A Classy Class: CAHNR Celebrates 2022 Grads

From barns to basketball, CAHNR's 2022 graduates share their favorite memories and hopes for their post-UConn lives

Exterior of W.B. Young Building with spring flowers

Ratcliffe Hicks Building (Milton Levin/UConn Photo)

On May 7, 2022, another class of talented students will graduate from the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) and the Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture.

"On behalf of the entire CAHNR community, I would like to extend a heartfelt congratulations to our students and their families as we celebrate this amazing achievement," says Dean Indrajeet Chaubey. "As our students conclude their undergraduate career at UConn, they will always remain part of our community. We are so excited to see what they will accomplish next."

Learn more about a few of the nearly 600 students who will soon turn their tassels and embark on the next chapter of what are sure to be exciting and accomplished futures.

Tiah Booker, Kinesiology

CAHNR really taught me to challenge my perceived abilities and allowed me to recognize that limitations only exist if we allow them to. The courses in the exercise science major and nutrition minor were very challenging, and sometimes I struggled to handle them. However, I always reached out to my fellow students, professors, and advisor to not only pass the classes but to excel in them.  I love learning and assisting others around me, and this theme is heavily expressed within the faculty, staff, and study body in CAHNR.

This upcoming fall I will be venturing off to a physician assistant program. I would like to specialize in emergency medicine and surgery and hopefully work in a hospital setting.


Smiling female student

Lillian Borbas, Plant Science and Landscape Architecture

UConn provides many opportunities! I’m proud that I was able to work on my plant science studies and my ecology and evolutionary biology minor while participating in the UConn Marching Band and Pep Bands, which gave me great musical experiences and friendships. I’m proud of the connections I’ve made through CAHNR, the classes I’ve taken, and by performing with the UCMB during football and basketball games.

Community outreach, extension, research, and production are all things I’ve been introduced to and are some areas I'm considering for the future. I’m grateful to CAHNR faculty and advisors who have guided me and helped introduce me to different career possibilities.

Smiling female student
Smiling female student

Julieanne Bou, Nutritional Sciences

Joining CAHNR during sophomore year changed my entire undergrad path for the better. Because of this decision, I will forever have amazing memories from different classes and gained important skills that I will use in my career and life. I'm really proud that I will graduate with a degree in nutritional sciences and animal science, in addition to a biology minor, all while being a student athlete. This would have not been possible without the advisors and staff at CAHNR, who were always willing to help and answer my millions of questions!

My plans for the future include getting my masters degree while using my “Covid year” to play tennis during my final year of eligibility. Long term, my goal is to become a physician assistant.


Smiling female student

Kaylee Carlisle, Agricultural and Resource Economics

I grew up around agriculture and have always known that I wanted to work in the ag field. After taking classes in the applied and resource economics major, I grew a strong interest in the intersection of agriculture and economics. Through my experiences at CAHNR, I immersed myself and further developed the middle ground of my passion for horses, agriculture, and economics. I’m most proud of the connections and relationships I’ve made while at UConn, whether personal, professional, or academic. These people play an important role in my life and growth, in all aspects, which I'm extremely grateful for.

Although I would like to tell you I have a concrete plan for my future, l do not. I’m currently employed with an equine insurance company, and plan to fulfill that role upon completion of my bachelors degree. Ultimately, I am interested in finding career opportunities and/or completing a masters degree in food systems and food policy.


Aidan Chariton, Allied Health Sciences

Throughout my time in CAHNR, I have experienced a plethora of courses — such as brain health and behavior and EMT training —  and studied a spectrum of topics, like nutrition, biochemistry, and psychology. I also joined the UConn Army ROTC program at the start of my sophomore year, so my coursework was accompanied by military and leadership training both in the classroom and the field. I am currently on a couple of medical school waitlists and will gladly attend either school if accepted. Otherwise, I plan on commissioning into the Rhode Island Army National Guard as a Second Lieutenant and working as a medical assistant or EMT.

Looking back on my time at UConn, I am most proud of my participation in the UConn ROTC program, which taught me both the pressures and rewards of leadership.

Aidan Chariton '22 (CAHNR), majoring in Allied Health Sciences. (UConn Photo)

Matt Chen, Agricultural and Resource Economics

CAHNR has allowed me to diversify my skills and knowledge of the world around us.  CAHNR taught me the skills to take action in a world in need of reform, and how to engage in the search for creative solutions in our world's greatest challenges. Working with the faculty and staff in CAHNR has also made me feel confident I have gained the knowledge and experience that will position me for success.

My next adventure after Commencement will be as a graduate student in UConn's Department of Communications. Someday I hope to positively contribute to the world whether by working at a non-profit or a news/media outlet that prioritizes ensuring an inclusive and equitable world internally and externally.

Smiling male student
Smiling female student

Hannah Colonies-Kelley, Agricultural and Resource Economics

I started in the Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture where I got my Associate’s Degree in animal science. I really owe a lot to Ratcliffe Hicks, as it helped me make all of my friends and felt like a smaller community within a bigger school. Junior year I transitioned to the four-year program because I wanted to focus on agribusiness, so I am an ARE major with a concentration in business marketing and management.

During my time at CAHNR, I was able to participate in research related to my major focused on local food procurement in UConn's dining halls. I was also able to have an impact on my sorority, Sigma Alpha, to lead us through Covid. I'm really proud of the contribution I made, and I'm looking forward to finding a role related to agriculture and marketing after graduation.

Kat Day '22 (CAHNR), majoring in the Plant Science and Landscape Architecture (UConn Photo)

Kat Day, Plant Science and Landscape Architecture

I started UConn at the Hartford campus thinking I wanted to do something in business. Then I met Peter Miniutti, a professor in Landscape Architecture, and was fortunate to attend his study abroad course exploring design in Europe. The following semester, I started taking classes within the major and soon became very passionate about landscape architecture. After graduation, my current internship with a multidisciplinary design firm in Meriden, Connecticut will transition to a full-time role. I've had an amazing experience, and I'm excited to join full-time in the near future.

As for my time at CAHNR, I am most proud of my involvement as a student. I was able to study abroad, do research with a professor, and lead a club as vice president all while I was studying what I love to do.

Maddie Dupre, Animal Science

During my time at CAHNR, I loved the hands-on opportunities offered in my major courses for both animal science and pathobiology. Beyond that, I was able to work in the necropsy lab at the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL), which was an invaluable learning experience for me. I was also able to design and carry out my own research study, learning research techniques in the lab too.

While at UConn, I'm most proud of engaging with such a vast campus and making connections through different organizations that will hopefully last for my whole life. By being active in clubs, I made friends and memories that I will never forget while learning so much about myself and the world.

Smiling female student

Alma Jeri-Wahrhaftig, Allied Health Sciences

Throughout my time in CAHNR, I have been able to combine my two passions for both culture and health into my plan of study and meet people across various disciplines. I am most proud of my time conducting research in the Department of Allied Health Sciences, which allowed me to learn so much from incredible faculty mentors and gain skills that will benefit me post-graduation.

With these experiences in hand, I hope to attain my masters of public health following graduation (I have been accepted to various universities but have not yet selected one!), where I will continue to pursue my interest in health and culture with a degree in epidemiology. I hope to use my knowledge and experience to create culturally competent and sustainable healthcare interventions for at-risk populations around the world.

Smiling female student
Smiling female student

Jacqueline Lampert, Animal Science

I admit I had some concerns about attending such a large university. However, being a member of CAHNR and the animal science program always provided me with a very close-knit community, which is an experience I cherished and built my success upon.

During my time at UConn, I am most proud of the connections and friends I have made. It is an incredible feeling to graduate UConn knowing that I have built such a supportive network of staff and peers that I will have behind me as I continue onto my future endeavors. While I have been accepted into several of my top choice veterinary schools, I am planning on deferring my education for a year to explore opportunities in the field of accessibility and guide dog work for visually impaired communities!

Smiling female student

Paige Marion, Kinesiology

My time in CANHR has been nothing but positive. I have found all my professors, and especially my advisor, to be extremely intelligent, but also thoughtful and caring. I would not be where I am today without them.

In the fall of 2022, I will be starting an accelerated nursing program in order to become an RN. Although I could have completed this degree as an undergraduate, I am so thankful for my experience as an exercise science student. I think that my background in exercise science will allow me to have a unique outlook in the nursing field.

Looking back on my undergrad career, I am most proud of my perseverance and resilience. During freshman year, I struggled with homesickness and anxiety, and I considered switching schools. I am so happy I pushed through because UConn is now my second home. I have loved every moment, and I’m so thankful for that.

Marissa Naclerio, Natural Resources and the Environment

I'm really grateful for my experiences in CAHNR. I was able to study field ecology in South Africa, and got support to study tropical marine ecology and even obtain my diving certification in Turks & Caicos. Within the department, I had the chance to research on the impact of hurricanes on mangrove forests in the Florida Everglades for my senior honors thesis.

Reflecting back on my time at UConn, I'm most proud of the work I've done in promoting environmental justice. My ultimate goal was to center on environmentalists of color, amplify their voices on campus, and help foster a community amongst all of us. After graduation, I'll be applying to masters programs for environmental justice with the ultimate goal of getting my PhD in that field.


Smiling female student

Nolan Pimentel, Pathobiology and Veterinary Science

My experience in CAHNR allowed me to view other aspects of science and health in a classroom and in a personal setting. Sometimes, I felt out of place with aspects of science and health I was not familiar with. Thanks to the CAHNR experience, I had the chance to learn from many of my peers in CAHNR who were pursuing majors different from my own. My time at UConn was a series of changes and adjustments that gave me room to grow and adapt. I learned to come out of my shell, become an open-minded thinker, and adapt to any unforeseen circumstances. With enough effort, I made lifelong friends and overcame the hard work and hard times.

As I enter the next chapter, I look forward to new endeavors. I plan on continuing my education by applying to medical school.

Smiling male student

Eva Quigley, Nutritional Sciences

During my experience in CAHNR, I feel very fortunate to have had a kind and supportive faculty. With their constant encouragement, I was able to succeed in my courses and exceed my own expectations. After graduation, I will be returning in the fall in the post baccalaureate pre-medical program, as I intend to pursue medical school in the future, and I can’t wait!

I think my proudest accomplishment during my time at UConn is overcoming many of the insecurities I had coming into college. I’ve been constantly challenging myself to step outside of my comfort zone, and because of that, I have a newfound confidence that I didn’t have previously.

Smiling female student

Meg Sanders, Natural Resources and the Environment

During my time at UConn, I have learned a lot about myself and the communities that have shaped me. I learned about what I am passionate about, such as environmental justice, community, and radical love. I have the utmost gratitude for the experiences and challenges that shaped me into the person and student I am today, and will always be a Husky at heart.

I am most proud of the grant-funded research project that I carried out during my UConn career. In this project, I interviewed and documented the oral histories of individuals from Connecticut who have diverse racial, gender, and cultural backgrounds and who have succeeded in making an environmental impact.

After I graduate, I plan to acquire my masters degree in sustainable energy and environmental management from the Georgia Institute of Technology. It has been my dream to move to Atlanta, and I am so excited about my next steps!

Alexa Sanson, Allied Health Sciences

My time in CAHNR has certainly been unique. I took advantage of opportunities to participate in clubs, lead initiatives, and connect with faculty advisors to get the most out of my time here.

I experienced many personal challenges during my time in CAHNR. The biggest of these being the loss of my friend, CAHNR student Andry Evangelista. It is through this transition, in addition to the trials of Covid and other troubles that arose that I experienced the most growth, such as helping to grow our program, LC Talks. I have been a part of it for the past four years, both as a speaker and a host. It allowed me to expand my understanding of my peers and provide a space for conversation on topics encompassing everything from identity to resilience. It is also extremely special to me because Andry did it with me that first year, so I got to continue to develop the event with him in mind.

Smiling female student

Ren Simonse, Pathobiology and Veterinary Science

After learning about the flexibility and nature of the major, I transferred into CAHNR my junior year to be a pathobiology major and focus on the study of disease. I'm excited that my UConn career will continue even after Commencement. Directly after graduation, I will be doing field work for three weeks in British Columbia with the Bolnick Lab before taking the following year to decide in what field I would like to pursue graduate studies.

During my time at UConn, I'm most proud of the relationships that I've been able to form, whether they were with colleagues, professors, or simply my friends. They've helped me transform into the person I have become.

Smiling female student
Smiling student

Janina Szczepanski, Agricultural and Resource Economics

I am a dual major in applied and resource economics and accounting. I am particularly passionate about environmental legislation, and enjoyed the opportunity to be a research assistant at CAHNR. Thanks to all I learned, I have already accepted a full-time job offer at Deloitte & Touche in Tampa, FL. In the future, I hope to pursue my passion and utilize the skills I developed in my classes on environmental economics and combine this with my understanding of business to create impactful environmental legislation and action.

As graduation approaches, I know that UConn has given me a network of supportive people who will be there to give me advice, help me navigate my career, or just be there to listen. I truly understand UConn's slogan "students today, huskies forever."


Smiling female student

Elaine Tantalo, Agricultural and Resource Economics

As someone who came to UConn undecided, picking a major was intimidating because I did not want to tie myself down to a single area of study that I would eventually grow bored of. That is why I chose applied resource economics (ARE) as my major because it allowed me to focus my studies while still letting me grow and discover my path.

While at UConn, I had the opportunity to gain many new abilities and build my skillset into a more versatile list. This came from being involved in research and learning from the talented people I worked with. Through classes, research and people, UConn helped me find what I am passionate about, which is what I am most proud of about my time here.

To continue my journey into the international development field, I plan to pursue my masters degree at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in the fall. I am excited about this next step and all that it has to offer.

Sara Tomis, Individualized & Interdisciplinary Studies Program

As a participant in the Individualized & Interdisciplinary Studies Program, I had the opportunity to cultivate a unique degree reflective of my passion for agriculture, outreach, and community engagement. The interdisciplinary nature of my future degree has further enabled me to explore the rich dimensions of agricultural sciences, particularly within animal science and plant science.

The pinnacle of my time at UConn has been the opportunity to serve as an intern in three areas of UConn Extension. Through these experiences, I have been a part of multiple projects and initiatives impacting youth, consumers, and industry leaders in Connecticut. These internships have helped me work towards my ultimate career goal: to serve as an educator in the Cooperative Extension System, where I would be able to utilize my knowledge of agriculture to benefit my community.

Smiling female student

Chloe Zampetti, Natural Resources and the Environment

CAHNR has been such a gift to my undergraduate career. I have truly felt taken care of by the faculty and staff who have gone out of their way to guide me toward the path I'm currently on. I'm very excited to take what I've learned here and apply it to my masters studies and eventually my professional career in corporate sustainability consulting.

I am without a doubt most proud of the work that I have done with the UConn Ecotoxicology Lab. At the root, being an undergraduate researcher in CAHNR is more than being in a lab, it really represents all of the people who helped me get to where I am today. Without them, I would have never learned about and declared my major in natural resources or been given the opportunity to dive into the world of research and think like a scientist.

I cannot say enough positive words about my experience in CAHNR, and am extremely grateful to have been a frequent Young Building visitor in my four years at UConn.

Smiling female student