CLAS Class of 2020: Caesar Valentin

"I think that a CLAS education was the only education that existed for me.”

Caesar, a 2020 CLAS graduate, smiles outside on a sunny day.

Caesar Valentin '20 (CLAS). (Courtesy photo.)

Caesar Valentin ’20 (CLAS)

Major: political science and philosophy
Minor: human rights
Hometown: Manchester, CT
Favorite place to study: His room, with some lo-fi beats playing. 

What was your first year at UConn like?

I started off as a chemistry major. I really thought I was going to be a doctor and then a week into the classes I was like: I do not want to do anything that involves me doing any more chemistry. So, I started to explore other options and I started to meet friends. They introduced me to different organizations, clubs, the cultural centers. Through all of that, I kind of started to find myself.

Why did you choose political science?

I started taking my political science classes and I was like, this is what I should have started with. If I was doing this, I would not have struggled my freshman year. I would have been happier. I noticed that philosophy is one the highest scoring majors on the LSAT. Then I studied philosophy and I loved it, and because I lucked out, I ended up getting a human rights minor by accident.

What has impacted your UConn experience the most?

The Puerto Rican and Latin American Cultural Center (PRLACC) has been one of the more influential parts of my UConn experience, but I think holistically everything affected my time here. Becoming involved in campus activism, speaking on behalf of the student body, making friends, playing video games all impacted me. So, PRLACC but also the friends that I made through PRLAC are what impacted me the most.

How has a CLAS education has benefited you?

My CLAS education has really let me be who I wanted to be. I could have studied engineering, I could have studied agriculture … but CLAS, because it is so broad, allowed me to dip my toes in the water where I felt like it would have worked, where I felt like I belonged. I have met so many professors along the way that have given me these opportunities. I have met so many students who show me different ways to think about things, who show me ways to get better at my classes but also ways to be a better person. I think that a CLAS education was the only education that existed for me.

How would you define a successful college education, and have you achieved that?

To me, there are two kinds of paths. There is the “you have always been academically successful and able to achieve whatever goal you wanted to” path. Then, there is the other path where you struggled and you had to learn how to build yourself up when you were down. That was my path. At the end of my freshman year, I had a 2.6 cumulative GPA. Right now I have a 3.4 cumulative GPA. It did not come easy, but I worked hard. So, because I was challenged, because I failed, because I grew from my failures, now I really can say that I am successful.

Do you have any plans for your future?

My plans are to return to UConn for graduate school. I am planning on getting a joint Master’s in Latino Studies and Public Administration. In doing so, I plan on working in the public sector afterward. I know I want to help people. If that takes me into government or if it takes me to politics, the skills that I have gained at UConn will aid me in my career.