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For Aaron Premont, family is everything
When 21-year-old UVM junior Aaron Premont talks about his weekly schedule, it’s clear why others have described him as a “spark plug.”
“I work at Texas Roadhouse on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; then I have my internship at the radio station on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday; and classes in between. Wednesday is my one day off, but that’s usually filled with grocery shopping and homework,” says Aaron, who admits he’s looking forward to the summertime. But even then, he expects to be working four or five days a week.
“I’m footing the whole college bill,” Aaron says, adding that his goal is to knock his loans down by $15 to $20 grand before he graduates.
“I’ll definitely get it done,” he says.
His VSAC outreach counselor, Carrie Harlow, agrees in a heartbeat. “Aaron is such an incredibly hard worker. It isn’t easy, even though he certainly takes it all in stride! He is always firing and on the lookout for the next opportunity.”
Aaron attributes his work ethic to his large and close-knit family, whom he’s quick to give credit for his success. “Everyone in my family has completely backed me on everything and has always told me I can do whatever I set my mind to,” he says, adding that each family member gave him something different that has made him the person he is today.
“My mom was my biggest supporter no matter what. My stepdad was there to teach me ‘all the things a man should know,’ like how to change a tire or fix the toilet. There are so many things that he taught me that I now do on my own in my apartment, and I think to myself, ‘he’s the reason I know how to do that.’ And my grandparents taught me how to be a good person, no matter what, no matter who’s looking,” he says, speaking proudly of his grandfather, who’s been known to pick up the grocery tab for a mother who’s buying baby formula or a military servicemember buying supplies for a Memorial Day cookout.
Perhaps the one missing piece among Aaron’s family members is the personal experience of having gone to college; Aaron is a first-generation college student. For the specific “how-tos” that helped him with the application process, Aaron credits VSAC, and specifically Carrie, whom he still stays in touch with and refers to as a “second mom” — indeed, as part of his family.
“Without VSAC, without Carrie, my family wouldn’t have known what to do when it came to the entire college system,” Aaron says, noting that his mom was, characteristically, more than willing to jump in and learn what she needed to do to support Aaron. “And Carrie was a big help with that. She was always there to answer any possible questions. She was just a great support system.”
Aaron says the possibility of going on to college came to him, around the same time, both from his mom and through the VSAC Talent Search program, which he joined in the seventh grade. “My mom often said to me, ‘I never went to college, and I’d love it if you went,’” Aaron says, though he adds that his parents never forced anything on him. “We had conversations about the facts, the benefits, and the drawbacks,” he says, “and I was able to weigh the decision on my own.”
In the end, Aaron realized that a bachelor’s degree was his ticket to what he wanted to do — work in sports management in a large market like Boston or New York. “If I can get a bachelor’s degree, that will get my foot in the door. From there, I can get a job based on my work ethic. That’s the way I look at it,” says Aaron, who is majoring in business.
While he originally thought he wanted to go to college out of state, he says he’s glad that he chose to go to UVM. Being in Burlington, he says, has given him enough space to establish his own identity, but still be close enough to his hometown of Vergennes that he can go to family events.
Remaining a part of his family is something that’s really important to Aaron, who is the oldest of a blended family of eight children, who range in age from 17 to 3.
“I take it as a lot of responsibility,” Aaron says. “My brothers and sisters love having me around. They may not know it yet, but I try to be kind of like a parent — someone they can feel comfortable coming to. I’m the big brother. I’m supposed to be the one that can help them with anything.”
That’s certainly true when it comes to his siblings’ education. “I’m trying to lead the way for them. I want to show them, you guys can do this too. Ask me questions, and I will help you.”
Need help with pursuing your career goals and education? VSAC is here to help you. For information on college and career planning and help with financial aid, go to www.vsac.org/FAFSAfirst and check out our online workshops and events. For an update of how we can help during COVID-19, click here. You can also give us a call at 800-642-3177, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.