"My happiness in life has been due, in large part, to taking advantage of opportunities presented to me."
Sunya Yakovleff’s path through college has not been a traditional one yet has provided her the chance to take advantage of the opportunities available at UNH. Sunya took a year off after high school to work and sort out her next step. She went to Keene State College for a year before transferring to William Woods University in Missouri. She only attended William Woods for a semester before moving back to New Hampshire because she missed the area. After taking more time off from school, Sunya ultimately decided to apply to UNH.
Sunya wasn’t sure what career she wanted to pursue, but she took a Biology course at Keene State and really enjoyed it. The course got her thinking about careers that would combine her science interest with her love for horses. She eventually decided being Pre-Vet made the most sense; however Sunya is still not certain what her future holds.
Sunya admits she was very selective about her involvement at UNH because she wasn’t as interested in the social aspect of college as most students appear to be. Initially, she didn’t get involved because she wanted time for transitioning to a new school. However, she became active in the Pre-Vet Club while she was still adjusting to life at UNH; a year later she began working in the Diagnostic Lab on campus. The new position sparked Sunya’s heavy interest in lab work. She worked in the mailroom and the serology lab, while completing other odds and ends throughout the lab. Sunya valued the hands-on lab experience. The next year, Sunya was trained in the histology lab and was able to get some more practical skills under her belt.
One of the most important things Sunya experienced during her time at UNH was the therapeutic riding program. She took the class and loved it so much she began volunteering with the program. She had the chance to learn about the field of therapeutic riding and what happens behind the scenes, as well as earn an instructor certification. Sunya loves the combination of working with horses and helping people. In Sunya’s own words, “It is so rewarding and so much fun.”
Without people like Cindy Burke and Michelle Fleetwood, Sunya would not be where she is today. Cindy Burke, the Director of Therapeutic Riding, has been a mentor to Sunya. Sunya has learned so much from Cindy and is thankful Cindy has given her so many opportunities. Michelle Fleetwood, Sunya’s advisor in the Pre-Vet program, has been a huge part of her college experience. Sunya describes Michelle as: “wonderful and personable, interested and involved.” Sunya would not have known about many of the UNH opportunities if Michelle had not brought them to her attention.
Sunya has enjoyed many courses at UNH, but one stands out the most - “CREAM class.” Dairy Management majors are required to take the class, but Sunya took it because she was simply curious about the material. In the course, students manage a dairy herd. The class works as a team to determine much about how the course is set up for the semester. Students truly have to take initiative and direct their own learning. Sunya is grateful to have had this invaluable and unique opportunity.
Outside of UNH, Sunya has been fortunate to have the love, respect, and support of her parents and family. Her husband, Parker, is supportive of everything Sunya does. Sunya says they complement each other, and Parker pushes her to do things she wouldn’t normally do.
Sunya gives advice to other students, “Get involved, but be selective! If you don’t like something, try something else. There are a million things to get involved in at UNH! Find a professor you connect with, and find a mentor you can go to for advice or to answer questions.” Sunya is grateful for the path she took to get to UNH. Taking time off and trying out different schools taught her a lot about herself and what learning environment she would best thrive in.
Sunya is looking for a job with a vet or in a lab setting after graduation but has also thought about going into Occupational Therapy or Physical Therapy. As a licensed therapist, she would be able to incorporate therapeutic riding into a portion of her work. She loves therapeutic riding but knows there is a high burn out rate, and Sunya never wants to stop loving horses. In ten years, she hopes she will have either a Masters or a Doctoral degree, have a successful career, have traveled the world, and have started a family with her husband, Parker. Sunya may not have all the details figured out exactly, but she is motivated and open to the opportunities life throws her way. When Sunya looks back on her time at UNH, she will always remember the therapeutic riding program and CREAM class. In addition, her overall academic classes and professors will stand out the most. Sunya explains, “Even though there are 15,000 students at UNH, you can be your own individual very easily here.”