Meet undergraduate student Lauren Soranno

As a First Year Experience (FYE) mentor for the animal science major, senior Lauren Soranno encourages entering UConn students to get involved. Coming from a small town to a large university, she says engaging academically and socially made UConn feel like her home away from home. She also says the hands-on learning and research opportunities in the College have prepared her for the next step in her career: veterinary school. Read more about Lauren’s experiences as a UConn student.

What attracted you to the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources?

UConn CAHNR had one of the best animal science programs compared to other colleges. Once I visited and did more research on UConn, the welcoming and caring advisors and faculty members, the barns on campus and the promise of a small college feel within the larger university attracted me further to UConn. I could not be happier with my decision to be a Husky and CAHNR is really a close-knit community that I am proud to call my second home.

What is your major, and why did you choose it?

Since I was three years old, I have had a strong passion for animals. The joy I experience from interacting with them cultivated my zest for the veterinary profession. Numerous experiences have solidified my desire to apply to veterinary school so that I can ultimately prolong the lives of more animals and strengthen the human-animal bond. This desire pointed me towards majoring in animal science on a pre-vet track, which combines my love for animals and intrigue for science. I also declared a minor in molecular and cell biology to broaden my knowledge and better prepare me for veterinary school.

Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why?

For the past two years, I have had the opportunity to mentor the animal science FYE course with Professor Steven Zinn, which has been an amazing experience. I am able to provide freshman with tools to thrive during their first semester giving them study techniques and tips for balancing academics and extracurricular activities. Their excitement to do well at UConn and similar desires allow us to connect well and develop relationships easily. It is very rewarding and fulfilling to see how each of my classes have matured and immersed themselves academically and socially at UConn and developed friendships by the end of their first semester. While I helped them get through their first semester, they helped me grow as an empathetic leader.

Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies.

The experiences I get from the hands-on classes offered in my major at UConn are amazing. As a freshman, I trained my own dairy cow, Arlynda, for Little I [Little International Livestock Show]. I also tagged and tattooed cattle’s ears and trimmed sheep hooves. As a sophomore, I had the opportunity to perform my first surgery, a unilateral orchiectomy, on a rat. As a junior and senior, I continued to get hands-on experience working with sheep and learning various laboratory techniques. Being able to take these hands-on courses in addition to learning in the classroom has really benefited me.

Another experience I’m grateful for at UConn has been my involvement in Professor Sarah Reed’s laboratory, where I am working on my honors thesis. I combined her area of focus, maternal nutrition, with my interest in endocrinology to investigate the effects of poor maternal nutrition during gestation in sheep on the expression of leptin and ghrelin in the offspring. Undergraduate research has exposed me to scientific inquiry and reinforced that although there will be obstacles, there are many ways to solve a problem.

What has the biggest challenge in your UConn career?

The biggest challenge I faced was transitioning to college my freshman year. I’m very close to my family, I’ve had a super-close group of friends since elementary school and I knew almost everyone in my town. Coming to UConn where I only knew a few people on the large campus was difficult originally, but I was able to make another close group of friends. CAHNR helped to make UConn feel small and I got involved both socially and academically early on.

When do you expect to graduate? What then?

I expect to graduate in May 2020. Afterwards, I hope to attend veterinary school to become a small animal veterinarian. This past summer I applied to veterinary school and I am currently waiting to hear back from some places!

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

I love to travel. Although studying abroad did not work out for me at UConn, I was able to backpack through Switzerland for two weeks this past summer. I went from Zurich to Bern to Zermatt to Interlaken. With a day trip to Iceland and a flight through London, I was able to experience a variety of different cultures and was fascinated by all of these places. After I graduate, I will be going to Italy to explore another culture and look forward to more trips in the future!

By Jason M. Sheldon