Shifting the Present

Snapshots of Three Exceptional Students:

By Audrey Seaman ’13.

Norwich students are taught and coached to think about their futures—what their careers will entail and how they can achieve their goals.

As students try to sort out their paths ahead, Norwich plays a subtle role in allowing a student to simply experience—to achieve successes and stumble through small failures. This experience ignites a shift.

Gradually, the students’ aspirations are no longer just about their own futures. They become driven by innovation as a means to help people and positively influence change. Their own plans begin to shape the world around them.

This is a shift that has withstood the test of time. Norwich students for the past 200 years have pushed boundaries and made their marks.

What is continuously new, however, is how they do it.

As part of his internship with the Vermont State Police, Jason Caspe ’18 has ensured that the force has the most up-to-date emergency-response information on schools in the central Vermont region. Caspe credits his mentor and VSP supervisor, the recently retired Lieutenant Matthew Nally, as a great influence. “He helped me learn how to step up and take initiative.” (Mark Collier.)



Jason Caspe ’18: Stepping Up

For Jason Caspe ’18, respect is everything. As a platoon sergeant his junior year, Caspe found it essential to both give and gain respect from the peers he had to “police” on a daily basis. Today, the senior from Cherry Hill, N.J., is driven to serve and protect the world around him through a career in state or federal law enforcement, a field in which respect is critical.

A solid lesson he learned in his four years at Norwich: that to be a leader, “you have to step up.” So, that is what he did, seeking out three law-enforcement internships to support his criminal justice major.

In the fall of 2017, Caspe interned with the Vermont State Police, where he devoted most of his time to a special project—he set out to update emergency response plans, focusing on schools in the central Vermont region, to ensure that the police had the most up-to-date information on each school. In that work, Caspe met with school principals, facility staff, teachers, and custodians. He scanned floor plans, jotted down emergency contact information, and noted evacuation plans. As a result, the Vermont State Police force now has updated information to support future emergency responsiveness. He has also gained experience in community policing and clerical work, riot surveillance, and crime-lead tracking through social media.

Caspe hopes to go on to a long career of positively and respectfully influencing the communities he serves. “I always want to get the whole story and provide the best results,” he says. “If I can get everyone to reach one common point of view and also accept opposing views, then we have a better chance of resolving society’s issues.”

Elizabeth Ells goes over her research on Cape Cod’s hypoxic zones with Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Tara Kulkarni. (Mark Collier.)


Elizabeth Ells ’18: Diving Deep

Growing up with five younger siblings, Elizabeth Ells ’18 has always been forward thinking. And that is what has made her so passionate about the environment. “I’ve wanted to be a role model to my brothers and sisters, especially in school, so I dug into research,” she says.
In 2017, this civil engineering major took her research home to Cape Cod to test phosphorus levels in estuaries, one of the many areas experiencing “dead” zones, or hypoxic zones. These are areas in the ocean with reduced levels of oxygen and an increase of other nutrients that can cause species to die or move to new areas. They can also hinder the local economy, and Cape Cod relies heavily on the fishing industry.

Ells’ research sparked conversations about the importance of the ocean’s health to people, the planet, and prosperity. Now her work continues. In her last semester at Norwich, she is steering her honors thesis to look at how green infrastructure can help the ocean and coastal communities. And, while she dives deeper into this work, Ells is applying for graduate school to continue her research and gain experience in engineering and oceanography.

When this co-captain of the Norwich swim team dreams of how she can shape the future, her focus is on education. “I’d love to be able to provide education at any level to anyone,” she says. “To spark someone’s interest is to truly show that you care. When you’re passionate about something, you have drive and grit, and you help others succeed in the world.”

In his role as an intern for the Vermont governor’s office, Victor Hinojosa ’21 (left) analyzes plans with Governor Phil Scott. (Mark Collier.)

Victor Hinojosa ’21: Giving Back

Vermonter. Eagle Scout. Rook. Political science major. Army Reservist. Vermont state governor.

That is Victor Hinojosa’s aspired life path. There may be a few stops or detours along the way, but his goals are set and he is wasting no time.

Still just in his first year at Norwich, Hinojosa ’21 is already making inroads on his goal to lead the state of Vermont. This semester, he is spending three days a week working as an intern in Vermont Governor Phil Scott’s office. When Hinojosa caught wind of the opportunity, he jumped over every application hurdle to begin the internship in the spring semester. “What better way to learn about what the governor does, what positive things he can do for the state and nation, than to be able to work in his office?” Hinojosa reflects. “It fits in perfectly with my aspirations and I see it bolstering my drive to do and learn more.”

In his role, Hinojosa fields calls, emails, and letters from constituents on a range of issues. He says he has already picked up on one key to success in local government. “You have to put time and effort into thinking about tomorrow and solving the problems that we have today,” he says.

Hinojosa grew up in Bristol, Vt., a community he feels has shown him great support. “I want to give the next generation opportunities similar to what I have had,” he says. “The impact I see myself having in the future is motivating and empowering youth.”

Hinojosa is motivated to make a difference for the greater good of all people, wherever he is. His time at Norwich has already helped him understand how to do this by challenging him to take on leadership responsibilities and develop solutions to problems under pressure. And he did it all before being officially “recognized” as a cadet on February 11, 2018. Well done.

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