Hannah Clark is a multi-faceted student with interests and talent in mathematics, psychology, and the arts. She is currently in her junior year at UConn and sat down to talk about her experiences!
Nishitha Edupuganti: Can you introduce yourself a little along with your major, minor, and plan of study?
Hannah Clark: I am Hannah Clark. I am a math major, and I am thinking about getting a minor in psychology. My plan of study so far has been pretty open-ended, just taking a lot of classes in CLAS and seeing what a good fit is.
NE: What are some of your main interests, and how do they relate to what you are studying?
HC: I think my interests are quite different from what I am studying. I really enjoy music and art (I actually started as an art major at UConn!) But with both math and music, one of the big things that I really enjoy is pattern recognition. I have also recently been taking a lot of my psychology coursework. I think many interests also come from experiences that encompass group activities and getting to work with other people.
NE: What are some cool projects or experiences that you have had the chance to work on in your college experience?
HC: I was a Career Intern at the Center of Career Development, which was an enriching experience. With COVID impacting everyone, this past year’s experience has definitely been very different. But I think I have been able to engage with my coursework a lot more and get to know professors better. One of the classes that I really enjoyed taking this year was Number Theory, a very interesting and cool type of proof-based math that focuses on natural numbers and natural numbers properties. It was also a beneficial class because these are numbers that you deal with on a day-to-day basis.
NE: What does diversity mean to you and your professional/career path?
HC: Being at college and being a person of color impacts both identity and self-conception as a young adult. These things impact what choices you make and what academic fields you may feel comfortable in. There are more males in my classes than females in math, and I haven’t seen many other Black people in the major. I believe that this is changing, though, as diversity and inclusion increase because it is such an important topic. Focusing on a more comprehensive worldview, such as how mathematics emerged from different cultures and looking at how it played into so many global societies, could benefit students. Studying and learning about your major doesn’t have to end at school!
NE: With your identity, do you feel like you are pushing boundaries? Do you feel inspired by others?
HC: In some sense, I feel like I am pushing a boundary with my area of study because many marginalized communities are left out. That makes me think a lot about mentors that I had before getting to college. I had some really great teachers in high school, even from elementary school, who really believed in me and kept in touch with me throughout the years. This made me feel a lot more confident in my skills than someone who wouldn’t have had access to resources like that. Many marginalized students don’t have access to the same resources as other students. I feel like I really benefited from making relationships with mentors that helped me pinpoint and encourage certain skills early on.
NE: What are some career goals? What effect do you think that your mentors played on your career goals?
HC: My career goals include finding something that makes me happy while also learning new things and challenging myself. I think that my mentors had high expectations for me, which has inspired me to want a lot for myself. Before quarantine, I had always thought about what kind of career I wanted to build for myself, and that being the main facet of my life. But during quarantine, with so many aspects of your day-to-day and social life being taken away, I started thinking about the role of a job as something that would allow me to live my life rather than my job being my life.
NE: What are some people, resources, or organizations you would recommend to other UConn students?
HC: I definitely think that the Center for Career Development is beneficial, especially the resume critiques! Resumes are such an important document to be looked at, and the short critiques allow a way to dip your toes into the world of career development. The CCD also has a lot of alumni relations and networking events that can benefit you. I also recommend having a good relationship with an advisor is very important! Even if you don’t like the first advisor you are assigned, look out for professors you could see connecting with, especially if you are interested in higher education. And there are so many clubs at UConn. Join clubs that share your interest because it can help you build a good network around you. In today’s world, what you know is important, but who you know is just as important!
NE: What is some advice you would give to other UConn students?
HC: I would say to stay well networked and make sure you have social outlets, even if you don’t feel like you need them, they are very important! At the same time, take the time to really focus on your work, because when you leave college, you will have a lot of responsibilities (if you don’t already), and that work ethic is sometimes overlooked. Also, I would recommend that students of color get involved in cultural/ethnic clubs and organizations and get involved with your areas of interest and major, such as Math Club!
NE: What are some of your achievements and accomplishments?
When I was in high school, I had never really considered what I wanted to do in college, and I was the type of kid who had a lot of different interests. So one of my main accomplishments was taking a variety of classes across several schools/colleges at UConn, such as the School of Business and the School of Fine Arts. I believe that if you are interested in several different things, you should explore them. Approaching my studies as interdisciplinary and seeing the skills I have achieved is something that I am proud of.