After moving to Connecticut from Indiana, Audrey Folta has been actively involved in exploring and promoting the major that made her feel at home. Folta, a junior studying applied and resource economics in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ARE) with a business minor, was an environmental studies major her freshman year. Her switch to ARE opened up a number of opportunities for study and travel. Here is what she said about her experiences as a CAHNR student.
What attracted you to UConn?
I grew up in Indiana and my father, Timothy Folta, taught at Purdue University. When I was a junior in high school, he got a job at UConn. I stayed in Indiana and graduated. When I was applying for colleges, I sent an application here. It was the only one I sent outside the state of Indiana.
What is your major, and why did you choose it?
My major is resource economics. I started in environmental studies as a freshman and changed to resource economics at the start of my sophomore year. I enjoyed environmental studies, but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I found it to be more about environmental rights and I wanted to learn more about the business side of things. I met with Associate Professor Morty Ortega and he advised me in this direction so I switched my major.
Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why?
After my freshman year, I went to China for a month as part of the Environmental and Natural Resources Education Abroad Program led by Professor Xiusheng (Harrison) Yang. We spent our time traveling around the country and learning about different water systems, farming and sustainable development. It was an incredible experience.
Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies.
I’ve been working with Professor Rigoberto Lopez as a student marketer to help promote the ARE major. I’ve visited different classes and represented ARE at career fairs. Once I began doing it, I noticed that people began to recognize me around campus, especially professors, and it helped me to make connections and build relationships. I’m taking a break from doing that now, but I plan to continue it in my senior year.
At the beginning of my sophomore year, I joined the resource economics club. The president of the club at the time, Chris Bruno, really pushed me to get involved. I’m the secretary now and I’m hoping to move into the presidency next year. In the club meetings, we talk about everything from important issues to study tactics. ARE is a small major so you see the same faces in most of your classes and it’s nice to get to know them better.
What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career?
It was hard to find where I fit when I first got here. I liked environmental studies and I was interested in it, but I knew I needed it to have another spin. Even when I switched to resource economics, I wasn’t entirely convinced I made the right choice. Although once I started to immerse myself in it, I really grew to love it.
When do you expect to graduate? What then?
May 2018. I’m considering going for my PhD, but I want to take two or three years and find a job. I’m hoping to find a management position in the environmental division of a company. I know previous students that have majored in resource economics and loved their post-grad jobs so that’s encouraging.
I think if I pursue a PhD, it’ll be in economics and I’ll possibly focus on business structure.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
For the last two years, I’ve attended the Global Trade Symposium. It’s a great event to learn more about the produce industry and to network. I would encourage students to put themselves out there. For me, with this major, there are a lot of possibilities and flexibility in what I can do. It’s important to know what options are out there.