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For business and pleasure?

For business and pleasure?

Taryn Mitchell '25 March 09, 2022

Breaking the mold of the traditional 9-to-5, Stephanie Vermillion ’11 has turned the great outdoors into a great career. 

Vermillion started out in public relations, but in 2018 tragedy struck her family with the unexpected passing of her father, Donald Vermillion, former UD professor in the Fitz Center for Leadership. She decided to quit her career in PR to pursue a career in travel writing and photography.

"I realized how short life is and decided to just go for it," she said.

Shortly afterward, her now husband, Frank Forde, proposed at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. It was in this moment that she knew she had made the right decision, to make traveling her full-time job.

“I wanted to be able to travel before I got too old to climb mountains,” she said.

Vermillion, now a professional travel journalist and photographer, has worked with BBC, Travel and Leisure, National Geographic, and other publications. She said she is dedicated to bringing attention to less frequently-traveled places and the cultures of the people living in them.

Vermillion graduated from UD with a bachelor's degree in journalism and Boston College with her master’s in public relations. After a few years in traditional PR, she realized she was looking for something more. She said she first fell in love with travel during the study abroad program at UD.  

Vermillion traveled to Rome her sophomore year and Dublin her junior year, and she honed her journalism skills as a four-year member of Flyer News, the UD student newspaper. While she enjoyed photography outside of the classroom, she didn’t start taking it seriously until she entered a photography contest her senior year with pictures of her trip to Morocco — and won.

She had dabbled in travel writing and photography while pursuing her PR career, but it wasn’t until October 2018, in the life-changing moment when Forde proposed, that a lightning bulb finally went off for her.

“This was the turning point. I wanted to work for myself and experience new things,” Vermillion said. 

In 2021, Vermillion began writing a piece for the BBC about how Pacific Islanders crafted and maintained their art of wayfinding. She said she loved how deeply she was able to immerse herself in the culture and traditions of the people she was writing about. Vermillion lauds working on this article as her second turning point. She realized she loved telling the stories of peoples and cultures and bringing awareness to their beauty instead of just focusing on nature. 

Vermillion said she strives to bring attention not only to the sights that she sees but also to the people living there. She believes that the cultures of the places she visits are just as beautiful as the sights.

Vermillion’s passions in her work lie in many areas, specifically in drawing attention to over-tourism. She said that, instead of the traditional, overcrowded vacation spots, she encourages people to visit the places less traveled. It’s also important, she said, to buy locally when traveling. 

“Many local people rely on tourism [for income],” she said. “We should focus on finding a local tour guide, rather than an overseas company.” 

While Vermillion does spend much of her time traveling out of the country, she said she is always eager to return to her home near the Great Lakes to enjoy the beauty in her own backyard. 


Photos courtesy of Stephanie Vermillion.

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