VSAC Talent Search student Holden Middleton wants to help heal his community

Written by
Sabina Haskell

Date
May 6, 2021

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Holden Middleton

Lyndon Institute senior Holden Middleton is a three-season athlete, two-year student-body president, and all-around leader whose personal joy is deeply intertwined with making sure others have a fun experience. “It feels great being so integrated with the school,” he says. “Organizing winter carnival, spirit week…it's great to see how much fun the other students have. It’s pretty neat.”

Unfortunately for Holden, he’s had to squeeze that joy in between episodes of fairly traumatic physical injury, illness, and separation over the last four years. Hobbled first with knee issues during his freshman year, he was then involved in a car accident his sophomore year. A medical workup later revealed a tumor on his kidney; ultimately, he had to have the kidney removed. “That really knocked me off my feet. I wasn’t able to do much,” he recalls. 

Then, right after Holden recovered, the pandemic started, which literally sidelined everyone from everything and dramatically changed the academic, athletic, and social aspects, not to mention the very significant college- and career-planning processes, that happen during the last two years of high school.

And while he admits that remote learning has been really hard, Holden has also been determined not to let any of these setbacks set him back. In fact, his experiences recovering from the knee injury, the car accident, and the kidney surgery are now pointing him in the direction of becoming a physical therapist, a profession where he can “pay forward” the support that got him through physically trying times.

“Having gone through multiple injuries, I can say that having people around who understood what I was experiencing was crucial. It bogs you down emotionally when you’re hurt. It definitely helps having someone who’s trying to get you back to health as soon as possible.”

Being able to lean on VSAC’s Talent Search program — which offers support in the way of college counseling, career planning and financial aid — has also been incredibly helpful as Holden keeps working to make that dream a reality.

Holden was first introduced to Talent Search during his freshman year, when he attended a college fair on Lyndon Institute’s campus. “I met a VSAC counselor, and she was saying a lot of interesting and useful stuff that grabbed my attention,” Holden remembers.

This interaction led to four years of Holden working closely with Talent Search counselor Lindsay Carpenter.

“Over my four years, we’ve had 4 or 5 meetings each semester, where we’ve talked about getting set up for college. This year we’ve focused on finding colleges that fit me,” a process that required some flexibility in the current COVID reality.

“Last year I went on a few college tours with Lindsay, which was great. It was awesome to get a look at these schools before going there,” says Holden, a true “people person” for whom it felt very important to find a school that was the right fit socially.

“Now, of course, I can't see the schools. The virtual tours are not the same, but they’re the best you can do.”

Not being able to visit colleges this year or be at Lyndon Institute in-person has been particularly difficult.

“Hybrid education is very difficult for me. COVID has been really rough,” Holden says, echoing,  no doubt, the sentiments of many of his peers.

More broadly, he reflects, “I’ve had a tough past two years. VSAC has been huge in relieving the stress of the whole college aspect of my junior and senior years of high school. I got a lot of help with the common app, finding grants and scholarships, and setting up my financial aid.”

Now, Holden is gearing up to attend college and start his journey toward becoming a physical therapist.

“My goal is to have my own physical therapy firm. Whatever area I end up in, I want to be able to give to the community. I want to support people who’ve hurt themselves and help them get back to normal. Being able to keep people healthy and able to do what they love to do would be incredibly fulfilling.”

Holden, a native of Newark, Vermont, hopes to end up somewhere in Vermont after completing his education. “Vermont is a very outdoorsy, athletic, active state, where people love to be outside. Helping those people is very important to giving back to Vermont.”

 

Need help with pursuing your career goals and education needs? VSAC is here to help you. Serving our community is at the heart of all we do. During this ever-changing time, we remain available and committed to help you navigate all your career and education needs.

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 the COVID-19 crisis, click here. You can also give us a call at 800-642-3177, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and online at info@vsac.org.