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Spotlight on Marissa Carranza ’19

By Maggi Davis ’22

Marissa is in her first year of medical school at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson in New Jersey. She took two gap years after graduating from UVM to work for WIC. While in undergrad, she was actively involved in Feel Good. Read more about her experiences with applying to medical school, deciding to go into healthcare, switching majors, gap years, and community service. Some takeaway advice is, “Follow what brings you joy, because this path to healthcare is not easy to go down. This idea of humanity and connection is at the crux of life, so making sure to find things in this life that bring you joy outside of academics is so important to keep you grounded.” 

Starting Medical School (during a pandemic):

The first year has been interesting but has academically been good. Socially, it has been extremely difficult to start a new program without the ability to create a support system. Before I started, I thought academics were going to be the hardest thing about medical school, but that has completely flipped and been an interesting challenge. Overall, it’s been ok, but that transition has been hard. I feel lucky with the pandemic. I was working when the pandemic started, and we went remote. My work picked up during the pandemic because there was a greater need. We didn’t have any demanding financial situation, though we are government funded – so it was interesting to see if we would still have funding. As a first-year medical student, we don’t have a ton of clinical experiences, so it was easier in that way to put our platform online.  

Future Interest:

It would be naïve to say that I know what type of doctor I want to be, but I know what interests me. The primary care aspect of medicine is what I’m drawn to most, though I haven’t had much exposure beyond that, so I may find I’m interested in something else in the future. What I really am looking forward to, that I have been exploring in my first year, is an intersection between medicine and advocacy. I came into medical school knowing this interest, but not fully knowing what it meant or even if it existed. To be specific, reproductive care is interesting to me because there is so much policy and politics around that topic that affects care in so many ways. Sexual health also has a lot of policy, healthcare for people incarcerated or for people who are in detention centers also centers around these social issues. This intersection is important to me, though I am still carving out my interest. That part of medicine is the most exciting to me, and I’ve seen a lot of that in primary care, but it doesn’t necessarily only exist there. For right now, that’s what I’m exploring. 

Gap Years and WIC:

I studied nutrition in undergrad, and I was mostly always planning to take at least one year after graduation. I was studying abroad, so I knew that it wasn’t going to realistically work with timing to apply for medical school while still in undergrad. The pre health advisor, Cara Calvelli, advised me to take two years and I saw how that could be beneficial. During this time, I worked for the WIC program. It stands for Women, Infants, and Children. It is a federally funded state program under the USDA. WIC is a nutrition program that provides nutrition counseling to families, specifically pregnant women and children under 5. There is a lot of prenatal support and health-based education being given to people. There is a lot of advocacy around nutrition policy and access to healthcare coordination. I worked there for 2 years in the Boston area. Though WIC exists everywhere, I chose to move to Boston for social reasons and I knew I wanted to be in an urban setting.  

Feel Good Involvement:

I started volunteering with Feel Good my first semester at UVM making sandwiches. I started because the people at the Activities Fair were super nice, and I was intrigued. I came into freshman year as an Environmental Engineering major, and I had ambitions to work in the clean water industry. Clearly that has changed since then. Feel Good in college was a way of volunteering and doing this fundraising work that led to empowering communities globally. I learned a lot about what it meant to be connected to things outside of school. It opened my eyes to these issues happening around me globally, and what it meant to look at healthcare from a global perspective. Feel Good helped ingrain the idea of working with people and helped teach me what it meant to educate about nutrition and sustainable food sources. Once I started learning about that, I found what I was really interested in, and found what that meant for me and my career. I became really involved with the club; I was co-President one year. When I came back from Study Abroad, I started volunteering with their Board of Directors my senior year, and I then became the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors to help at a national level as an alum. I was involved in both the UVM chapter and the National level, that gave me a lot of leadership experience. I was working with like-minded people, and I learned a lot in the organizational sense about what it means to run a non-profit, which I didn’t have experience in before. Feel Good catalyzed this mindset shift for me, I learned so much about how global issues connect people. Feed Good involvement was both super fun and opened a whole new world for me that helped to lead me down the path that I’m on now. In the pre-health sense, I had a lot of dissonance. I didn’t do any research in undergrad, and a lot of my time was spent with Feel Good. I felt like sometimes I was wasting my time or that it was wrong, or that I should be doing something else more directly relevant. I didn’t really have much pre-health mentorship within Feel Good, most other people were going into nonprofit work. Sometimes I felt a bit out of place, but now I do not believe I wasted my time at all. At the time, I didn’t know if I should be doing research or shadowing; ultimately, I chose not to, but I thought about it a lot when I chose to devote hours of my time to Feel Good. Cara told me something that I tell people now, about how you tell a story about yourself as an applicant. My story was never about hard sciences or grades, they were important, but they didn’t sell my story. The theme of my application story was about Feel Good and what it led to. I was recently talking about this idea of telling a unique story to undergrads involved in Feel Good, and about doing things that bring you joy instead of what you feel you should be doing. 

Dismas House Living:

One of the biggest things Feel Good did for me was open this idea of connection to community and global issues. Before joining Feel Good, I was super focused on academics, and my future. Then, through Feel Good, I realized this world of policy issues and how healthcare is connected to so many things. And how it’s possible to be a humanitarian and a doctor. I lived at the Dismas house in Burlington. It is a transitional house for people in downtown Burlington coming out of prison. It is an interesting model, not a formal halfway house, one difference is that community members, mostly students, are invited to live in the house, not as a volunteer but just as a student resident. One of my professors was a part of the board of directors for it and was a big advocate for this house. I became close with him, and he influenced me in my decision to live there. I ended up living there my senior year of college, which was a cool experience. There was no project or academic connection. I lived there with 8 other people, mostly men, but there was one other woman. Mostly men transitioning from previous incarceration. We shared a kitchen, living room, and bathroom, so it was very cozy. Part of the program was to have community members come in and cook dinner. When living there, you had to attend at least 2 meals a day, so the sense of community was promoted. It opened my eyes so much to walking in other people’s shoes and seeing what other people go through. I felt like I was in such a unique position. People transitioning out of prison have so many authoritative figures in their life that they are expected to report to. I was not an authority figure; I was just a person living there who happened to be a student. I learned so much about people’s lives before, during, and after prison. It was so influential in what I’m interested in now. It was such raw humanity to live there, and it really made me want to go into medicine. Doctors and healthcare professionals hold a powerful influence and a unique snapshot of people’s lives. One person had cancer while he was in prison and told me all about what it meant to be shackled in a hospital and how he was treated. He had to be guarded and chained to the bed. I learned so many things that I would have never known. When I was living there, the house next to us was the UVM Men’s Rowing team, so it was so interesting to compare those two worlds. There was such a stark contrast within the same Burlington community, and even the same street. There’s so much going on behind doors that you may not realize. That experience opened up a lot for me, and I would have never known this house existed if my professor didn’t tell me because it is so well integrated into the Burlington community. It just opened my eyes to things that other people are experiencing or carrying with them. When I think about what kind of doctor I want to be, keeping people’s humanity and experiences they endured in mind is so important. Living there was influential in thinking about what type of provider I want to be and how I was going to make the most of my gap years. 

Pre-Med Decision:

I went through so many highs and lows when transitioning to a pre-med track. I’m happy to share the authentic version of how I got here. I realized engineering was not for me, I kept journals during that point in my life and I was considering medicine, I thought about nursing, I thought about a Master’s in Public Health, I was going to drop out and do Americorps – I really had no idea what I was going to do. Especially my second semester freshman year, I was all over the place, simultaneously I was applying to PEP and doubting that. I don’t know that there was ever a moment where I was sure of my track. At the end of senior year, after graduating UVM, I was considering taking the MCAT or enter a PA (Physician Assistant) program. Up until the day I was about to take the MCAT I was still deciding. I was worried I wasn’t performing as well as I should be academically. Most of my premed decision was continuing to take the classes in the hopes that I would figure it out and be able to apply to whichever program I wanted to. Early on, I decided I was interested in the healthcare field, but I wasn’t sure if that meant becoming an RD (Registered Dietician), or nursing or PA or MPH. I made the decision to just start taking the premed classes because that was the most demanding requirements, so in case if I did apply to medical school, I would have all the requirements. Choosing nutrition was part of the transition to healthcare. I didn’t have one moment where I decided. This is why, again, when you talk to a lot of different people it can be helpful, but to a certain degree, it could be overwhelming. Every decision felt like the end of the world because of all the pressure. Health care is a rigorous field, no matter which part you go into, you’re expected to know a lot. 

Medical School Application Process:

There’s so much I could say about my application process. I feel like I have an arsenal of advice for younger students. If I had to say one sentence of advice it would be to feel solid in the things that will keep you grounded and in your support system. It is an extremely long process and there’s a lot of waiting around and sending application materials into the abyss, not knowing if they got there or when you’re going to hear back, so there’s not always a clear timeline. I remember I was doing this running race with my coworkers and we were training together, and it was so therapeutic. Especially at that time because I was right in the middle of the application process. I had been so anxious because there was no timeline, and it was unsettling to send in my application and they say, “We’ll get back to you in 1-10 months”, and you don’t really have any control beyond that. You don’t want to waste a year of your life waiting, because it can easily turn into that if you let it, so actively fighting against that, for me, was really important. More specifically, I could talk about how much Cara and the Health Professions office helped me for days, and that is not an advertisement. I wouldn’t be here in this program if I didn’t lean into her advice. It is important to decide who you are going to take advice from, because people are going to tell you all sorts of different things. Especially in the health care track, there are so many different opinions, and the field is changing so much. Mentors that are your parents’ friend or people you have shadowed have had such a different experience from what we are going to have, so just make sure to keep that in perspective. Take advice with a grain of salt and make sure to find people that you trust. It can get really clouded with different people’s opinions, especially when taking advice found online. There are a lot of forums in the premed space, it can be helpful to hear different people’s experiences, but also you must be able to draw firm boundaries of what advice you will take without finding yourself knee deep in all these opinions from the internet. 

Alum Profile: Cade Beaulieu ‘05, Design Director, Nike

By Sarah Esserman, Career Peer Mentor  


I reached out to alum Cade Beaulieu through UVM Connect to learn more about his job at Nike and career journey. He was willing and able to talk the following day and we had a great conversation about his experiences.  

Cade graduated in 2005 with a degree in Studio Art. Prior to his position as a Design Director, he held other roles at Nike. His team is considered the fastest product engine at Nike, meaning that they can create products and put them in the market in about seven months. He works with a trend and consumer focused team of product graphic designers and developers.  

I asked Cade what his favorite aspects of his current role and field of work was and he emphasized that being a people manager has been very fulfilling. He emphasized the importance of relationships and explained that if there was one thing he wished he knew when he started his career, it is the value of relationships. You can be the single most talented person in any room but if you cannot establish the right relationship with the right people then your career will be underwhelming.  

When asking if he had any suggestions on what UVM students can do to prepare for a similar career and the world of work, he explained the importance of being passionate. If you are passionate about what you are creating, then it is easier for you to authenticate those things with other people. This also ties into the importance of relationships. In Cade’s field specifically, you need to become really good at being yourself when it comes to the type of work that you do. Instead of trying to mold yourself to a creative role, it is best to embrace the way your personal authenticity.  

Finally, if Cade could change one thing about the current world we live in, it would be the balance between work and life. During our discussion, we both agreed that this is beginning to happen. People tend to make work their life and the pandemic is starting to shift this mind set. It is important to remember that a job does not define us. 

Spotlight on Nick Celedón, M.Ed.

The Career Center is thrilled to introduce Nick Celedón. Nick is a seasoned pre-health advisor, and we are fortunate that he has joined our team part-time as the co-coordinator of the Health Professions Interest Group.  Nick is available for virtual appointments through Handshake (choose the appointment type labelled “Pre-Health Foundations”). Contact him at: nicholas.celedon@uvm.edu 

ABOUT: 

Are you from Vermont? No, I still consider myself a native Texan. 

College: Texas Christian University (TCU) 

Degrees: B.S. in Movement Science and M.Ed. in Education with an emphasis in Urban Education  

How did you begin working as a pre-health advisor? 

In my last year of college, becoming a physical therapist for a professional sports team was no longer appealing.  After graduating from TCU, I began working with middle and high school kids from under-resourced communities. This experience led to me pursuing a graduate degree and after some soul searching, I came across a position advising pre-health students. Not knowing what pre-health advising entailed, I figured this position would allow me to tap into my experiences as a former pre-physical therapy student.  College students also seemed to be the next gradual step in my career. This also allowed me to work with underrepresented students, who I could relate to as a Mexican-American male.  

What do you enjoy about working in higher education? 

I love working with students. I’m really just a big kid at heart! Interacting with college students not only keeps me young but allows me to stay in tune with what is happening in the world from the perspective of a younger generation. Most importantly, it allows me to be of service to underrepresented students and this has the potential to make a larger impact on society.   

Fun fact? 

Love traveling and have visited over 25 countries. 

Top 3 tips for pre-health students: 

  • Be diligent – activities, coursework, interacting/engaging with professors is not easy, but you have to take ownership of your pre-health journey 
  • Mental health is real! Take time for yourself and know that one exam or one class does not define you.  
  • Learn to be reflective.

Advising Philosophy?

Pre-health can be a rollercoaster and I was fortunate enough to be a part of the ride!   

Spotlight on Warrick Sahene ‘18 (B.S.) ’19 (M.S.)

By Julia Sexton ’21 (Biochemistry)

Mentor Extraordinaire 

Warrick Sahene has been mentoring and inspiring UVM-ers ever since he arrived on campus as a first-year student in Fall of 2014. We are lucky that he chose to remain a Catamount for medical school: He is now an “MS1” at Larner College of Medicine (LCOM).  

The story starts… 

…in New Zealand where Warrick was born, the son of Ghanaians. When he was nine, his family immigrated to New Jersey. He began volunteering in his local hospital while in middle school. In high school, he became certified as an EMT and began riding with the local ambulance crew. 

Why UVM? 

Warrick was mainly considering colleges that were within the Tri-State Region. It was his AP Biology teacher — a proud UVM alum — who pushed him to apply here, and he is grateful she did. He is quick to say yes when she invites him back to his high school to talk with her current students about his journey. 

Why Medicine?  

Warrick is drawn to medicine because of its focus on both science and people. He sees   incredible versatility in the career, from direct impact on individuals, to community engagement and outreach, to public and/or global health impact, to participation in clinical research.  

Path to Medical School  

At UVM, Warrick majored in neuroscience and was an Honors College Scholar. Research was a priority. He was involved in several projects and was selected for the Summer Neuroscience Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SNURF) and University of Michigan’s summer SMART Program.  He earned an MS in Pharmacology in 2019.  

Outside of academics, Warrick was busy! Alternative Spring Break was an every-year commitment for him, as both a participant and a Site Leader. He worked for the Career Center as a Career Peer Mentor for two years, assisting students as they prepared to apply for jobs and grad school. One of his most impactful roles was as the President of MAPS (Minority Association of Premedical Students). As an African American man, whose identity is not well represented in the field of medicine, Warrick is committed to helping peers connect with mentors. Through his involvement in MAPS, he was able to find a local and national network of medical students/physicians of color. 

After completing his master’s degree, Warrick took advantage of an “opportunity” year before applying to medical school.  He worked as a medical assistant and continued to stay involved in research. He was excited to receive multiple offers of admission to medical school and yet chose to stay at UVM, where he continues to build on the strong relationships he has developed here. After finishing up his first semester at Larner, he reports that medical school is not exactly what he expected it to be. “You can’t imagine the volume of work until you’re actually in med school, but the material is amazing!” As a current member of LCOM’s Student Council, he also takes advantage of opportunities to stay involved in student life. He is impressed with the degree of camaraderie he’s witnessed at Larner, with classmates eager to share resources and help each other succeed.  

Outside of School: 

Warrick is a people person who loves interacting with others. Hosting potluck dinners is a favorite way to gather with friends (when social distancing allows). He also loves to try new things.  Last winter, he began learning how to snowboard and looks forward to taking it up again this season. 

Advice to Others 

In a nutshell:   

  • Reach out to advisors early and often 
  • When difficulties arise, don’t struggle silently 
  • Keep your mind open to a variety of career options 
  • Acknowledge that the path to becoming a physician is long, challenging, and expensive – the motivation to persevere ideally comes from a deep desire to be part of a profession whose overriding goal is to help others
  • Find a mentor and be a mentor 

“Meet” other inspiring UVM alums by accessing UVMConnect.  Alums make great mentors.

Spotlight on Emily Hagan-Howe ’15

Meet UVM Career Center’s fantabulous Marketing Manager, Emily Hagan-Howe, who works passionately behind the scenes as part of our Operations Team. Her creativity and vision with digital and social media communications keep UVM students and alums well-connected to our career-oriented resources. In fact, her encouragement and talent have been instrumental in helping the Health Professions Interest Group (HPIG) successfully launch The Steady Pulse.  

Emily (she/her & they/them) is pictured above with her wife, Christa Hagan-Howe (she/her), a Diversity Educator in the Center for Cultural Pluralism at UVM. The precious bundle in Em’s arms is Rowan, whom they welcomed to the world on 11/11/20! The family’s recent experience at UVM Medical Center has inspired Emily to share some of her own words of wisdom with all of you who aspire to become health professionals.  

We met the most amazing UVM Medical Center nurses, midwives, LNAs, fetal medicine doctors, medical students, residents, physician assistants, anesthesiologists, and lactation consultants during our time at the hospital. Their collaboration was amazing to watch– so many different skill sets and training backgrounds coming together to keep us safe, educate us about newborns, and ultimately take care of our family. I was deeply moved by the authenticity of our interactions and their genuine care for all three members of our family – throughout our labor, delivery, and recovery process, and during our son’s brief stay at the NICU. Their commitment to celebrating the shape of our family as a queer couple was also significant and helped me feel at ease as the non-gestational parent of our child. 

I share this both to underscore that we were connected to many kinds of providers each of whom played a key role in our care, and to encourage current students and recent alums to celebrate the interconnectedness of different careers in healthcare. And please know the world of a difference that your smile, patience, and transparency can make. I also hope to encourage UVM students to be brave in their clinicals; have the courage to ask questions, make a mistake and then ask how to do it better next time if appropriate, and get to know your patients if they seem open to chatting!  

A Proud Catamount: 

As an undergrad, Emily earned dual degrees (BS, Education; BA, History) and was an Honors College Scholar. A memorable course was American Sign Language, where the kinesthetic style of learning and physicality and beauty of the language inspired (and continues to inspire) her. Emily’s experience as a TA for a D1 course informed her thesis, which centered on peer social justice education.   

Service and social justice defined her engagement as an undergrad, particularly through involvement with Alternative Spring Break and Alpha Phi Omega (co-ed service fraternity). As a junior, she was the recipient of the Vermont Campus Compact Engaged Student Award. Participation in the Examining White Identity Retreat as an undergrad was transformative for Emily, and after graduation, she transitioned from participant to retreat organizer and facilitator. Emily shares, “Unpacking my racial identity as a white person and working towards anti-racism through dialogue, reflection, and action has been critical to my own growth, and facilitating those experiences for our students has been so meaningful to me.” 

Emily has worked as a UVM staff member ever since graduating in 2015. Her first role was as the office manager for UVM’s Office of Student & Community Relations, using her people-skills to help build community between off-campus students and their neighbors. She appreciates OSCR’s embrace of restorative practices.  We at the Career Center feel incredibly fortunate that Emily joined our team in 2018 where she adds value to every aspect of our work.  Emily is also a part-time student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration (HESA) program, working toward her M.Ed. in Higher Education. 

Life Outside of Work   

Emily loves to craft, working mainly on textile and fiber arts projects (hand quilting, knitting, embroidery). She listens to a wide diversity of podcasts.  Hanging with her wife and the family pup, Annabelle, is a constant source of joy. Of course, right now, new parenthood – despite its inevitable sleep deprivation – is transforming her daily life in exciting ways. Somehow, she found the time to offer these reflections about her son and the goals she has for herself in this new role: 

am so in awe of this tiny human and his resilience. As a parent, I hope that I can create an environment in which he has the freedom to explore the world and who he is, express himself and his own ideas, and build a community of love and support through connections with friends and family. In time, I hope to teach him about the power of vulnerability, the importance of speaking his truth, and the awe-inspiring courage it takes to be intentional in giving and receiving love.”  

 
Supporting Pre-Health Students/Alums  

Although not a healthcare professional herself, Emily has a pretty clear vision of what it takes to be one and the importance of being an excellent one.  Her grandmother was a social worker in the Rhode Island State government who championed healthcare policy for older adults; both Emily’s and Christa’s moms are nurse practitioners, and her mom continues to practice as a cardiology NP, caring for patients on an inpatient cardiology service in Rhode Island. Emily’s brother earned an MD/PhD in May from UT Houston and is now a psychiatry resident at Brown University.  

Emily is deeply committed to supporting all UVM students/alums as they seek out paths to impactful careers, and she is eager to continue to support UVM’s pre-health community.  The HPIG community is lucky to have her on our team. 

Congratulations, Emily & Christa on the birth of your beautiful son! 

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