My First Year Out: Sarah Weiss ’16

This week, we’re back to connecting with other young alumni, and hearing about their experiences in our series My First Year Out.

Sarah Weiss, a 2016 graduate, has been exploring the depths of the ocean, from Massachusetts to the Bahamas!

Describe your first year out:

My first year out of UVM has been quite the whirlwind experience and by far the fastest year of my life.  Despite living in VT for the past 15 years, I’ve decided to get my feet wet and pursue the world of marine biology.

After traveling abroad with my family right after graduation, I moved to Plymouth, MA to delve into the world of whales.  I interned with the non-profit organization, Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

This proved to be an incredible experience and only further confirmed my love of whales and mola molas (google it). In this opportunity, I was a field researcher and naturalist working on whale watching boats around Cape Cod, collecting  photo-ID and population-monitoring research primarily on the  population of humpback whales in the Gulf of Maine. I was incredibly fortunate to go on 62 whale watches last summer, seeing whales (and sharks, and dolphins, oh my!) on every trip.

Let me tell you, dreams do come true.

After the internship with WDC, I moved to Woods Hole, MA (the bottom tip of Cape Cod) to intern at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center doing whale acoustic research.

After a few months of analyzing the singing behavior of sei whales, I packed up and moved to the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas to do shark, ray, and deep sea research with the Cape Eleuthera Institute.

This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience as I got to be out in the field everyday working with so many diverse species in their natural habitats. The sharks of course were incredibly exciting, especially the days we caught  a 10.5 ft tiger shark and and an 11 ft great hammerhead shark!  The picture above is me being completely dwarfed by the dorsal fin of that Great Hammerhead.

The deep sea research in particular really blew my mind as well, as there is so little known about this huge environment that covers such a large percentage of the planet.

[Fun fact: 72% of the planet is covered by water.  Of that 72% of water, 98% is considered to be the deep sea (anything below 200m). Yet only 5% of the deep sea has ever been explored!]

In this sense, our deep sea research essentially aimed to figure out what exists down there, and where exactly we can find it.

5 months, thousands of giant isopods, and 14 stitches later (life wasn’t always a beach), I finally came home from the Bahamas, only to quickly take off once again to travel to Hawaii and Israel, visiting friends and taking advantage of international rugby opportunities.

Though I was heartbroken to leave the ocean and the Israeli hummus behind, I was ecstatic to have the chance to return home to VT for a few weeks to (ideally) catch my breath and relax before taking off on my next adventure.

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

One of my biggest challenges so far has been dealing with transitions. 

I am horrible with change and as you can probably tell, my life since graduation has been filled with nothing but transitions. From new places, new jobs, and constantly changing casts of characters to interact with, change has become a constant and flexibility a necessity in my life.

While I have not completely overcome this challenge by any means, I aim my focus on taking life one day at a time.

What are you doing now?

I just recently moved back to Woods Hole, MA where I have returned to working with NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center and the Passive Acoustic Research group. My current project focuses on North Atlantic right whales and using passive acoustic monitoring devices to study their migratory corridors.

Essentially, I am slowly learning how to speak whale day by day.  

I’m excited to see what else I can be exposed to while I’m here, as I continue to test the waters and see if the world of marine biology is right for me.


Thanks for sharing with us, Sarah, and we hope you can report back once you’ve learned how to speak fluent whale, and let us know what they have to say.


Checkin’ in with some Cool Catamounts

Hey Gang!

Remember back in June when we shared the audio compilation of all the hopes and fears of the graduating class of 2017? (See the original post here).

We wanted to check back in with a few of them, and see how things are going.

So, we’ve embedded their original answers, and then followed up with their updated responses. Check out how Emma and Rozy are doing!


Emma Oyomba:

So, I have stuck with the plan I gave you and I am currently in living in London doing my masters program in Advertising & PR.

I am starting my third week of classes and love it. I am currently looking for an internship while I am in school.

Moving back to London was what I was most excited about and it has not disappointed me yet!

I am nervous about not being able to get a job here after my visa is over. It is pretty hard for non UK & EU citizens to come and work here, especially with the uncertainty of Brexit.

I miss Burlington and just the student life. I miss having a bunch of friends that live within a block or two of me. I miss campus, especially when we had beautiful weather!


Rozy Isquith:

I’m still working as a scenic painting apprentice at Goodspeed Musicals. I am currently painting Rags–a revised musical dealing with themes of America immigration—and will soon begin painting for A Connecticut Christmas Carol. After December, I am working as the scenic designer for Goldilocks and Sleeping Beauty for the Bridgeport Cabaret Children’s Theatre.

I am excited to continue painting, learning new techniques, and meeting other artists in the world of scenic art and design. Meeting other people who have succeeded in making this niche career work—hearing how they paint at different theaters all across the country, and what unique projects they have worked through– has been a really important, encouraging, and exciting part of post-grad life. I can’t wait to continue.

I am mainly nervous about two things: 1) working as a freelance artist—continuing to coordinate jobs on a weekly basis following this steady apprenticeship 2) making the decision to, or not to enroll in an MFA program.

I definitely miss Burlington as a city—everything from its location between the lake and  mountains, art events (art hop, live music, free dress rehearsals at the Flynn Space), and abundance of good coffee!

Specific to UVM– I miss the theatre department (spending lots of time in the drafting room), taking a wide variety of classes and finding several surprisingly good gen ed lectures, the Cyber Café, and walking through such a beautiful campus every day (especially in the late summer early fall)!

A Special Video Message for the Class of 2017

Hi all,

Still haven’t registered for your upcoming class party at Alumni House on Friday, October 6th? As we mentioned a few weeks back, it’s gonna be lit, but to maximize the fun we need your help!

Make sure to get in touch with your friends, and bring them along! We want you all to have a great time, and nobody has fun at a party where you don’t know anyone.

Check out our quick video to see what we mean.


A Public Service Announcement from the UVM Alumni Assocation from UVM Foundation on Vimeo.

Register now! We can’t wait to see you (and all your friends) there!


Ryan and Kathryn

Domino’s, Dining Halls, and Dives: Episode 3

Hey gang, we’re back at it again, eating our way through the sights of Burlington.

This time, we’re joined by 2017 Grad Kat Dooman!

Kat graduated last May, and has been living and working in Burlington! We caught up with her to grab a bite to eat and chat about how things are going.

Our original plan was to go to Farmhouse Tap and Grille (fancy, right?) but unfortunately they were closed doing renovations that day! So we turned back to Church Street, and grabbed the next best place:

Ken’s Pizza!

This Burlington Classic has been an institution on Church Street for as long as anyone can remember, and always seems to be busy. We grabbed a table and ordered some classics on this beautiful late summer day.

So Kat, what makes Ken’s such a Burlington favorite?

“Ken’s has always been a favorite for my friends and I. It has great outdoor seating so you can people watch during the summer. No matter how dead Church Street might be, it seems like Ken’s is always busy and full of people having a good time. In the winter when it’s freezing and you’re walking down the street, it’s really hard to resist the smell of pizza. It’s also a great place to go if you’re on a tight budget – the prices are really reasonable and the portions are usually enough to last me for at least two meals. It’s a go-to spot when my coworkers and I want a quick bite after work, or when my roommates and I are too tired to cook. ”

What did we all order?

Chicken Parm Sandwich

Eggplant & Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich

The Pub Club

Now, back to Kat’s story:

How has your first summer out of college been so far?

It’s definitely been an adventure! I did a bit of traveling – I went to Barcelona right before graduation, and tried to take advantage of the beautiful, albeit rainy, summer. I also spent a lot of my free time applying for some full time jobs while still working as a Gallery Assistant at Frog Hollow, but nothing seemed like quite the right fit. My patience paid off, though, because I was recently promoted to Operations Manager. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to take on more responsibility and to continue to work with so many talented artists from all over Vermont.

What has been your biggest challenge?

I think my biggest challenge so far has been trying to figure out what exactly I’m going to do now that I’ve graduated. I always knew I wanted to work in the art world, but getting my foot in the door was challenging.

How are you working on overcoming it?

I ultimately decided to stay in Burlington for another year, taking some time to really figure out what path I wanted to take. I was looking at potentially going to grad school, applying for volunteer positions, and just trying to stay involved in the artistic community however I could. I got really lucky with my new position at Frog Hollow, and I’m happy to say I plan on sticking around Burlington for the foreseeable future.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?

I have come to realize that the effort you put into things (whether it’s work, friendships, or relationships) doesn’t go unnoticed. If you’re consistent and motivated, then you can absolutely accomplish anything you set your mind too.

 Any advice for your classmates?

The best advice I can give is not to get too panicked about figuring out what you’re going to do with your life. There’s a lot of pressure on recent grads to have everything figured out, and I know it can get overwhelming at times, but I also think things have a way of working out if you put in the time and energy. Most of all, try not to stress out too much over the uncertainty of the future.

Well Kat, We certainly agree with that advice. And we’re so glad that your patience paid off!

Want to be the next person we take out to lunch? Know of a secret deli that has the best sandwiches? Recommend a place for us to eat!

Maybe we’ll see you next time, but until then, hope you’re happy as this pizza-pooch.

You are Invited to a Party at Alumni House!

In July we asked you what kind of events you’d like to attend and the overwhelming majority said: happy hours.

Well, we heard you loud and clear, and we are going a step further and throwing a party for you at Alumni House on Friday, October 6 during Alumni Weekend.

Oh and did we mention it’s free?

That’s right, gather your friends and drop by Alumni House to get your weekend started right.

Date: Friday October 6

Time: 9:00pm (drop by before you head downtown)

Location: UVM Alumni House (61 Summit Street, right near campus)

The fun part: If you register (for free), your first two drinks are on us!

Below are four quick tips for getting you through the registration form in under a minute:

1. Select Alumni Weekend and click “let’s get started” that will take you to this page where you’ll fill out your information.

2. Select the Class of 2017 package.

3. Add any friends you plan to bring with you (just an FYI, if you add someone, there are a few more steps that you will need to complete). And don’t worry, you can still bring a friend even if you don’t fill this section out!

4. Select your Alumni Weekend Package and scroll to the bottom and click next to submit your form.

That’s it!! See you on October 6!