Meet undergraduate Elaine Wehmhoff

Elaine Wehmhoff
Elaine Wehmhoff

Elaine Wehmhoff is a junior majoring in agricultural and resource economics. She is an exemplary role model for transfer students transitioning to UConn, and she has found her niche in CAHNR. At UConn, Elaine is a member of the dressage team and involved with the College Ambassadors program. In addition, she is a teaching assistant for a course focused around transfer student transition.

What attracted you to UConn? Initially, my college career began at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, as a pre-veterinary student. I found my way back home to UConn a year later. Not only had I decided to switch schools, but I decided to change majors as well. I realized I had an incredible University right near home, and UConn actually suited my interests far better than the program at CSU. Joining CAHNR as an applied and resource economics major, I was able to focus on and excel in my critical interests in social sciences alongside humanities and natural resources.

Also, I love the feeling of community here at UConn. Wherever you are, whether it’s in class, at a sporting event or just in Mansfield, there is a considerable community feeling centered around UConn. That is something I really enjoy and hadn’t experienced at a school before.

What is your major, and why did you choose it? My major is applied and resource economics, and I chose it because I feel like it is a multidisciplinary major that is setting me up well for life after college. Starting as a pre-vet major, I had interests in animals and environmental studies, but I found myself yearning for something more because I was equally as interested in people and places around the world.

Traveling to several countries in South America in high school made me feel as though I was better suited for a job that allowed me to learn and experience things outside of the office and classroom. I wanted to travel, meet people, learn about the world and how it works, and I feel like ARE sets me up perfectly for this.

With three concentrations related to business, environmental policy and international development, the major provides many opportunities in a wide array of categories. While I learn about things like economics or food policy, I also learn about things like population growth and the environment. This summer, I’m hoping to travel to Africa related my major to see a working safari camp. The major continues to open up my horizons, and for that, I’m incredibly grateful.

Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why? UConn has provided me with many opportunities that have left a lasting impression on me. Firstly, one of the best decisions I made when I came here was to try out for and join the UConn dressage team, which is a club sport here at UConn. As someone who has been riding horses for 12 years, I got a piece of “home away from home” from this aspect of UConn. I love the barn, the community there, my teammates and, of course, the ponies. My teammates are some of my best friends, and we get to travel within our region to different schools in places like Vermont and Massachusetts. So far this season, we’ve won three out of our four shows. Hopefully, we can keep it up!

Also, I was also accepted into a College Ambassadors program last year for this 2018-2019 school year. It is a yearlong leadership course where students participate in recruitment and service events for the college. We are a resource for prospective and current students and do things like help out at open houses or speak to high schools. I’ve been fortunate to meet a fantastic group of fellow students who are equally as passionate about what the CAHNR has to offer as I am.

Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies. Another experience that enriched my studies at UConn was a particular class, Introduction to Global Health, I took last semester as part of my major. The course is an anthropology course but is recognized by ARE for the major since it is very applicable. It was cool to be able to take such an eye-opening course; we also participated in a project during it that I thought encompassed the idea of true learning.

While discussing one of our topics, Malaria, we were “assigned” a project of fundraising anyway we chose for the organization “Nothing but Nets,” whose mission it is to combat Malaria. This fundraising effort felt like anything but an assignment to me. Students jumped on it and began implementing all kinds of ideas around campus. We ended up raising a lot of money, and I remember thinking that it was cool that we actually did something that applied to what we were learning about in class. It may have even made a real difference to some people.

What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career? My biggest challenge at UConn was probably settling in when I first got here. I had been to two other schools before I came to UConn, with the other school I attended being Southern Connecticut State University during my “limbo” period between schools to keep my credits up. While I was used to transitions, it didn’t mean I was particularly fond of them. I wasn’t sure what would be in store, or if I made the right decision by changing schools. However, I took the advice I was given and dove head first into my experience here. I found a plethora of helpful and inspiring professors and faculty, supportive friends and teammates and a beautiful quiet little town to call a temporary home. While it was daunting in the beginning, my transition here has been well worth it.

When do you expect to graduate? What then? I’m on track to graduate in May 2020, and I hope to move into a career for the common good in something like analyzing environmental policies. Specifically, I’m interested in non-profit work or sustainable business and environmental policy.

By: Thomas Krumel