Bella Hillman’s Spotlight Interview

We asked the peer mentors to answer some questions about their time here at UConn and give some simple tips and tricks to navigating the campus. Meet Bella! A Sophomore majoring in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Computer Science.

Bella Hillman

What semester is this for you?

This is my second semester sophomore year. 

When are you graduating?

I plan to graduate in May of 2024.

What’s your major?

I am majoring in chemical engineering.

Do you minor in anything or have a specific concentration within your major?

I am minoring in computer science.

Where are you from?

I am from Westford, MA, and my parents moved to North Carolina last summer.

Are you in a learning community? (which one) How has it helped you?

Freshman year I was in the engineering learning community. During COVID, it was especially helpful being in a learning community to facilitate meeting other engineers as classes were online. 

What on-campus activities/organizations are you involved in?

I am a part of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, ACM at UConn, and hopefully plan to attend a few paint club meetings!

Where is your favorite spot on campus to study or hangout?

My favorite spot to study is the library. Usually, I will be doing work with my friends who are also engineers, so it works as both a great study and hang out spot!

What is the easiest part of your academic career at UConn?

So far, the easiest part of my academic career has been navigating classes and staying on top of due dates. Shout out to my academic planner haha! 

What is the hardest part of your academic career at UConn?

The hardest part of my academic career is staying motivated throughout the week to complete my assignments to make time for the clubs. It is definitely easy to be a hermit in engineering, but it is important to have that school-social life balance.

Any plans after graduation?

After graduation, I hope to work in industry and maybe graduate school. 

What is your advice to incoming freshmen (in your major or in general)?

Do not be afraid to reach out to peers in your class! Doing work together and discussing the classes can really help you through the rough patches in your academic careers! Also, be attuned to which professors you are taking and their expectations! 

Do you have any tips for navigating the campus?

Before classes start, map out your route to your classes. Also, leave early to account for any time you get lost!

How did you handle online schooling vs in person schooling? Which do you like better?

As a freshman, I was coming in after the latter half of my high school senior year online. So, I was used to the online format and made use of a calendar to remind me of when my classes met online. Also, I took note of which classes were synchronous versus asynchronous. When in-person classes began, it took some adjustment to account for travel time to the classes and meeting every week at the same time. However, after a week or two, I knew when to leave and made sure to take good notes in class, as some teachers do not post the lectures. Personally, I prefer online classes so I could map out when I do the work and watch the lectures; build my own schedule. However, being in-person definitely makes it easier to ask questions and attend office hours. 

How was adjusting to life at UConn like for you as a freshman? Would you do anything differently?

The most difficult aspect to adjusting to life at UConn was putting myself out there and meeting people. In highschool, I was used to having my group of friends who already knew pretty much everything about me. However, I found that the more time I spent with people at UConn, the more memories I would make with those people, and the more we would get to know about each other. Therefore, knowing what I know now, I would definitely hang out with people more by doing work together rather than being held up in my room.

What resources are most helpful for the first years coming into the school of engineering? 

The Q center, W center, and office hours are great resources that incoming students should utilize. It is scary to raise your hand in class, so office hours are perfect for asking questions. Also, it is beneficial to have some subjects explained in a different way than the professor, and the Q center is perfect for that! As well, being an engineer, I definitely struggled with writing, so the W center’s workshops are helpful. Plus, they can help with resumes!

Any fun facts? 

I plan to study abroad next semester in Europe! Also, I ran a half marathon last semester! As well, I have an absurd amount of fun socks, which I wear to the Rec every morning; I love to workout!