Sharing dorm room with mom key to student’s success

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(Host) Not many college students would welcome the idea of sharing a dorm room with their mother.

For one young Vermonter, though, having his mother as his roommate has been key to his college success.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports:

(Zind) Jay Tisbert’s room at Vermont Technical College looks a lot like any other men’s dorm room.

The pink comforter on one of the beds is the tip off. Jay shares this room with his mother. She’s been with him every step of the way for the three years he’s been attending VTC.

Jay will graduate next Saturday with a degree in Landscape Development and Ornamental Horticulture.

Because of complications from surgery eight years ago the twenty-four year-old-Tisbert has difficulty speaking and he uses wheelchair. His mother Anne says when her son decided to enroll in college she and her husband knew he would need twenty-four-hour care. They couldn’t afford to pay for it, so each offered to go to school with him.

(Anne Tisbert) “Dad said, ‘if you pick me, I’ll show you a really good time. Or you can pick mom and study’.”

(Zind) Jay picked mom. And they studied. She went to classes with him, took notes and quizzed him in advance of exams.

(Anne Tisbert) “We did pull one all-nighter. That was the first year! So you live and learn.”

(Zind) Anne Tisbert says sometimes it was hard to keep up with a young man who starts his day at 5 in the morning doesn’t finish until 11 at night. She says their relationship is a bit unusual

(Anne Tisbert) “Usually the mom has to say, ok son, come on, let’s get your work done.’ It’s been the opposite for us.”

(Zind) New technology has helped the mother and son team. Jay no longer has to wake his mother when she falls asleep while reading to him from a textbook. Now they scan the textbook pages and a computer generated voice reads them.

Jay admits he was anxious about his prospects for success when he first started.

(Jay Tisbert) “The first semester I was a little panicked I couldn’t do it, and I stuck it out.”

(Zind) Tisbert says he’s enjoyed the social aspects of college life and hasn’t minded having his mother nearby.

(Anne Tisbert) “I try to make myself invisible when Jay’s with his friends. And they’ve all been wonderful. They more than accept me. They know that we’re a package deal.”

(Zind) The Tisberts own an organic farm in Cambridge. Jay and his mother go home on weekends to be with the family and help on the farm.

This spring Jay started 10,000 sweet corn plants in the greenhouse. With what he’s learned in college he hopes to achieve a rare Vermont feat: sweet corn by July 4th. He also has long term plans.

(Jay Tisbert) “To run the family’s farm by myself.”

(Zind) Jay will be the first member of his family to graduate from college when he receives his degree from VTC next week.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind in Randolph Center.

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