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Adrianne Hutchin wants to support her community as a family law attorney
Adrianne Hutchin wants to support her community as a family law attorney
“Success is helping other people. If I can go to bed and know that I made a difference in a person's life that day, then I’ve succeeded.”
It’s hard to speak with Adrianne Hutchin and not leave inspired. The fifth-generation Vermonter and mother of five children is determined to give back to her community as an attorney.
“I want to be a voice for the voiceless. I’m good at debating and coming up with an alternative point of view. I want to defend people,” Adrianne says. “People need someone to step up for them. I need to be the one to step up. I used to be scared; I used to be the one in the corner. It’s time for that to change, and being a lawyer will let me do so in a concrete way.”
Adrianne is the youngest of 13 siblings and was adopted; she grew up in Brownington and Barton with her aunt and uncle. When she completed high school, she spent a short period of time at college, but she couldn’t afford to finish. Adrianne’s path to working with VSAC and the EOC program started through her children.
“My son was in seventh grade when he was approached by Talent Search counselor Marti Kingsley, who helped him get into Lyndon Institute,” Adrianne recalls. “What I didn't know at the time was that there were resources for me too. Marti encouraged me to go back to school and convinced me that I could get the financial support to make it happen.”
The realization that college was possible and that support for first-generation college students like herself was available changed Adrianne’s life.
“From help filling out the FAFSA to assistance applying for scholarships, Marti has been fantastic,” Adrianne adds. “VSAC was there step by step. Without [Marti] and VSAC, I wouldn't be in college. I graduated CCV magna cum laude and graduated from NVU summa cum laude. I could never have done it without VSAC.”
After completing her degree at CCV, Adrianne went on to Northern Vermont University, where she pursued a double major in global studies and criminal justice, with two minors in pre-law and history and a concentration in restorative justice. Upon her graduation from NVU this spring, she learned she had won several awards, starting with NVU’s prestigious Alumni Council Outstanding Graduating Senior Award, given to a senior who has a high GPA and strong leadership skills, and is involved in her community. “That caught me totally off guard,” Adrianne said.
She also earned the Outstanding Senior Thesis Award for both of her majors, criminal justice and global studies.
Now Adrianne is gearing up for additional study to obtain her law degree. While she considered applying to Vermont Law School, she decided that the commute from St. Johnsbury to South Royalton was a bit too far, with two teenage children still at home. She decided instead to take advantage of Vermont’s somewhat unique opportunity to read for the law. Vermont is one of just four states that allow legal apprenticeships as an alternative to law school.
Adrianne’s interest in law began many years ago, when she was going through a divorce and advocating for custody of her children. She was living in Massachusetts at the time, but the custody hearing took place in a Connecticut court. When the judge refused to allow her Massachusetts attorney to represent her, she requested additional time to retain an in-state attorney, which the judge refused. She then requested the ability to represent herself, which the judge also refused. “I felt railroaded and absolutely helpless,” Adrianne recalled. “I decided right then and there that I would never allow anyone else to be put in that position.”
In line with that personal mission, she also has a desire to start a restorative justice program in St. Johnsbury to help children who are being bullied.
“I know that my kids have been bullied in school. St. Johnsbury School doesn’t have a restorative justice program, and I think that’s a real problem,” she says. “We have a really excellent restorative justice program at Northern Vermont University. I asked my professor in charge of the restorative justice program at NVU and the director at the Community Justice Center coordinator of that program if they would be willing to help start one at St. Johnsbury, and they agreed.”
To Adrianne, it’s the type of community-based solution that she hopes to hone in on in her future work as an attorney.
“In the Bronx, they’ve reduced their expulsions and suspensions by a huge number,” she explains. “I can only imagine how impactful that would be. Being able to empower underheard voices to communicate their problems is critical,” she adds. “Maybe a student has something going on in the home that’s causing the bullying.”
These strains on families and children have been compounded by COVID-19 and the resulting loss of previous routine and structure.
This has been a major complication in Adrianne’s life as well and has made school increasingly difficult.
“When the pandemic hit, I had to go virtual,” Adrianne says. “You don’t get the nuance when you’re not in person and as a result, a lot of students have seen their grades drop. I had to put assignments in late because of all the things I have to juggle to support my five children, two of whom are still at home.”
Despite the difficulties, Adrianne is optimistic about the future and what higher education will offer her and her family.
Before deciding to go back to school, she had a variety of jobs. From working as an armed nuclear security officer to driving an armored truck and working as traffic control flagger, Adrianne has made ends meet for her family.
The opportunity to share VSAC’s Educational Opportunity Center resources with people in her life and community is something Adrianne is constantly focused on. “I’ve spoken with a number of nontraditional students and told them to reach out to VSAC,” she says. Adrianne emphasized how important VSAC’s Educational Opportunity Center has been to her life.
“Were it not for Marti’s encouragement, support, and incredible dedication to her work, I wouldn’t have found the courage or the funding to have reached for these things that are now within my grasp,” she stated.
Adrianne’s advice to those who are considering changing career paths?
“Anybody who thinks they’re too old or too busy to attend college, all I can say is go for it,” she advises. “You’re never too late to do what you want to do. Just because you get to be an adult doesn’t mean you stop learning or stop trying, and VSAC is there to help you. My life is just beginning.”
Educational Opportunity Center: 30 years helping Vermont adults achieve success
Ready to take the next step in your career? Considering a class, certification, career training, or college program? Whether you’re starting for the first time, returning to school after a gap, or are an avid lifelong learner, VSAC is here to help. The Educational Opportunity Center program at VSAC serves adults who do not yet have a 4-year degree. Most adults served through EOC are the first in their families to go to college and have financial barriers to pursuing their goals beyond high school. VSAC EOC counselors throughout the state help with career exploration, education and training options, and financial aid applications.
Our EOC counselors can help you:
- Plan your career path and explore education options
- Get financial aid to help pay for college or career training
- Set yourself up for success in school
- Learn from our weekly Zoom Room on a variety of topics
Ready to access these services and more? Contact a VSAC EOC team member by calling 877-961-4369. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay in touch. We’re here for you.