Erica Dean ’24, School of Business

Erica Dean reflects on her time at UConn

Erica Dean '24 poses for a photo in Wilbur Cross

Erica Dean '24 poses for a photo in Wilbur Cross on March 5, 2024. (Sydney Herdle/UConn Photo)

Erica wants everyone to find the joy in every experience—even if that experience is a little bit scary. If you can learn something new at the same time, that’s icing on the cake. The School of Business graduate student and Double Husky took classes in Italian and floral arrangement, joined a sports team and a sports ministry and numerous other clubs, and says there are broadening opportunities at UConn for every person and interest. Erica plans to bring her skills in business analytics home to the family business after graduation. And she’s taking her own advice and continuing to plan new experiences, like a hike across Spain for the fall. And her whole family will continue to visit the Dairy Bar, because broadening your horizons doesn’t mean you forget the pleasures of your own backyard.


Why did you choose UConn?

I always knew that I would end up as a Husky. My whole family (Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, and both brothers) went to UConn, and we now all live only about 20 minutes away from campus. I am so glad I followed in their footsteps; UConn has been my home away from home!

What’s your major or field of study, and what drew you to it?

During my undergrad at the Storrs campus, I studied Psychological Sciences, and minored in both Spanish and Statistics. I also enrolled in the 4+1 Analytics program. Through that program, I transitioned into my role as a Hartford-based graduate student in the School of Business. There, I studied Business Analytics and Project Management. I love both people and numbers, and this combination provided a great marriage of the two.

Did you have a favorite professor or class?

I had way too much fun with my classes to have just one favorite! As an undergrad, I can think of three, though, that particularly attracted me. PSYC 3500 The Psychology of Language, co-taught by Professor Eiling Yee and Dr. Gerry Altmann, was an awesome course. Yee and Altmann had a great dynamic together and brought a ton of fun into learning.
I also loved PSYC 2201 Drugs and Behavior with Professor John Salamone. It provided a whole new perspective on how humans function, as well as a peak into the world of psychopharmacology.

Last by not least, SPSS 2520 Floral Art with Justine Ramsey was an amazing experience. We learned the principles of floral design, and then put them into practice by composing our own arrangements! Flowers bring a special kind of happiness to my life, so this was a great way to have fun learning.

As a graduate student, my favorite class was MKTG 5251 Marketing and Digital Analytics with Professor Greg Sottile. I also loved learning to use python, both for business decision modeling and for the broader field of data science, in several of my Operations and Information Management (OPIM) classes.

What activities were you involved in as a student?

I was involved in a variety clubs. I enjoyed my time in Horticulture Club, several psychology-related organizations, and Changing Health, Attitudes, + Actions to Recreate Girls (CHAARG). Where I truly found my place, though, was on the UConn Women’s Rowing team and in Athletes in Action (AIA), a Christian sports ministry. The relationships and memories I’ve been blessed with have made a lasting impact on my life perspective and experience.

What’s one thing that surprised you about UConn?

I was surprised by the number of resources and opportunities available at UConn. No matter how long you spend at UConn, you’ll always discover new programs and services. If you’re looking for something in particular, ask around and I am beyond confident that you will find it, or at least others who are interested in starting something similar. And you’ll make a bunch of friends in the process!

What are your plans after graduation/receiving your degree?

After graduating, I plan to continue working for my family’s business, Dean Cabinetry, in marketing analytics. I am excited to apply what I’ve learned in my time at UConn and to help the company grow. Aside from career goals, I also have plans to travel—I am going to hike El Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage across Spain! And I am training to race an IronMan, as well as a couple of marathons over the next few years.

How has UConn prepared you for the next chapter in life?

UConn has prepared me for the next chapter in life in countless ways. Most notably, it has inspired me to pursue my passions with relentless intensity and drive, to step out of my comfort zone, and has taught me how to communicate with people from all walks of life. Most importantly, I’ve gained a love of learning that will continue for the rest of my life.

Any advice for incoming students?

I have two pieces of advice for incoming students:

  1. Do what is exciting to you! Even if it’s a little scary or uncomfortable, put yourself out there. Follow your gut and personal interests, not someone else’s. There is no right or wrong answer, as long as it excites you. For me, that was studying abroad. If I had to go back and live those days again, I would do it exactly the same.
  2. Take some classes simply for the fun of learning. I love languages and decided to take a set of courses in Italian. It was one of the better enrollment decisions I made over my years at UConn. It can be easy to fall into the trap of ‘Ugh, I have to go to class and do my assignments.’ Remember the fun in learning new ideas and skills!

What’s one thing everyone should do during their time at UConn?

I highly recommend getting the best of both worlds on Horsebarn Hill… sunrise runs (with breaks to see the horses and cows) and ice cream at the Dairy Bar in the afternoon.

What will always make you think of UConn?

Sunrises will always remind me of the early morning rows on Coventry Lake with my teammates, in addition to the countless memories of erg room practices, hours of recovery, training trips, racing, and all of the laughs that we shared.