Cooking Up A Sustainable Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Day is only two weeks away; a day where families all over the U.S. celebrate all that there is to be thankful for by having a nourishing Thanksgiving feast. Although some families have their own traditions, we all know the staples of this yearly event: dishes like mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and of course, turkey.

If you have you ever thought about the impact of these millions of turkey dinners on the environment, you would be right to feel concerned. Like any other day of the year, a massive amount of carbon is used to transport food to your grocery store from factory farms. At those farms, millions of acres of land are used to raise beef, chicken and turkey. These millions of acres include not only the land where the animals graze, but also the land used to grow food to feed to our livestock. Additionally, billions of gallons of water are used to raise these animals.

Thanksgiving is a meal on a large enough scale that significant planning is required for most families. If you are already putting extra effort into this meal, why not also incorporate sustainability into your meals? There are many things you can do Continue reading

Maintaining Your Artistic Passions at UConn

My latest painting
My latest painting

As a child, I had a hyperactive imagination. Maybe it was because I was always around my mischievous neighborhood friends, running around and lighting piles of leaves on fire, or maybe it was because I played with dinosaur and Pokémon toys instead of Barbies like most other girls my age. What I do know is that ever since my mother taught me how to hold a pencil when I was two, I have always loved the arts – it was a way for me to channel my ideas. I remember spending hours upon hours sprawled on the carpeted floor with my bucket of crayons, drawing epic battles between griffins and giant lizards and every fantasy scenario that I could imagine.

Music is also another one of my greatest passions. I always keep it playing in the background no matter what I’m doing – homework, striding across campus to class, or just getting ready for the day. Depending on my mood, my music taste fluctuates. When I want to feel energetic, I listen to heavy metal and techno, and if I want a relaxing environment, I go for classical and musical soundtracks. I also learned to play piano on my own after many years of lessons, learning new songs in my free time. I tend to play classical pieces with a sad tones like Chopin’s nocturnes, because Continue reading

Are You Ready for CAHNR Career Night 2016?

The upcoming CAHNR Career Night scheduled for Wednesday November 2nd from 5:30-7:30 PM in Wilbur Cross North and South Reading Rooms is a valuable opportunity for all students – whether you’re a freshman looking to decide on a major, a sophomore or junior seeking an internship or a graduate school program, or a senior looking for a post-graduate career – the Career Night event is a moment for all students in any part of their college experience to capitalize on. One key item for students to keep in mind as they prepare for and then attend the Career Night program includes learning how to identify and then pursue the “gap” in the recruiting process as practiced by many employers at most career fairs.

What do I mean by “gap”? At most career fairs tabling organizations indicate their preferences for would-be recruits based on academic major often leading many students to incorrectly conclude the firm’s representative is not interested in talking about other career paths. However, in some instances, those employers also have other lines of business and job functions for which they are not expressly recruiting for at the Career Night program, but in which you have a strong interest in pursuing as it aligns with your career goals, and this is where some good old-fashioned research, reconnaissance, and preparation on your part come into play to find the “gaps.” By familiarizing yourself with the employers that will be attending the Career Fair, you can then go to the website and LinkedIn page of a few of those firms that strike your interest to see if they have a line a business that might have the need for someone with your skills, abilities and interests. You can then create Continue reading

My Journey as an Animal Science Major

Kelly and a sheepKelly and a horseComing to UConn has been one of the greatest experiences in my life. Animal science has meant the world to me since I was 5 years old so when I got accepted into UConn I was very excited. However, as a young freshman I did not know exactly what this major was all about. I knew I was going to be learning about animals, anatomy, nutrition, etc. but I never knew that I was going to have the opportunity to start hands-on experience right away.

When I started my journey in the Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture two years ago, I had the opportunity to work a lot with animals through some independent studies. My freshman year, I also took an intro to ANSC course where I had to pick an animal to train. I was assigned a horse, which I thought would be amazing since I have never worked with horses before so I thought it would be a great opportunity to start learning about horses my first semester in college.

My first day training my horse, Tamale, was fun. I remember I groomed her that day, but when I was about to leave she stepped on my toe and it was one of the most painful things in the world. I couldn’t walk or stand on that toe for a while. At the time I did not know how to take the bus so I walked to all my classes on crutches. However, if it wasn’t for my little accident with the horse, I would not have been reassigned to a chicken, where I won first place in the Poultry advance category at Little I. My sophomore year, I had another unfortunate experience while Continue reading

Alternatives to Studying Abroad

Zion National Park, Utah
Zion National Park, Utah

Many of us have heard the claim that studying abroad will make your college experience; it’s an opportunity that will shape the rest of your college career and the rest of your life. But for some students, studying abroad isn’t an option, and that can be due to any number of reasons. Some students are transfer students and may be unable to fit studying abroad into their schedule, or maybe their destination of choice doesn’t have the courses they need for that specific semester, or maybe they just don’t want to – the list goes on. Students facing these types of problems may feel left out, or that all the time and work they put into their academic career might not mean as much because they were unable to check the “study abroad” box that many put on their college to-do lists.

As a transfer student, I have experienced many of the above-mentioned barriers that would prevent me from studying abroad if that were a path I wanted to take. To cope with missing out on the possible character building and cultural education that will be applicable to my career, I chose to make traveling within the United States a goal of mine, and I would recommend this to those in a similar situation. Many people may put the United States into a tiny box, thinking that as a country we have our values and norms and characteristics that are specific to us as Americans when compared to those from other countries. And while those things are true, different parts of the United States are unique as well, with their own set of ideals, norms and culture. Exploring the United States, and in my situation specifically, visiting as many National Parks as possible, has exposed me to the diversity the United States has to offer. But that is not the only way – experiencing the diversity of the United States can be done in a many ways, including Continue reading

Making the World a More Compassionate Place, One Product at a Time

Me and one of the eight puppies that my dog had last May. He loves Horsebarn Hill and UConn!
Me and one of the eight puppies that my dog had last May. He loves Horsebarn Hill and UConn!

For many people, going to college is their first taste of an adult life. You have to work around your own schedule, make your own meals, and you can’t pile up your laundry until your mom ends up eventually doing it. In the midst of all of these daily activities, in combination with balancing school, health and a social life, it is hard to find time to invest in other activities, let alone something as basic as shopping for makeup and beauty products. However, what many people do not realize is that their choices at the store actually affect much more than just their lives. Being aware of the products that you are buying and using could save hundreds of animal’s lives.

As an avid animal lover, I always feel a huge amount of remorse any time I accidentally step on my cat’s tail or leave my dog home alone for more than a couple hours—an emotion that I know many other individuals can relate to as well. Nobody I know would ever want to purposely hurt a little rabbit or any other animal. Despite this, millions of mice, rodents, dog, cats, and farm animals are mistreated and actually killed each year due to brand testing that is done behind closed doors, funded by purchases made by all of us in our day to day life. Although this is hard to hear and a problem which is impossible to eradicate all at once, very small lifestyle changes can actually have a huge impact on Continue reading

“Nobody Knows Where They Might End Up…”

If you’re as much of a Grey’s Anatomy fan as I am, I’m sure you’ll recognize the title words of this post. Nobody knows where they might end up – I believe this can resonate with people of any age group, but particularly college students. College can be one of the most exciting, challenging, and stressful times in one’s life. The pressure to succeed and be on the “right” path can be overbearing. We may make mistakes and find our lives to be totally different from what we planned or expected.

Katie and her Chicken
Katie training her chicken for Little I

So sit down, take a few deep breaths, and listen to me when I say that everything is going to be okay. It is more than acceptable for your plans for your time in college to not turn out as you had anticipated.

Let me tell you a bit about myself. I have always wanted to be a veterinarian, and a variety of internships and volunteer experiences throughout high school to the present have solidified my desire to follow that career path. I began my freshman year at UConn as a dedicated student ready to take on any challenge – I was my high school class salutatorian, had a strong work ethic, and was totally sure nothing was going to get in the way of graduating early and attending veterinary school. As I continued through college, I started losing motivation and began more tangibly struggling with mental illness. Time flew by and before I knew it I was placed on academic probation in the Spring of 2015. I felt lost and devastated; I feared that I had completely jeopardized my future career and goals. Fast-forward to the present: I made the Dean’s List in the Fall 2015 semester, I retook some classes to improve my GPA, and I have postponed my veterinary school applications until the next cycle. As a senior graduating in December, these and other experiences along with the support of my advisors, professors, and friends have truly shown me that it is okay to be on a different path than your original intentions, as long as Continue reading

Start-Up Your Research Career

The summer 2016 interns and their mentors on presentation day.
The summer 2016 interns and their mentors on presentation day.

Did you ever have a product idea or insight that never got beyond the imagination stage? Many people do, but few people have experience with entrepreneurial startup companies that take the big leaps necessary to develop ideas into new services or technologies that create a market or meet customer needs. This may seem like a daunting idea to start your own company, but UConn has developed the Technology Incubation Program which provides facilities and services to support start-up companies and to promote technology development in the state of Connecticut. There are facilities at the UConn Storrs, Farmington, and Avery Point campuses which all provide laboratory and office space, access to instruments and equipment, and business and financial planning to startup companies.

In the laboratory checking for viability and counting cells on the microscope.
In the laboratory checking for viability and counting cells on the microscope.

Although you may not be ready to jump in and start your own company, you can still learn what it’s like to work for a start-up through the UConn-TIP Bioscience, Entrepreneurship & STEM Internship Program. This program was designed to pair undergraduate, graduate, and recent graduate students in the STEM field with one of the start-up companies in the UConn TIP program. During the ten week internship, the student will work on a project created by their sponsoring TIP mentor, and will attend a variety of workshops focused on career development, networking, preparing for grad/med school, and specific technology based talks.

This past summer, I was paired with a company called ImStem Biotechnology as a TIP intern at the Farmington UConn Health campus. ImStem aims to provide a cell therapy product using human pluripotent stem cells in order to treat a variety of human autoimmune disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. My specific project was to culture the stem cell product with human immune cells from various donors to detect for any activation of the immune cells. This project was important for the company because in order to move a drug onto the market, the FDA requires a series of safety studies to be performed to assure that the drug will not adversely affect the health of the patient. The data that I collected and analyzed was used in the proposal to the FDA for the continuation of ImStem’s drug development. At the end of the internship period, each student is required to Continue reading

An Open Letter to Freshmen

As a senior, I’ve begun to look back at my four years at this university. This is a place that I’ve learned to love and call home. As I reflect upon my experience here, I realized that I’ve accomplished most of what I wanted to while having the time of my life. That being said, I’ve learned quite a few lessons and some things I wish I had known earlier. So to the entire new freshmen class, this is my advice to you:

Yarden at a Club Gymnastics competition
Yarden at a Club Gymnastics competition

Take care of your health: This is bar none, the most important thing in my eyes. Sleep is excruciatingly important for memory, alertness, weight, and overall wellness. One night of poor sleep can lead to days of negative effects. Eat right: nutrients fuel our body, make sure you are eating well-balanced meals, and don’t skip meals. It is detrimental to your well-being and energy levels. Exercise: Find something that works for you. Not everyone wants the typical treadmill workout and that’s completely fine! Try a BodyWise class, or get involved in a fun club that involves physical activity. If none of that is for you, try to walk to class instead of taking the bus! Not only is it good for you, but it’s also beautiful and can be a huge stress reliever after a long day.

Get involved: Whether it’s a sorority or fraternity, a club sports team, an intramural team, an academic club, community service events, a religious group like Hillel or the campus church; it doesn’t matter- just get involved in something! It is a wonderful way to meet people and gives you things outside of class to be a part of.

Grades are important: Coming from high school into Continue reading

Balancing School and Work: A Few Tricks of the Trade

Christopher Wojick in Wilton, CT preparing for a day of work (September 2016)
Christopher Wojick in Wilton, CT preparing for a day of work (September 2016)

Every full-time college student is challenged with managing a busy schedule, but those who also have jobs frequently find maintaining just-the-right balance between work and studies downright stress provoking. As one of those students who’s always worked while going to school, I thought I’d share with you a few tricks of the trade that I developed after a fair amount of trail and error, and a botched assignment or two along the way.

First . . . Keep a calendar and update it constantly. Forgetting something as seemingly insignificant as a homework assignment can make or break a class grade. I’ve found that noting everything in my Apple calendar has kept my school and work life from colliding—and imploding—on more than one occasion.

I start the scheduling process on Day One of classes by inputting each major assignment listed on the syllabus into my calendar. That gives me a framework for what lies ahead and allows me to better plot out my semester.

Because the Apple calendar program automatically updates to your mobile devices, staying caught up is a breeze. Rather than digging through notebooks trying to remember when various assignments are due, I can just take out my phone or computer and click on the calendar app for a quick review of what’s in store. It’s as easy as that!

Second . . . Spend time mapping out your schedule for both work and school. Setting up a balanced Continue reading