Emily Hoffins embraced numerous beyond-classroom learning opportunities

Emily Hoffins, poses for a picture in front of Hiram Smith Hall, home of the Department of Life Sciences Communication. Hoffins will graduate early this spring and was a member of the inaugural class of QuickStart, an early start program for incoming first-year students. Photo courtesy Emily Hoffins.

Emily Hoffins, who is graduating this spring with a bachelor’s degree in life sciences communication and a certificate in business management for agricultural and life sciences, comes from a proud Badger family. Her grandfather, an English immigrant, earned his Ph.D. at CALS and became a CALS professor, and her grandmother, a German immigrant, worked as a lab technician in the college’s Enzyme Research Institute. Hoffins’ parents are both UW–Madison grads, and her older brother graduated with a CALS degree. So, needless to say, it means a lot to Hoffins to join the Badger alumni community.

Hoffins is graduating in just three years, thanks to AP credits from high school, the CALS QuickStart program and big course loads. Her self-motivation and hard work have paid off: Hoffins will be starting a Ph.D. program at UW–Madison this fall. In this Q&A, Hoffins talks about her academic path, career plans, and some of her favorite experiences as an undergrad.

Q: How did you decide on your major?
A: I discovered the life sciences communication major [early on] through CALS QuickStart. I declared my major after meeting with the LSC advisor and taking courses with several of the professors. Getting to candidly talk with and learn from leaders in the field helped me feel like I found a place on campus where people share my academic passions and skills. It’s a program that synthesizes my interest in the medical industry with my aptitude for communication.

Q: What was one of the most valuable college experiences you had?
A: My current position as a technical writing intern has been a phenomenal opportunity to grow as a life sciences communication professional, as well as apply a lot of the concepts I’ve learned in my courses. The opportunity to study and apply life sciences communication course material has validated the career and academic direction I’ve chosen to pursue.

Q: What’s next for you? What are your future academic or career plans?
A: I’m very excited to have been recently accepted into the Health Services Research in Pharmacy Ph.D. program in UW–Madison’s School of Pharmacy. This program stood out to me as their research is uniquely interdisciplinary, so the learning environment is saturated with diverse ideas and the professors all contribute a wealth of expertise in their areas of study. Additionally, the program has a vast network for research and professional opportunities that enhance student development to become contributing leaders in the health services field.

Q: When you think about your time here as an undergraduate, what are you proud of?
A: I’m most proud of how I’ve been able to embrace opportunities that enhanced my experience at UW. I’ve been able to get involved in a number of student organizations, work campus jobs, secure a great internship, and take an abundance of relevant courses. While I’ve packed a lot into my three years as an undergrad, primarily focusing on my education and life goals, I’ve still enjoyed all of the iconic college experiences.

Q: In what ways did the CALS QuickStart program help support your undergraduate experience? How did it help initially—and along your academic path?
A: Being a part of QuickStart provided me with a variety of pre-college experiences that allowed me to make valuable connections with programs, professors, and other students in CALS. QuickStart did a great job laying the groundwork for me to come to college feeling comfortable and confident on campus. I’ve continued to foster the connections I was able to make with my advisors and QuickStart peers, and they’ve been a very valuable resource to offer guidance and camaraderie to enhance my academic experience.

[Now,] as a [student employee for] QuickStart, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with some of my most influential mentors as well as insightful undergraduates. Being on the QuickStart staff working as a teaching assistant for a CALS first year seminar has been one of my most fulfilling experiences during undergrad.