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Student Expert Profiles

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Abby Raynor
How I got involved: When I came to UConn I was initially terrified of the enormous student body that rivaled the population of my hometown. Even as a generally outgoing and sociable person, I originally struggled to form connections with those who shared similar interests, goals and passions. I found my home here on campus while pursuing community service opportunities through multiple organizations, the foremost being the Community Outreach Office and the UConn chapter of Global Brigades. I remember walking through the section of the Involvement Fair where such groups were tabling, and being truly amazed by the scope of the impact UConn students were having on local, domestic, and international communities and environments. Service learning has played an integral role in challenging my perspectives and ideals, while encouraging me to form meaningful relationships with amazingly talented individuals. Ironically, it took traveling on trips across the United States and Latin America to realize that these experiences are what had transformed UConn into my second home.
Advice for students new to the UConn, Storrs campus:  The biggest piece of advice I could offer a student new to the Storrs Campus would be to understand that it is normal to feel overwhelmed, lonely, and confused within the first few weeks of school, but also to know that things do get better.  The advantages of going to such a large institution are that you are going to find your place, your people, and ultimately your home here on campus sooner than you think.  Get involved, try something you may think you’ll never like, and cherish every minute of it because these are going to be some of the most amazing years of your life!
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Carren Jepchumba
How I got involved: As an out-of-state student, and a freshman, the best decisions that I made were to live in the Pharmacy Learning Community and apply to the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program because this is where I found out about Four Arrows which is part of the Leadership Office in Student Activities. After participating in a challenge course with Four Arrows, I learned that they had student staff, decided to apply for a facilitator position, and have been successfully working for them ever since. My second semester in my sophomore year was by far the hardest time for me at UConn as I went through a situation that I did not know how handle and it took a long time before I realized how much it was affecting me personally and academically. I didn’t realize that all I needed was a safe space to talk about my situation. Four Arrows gave me that space. Four Arrows helped me set personal and academic goals, giving me something to strive for even when I wanted to give up. I would not have been recently accepted into the School of Pharmacy had it not been for the constant support from Four Arrows along with friends from other organizations I am involved with. The best part about Four Arrows is that there is an understanding that staff are students first and they want you to leave UConn as a well-rounded individual, which means being encouraged to enjoy your college experience and take part in other opportunities.
Advice for students new to the UConn, Storrs campus: Dare to step out of your comfort zone. Try to take elective courses that you don’t think you would like or get involved in research outside your major.  If you have friends from high school at UConn, try to get to know people outside of your friend group. There are over 600 groups to get involved with – explore a few before you settle. Lastly, be kind to everyone because UConn is smaller than you think.
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Rachel Conboy
How I got involved: When I entered college I was fortunate to come to UConn with a strong group of friends from home, although I never completely lost that nervous thought of what I would do if I had to deal with homophobia. I knew from high school what my interests were and the student government at UConn was one organization that offered a large spectrum of possibilities. When I first entered the organization, I saw how open members were about their sexual orientation. This
experience made me appreciate our Student Government more than ever. I’m proud now to be the president of the organization which gave me such a warm welcome, and I hope to offer the same welcome to all UConn students!
Advice for students new to the UConn, Storrs campus: You are going to have a lot of decisions to make within the first few weeks of school. They range between building friendships, what to do on weekends, and what to get involved with. I’d say don’t limit yourself, be open to everyone and all new experiences. There is no other time in your life where you will have all these opportunities presented to you at once. Don’t let anything hold you back from making the most of these 4 (or more) years.

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Ed Masse
How I got involved: When I first came to UConn I struggled with the increased workload compared to the community college I came from.  Since I transferred in the spring semester, I didn’t have any friends at first. I didn’t start college with the same big group of freshmen together like everyone else, and it didn’t help I started halfway through the academic year. I’m a people person, so I had a lot of friends at my community college. When I transferred to UConn I felt like a tiny fish in a giant pond. I needed a sense of community for support, so I joined the Asian American Cultural Center. They immediately welcomed me with open arms and taught me a lot about how the campus works and how to be efficient with your time. Now I have friends to study with, or to help me handle the challenges of college life. The Asian American Cultural Center also has new student mentoring programs as well as ways to easily get involved and be part of a community. I found that the best resource for
struggling to balance your workload is to have a community for support. Without my community at UConn I would still feel lost.
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Franchesca Kuhney
How I got involved: When I was fourteen I lost my father in an accident. I struggled for the majority of high school with depression and anxiety, and my road to recovery was a long one. But by the time I graduated, I was confident and excited about coming to UConn. Surprisingly, my first semester, I actually felt lost, and honestly, kind of alone, especially being from out of state. I was overwhelmed by all the possibilities and I wasn’t sure how to take advantage of them. And soon, I started to feel the familiar sadness setting in again. I was already a part of other organizations like the Leadership Learning Community and undergraduate research, but I felt like I needed a different kind of support system. So at the following semester’s Involvement Fair, I joined the Active Minds club, an organization rooted in spreading awareness about mental health. And even though it’s not a “support” group, per se, that’s exactly what I got from it. I was surrounded by people I could relate to and I felt a sense of security and comfort that gave me the confidence to explore other things across campus.
Advice for students new to the UConn, Storrs campus: Adjusting to college can take some time; patience is key. Give yourself time to explore new things and find something that fits. Try to remember that everyone’s college experience is unique, so don’t compare yours to anyone else. Don’t feel rushed in deciding what you want to do. It might not happen in one day, but it’ll happen, and I promise it will have been worth the wait!
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Chaoqi (Alex) Hu
How I got involved: As an international student from China, I came here with no friends and I was worried that I would eat in the dining hall alone. However, when I first moved in to my Leadership Learning Community dorm, there were many Americans who stopped by and welcomed me to the United States with a firm handshake. From that moment, I realized I had found myself a home away from home. Because of that, I got exposed to multiple opportunities on campus. I was in Leadership Learning Community for both my freshmen and sophomore years. It provided me chances to make deep connections easily with my peers and faculty/staff as early as my freshman year. With my love of the community, I became a Learning Community Ambassador and after that, with the love of the university, I became a tour guide for Lodewick Visitors Center. All of my achievements and involvement originated from the first step I took into my dorm.
Advice for students new to the UConn, Storrs campus: My advice for our new Huskies will be to get involved on this wonderful campus. You will meet a number of new friends and build up your personal skills at the same time. In this way, you can always make this big campus a lot smaller. Also, do not be afraid to try new things and embrace different cultures like how I tried my first orange chicken and fortune cookie at McMahon Dining Hall.