Emma MacDonald ’21, College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources

Emma MacDonald reflects on her time at UConn

Head shot of Emma MacDonald

Emma MacDonald (Contributed photo)

What’s your major/area of study and why did you choose it?
I’m a Natural Resources major with a focus in Sustainable Forest Resources. I came into UConn as a Design and Technical Theatre major in the School of Fine Arts, but switched into Environmental Studies in CLAS at my orientation weekend, and then switched again to finally arrive in Natural Resources in CAHNR in the fall of my sophomore year. My journey to find the right major was longer than expected, but it led me to a program with opportunities for hands-on learning and small class sizes where I was learning about a subject that I am truly passionate about – I love trees and the natural world in general, and with my major I am poised to become a responsible environmental steward for the rest of my life.

What’s something you learned in a class that you’ll always remember?
I will always remember walking into Dendrology (NRE 2415) on the first day of classes in the Fall of my sophomore year, to hear Professor Tom Worthley proclaim, “the forest has a mission: to take over the world.” I wrote it down on the syllabus he had passed out before beginning class, and that one sentence sealed my fate. I decided then and there to become a Natural Resources major, because the love Professor Worthley had for his subject was infectious, and I wanted in. What he meant is that all organisms would like to be the dominant species on the planet – their primary goal is to reproduce in order to solidify their presence in nature, but the way he managed to tell a story in one sentence while still being scientifically accurate had a magnetic impact on me. I want nothing more in life than to learn more about trees and teach anyone who will listen about everything I’ve learned.

Any advice for incoming first-year students?
UConn has a wealth of opportunities for you if you are willing to look for them. Join whatever clubs interest you, apply for the internships and scholarships you see, use the maker spaces around campus. Utilize the resources UConn offers, because there are many, and they’re all worthwhile.

What’s one thing every student should do during their time at UConn?
Every student should take advantage of the beautiful outdoor spaces on campus. I couldn’t count the number of times a visit to Horsebarn Hill at sunset, playing Frisbee on the banks of Mirror Lake, or hanging out at Swan Lake has cured a case of study stress and put everything into perspective for me. Two bonus indoor spaces that have also served as calming agents in my time as a student are the EEB Greenhouses behind the Torrey Life Sciences building and the Benton Art Museum! Both spaces are free for students to visit, and offer the best of the best in their respective collections.

What’s one thing that will always make you think of UConn?
Banana chocolate chip ice cream! The best Dairy Bar flavor, no contest.