Three Vermont colleges prepare for final graduation ceremonies
Inside Ramunto's pizza in Bennington, the walls are covered with Southern Vermont College gear. The local college will close at the end of the semester
"It's absolutely going to hurt our business," said Rik Kraft, the restaurant's owner.
Kraft says he employs and feeds many students. He believes the loss of the college will have a long-term effect.
"There are people who are coming to town because of SVC that are no longer coming through Bennington," he said.
Andre Hodo is a senior at Southern Vermont College. The Maryland native worked his way through college delivering pizzas to a community he would have never been to if it wasn't for the college he will soon be graduating from.
"What drew me in was the scenery, the campus, beautiful campus," said Hodo. "I'm glad that I made the decision to go here. I think it's helped me grow as a person. It helped me experience a different culture outside of the one I grew up in."
It's a similar feeling for students who attend the College of St. Joseph in Rutland.
"There's no way that I would have ever visited Vermont, traveled here," said Alan Madsen, a College of St. Joseph student from Arizona.
The same can be said for California native Sean Leflore, who is a senior at Green Mountain College in Poultney.
"I came all the way out to Vermont and to pick a school that is closing after I graduate, it gives me a different experience to graduate from here," Leflore said.
Leflore says what upsets him the most about the college closing is the lost opportunities for his friends.
"I'm kind of disappointed because a lot of people came here to build relationships and to keep them going, not just come here for a year or two," said Leflore.
With these schools closing how can other institutions prevent seeing their doors close? Presidents from these colleges say it is an uphill battle.
"Unless you are a large public or well-endowed, well-known institution, these next five to 10 years are going to be really difficult," said Robert Allen, the president of Green Mountain College.
"The traditional model of education is not what people want," said Jennifer Scott, the president of the College of St. Joseph. "We have to be creative. We have to be thinking outside the box."
Hodo says he'll never forget his time at SVC.
"Loved it. Disappointing, but I am glad I made a decision to come here-- time of my life," he said.