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Trent Cross: From sports standout to exercise science student
When asked to talk about his journey from a kid growing up in Milton to a successful college freshman, Trent Cross tells a story marked with the typical challenge facing first-generation college students: “None of my family had ever gone to college, so I didn’t really know what way to go.”
“But when I got to high school,” Trent recalls, “I realized I did want to go to college, because it would set me up better to help people, which is something I’ve always wanted to do.”
So, building on the guidance and support he received from both sets of grandparents, and from the faculty and staff at Milton Senior High, Trent signed up for VSAC’s Talent Search program his freshman year in high school. “I would talk with the counselors about my college search, grants and scholarships, and how I was progressing toward what I wanted to achieve. What’s nice is they asked a lot of reflective questions, getting you to think about who you are, what you enjoy, and what you want to do.”
At the beginning, Trent recalls, “I really had no idea. At first I thought I wanted to be a wildlife biologist.” But as he progressed into more advanced classes, he realized he wanted to work with people. “So then I looked at psychology, then political science, and finally exercise science,” which is his current major at the University of Vermont – and a way, Trent realized, to combine his love of physical activity with his commitment to helping others.
Trent – a sports standout in high school – used to channel the physical activity part into football. But after sustaining somewhere between 7 and 11 concussions during games – and often making the choice to continue to play – he decided not to continue in college.
“When I stopped playing football, I needed something to replace it,” he said. “I’d always exercised, but not to the extent that I do now.” Trent currently works out six days a week, alternating between cardio, resistance training and weights.
“Learning about the rates of depression, suicide, cardiovascular disease, all of that, I just realized that exercise can save a lot of lives, a lot of money, and a lot of time,” he says. “It stuck out to me.”
Trent says he’s using exercise science as a stepping-stone to becoming a chiropractor. After completing his bachelors, hopefully in 2022, Trent wants to enroll in a specialized chiropractic program at Life University in Marietta, Georgia.
As for what he likes most about UVM, Trent says he really enjoys the professors. “They’re just genuine folks. In high school, I was always hearing from my teachers, ‘they’re going to be much harder on you in college’ – but once I got here, I realized, they’re so chill and honest. I really like that. You might be in a class of 300, but they will treat you like you’re in a class of 10. If you need help, they will make the time to sit down with you. The exercise science professors in particular have been really great.”
While Trent says he doesn’t have much of a feel for campus life, since he commutes to campus from Milton two days a week for classes, he has built up a number of active social connections around volunteering and mentoring others in his hometown of Milton.
For years, he’s been a regular volunteer at the monthly food drop at the Milton senior center.
“A lot of the other volunteers are older, and it’s hard for them to pick up these 50-pound boxes of food and put them in people’s cars. So, I try to be there for that whenever I can,” he says.
He’s also recently reconnected with his younger step-siblings – a stepbrother and two stepsisters – and often helps them out by giving them rides to social events, basketball games, and other places they need to go. “I just want to do things with them as a brother and be there for them,” says Trent.
According to Annalise Goyne, Trent’s VSAC Outreach Counselor, “Trent is a compassionate, reflective leader. He stood out in VSAC Talent Search meetings as a student with impressive focus on the future and an ability to graciously advocate for himself and others.”
Annalise also talks about the day this past fall when she showed up on UVM’s campus for a field trip with 30 Talent Search students, and Trent took time out of his day, between classes, to talk with them and show them around.
“I was all for it,” Trent recalls. “Because I know what those kids feel like. Just like them, I didn’t want to ask questions, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do, really – I was just quiet.”
While Trent has experienced some challenges in his young life so far, he’s buoyed by a thoughtful and positive outlook that emphasizes personal growth and giving back. “When I look back now, I try to embrace any thorns that have pricked me in life. Because if you try to ignore them and bottle them down, you’re ignoring a part of yourself and what you’ve had to overcome, to get where you are.”
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