Animal science major Rylyn Koger has spent time living in California as well as on her family’s small homestead farm in Texas. She has always wanted to be a practicing veterinarian, and now after a year at the College, she is also considering a vet specialty such as reproductive genetics. When asked what she considers a pressing issue for her generation, she says that fear surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has brought out some of the worst in people and that she is dismayed by a sense of selfishness and entitlement she often observes. Read more about her experiences as a UConn student.
What attracted you to the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources?
The incredible animal science/pre-vet program was what initially caught my eye, but after learning about the connections through all the professors, the research opportunities, the study abroad programs and the barns on campus, I knew that UConn’s CAHNR was exactly where I wanted to be.
Why did you choose your particular major?
Ever since I was a little girl, I have always wanted to be a veterinarian, so naturally I gravitated towards animal science and the pre-vet track. For me, there was never a question in my mind regarding my future career path, I just knew that being a veterinarian was exactly what I wanted to do with my life. Since becoming a CAHNR student, the classes and professors have just solidified my desire to reach that goal.
Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why?
My most memorable activity at UConn would be playing on the UConn varsity polo team! In high school, much to my jumping coach’s dismay, I left the jumping ring after eleven years to start playing polo. The first time I held a mallet, I was hooked. UConn has an amazing team and without my teammates helping me along the way, my freshmen year would have been much more difficult. The team has proven to be my family on campus.
Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies.
Two experiences that have enriched my studies would be all of the hands-on laboratories and Little I. By hands on labs, I do not just mean chemicals, Bunsen burners and beakers, I am talking about physically going to barns, looking at hay samples and using particle separators, seeing animals and how what we are learning relates to them. Overall, the labs were a super important aspect of my freshmen year animal science curriculum and often added more information to what had been learned in the lectures that same week. I appreciated the opportunity to apply what we had learned.
Secondly, the Little I Livestock Show was a part of my Intro to Animal Science class, my first semester freshman year. My dairy cow, Macey (tag #1414), was incredible and ended up winning champion in the dairy cow division. I had never worked with cows before Little I, so it was such an amazing opportunity to work with a cow multiple times a week for seven weeks. It also gave me a chance to meet other students in animal science and talk to them about their experiences as undergraduates, what their future plans were and just general advice.
What has been the biggest challenge in your UConn career?
CALC 2! I figured most people would say their biggest challenge would be being away from home, figuring out the bus schedule, etc., but nope, not for me. Calculus 2 was an extremely humbling experience to say the least, but I survived and came out successful on the other end! At the end of the day, a challenge, but nothing that could not be managed.
When do you expect to graduate? What then?
I expect to graduate in 2023, and after that hopefully vet school. After vet school? Not sure yet, but I am hoping that over the next seven years, I will be able to come up with more of a solid plan. One thing I can say for sure is I will be working with animals.
Has the COVID pandemic affected your studies or research?
The COVID pandemic has 100 percent affected my studies. I currently have one in-person lecture and one in-person lab; all of my other classes are either online or distance learning. Luckily, the two research projects I am on have been able to continue with minimal changes (masks, decreased numbers in the barns, etc.). It is odd to walk around campus with it being so empty. I am hoping this spring will bring some normality with it, but one can only hope with the always changing state of the world.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
I am an avid singer! I used to live in California, where I attended the Orange County School of the Arts for Classical voice, before moving to Dallas, TX, and joining the Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas and All State Choirs. I was a member of the UConn Choirs last year as well! I am also in the professional agricultural sorority on campus, Sigma Alpha! All of the girls in the sorority are incredibly friendly and helpful. It was super nice to find a group on campus filled with strong, intelligent and independent women who have similar goals and interests as I do.