Katrina Hodgkins of Glastonbury, Connecticut, is an active allied health sciences major with a wide range of interests at UConn. Through her experiences at UConn and abroad, Katrina has discovered her passion for both healthcare and human rights. After she graduates in December, she hopes to become a physician assistant (PA). Here is what she said about her experiences as a CAHNR student.
What attracted you to UConn? I have been a UConn sports fan for my entire life, and I always wanted to go a big university. In addition, UConn offers a broad range of opportunities for students. This appealed to me because when I entered college, I was not exactly sure what I wanted to do. I liked having the ability to explore different things.
Why did you choose your particular major? I chose allied health sciences as my major because I have always been interested in healthcare. The allied health program encourages exploration within that field. I have learned about many different healthcare professions and have incorporated my own personal interests into my courses. For instance, I am interested in public health, and I was able to delve into this interest through courses, such as introduction to epidemiology.
I am also minoring in human rights. This helps me understand the healthcare field from a different perspective and gives me critical thinking skills that I can apply to my future career. There is a huge intersection between health and human rights, and I am grateful that CAHNR has given me the flexibility to pursue both avenues.
Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why? In the spring of 2014, I studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. This was the best experience that impacted my life. This UConn-led program had a unique internship component and human rights focus, in which students completed courses about race, gender and the history of South Africa. I interned at Tafelsig Clinic, a health clinic in the extremely medically under served and under resourced township of Mitchells Plain. I worked with an incredible group of nurses, and I was able to get medical experience unavailable to me in the United States. In addition, I volunteered with the Khayelitsha Firefighters Football Club, a soccer club that focuses on youth development through sport.
My experiences in Cape Town have had an immense impact on me, especially upon my return to UConn. For instance, my work at Tafelsig inspired me to get more involved with hands-on patient care and helped me realize my ultimate goal of becoming a physician assistant (PA). I also realized that I want to work in a medically under served area. In addition, the human rights focus of the program inspired me to become a human rights minor when I returned to UConn. Since then, my eyes have opened to how incredible the Human Rights Institute is at UConn. Also, I joined the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), through which I have been able to learn more about human rights in the national and global sphere and participate in events on campus.
Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies. This summer, I interned at the Injury Prevention Center at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford. During this internship, I learned about the importance of preventative solutions to health problems, rather than just medical treatment. It was inspiring to see how the team used public health as a tool to advocate for real change within the community. This internship also inspired me to complete my honors thesis on the prevention and management of concussions in youth sport.
In addition, I am a patient care associate at Hartford Hospital. I am a part of the STAR Team, which means that I rotate between medical and surgery floors, the intensive care unit and the emergency room. It has been great to gain such a variety of experiences and work hands-on with patients.
What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career? My biggest challenge was choosing which extracurricular activities to focus on and not becoming overly involved. There are so many amazing opportunities at UConn. I learned that it is important not to spread myself too thin and not to be involved in everything. Instead, it is better to invest wholeheartedly in a few things I am truly passionate about.
When do you expect to graduate? What then? I plan to graduate a semester early in December 2015. After that, I will work in the emergency room at Hartford Hospital. I am also looking into different opportunities in the public health field such as HealthCorps and AmeriCorps. After taking a gap year, I plan to apply to graduate school to become a PA.
Through my experiences, I learned that I love working directly with patients, particularly in emergency medicine and in pediatrics. As a PA, I believe that I will be able to incorporate all of my interests into my career and make a real difference.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? In addition to cheering on the Huskies at basketball games, I’ve loved being a part of the athletic community at UConn. In my time here, I’ve been a part of the UConn Women’s Club Lacrosse team and UConn Endurance, a social, long-distance running club. Through these teams, I’ve met some amazing people and have been able to challenge myself. I have traveled for different tournaments and races, and these trips have been some of my favorite UConn memories.