2019: Where are they now?

During the high school graduation season we tell the graduates to look forward to the future with hope and optimism, giving an opportunity for those of us who have seen a few seasons to look back to our own years in high school and just beyond.
The newly minted graduates look forward to the next stages of their lives: moving away from home, perhaps seeing a bit of the world, getting that first post-graduation job, figuring out what it’s all about. It is a time full of promise with a measure of apprehension. Look for those familiar faces in the photos inside from the Middlebury, Mount Abraham, Otter Valley and Vergennes union high school graduation ceremonies this month.
At the same time, parents and alumni see the fresh, young faces and can’t help but look back at how their own lives and those of their friends and acquaintances have progressed over the years. 
We join in the reminiscing and asked graduates from these four local high schools to tell us a little about where life has taken them in the years since graduation. Inside you’ll find profiles of a handful of Vermont natives in their mid and late 20s — people you may have known when you were in high school. We chose a selection of people who graduated between six and 10 years ago in the hopes that this month’s high school graduates will be able to see something of their own generation in the profiles.
You’ll find a variety of vocations and avocations represented in the profiles, but they barely scratch the surface of the diversity that can be found among the young people produced in the Addison County.
Enjoy the stories and the photos and wish a graduate well.
Lea Gipson, Middlebury Union High School, 2010
Hometown, current residence, age: I grew up in Bridport and now live with my fiancé, Sam Stannard, in Benson. I am 26 years old. 
Family: My parents are David and Luella Gipson, who both grew up in Addison County, and now reside in Bridport — where they have been for the past 29 years. My father graduated from Middlebury Union High School in 1982. And, my grandparents (now deceased) Ruth Gipson and Pete Gipson were also graduates of this school. My sisters Chantal Gipson (2008) and Jessica Gipson (2012) are also both graduates of MUHS. And, I am getting married on Aug. 3, 2019, so my plan is to stay local in the state that I love!
What I am up to: For the past five years, I have been teaching Social Studies at my alma mater (Middlebury Union High School). Shortly after graduating from Saint Michael’s College, I had the opportunity to attempt to fill the shoes of the late Michele Forman, and have been here ever since. It has been a whirlwind experience coming back to teach at my former school, and I value the perspective it has given me. The students at MUHS are simply the best.
How I got to where I am now: I attended Saint Michael’s College from 2010 to 2014 because I knew that I always wanted to be a teacher, and their program was rumored to be the best (and, I can tell you now that it absolutely was). I double majored in Secondary Education and History, and played Division II college softball for four years, which was a blast. Upon graduating college, I had a really hard time finding a high school Social Studies position, until Jeffrey Clark and Tara Martin (history teacher at MUHS for many years) reached out to inform me of a potential opening. Shortly after, I applied, and I owe both of them for advocating for me to get a full-time position here. Jeff Clark and Tara Martin are also Saint Michael’s College graduates, and I owe to them and to that community thanks for opening doors for me. Without the four years well spent studying at St. Mike’s paired with the connections I made at MUHS, I wouldn’t be teaching today. Although the profession of teaching seems perplexing to the outsider, I can honestly say that it’s my dream job.
Adults to whom I can attribute my current success:My parents; 100 percent my parents. As corny as this sounds, I was raised right. The older I get, the more I appreciate everything my parents have done for me. They have taught me an abundance of life skills, but most importantly, they have always modeled the importance of hard work and determination. I owe everything that I am to my wonderful parents.
How my Vermont roots have influenced who I am today:That’s a big question! My Vermont roots are something that I will always value. I have traveled a lot in the last few years, and I have met a lot of wonderful people. But, there is just something about Vermont. My family has been here for countless generations, and I understand why. In my opinion, there is no better place to live in the world. Vermont is my safe haven, filled with the kindest people. When I visit somewhere else, I always find myself wondering why I ever leave. I have spent time in all parts of Vermont. My mom’s family is from the Northeast Kingdom, I attended college in Chittenden County, and now I live on a farm in Benson, Vermont, (shoutout to Vermont Natural Beef!). No matter where I go in this state, I appreciate it so much. I couldn’t imagine ever leaving simply because I don’t want to.
My memories of high school:This is an interesting question for me to grapple with since I came back to teach here! In fact, my students ask me this a lot. I definitely had a hard time in high school, I lacked confidence and was super quiet, and I didn’t really ever want to do my homework. I would describe myself as someone who flew under the radar. However, there were definitely high points. The teachers I had here were consistently wonderful. And, I looked forward to my softball season each spring. I had a great group of friends, and a wonderful support system at home. So, I attribute my low points to my general confusion around what I wanted to do when I “grow up.” However, I am thankful that my high school years weren’t my favorite, and I work each day to try and remember my own perspective. The teachers who loved and supported me during my time here are the ones who made it doable — and now, as a teacher, I want to do the same thing for my students.
My advice for this year’s crop of graduating seniors: The class of 2019 has a special place in my heart, as they are my first class that I have taught all the way up. And, I know that they have heard this from me before, but please just always be kind to one another — our world needs it.
Aliza Kamman Nedimyer, Mount Abraham Union High School, 2011
Hometown, current residence, age: I grew up in Lincoln and currently live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I am 26 years old.
Family: My parents, Ann Pollender and Alan Kamman still live in Lincoln and my brother Sawyer (class of 2014) lives in Boston. My husband, Matt, is a middle school band director in Chapel Hill.
What I am up to: I am currently working on a Doctorate in Human Movement Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As part of my program I teach undergraduate courses within the Department of Exercise and Sport Science, and do research surrounding injury prevention and sport related concussions in middle and high school student athletes in both the local Chapel Hill community and throughout the nation.
How I got to where I am now: I went to Ithaca College for my undergraduate degree where I majored in athletic training and played field hockey. After graduating from Ithaca in 2015, I moved to North Carolina to pursue a master’s degree in athletic training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During my master’s degree I spent two years working as the graduate assistant athletic trainer for the women’s soccer and softball teams gaining clinical experience, and completing a research project. After finishing my master’s program, I took a year off from school to learn more about research, and stayed at UNC to work as a project coordinator for an NFL-funded international research study that looked at the role of active rehabilitation strategies in concussion management, as well as working part-time as a substitute athletic trainer at a local high school. During that year of work, the opportunity presented to enroll in the doctorate program at UNC, and with a desire to have an impact on athlete safety in middle and high schools, as well as teach athletic training at the collegiate level someday, it seemed to fit well as the next step in my career. At the moment I have finished my first year of the program and have three more to complete.
Adults to whom I can attribute my current success:My family has always been supportive of me, whether it be in the classroom, on the field, or in any other aspect of life. They have been a constant source of support and encouragement always, and a sounding board for when I’ve been not quite sure what the next step should be. Additionally, there are numerous teachers and multiple coaches who have all provided guidance and support along the way. Many of them have had impacts that have lasted far beyond high school and impacted me outside of the classroom or off of the field in which I encountered them. I would not be where I am or the person I am today without the community that I grew up in.
How my Vermont roots have influenced who I am today:Vermont will always be home, and the importance that was placed on community while I was growing up has really stuck with me. It is sometimes hard to explain small town life to people who have never experienced it, but it seems to all come down to the sense of community that exists there. Life isn’t quite the same without a community, and while I have tried to help facilitate a similar community feel in other places I have lived, nothing seems to be quite the same. I’m very thankful I got to experience it for as long as I did.
My memories of high school:Very few low points stick out when I think back on high school, but highlights include playing field hockey, as well as my involvement in both the music department at MAUHS and the youth group in Lincoln. Mostly what sticks with me are the friendships that were developed in high school, many of which are still strong friendships today even though we don’t all live in the same area anymore.
My advice for this year’s crop of graduating seniors: Be present wherever you are. It’s easy to want to be somewhere else or to be ready to move on to the next thing, but where you are what you are doing in the present is just as important as what is to come. Also, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. It isn’t always easy but it is worth it. If that means leaving Vermont for a while, do it. See new places, meet new people, and experience new things, but know that Vermont will always be the best place to come home to. 
Greta Krahn, Vergennes Union High School, 2011
Hometown, current residence, age: Grew Up In: Vergennes; Current Town of Residence: Colchester; Current Age: 25
Family: Gerd Krahn (father), Laura Krahn (mother), Karl Krahn (brother and VUHS alum 2009)
What I am up to: Leading the UI/UX (user interface/user experience) design initiative at Vermont Information Processing.
How I got to where I am now: Attended Montana State University for 2.5 years, majoring in architecture. Realized it wasn’t the path for me and wasn’t sure what was. Took a semester off to re-evaluate and shadow professionals in fields that I had some interest in. Ended up transferring to Rochester Institute of Technology, where I spent another 2.5 years earning my BFA in Graphic Design. 
Adults to whom I can attribute my current success:Kevin Braun: introduced me to the UX industry.
Jud Bartlett: recommended RIT for further studies in graphic design and UI/UX design.
George Chauvin (current Ferrisburgh resident): former boss/mentor at Allscripts, where I spent four years working on UI/UX design in the field of healthcare IT.
How my Vermont roots have influenced who I am today:Having lived in both Montana and upstate New York, I’ve learned to truly appreciate the natural, unpopulated beauty and tranquility of Vermont. Being able to spend time in the mountains or at the lake, or both in the same day, is a luxury that I no longer take for granted.
My memories of high school:High Points: Being involved in multiple extracurriculars while enrolled in challenging course loads and feeling like I was managing everything really well and truly thriving. 
Low Points: Being involved in multiple extracurriculars while enrolled in challenging course loads, and feeling like I was NOT managing anything very well and truly stressed. Ha!
My advice for this year’s crop of graduating seniors: High school is turbulent. Do your best. You’ve learned more than you think you have and you’re probably far more prepared for the next step than you feel. I remember when I was interviewed for my “Student of the Week” article and one of the questions was something along the lines of “where do you see yourself in the future?” My answer was “I’m not sure, but I just hope that I’m successful and happy.” That stuck with me. I think it’s important to have an ambiguous guiding principle like that, because success and happiness is all relative and if I had held myself to more detailed goals I’d probably be feeling a lot less happy and successful right now. 
Isabelle Langrock, Vergennes Union High School, 2011
Hometown, current residence, age: I grew up in North Ferrisburgh and currently live in Philadelphia. I’m 26 years old.
Family: My parents, Fritz and Adela Langrock, still live in Ferrisburgh and my brother, Sam, lives and works in Boston.
What I am up to: I’m a doctoral student and research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication. I’ve just finished up my first year of graduate school and will be spending the summer doing research in Denmark and Germany.
How I got to where I am now: I graduated from the University of Chicago in 2015, majoring in the History and Philosophy of Science. This rather unconventional major provided a great foundation in interdisciplinary work as I had to take courses in physics and math, but also history and anthropology. Not only is this important for my current research, but being accustomed to synthesizing and engaging with a variety of perspectives also proved valuable during my three years at Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit dedicated to closing the gender gap in the tech sector. Girls Who Code introduced me to a whole range of social and cultural issues happening on and because of the internet that I now research full-time.
Adults to whom I can attribute my current success:There are so many people that have served as mentors, both inside and outside of academia, but my parents and grandparents have always been the most supportive of my dreams and pursuits. I wouldn’t be where I am without their support. 
How my Vermont roots have influenced who I am today:Since high school, I’ve lived in three of the biggest cities in the U.S., but I still call Vermont home! While I now research collaboration and community in the context of the internet, growing up in Vermont was my first exposure to these values and remains a major influence on why I think they are important to study.
My memories of high school:Having committed myself to a PhD, my nerdiness is well-proclaimed so I have to reveal that I remember most fondly my AP Calculus class. We had a lot of fun while learning a lot of math, a spirit that I’ve tried to keep with me throughout my math and physics classes in college and while learning computational methods during grad school. I also treasure memories of participating in the annual musical with so many of my friends. As for low points, there are several regrettable fashion choices from my high school years…
My advice for this year’s crop of graduating seniors: Read a lot and definitely learn to code!
Stephen Peters-Collaer, Middlebury Union High School, 2012
Hometown, current residence, age: Grew up in Middlebury, Current resident of Berkeley California, 25 years old
Family: My sister Lauren Peters-Collaer (MUHS class of ’07) is a graphic designer in New York City.
What I am up to: I currently help to manage a lab at University of California at Berkeley that focuses on improving pest management in almond and walnut orchards. We run studies in the lab and field aimed at making the control of insect pests safer, cheaper and more effective for farmers. I plan to apply to graduate school in the fall to study how climate change is impacting forest ecosystems across the United States.
How I got to where I am now: I went to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and double majored in Biology and French. I worked for the National Forest Service in Utah last year, a position that helped to underscore my desire to work outside, researching how our forests, fields and mountains are responding to a changing world.
Adults to whom I can attribute my current success:Jay Harrington at MUHS was an early role model for me. Jay was my math teacher for several semesters, but also led a group of us in the yearly Aiken Engineering challenges at UVM. We worked on these projects after school and during lunch, and during this time out of the classroom I got to know Jay as more than just a teacher at the front of the classroom. His passion for his subject combined with his practical take on problem solving gave me an insight into how to deal with the projects and challenges I’ve faced since high school. Jay was always fun to spend time with and talk to about everything from books to backpacking.
How my Vermont roots have influenced who I am today:Growing up hiking in the Green Mountains and exploring the woods of Chipman Hill helped to instill in me an appreciation for nature and plant biology. Without this easy access to natural areas I would not have studied biology in college or spent the past few years studying and working with plants, both in forests and almond orchards.
My memories of high school:Lunchtime games of Wallball with Dennis Schut, Graham Barlow, Ethan Roy and Addison Tate (who I still hang out with nearly every week in the San Francisco Bay Area).
My advice for this year’s crop of graduating seniors: Learn to cook. It’s cheap, (relatively) healthy, and you can add as much cheese as you want!
Hannah Rickner, Mount Abraham Union High School, 2010
Hometown, current residence, age: Grew up in Monkton, Vt.; current town of residence is Boston, Mass. Age: 26.
Family: Active members of the Five Town community, mother Deb Mager Rickner and father Mark Rickner.
Fellow Mt. Abraham Union High School graduates, sister Julie Rickner and brother Eli Rickner.
What I am up to: Currently a graduate student in the Cell and Molecular Biology Ph.D. program at Boston University, performing research on neurodegenerative disease modeling. 
How I got to where I am now: Mt. Abraham Union High School provided me the opportunity that inspired me to pursue a career in the sciences, performing field work with EPSCoR’s Research on Adaption to Climate Change program. This work in characterizing macroinvertebrate populations in the Lake Champlain watershed carried over into my time as an undergraduate at the University of Vermont’s Honors College from which graduated with a B.A. in Biology with a concentration in neurobiology. During that time I also began working with three other research labs, including the lab in which I would perform my undergraduate thesis research on purinergic signaling receptors in the vomeronasal organ. This work, alongside my training in cell culture at the state of Vermont’s Fish Health Laboratory where I worked part time, led me to a research technician position at Boston Children’s Hospital. There I worked with the Harvard Digestive Disease Center’s organoid core, dedicated to three-dimensional gastrointestinal modeling. My passion for research has only continued to grow with these experiences, and has led me to the Ph.D. program at Boston University where I now focus on modeling neurodegenerative diseases.
Adults to whom I can attribute my current success:The inspiring women mentors I have been fortunate enough to work with in laboratories with, including Mrs. Shelley Snyder at Mt. Abe, Dr. Rona Delay at the University of Vermont, Mrs. Barbara Johnston at the State of Vermont, Dr. Camilla Richmond at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Christine Cheng at Boston University.
How my Vermont roots have influenced who I am today:My love for the sciences developed directly from the natural sciences that surrounded me in Vermont. There is a wonderful community of scientists dedicated to understanding and preserving Vermont’s natural wonders, and they showed me how important it is to ask the right questions and work hard to find the answers.
My memories of high school:The high point would be my participation in all the extracurriculars Mt. Abe offered, including the EPSCoR research program and the fall musical. They showed me that there are never-ending opportunities right in front of your nose, if you just look for them. The low point would be the number of scars on the back of my hand from those vicious Mt. Abe lockers.
My advice for this year’s crop of graduating seniors: Nobody can learn or live for you. Take responsibility for your own life. Don’t panic. 
Ethan Roy, Middlebury Union High School, 2011
Hometown, current residence, age: I guess I grew up in Haddam, Conn., but lived in Middlebury during my time at MUHS. I’m currently living in Middlebury, 26 years old.
Family: I’d like to give a shoutout to my parents, Michael Roy and Lisa Gates; siblings, Anna and Julian; grandmother Barbara Charlamb; and Marge the dog.
What I am up to: I’m currently in transition. I recently finished up a stint serving in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica and am heading to Palo Alto, Calif., to pursue graduate studies in educational neuroscience/educational technology at Stanford University.
How I got to where I am now: After MUHS, I attended Middlebury College where I majored in neuroscience and minored in computer science. Right after graduating from Middlebury College, I moved to Spain for a year to teach English. Though my original goal was to live abroad for a year and practice my Spanish, I became interested in education while working in schools in Spain. This interest in education led to a position helping out in middle school math and Language Arts classes at the Grand Isle School in Vermont and then nearly two years of serving as a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica. 
Adults to whom I can attribute my current success:I have to give a huge thank you to my parents. Even though it was not always well received, without their support, advice, patience and infinite wisdom, I would not have gone on the adventures I went on nor would I be in the position I am today.
I’d also like to say thanks to Frankie Dunleavy, whose French 4 class showed me that learning another language is possible. Without her enthusiasm for language, I doubt that I would have pursued learning Spanish in college, let alone living abroad in Spanish-speaking countries.
How my Vermont roots have influenced who I am today:Having grown up in Connecticut I’m not sure I’m allowed to say I have Vermont roots, but I guess I’d say I have a Vermont stem. My time in Vermont, though, has really left me with a great appreciation for the outdoors, indoor turf fields (in the winter), locally sourced food, and those wonderful moments in May/June when you can first sit outside in the sun and not feel cold.
My memories of high school:To be honest, the low point of my high school career was probably moving to Vermont. My family had just moved to Ohio the year before and I was not thrilled with the prospects of being the new kid at school two years in a row. I’d say the high point of my high school years was finding a group of friends with whom I could play soccer or play music or just generally be silly. Either that or playing on the MUHS 2011 WallBall squad.
My advice for this year’s crop of graduating seniors: I may not be the most qualified person to be giving out advice. But if I had to suggest one thing, it would be don’t stop learning. It doesn’t have to be formal, in a classroom learning but always be working on learning something new, whether it be a skill, an instrument, a language, a sport, a recipe, anything really. Best of luck to all of you with all your endeavors. Congrats!
Emily Sundstrom, Mount Abraham Union High School, 2011
Hometown, current residence, age: I grew up in New Haven. I am now 25 years old and reside in Winooski.
Family: I am so lucky to have my whole family living in Vermont for the first time in several years. I enjoy having my siblings Laura and Michael living close enough that we can meet up for backcountry skiing or rock climbing dates. Also to have my parents, Linda and Gary Sundstrom, living close enough for bike rides, dinner dates and to help me when my car breaks down. My amazing boyfriend, Paco Sandoval, and I live in Winooski with our pup, Osa.
What I am up to: I just moved back home from Colorado to work as a Program Director at Zeno Mountain Farm in Lincoln. The mission of Zeno is to build lifelong community within marginalized populations. The populations we currently serve are: disability, chronic illness, cancer survivors and veterans. I help to organize and run all of these retreats. We just recently finished our first feature length movie, which is a high school musical, shot in Mount Abe, which will be coming out in September. Zeno envisions a world with greater understanding and inclusion.
How I got to where I am now: After graduating high school I went to Saint Michael’s College to study Elementary Education. I was very inspired by teachers like Caroline Patrie and Willie Lee who had a real passion for their subject matter and spread that infectious enthusiasm onto their students. I also valued and was inspired by my teachers’ relationships they fostered with students. While student teaching at the Integrated Arts Academy in Burlington, teachers like Autumn Bangoura and Ada Leaphart taught me the power of the arts in curriculum. I went back to school and got my Art Education degree and moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., to teach Elementary Art. Through all of these years I continued using all of my vacation time to come to Zeno Mountain Farm and spend time with my friends. I finally decided to stop fitting Zeno in around work and make it my full-time gig.
Adults to whom I can attribute my current success:I couldn’t possibly thank the entire village who helped get me to where I am today. But I would especially like to thank my parents, Gary and Linda, for keeping me grounded while still supporting my unorthodox plans. I would also thank the Halby’s, directors of Zeno, for their mentorship and for building this community where I’ve grown so much.
How my Vermont roots have influenced who I am today:My Vermont roots taught me a lot about the joys of a slower pace of life, the joys of having a familiar face everywhere you go and not to take nice weather for granted when it comes around. Most of all I learned that you can surround yourself with aesthetic beauty all over the world, but being surrounded by genuine people is what truly makes Vermont special. I just moved back to Vermont because I missed the culture and wanted to be closer to my family. I even convinced my partner, Paco, to move here with me and I think he is falling in love with Vermont’s culture and community, too.
My memories of high school:My biggest hurdles were mental health related, but my family and friends, musical theater, and sports helped me through the tougher years. I know many high school students have similar experiences during these formative years. I hope today’s students feel more comfortable talking about and seeking help during these challenges. The Mount Abe Musicals have always been the highlight of my high school experience looking back. I gained a lot of confidence through this program and met great friends through the process of working hard to make something we could be proud of. The volunteers who support this program give so much and we can’t thank you enough.
My advice for this year’s crop of graduating seniors: I would tell this year’s graduating seniors to be open. It’s easy to fall into planning how you want your life to look, but don’t overthink it. You can’t anticipate the twists and turns that will lead you to where you’ll end up. So enjoy the process, you still won’t know where you’re headed when you’re 25.
Gena Zollman, Otter Valley Union High School, 2008
Hometown, current residence, age: I grew up in Brandon and now live in Burlington. I’m 28 years old.
Family: Parents Rob & Alyssa Zollman. Siblings Marley & Sam also live in Burlington.
What I am up to: I graduated from UVM’s Family Nurse Practitioner program with a doctorate in nursing practice this May! Most recently, I’ve been working as an RN at the Chittenden Clinic, which provides medication-assisted treatment for individuals with opioid use disorder.
How I got to where I am now: I attended UVM, majored in Psychology and worked as a medical assistant in women’s health before making the decision to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner. 
Adults to whom I can attribute my current success:Too many to name! I’ve been incredibly lucky to find several mentors throughout college and now in my professional career and am certain I would not be where I am without their influence. 
How my Vermont roots have influenced who I am today:Vermonters are gifted at cultivating community and taking care of each other. As a health care provider, I strive to take care of my patients as if they’re neighbors, with the compassion and respect they deserve. I am particularly dedicated to working with individuals impacted by opioid use. While this struggle is not unique to Vermont, witnessing addiction within my community has been a driving force in my work. 
My memories of high school:Any minute I spent within OV’s Theater and Music Department was an absolute highlight. It was the first place I felt like I could be myself, in whatever weird, quirky way I wanted. Low point was definitely the day I dressed up like a cowboy thinking that my friends were on the same page … they weren’t, and cowboy boots are very loud and noticeable in a hallway.
My advice for this year’s crop of graduating seniors: Keep an eye out for people doing things that inspire you. When you find them, be curious and ask them (lots of) questions! It’s life changing. 
Sam Zollman, Otter Valley Union High School, 2011
Hometown, current residence, age: I grew up in Brandon, and currently live in Burlington, Vt. I am 26.
Family: My parents are Alyssa and Robert Zollman, and my sisters are Gena and Marley Zollman. 
What I am up to: I am running a clothing label called Slow Process where I design, cut, and sew button-down shirts, denim jackets, and just about every other garment I sell. I also work as a server at Honey Road in Burlington.
How I got to where I am now: If you’d asked me this question one year ago, my answer would be completely different. I went to Tufts University outside of Boston after graduating, where I created my own major. It was a combination of Child Development, Environmental Studies and Communications — essentially I studied how to teach children about climate change through media — and I loved the experience. After graduating, I decided against a job in children’s media to instead take a year to teach English in Madrid. That year turned out to be incredibly emotionally challenging, and led me to the epiphany that I was an artist but I didn’t yet have a medium in which I expressed myself. I remember sitting in my apartment thinking about what my art could be, and realizing how much I’ve always liked clothes. I YouTubed “How to Make a Button down Shirt,” watched a time lapse video (!), and decided it didn’t look that hard (which is not exactly true, if you can believe it).
When I returned to the states, I reached out to Maria Ammatuna (who owned Creative Fiber Design in Brandon) to see if she could give me some sewing lessons. That summer she helped me work my way up to a button down shirt before I moved back to Boston to take a job at a great children’s educational media studio. I spent about two years working as a Production Assistant, but all the while coming back home after work to sew in my apartment. I decided I wanted to create my first collection, and within a year, made 10 shirts and jackets that I felt actually expressed who I wanted to be as an artist/designer. I called my project Slow Process, had a debut show, then promptly quit my job in Boston, and moved back to Vermont to live with my girlfriend. And here we are! 
Adults to whom I can attribute my current success: There are many! Maria for helping me get started, my parents for trusting that I know myself the best and for encouraging me to pursue whatever I’m passionate about, my college advisor Dr. Julie Dobrow, my girlfriend Noura who helps me look at myself and my work with greater clarity and direction.
How my Vermont roots have influenced who I am today: Vermonters cherish community and value hard work. As an artist and one-man business, I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t sought out a community of friends and artists who share their wisdom and encourage one another. In Vermont, you also have to work hard to survive, and Vermonters appreciate the trades in a way most other places don’t anymore. I’ve had good models of hard working people and artists growing up here.
My memories of high school:High point: Every Walking Stick Theatre production.
Low point: Constantly comparing my academic performance to my peers, and feeling inferior. It’s never a competition. 
My advice for this year’s crop of graduating seniors: Look beyond school for the people and things that make you happy. Make time for them. 

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