During her time as an undergraduate animal science major, Toni Brunetti of Wolcott, Connecticut was able to explore her love for animals and participate in a variety of CAHNR opportunities. The December graduate was a UConn Blooms employee, study abroad participant and CAHNR Ambassador. Here is what she said about her experiences as a CAHNR student.
What attracted you to UConn? I knew that I wanted to work in the veterinary field, and I was impressed with UConn’s animal science program. The department has great reviews, and there are many animals on campus that students are able to work with. Another reason is that although UConn is a large school, the animal science department is small and has a comfortable atmosphere, similar to high school. First, I completed my associate’s degree from the Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture. Then, I decided to stay at UConn and complete my bachelor’s degree. Throughout my time at UConn, I was able to work hands-on with animals and make great relationships with my professors and peers.
Why did you choose your particular major? I have always loved animals, especially horses. My family had a lot of animals while I was growing up, and whenever we brought them to the veterinarian, I was fascinated. While I was never interested in working with people, I was confident that I wanted to work with animals. This led me to choose animal science as my major.
Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why? I participated in UConn’s Little International Livestock Show (Little I) for the first time in October 2011. As an animal science student, I was responsible for training and showing a dairy cow at Little I. This experience introduced me to a broader range of farm animals and was a great networking opportunity. In fact, it helped me receive a job as a secretary and photographer for UConn’s animal science department. As a department photographer, I took pictures of animals in different barns across campus and met great people.
Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies. In the summer of 2014, I participated in the UConn South African Field Ecology education abroad program. This was a phenomenal experience. Being in another country and seeing such a diversity of animals sparked my interest in traveling. Since returning, I have continued to make travel plans to new destinations. This experience also made me realize my interest in working with exotic animals.
In addition, I have worked for UConn Blooms for the past two years. I was offered this position after taking a horticulture course, and I was eager to gain experience in a different aspect of the agricultural field. This has made searching for a job easier and more enjoyable because I now have a variety of work experiences.
What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career? After completing my associate’s degree and deciding to continue my studies, I had to take some difficult courses, such as biology and chemistry. It was hard to transition from a small department where I was well known and had great one-on-one relationships with my professors to these larger courses that contained hundreds of other students. I struggled at first, especially with chemistry.
When do you expect to graduate? What then? I graduated in December 2015. Immediately after graduating, I went to Patagonia, Chile for the UConn Patagonian Biodiversity and Horse Culture winter education abroad program. I was a teaching assistant for this eighteen-day program. Now, I am teaching horseback riding lessons and looking for a short-term job. I plan to go to graduate school in the near future, most likely to study reproductive physiology.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? I was a CAHNR Ambassador for three years. This was a great opportunity to network and meet new people. Also, I was able to learn more about and show my appreciation for CAHNR. I would highly recommend the ambassador program to all students.