Casey Sturzo ‘19

Finding Confidence through Experience
UNH animal science major Casey Sturzo '19

Casey Sturzo ’19 didn’t need to go far to find a life-changing college experience: 10 miles, to be exact. But for the senior animal science major from Epping, New Hampshire, the distance made the difference. Here at UNH, she found the voice to share her ideas and knowledge (and puns!), faith in her intelligence, and confidence in her ability to achieve whatever she sets her mind to.

COLSA: Looking back on your time at UNH so far, what are you most proud of and why?

Casey Sturzo: I'm proud of the confidence I have gained here. As a freshman, I was reserved and quiet in classes because I was afraid to be wrong or embarrassed. I missed out on many opportunities to understand concepts better and build relationships with professors because I didn't feel smart enough to be here.

As a result of learning how to study more effectively and taking giant steps out of my then-comfort zone, I morphed into a student who participated in class discussions, asked thought-provoking questions, and developed fantastic relationships with many of my professors.  With each passing semester, I become more confident in my ability as a student, and that confidence will be easily translate when the time comes for me to be an employee, scientist, and leader.

COLSA: What motivates you?

Sturzo: I'm motivated by experience. My first semester in college was quite rough, but it motivated me to do better. I’ve been on the Dean's List continuously since Spring 2016. My first internship took place at the Center for Wildlife while I was a sophomore and leaving it left me hungry for more. I got a job at the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory shortly after, and the following summer I attended a 10-week-long research internship at the University of Missouri.

Each milestone motivated me to complete another so that I could continue applying my skills to my work. There is no better feeling that knowing the degree I've worked so hard to earn applies to the work I do. Gaining new experiences in my varying classes and jobs helps me become a better person and nothing motivates me more than that. Except my family, because they they're the ones pushing me to work so hard!

COLSA: Why did you choose your major?

Sturzo: I grew up in a rural town surrounded by horses, cattle, and pets, whether they were my own or a neighbor's, but my biggest influence was during my junior year of high school. For one class period, I went to the Seacoast School of Technology (SST) to attend the animal and plant science course taught by Ms. Anne DeMarco. That's where I began to learn about the field of animal science and agriculture as a whole. I learned that animal science didn't have to mean working with cows, but that it could mean veterinary medicine, disease surveillance, or research, and it extends beyond animals to protecting human health as well.

This two-year-long course, the contagious passion of Ms. DeMarco, and my experience as a member of the Future Farmers of America all led me to choose the animal science program at UNH.  Thanks to the passionate faculty, who are creating more hands-on opportunities for students with on-campus diversified species, it’s been an incredible experience.

COLSA: Any advice for students interested in your major?

Sturzo: Take all types of classes and pay attention to what you like studying best! There is an overwhelming amount of electives to choose from, which makes it difficult to decide. Talk to your peers and professors about certain classes you have interest in but take their opinions with a grain of salt; the way one person approaches a tough course may be wildly different from you. My worst grades are from classes that many said were easy while my best grades are in some of the traditionally toughest courses. Your level of success is heavily influenced by your gusto!

Oh, and if you don't like cows - that's okay. You don't have to be cattle-oriented to be an animal science student. The major is extremely broad. Find your niche and run with it. Explore all areas of your interests, and always step out of your comfort zone.

COLSA: What are you planning to do after graduation?

Sturzo: I'm taking time to work so I can narrow down my ideas for prospective master's programs. Right now, I'm focusing on diagnostics, diseases, and histology. I've been working at the New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Lab on campus in the histology department for a year, and I absolutely love it. I hope to continue working with diagnostic sciences for a bit to attain my histotechnologist certification. With that certification, I could work at a human or animal diagnostic laboratory or find work as a research technician while I research master’s programs that would be a good fit for me.

COLSA: How is your experience at UNH preparing you to achieve your goals?

Sturzo: My undergraduate years taught me how to advocate for myself and make choices that are best for me. When I discovered I loved biomedical science electives, I figured out how to add it as a minor. When I wanted more hands-on experiences, I found an applied internship. When I wanted more research skills and wished to leave New England for the summer, I applied to a program at the University of Missouri. 

I learned how to balance work and play by experiencing what it’s like when they are unbalanced, and I made a ton of mistakes along the way. In fact, the mistakes were the best part; rarely did I ever repeat them because they always taught me some important message. Looking at the PowerPoints isn't studying; sitting in a lecture on your phone isn't efficient notetaking; staying up all night binge-studying only makes you groggy for the exam. Correcting these mistakes has helped me achieve so many goals at UNH; I'm so grateful for another semester of experiences, the good and the bad, before moving on to achieve my goals somewhere else.

COLSA: What do you most love about UNH?

Sturzo: The community. I never lived on campus, yet I still managed to establish great friendships along the way. I cherish all of the friends I've made and I'm grateful for the fellow students in my major who've been there since day one. Whether you live on-campus, off-campus, or commute, or if you've transferred, there is a place for you at UNH, it just may take some time before you figure it out. If you have patience and stay positive, and you will find it.

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