Alli Lewis '13, Environmental Science

NVU Connections and Experience Opened Up Her Career Options  

For each position Alli Compagna Lewis ’13 has held since she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, she credits NVU-Johnson with helping her gain the hands-on experience and connections to land the job.

A job offer in her field shortly before she graduated came from talking with a businessman she met at Dinner with the Boss, a networking event on campus where students network with successful alumni and local business representatives. She accepted the offer and worked as an environmental scientist right after college, overseeing hazardous waste removal for a waste management company.

Now at Dinner with the Boss events, Alli represents her current employer — the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) — and talks with students about opportunities there. 

She Built a Variety of In-Demand Skills at NVU

In summer internships and later as a research assistant to an NVU-Johnson professor, Alli collected samples from the Lamoille River and studied buffers along streams to measure water quality. The work “gave me opportunities to practice things that were very applicable to the jobs I was looking for,” she says.

That experience eventually led her to a position after college as an agricultural resource specialist with the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts. “That research was definitely a huge factor in me getting the job,” says, Alli, a Moretown resident who received the 2018 Northern Vermont University-Johnson Rising Star Alumni Award, given to graduates of the past 10 years who are excelling in their field.

Now in the watershed management division at the DEC, Alli manages state and federal grants to improve water quality in Vermont. “Working with Vermont partners in the field in my research and internships before I graduated helped me form professional relationships with people I would eventually get a job with,” she says.

Faculty Helped Align Her Degree and Interests 

In addition to the career-boosting, real-world experience Alli gained at NVU-Johnson, a valuable part of her education was the supportive faculty and staff. “I felt really fortunate to be able to tailor my classes to what I needed after graduation,” Alli says. “At Johnson, if you pursue it, the staff and faculty are more than willing to do everything they can to support you.”

After she graduated, Alli felt just as much support when she was a student in NVU-Johnson’s wellness and alternative medicine (WAM) bachelor’s program, which she finished in 2017. While she worked full time, she took all of her WAM classes remotely through NVU Online. With faculty approval, she did an apprenticeship in shamanic and indigenous healing with an off-campus teacher.

She Formed Bonds with Students in Online Classes

“A lot of students in the WAM program were super engaged, and I made connections with them. I got just as much out of those classes as if they’d been in person,” Alli says. “I was able to steer the degree in the direction I wanted to” through the apprenticeship. 

Motivation to pursue a WAM degree came from her home-based business, Breathing Meadow Wellness, which offers alternative healing practices. Alli and her husband, Trevor — who also earned an environmental science degree from NVU-Johnson — plan to build a greenhouse on their property to grow medicinal herbs to sell.

Powered by NVU-Johnson Degrees, She Promotes a Healthy World

Alli’s NVU-Johnson degrees have allowed her to pursue her passions for healthy living and a healthy environment.

In her position at the DEC, she has an important role in preserving natural resources. “What’s most rewarding is protecting and improving beautiful places in Vermont for us and future generations to enjoy. My favorite projects revolve around wetland restoration and conservation. That feels extremely powerful to me,” says Alli.

“Those natural places are so valuable to so many people on so many levels,” she says. “That’s another meaningful piece of what I do.”