Student Union
Student Voices

From Fall River to UMass

UMass Amherst ROTC student in uniform in front of the American flag

Coming from a vocational technical high school, Lorelei Hetzler was encouraged to look into alternative post-graduation options to attending a university. She always knew she wanted to be an Air Force officer, but she also wanted to pursue an education in engineering. And although she explored different paths – and even considered joining the military – Lorelei eventually determined that UMass Amherst was the best decision for her.

Now a sophomore, Lorelei began her UMass journey by enrolling in MassTransfer, a program that enables students to study two years at a community college and then transfer to an in-state university. After completing her community college education, she began to consider UMass Amherst. “I was interested in UMass because it’s such a highly accredited university,” Lorelei shares. “The engineering department here is one of the best.” 

Another factor that played into her decision was the chance for a “completely fresh start.” Growing up in Fall River, Lorelei wanted a change of pace. For her, this meant traveling a little further away from home. “I was so excited for the opportunity to meet new people and be around a different crowd.”

Pilot selfie taking in the cockpit

Although Lorelei did not know anyone going into her freshman year, she quickly developed a tight-knit community. “Joining clubs really helped me adjust, and that's what made such a large school feel a lot smaller,” Lorelei says. She is involved in the Newman Catholic Center, as well as UMass CHAARG, a girls’ fitness and wellness organization. “Those are the two clubs that really stuck, but I also signed up for every club UMass offered,” she shares. “It’s important to try everything.” Just a few months ago, she became a member of the ROTC. Since joining, Lorelei has “found exactly where [she] belongs,” and has made some of her closest friends within the organization.

When Lorelei’s not in class or at a club meeting, you can find her outdoors. The town of Amherst offers beautiful nature and gorgeous hiking trails, which she enjoys exploring. “I love being close to the woods. This is probably the first time I've ever experienced fall foliage, and it’s incredible.” Her favorite trail to walk is Mount Sugarloaf, a brisk hike with a gorgeous view of the Pioneer Valley.

Lorelei has made the most of her time here at UMass Amherst, and she owes it all to simply being herself. “If I could give any advice, I’d say open yourself up to new opportunities, because college is full of possibilities. Don't be afraid about what people think about you or how people are looking at you. Just be yourself and say yes to everything. That’s how I found the people that I wanted to spend the rest of college with.”