Caroline Selesky is a senior animal science major from Alabama who learned about UConn by crossing paths with department head Professor Steven Zinn in an airport. She involves herself in UConn Recreation as a fitness instructor and works at the department’s animal barns as a management intern. She also conducts research related to animal nutrition with Associate Professor Sarah Reed, which has been a transformative experience for her. Though Selesky is far from home, she has found comfort in all that UConn has to offer.
What attracted you to the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources?
I didn’t know much about UConn in general or UConn CAHNR until I met Dr. Steven Zinn, head of the Department of Animal Science, coincidentally in an airport the summer before my senior year of high school. He explained all the attractions of UConn, CAHNR and the prestige of the department, such as the rigor of the classes, the University’s commitment to the program and the success of the graduates. Nearly five years later, I could not be happier with my decision. The UConn animal science program is top in the nation, has given me the best opportunities and has introduced me to many possibilities in the field of animal science. The professors are amazing at active, hands-on research, with large undergraduate involvement.
Why did you choose your particular major?
Like most pre-veterinary students, I have wanted to be a veterinarian since I was a kid. I have found an additional interest in research and have learned about the impact of animal health on human health. My peers are driven and passionate, and class sizes are small enough to interact one-on-one with my professors. I have been able to take classes I am interested in and make the most of all my labs. Animal science is the best and I wouldn’t be happier in any other major.
Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why?
I was a UConn barn management intern where I worked for ten weeks doing daily care, feed management, breeding and assisting with veterinary visits. I have so much respect for all that the farm staff does to care for our animals and land. With this experience, I acquired a deeper understand of what I want out of my career and the interests I want to pursue.
Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies.
My honors thesis research under Dr. Sarah Reed is part of a multi-generational sheep research study where I am looking specifically at the effects of ewe maternal nutrition on the growth and development of their offspring. The study has allowed me to work with sheep, collecting my own data and assisting with other parts of the research.
I have also been a group fitness instructor at UConn Rec for three years and have absolutely loved it. It is a time for me to separate my mind from the rest of my life. I found value in taking care of my body, giving myself a break from studying and also being a leader.
What has been the biggest challenge in your UConn career?
The biggest challenge in my UConn career was being over 1,300 miles from my home in Alabama. The adjustment of being in a different culture and not near my family was hard freshman year and sometimes still is. UConn has become my second home, where I have met the most amazing, passionate and caring friends and mentors. I know traveling this far for college has made me a better, well-rounded and independent person.
When do you expect to graduate? What then?
I am graduating this May. I hope to attend veterinary school starting next fall. I don’t know where but most likely in the South, closer to my family.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your studies or research?
Like most people, I miss the normality of daily interactions. I miss running into people in the Union or going to UConn Rec without a mask on. I miss seeing my favorite professors in person and studying with my friends in groups. Everyday feels like a Monday but also like a Friday, so the motivation of getting things done is not as rewarding as before. I have had to become strict with myself and set my own deadlines and also learn to reward myself with breaks. I greatly appreciate those professors who understand students are under more stress and anxiety than ever before.