VSAC will be closed Monday, January 20, 2020 in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Eden Towers is there to help in medical emergencies
Eden Towers, a young woman who is studying to be a paramedic, is no stranger to hardship and hard work. Fortunately, she’s had equal parts luck along the way.
Eden grew up in Morrisville, the oldest daughter of a single mom. “Being in a household with a single parent, raising two kids, had its difficulties,” Eden recalls. “That made me grow up a little faster, I think.” She graduated from Stowe High School in 2012, and, like many other young Vermonters, wanted to spread her wings outside the state. So, she enrolled at Ohio Wesleyan University, and completed her first year there before the cost of tuition caught up with her. Then, she returned home and completed her studies at Northern Vermont University-Johnson, where she received a degree in biology in 2016.
She got through her undergraduate years with the help of scholarships and grants. But, she says, when she wanted to specialize in emergency services after receiving her Bachelor’s, she found the funding opportunities were lacking. “Once you get a degree, a lot of doors are closed to you. I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for it.”
Fortunately, one of Eden’s lucky breaks was an introduction to Andrea Gould, VSAC Education Counselor, who told her about the Curtis Fund, which offers a scholarship designed specifically for students seeking short-term training programs to build their job skills. In a pilot program launched in 2018, 16 students were awarded scholarships ranging from $500 to $1,500 – almost $22,000 in total – for specialized training programs. Eden used her award to help fund a paramedic training program at Vermont Technical College.
“It’s been such a great help,” Eden says. “I’ve been working this whole time while in school to try to pay for everything. It’s really hard. This scholarship felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders. Any amount” – in her case, the full award of $1,500 – “was something that didn’t have to come out of my pocket, so I could relax a little bit and just focus on studying,” which, for Eden, was something she hadn’t been able to do for her entire career. “There have definitely been some hardships in there,” she says.
Eden was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune disease, in high school – which made her anemic, weak and tired, and it was hard for her to make it to class. With the help of supports available through the voc-rehab program, Eden graduated on time from high school and college, with her sights set on a career in the medical field.
She received her licensure as an Advanced EMT, or A-EMT, then applied for the paramedic training program at VTC, which turned out to be another turn of good luck for Eden, who had been working full-time managing a coffee shop. “Things just kind of fell into place. I applied to the VTC paramedic program on a Wednesday, I got in on a Friday, and classes started on the next Thursday. It all happened at once. It worked out.”
She is now one of nine students who are about a year into the 18-month program, which is the only career-entry paramedical training program in the state. When she finishes, she will be a certified paramedic, with a national and a Vermont license.
And Eden, who is working per diem for Stowe Rescue, is already thinking about next steps. “Getting trained in EMS is expensive, and it takes a lot of time,” she explained. “A lot of my colleagues will stop at the Advanced EMT level instead of going on to Medic. But that’s not me,” she says with a laugh. “I’m always looking to move to the next level.”
As Eden looks back on her journey to this point, she notes that “there have definitely been some obstacles in there. But,” she says, “it’s all been worth it.”