Marisa Kaplita, from Branford, Connecticut, lives and works at Spring Valley Student Farm, which is located off campus. Marisa is passionate about the environment. Here is what she said about her experiences as a CAHNR student.
What attracted you to UConn? What attracted me to UConn was its agricultural program. I knew that I wanted to be an environmental science student prior to my acceptance into the University. Since UConn was originally an agricultural school, it had a strong program. I also wanted to stay in New England.
Why did you choose your particular major? I have been interested in the environment since I started learning about it in sixth grade. I cannot imagine having a job stuck in an office; I need to be outside in the field. I originally started without knowing what my concentration should be. However, after getting farming experience, I learned how important soil is and wanted to explore that aspect of the environment. My concentration is now soil sciences in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment.
Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why? I was an orientation leader over the summer and worked closely with students who were entering CAHNR. I also worked closely with the College advisers, Meagan Ridder and Jillian Ives. It was an eye opening experience. I had the ability to learn so much about UConn and all its resources. In addition, I was able to help students who were in the same position as I was a couple of years ago. I learned a lot about myself, such as how to be flexible, positive and always energetic – even on very little sleep.
Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies. Living at Spring Valley Student Farm is the biggest influence on my college career. I gained first-hand experience about sustainable agriculture and inspiration from others in this amazing adventure. I had never met so many people who shared the same goals and dreams as I did. I will always remembering my time at Spring Valley.
I am also the Vice President of EcoHusky, a student organization where members work on projects based on what they want to learn or a past experience related to the environment. For example, we collected and recycled cans at a UConn football game. This Green Game Day brings awareness of how many bottles and cans attendees use at a single game. In addition, we went to the Hartford marathon to teach spectators about composting and recycling.
What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career? My biggest challenge was juggling academics, socializing and extra-curricular activities. There are always so many things to do at UConn, and I have always struggled with saying no to some activities. However, I try to find a balance between the things that I need to do and like to do.
When do you expect to graduate? What then? I expect to graduate in May 2017. I would like to go into the Peace Corps. It would allow me to learn more, do hands on work, travel and experience different cultures.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? I am very passionate about solving food insecurity in America. I currently volunteer with UConn’s SOS Food Recovery program. We collect untouched trays of food left over from Putnum and Towers dining halls as well as sandwiches and salads from the cafes around campus. The food gets delivered to the Willimantic Covenant Soup Kitchen. I joined this program because I wanted to go beyond talking about community issues in class and be an active part of a solution. This program solves two issues. It keeps excess campus food out of the garbage can and provides meals for members of the community who cannot afford them. It is a great program, and I am very happy to be a part of it.