Meet our Student Ambassadors

Meet our Student Ambassadors

Do you have questions about living and learning at the Honors College?

University of Massachusetts student Adrianna Brent

Adrianna Brent

Junior, Class of 2024

Hometown: Peabody, MA

Major(s): Political Science and Public Health

What is your favorite thing about CHC?    

"All in all, my favorite part of CHC is the sense of community! Coming to a large public university like UMass, I was afraid that I would not be able to find my place. However, the Honors College is a tight-knit community that provides supportive faculty members, fun cultural and social activities, and opportunities to support the community through service-learning. Since being in CHC, I have formed deeper connections with forward-thinking faculty and students and engaged in many insightful experiences. The Honors College has been a safe space to think, learn, and explore. I would not trade my place in this community for anything."

Josh Budd at the University of Massachusetts

Josh Budd

Senior, Class of 2023

Hometown: Holden, MA

Major(s): Economics, Mathematics with a Concentration in Statistics and Data Science

Is it possible to be in STEM while also being in Honors, playing sports, and having a social life?

"Engineer, nurse, pre-med — you name it, we got it! Honors students are UMass Amherst students first and foremost, so anybody can be part of Commonwealth Honors College no matter their major. In fact, the Honors curriculum is designed to seamlessly fit in to any major's curriculum as the requirements are designed to enhance your UMass experience. Personally, I'm double-majoring in Economics and Mathematics, so studying both a STEM field and a social science has kept me busy. My required Honors courses have fit into my schedule well since separate requirements can often be fulfilled with just one course. I've been able to have plenty of fun at the same time. I go to the gym three to four times a week to work out and a couple other times a week to play basketball. Being in CHC hasn't kept me from fitting those fun times in, especially since the Rec Center is right next door!"

Gavin DeFina at the University of Massachusetts

Gavin Defina

Sophomore, Class of 2026

Hometown: Belford, New Jersey

Major(s): Geography and Sustainable Community Development

What advice would you tell your high school self about being an Honors student at UMass?

As a high schooler, I was really nervous about leaving my hometown and going to college, but I found my new home in the Commonwealth Honors College! Joining the Contemporary Topics Residential Academic Program, I was able to connect with other first year students living on my floor, especially since I brought a doorstop with me, so I can say 'Hi!" to anyone passing my room. Academically, I learned it was important to stay organize with class/work schedule and making sure all requirements are reached for my double major. I highly recommend using Google Calendar and making appointments with professional and peer at the Bloom Advising Center!

Carlea Dolcine at the University of Massachusetts

Carlea Dolcine

Senior, Class of 2023

Hometown: Somerville, MA

Major(s): Psychology, Afro-American Studies

Have you found your professors to be accessible to you outside of class?

The professors here at UMass are some of the most student-oriented and passionate people I have ever had the pleasure of learning from, and forming these connections is even easier with the smaller Honors classes. Each professor holds office hours, which is time outside of your regular class meeting set aside for students like you and I to ask clarifying questions, delve further into any class material and related interests or even just stopping in to introduce yourself and say hello. And if stopping by their office in person doesn't work for you, they are always an email away, to ask that question or set up a meeting time that works with your schedule.

Vanessa Isbrandt at the University of Massachusetts

Vanessa Isbrandt

Junior, Class of 2024

Hometown: Natick, MA

Major(s): Political Science, Sociology

What do you do for fun in your free time?

On the weekends I love exploring the area and appreciating the beauty of western Massachusetts. I am also on the women's rugby team and when we don't have games, I love spending time bonding with my team! There are also a wide variety of events hosted on campus. I love to see what intramural sports are holding events and even hopping in sometimes! It's also really important to find time for self care during one's free time so when all else fails, you can find me cuddled up with a cup of coffee watching an episode of New Girl!

Tanyi Muanya at the University of Massachusetts

Tanyi Muanya

Junior, Class of 2024

Hometown: Milford, MA

Major(s): Political Science, Journalism

What resources are available to me for setting up my schedule and organizing my life?

ADVISING! ADVISING! ADVISING! Taking advantage of the advising resources provided to students is the best tool when creating your schedule. Advisors are there for the sole purpose of helping ease our experience as students and they are very knowledgeable on what would work best for us. UMass provides advisors in every department and major. I make sure to have at least one meeting per semester with my advisors because they guide me very diligently and help me in both academic and out of school aspects. The advisors at Commonwealth Honors College are well informed on the Honors curriculum and are always happy to assist students in and out of CHC. There are also many peer advisors who are current students and who are in your shoes as a student. Peer advisors are a great resource if you want assistance from a student's perspective.

Colby Myers at the University of Massachusetts

Colby Myers

Junior, Class of 2024

Hometown: Bridgewater, MA

Major(s): Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Psychology

What additional opportunities are available to Honors students at UMass Amherst?

As members of Commonwealth Honors College, we are always UMass Amherst students first, so although we are part of the Honors community, that is just another aspect of our academics and life here. Being in the Commonwealth Honors College allows me to enjoy life in a big university as a UMass student but also get that small college feel in Honors classes. It has also been amazing living in the Honors Residential Community for two years because of how close I am to the library, my classes, the Recreation Center, Roots Café, and other great places to study and spend time on campus. The Honors College also offers many unique events like Pizza & Prof, which bring students and faculty together to make connections and learn more about research opportunities across campus.

Mimi Letsaroj at the University of Massachusetts

Mimi Lertsaroj

Sophomore, Class of 2026

Hometown: Bangkok, Thailand

Major(s): Computer Science

Why did you choose UMass Amherst and Commonwealth Honors College?

When choosing my university, I had three crucial criteria:

  1. The quality of the computer science program
  2. Research opportunities available
  3. Whether the curriculum would allow me to engage with my passions

It just so happens UMass Amherst and CHC met all three with flying colors! Particularly, CHC appealed to me as the environment and curriculum aligns with my personal values and goals as a student. The curriculum was designed in a way which catered to my personal goals and interest, where I was given the flexibility to explore topics beyond my major through classes like Ideas That Changed The World without taking away focus from my discipline. The general education classes offered at the Honors level also accommodates my preferred learning style, where they’re typically more interactive, discussion-based style as well as, at least for classes like linear algebra or calculus, go more in depth with proofs and theories behind the discussed identities. Lastly, and likely one of the biggest reasons I chose CHC, was because of the Honors thesis. Yes, you read that correctly. The thesis is the perfect opportunity for me to engage with my passion in a way that is specifically catered to my interest and my goals. This is a unique circumstance that, although may be daunting, allows me to combine different facets of my interests into a passion project that not only serves to cultivate my knowledge, but also allows for extremely valuable hands-on experiences that will help me in the future.

Zach Wald at the University of Massachusetts

Zach Wald

Sophomore, Class of 2026

Hometown: Newton, MA

Major(s): Biology

Are Honors classes harder than the regular version? Are they just smaller?

The short answer is that it depends. During my first semester at UMass Amherst, I was engaged in two Honors courses. The first was Biology, and the second was College Writing. I found that the College Writing course was no more difficult than any other writing course I might have taken. I truly felt that the course was designed to help me hone my writing skills to the college level, and that the big difference between this course and a non-honors writing course was the class size. Honors College Writing is capped at 15 people, and so I really had the opportunity to engage with the professor, engage with my peers, and get comprehensive feedback. At the same time, I felt that Biology was intense. We dug deep into the topics, far beyond the details I had learned in high school, and we took on some very difficult and confusing topics. However, I felt that this course gave me a great advantage because it offered me the opportunity to participate more, engage with my professor, and understand the content on a deep level. Now I feel that I have the tools and knowledge to digest the content in future biology courses.

Abby Wing at the University of Massachusetts

Abby Wing

Senior, Class of 2023

Hometown: Newbury, MA

Major(s): History, English

Minor(s): French, Information Technology

In coming from a smaller high school, what was the transition like to a larger university?

Coming from a small high school, I was afraid that UMass would be too big and overwhelming for me. As a first-year student, joining a RAP (Residential Academic Program) within the Honors College helped me make friends with my floormates. Additionally, taking small Honors classes allowed me to adjust to college life while giving me the opportunity to make friends with my classmates. Furthermore, participating in clubs such as the HFA (Humanities and Fine Arts) Student Leadership Board gave me a sense of community within my college. Going to Honors events such as Pizza & Prof nights provided me with a way to meet more people in the Honors College as well as get to know UMass faculty better (the free pizza also didn't hurt!)