A love of horses led Chelsea Santa Lucia on her journey toward a career in equine medicine, and that same love drives her to succeed in a variety of horse-related activities. Santa Lucia began horseback riding in sixth grade and by high school was a camp counselor with City Slickers in Harwinton, Connecticut, teaching the basics of horseback riding. She will graduate in May 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a minor in therapeutic horsemanship. Santa Lucia was a volunteer riding instructor for students with special needs, is a member of the UConn Western Team and a riding instructor on campus, in addition to serving as a College Ambassador. Here is what she said about her experiences as a CAHNR student.
What attracted you to UConn? I loved what the animal science program had to offer. It’s great having easy access to the variety of animals right on campus. Also, on meeting with the staff, I so impressed with how friendly everyone was, and from day one how eager they were to get to know me as a student. Being only an hour away from home was another big plus. It gives me the option to go home some weekends to work at the Wolcott Veterinary Clinic and to see my family.
Why did you choose your particular major? I chose to be an animal science major because of my love for animals and desire to be a veterinarian. The animal science program offered me hands-on experience working directly with the animals my first semester, which was exactly what I was looking for. I also have a minor in therapeutic horsemanship education.
Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Last semester, as part of fulfilling my minor, I interned for the therapeutic riding program at Camp Care Inc., in Columbia, Connecticut. I LOVED it! Being an intern gave me the opportunity to work closely with children and adults of all ages, and I learned so much about the field and being a therapeutic riding instructor. It also gave me insight on how to manage a therapeutic riding program, from taking care of the horses to scheduling and teaching lessons. The children I worked with were so happy and enjoyed being able to ride, which made my time there that much better!
Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies. My time as a College Ambassador for CAHNR has been a great experience. I get the chance to work closely with members of our faculty and staff and represent a college that I’m very happy to be a part of. I’ve gained numerous skills from being an ambassador that help me to be successful in many aspects of my life. Being an ambassador has also provided me with the opportunity to partake in a variety of community service activities and programs put on by the College.
In addition, I have been a part of the UConn Western Team for the past four years. My team members have been there when I needed a study buddy, someone to ride with or just a swipe into the dining hall. The team has been like a second family to me and I’ve made friendships that I know will last a lifetime.
What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career? Managing my time and balancing everything has been the biggest challenge. Between school, internships, riding, clubs and remembering to eat, it definitely took some getting used to freshman year and never really got any easier, yet somehow I make it all work. Occasionally I do need to miss a meeting or a practice to get all of my schoolwork done, but it all works out in the end!
When do you expect to graduate? What then? I will be graduating in May of 2017. After graduation, I plan on going to veterinary school to get my DVM and eventually work in a large animal practice.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? I’m a huge fan of country music and often drive the team to horse shows throughout the year. We call my car the “fun car” and love singing and dancing to music to get us pumped for the show. It definitely makes getting up at five or six in the morning a little less horrible (I am not a morning person) and puts me in a good mood for showing.