Zachary Duda ’21, College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources

Zachary Duda reflects on his time at UConn

Photo of Zachary Duda

Zachary Duda (Contributed photo)

Why did you choose UConn?
UConn was the best choice for what I wanted to pursue, it was a familiar place, and frankly it was the best financial option for me at the time. The College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources seemed like a close-knit community, and the campus always seemed to have something going on.

What are your plans after graduation?
The short answer is, I am not entirely sure. My goal is to apply to the University College Dublin in Ireland for the 2022-2023 year to hopefully be a part of their master’s program in Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development. I would also like to gain more practical experience in agricultural education and outreach by working for a Cooperative Extension System at a land grant university just like UConn. I believe there is a place for me in the world of agriculture, to make a more sustainable food system here in New England. I just need more experience before I get started!

How has UConn prepared you for the next chapter in life?
I learned that it isn’t what you know, it is who you know. Networking with UConn Extension, through the CAHNR community, and within my courses showed me the value of people and perspectives. I truly believe this will help me in any situation that requires teamwork and communication down the road. People are everywhere, we should spend time getting to know some of them.

What’s something you learned in a class that you’ll always remember?
You don’t need to have all of the answers, and chances are you won’t. All you need to know is where to find the correct ones.

What’s one thing that surprised you about UConn?
How large the University is, yet how small the community can feel. Coming from a small high school and a town that’s a third of the size of Storrs, I was very worried about meeting people and finding my place. This became easy once I found groups within my college and met others with the same interests and ideas. Although UConn has a large population, I think it utilizes that to its advantage, and can therefore offer students nearly any club, social group, or niche they desire.

Any advice for incoming first-year students?
It gets easier, and ultimately more fulfilling, as you progress year to year. As a student who did not do very well in my general education courses, I found myself thinking college was not for me in my first few semesters. Once I started to get into my major, though, this feeling changed. You get to dive into the deeper questions you have and tap into the components that feed your intellect. So, if the first year isn’t great, remember that it will most likely get better.