Amanda Whitten '10
As a high school student, it was an intimidating thing to choose my new home for the next 4 years. I looked at schools across the country to try to decide where I wanted to go. Though in the beginning I had very little criteria, they had to have a good intramural sports program and had to have Zoology as a major. Everything else I would worry about later. Come my senior year of high school, I had narrowed it down to five schools. My mom and I went on a college road trip February break and visited 5 colleges throughout New England, including University of New Hampshire. Throughout all of them, I took notes on everything, the campus, the dorms, dining halls, and everything that we learned from our tour guides. That whole week, UNH just stood out to me as the contender. It is a biking/walking campus, great intramural sports, plenty of dorm styles to choose from, the dining halls have plenty of food options, and the kicker for me as a high school student was the train into Boston, my home. Practicality played a very big role in my choice of college. After 4 years of living on campus, 3 years of working as an office/lab assistant and getting my bachelors degree, I wouldn’t change a thing.
I recently returned from a 3-month internship in Wylie, Texas at In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Education Center. In-Sync Exotics specializes in exotic cats, housing lions, tigers, cougars, leopards, lynx, bobcats, and servals. Most of the cats living there were rescued from horrible conditions at inhumane breeding facilities, entertainment facilities, and from private owners. Working at In-Sync Exotics was a lot of hard work but an experience I will remember for a lifetime. In-Sync Exotics is solely run on the donations and the dedication of over 80 volunteers. Most volunteers only come in once or twice a month, so as an intern that was living on site and working 5-6 days a week it is vital in getting the daily chores done. I knew everything that was going on, what needed to be done the next day, and who to watch for signs of stress or illness. It wasn’t paid, so money was always tight, and it was scary the first day being so far away from home, but once I was there, they made it feel like home. When the internship was over, and I had to fly back home, no one wanted me to leave, I didn’t want to leave, I loved working there. I worked my butt off, doing anything that I could to help out, from staying late to help on a night I wasn’t feeding (8pm-11pm) to finishing what I needed to do even if my shift ended 2 hours ago. It was that dedication to the cats and to In-Sync that made my experience amazing.
Now back home, working for Stone Zoo’s Birds of Prey Show, I think back to my time in college and at In-Sync and smile. College was amazing, an experience I won’t be forgetting any time soon. To incoming college students I would say, pick your college well, do your research, and you will not be disappointed. Get involved with your professors, as a lab helper or as a teaching assistant for one of their classes. And go to class, it might be early, and you don’t want to move, but just by going you’re getting credit from your professor and you will absorb more than an extra hour of sleep, that is what naps are for! And to recent graduates, apply, apply, apply! You never know where the next job or internship will come from, and nothing is guaranteed until they say “you’re hired!”