Shaina Stamp is a senior majoring in agricultural and resource economics. She studied in Spain last summer and gained experience working with the Spanish Olive Oil Interprofessional. She expects to graduate in the fall of 2019 and hopes to combine her passion for environmental sustainability with her interest in business management while incorporating her creative side.
What attracted you to UConn? I was attracted to UConn because of the applied and resource economics major. I initially began my college career in North Carolina studying environmental science as I yearned to help the environment, but I wanted more. I also wanted to work with people and find a way to incorporate my creative strengths in art and writing, so I continued searching for my passion. While I was taking classes at Western Connecticut State University, I found a degree that offered me exactly what I wanted at UConn.
I was delighted to find applied and resource economics as a possible major and little did I know it was offered right in my home state, Connecticut. I had never considered the importance of economics, business objectives and policy in advocating for the environment. I applied to the program immediately and, for the first time in my college career, quickly fell in love with what I was studying.
What is your major, and why did you choose it? I am an applied and resource economics major with a concentration in environmental economics and policy and a minor in business and marketing. I chose my major because of an experience I had during my time off from being a full-time student in college. During this time, I worked in retail and food service where I saw an immense amount of edible food waste and overall poor waste management practices that was occurring. I was shocked, not only by the environmental repercussions but also the consequences it had to revenue, as each night the business was recording losses that sometimes rivaled sales.
The morality of throwing out edible food while people went to bed hungry was something that actively bothered me while working in this job. The losses also shocked me. I wondered, how do they know that it’s still worth it to sell this product? How do they manage their inventory so that every month their profit is greater than their losses? How do they ensure profitability, when on some nights losses in hot food sales are greater than sales? This was something I had never actively thought about, and I began to try to come up with solutions. I searched online for a program that could help me understand and better tackle these problems, and I found the applied and resource economics program here at UConn and applied immediately.
Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why? I went to Spain to study the business of agriculture in the Mediterranean over the summer. I was an intern at The Olive Oil Interprofessional, which is a non-profit group that is funded by the European Union’s subsidies for agricultural marketing with the intent of increasing revenue for agricultural products in Europe and supporting farmers. The whole experience was stimulating for me.
I got to work with a lot of artisanal and sustainable producers and better understand the challenges of working in agriculture in all aspects of the value chain. I learned about the difficulties that Spain’s economy is currently facing and about the EU’s agricultural regulations and standards. In addition, I had an immersive Spanish language experience and experienced an entirely new culture.
I lived in two different apartments in Spain for one month each, studying for one month and working in Madrid for another month. I then traveled throughout Europe for a few weeks independently before coming back to UConn this year. It was indeed a life-changing experience for me, and it has made me so excited about the field I have entered. I am also very eager to travel more, continue my studies and, hopefully, work internationally.
What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career? When I transferred to UConn, I was already almost a junior. The transition to UConn as someone who was older and starting new was challenging at first. Previously, I had been a commuter student for nearly a year, and the school I attended in North Carolina as a freshman only had 800 students.
I decided to fully commit myself to my studies because I finally really loved what I was studying. Sometimes this was isolating. A year later, my hard work paid off. I earned the scholarship that allowed me to participate in the summer program to Spain and a job working for my department.
Along the way I have made some good friends almost without effort, most of them coming from the close community that you can find within The College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. I have seen that UConn stimulates me in ways that have resulted in an immense amount of growth. Even though I am challenged continuously here at UConn, the University also provides the resources I need to overcome these challenges such as office hours, student services, discussions and seminars, job opportunities, etc.
When do you expect to graduate? What then? I hope to graduate in the fall of 2019. Following graduation, I will pursue a job in business management or marketing for a business that values sustainable practices. By entering the workforce right away, I will be able to save up and pay off my student loans. This will give me a better idea if I like public administration or business administration better. Then, I plan to pursue a graduate degree in one of these two fields.
By: Thomas Krumel