Hannah Colonies-Kelley ’22, College of Agriculture, Health & Natural Resources

Hannah Colonies-Kelley reflects on her time at UConn

Hannah Colonies-Kelley '22 (CAHNR), outside the Kellogg Dairy Center

Hannah Colonies-Kelley '22 (CAHNR), outside the Kellogg Dairy Center on March 25, 2022. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

From the small town of Leicester Massachusetts, Hannah Kelley came to UConn because it was just the right mix of idyllic countryside and big campus feel. In UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, she was able to combine her passions of agriculture, marketing and event planning. Hannah will be graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Resource Economics.

Why did you choose UConn?
UConn was the first school that I toured and from the moment I stepped foot on campus I knew it was for me. I loved the atmosphere and the beauty of Horsebarn Hill. Coming from a small town I wanted someplace that felt like a bigger version of home. Starting at the Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture as an Animal Science major allowed me to get the hands-on experience I wanted while being able to explore potential career opportunities.

What’s your major and why did you choose it?
I always knew that I wanted to work in the agriculture industry, but wasn’t sure exactly what. My passions include event planning, social media, marketing, and agriculture. After receiving my Associate’s Degree in Animal Science I transferred to the Agriculture and Resource Economics (ARE) department to learn more about the business side of agriculture. I really enjoy being able to learn more about business marketing and management, but with an emphasis on agriculture!

What are your plans after graduation?
Currently, I work for a Boston-based non-profit called The Trustees of Reservations. The Trustees preserve farms, beaches, woodlands, estates, and more across Massachusetts. I have been with the Trustees for two years now working for two of their camps. This summer I get to move to a new farm and open a farm summer camp there as Assistant Director. Starting this fall, I will be working with Engineering Services and Products Company as a National Account Manager doing sales. As it is the parent company of FarmTek I am really excited to be working with farmers while learning more about the sales and marketing side of the agriculture industry!

What activities were you involved with as a student?
Sigma Alpha has been my entire world ever since I first found out about it the first week at UConn. I don’t even want to imagine what my life would be like without getting to be a part of this sorority because I would quite frankly have nothing without it. Not only have I made professional networking connections that have helped me find a job, but I have also made my best friends. During my time in Sigma Alpha, I’ve been honored to serve as the Fellowship Chair, First Vice-President, and President of the sorority. Having those leadership experiences, getting to travel places with the Sisters, and even just hanging out with our brothers in Alpha Gamma Rho have made up the majority of my favorite memories. I look forward to having the Sisters with me even after graduation and staying involved as an alumnus to help others like me.

Other organizations I have been involved in during my time at UConn have been CHAARG for my first two years, and Block and Bridle for all four years. I am also so proud to have worked at Livestock Unit 1 for all four years! I have been so fortunate to be able to spend time with the cows, sheep, chickens, and pigs getting to see all stages of life in the barns. Shoutout to Aubrey for following my life updates, and Mary Margaret for being two of the most admirable people I’ve ever met. Lastly, I have dedicated my Senior year to working on my research project focusing on farm to institution local food procurement at UConn. Through my project with Dr. Cristina Connolly, I’ve found a new appreciation for UConn Dining Services and Connecticut agriculture. The work being done on our research is just the beginning of what I hope will be a longstanding source of change and inspiration for the relationship between farmers, students, and Dining Services at UConn.

How has UConn prepared you for the next chapter in life?
UConn has provided me with the opportunity to grow and find myself. I’ve found a home on campus with my friends, through my work in the barns and in my classes. Sigma Alpha has also been my entire life while at UConn. Without Sigma Alpha I would have pretty much nothing. I could never have imagined myself anywhere else and getting the same opportunities that I’ve had at UConn. The small feel of campus has allowed me to find my support group of peers and advisors who I know will always be in my life. Two people, in particular, I would have never met through UConn and I don’t think I could live without either of them (you know who you are).

What’s one thing that surprised you about UConn?
How small it feels! When coming in so many students and advisors said that UConn feels smaller than it is, and with such a large school you would never think it is true, but it is! So often I find myself running into people who were in my dorm freshman year, or were in my class once, and you would be surprised by the connections you’ll make from just how often you bump into someone. Hi to everyone I know from freshman year.

Any advice for incoming first-year students?
As cheesy as it sounds, time at UConn does go by fast so don’t take a day for granted. Even on those hard days take a walk through campus and find something about it that you are grateful for. To quote a friend of mine “YES” should be the answer to *almost* everything.

What’s one thing every student should do during their time at UConn?
Walk around Horsebarn Hill and visit the animals at least once. Visiting the animals, especially in the spring when there are babies is an unforgettable experience! If you go with friends as a de-stressor between classes, go sledding in the winter, or go while eating Dairy Bar ice cream, it will instantly become a favorite memory.

Who was your favorite professor and why?
I have always considered myself extremely lucky because of my background coming from RHSA to CAHNR I have had numerous advisors who have all helped me! First is Dr. Safran who has been there for me since day one of starting at UConn. Dr. Safran is the most incredible person to have as a professor, academic advisor, and sorority advisor as she is always there doing the most. I have been so fortunate to get to spend a lot of time with her and know that she’ll always be there for me.

The second person who has always been there for me since day one is Laura in CAHNR Academic Programs. She has helped me through my hardest times both academically and personally, while always having the most positive attitude. In a large school, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, and she has been a constant source of support any time I need it. Lastly, my ARE advisor Dr. Connolly who I could not have done these last two years without. She has coached me through finding my place within the ARE department and has been my professor in my favorite classes. I could not be more thankful to her for advising me on both my internship and independent study research project for this year. Working on our research project, FTI: Local Food Procurement has been the highlight of my Senior year. Shoutout to her for letting me have creative freedom and giving me the most fun and rewarding academic experience I could ask for!

What’s one thing that will always make you think of UConn?