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Interview with alumna Eileen Brunetto

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 by Carla Occaso

Tower at Goddard.  Photo by Eileen Brunetto
Tower at Goddard.
Photo by Eileen Brunetto

The Bridge: Tell us about yourself.

Eileen Brunetto: I’m an academic coordinator for geology at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont. I’ve lived in Vermont for 16 years, and not long after I moved here, I enrolled in the weekend program at Vermont College and completed a bachelor’s degree. I worked for attorneys as a legal assistant for 25 years (I’m not bragging.) I’m married to Charlie and we have kids and grandchildren. We also have three cats. It’s important that I mention the cats.

I am also a writer of nonfiction and memoir, as well as a certified massage therapist. I maintain a blog entitled Jersey Sauce where I talk about pretty much whatever I want. I enjoy coaching other writers in the memoir genre. I walk and hike the paths of Vermont (nothing too strenuous!) I read, travel and hang out with good friends and family. I recently moved to Hinesburg after leaving a spot on a wooded hill in Cornwall. I’m still missing the place, but looking forward is part of what life is about.

The Bridge: What is your current profession?

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Eileen Brunetto: My current job is academic coordinator at Middlebury College. I help my department set up courses and field trips, and I assist in budgetary issues and the purchasing of various equipment. The bonus is that I get to work with wonderful geology students at Middlebury, whose education is partly dedicated to understanding the land and environment.

The Bridge: Do you think your experience at Goddard helped you get your current job?

Eileen Brunetto: My Goddard degree has earned me the respect and confidence of the faculty and colleagues with whom I work. Middlebury’s administration officially acknowledged that I experienced an extremely challenging work year during my last semester at Goddard, while completing my MFA [Master of Fine Arts].

The Bridge: How did you learn about Goddard?

Eileen Brunetto: I learned about Goddard from a few local acquaintances, one most specifically, a woman with whom I attended Vermont College, who works at Goddard and earned her graduate degree from its MFAIA [Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts] program. She sensed I would thrive in Goddard’s environment, and she was right.

The Bridge: Tell us a bit about the program.

Eileen Brunetto: Goddard’s various programs suit the individual adult learner. With an accumulated 40-year career as a legal assistant and academic coordinator, I desired to explore my creativity. Most Goddard students come to the college with much life experience; thus, the student may have already located her themes of interest in life, relationship and art. Once at Goddard, the student is then free to explore, learn, understand and bring to fruition these themes of interest. The student benefits from an academically exciting, open environment in a culture that allows the individual to flourish personally. A student realizes further potential as a human being and becomes more prolific, productive, enlightened and confident. Another common thread at Goddard: Freedom complements discipline.

The Bridge: What is your favorite part of the program?

Eileen Brunetto: My favorite part of the program is, no doubt, my interaction with other learners. Yeah, there are plenty of quirky, interesting people at Goddard, the faculty included, not to mention the collective talent of its faculty—their nightly readings are an inspirational highlight of the program. It was a complete relief and blessing to pursue my graduate degree among such a diverse, interesting, gifted group of people. I always say that after the birth of my two kids, Goddard was the best experience of my lifetime. The staff and faculty care about the students, and it comes through in every interaction—this is what makes Goddard unique. Goddard is not only an educational institution, it’s a family. The reason I’m on Facebook (aside from my granddaughter) is so that I may stay in touch with my Goddard colleagues. I don’t know what I’d do without the wit, enthusiasm, encouragement, support and camaraderie of my fellow Goddardites. 

The Bridge: What is the average Goddard student like?

Eileen Brunetto: Is there an average Goddard student? If you consider diverse and interesting “average,” then yes, there’s an average student. He can be from the inner city and write short stories. She can be a lost lamb who finds solace amongst fellow artists. She can come from an ordinary middle-class background as a late-bloomer and leave with a sense of grand, yet personal, accomplishment that she never thought possible.