New to the U

#NewToTheU: Meet Connor, Maggie and Olivia, members of the Class of 2024

On the "U Rising" podcast, President Ruth V. Watkins engages in insightful conversations with students, staff, faculty, alumni and community stakeholders who are at the center of the state's flagship research university. President Watkins also connects with other leaders to give listeners a fresh take on top issues and innovations in higher education in Utah and across the country. You can subscribe to U Rising via iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher and other podcast streaming services.


Connor, Maggie and Olivia are #NewToTheU. Learn why they chose the U and about their degree aspirations. We can’t wait to welcome them and other members of the Class of 2024 to campus! Recorded on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. Thanks to Brooke Adams and Dave White for technical assistance. Music by Taylor Hartley.


President Ruth Watkins called three incoming first-year students to see why they chose the U, what they want to study and how they plan to make a difference in the world.

Zoom Call #1

President Ruth Watkins: Hi, Maggie. I'm President Ruth Watkins at the University of Utah. I am so pleased that you're going to be joining the U, this fall! Wow!

Maggie: Hi. Nice to meet you. I'm so excited!

President Watkins: Well, tell me a little bit about how did we get you to ‘yes’? We're just thrilled that you're coming.

Maggie: Yeah. Well, I had a couple offers, a couple in Utah and two from out of state. Well, first of all, I love living in Utah and I didn't see any reason to leave. It's so beautiful here, and I just love the community here and also I want to go to medical school. So, I was thinking about colleges that could give me a good foundation in science and research, things like that. And I think that the U just provides a ton of opportunities to have a really good foundation and education.

President Watkins: You are making a rock-star good choice because the U, of course, has a fabulous medical school and all kinds of undergraduate experiences to help you prepare for that. As you think about your undergrad years, what are some of the big things you hope to be able to do as a student?

Maggie: One thing that I think is awesome about the U, that was lacking in some other schools, is that undergraduates can do research, especially as younger freshmen and sophomores, that is really exciting. And I just really want to meet a lot of fun friends and people that can motivate me to have fun, but also get a really good education, because that's what college is about. I just hope to really look back on these years and remember them fondly and have fun and learn a lot.

President Watkins: You know what? I know you're going to be a star student at the U, and you're so right. What an opportunity to come to a research university and be part of generating knowledge. If ever there were a time when we're thinking about the importance of health and medical research and healthy behavior, it's now. I think you will find a great faculty mentor and match to help you do that. What about some fun things that you really like to do, as you're thinking about making friendships, making memories, building relationships for life, what do you like to do other than school and study?

Maggie: In high school, I've been on the cheer team for four years, I've done dance company and I don't plan on doing that at the U. I'm excited to sit in the MUSS and watch all the sports games. And I just love that in Utah you can go skiing and water skiing and hiking and do all this fun stuff with your friends. So, I'm just excited to, I mean, I've lived here all my life, but I'm sure there's stuff I can still experience. And I'm just excited for the college atmosphere and everything that I can do.

President Watkins: You're so right. There's so much here for you. Well, we look forward to welcoming you this fall and until then, go Utah!

Maggie: Go U! Thank you!

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Zoom Call #2

President Ruth Watkins: Hello Connor! My name is Ruth Watkins. I'm the president of the University of Utah. I'm so delighted that you're going to come to the U in the fall! Tell me a little bit about how you decided on the U, what drew you to us?

Connor: Well, I've been to Salt Lake City a couple of times in my life. I'd have to say last year, my junior year of high school, I was able to visit the University of Utah, and did a tour around the school. Through the people I met, they just opened my eyes to like how engaging the community is. And the campus is clean and the way it's set out, the open campus, it's just very welcoming.

President Watkins: You know, I couldn't agree more. It is a beautiful place with so many opportunities. Are there any things that you'd really like to do while you're here? What are you thinking about studying or big experiences you'd like to have?

Connor: Well, I have already started to look into the ski club. I'm a big skier, so I'm excited for the winter, but as far as school goes, I’d love to be entered into the business program here.

President Watkins: Oh, that's a great business program. And I think somebody might have told me that you were interested in entrepreneurship. Is that true? Are you thinking about being an entrepreneur?

Connor: Yes, ma'am. I'm staying in the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute this semester. I am very excited.

President Watkins: So, you already know that you're going to live on campus and you're going to live in Lassonde. That's great. It's a spectacular place. Did you get a chance to tour it?

Connor: I went inside and saw the entrepreneur, the little businesses, the startups. And so that was really cool to see. And I've just been excited this entire time. Can't wait to come on next year.

President Watkins: Well, we can't wait to meet you on campus. And I look forward to meeting you in person and even more to finding out about what kind of a business you decide to start. I think that'll be great fun. You've chosen a great place. Now, what about things outside of classes and academics? You said you like skiing. Any other things?

Connor: I'm really into the outdoors. So, anything from mountain biking, hiking, running, swimming, I'm all about it. So, I mean, obviously I was drawn to the U.

President Watkins: Yeah. It's a perfect place for all those interests and more. I think you're going to meet wonderful people, have great opportunities to learn and to live and to grow as a student. So just know that we're so happy that you said yes to us. And until I get to meet you in the fall, go, Utah!

Connor: Go Utes!

President Watkins: You got it. Go, Utah! Connor, when you are here in the fall and you come to New Student Welcome, please come up and introduce yourself to me afterwards.

Connor: Yes, ma'am.

President Watkins: Now you have some lacrosse friends or some rugby friends or what is that?

Connor: I have a whole three friends coming. One switched from lacrosse to play rugby with us this year. But one is actually committed to the U for lacrosse. His name is Dominic Atwell.

President Watkins: Well, that's great, that'll be fun. Now, what about your high school? I know you're from Sacramento, but what's your high school?

Connor: I'm from Jesuit in Sacramento. So, we're the Marauders.

President Watkins: Marauders! I have never heard of that before for a mascot.

Connor: Oh yeah. It's like a pirate.

President Watkins: Okay. So, what about, how is it going for you right now? What a strange way to wrap up your high school career.

Connor: Oh, I know it's sad really. I mean, after these great four years to end it off on online without our friends is definitely a change. Something I couldn't even plan for, but I mean, Jesuit has prepared us and this whole conversion to online school has been pretty flawless. I mean, they've done a great job preparing us.

President Watkins: Good. Do you have any tips for other students about how to be a successful online student?

Connor: I think the best thing is to just not put it off, just to do it immediately. I mean, the assignments can really stack up, especially without tutoring or missing peer help. So, if you can just get on top of it and stay on top of it, that'll lead to good success.

President Watkins: You know what? I think that's good advice for college. Connor, you're going to be a rock star at the U. We're so glad you're coming. I look forward to meeting you in person.

Connor: I look forward to meeting you as well.

President Watkins: Thank you. Be well, stay safe and healthy.

Connor: You, too. Thank you so much.

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Zoom Call #3

President Ruth Watkins: Well, hello, Olivia. My name is Ruth Watkins. I'm the president of the University of Utah. How are you?

Olivia: I'm good. How are you?

President Watkins: I'm great! And I'm even better because I've heard you've said yes to your admissions offer at the University of Utah. We are thrilled!

Olivia: Yeah. I'm so excited.

President Watkins: Well, tell me about how we got you to yes. What were the big factors that made you decide that U was for you?

Olivia: Well, I live in Colorado, so I have looked into CU Boulder. It's about 30 minutes from my house, so it was always on the back of my mind. I wanted to go somewhere new, but I also wanted it to be really similar to Colorado because I love everything about Colorado.

And I was like, what is Colorado's twin? And it's Utah. That's how I started looking at Utah. And then I toured it in September with my dad and we went to a football game and we toured the campus. We did a tour with the college. And then my dad on the last day drove me up the Canyons and I am a big skier. So, I was just taken back as it's so beautiful up there. And it's so close to the campus. Whereas CU Boulder is about an hour from a mediocre resort, but University of Utah is 30 minutes from some great skiing. And also the law program really attracted me because I'm very interested in politics.

President Watkins: Well, I think you are making such a wise choice because of course we do have the greatest snow on earth. That's the truth and the greatest law school as well. So, you're going to be such a spectacular student at the University of Utah.

We love students who are thinking about big problems in society that they want to solve and where they want to make a difference and I can see you have a perfect frame of how you want to have an impact. What I want you to know is there are so many ways at the University of Utah that your voice can be heard, and you can be part of this. It sounds like a political science major might be in store for you. And what about an internship while you're in school? Have you thought about that at all?

Olivia: Yeah, so I'm actually looking into being an intern for [John] Hickenlooper's senatorial campaign this summer and possibly getting college credit for it. I emailed the political science department and so we're still working out the kinks and we're going to see if I get the internship. And then I was looking into the Hinckley Institute and possibly looking into doing some of those internships that are in D.C. and in the White House. Those would be really cool and they're just so interesting and I'd love to even do one in Utah, just any internships for any campaign or any politician just really intrigues me.

President Watkins: Well, you have found the right place. The Hinckley Institute is the most miraculous institute that helps match students with great internships locally, nationally and frankly, around the world. I just met a student yesterday that had done three or four Hinckley internships, and she had just won some wonderful national recognition and scholarships, and you're going to be following right in those footsteps.

You already have a really good sense of what you'd like to do and how you want to make a difference. So, you will be a wonderful addition to the U. Tell me a little bit about where you're planning to live. Do you have a sense of where you're going to live on or off campus or how are you going to manage that?

Olivia: Yeah, I would really love to live on campus. That's definite because I live out-of-state, so I don't really know where else I'd live. And I was looking at Sage Point. Sage Point is definitely my number one. My sister goes to Boise State in Idaho, and she has a suite room and I just really liked the idea of suite because you have your own individual space for studying and just anything that you want to do, doesn't have to conflict with anybody else. But also you have roommates because I'd really like to meet people. So yeah, I have my four roommates, so we're all hoping to be in Sage Point together.

President Watkins: Great decision. Living on campus is a big life changer. So, I applaud where you're heading there. And Sage Point is a great place to be. Tell me about where you're coming to us from.

Olivia: Yeah. I live in a really tiny town called Lyons, Colorado, and it is, I don't know if you've ever heard of Estes Park but we're a pit stop on the way to Estes. So that's really exciting for summer season when there's just tourists everywhere. It's a really small community, very tight knit. I went to Lyons Elementary School and then I went to Lyons Middle/Senior High School, which is a high school and middle school combined. So currently I'm finishing out my senior year there. I've been with the same 40 kids since I was three years old. I've gotten to know everybody pretty in-depth and it definitely has its drawbacks, but I really love the feeling of the community. I definitely wanted to go to a bigger college because I wanted to have that opportunity to see, like I've seen the smaller schools. So I want to see a bigger school and a bigger community now.

President Watkins: Well, I really look forward to meeting you when you get to campus. I want to challenge you that when we meet each other in the fall at New Student Welcome, come up and introduce yourself in person so I can get to know you during this time. Thanks so much for taking a minute to visit with me today. I appreciate it and welcome to the U! So, we say go Utah!

Olivia: Go Utah!

President Watkins: Go U!