MFYO – Sammie Ibrahim ’16

Today, we have another edition of My First Year Out!

Our featured grad this week is Sammie Ibrahim– she is the recipient of a Fulbright research grant, and is currently abroad in Kazakhstan! Since she went abroad after graduation, you could call this more of a “MFYO – Abroad edition.”


How did you get to where you are, and how did you get involved in your area of academic focus?

I applied for a Fulbright research grant the fall of my senior year with the encouragement and support of the UVM Office of Fellowships Advising and my academic mentors. I found out the following April that I was awarded the grant. Since November, I’ve been conducting research on labor migrant communities in Almaty, Kazakhstan.


Did you study abroad as an undergrad? If so, how has this experience been different?

I studied abroad my junior year in neighboring Kyrgyzstan for 8 months. There are a lot of similarities between my study abroad experience and my current Fulbright experience in the sense that both countries have a lot in common culturally, historically, and linguistically. However, I didn’t have the same struggles with culture shock or communication like the first time I traveled to Central Asia.

The biggest difference has been the amount of independence and control I have over my schedule on a day-to-day basis. When you study abroad, you generally have a structured schedule and a built-in social network and support system through a host-family, classes, fellow study abroad students, and your host institution. Since coming to Kazakhstan, I’ve had to build that structure and network completely from scratch, which has been frustrating and gratifying in equal parts. The beauty of a Fulbright research grant is that you are your own boss and there’s no one looking over your shoulder…at least for 10 months, that is.


What about your UVM Experience inspired you to continue your studies?

I was involved with several research projects related to migration and refugee resettlement during my time at UVM with Prof. Pablo Bose in the Geography Department. I’ve had longstanding interests in studying both migration and the Central Asian region. I always thought of them as separate and distinct spheres of interests in my mind, and I wanted to find ways to combine both of them through a Fulbright research grant.


What was your biggest challenge, and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge continues to be managing the logistics of field research. Developing connections tends to occur through word-of-mouth or simply knowing the right person (not unlike in the U.S., I’ll add). Email isn’t a terribly viable form of communication here, so I have to arrange all of my interviews and meetings by cold-calling or simply showing up at someone’s office uninvited. This process has pushed me out of my comfort zone, because I’m not an extroverted person and I’m loath to talk on the phone in English, let alone in Russian.

More often than not, there are a lot of dead ends and meetings that don’t go anywhere, and I’ve felt like, at times, it was difficult to establish a steady momentum of progress. I try to deal with these frustrations with combination of patience, humor, and creativity when things seem stalled. I also think learning to be flexible and adjust my expectations was important. There’s nothing I love more than a 10-point plan and well-organized schedule, but those things are often incompatible with the realities of qualitative or ethnographic research.

On a more mundane level, another challenge is simply daily life in a non-English-speaking country like Kazakhstan that operates with its own set of logic and rhythms. Basic tasks like paying your utilities, going to the doctor, calling a plumber, dealing with an electrical outage, etc. can suddenly seem like insurmountable feats of language and negotiation. I like to think of myself as a competent and self-sufficient person, but I’ve definitely had to swallow my pride a few times and ask for help with the most basic things. Much like the challenges of field research, patience and a good attitude can go a long way as a foreigner living in Kazakhstan.


For you, Class of 2017

We know it’s only been a month since you graduated, and you aren’t feeling nostalgic for UVM yet…

…or maybe you are nostalgic because the ‘real world’ is happening now. Some next level Sunday Scaries, if you ask us.

But first, you are probably wondering what this blog is all about.

Well, contrary to popular UVM lore – we’re not asking you for anything . This isn’t a secret trick to ask you for money or barrage your inbox with useless information.

This blog is the afterword to your UVM story. We’re here to keep you connected to UVM, Burlington, and to your classmates. And, we’re here to help you write your next chapter.

We’re recent grads like you. We work at the UVM Foundation and Alumni Association and our job is to help you.

Unlike your parents, we don’t expect you to know everything right now. You’re under a lot of pressure to plan the rest of your life (whether you have a job, a place to live, or neither) and we want to give you a place to feel at home.

We’ve been doing this for the past two years with the Classes of 2015 and 2016, so we are really excited to bring you in, talk to you, and be as helpful as we can.

With that in mind, during Senior Week, we set up shop in Alumni House and asked many of you a few questions about your upcoming year, and recorded your answers with a professional podcasting microphone. Pretty neat.

Post-grad life is often very uncertain, and the reality sets in quickly that you are now really in charge of your life. Luckily, your classmates all feel the same way. And trust us, not everyone has a plan yet for what they are going to do next.

So take a minute and listen below to hear your classmates’ answers recorded live during senior week. Enjoy!


Stay tuned in the coming months for all of this helpful content and more!

We’ll be right here.


Ryan Chartier ’10 and Kathryn Meader ’15


An Update and a Few Reminders!

We have some exciting news!

As you know, each year UVM sends a new graduating class out into the world, and we want to help keep them connected.

So, starting next week, the class of 2017 will be joining you on the blog!

Image result for Welcome meme

What does that mean? More content. There will be some posts directed at just the class of 2017, but don’t worry, we will still be posting all fresh content for you as well.

Stay tuned for more advice from professionals and classmates, events, giveaways and some silly stuff.

Here are a few important reminders:

1. If you haven’t signed up for the G.O.L.D. Socials in your area, there is still time to register if you’re in Burlington, Boston, or San Francisco!

This is an opportunity to get together with your extended UVM family and maybe make a few connections. Bring a friend, bring the party! And if you are coming to the Burlington event, I’ll be there too, so come say hello!

2. We’re kicking off our June fundraising drive to a wider audience, so if you want to get a pair of these snazzy limited edition UVM socks, make your gift soon before we’re all out!

We hope y’all are enjoying your summer so far!

Summer Events Around Burlington

Even though it may still feel like spring in most of the northeast, summer is almost here! Crazy right? Classic New England.

So, whether you are staying in Burlington or planning to visit for a weekend, here is a list of some activities to seek out with your friends to make this your best summer ever!

Don’t live in Burlington anymore? Check out our helpful links for highlights in larger cities like New York, Boston and Washington D.C. at the bottom of this post.

Now…back to what’s going on in Burlington. Click on any picture for more information.

June 2-11th

Ticket Information: Discover Jazz

Ben & Jerry’s Concerts on The Green

Ticket Information: Ben & Jerry’s Concert Series

Summer Cinema Series

7:30 pm, FREE

More Information: Summer Cinema Series

ArtsRiot Truck Stop

5-10pm, Food Trucks, Drinks and Music

Every Friday till September 29th

More Information: Truck Stop

Leddy Park Beach Bites

5-8pm, Food Trucks and Drinks

More Information: Summer Beach Bites

Vermont Brewers Festival

Beer and food, Burlington Waterfront Park

Ticket Information: Brewers Festival

Independence Day Celebration

July 3rd

5-10pm, Food and Activities, Waterfront Park

*Fireworks start at 9:30pm

More Information: Independence Day

Lake Champlain Maritime Festival

*Schedule to be posted soon

Food, Activities and Events, Waterfront Park

More Information: Maritime Festival

Champlain Valley Fair

August 25 – September 3rd

10am- Midnight (except opening day; 3pm-Midnight)

$12 Adults, $5 Kids, Under 5 Free

Check out the Facebook Group


If you live in the New York City, Boston or Washington D.C. areas, check out these helpful links to help map out your summer too!



2017 Summer Socials

June marks the beginning of the summer. That means its time to mark your calendars for the UVM Young Alumni Summer Socials.

This year we are hosting in five cities: New York, Boston, Burlington, Washington D.C. and San Francisco. If you are close by, come party with your local UVM alums.

When you click to register, you will notice we use a clever acronym “G.O.L.D.” to describe the event. That is a fancy way of saying “graduates of the last decade”, which, of course includes you!

So get a bunch of your friends together and be the life of the party.

There will be hors d’oeuvres and drinks – Registration is FREE, so let’s get the party started!

Check out the details for each party below.

June 15th, 7-9 p.m.

Shades Of Green Irish Pub
Union Square
125 East 15th Street NYC


June 15, 2017, 6-8 p.m.

District Distilling Co.
1414 U St NW
Washington, DC 20009


June 20, 2017, 5-6:30 p.m.

UVM Alumni House
61 Summit Street
Burlington VT 05401


June 22, 2017, 6-8 p.m.

200 Atlantic Ave
Boston, MA 02110


June 22, 2017, 6:30-8:00 p.m.

620 Jones
620 Jones Street
San Francisco, CA 94102