MiddCORE Alum Alec MacMillen Takes the Stage as TEDx Speaker

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The Project on Creativity and Innovation (PCI) is Middlebury’s “launchpad for new ideas.” Through programs such as MiddCORE, the Center for Social Entrepreneurship, TEDxMiddlebury and a host of others, PCI fosters a dynamic community of actively engaged thinkers and learners. This is an exciting community to be a part of: it is bursting with creative ideas and innovative individuals.

Alec MacMillen ’14 is one such individual. As a MiddCORE alum, a MiddCOREplus intern and the student speaker at this fall’s TEDx conference, Alec has embraced the opportunities Middlebury offers to expand education in new directions.

I had the chance to sit down with Alec this week to hear about his experience as a TEDx speaker and discuss the message he conveyed through his eighteen-minute TED talk, titled “The Extrovert Ideal and the Best Four Years of Your Life.” Continue reading

MiddCOREplus, the Extended Edition: Naila Jahan Continues her Summer Work

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There is a distinctly wintry tinge to the Middlebury campus these days – fallen leaves, cool nights and crisp gray skies. But even as the students and MiddCORE team make the transition to fall and winter, there are remnants still of summer to be found. For Naila Jahan, this means that her work as a MiddCOREplus intern for the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) this past summer is carrying right into the rest of the year. Continue reading

MiddCOREplus Final Presentations

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For ten weeks this summer, seven MiddCOREplus students spent 30 hours per week at their respective organizations working on a challenge put forth by the organization. Each Friday,  students came back to campus for an experiential workshop that encouraged the students’ personal skill development which they could apply to their project.  For their final presentations, students were asked students to reflect on the following prompt: What impact did this summer have on your learning? How did your project contribute to the partnering organization? Continue reading

MiddCOREplus Improvisation Session

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“We use our bodies to get from place to place, to do the work that we believe to be important, and to comunicate with one another…  Our bodies provide us with oxygen, stability, and movement…  And in our day-to-day lives, we hardly think about all the work that our bodies are doing for us. ” – Penny Campbell 

During this past week’s MiddCOREplus Friday session, students were reminded to use the full range of wonders that their bodies are capable of.  Mentor Penny Campbell, Dance Professor at Middlebury College, challenged students to explore their full range of motions, sounds, and emotions  by guiding them through a careful morning of improvisation.  Penny reminded us that at its core, improvisation is collaboration: collaboration with the self and collaboration with others.  She reminded us that in our work and in our play, we are all called to improvise and collaborate.  Sometimes, however, we get into a routine that doesn’t require our full range of collaboration and when this happens, we deny our true ability to be creative. Continue reading

Financial Literacy

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“In order to fully understand an organization, you must understand their financials.”
-Don Devost

The seven MiddCOREplus students are working with seven very different organizations around Vermont this summer.  Although every student’s experience with their organization differs based on what their final goals are for the summer, each one of them will be able to use their new understanding of financial statements in order to better understand their partner organizations.  This past Friday, Don Devost, President at Addison Advisors LLC, and Andrew Stickney, Vice President at Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies, gave the MiddCOREplus students a crash course in Financial Statements, Accounting, and Investing. Continue reading

Sales and Flyfishing

At the end of their fourth week of the program, the seven MiddCOREplus participants learned about sales from mentor Nicolas Boillot, CEO of HB, an integrated marketing agency focused on business-to-business, clean-tech, high-tech and medical technology markets.  Students learned that building good rapport must always be the first step in sales.

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Nicolas stressed the importance of remembering that “sales is not about you or what you have to say…it is about listening to what the other person needs and seeing if and how you might be able to fill that need.”

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Students practiced making a good pitch about their company in order to get feedback from one another and from Nicolas.  This feedback will be critical in the upcoming weeks of their internships as they will continue to be in the field gathering insights.

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During the afternoon session, participants headed outdoors for a fly-fishing lesson. Everyone quickly realized that fishing, like sales, requires much patience, skill, and practice.  At the end of the day everyone was left to ponder the following questions: What makes a person excited about a product or experience?  What is the best type of sales and marking that we see around us in our daily lives?

Have you been intrigued to buy a product recently? Why?  What did you notice about the sale strategy that worked or didn’t work?

Emotional Intelligence with Leslie Schreiber

Increasing emotional intelligence is possible through improved self awareness, self management, social awareness, and relationship management. Leslie Schreiber, founder of Schreiber Training, guided the students through both physical and verbal activities to better understand how to understand and improve their aspects of emotional intelligence.


Alec MacMillen said of the session, “Personal and social awareness are only as valuable as the actions they inspire. You can be the most observant and aware person in the world, but it means nothing unless you can translate that knowledge into self-regulation and relationship management.”


Later that afternoon, students traveled to Metta Earth Institute, where they focused on intentionality and focus through yoga and meditation. Chessy Kelley led the session, encouraging students to clear their minds and prioritize their values.


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