Irene Soteriou ’23, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

"My time at UConn has instilled in me a deep appreciation for, and awareness of, who I am as a person."

Irene Soteriou outside the Student Union.

Statistics and cognitive science double major Irene Soteriou '23 (CLAS) outside the Student Union on April 12, 2023. (Kayla Simon/UConn Photo)

Why did you choose to go to UConn? 
I chose to come to UConn because it was close to home, which would allow me to spend time with the people I love most, and because the Honors Program offered me a generous scholarship that would help me afford my education. Little did I know that coming to UConn would end up being one of the best decisions I have ever made. 

What’s your major/field of study, and what drew you to it? 
I was drawn to statistics and cognitive science for different reasons. On one hand, I wanted to continue exercising my quantitative skills and expanding my ability to critically assess studies and other relevant research. During my freshman year, I took STAT 1100Q with Professor Kathleen McLaughlin, and I loved the class so much that I decided to switch from my economics major to statistics. On the other hand, I hope to pursue work in foreign policy and conflict resolution, so I felt that a degree in cognitive science would afford me a better understanding of how we can use our knowledge of the brain and behavior to formulate policies better suited to target human psychology. 

Did you have a favorite professor or class? 
I have met a number of wonderful professors at UConn, but my favorite is Professor Bradley Wright in the Department of Sociology. I had the opportunity to join Professor Wright’s research team and study purpose and fulfillment early in my undergraduate experience. This work, along with his mentorship, transformed my world view and future aspirations. 

What’s one thing that surprised you about UConn? 
One thing that surprised me about UConn was just how happy I would be here. I didn’t expect to fall so in love with the campus, with my friends, and with who I am when I am here. I ended up having four of the best years of my life at UConn, and I am really sad to be leaving soon. 

What are your plans after graduation/receiving your degree? 
After graduation, I plan to work in the Washington, D.C. foreign policy sphere for a year before pursuing a legal degree. I ultimately hope to help shape a future of more humane foreign policy and contribute to strategic negotiations for conflict prevention, de-escalation, and resolution. 

How has UConn prepared you for the next chapter in life? 
UConn has prepared me for my next chapter in several key ways. First, UConn has afforded me invaluable opportunities to transform my ideas into tangible initiatives. I have been able to access grants, administrative support, and critical resources to create organizations from scratch and lead large-scale projects that have equipped me with critical skill sets that I can now translate into my professional aspirations. Second, UConn has given me a home with friends and family that will follow me throughout my life, and for this I could not be more grateful. And finally, my time at UConn has instilled in me a deep appreciation for, and awareness of, who I am as a person. My extracurricular experiences have given me confidence in my abilities; my mentors have taught me to think critically about who I want to be in the world and what kind of impact I want to have; and the small moments that happened in between the large ones helped me develop from a high school student into an adult. 

Any advice for incoming students? 
If I could give advice to my freshman self, it would be to try as many clubs and activities as possible early in your undergraduate experience. Go to as many events as possible. Check the daily digest for activities that are outside of your comfort zone. Push yourself to sit with new people in the dining halls, and make friends everywhere you go. 

What’s one thing everyone should do during their time at UConn? 
Everyone should try the falling rock zone calzone from D.P. Dough at least once during their time at UConn. Unless you’re allergic … 

What will always make you think of UConn?
McMahon – or the McMansion, as my friends and I like to call it – will always make me think of UConn. I lived there for a year, and my best friend and I have spent so many hours talking away in that dining hall that I will inevitably love it forever. 

How has being a student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences impacted your UConn experience?  
As someone who loves learning about the world across disciplines, I liked that being a student in CLAS allowed me to have a truly interdisciplinary education. As a CLAS student, I had the flexibility to take classes across a wide spectrum of disciplines, from my core majors of statistics and cognitive science to new fields such as human rights, communication, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. Being a CLAS student also introduced me to Undergraduate Student Government, since I originally joined the organization by running for elected office as a CLAS senator.  

If UConn had a different mascot, what would it be, and why?
If UConn had a different mascot, it would be one of our cows from Horsebarn Hill because that hill is at least in some way part of everyone’s experience here. They don’t call it cow town for nothing!