DéVaughn Chollette '16

Once a Wildcat, Always a Wildcat
Devaughn Chollette

DéVaughn Chollette was a Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology major who graduated in 2016. He now works for Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine division of the pharmaceutical company Sanofi. He lives in Swiftwater, Pennsylvania.

Why would you, as a UNH graduate, recommend prospective students attend UNH?

THE FOOD!!!!! But aside from that, UNH is a welcoming community of friendly people with all different backgrounds. This stretches across the spectrum, from engaged and caring professors; to energized but also empathetic and sympathetic RAs and Hall Directors; to the wonderful, highly school spirited student body that I had a privilege to be apart of. Lastly UNH really embodies togetherness and family— once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat.

I was a member of UNH Athletics, the UNH Football team; speaking on behalf of them, and I am 100% certain the other athletic teams can attest to this, there is a strong sense of pride stepping on the field (or venue for respective sport) knowing that your family is there supporting you and hearing them cheer us on as we play. Whether you're a student playing in the game or a student supporting the game, when we win, we ALL win! And UNH wins often. Your first win will be choosing UNH as your new home.

What are you currently doing? How is your current position related to your undergraduate studies?

I am a cell biologist at the vaccine company Sanofi Pasteur in Swiftwater, PA. I am a part of the cell Team in the Global Clinical Immunology department. We are the first step in the process of making a vaccine, culturing cells that later help create vaccines for rabies, dengue, Zika, polio, clostridium difficile, diphtheria and flu.

I was a Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology major; however, I took the cell culture course taught by Dr. Foxall in the Department of Biological Sciences as my capstone, which prepared me greatly for the start of my career in science.

How did your UNH education prepare you for your career?

My UNH education has prepared me for my career and life in many ways -- from things I was told and to experiences I had, to the support and friendship of peers, coaches, and faculty. One aspect that directly stands out to me is my learned attention to detail—I will touch upon that in my answer to another question.

What professor most influenced you during your time here at UNH, and how has that made an impact on you?

Dr. Thomas Foxall is the professor that influenced me the most. I had him for cell culture and again for mammalian physiology. He was a tough professor and the material taught was even tougher, but he was always available for help if you had questions or needed further explanation. He helped me discover where my true interests are.

What course was the most difficult for you and why?

The most difficult courses for me were both Eukaryotic Cell Developmental Biology (better known as "Cell Hell"), taught by Dr. Walker and Dr. Fagerberg, and Cell Culture taught by Dr. Foxall. Cell Hell was tough. On the exam, we were questioned about the cell processes and in order to get full credit, we had to fully explain the process in question. Although that was challenging, I am glad I went through that “Hell” because it taught me attention to detail, which is necessary for life after school whether it be a career in science or not. I also learned that being sterile is a necessity when handling cells. It took time, and a few unfortunate contamination discoveries, but now in a new setting where everything needs to be sterile, I have had ample practice and a polished technique that allows me to produce in my career. Both were a struggle at the time but a struggle that I am very glad to have gone through.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?

For the 5 year mark, I have too many plans and backup plans that are contingent on results from the rest of this year and next year to fully answer the question. In 10 years though, as a result of those briefly aforementioned plans, I will fulfill my dream of making athletic and body building supplements. After being in the lab getting first-hand experience, I will start my own line of high quality supplements that contain no harmful additives and are qualified for use by the NCAA and other regulatory organizations.

What advice do you have for students in your major?

I have two things I’d like to pass along to students in my major and to all UNH students. The first is to embrace everything, the good and the bad. UNH is a fun place and before you know it you’ll be standing up with the rest of your class at graduation thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe I am already here.” Don’t let any time or experience go to waste—embrace it all.

Second is to stay persistent in your studies. Late nights studying, early morning classes, studying while friends may have plans, midterms, finals, etc., all can be stressful. Continue to stay the course, and if you make a mistake along the way, observe how you made it and change what's needed so you don’t make it again. UNH is filled with faculty and administration that want to see you succeed. You will make friends that will help and you have access to alumni (like me) who are here for you if you have questions. My email is: dvj26@wildcats.unh.edu. As I said before we are a family, once a Wildcat always a Wildcat. Remember, persist. Persist to get that grade you want. Persist towards any other goals. Persist to the most important goal you will all have—to graduate.

A quote that I read to remind me to persist: “The prizes of life are at the end of each journey, not near the beginning; and it is not given to me to know how many steps are necessary in order to reach my goal. Failure I may still encounter at the thousandth step, yet success hides behind the next bend in the road. Never will I know how close it lies unless I turn the corner. Always I will take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another... in truth, one step at a time is not too difficult. I WILL PERSIST UNTIL I SUCCEED.” -­‐Augustine Mandino II