Get to Know the Grads
- By Amanda Kenyon Waite
This year, UVM will award its 100,000th bachelor’s degree at commencement ceremonies taking place Sunday, May 17. Here’s a sampling of some of the graduates who make up the milestone Class of 2015. Learn about their time at UVM, what’s in store for their future and the advice they have for the incoming class.
Name: Joseph Oteng
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Major: Religion major, biology minor
After UVM: Oteng will be attending Kent State University to pursue a master’s degree in higher education and student personnel. “Being able to connect with students and have that impact is what keeps them at the university,” Oteng says of his choice to pursue this field of study. “I think without higher education and student affairs professionals, students would not make it through college. Academics are great, and you can find passion there, but these are the people who support everyone outside of academics and make college worthwhile.”
Favorite professor: “Oh wow. That’s hard. I would say Professor Andrus in the Religion Department, who taught religion and pop culture. That was my favorite class. We talked about how you see religion show up in the everyday world, especially in TV and movies and music. And that, to me, made it connect more than just talking about traditions but how religion is used all of the time.”
Describe your UVM experience in three words or less: “Challenging, reflective, transformative.” He elaborates:
“For me, coming to understand my impact on the world is what I got most out of my UVM experience.”
Advice to the Class of 2019: “Get involved, and do what makes you feel most like you. Whatever connections you make on campus that bring out your best self, follow them and don’t ever let them go.”
Name: Emily Miller
Hometown: Mansfield, Mass.
Major: Mechanical engineering, with a concentration in biomedical engineering
After UVM: Miller has accepted a position as an equipment engineer at Global Foundries in Saratoga, N.Y. The company is the second largest chip manufacturer in the world.
Favorite professor: Rachael Oldinski, with whom Miller conducted research on regenerative medicine, seeking ways of engineering osteochondral tissue for the benefit of those suffering from joint diseases like arthritis. “Over the past three years, I’ve really gotten close to her, and she’s a great mentor for a female engineer.”
Describe your UVM experience in three words or less: “Maturing, adventurous and challenging.”
Advice for the Class of 2019: “Specifically for engineering students, I would say don’t give up. I never took calculus or physics in high school, so I really had to push the extra mile. Don’t be afraid to go to your professor’s office hours. You learn so much when you go.”
Name: Luke Dorfman
Hometown: Shelburne, Vt.
Major: Double major in anthropology and English with a minor in math
After UVM: Dorfman will be attending Harvard as a master’s student in education policy and management.
Favorite professor: Dorfman names Ben Eastman in anthropology, who was both his academic adviser and adviser for his thesis — an economic anthropology investigation of the Web tech industry in Burlington. “I check in with him periodically. He always has great advice,” Dorfman says.
“I also developed a really good connection with Abby McGowan in history. I went on her study abroad summer course to Nepal, which was an incredible experience. She’s been a mentor for me, as well — another great person to check in with.”
Describe your UVM experience in three words or less: "See, try, smile."
Advice for the Class of 2019: “Don’t be afraid to explore and try new things, academic or socially.” Dorfman, who has taken on the task of building an Amnesty International group on campus, points out that that willingness is critical not just for the sake of the student but also the club. “It’s always exciting when people who don’t know much about a particular organization or student group take the initiative to step foot inside for that first meeting. That’s always really nice to see, both for the student group itself but also for the individual.”
Name: Matthew Brand
Hometown: Wykoff, N.J.
Major: Environmental engineering
After UVM: Brand will be researching bridge failure with support from a highly competitive National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship as a master’s student at UVM. Before his program starts in the fall, though, he’ll travel to Haiti for a month this summer to teach masonry students there how to build a structure he’s helped design and build that better withstands earthquakes. Brand’s been working on the project for two years with Thomas Tailor, former director of the Governor’s Institute of Vermont’s Engineering Institute. While typical concrete structures are reinforced with steel rebar, which is susceptible to breaking during seismic activity, their dome-shaped design is reinforced with used carpet. This diverts a commonly discarded material from the landfill and, thanks to its flexible yet strong design, is more likely to keep a structure intact.
Favorite professor: “Professor Arne Bomblies, a hydrology professor,” Brand says. “I’ve had four classes with him. I’ve had some great conversations talking with him about his career path and how I would envision my career path, as well. And honestly, he’s the best teacher I’ve ever had. He really puts a lot of work into his students. It must be really difficult to juggle teaching, research, writing, grants — I got a taste of what grant writing is, and it’s terrible! It’s really, really hard! — so I do really appreciate all the time he’s taken with me, and he does that with every student. I’m not special with him. He’ll do that with anyone who wants it; he will take the time. And the best part about his classes is I feel so prepared, hydrologically speaking.”
Describe your UVM experience in three words or less: “Community.”
Advice for the Class of 2019: “Join a club,” Brand says, who has also created a club during his UVM years — a peer mentoring group for engineering students. “Club sports are really, really good here, too. I joined the crew team when I was a freshman… and my fondest memories will always be of rowing with the whole team together,” he says. “I think a big part of it, too, was us all going together and sitting down in the dining halls as a big group. That was really important to me, and I think that’s important to everyone — to have that group of people. And I’m still friends with them.”
Name: Emily Bates
Hometown: South Burlington, Vt.
Major: Business major with a concentration in management information systems
After UVM: Bates has accepted a position at Google as part of the company’s Information Technology Residency Program. It’s a 26-month-long salaried position designed as a jumpstart for a career in technology. Many graduates of the program are offered permanent positions at Google at the end of the term. It’s a role Bates is well prepared for, having completed two internships as an IT intern at both Seventh Generation and Dealer.com here in Burlington.
Favorite class or professor: “My database administration class I took with Tom Chittenden was definitely my favorite class here because I’m coming out of UVM knowing that I have a career interest in data management, data warehousing, data mining-type field, and that was the class that really taught me the basics and got me interested in that. And I think Professor Chittenden is the best professor on campus — so any class with him is great!” Bates says. “He strikes this perfect balance between being super professional and super approachable. He made the class really challenging and of a high academic standard, but he was also a great guy to have as a professor and to work with outside of class if you needed to.”
Describe your UVM experience in three words or less: “Challenging, unique and fun.”
Advice for the Class of 2019: “The Class of 2019! Wow, sounds so young! I would say, take advantage of any opportunity you find interesting that’s outside of your normal class responsibilities. One of the cool opportunities I took at the Business School was competing in a case competition in Vancouver. I worked on the case competition that UVM hosts every year. I wrote a thesis. There are all these things I took advantage of outside the classroom, and those, by far, were my most rewarding parts of college.”
Name: T. Cleopatra Doley
Hometown: Manhattan, N.Y.
Major: Environmental studies major with a speech minor
After UVM: Doley will be working with inner-city youth in New York as a Teach for America corps member. Teaching may seem like it’s “kind of out of left field” given her areas of study, Doley says, but during her UVM years she’s taught workshops and done a lot of public speaking. “I realized, ‘OK, I have this speech minor. I have this social justice background. Where can I apply that to? I felt the best way I could is through teaching.” Teach for America, she says, will give her the opportunity to discover if classroom teaching is a good fit.
Favorite professor: “Jillian Marty-Dushane. She taught ‘Interracial Communication,’ and that was my favorite class. I learned so much and was able to develop my racial identity and was able to communicate differently considering I’m a black student at a mostly white university. I think the discourse in that class was really important.” The lessons from that class are ones Doley plans to take with her to her Teach for America position. “Cultural competence is so important. When I’m working as a teacher, I’m going to be working with kids from all different cultures, so that’s something I definitely can apply.”
Describe your UVM experience in three words or less: “Build your community.”
Advice for the Class of 2019: “Find folks you have a common interest with. Don’t let being placed in a random dorm determine your friend group.” Doley also recommends that students look into residential learning communities on campus. She was both a member and leader of the Dewey House for Civic Engagement and also lived in the ALANA house in the Living/Learning Center.
Name: Alayna Thompson
Hometown: Corona del Mar, Calif.
Major: Environmental studies with a concentration in human health
After UVM: Thompson’s accepted a position as an environmental specialist in Boston with Triumvirate Environmental, a firm that helps institutions in healthcare, higher education and other sectors comply with environmental regulations. Thompson learned about the position thanks to an on-campus information session with the company.
Favorite professor or class: “Stephanie Kaza taught a class called Women, Health, Environment. It was great. We did a lot of community projects through that,” she says. “I wasn’t very involved in the community when I started at UVM, and I think that was one of my downfalls. And then through that class and others my sophomore and junior year, I began to realize you can broaden UVM so much more by engaging in the Burlington community. That was a turning point of realizing, ‘Oh! There’s this enormous world — social and natural environments — that’s all around UVM that can really enrich your experience.”
Describe your UVM experience in three words or less: “Unexpected, fun and eye-opening.”
Advice for the Class of 2019: “Go to your professor’s office hours and find a mentor. That mentor could be an older student. Having someone you can talk to about your ideas and having someone experienced you can talk to regularly made a huge difference for me here at UVM.”
Name: Ben Teasdale
Hometown: Williston, Vt.
After UVM: Ultimately, Teasdale has his eye on med school but before that, he’ll be teaching English in Nepal thanks to a Fulbright assistantship he’s won for the coming year. The Nepal experience, he says, is an important part of his journey toward joining the healthcare field. “It’s a recognition of the role I want education to play in a future career and a future lifestyle. A lot of my involvement here at UVM was with a club that focuses on social justice issues related to access to healthcare and access to education. It goes along with the recent trend of treating people with food and education as opposed to treating people with pharmaceuticals. So I want education and public health to be a part of my experience.”
Favorite professor: I have a couple in a couple different areas. One of them is Diane Jaworski. I never actually had her for a class, but I worked in her lab freshman and sophomore year.” Jaworski is a professor of neurological sciences in UVM’s College of Medicine. “She’s been an awesome unofficial academic adviser. Every update I have at UVM, she’s the person I go and talk to. It was cool to have someone who’s not an official advisor reach out to me and to have that support here.
“The other professor is Ian Grimmer. He was one of the professors I never would have met had I not joined the Honors College.” As a focused health sciences student, Teasdale says he might not have crossed paths with the Department of History, but his Honors College seminar, “The Pursuit of Knowledge” introduced him to Grimmer, and he’s since taken two more classes with him, “History of Utopias” and a history senior seminar. “He’s been a huge influence in rounding out my UVM experience outside of biochemistry and immunology and toxicology and all these science classes that were a huge reason I came to UVM. But there was also the history and sociology and social theory aspect that he added to that.”
Describe your UVM experience in three words or less: “Knowledge and happiness.”
Advice for the Class of 2019: “There’s never a club I got involved with or experience I had that I regret having tried. This past year, I’ve been checking things off the list of going to a kayak pool session, going up in the UVM tower, running a relay race, and there are so many different options on campus for finding what makes your heart beat and finding what makes you happy and figuring out how that happiness can play into what you do after UVM.”
UVM Class of 2015: share your success by completing the career outcomes survey.