Math major's service impacts local youth


Mike Vogt '14 of Millis, Mass., initially chose MCLA because of the beauty of the foliage that surrounds the campus and the abundance of art in the community.

"It was right up my alley," he said.

However, Vogt soon discovered more.

"MCLA is a campus that holds community involvement in high regard. Also, the student- teacher ratio is tight, so I could have a one-on-one session with any professor during their office hour," he said.

Vogt, who plans to become a high school math teacher, chose to major in math because he earned high grades in that subject throughout elementary, middle and high school. "Math is used in everyday life, but many are incapable of doing simple arithmetic, and that is troubling to me. I wish to change that in the future generations," he said.

With an interest in helping youth stay away from drugs and other poor choices, and a desire to help others succeed in life, he's active with a number of community organizations, such as the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition's (NBCC) NB21 (Not Before 21) program.

Through his work with NB21, a youth substance abuse strategy team, Vogt aims to have an impact on local youth and prevent them from using and abusing drugs.

Vogt also created curriculum for an after school program of the Berkshire Arts and Technology (BART) School called "Problem Solvers," for which he recently was recognized by the NBCC with a "Neighborlies" award, which honors those who have made a positive difference in their community.

"We give the students freedom to establish what problems within their community they need to address," then lead them into their community to volunteer, he explained.

"It's important for students in the Northern Berkshires to stay involved in after school activities. Some kids don't have a place to go to they enjoy staying at, so the extra two-hour commitment after school can be a big help to prevent kids from engaging in risky, destructive behaviors."

At MCLA, Vogt is a founding member and the president of "Students for Sensible Drug Policy."

"Last year we pushed for the implementation of a 'Good Samaritan/Amnesty Policy,' which encourages students to call for help during a drug overdose by substituting judicial punishments with education about drug abuse. I'm extremely proud to be part of the political process to implement this life-saving policy."

Through this involvement on campus, Vogt said he has learned how to conduct himself as a leader and a professional. "I've broken out of my shell of shyness by leading weekly meetings, and I've become a much more vivacious individual.

"I've definitely matured as a person and a student," he continued. "After I began applying myself, I excelled in and out of the classroom. I've developed listening and public speaking skills, and am much more organized than I was in high school."

What's the best part of being an MCLA student? For Vogt, it's the sense of community he feels here.

"I can walk around campus and at least recognize most of the students," he explained. "Many students strive to get involved, and make a positive impact on their campus and community."