From One Mountainous Region to Another


Julia Deziel (‘16) Photo credit: Julia Deziel

Aima Rashid, Writer

A person with passion and drive can go almost anywhere in life. In Julia Deziel’s (‘16) case, from Burlington, Vt. to Denver. After Deziel graduated from Bellows Free Academy, she was determined to major in neuroscience at UVM, and she did. Following her graduation from UVM in 2020, her enthusiasm for helping individuals overcome their addiction to medicine allowed her to work for AmeriCorps in Colorado.

“AmeriCorps is a nationwide service [program]. It’s kind of like the Peace Corps, but on a local level. One of my friends from UVM sent me the position because I’m super interested in addiction medicine; it’s called [the] Colorado Opioid Response Program [and it] is what I’m specifically working for. I never thought I would do an Americorps position because I didn’t realize that it could be medical or clinical,” Deziel said. 

As an intern with Americorps, Deziel directly works with Jefferson County Public Health’s Needle Access program. She describes the program’s direct availability at the county public health department to be “rare.” She is responsible for handing out clean syringes, safe sex and hygiene kits, wound care and snacks to walk-in individuals.

“I also do outreach with Jefferson County’s population of people experiencing homelessness, especially with COVID. I feel there are not a lot of resources for people who are homeless, so we go out in the community and cater to them,” Deziel said.

Currently, she is helping to write a grant for a harm-reduction vending machine. This harm-reduction dispensing unit will provide naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses and testing kits for fentanyl. This is a significant project because it would be Denver’s first machine of this kind.

“[In the next ten years], hopefully, I am a doctor by then, since I’m applying to medical school in June. I would love to be an addiction medicine doctor, specifically, but I think I’ll either go [in]to psychiatry or the family medicine route. I haven’t decided which way yet. In an ideal world, I will go to Boston University or Tufts University, or the University of Washington in Seattle, which has a really good primary care [program]. So, hopefully, I will be on one of the coasts,” Deziel said. 

At BFA, she remembers looking up to her Spanish teacher, James Thurber, who inspired her to take a year of Spanish at UVM, and her cross-country coach, Mike Mashtare, who she recently thought of while running a half marathon.

“I think I’m more open-minded because [I went] to a high school with such different variations and where people come from. I really appreciate rural communities because of that and rural health. I’ve definitely been inspired by the general St. Albans’s community to practice, and I don’t necessarily think I’ll do rural addiction medicine, but I definitely have an appreciation for small tight-knit communities,” Deziel said.