural Conflict). She graduated with the distinction of summa cum laude. UC-Boulder awards Latin honors (of which summa cum laude is the highest) based on GPA, academic standing and Senior Honors thesis.
Stephanie's thesis was "To Paint in the Age of Technological Reproducibility: Presentation in Gerhard Richter's Blurred Paintings."
Beyond the Latin honors, Stephanie was also the recipient of the Van Ek Award, nominated by a professor. She was one of only twelve students in the College of Arts and Sciences to receive this prestigious award.
Stephanie commented, "None of my academic achievements could have happened without the gift of a Landmark education. I will be forever grateful for what I learned and for the Landmark family, who enriched my life in innumerable ways."
Landmark Alumnus Sean Smith, Resident Dean and Alumni Mentoring Service
This past Spring, Student Affairs piloted an Alumni Mentoring Service, designed to assist students who are challenged by self-management and executive-function issues to develop better strategies. Sean Smith (a 2005 Landmark College graduate) was hired to head up this service. In his work, Sean helped students get up, prepare for and move on with their day. The Service—which is a combination of room visits, text-messaging and in-person check-ins—is intended to help students to progress toward self-regulation.
Any Landmark community member who was here in 2005 will likely remember Sean.
At his graduation ceremony that year, he was awarded the Community Service Award for his efforts to lead his peers by example, challenging his classmates to think about their work and encouraging them to do their absolute best, both in and out of the classroom. He was known for his ability to calm tense situations that emerged on campus, and he encouraged his classmates to communicate with each other and treat each other with respect. Even now, few of us on campus are able to walk by him without a cheerful greeting, handshake or energetic wave. In 2005, one student proclaimed. "Sean just makes you feel good about yourself and about being here…he's probably the best person I know on campus."
We are fortunate to have back on campus that same energy, compassion for community and dedication to the Landmark student. During his time on campus and in this work, Sean has already made a dramatic impact on the ability of students to engage in their academic programs. He is working hard, and we are seeing results!
Thank you, Sean, for "Giving Back" in the best tradition of Landmark College alumni.
Listen to some thoughts from the Landmark College Fall Class of 2011.
In this video, recent alumni describe their success and the role Landmark played in that success.
We welcome your suggestions about ways our office can assist you.
Tricia Stanley, Associate Director Alumni Relations
PO Box 820
1 River Road South
Putney, VT 05346