Aika Aluc '16
"NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK. YOU NEVER KNOW WHO YOU'LL MEET. YOUR PEERS ARE THE NEXT GENERATION OF ENTREPRENEURS, LAWYERS, ETC."
Aika Aluc '16 discovered her passion for maternal and child health while majoring in biology at the University of Hartford. With encouragement and guidance from professors and peers, Aika embraced opportunities here that may not have been available at a larger university. She writes to us from D.C., where she is currently pursuing a master's degree at The George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health.
Name the 3 best things about UHart.
1. When referencing school size, UHart is not the largest. There are a lot of opportunities that are readily available that wouldn't be at a larger university. For example, I was a chemistry teaching assistant for labs at UHart which wouldn't be possible at a bigger school. Positions such as those typically go to master's or doctoral level students.
2. You can really get to know your professors. The smaller class sizes make it feasible to create personal relationships.
3. UHart has a lot of community outreach programs. It allows for students to not stay in their bubble but branch out and feel a connection to the outside community.
What is your favorite UHart tradition?
Spring Fling! Between track, academics, and work, it was nice to have a weekend to relax and prepare for the academic final stretch!
Did you have a favorite professor, coach, or mentor who helped shape your UHart experience?
There were a lot of people who shaped my UHart experience. The entire Chemistry Department; Alexandra Coury '08, M'10; and the list could go on. One person I would really like to highlight is Assistant Professor Paola Sacchetti, PhD in the Biology Department. She taught me a lot about biology and life, in general. I remember approaching her about her research, and though I did not have any prior experience, she took a chance on me. I can't thank her enough for giving me an opportunity and teaching me along the way.
Was there a defining moment at UHart that led you on the path to where you are today?
My junior year, the MCAT changed. I had a mini-panic attack like, "So I'm not ready for the new one; what should I do?" My advisor, Professor Edward Gray, and Linda Schultz of Career Services, really helped me find public health. I had an overwhelming passion for maternal and child health and I found a program at The George Washington University which really aligned with my interests. If it wasn't for that reality check, I don't think I would almost be done with my master's in public health now. I still see myself pursuing medical school down the road, but this master's will change my journey for the better.
What advice would you give to current students and young alumni?
Network, network, network. You never know who you'll meet. Your peers are the next generation of entrepreneurs, lawyers, etc. They can help elevate you to the next level and, potentially, engage in collaborative efforts. I know we like to network up, but there's power in the classroom and the people who are around you.
More about Aika:
I'm currently finishing up my Master of Public Health degree at The George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health. I'm a Clara Schiffer Fellow working on a project to design and implement a maternal iron deficiency and anemia control strategy in India using a social norms approach and self-help groups. My culminating experience is based on gender-based violence in Haiti and its association with collective norms; as I am finishing this experience, I am figuring out what's next for me post-graduation.