CAHNR’s Class of 2024

Students from across CAHNR share memories from their time at UConn and their plans for the future

Drone of Young building and Horsebarn Hill

WB Young building and Horsebarn Hill (Milton Levin/UConn Photo)

On May 4 and 6, 2024, the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) and the Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture will recognize graduates as they meet a major academic milestone.

Learn about a few of the nearly 600 stellar students who will soon become CAHNR alumni.

Kevin Quezada, Allied Health Sciences

One thing that surprised me about UConn was how available it is. There are multiple regional campuses that offer the same education and certain degree programs around the state. I was also shocked when I realized that UConn has so many resources for students on campus that can help with classes, future careers, and to meet new people. I was a part of Tri-Alpha, Ecuadorian Student Association, and Music Lounge Club here at Storrs. I was also a regional student for my first two years at UConn and in those two years at the Stamford campus, I was a part of Stamford Student Government, Huskies for Charities, and Gay Space Club. These clubs really kept me engaged and helped me meet a lot of people and later call my closest friends. 

After graduation, I plan to try to apply to UConn's Certificate Entry into Nursing (CEIN) program or any accelerated BSN program and get my Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. I then want to become a CRNA to work in the OR. I do want to also teach future nursing students and bring joy in learning and helping nursing students.


Kevin Quezada '24 poses for a photo outside Young Building

Madelyn Engel, Agricultural and Resource Economics

UConn has given me an abundance of networking connections, hands-on experiences, and confidence to start the next chapter of my life. My major is applied & resource economics (ARE), with minors in equine business management and sustainable food crop production. All those long words basically mean I really love working with horses and plants. I came into UConn undecided before giving ARE a try, and appreciated the flexibility and exploration that comes with the major.  I have learned so much about myself and my passions that I am excited to take the skills I have built here into the world. 

UConn has shaped the person I am today so thoroughly, that I often see UConn everywhere I go: when I go on hiking trips with my friends, when I work with horses, when I’m harvesting produce at the farm. In all these things I see and remember the skills I learned at UConn and how they’ve helped me grow into the person I am.  

Madelyn Engel '24 (CAHNR) in UConn's horse unit. (James Shiang/UConn Photo)
Rachael Woodruff '24 (CAHNR) near Horsebarn Hill. (Nick Snow/UConn Photo)

Rachael Woodruff, Nutritional Sciences & Kinesiology

I came to UConn to be a part of the cross country and track and field teams.  I loved the team and knew they were a group of women that would challenge me to reach new levels as an athlete. Being one in several thousand students, I never expected to be able to connect with faculty at such a large university. I started with just nutritional sciences, but added exercise science as a double major after seeing how much the two are integratedAs opposed to pharmaceutical treatments, I enjoyed learning about the lifestyle aspects of health since I believe these can make a significant difference in public health and disease prevention. After graduation, I’m planning to return to UConn for grad school while finishing out my NCAA eligibility by competing in cross country and track and fieldOther than that, I’m just trying to keep my options open and take advantage of any opportunities that present themselves. 

Ariel Kuhl '24 (CAHNR) near Horsebarn Hill. (James Shiang/UConn Photo)

Ariel Kuhl, Animal Science

I am an animal science major on the pre-vet track. I have always loved animals and knew that I wanted a career working with them since I was a kid. I chose UConn for the animal science program and the size of the university. I didn’t own a car until this year, so it was great to have so many options for hands-on experience with animals that didn’t require traveling, like other schools do. One thing that surprised me about UConn was the genuine school spirit students have for UConn. Whether it’s sports or research, it is nice to be surrounded by people that are fully involved in everything UConn provides. Despite there being 20,000 undergrads, I was able to form long-lasting friendships in a number of communities. After I graduate, I plan to work at a mixed animal practice to gain some more clinical experience. I am also going to apply to veterinary school this upcoming cycle to matriculate next year. 

Sandeep Poudel, MS, Natural Resources and the Environment

I chose UConn because the Natural Resources and Environment department aligns perfectly with my interest in working towards a sustainable and equitable future for the environment and water resources systems. Additionally, UConn’s diverse student organization, beautiful natural scenery, and proximity to cities like NYC and Boston helped me make my decision. During my time at UConn, I was a graduate research assistant at the Ecohydrology Lab. In this role, I had the opportunity to work on a project focused on understanding the relationship between flooding and the community's strategy for flood risk mitigation using socio-environmental models. After graduation, my plan is to pursue a PhD and continue my studies and research for a few more years. Afterwards, I aspire to be a researcher in an industrial or academic position in the field of sustainable management of environmental and water resources systems.

Sandeep Poudel MS '24 (CAHNR) in the Young building. (Nick Snow/UConn Photo)

Rachel Lambert, Pathobiology and Veterinary Science

I came into UConn majoring in pathobiology and knowing that I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. The pathobiology major is such a special and distinctive experience as the curriculum allows students like myself to learn about disease through a lens that emphasizes the interconnectedness of human health, animal health, and environmental health. I have also been involved in numerous Community Outreach (CO) programs during my time at UConn. Currently, I serve as the Vice Chair of CO and the Student Coordinator of Alternative Breaks. I’ve been involved in alternative breaks since freshman year and am grateful for the significant role it has played in my time at UConn. After graduation, I plan to use what I have learned during my time at UConn as I work in the clinical setting and apply to medical school. I know that my undergraduate education will serve me well as I aspire to go on and practice medicine with a foundation of compassion and a holistic understanding of what influences health. 

Rachel Lambert '24 (CAHNR) near Atwater Laboratory. (Nick Snow/UConn Photo)
Liz Helmin '24 (CAHNR). (Nick Snow/UConn Photo)

Liz Helmin, Plant Science and Landscape Architecture

My major field of study at UConn is landscape architecture. I had always wanted a career that allowed me to be outside and be creative. I wanted a career that asked me to be socially active in my community. I have been involved with the UConn Chapter of the Connecticut Society of Landscape Architects and was vice president in my senior year. This club allows for students including myself the opportunity to meet with professionals in the field of landscape architecture, learn essential programming from peers, and potential opportunities to attend national and statewide conferences! The landscape architecture community at UConn has been nothing but supportive and I will forever be thankful for my time here at this amazing institution! Post UConn, I plan on undergoing my masters degree in urban design or an equivalent field. 

Mara Lippman '24 poses for a photo in Wilbur Cross

Mara Lippman, Kinesiology

I chose UConn because of the sports community and the opportunities that will be available for me as a sports medicine student. My favorite class was biomechanics of injury and sport in the fall of my junior year. We got to play with candy and see how they represented different joints and tissue types. Despite it being at 8am, it was a lot of fun. While at UConn, I worked as a student administrative assistant in the CAHNR Office of Academic Programs, and I was so lucky to have the opportunity. The office is full of loving and caring staff who I will call family for the rest of my life. Not only did I learn the hard work that goes into advising CAHNR students, but also how commencement, scholarships, and even the website came to light. This student worker position taught me so many valuable lessons about talking to students, parents, and faculty, and I now have skills that I will bring into the professional world. As for other activities, I was not really involved in many clubs or organizations, but I loved attending basketball games with my friends. After graduation I am staying at UConn to pursue both my Master of Science in Athletic Training and Doctor of Physical Therapy, so I’ll be here for a long time. 

William Hiers III, Agricultural and Resource Economics

I am somewhat unique in that I didn’t come to UConn right after high school. I earned an associates degree in culinary arts and got to work. I am coming back to earn my bachelors after years in the workforce. I also have a young daughter, Theadora. I am returning to school to give us a better life. I had originally looked at studying online but once I had settled on something in the field of agriculture it made sense to go to one of the best universities for agriculture that was right here in CT, only a few towns away. When meeting with Meagan Ridder [in CAHNR's Office of Academic Programs], she suggested the new environmental economics major. It seemed like a program that teaches you to leverage economics and policy to make those big changes I am interested in pursuing. UConn has planted many seeds and I am excited to see how my future grows out of what I planted this year. My post-grad plans have actually already started. I am enrolled in a graduate program through the University of Maine online. Although I attended UConn to finish my bachelors degree, my true objective for returning to school was a graduate level education.

William Hiers '24 poses for a photo outside Young Building

Keara Galbraith, Allied Health Sciences

For me, UConn was the perfect balance of being far enough from home that I could start being truly independent but also close enough that visiting wasn’t an issue! It also helped that I have been a fan of the UConn women’s basketball team since I was very young. My major is allied health sciences. In my undergraduate career, I wanted to have a broad, interdisciplinary background that would allow me to be as prepared as possible to interact with my future patients as I can be, regardless of their backgrounds or experiences. I was terrified to change my major when my interests shifted, but it ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. UConn has provided me with a vast number of opportunities that have allowed me to feel confident in my ability to provide full and comprehensive care to patients, as well as having the background knowledge necessary for me to succeed in my graduate program.  After UConn, I will be attending the University of Hartford to pursue a master’s degree in prosthetics and orthotics to later practice in that field.  

Keara Galbraith '24 (CAHNR) near Wilbur Cross. (Nick Snow/UConn Photo)
Jillian Barron '24 (CAHNR) near Mirror Lake. (James Shiang/UConn Photo)

Jillian Barron, Pathobiology and Veterinary Science

I applied to and toured other schools around New England, but the atmosphere here on campus made me feel especially at home. Additionally, UConn is one of few schools that offers my major, pathobiology, so I knew that coming here was the right choice for me. Through my time at UConn, I found an interest in epidemiology through my pathobiology and statistics classes that has led me to pursue a career in the field of public health. As a student, I devoted a lot of my time to working at the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL). My position working at the CVMDL allowed me the opportunity to get laboratory experience and to explore my research interests. After graduation, I plan to pursue a Master of Public Health degree through UConn Health. During my senior year, I participated in the FastTrack MPH program, which will allow me to get my master’s degree on an accelerated timeline. With my degrees from UConn, I hope to pursue a career in epidemiology or biostatistics. 

Gabriela Fonseca '24 poses for a photo outside Young Building

Gabriela Fonseca, Natural Resources and the Environment

I originally came to UConn looking for an animal science degree, and even though I switched to natural resources and the environment with a concentration of fisheries and wildlife management, I picked UConn because of the quality of the University’s educational programs and the opportunities networking with the professors at a research institution would open for me. If there are two things I always think of when I think about UConn, they are beautiful skies and strong winds. The view atop Horsebarn Hill is unlike any other, especially during sunrise; coming from someone who doesn’t like to be up early when it is cold, sipping some hot coffee while waiting for the sun to come up is quite magical. On the other hand, the wind chills me to the bone and is the one thing I don’t love. Currently, I am focusing on finding seasonal jobs to get more field experience. Once I identify a master’s program or a long-term position that aligns with my desire to conduct research and manage land, I will apply, hopefully crossing over to the next chapter in my professional life. 

Dominic Rowland, Plant Science and Landscape Architecture

I found myself in a very specific degree path, after some experimentation of course. I would describe it as agroecological entomology. My two majors, ecology & evolutionary biology and sustainable plant & soil systems, both approach the natural world from slightly different angles. Entering into such a large university, especially during a global pandemic, was terrifying. However, I was so surprised at how welcoming other students and faculty in my departments were, and I really achieved the feeling of a small and close-knit group, even in such a large school. For now, I plan to enter the workforce and do more research in my field. My advice to incoming students is don’t ever think that you’re not good enough or that you don’t have a chance. I got involved in undergraduate research as a freshman by cold emailing a professor who was doing research that I believed was way above my level of knowledge. I still took that risk and was taken into a lab that gave me unmatched experiences. You truly never know your own abilities until you challenge yourself and take those risks. Someday, after gaining more experience, I plan to pursue graduate studies and aspire to work in higher education and extension. 

Dominic Rowland '24 (CAHNR) at Spring Valley Farm. (James Shiang/UConn Photo)

Anna Picard, Nutritional Sciences

I chose to major in nutritional sciences because I’ve always been interested in the connection between food, fitness, and overall health. I switched majors after taking NUSC 2200: Nutrition and Human Development. This class sparked my interest in pediatrics, the NICU, and pregnancy nutrition. I knew dietetics was a versatile field that connected my passions for food, health, and helping others. When I switched into the nutritional sciences major, I immediately noticed how kind and dedicated the department was to the field. I’ve met so many wonderful professors and friends through this program. My advice for incoming students would be to take advantage of all the opportunities UConn has to offer. It’s alright to try something new or to change your major when you find something you’re passionate about!  After graduation I plan to continue my education and complete my internship to become a registered dietitian. My goal is to work in a clinical setting specializing in pediatrics. 

Anna Picard '24 (CAHNR) on Horsebarn Hill. (James Shiang/UConn Photo)
Jonathan Gallo '24 (CAHNR) near Horsebarn Hill. (Nick Snow/UConn Photo)

Jonathan Gallo, Animal Science

My brother went to UConn 10 years ago, and ever since I was a little kid walking around campus with him, I wanted to be a Husky. My major is animal science, on the pre-vet track. I have always loved animals and UConn’s program seemed like a perfect fit. I have worked at an animal hospital for the past four years and I love to learn more about them in my classes. My classes, professors, and lab work at UConn have prepared me extremely well for vet school and being a veterinarian. There has been a variety of class experiences I feel ready to take on the challenge of vet school and purse my dream of becoming a veterinarian. I plan on taking a gap year after graduating and then attending veterinary school. After vet school, I hope to join a small animal/exotic vet hospital and work there long term. My friends, my professors, everything that I’ve learned and worked with in my time here, and of course our basketball national championships will always make me think of UConn. I’m a Husky for life! 

Sarah Meade '24 (CAHNR) with the Jonathan the Husky statue. (James Shiang/UConn Photo)

Sarah Meade, Kinesiology

My major is exercise science with a minor in nutrition for exercise and sport. I believe this field of study and its impact on the human body is profound – the idea that we can improve lifespan and healthspan by incorporating exercise, nutritional, and behavioral interventions independent of medication is so powerful and exciting. After graduating, I plan to complete my Masters in Nutritional Sciences here at UConn. In the future, I hope to become a professor that blends some intersection of exercise, nutrition, and biochemistry into optimizing human lifespan and healthspan in addition to athlete performance. My advice for incoming students is to slow down and give yourself grace. Life is nonlinear and individualized – you don’t need to have it all figured out yet or by a certain date, and just because you perceive others as “ahead” of you does not mean you are behind. You will end up exactly where you need to be, so be kind and believe in yourself along the way.