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Profile: Andrea Ryan

What motivated senior Andrea Ryan, an Iowa native and valedictorian of her Bettendorf High School class, to pursue her engineering studies halfway across the country in Storrs? This chemical engineering major was attracted by the combination of academic excellence, a compact campus, and a competitive swim team.

Reason for Coming to UConn:
“UConn offered me a strong scholarship package that made coming 18 hours [driving time] east from Iowa actually cheaper than remaining in-state. Although my primary focus when choosing my future university was the academic programs, I was interested in continuing my swimming career and UConn possessed strong programs in both those areas of my life. After I visited the campus, I was convinced that UConn was the right choice for me. Growing up in Iowa, I found UConn’s compact campus very attractive, and the fact that Connecticut was investing heavily in new buildings and facilities proved its commitment to the advancement of the University.”

What attracted you to UConn:
“Based on my academic performance and valedictorian honors in high school, UConn offered me a strong scholarship package that made coming 18 hours [driving time] east from Iowa actually cheaper than remaining in-state. Although my primary focus when choosing my future university was the academic programs, I was interested in continuing my swimming career and UConn possessed strong programs in both those areas of my life. I also considered the University of Iowa, Washington University at St. Louis, Purdue, Syracuse, and a few others, based on their engineering programs. After I visited the campus, I was convinced that UConn was the right choice for me. Growing up in Iowa, I found UConn’s compact campus very attractive, and the fact that Connecticut was investing heavily in new buildings and facilities proved its commitment to the advancement of the University. During my tour, I also met with the swim coaches and some of the engineering program directors, who ultimately solidified my decision.”

Impressions:
“Although there are few female engineering students on campus, I have always felt comfortable in my program and with my classmates. The School of Engineering works hard to create a more diverse program, with more females pursuing engineering fields every year. I definitely think engineering is among the hardest majors on campus, but after spending four years with the same group of students who are working hard and struggling right beside you, you inevitably create a strong support network. As a member of both the Honors Program and the varsity swim team, I have had opportunities both in and out of the classroom to expand my knowledge with new experiences and meeting new people.”

Beyond Engineering:
“As a captain of the swim team, which competes in about 13 meets yearly, I’ve had to challenge myself to inspire and lead a great group of female student-athletes. I compete in the backstroke, breast stroke, and individual medley for the Huskies. Swimming takes discipline and dedication, so I learned to balance my commitments before even reaching high school. We practice twice a day, do weight training, and also have team study halls. As a captain and learning group leader, I’m responsible for helping with team morale, making decisions in the team’s best interests, mentoring, welcoming and advising new team members, and looking after the team’s academic performance. Balancing my time between practice and classes does prove hard at times, but it is all about good time management. After awhile, you master good study skills, learn what the professors expect of you, and learn the value of every free time period you have left to spend time with your friends.”

Career Plans:
“During my senior year, I’ll finish my last year of collegiate swimming and enjoy spending time with my friends and teammates. My future in the medical field is still undecided at this point, but I do have strong interests in research and public health.”