Avolyn Nieves is a senior allied health sciences major with a strong interest in public health. She holds various leadership positions on campus. Not only does she serve as elections and outreach commissioner for USG, she’s also a campus tour guide and a member of the presidents’ council for race and diversity. Read more about Avolyn and the experiences that have shaped her undergraduate career.
What attracted you to UConn?
I was really attracted to the amount of opportunities and places to grow at UConn. There are always people to support you. I was impressed when I went to the first open house for general students and there were so many different programs, and the faculty and professors were there to talk about majors. The affordability also attracted me to UConn because I know I’m getting a great education at a great value.
What is your major and why did you choose it?
I am studying allied health sciences. I chose is it because I originally came in as pre-med and I wanted to do something broad in case I changed my mind. I ended up going down the public health route and I’ve found my passion in that. It was nice because I didn’t even have to change my major, just my concentration. The Department of Allied Health Sciences offers so many interesting classes about issues in health, both nationally and around the world. The courses cover areas of health ranging from management and business to preventing disease and epidemiology.
Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why?
My current job right now is the most memorable. I work at the Lodewick Visitors Center as a tour guide. I love the people I work with and it’s a great time to meet prospective students and their families from around the world. This job has given me a new appreciation of UConn because I must know about everything that we offer. It’s awesome being able to show off the campus while having fun and it has helped me gain lots of skills like public speaking, communication, flexibility and being able to work under pressure.
Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies.
Another experience that has enriched my studies is being a part of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG). Not only have I made amazing friends, but I’ve met inspiring and profound people through the organization. It’s nice being able to meet with faculty and administrators who advocate for students and want to make UConn a better place. Another experience that really enriched my studies is my involvement with the Puerto Rican Latin American Cultural Center, specifically the METAS mentoring program. I started out as a mentee my freshman year (shout out to the best mentor ever, Shariel Rodriguez), and ever since then it has been my second home. I have met some amazing people who have helped me embrace my roots and enrich my overall experience at UConn and feel more comfortable in my environment. I am now a mentor in the METAS program, and I have two freshman mentees who mean so much to me.
What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career?
My biggest challenge was being comfortable with not going down the path that I thought I was going to. I had to remind myself that I belong here, and this was a place I should stay. When I realized that pre-med wasn’t for me, it was hard because I no longer had a clear plan and I’m a huge planner. There were many transitions that I had to face and its’s hard for me to adapt to change. (Even going from a city [West Haven] environment to UConn was a transition for me.) I am glad that I went with allied health because I have always liked health but didn’t know how I wanted to pursue it. I love that I chose allied health because it’s so broad and there are so many different paths that you can take while still being in the major.
When do you expect to graduate? What then?
I expect to graduate in the spring of 2020. I am still deciding between graduate school directly after I graduate or if I want to gain work experience first. I want to work for an organization such as the Centers for Disease Control. I also like the college environment so I eventually would like to pursue a master’s in public health.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
A fun fact about me is that I took my first steps in Jamaica, where my mom is from. I was a late bloomer and didn’t walk until I was older, but started to run when I was in Jamaica. I am also a first-generation college student.