Tiffany Herman’s decision to attend the University of Vermont forced her to leave her comfort zone in Harlem, New York. Herman first learned about UVM as a CFES scholar at Wadleigh Secondary School. She recalls the moment when Rick Dalton, the founder and CEO of CFES Brilliant Pathways, encouraged her to apply to UVM. “I was scared because Vermont seemed so far away, but I trusted that Rick had my best interest in mind. He knew a world that I wasn’t familiar with yet,” she explains.

Herman’s first two years at UVM were challenging. During a time when only 4% of UVM’s student population was students of color, she experienced culture shock and feelings of not belonging. She also felt academically unprepared in her college level courses. “Sometimes I just wanted to give up. I would call home crying every day, but my mom wouldn’t let me,” she says. Herman credits CFES’ “robust preparation” with shaping the perseverance and leadership skills that helped her navigate college life. “CFES helped us become leaders in high school. We hosted college information and financial aid sessions for parents and facilitated leadership summits for our peers. I had to apply the skills I learned as a scholar later in life,” Herman shares.

“Growth happens outside of your comfort zone.”

Herman graduated from UVM with a degree in business administration and a concentration in human resources alongside her husband, Gregory Herman, also a CFES alumnus from Wadleigh and a UVM graduate. She is the Senior Human Resources Manager at a domestic violence agency in New York City. Human resources allows Herman to impact people’s lives by investing in their professional development. “I knew I wanted to go into HR when I was in college, but I didn’t know how. Throughout my career, I’ve had to ask myself what’s my end goal and how do I get there?”

Herman encourages high school and college students to be strategic and informed as they visualize their future and set goals, especially during a time when information is so accessible. “Figure out your passion, understand the job market, and make a plan for how you can align your passions with the market to build a successful career,” she says. She ends with “Do your research, read, and get involved to build the skills you need.”