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Where are they now? Kristen DeGraff (MUHS)

Hometown, current residence, age: Grew up in Middlebury and currently live in New Jersey. 27 years old.
Family: Lyn Muller DeGraff and Peter DeGraff. Grandmother: Lorrie Muller. Sister: Alison DeGraff Ollivierre (MUHS ’06). Brother-in-Law: Vendol Ollivierre. Fiancé: Nathan Rudd (Middlebury College Class of 2013)
What I am up to: I am currently working as a counselor for students studying Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) at Bergen Community College in New Jersey. In this role I provide advice to students regarding their academics, transferring to a bachelor’s program, and their future career opportunities.
How I got to where I am now: After graduating from MUHS, I took a semester off to volunteer and explore Ecuador before starting as a Feb at Middlebury College. At Middlebury, I majored in Psychology partially because I did not know what I wanted to do, and partially because I loved seeing how people think and act. While completing my degree, I also took quite a few archaeology courses. Although I will never be the first female Indiana Jones, I loved learning how past people lived and even did a senior project classifying, dating and identifying usage of Vermont arrowheads. During my time at Middlebury, I participated in many extracurricular activities including orientation, residential life and being a tour guide. After that I was hooked! Before attending college, I was unaware that there were careers working with college students (beyond the obvious professor roles), but with the guidance of some fantastic mentors at the college, I discovered my interest and passion in helping college students be successful.
In 2014 I began my master’s program in Student Affairs in Higher Education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania while holding two assistantship roles as the Orientation Graduate Assistant and as a Disability Support Services Advisor. Throughout my program I worked as a Career Development Intern and as a First-Year Experience Intern where I taught the Freshman Seminar. Once I had completed my degree, I moved to New Jersey, where I worked at Stevens Institute of Technology as a Career Advisor of Experiential Education before transitioning to the Counselor role at Bergen Community College.
Adults to whom I can attribute my current success: I would like to thank my mentors at Middlebury College, who showed me that a career in student affairs is possible and for encouraging me to follow this path. I am beyond grateful for your support!
My advice for this year’s crop of graduating seniors: Try new things in college. Whether you think you know exactly what you want to do “when you grow up” or if you have no clue; when you explore different courses, activities and ideas, you may surprise yourself on what interests you and where your path may lead.
Listen to the leaders and mentors around you, they often know what your future career will be before you do. It is difficult to look inward to identify and accept a dream, but when you are passionate about something, others will notice. So let them guide you!
If you are not sure, ASK! It’s always better to receive the correct information from an expert, because it takes significantly less time to ask as question than to fix a mistake.

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