Meet undergraduate Luke Anderson

Luke Anderson
Luke Anderson. Omar Taweh/UConn photo

Many students face a challenge at UConn trying to balance academics with their social lives and involvement in interests outside the classroom. Luke Anderson encounters this, as well. However, Anderson seemingly has more activities to coordinate. For example, he is a University Scholar, working toward dual degrees in nutritional sciences and anthropology with a minor in math, and needs to prioritize leadership responsibilities. Here is what he said in an interview.

What attracted you to UConn? My high school in Tolland had about 200 students in the graduating class, and I wanted a bigger school where I had more choices of what to study. I also wanted a college that offered many clubs and activities to choose and had a diversity of people to get to know. UConn’s affordability and academic standards appealed to me, as well.

What is your major, and why did you choose it? I am getting a dual degree in nutritional sciences and anthropology with a minor in math. I knew I wanted a field where I could help others.

Studying nutrition was understandable because I have always been interested in food. When I was little, I wanted to be a chef. Anthropology appealed to me after learning about it through one of my general education courses. I really appreciated the social approach, versus nutrition’s scientific approach, of learning about cultures and their food.

Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why? At the end of my sophomore year, I was selected for the UConn@COP program with the UConn Office of Environmental Policy. (The Office was reorganized into the Office of Sustainability in 2019.) I was selected to be part of a faculty and 15-student delegation that went to Katowice, Poland for the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, or Conference of the Parties (COP), in December of 2018.

It was transformational and enlightening to meet people who are addressing environmental issues through activism and policy and to think about how I could apply this to my own studies and interests. I highly recommend that students apply for participation in future years.

Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies. Also in my sophomore year, I was part of a group of students who founded the UConn Global Health Symposium as a part of the Global Health Symposium Organizing Committee (GloHSOC). It is now an annual interdisciplinary event that raises awareness of global health issues among students on campus. Speakers and panelists have included public health organizers, doctors and faculty members from UConn and other schools and organizations.

In addition, my current job with the Honors Program allows me to get to know and work closely with faculty and staff as well as like-minded students. As part of the Honors Guides for Peer Success (GPS), we help empower others to get the most out of their experience at UConn. The program has been there for me through difficult times over the years, and I wanted to pay that forward to other students. In the school year, I offer resources to those who walk into our office. This summer, I worked on honors programming for incoming students.

What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career? I have been challenged by balancing things I care about and am involved in, such as my friends, clubs, mental health, and class work, and by navigating through college to find the right faculty to help fuel my interests and work with me on research.

When do you expect to graduate? What then?  I plan to graduate in May 2020. I am currently applying for a Marshall Scholarship to get my master’s degree in the United Kingdom. As a backup plan, I have always been interested in joining the Peace Corps in order to work on local food systems and promote public health among young populations.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? I am a University Scholar, and my research project for that studies food habits and relationships with food among immigrants in the New Haven area.

On August 19, I am going to Lund University in Sweden as an exchange student for the fall semester. I will engage in Swedish language studies and learn about the social anthropology and sustainability, including sustainable eating. I look forward to reconnecting with distant family there, too.

By Patsy Evans