Meet undergraduate Emily Kirillov

Emily Kirillov
Emily Kirillov

Emily Kirillov is a sophomore majoring in animal science. She is also a figure skater with more than 15 years of competitive skating experience. For the past six years, she has been a member of Team USA in synchronized skating. As part of Team USA, she has represented the United States at 12 international competitions across Europe and Canada, including four world championships.

What attracted you to UConn? The main reason I decided to become a Husky was the animal science department and educational opportunities here. After I toured other colleges, I realized that UConn’s animal science department has the best facilities, great professors and so many extracurricular activities for students. Also, UConn’s location would make it possible for me to keep skating on Team USA and commute to practices each weekend in Stamford.

What is your major, and why did you choose it? Growing up, I was always surrounded by animals, whether it was taking care of my pets, pet sitting for friends or volunteering at the local animal shelter. In high school, I attended a summer veterinary medicine program at Tufts, which made me fall in love with this field of study. The program at Tufts was also where I first met my current roommate at UConn, Amanda! So when it came time to determine a major, the decision was easy – animal science was the perfect fit for me. I’m also currently in the process of declaring a second major in psychological science, and I am excited to begin learning a new field.

Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why? My most memorable activity at UConn thus far has been being part of the UConn Figure Skating Team. I joined at the beginning of my freshman year, and I have been able to meet some great people. It’s so fun to be able to practice at Freitas Ice Arena and see the Husky logo painted on the center of the ice. Skating with the UConn team is a great way to unwind after a long day of class and studying. Also, I love being able to represent UConn at intercollegiate competitions alongside my classmates and friends.

Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies. This past summer I had a job at the Ridgewood Animal Hospital in New Jersey. It was a great experience to work with doctors and veterinary technicians in a hospital environment. I had the opportunity to observe surgeries and take care of animals in the ward unit. My co-workers were so supportive and helpful. They even helped me to prepare for the various certification tests I took throughout the summer! I loved getting to see what it would be like to have a career as a veterinarian after graduating from school.

Recently, I started shadowing a medical doctor in the Pediatric Emergency Department at a hospital in New York. I liked experiencing the fast pace environment of the emergency room. I admire the ER doctors for their quick decision-making ability to provide the best treatment possible to their patients. I hope to continue learning more about this field in the coming months.

What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career? My biggest challenge so far has been balancing my academics and school work while continuing to be a part of Team USA and representing our country at international competitions. During the skating season, which begins in the fall semester and continues through spring semester, my Team USA commitments include daily individual practices, weekly team practices, as well as up to six domestic and international competitions. Our international competitions are during the spring semester and typically require travel to Europe for a week each time.

I am lucky to have such great support from my advisor Dr. Zinn, my professors and the Dean of Students Office, all of whom go above and beyond their job responsibilities to help me manage my academic and athletic commitments. It’s hard to stay on top of school work and to make up missed assignments, so I truly appreciate all of the help and support I can get at UConn on a daily basis.

When do you expect to graduate? What then? I plan to graduate in May 2021 with a dual degree in animal science and psychological science. I haven’t decided where these two degrees will take me, but I know that I want to continue school, whether it be in the veterinary or medical fields. I also plan to continue pursuing my passion for skating in my spare time and hope to become a technical specialist so that I can provide advice to teams across the country.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? I have been a part of the U.S. Figure Skating DREAM program (Determination, Responsibility, Education, Achievement, and Motivation) the past 2 years. Each year, US Figure Skating selects 12 skaters from across the country to serve as ambassadors and promote synchronized skating. DREAM athletes strive to be role models for younger skaters who are just starting in the sport. Here are some articles I’ve written about my skating journey and being a student at UConn.

By: Thomas Krumel