Featured IMPACT Story
Sharing the stories of Saint Xavier University students, alumni, faculty/staff and friends.
Chance's Story: I'm a Different Person Because of SXU
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word chance as “something that happens
unpredictably without discernible human intention or observable cause.” True to the
meaning of his name, Chance Cutrano could not have predicted how his life would be
transformed by his experiences at Saint Xavier University.
“My time at SXU has been so life changing. I don’t know what would have happened without Saint Xavier University,” Chance said.
When choosing a university after high school, it made sense for Chance to stay close to home. It allowed him to help coach the speech team at his former high school and assist with the theater program. However, the transition from high school to college was not an easy one for Chance. He felt pressured trying to juggle multiple commitments, including school, family and friends, working at a marketing company and running a small local entertainment company.
“I thought about dropping out after my first semester,” Chance recalls. “But, Dr. Judith Hiltner (then-director of the Honors Program) encouraged me to come back. She told me to complete one year, finish strong, and then see how I felt.”
He followed Dr. Hiltner’s advice to return for the spring and enrolled in a philosophy class taught by Dr. Molly Sturdevant. This was a turning point for Chance.
“The class focused on Plato and Socrates but with a modern twist. It highlighted the theme of our Honors Program cohort – our place in the global community. We learned about fossil fuels, the food we eat, how it’s prepared. The class was amazing and I fell in love with the material. It really rekindled my love for education,” Chance said.
As a result of this experience, Chance added a philosophy major to his previously declared political science major. He decided he wanted to pursue a career in environmental policy and law or sustainability.
Next, Chance participated in the Philosophy of Yellowstone course with Dr. Tom Thorp. This course combines classroom instruction with an opportunity to engage in policy-oriented fieldwork under the direct supervision of naturalists, ecologists and environmentalists who live and work in the Greater Yellowstone Area. The ten days he spent in Yellowstone were “incredible” and demonstrated to him that he had made the right decisions.
The work Chance did in Yellowstone formed the basis for his political science capstone project. He conducted a policy analysis of Montana’s interagency bison management plan. He parlayed that project into an internship with the Sierra Club in Washington, D.C., where he worked on the “Beyond Coal” campaign.
“As an intern, the work I was doing was more involved than I thought it would be. There was policy work and activism for the Keystone XL pipeline. I was ghostwriting newspaper articles and managing state teams from New Hampshire to North Carolina to Georgia,” Chance said.
In the fall of 2014, Chance was selected for a unique study abroad program through the School for International Training (SIT) and the International Honors Program (IHP). It focused on climate change and the politics of food, water and energy. Chance and his peers spent two weeks in San Francisco studying basic climate science and California’s renewable energy sector. Four weeks in Vietnam followed, where he learned about the effects of rising sea levels and dam building on the country’s agriculture economy. Then, it was on to Morocco for four weeks to research wind farms and water developments. Finally, Chance and his peers spent five weeks in Bolivia investigating the contrast between the country’s strong social movements with the economy’s dependence on mining and exportation of natural gas.
“Through my internship with the Sierra Club and the SIT/IHP program, I met many college students from large, more prestigious universities. But their professors don’t know their first names. They’ve never been in a room with their University president like I have. They can’t walk into their university and be greeted by close friends who support them in everything they do. Saint Xavier is such a tight-knit community. You can’t get left behind here.”
“With the help of my family, friends and Saint Xavier University, I am turning my dreams into reality. I never thought I’d be in this place. From my freshman year to today, I’m a different person,” Chance said.
As one of more than 500 undergraduates who participated in spring commencement exercises last weekend, Chance has set his post-SXU sights on a job related to renewable energy finance because he wants to do something for future generations.
While he could not have planned how his Saint Xavier University experience would impact his life, Chance will leave the halls of academia with a roadmap and commitment to change the world.
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