UC Stories

Shauna Dieffenbach

I was between U. Albany and going here. But Albany got rid of my program. So then I was between Utica and Oswego. I was about ready to tell Oswego yes, and then I got an e-mail from Oswego telling me, ‘Your major is now a minor.’ And then that same day I got my award letter from Utica saying I got a scholarship, and I said, ‘I’m going to Utica.’

My mom wasn’t too thrilled at first because it was a private school. She would have rather I go to a SUNY school or a community college. And then we calculated it out, and I actually would be paying the same amount if I went to Utica or if I went to a SUNY.

And actually this was the one school I fell in love with. I visited here like 17 times. Once because my friend wanted to go see it. Another because my dad wanted to see it at least twice. My mom wanted to see it like seven times, and I was working to convince my mom because I really wanted to go here. To me, because I’m from a small town, this campus is like big to me but at the same time it’s small enough where I feel comfortable, unlike Albany, which is like ginormous and I’d probably get lost. My tour guide showed me the theater, and theater is a huge part of my life. That I felt like I was at home with because theater is like my home away from home.

After I went home after my last tour of campus, I actually missed the college already, and I wasn’t even a student there yet. I actually missed the school for some reason. I was still nervous about going away from home, but I was like, ‘Okay, I’ll try it.’ And when I came here for my first year, the first day I realized why I had missed it. And when I left for the summer after my first year, I went home and I immediately started counting down the days until my sophomore year because I love this school. My mom thought I was nuts because she was like, ‘You don’t want to spend any time at home.’ But I absolutely love the school.

I know everybody. I love my friends. Everybody knows everybody. I have really great friends who I met at orientation. Everyone’s really friendly. I’m an RA, and my first years look up to me. They depend on me, and I depend on them. If they ever need anything they can ask me. Or if I ever need anything I can ask not just them but I can ask my friends, I can ask my supervisor, I can ask the dean of students, I can ask anybody. Or just talk to them. And if I have a concern, I know it’s actually heard. Whereas if I went to a bigger university, I probably wouldn’t be heard because here I’m a student and if I went to be a bigger university I’d be a number. Here, I’m actually a person. My professors who I had my freshman year and haven’t taken a class with since, they still remember me, and they still talk to me and ask how I’m doing. They’re always there to make sure I’m on track and to make sure I’m doing well in class.

It’s like this campus, in a way, is run by the students. Whatever we want to do happens. RHA is doing a luau next week, because students wanted more to do in the beginning of spring to hang out and relax before finals. It’s like you meet your lifelong friends here and you make those important connections, and it not only helps you develop as a person but also professionally because you have all these opportunities on campus.

I’m a foreign languages major and a history minor. It’s really challenging because we have to take so many culture and language classes. And my senior thesis had to be a 19-page page, and the language I chose to write it in was Spanish. My topic was bullfighting in contemporary Spain. It gave me leeway where I could take so many culture classes and I could study abroad, which I did. I went to Madrid. I met so many people. I have Spanish friends now, and we Skype every week, and we just catch up. I want to go back. I would live in Spain because I just love it.

I’ve discovered here that I’m a born leader. I helped to re-establish Circle K my freshman year and then it got officially put as an international chapter last year. I’m not afraid now to stand up for what’s right. I used to be very, very quiet in high school. I would live in theatre and lacrosse, and that was it. I’m very active, and I just never realized how involved I am until I was applying for graduate school and the stuff I was involved with on campus was like a page and a half long. I’ve done Leadership Weekend here, which was really, really fun. I do tours and telecounseling for Admissions. If my chance to show new students why I love this school. I’m pretty sure if I went to another school I wouldn’t be heard and I’d probably be the same person. I wouldn’t be as driven to go out and do the things I did here. This school always pushed me to keep going. Your professors support you.

My organizations were extremely community service driven. I got to give back what the school gave to me. I’m looking for different ways to give back to the school. Utica gave me some many different opportunities to help the community outside of Utica College, and I just want to keep doing it. I could easily say I don’t want to graduate and just live here forever. There’s just something about this school itself. It’s very welcoming. You’ll see like everybody hanging out. People who at other places you don’t usually see interacting together you see them here hanging out together in the quad, eating together at lunch. It’s really interesting to see. My high school everything was very clique-y and separated, where you only hung out with people who were exactly like you. You never hung out with people who were from different backgrounds, different ethnicities, or different places. Like, my really good friend here is from Indonesia, and I love her to death and me and her talk all the time. And she’s back home now, and it’s very different. I think that’s like one thing that maybe students here don’t always stop and think about, that it’s one of the most diverse campuses on the east coast. It offers you a little bit of everything and it kind of gives you a taste of the world outside of New York.

We've done so much. We did intergenerational cleanups. We went to houses in the Utica College area, people who weren’t able to clean up their yards because they were older or because they had a disability or something like that. We’ve done the Heart Run and Walk and the Breast Cancer Walk, Two years ago, we did an egg hunt with kids.
   Shauna Dieffenbach


Major: Foreign Language (Spanish)
Minor: History


Circle K

Utica College

One thing I love is when we go right across the street to the St. Luke’s Home and we play bingo with the residents, and I love sitting there talking to these senior citizens because they have such amazing stories and they love to talk to you because they love to tell you about their families or tell you how nice it is that somebody’s come to see them. That alone is really rewarding to me.

I think community service just gives us a way to look outside of ourselves – to look beyond ourselves and the people immediately around us and to appreciate what we have and what we have to give. We talk about ourselves as poor college students, but look at the people who are around you who are suffering every day. You want a way to help them so they’re not struggling. A lot of organizations here do food drives and coat drives to help give back to the community. It helps everyone feel more connected because this community supports us, and we support the community.

A typical Utica College student is a student who is involved in at least three or more organizations, does well in the classroom, hangs out with friends, and still has time to call her parents at least once a week and tell them that you’re alive. My mom used to call me like every day, and I was like, ‘Mom, I love you, but you need to stop calling me – I’m busy.’ Also a student who is not afraid to interact with other students. If I didn’t go to a school like this, I wouldn’t be friends with the people I’m friends with now.

I’ve done theater since day one here, and Professor Marijean Levering has just made it really interesting, to say the least. She’s always been supportive of me. I just had class with her, and I’m really emotional right now, because it’s the last class I’ll have with her. She’s always been really good about open-door policy. Very, very helpful. If you ever need somebody to talk to, you can go into her office and just rant and she’ll listen. She offers you candy. I love all my professors. Professor DeSimone is a new professor here. I love him. He’s an awesome professor. I had him for my European history course. He’s very, very knowledgeable. He’s awesome. He’ll meet with you, and he’s always there to answer any questions you have and he’ll walk you through stuff.

I like the quad. I like hanging out with my residents while they’re out there playing games. I can hang out with my friends or do homework there. I like hiding out in the fields by the tennis courts. There’s no one really back there. There are a lot of great places to go for walks on campus.

A lot of my friends have graduated now, but they still come back because this is like their home. It’s my second home. I don’t want to graduate. If I could, I would just work here forever. Like jelly.

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1600 Burrstone Road | Utica, NY 13502