My name’s Jess Kirchner, and I’m a junior here at UConn, studying political science and economics. I’m also in my third year of Arabic, and intend to do something with refugee work after graduation! I’m a Student Involvement Ambassador in the Office of Student Organization Support and Involvement, and spend my time there offering assistance and training to the leaders of all the clubs on campus.
My experience with the Lead the Pack Program was wonderfully influential. As a SOLID workshop instructor, I often find myself talking to student leaders about the role of the President here at UConn, and how her strategies can apply to their administration within their club. When I was selected to participate in Lead the Pack, I was so excited to sit down with President Herbst herself, and see her leadership in action. The entire process was enlightening, and the staff in the Center for Career Development, Amelinda Vazquez especially, were so helpful and kind!
That morning (after I spent 20 minutes picking out the right shoes to wear), I met with Amelinda and my fellow participant, Amy Cezero, to walk to the President’s office, after which we were introduced to the President’s cabinet. All of the members of the cabinet were attentive and inviting, and I was pleasantly surprised by the interest they took in our studies. They asked about our future plans, the classes we were taking, and offered advice about who to connect with on campus.
After meeting the cabinet, Amy and I sat in on a meeting between President Herbst and UConn’s Chief Architect, Laura Cruickshank. They discussed the upcoming renovations for the Fine Arts building, as well as their plans for the bookstore. I was especially excited, because one of my best friends on campus spends a good amount of time in the art building, and the designs look amazing (I know they’ll appreciate the natural light)!
It was awesome to see a female as the chief architect here on campus, especially because it’s a predominantly male field! It was incredibly interesting to hear how UConn chooses its architects, and how we reserve some projects for Connecticut residents and minority-run firms. As a student here, it means a whole lot that the tuition I pay is being used both effectively and morally, and the meeting I sat in on with Ms. Cruickshank proved just that.
Overall, the Lead the Pack Program was an incredible experience, and one that I would encourage any Husky to apply for. President Herbst was friendly, helpful, and excited to answer our questions. It gave me a look into the administration side of political science, and helped me understand how the University works as a whole. In my position in Student Affairs, I’m often amazed by the level of engagement and excitement on campus. The Lead the Pack Program showed me that the UConn spirit is just as present in the administration as it is in the student body!