I came on a campus visit to UNI in the fall of my senior year, and after visiting several other great schools I have to say I was surprised when I immediately fell in love with UNI. The campus was the perfect size, it was the right distance from home, and the students and staff were all so welcoming. On my visit I spoke with a few professors in both the Chemistry and Biology departments and they made me feel ready to take on the challenge of college academics. I also was impressed with the University Honors Program and the opportunities it offered UNI Honors students. I think I chose UNI for many reasons, but I think my surprisingly wonderful first visit helped me choose UNI as my home away from home, and I am so glad I did!
I would say that the best thing about UNI is that it is made up of a diverse group of people that all feel connected to one big community. There are so many different opportunities and organizations that UNI students have the chance to experience and be a part of, and while each student may have a close-knit group that they belong to we are all proud to be a Panther!
The thing that surprised me most about UNI was the opportunities that academic departments and their faculty are able to give to students. The class sizes are small enough that professors really get to know their students and can provide them with opportunities that will enhance their academic career. I know several students, including myself, that have been asked by their professors to help with research projects, and at many bigger universities those kinds of opportunities are only offered to upperclassmen and graduate students. The professors and faculty here at UNI recognize dedication and potential, and they challenge you to be the best student you can be.
In my first two years here at UNI I have been involved in many on-campus organizations such as House Committees and Senate within my residence halls, National Residence Hall Honorary, Panther Push, and I have recently been elected the President of the Biology Department’s Pre-Veterinary Club. As a Presidential Scholar in the Honors Program, I was also able to take part in a course called Think Tank where I helped to plan and implement a service project called an Opportunity to Achieve, which raised over $1,600 and provided 125 books to the fourth grade classrooms at Edison Elementary in Waterloo. During my freshman year I was also a member of the Color Guard in the UNI Panther Marching Band and loved performing at every home game – Go Panthers! After my freshman year I also applied and was selected to be a Resident Assistant in Bartlett Hall, and I am very excited to be returning to the RA position in ROTH (Residence on the Hill) this fall.
Overall, being involved in on-campus organizations and activities has made my time so far at UNI very rewarding. Not only have I been able to meet so many great people and experience so many new opportunities, but I have also been selected for leadership roles that will allow me to help create those experiences for others while gaining important real world skills.
My academic experience here at UNI has definitely been challenging, but because of support and encouragement from my professors it has also been very rewarding. Having a very strong science background in high school I was excited for the challenge that college academics would bring, but I definitely had a few professors, such as Dr. Demastes and Dr. Simet, that helped make my first few years here at UNI successful.
Dr. Demastes was my professor for Organismal Diversity and Ecology, Evolution, and the Nature of Science, which are both required courses in the biology major. Having taken only one college level biology course since my freshman year in high school, Dr. Demastes was instrumental in my academic success. He was always willing to answer my questions during office hours and was overall very supportive and encouraging. Since my first course with him, he has continued to challenge me to grow and think about biology on a broader scale, and I am so thankful for his support.
Dr. Simet is my academic advisor and was also my professor for Organic Chemistry I & II. Upon enrolling at UNI, I was unsure about my Chemistry and Biology double major, but it was thanks to guidance from Dr. Simet that I decided to double major in Biochemistry and Biology, and he has been very helpful in scheduling my courses. Dr. Simet was also supportive of my academics when it came to his Organic Chemistry courses, and challenged me to not only learn but also understand the subject matter. Thanks to Dr. Simet’s encouragement and guidance, I was very successful in the organic chemistry series, earning one of the top scores both semesters.
When I tell people that I am a Biochemistry and Biology double major, they often comment or ask questions about the rigor of my coursework, but to be honest that is what I love most about my major! The subject material might not always be easy to understand, but the feeling of success once you do is always very rewarding. I love the challenge that my major gives me, and I know that it will be ultimately rewarding by helping me to reach my career goal.
I have many favorite places all around UNI’s campus, but I would have to say that the Biology Student Room (BSR) in McCollum Science Hall has definitely been my one safe haven since freshman year. I love it because it such a versatile space. It is my go to study spot, but it is also a great place to hold club meetings, rest between classes, or just hang out with friends.
I would tell them to embrace the challenge of college and use it as an opportunity to meet new people and experience new things. The college experience is what you make of it, so study hard but have some fun along the way!
Years from now, I will remember the lifetime friendships I made and the great times we had together at UNI! In my first two years at UNI, I have made so many great memories and I look forward to those yet to be made.
The Financial Aid Office has definitely helped me to make my college education affordable. They were very helpful my senior year in high school with questions about filing the FAFSA, and they have continued to help create the best financial aid package for me.
Upon graduating from UNI, I plan to attend Veterinary School and study mixed (large and small) animal medicine in order to one day open up my own veterinary practice.