Confidence. Autonomy.  These are the first words that came to mind when I stopped to think just now—sitting in the office at Airbnb in San Francisco—about my time at the Emergent Media Center. When I first became involved in 2007 it was just Ann, one or two students, and a vision. On my first day I met the whirlwind that is John Cohn, and I was sold. By the time I left Champlain three years after that, the EMC encompassed half a dozen staff and what I imagine to be nearly 50 students (likely more, but it was always so busy in the EMC’s space that it was hard to tell *exactly* how many people were involved across all of the projects). Throughout the three years of my participation, I was involved in several large projects, most notably working on an interactive web experience for IBM and an archeological social network of sorts for the State of Vermont.   For many people, college, despite allowing for more freedoms than previous schooling, is still largely “on the rails”. Your major dictates your class selection which dictates your course work. The Emergent Media Center, on the contrary, was the first work opportunity in my life during which somebody said (metaphorically, if not literally) “you are capable; you are a leader; go make great things”.   Whether it was visiting IBM to brainstorm with employees or traveling to the Vermont state capitol to pitch an idea, the thing I remember most about my time with the EMC is a keen sense of empowerment. The staff—Ann, Ray, Ken, Sarah and others—were never “the leaders” as much as they were mentors, peers and collaborators. That gift—for a gift is truly what it was, in retrospect—is one that has served me immeasurably since college, whether in my confidence to organize and lead others; or to prepare and present my work.

-Mike Fowler , ’10
Software Engineer at Airbnb

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