Networking: Advice and Tips from Aya AL-Namee ’15

Over the past two weeks, the UVM Alumni Association hosted networking events in cities all over the country, including Boston, NYC, and San Francisco!

If you couldn’t attend or don’t live in one of those areas, fear not. We checked in with  Aya AL-Namee ’15, who attended the networking event in Boston, and are bringing her advice to you!

As someone who’s worked in admissions, and a frequent Alumni volunteer, she’s a pro at the most effective networking approaches. Check out her advice below.

What advice do you have for recent graduates attending networking events?

My advice is to not be shy and to put yourself out there. Approach every interaction as a learning opportunity and a chance to ask for advice and you will get much more than what you expect from the networkers. Do not limit yourself to your industry! You will be amazed at what you can learn from other people who have experience in different professional fields.

Did you have an outstanding interaction with someone at the networking event? Why was it memorable?

I had many outstanding interactions and my most memorable one was with a business student who fearlessly approached the education and non-profit table and asked for general job searching advice – Should I go to grad school? Should I get a job right after? What was even more impressive is the fact that she added me on LinkedIn before any of the students who were interested in working in my field!

Any other advice related to networking and job searching for recent UVM alumni?

If you are a recent UVM grad, I highly recommend getting in touch with as many UVM alumni in your area as possible! You never know what that can lead you to. At the very least they will be a great group of friends and support system for you in your “real world” first steps.

My First Year Out So Far – Travel Edition

You graduated in May and while that may feel like eons ago, it’s only been about seven months.

So we asked ourselves, what have some of you been up to in that time? We know a lot of you travel after graduation, whether to blow off some steam or gain new perspectives. Post grad life can be overwhelming, so why not travel if you can?

With that in mind, we are kicking off a new series: My First Year Out So Far – Travel Edition. Two of your classmates, Haley Sparks and Carly Sternberg, traveled to South East Asia for three months this summer and shared their experiences below.

As we wrap up 2017, we may need a little reminder that we are ultimately all in this together.

Reflection 1 – Haley

My name is Haley Sparks and I graduated from UVM in May of 2017 with a major in Secondary Education and a minor in Special Education. In a nutshell, my UVM experience was everything I hoped it would be and more. I loved everything about the school, the atmosphere, the people, and the city of Burlington. I live in Salt Lake City, Utah now and while I like it here, I still find myself thinking of Vermont everyday.

Carly and I met freshman year of college and quickly became best friends. After that, we always planned to take a big backpacking trip together after we graduated. We are both avid travelers and originally wanted to spend some time traveling around Europe, but eventually decided to take 3 months to travel around Asia to visit Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka. Carly had spent some time previously in Thailand, but I never had.

Our itinerary was built as a combination of places we wanted to visit because of their beauty, their people, their food, and the experiences they offered that we knew we wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. Although 3 months may seem like a long time to live out of a backpack, we both wanted to genuinely experience each country and get a feel for all the places we visited. Planning our trip from July-October and taking our time in each place seemed like the best way to do that.

I have zero regrets about taking this trip right after graduating college. While many of our friends were getting ready to enter the “workforce,” we were lucky enough to be buying plane tickets and planning itineraries.

After finishing 4 years of college, there seemed like no better reward than an eye-opening trip around the world. My last semester of college was a busy and stressful one, and this trip provided me the motivation I needed to finish on a strong note. Post graduation also seemed like the perfect time to take this trip because I’m genuinely unsure if there will ever be another time in my life where I will have the ability to take this much time just to travel and enjoy life and the world.

Having the ability to design and plan those 3 months of time however we wanted was something I had never experienced before and it was empowering and enlightening. With no restraints such as school or jobs or anywhere to be, we were totally flexible to do whatever we wanted.

This trip was a whirlwind and we packed in a little bit of everything. We were lucky enough to experience beaches, lakes, oceans, rivers, mountains, city life, and farm life. Each day was different than life at home, and I find myself reminiscing about it often. Traveling for 3 months out of a backpack taught me to appreciate necessities over luxuries and it taught me how to live with barely anything.

Besides that, it taught me that each country we visited was a totally different experience, and whenever we landed in a new place, we had to adjust to a totally new culture. Doing this kept me constantly on my toes and it kept me constantly wondering, navigating, and thinking. It taught me how to interact with anyone, no matter how strong the language barrier might be. It taught me that while the world might seem huge, there is always people that can make anywhere feel like home.

Reflection 2 – Carly

Staring at that piece of paper that I received after walking across the stage in front of Waterman last May, the single piece of paper documenting the major in global studies and minors in Spanish and Economics that I had completed, the world suddenly felt more overwhelmingly huge than it ever had before.

During my time at UVM, the world sometimes felt like it only extended across Lake Champlain and to the peak of Mount Mansfield. Campus had a way of absorbing me into its super charged atmosphere and making me feel larger than life, part of something that was big and moving forward. With that piece of paper in my hand, all of the sudden it felt like I was in a huge limbo.

There was nowhere that I needed to be, nothing that I had to be doing, and so I went to roam throughout Southeast Asia for three months with my best friend and I don’t think there could have been a better time to do it.

I spent 4 years learning about the world and how we might begin to understand its reality, yet I got a clearer vision of the world and myself over my three months in Southeast Asia than I ever had before. Everyday was brand new. My mind was being stretched to take in all of the sights and colors and smells that I had never experienced before.

One day I was stuck knee deep in a rice paddy in the middle of a monsoon, a few days after that I was deciding whether or not to continue on to the Annapurna base camp after my eyes had swollen shut to the size of meatballs, and a few weeks later I was being put in charge of 20 infants in the middle of a red light district in Kolkata.

The trip was a shock to the system.

Before graduation I was sitting in the library studying for my last set of finals and suddenly felt my heart start to race as I fully grasped the fact that life as it was right then, and as it had been for the past four years would never ever be the same again. The trip showed me that all though this post-grad period can be a bit of a directionless limbo, I’m not stuck and I should never have to feel stuck.

The earth we live on is a miraculous place with an infinite number of things happening every second, there are endless possibilities. I learned that even though I have never felt so old, I really am so so young. I learned to trust and have faith in my fellow humans of the earth, and that I am never truly alone. I figured out that this thing called life is forgiving, it doesn’t have to be all that serious, there’s so much room to mess up, to learn, and to grow.

So I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I am now living in Salt Lake City, teaching skiing, surrounding myself with new, exciting and beautiful things, and just living life as a 23 year old in 2017, figuring it out as I go.

Want to feature your own travel story? Know a friend who might want to as well? Click the button below and refer a friend (or yourself). We’ll see you in the new year!


Ryan and Kathryn

Fall 2017: Semester in Review

It’s the last day of finals here on campus (I know, we can’t believe it either) and that means a whole semester has passed since you graduated!

Campus has been busy with all sorts of things this semester, so we thought we’d do a quick recap so you won’t feel like you missed out on any of the good stuff.

Here are some highlights.

Torrey Hall Fire:

The Burlington Free Press captured a live video at the scene as it was handled by the fire department.

If you didn’t know, the third floor of Torrey Hall houses the Pringle Herbarium.This was a scary day for many professors on campus, as they didn’t know if the rare specimens would survive. Thankfully, there was little damage to the herbariarium. Check out the Seven days article for more info.

Student Protests / Student Demands:

During the semester, a group of students brought their concerns regarding diversity at UVM to the administration, and President Sullivan.

Seven days has an article that covers the whole conversation, as well as the list of student demands and the president’s response embedded on the page.

Dairy Bar:


And the best part- They’re using local milk and cream from the UVM C.R.E.A.M. Program! We prefer cookies and cream or their coffee flavors. Yum!

Full Story Here.

Wellness Environment:

This semester was the first with the new and improved Wellness Environment. With a new central location in the new first year dorms, and expanded student participation, the ‘WE’ has made a big impact on campus. (As well as a bit of a splash in the news).

These Students aren’t nodding off, they’re meditating. -Boston Globe

Hudziak talks WE progress, concerns. -VT Cynic

New Buildings on Campus:

Wondering how they fit all those new WE students into central campus? Well, there’s been a bit of construction. We realize a lot of this was going on when you all were on campus, but here’s a quick update.

The Discovery Building (part 1 of the STEM Complex) has been completed, and at the beginning of this semester, Cook Hall was torn down to make room for the Innovation building, which will come next. Oh, and there’s a cool pedestrian bridge that links Votey to Discovery!

Right behind, the Central Campus Residence-Hall (yep, it hasn’t been named yet) opened for the first time, and includes a new dining hall (apparently the lines have been out the door all semester)! Oh, and there’s a cool pedestrian bridge linking it with Bailey-Howe Library. So yeah, bridges are in right now.

Still underway is the construction of Ifshin Hall (an expansion on the Kalkin Building) and they’re beginning renovations to the Taft School building, at the corner of Pearl and South Williams; a new home for Art and Dance on campus.

Faculty Features:

Missing your fave prof? Check out these super cool faculty features! They interviewed people like Yutaka Kono, Rasheda Weaver, Tina Escaja, Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst, Major Jackson and more!

They can all be found on the UVM Facebook page.

And just like that, the semester is over!

What’s a Career Outcome? – A Reminder about a reminder

Hey Gang, Are you feeling a bit like this when people ask about your career?

We get that.

It’s not super fun to talk career stuff, because you are all on different paths to professional glory, and your current position could be completely different in a few months. But we’ve been asked to give you guys a reminder about the Class of 2017 Career Outcome Survey.

We realize that you’ve probably gotten a million emails about this. Your parents might have even gotten an email about it.

We’re doing a solid for our friends over in the Career Center by sending one more reminder. This will be the only time we remind you guys about it.

They want to give all of you the chance to provide feedback- positive or negative. Did UVM help prepare you for the world?

As an added bonus, if you guys fill out the survey today you’re automatically entered to win a $20 gift card! 1 in 10 will be winners, so fill it out today!

Click through to take the survey, and then you’ll never hear about it again (from us)!


Thank you, Pam and George. 💛

If you haven’t heard, Pam and George are retiring their bright yellow food truck at the end of the fall semester, and taking some well deserved time for themselves.

We’re really sad to see them go, but we want to celebrate them too. So, we thought we’d take a moment to talk with them and hear about how they’re feeling on the eve of this milestone.

(Pam and one of her regulars. His dog gets a hotdog from Pam’s every day after his walk “Finnegan style” – no bun, cut up into pieces.)

How long have you been running the truck?

We’ve been doing this since right about 1982. We used to have two separate trucks, Pam’s and George’s. We would hire lots of students from the university- a boys truck and a girls truck. It was lots of fun back then, a lot going on.

What has been your favorite part about this whole experience?

Oh, I would say my favorite part has been getting to know everyone here on campus- the students, the professors, the staff and workers in all the buildings who come by for breakfast or lunch. There have been so many memorable faces and personalities, and it’s been great to get to know the community here.

There have been such great times, and there have been hardships as well. Throughout all of that, the UVM community was here for us in a really wonderful and supportive way.

What was your least favorite part of running the truck?

Definitely the winters, the winters can be really hard.

And don’t forget, we raised our kids during the whole time we’ve been running this truck. Though it was a lot of fun to make sandwiches for the kids before school- I’d have to make two of this kind of sandwich, two of that kind of sandwich and the kids would be trading among themselves.

What’s going to happen to the truck when you’re all done?

Oh, it will get another life- we’re going to sell it to Ahli Baba’s. Their truck, believe or not, is 20 years older than ours! So our truck will have a new life with them.

Is there something you’d like to say to all the UVM Alumni who have graduated?

Just that I’m proud of them. There are so many students and athletes we’ve known who have gone on to do amazing things, and we’re just so proud of all of you.

Well Pam, let me say this, from all of us:

We love you, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for keeping us all fed for those 8:30 classes, reminding us that a smile can brighten your whole day, and being a “Mom away from home” for so many of us.

We’re so happy that UVM was such a home for you both, and we’re so lucky that you have been a part of the UVM family for so long.

Best of luck on everything you do in your retirement. Enjoy!!