Shayla Roman entered the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources’ Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture after majoring in animal science as a student at Worcester Technical High School. She plans to transfer to CAHNR’s four-year baccalaureate program next fall. She interned at Tufts at Tech Veterinary Clinic, shadowing students from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, and earned her veterinary assistant certification. As much as she loves animals, Roman plans to switch to human medicine, having worked at Boston Heart Diagnostics Lab during the COVID pandemic. She feels the most pressing issue of her generation is achieving racial and gender equality, saying that everyone has something to give and we can learn from one another. Read more about Roman’s experiences as a UConn student.
What attracted you to the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources?
I was born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts. I am definitely a city girl, but I was always fond of natural resources that sustained life for thousands of years before manufactured goods. I have learned to have great respect for the animals on this earth and the treasures they have provided us. Since I lived in the city, I never had the chance to fully delve into agriculture, health and natural resources, so I was excited to have the opportunity to learn about taking care of animals and maximizing the use of their resources.
Why did you choose your particular major?
I am an animal science major. I chose this because animal science is what I studied when I was in high school. I felt that it was a good transition, it couldn’t hurt to further my knowledge in an area I am passionate about. I had gained a lot of experience in small animal medicine. During high school, I worked with cats and dogs at Tufts at Tech, a community veterinary clinic. I also had gained experience in research medicine and took care of farm animals in a controlled setting, which was very different from what I learned at UConn.
Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why?
UConnSIS (Sisters Inspiring Sisters) has been the most memorable for me. I am now the secretary of the club. We are dedicated to providing a safe haven primarily for Black women as well as other women of color on campus. I grew up in a very diverse community, so naturally I was drawn to this group. Specifically, our chocolate-covered strawberry sale last year was definitely a memorable event. We stayed up till about 4:00 a.m. preparing the strawberries, the turn-out was amazing and all of our hard work paid off.
Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies.
The first experience that enriched my studies was Little I [Livestock Show]. I had to train a sheep for three months and then show it in the arena. My sheep’s name was Royalty, and she was the most difficult sheep Little I had in two years. She taught me patience. I had gone two weeks into the three-month period where Royalty wouldn’t even let me go near her. I had to gain her trust and prove to her I was there to help her and teach her. Little I is an experience I will never forget.
The second experience that enriched my studies was my first mechanics class, where I completely took apart an engine from nuts to bolts and built it back together to a successful repair. It worked!
What has been the biggest challenge in your UConn career?
The biggest challenge in my UConn career has been deciding whether or not I want to stay in animal science all four years or pursue another degree in human medicine. My ultimate goal is to become a pediatric surgeon.
When do you expect to graduate? What then?
I am expected to graduate from UConn in 2023, then I plan to pursue med school.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your studies or research?
Yes. COVID has definitely affected my studies. Animal science is an extremely hands on major, which I love, but was difficult to learn online. I learn best hands on. I spent the majority of my time on the farm for classes, so when we had to go home it was quite the adjustment and still is.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
I am Hispanic, more specifically Puerto Rican, and I am a first-generation college student. I am heavily faith based, and I give thanks to my parents who have sacrificed immensely to better my life and my education. I also worked at Boston Heart Laboratory for COVID-19, which has now been dedicated towards the pandemic.