Meet recent graduate Kelly Chuquihuanca

Kelly Chuquihuanca
Kelly Chuquihuanca

Kelly Chuquihuanca is a recently graduated agriculture and natural resources major. She started her journey at UConn in the Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture, completing her associate’s degree in animal science.

Once moving to CAHNR, she was actively involved in orientation for the college and was one of our College Ambassadors. These experiences caused her to realize that her passion is in teaching, and she will be receiving her Masters in curriculum and instruction from the Neag School of Education with the aim of being an agriculture educator. Here is what she said about her CAHNR experience.

What attracted you to UConn? One of the biggest reasons why I chose UConn was its animal science program. UConn has one of the best programs for people who are interested in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine after they complete their undergraduate degree. Another big reason was the size of the college, I come from the city, so I was not afraid of how big the campus was. Plus, UConn’s commitment to community translates to a warm welcoming for upcoming students.

What is your major, and why did you choose it? I was initially an animal science major in the pre-veterinary track. I was accepted into the Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture and completed my associates degree in animal science in 2016. Right after I graduated with my associates, I transferred to CAHNR to continue my dream of becoming a veterinarian. The summer of my junior year, I realized I wanted to follow a different path. So, I switched my major to agriculture and natural resources and minored in animal science and Spanish. This major allowed me to pursue my new career path while expanding my knowledge in other departments.

Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why? The summer of my junior year, I was offered a position as an orientation assistant for CAHNR. That summer, I realized that I loved working with students, as well as teaching them. I realized that as much as I enjoyed my journey in the Department of Animal Science, there was still something missing in my life. Working with students from various backgrounds and seeing their faces full of excitement and ready to start the next chapters of their lives gave me such a rewarding feeling. That’s when I knew that I wanted to make a difference in students’ lives.

Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies. During my undergraduate career, I had the opportunity to be a College Ambassador for CAHNR for two years. Being a College Ambassador helped me learn more about the college and the rules and policies. I participated in events, such as career night, open house and visits to other campuses. This program expanded my network, improved my communication and oral skills and gave me the opportunity to meet very wonderful people in the College.

Before I became an ambassador, I was a mentor in a program called METAS (Mentoring, Educating, and Training for Academic Success) in the Puerto Rican, Latin American Culture Center.  During my time as a mentor, I had two mentees whom I helped transition into their first year of college. This program allowed me to expand my knowledge by learning more about other cultural centers. At the beginning of the program, I was given special training where I learned more about all the resources available on campus that can be helpful for my mentees and me.

What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career? Changing my career path was one of the biggest challenges I faced as well as being away from home. It was a very scary moment in my life because I did not want to disappoint my parents. After all, they sacrificed for me to get the best education, but having their support and love made it easier. Because of this decision, I found my passion, and I don’t regret anything that I did.

When do you expect to graduate? What then? I graduated in 2018 with my BS in agriculture and natural resources. I recently got accepted into the Teacher Certification Program for College Graduates (TCPCG) in the Neag School of Education where I will be pursuing my Masters in curriculum and instruction, as well as my certification to become an agriculture teacher. I will be graduating in May 2020.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? I moved to the United States from Peru when I was 15, and it was a tough transition. However, my experiences as an immigrant and as a first-generation college student motivated me to help more students like me who come from other countries looking for better opportunities in their lives. I currently work at Goodwin College as a bilingual admissions representative and assist students who want to learn English as a second language.

By Thomas Krumel