My First Year Out: Chris Veal ’14

For today’s My First Year Out, I caught up with Chris Veal ’14, a member of the UVM Foundation Fellows Program. The Fellows program is currently a cohort of six young alumni from the last decade nominated by Foundation leadership to insure the perspective and opinions of our young alumni are represented in the work of the Foundation board and committees.

In addition to his role as a Fellow, Chris is also a first year Medical Student at the Larner College of Medicine here at UVM. In that vein, Chris speaks about his first year out preparing for medical school. His advice is great for anyone preparing for or considering any graduate program.

Here’s what Chris had to say about his first year out.


1. Describe your first year out of UVM.

My first year out of UVM, I starting working in the Office of Health Promotion Research at the UVM College of Medicine. During this time, I worked with Dr. Brian Sprague on a variety of research projects centered on Early Stage Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer Screening throughout the state.

This job granted me the opportunity to publish my first article in a peer-reviewed medical journal! My article titled “ Health Related Behaviors and Mortality Outcomes in Women Diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ” was published in this months edition of the Journal of Cancer Survivorship.

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

My greatest challenge after college was staying focused and preparing for medical school. I did not take the MCAT until after I graduated from UVM. During the months of preparation for that incredibly difficult exam, I had to balance a full time job with studying for the MCAT.

Ultimately, I discovered in order for me to do as well on the MCAT as I wanted to, I would have to quit my job and devote a solid 3 months to studying solely for that exam.

I moved back home with my mother and studied like crazy. Once I took it, I was incredibly blessed to have the chance to return back to Vermont and start a job that I absolutely loved at the UVM College of Medicine. It felt like I didn’t miss a beat.

But quitting my job and taking the time to thoroughly prepare to take the MCAT was the best decision I feel I could have made.

3. What are you doing now? 

I am currently a first year Medical Student at the amazing Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont. I must admit, people told me medical school was hard, and I believed them, but I was not expecting it to be as hard as it was during my first semester.

Medical School was a shift for me in many ways, both emotionally and physically. Yet overall, I couldn’t imagine being in a better place.

What’s special about the College of Medicine here at UVM is the level of support given to each and every student. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion has been my rock of support throughout my time here. I’ve also had the chance to retain amazing relationships with several of the faculty members — one of whom I have lunch with every Tuesday at noon!

Medical School has been an incredible experience, despite the challenges it brings each day. It reminds me that UVM still is the special place I graduated from back in 2014.

4. What advice do you have for recent graduates?

For any alums that are trying to pursue a career in medicine or any health care profession, I would highly suggest taking some time off between graduate school and undergraduate.

I took off 2 years and I think that truly gave me the time to enjoy being in my 20’s for a little bit, and also give me a chance to interact with the real world.

Over those 2 years, my friendships grew closer, I began to understand what I wanted out of life, and I became more active in my community. My time out of school gave me a great foundation to spring from once I started medical school, I would highly suggest it!

Welcome to Afterword!


I know it’s only been a few weeks since you graduated and you probably aren’t feeling nostalgic for your alma mater yet. Good, that would be kind of weird.

And you’re probably wondering right now what this blog is all about.

Well, first off – I’m not asking you for anything. This isn’t a secret trick to ask you for money or complete a survey or barrage your inbox with useless information.

This blog is the afterword to your UVM story. I’m here to keep you connected to UVM, Burlington, and to your classmates.

I’ve been doing this blog for the past year and a half with grads in the classes of 2015 and 2016, so I am really excited to bring you in, talk to you, and be as helpful as I can.

The goal of this blog is to help you write your next chapter. I’m a recent grad like you, I work at the UVM Foundation and my job is to help you.

Unlike your parents, I 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 I want to give you a place to feel at home.

Here’s how I’m going to help.

  • Give you lots of career, job, and grad school advice, tips, and resources.
  • Tell you about events with fellow alumni.
  • Showcase examples of other alumni and how they spent their first year after graduation.
  • Make you feel great about being a UVM alum.

Basically, this is all about you. Your afterwards is worthy of making our afterword.

Stay tuned for weekly posts!


My First Year Out (so far…)

Today we have a special edition of My First Year Out. We caught up with your classmate Kristen Smith to hear what she has been up to for the past seven months since graduation. She shares her take on the changes, the challenges and the lessons.


Describe your first year out of UVM.

To be honest, I think that I (and many of my friends) have had an unusually difficult and tumultuous few months after graduating; there has been a lot of unexpected and expected death that I’m still grappling with. And I’m not going to sugarcoat what it’s like being out of school—for many of us, when we graduate we are stripped of our community and support system. It’s a really stark change that you can’t really prepare for.

With that being said, there have also been some awesome experiences since graduating that I wouldn’t have had if I were still in school. Over the summer I worked as pseudo-tour guide for Japanese high school students traveling to Boston and I made some pretty special friendships with people from Boston, Japan, and Egypt.

In August I moved to DC for a fall internship with National Geographic. Within a couple weeks of moving I realized how much free time I had in this new life of no school. At first this was unsettling because l didn’t know what to do with my weekday nights that were free of homework and papers and I wanted to go back to school ASAP. But once I accepted this new vacancy, I realized I could do whatever I wanted and that was a pretty cool feeling. I had always wanted to learn how to paint with oils, so I took a painting class, I went to poetry slams, I started volunteering at an urban farm, and I tutored English to immigrants in the DC area.

Post-grad can be draining because there are so many adjustments and new avenues we have to learn how to navigate, but it’s also this really cool time when, other than your boss, you don’t have to answer to anyone.

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

I don’t know if there was one particularly large challenge but rather a bunch of small, unpredictable challenges, and I wouldn’t say I overcame them. I’m still adjusting, figuring out how to work with them, and how to be an advocate for myself.

The general lifestyle change of college to office was difficult because being on a computer all day is pretty brutal. I had a really hard time adjusting to the indoor, sedentary culture. But, there are ways around it. I’ll randomly take the stairs throughout the day, walk during my lunch break, and run at night when the monuments are lit up, which is pretty cool.

What did you learn from this experience?

I learned to make time for the things that make you happy, even if your coworkers think you’re an odd-kabob. At first I tried to get into what I assumed was a large part of DC culture(s), namely happy hour, but after sitting and working on a computer all day, I just wasn’t into it. I need a break after work and I would much rather go for a run or take a painting class than drink at a bar and “network.”

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to yourself as you prepared to graduate from UVM?

Jump in. Whatever you’re doing, immerse yourself and take advantage of the opportunities around you. Working as an intern at Nat Geo, I had access to pretty much every employee’s email. I cold emailed some of the writers from the magazine to setup meetings in order to hear about their work and career paths. To my surprise, people really respected the fact that I reached out, and were more than willing to chat. Through this effort I somehow ended up in the office of the executive editor of digital for Nat Geo and showed him a couple of my articles and learned how he became a standout journalist.

So put yourself out there, you never know where it might lead. But be intentional and thoughtful about who you reach out to—people can see through networking for the sake of networking. One of the magazine’s journalists told me that flattery goes a long way. In my case, she suggested that I reach out to one or two writers whose style and content I genuinely liked, and tell them that. So when you reach out to people and later meet them, be deliberate, prepared, and honest, and always write a thank you note.

What are you doing now and what are you looking to do next?

My internship with Nat Geo ended in mid-November, but they asked me to stay through the end of the year. So I’m working as a coordinator with my same team in the education department, and my role will probably turn into a full time position for the next year.

But recently I’ve been reading about master programs in dance/movement/art therapy. Dance and art have helped me a lot in dealing with grief, and I’m curious to see if this might be a career I’d want to pursue as a means to help people struggling with trauma and mental health issues. So I’m currently in the process of deciding if I want to stay at Nat Geo and ultimately give journalism a shot, or see if dance and art therapy might be more my thing. I still have a lot of figuring out to do, but I believe that if we can’t take risks now in our early twenties, when will we?

Hockey Ticket Giveaway!

‘Tis the season of giving, so today I have a fun giveaway for you.

I’m giving away 10 pairs of tickets for a UVM hockey game. T-E-N pairs!


Enter the raffle here to win tickets for you and a friend to join me for a UVM Hockey game against Northeastern on Saturday, January 7th.

We’ll meet at Alumni House for a pregame reception (read: happy hour of sort) before the game. There will be snacks and drinks.

Don’t forget to enter the raffle here.

I’ll announce the winner next week.

Good luck!

Checking in with the Class of 2016, Part II

Part of navigating this first year out is knowing that you’re not alone and no one has it all figured out yet. Your classmates are facing the same challenges and new experiences as you.

Those challenges may look different for different people, but know that you’re in good company.

That’s what this segment is all about. We check-in with a few of your classmates and see what they are doing and how they’re navigating their first year out. Oh, and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to ask a few “this or that” questions about some UVM/Burlington/Vermont stuff.

This week we spoke to Hannah Decelles, Jackson McNally and Alex Pasin.


  1. What are you up to? I am living in Durham, North Carolina working as a Registered Nurse in the Emergency Department at Duke University hospital.  I work the night shift (7:00pm-7:30am), which has been an adjustment and I have definitely become nocturnal!  I moved here in July (the hottest summer of my life!!) and have really enjoyed getting to know a new place.
  1. What are you most excited about in the next year? What are you most scared about in the next year? I am most excited to get to know the area I am living in and exploring more of the south.  The south is SO different from the northeast, from the food to the culture to the people.As much as I love being in the Emergency Department and working as a Nurse, I am also scared when I walk into work every day that there will be something that I wont be able to handle, or a patient that as a team we cannot help when we should’ve. In this next year I know mistakes will be made, but it terrifies me. As scared as I am, I love the team I work with each and every night and I know they have my back.
  1. What has been the best thing since you graduated? The best thing since I’ve graduated is working as an RN.  I learn new things at work every single day, and absolutely love where I work.  It is really gratifying to feel as if I am doing exactly what I want to be doing.


  1. What are you up to? I’m a wilderness therapy guide at True North Wilderness Program, working with struggling adolescents and young adults.
  1. What are you most excited about in the next year? What are you most scared about in the next year? I’m excited to see how I continue to grow as a guide and how I’m able to not only help and inspire my students, but also make progress in my personal life as a result. I’m pretty bad with money, so I’m scared about potentially struggling to manage my money as I continue to work.
  1. What has been the best thing since you graduated? The worst? The best thing has been the relationships I’ve built with the people I work with. I really feel like I’ve found a home for myself. The worst thing has been motivating myself to stay active during my off days instead of relaxing the whole time.


  1. What are you up to? I’m currently working in customer service at Burton snowboards.
  1. What are you most excited about in the next year? What are you most scared about in the next year? The best thing is getting in some shredding with the new work crew, hoping for it to dump. The worst is being scared it won’t snow and I’ll have to freeze my tears to try and get some freshies.
  1. What’s the best thing since you graduated? The worst? The best thing about graduating is being able to walk by campus and not have a heart attack realizing I have an essay due or a test the next day. The worst thing is now that worrying is about bills or where I parked my car.