Valentina Rodriguez Aguado ’24, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Valentina Rodriguez Aguado reflects on her time at UConn

Valentina Rodriguez Aguado

Valentina Rodriguez Aguado '24 (CLAS), a sociology major, outside Babbidge Library on April 15, 2024. (Bri Diaz/UConn Photo)

As an undocumented and first-generation student, Valentina Rodriguez Aguado ’24 (CLAS) spent a lot of time learning how to navigate the college environment. Now, she’s graduating with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, a minor in Africana studies, and a home and community at UConn.

Why did you choose to go to UConn?
I received a lot of financial aid from scholarships and it’s close to home so that helped a lot. 

What drew you to your field of study?
I think both fields intertwine with each other. I took intro courses in both sociology and Africana studies, and I fell in love with them. I enjoy unraveling the threats of social injustice and delving into readings which dissect racial and social systems.

Did you have a favorite professor or class?
Surprisingly, my organic chemistry class, although it was a difficult time, helped me learn time management and a couple studying habits.

What activities were you involved in as a student?   
I first got involved with Project Fashion, and then I got involved with the Academic Achievement Center. At first, I was a mentee because I was on academic probation, but I worked my way up from mentee to mentor to master coach. I was also in Undocu-huskies, which is a fairly new club on campus that I helped co-found and was president of for a couple semesters. I was also a part of the CLAS Women’s Leadership Collective

What’s one thing that surprised you about UConn?   
I came into college without having any prior knowledge because I am a first-gen student, and on top of that, English is not my first language. So, I was surprised to find a home here — it doesn’t matter how you identify, you will find other people that you can call family or home. 

What was it like starting college during the pandemic?   
It was not the best thing ever. I stayed home the fall semester of my freshman year and then I wanted to come to campus for the college experience. Being first-gen, I was so eager to know what this whole world was, so I came here in the spring semester of my freshman year, and it was nothing like I thought it was going to be. There was no one around. It was shocking, but I was also surprised that there was still a lot of help and resources around. I still found ways to talk to my professors and go to office hours. 

How has UConn prepared you for the next chapter in life? 
I learned a lot about myself through my years here. I also learned how to be a professional, and as silly as it sounds, even just about English as a language. For my next chapter, I feel like I’ll be well adept because UConn has helped me a lot with making connections, being on my own, and finding a way to navigate life by myself. 

Any advice for incoming students? 
I would say reach out and say ‘yes’ to a lot of things. When I first started, I kept to myself, but when I started getting involved, that’s when everything changed. Getting involved is a way to make friends and build your resume or connections, but it’s also a way to learn about yourself as well. 

What’s one thing everyone should do during their time at UConn? 
I would say attending sporting events — the school spirit is unbeatable. 

What will always make you think of UConn?   
Honestly, there’s a lot of things. Friends, events, classes, and even professors — it’s the whole experience. I had a pretty good time at UConn, and I can’t complain about anything other than the weather. 

How has being a student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences impacted your UConn experience?   
The CLAS community is big here. I was always able to find a sociology friend in my classes. It creates a community in which we can all relate to each other because the humanities are important.