Chloe Heskett is a graduate of the University of Virginia (UVA for short), with a Bachelor’s degree in French and Politics.
Chloe’s theme through college was Exploration. Her desire to have a career abroad was her compass. She majored in French and Political Science. She was in the varsity rowing team the first year and then found her niche in the campus daily, Cavalier. She rose to become the Managing Editor of the paper in her senior year.
Hi-Fives from the Podcast are:
Episode Title: Chloe Heskett on UVA: Rich Traditions, The Cavalier Daily, and Career Abroad.
Episode summary introduction: As a high schooler, Chloe was a student-athlete. She carried a full load of APs in her junior and senior years. She was a cross-country and track runner, in addition to riding and rowing. For good measure, she was in the Orchestra as well.
Chloe Heskett is a graduate of the University of Virginia (UVA for short), with a Bachelor’s degree in French and Politics.
In particular, we discuss the following with her:
Topics discussed in this episode:
Memorable Quote: “...[UVA] it's a school with a rich history and a lot of traditions. And that's a really wonderful thing.”
Episode Transcript: Please visit Episode’s Transcript.
Transcript of the episode’s audio.
And it's [UVA] so big, has something for everybody. But one of the things that I really appreciated about UVA was that it's not dominated by any one type of social life. I mean, there, there is Greek life there, but you don't have to be involved in Greek life to have, you know, a great social life. There are all of the many student organizations and they each have, you know, sort of their own social centers and and social lives.
Chloe Heskett is a graduate of the University of Virginia (UVA for short), with a Bachelor’s degree in French and Politics.
As a high schooler, Chloe was a student-athlete.
She carried a full load of APs in her junior and senior years.
In addition to riding and rowing, she was a cross-country and track runner.
For good measure, she was in the Orchestra as well.
When Chloe applied to college, she was undecided about what she wanted to study or what type of college she wanted to go to.
Chloe Heskett joins us today to tell us about her UVA experience.
Before we jump into the podcast, here are the High-Fives, Five Highlights from the podcast:
And ultimately, I loved it, I loved the size of the school. And I was very glad that I went to a big school with a lot going on. But it also was quite something to adapt to, to settle into when I first got to campus.
I kind of had narrowed it down to UVA or another very small New England, liberal arts like, you know, that type school is Middlebury actually. And I chose UVA I think, basically, because I felt like I knew that I wanted an international global career later in life. And I felt like UVA would be a more recognizable name that like, you know, I could go anywhere in the world and, and, you know, I talked about UVA or UVA and my resume that like that would be more recognized than a small school.
[Peers - “Opinionated”]
UVA has such a distinctive character in terms of their students. I would call it opinionated. But in the best way possible, like anyone you meet at UVA, or any, you know, social gathering, you go to or if you're just, you know, leaving class and walking with someone, you're probably going to end up in some kind of philosophical or political or, you know, social or economic debate.
Year later, I found the Cavalier daily, which is the independent student run newspaper at UVA. And that became, I mean, half the time, I call that my major, because that's what I was really, really dedicated to I loved it, I spent, you know, as many if not more hours, on the paper, then on my academics.
[For Aspiring Students]
My first piece of advice would just be to be open to that, even if you think you know what you want. And that's great. If you have, you know, already have a passion that you're very sure about, but always be open to trying something else.
Venkat Raman 3:38
Now, I'm sure you want to hear the entire podcast with Chloe. So without further delay, over to Chloe Heskett!
Venkat Raman 3:47
I thought what we do today is talk about your experience at UVA, and sort of your undergraduate experience, how you got there, and what you feel about the place now, and obviously, what kind of advice and counsel you would have for aspiring students. So maybe we can jump right in and start from the top? You know, what kind of overall impressions you have of the place now looking back?
Yeah, absolutely. That's a that's a funny question for me. Obviously, it's hard to distill, you know, four years and entire college experience into like, you know, my impressions now. Funnily enough, one of the first things I go back to, is also one of the first things like when you're looking at schools you come across and that's the size of the school because UVA is actually quite a sizable school. I think they're, like 16 or 17,000 undergraduates. And that was it is huge. It was huge for me coming from I went to two fairly small, high schools, actually, the high school I graduated from my class was about just over 100 students, so very small, high school. So I think that's it was one of the biggest adjustment adjustments that was just this school is huge. Not only is the campus you know, fairly vast, but they're just, it's like a small city of students with my peers. And that was something that was both amazing and a little bit hard to adjust to. So I think that's, that's what stands out to me most when I look back at my time on UVA. And ultimately, I loved it. I loved the size of the school. And I was very glad that I went to a big school with a lot going on. But it also was quite something to adapt to, to settle into when I first got to campus. Two grounds I should say they call it grounds at UVA.
Venkat Raman 5:44
Maybe we can sort of get into why you picked UVA, why did you go there?
Sure. Yeah. That's a kind of interesting story. Don't do it this way story for prospective students. I basically ended up at UVA by accident. And I had like the picture perfect what you shouldn't do when you're applying to colleges experience, I had no idea what I wanted in college, I was completely overwhelmed by do I want big do I want small? Do I want, you know, urban or rural, coastal or interior? I just I had no clue. I had no clue what I wanted to major in what I wanted to study. So I was looking, you know, sort of broadly at good liberal arts schools. And I ended up I think my, I kind of had narrowed it down to UVA or another very small, New England, liberal arts, like, you know, that type school is Middlebury actually. And I chose UVA, I think, basically, because I felt like I knew that I wanted an international global career later in life, and I felt like UVA would be a more recognizable name that like, you know, I could go anywhere in the world. And, and, you know, I talked about UVA or had UVA in my resume that like that would be more recognized than a small school. In retrospect, I think that's a terrible reason to choose a school, I should have thought more about, what do I want in my college experience? And you know, what kind of school appeals to me more, and not, you know, what's it gonna look like? So, that said, I'm very glad that I went to UVA. It was a great experience. But yeah, in terms of how I ended up there, it was, it's just the the anti story that what you shouldn't do.
Venkat Raman 7:29
Well, turned out okay, so
Yeah, It did. And it's funny that I now work in in admissions, because because I had that experience in my high school.
Venkat Raman 7:44
What were your typical interests in high school? What were you kind of really excited or passionate about?
Yeah, I was. That's an interesting question. It feels like forever ago, it wasn't that long ago. I was very academically inclined. That was, you know, my number one was always school and took a lot of APs. I think I took three or four APs junior year and four or five senior year, I can't remember. But like, kind of crazy academic load. And I was a student athlete, as well as a cross country and track runner. And then I did, I rode my senior year when I moved to a different school and they offered rowing. And I couldn't, couldn't resist the opportunity to try that. So yeah, academics and athletics were my my big thing is I was an orchestra as well and, and pursued that a little bit. And in my high school summers and outside of school as well.
Venkat Raman 8:37
With all that, you land at UVA. How did that transition from high school to college for you? You mentioned the size, and obviously, that was one overwhelming possibly aspect. But how do the rest of the stuff go?
Yeah, so there was the size of course, there's also just so I was actually my family was international at that point. So it was an interesting transition for me because I was coming from London, where my family had lived in I've lived for a year. Before that I grew up just outside of Boston in a small town. So culturally, UVA and Central Virginia felt very, very different to me. So that was something to adapt to. Academically, it was not too difficult of a transition. Like I said, I was very academically inclined in high school. So it's not as if the academics themselves were, were such a difficult transition. But I think what made that difficult was, you know, you're adapting to everything else. And all of a sudden, you're on your own. I was, you know, far from family far from anything familiar. And you have all these new, like, sort of pseudo adult responsibilities in college that you're figuring out how to handle and yeah, so if there was struggle, it was in balancing those things alongside. Of course, the academics are rigorous. Yeah, they're meant to be But yeah.
Venkat Raman 10:01
Now you came in undeclared. You undecided undeclared major, or did you pick something when you came in?
No, I came in very much undeclared and remained undeclared for a long time I sort of would, you know, pick majors in my head, I was like, Okay, I'm really liking this, you know, medieval English literature survey course, maybe I'll be an English major, or, you know, I took intro to micro and macro economics and liked it and thought, No, maybe I'll pursue that. Yeah, so I changed a lot. I think I even at one point considered a biology major, which, you know, just totally out of left field. And I was I was a little bit all over the place, which, to some extent, was great, because I sampled a lot of different things. And I look back fondly, and like I loved some of those courses that I took that have absolutely nothing to do with what I do now and had nothing to do with what I ended up majoring in. But yeah, but I did change my mind a lot. That was maybe just a little bit too undecided.
Venkat Raman 11:03
Yeah, but that's what college is for. Right? Yeah. exploration. exploration.
Venkat Raman 11:13
Yeah, you said the student body was pretty big. What were your peers? Like? What What did you think of your classmates and folks around you?
I love this question. I feel like UVA has such a distinctive character in terms of their students. And I would call it opinionated. But in the best way possible, like anyone you meet at UVA, or any, you know, social gathering, you go to or if you're just, you know, leaving class and walking with someone, you're probably going to end up in some kind of philosophical or political or you know, social or economic debate. And there's always going to be you're always find lively conversation and people with interesting opinions. It's just a very engaged, opinionated, student body. And I think that's awesome. And it's also I will say, there's a diversity of views, just across the spectrum, which is something that I value so much, because that encourages just really interesting conversation. Always, you know, for me, at least in my experience, is always respectful is civil, but just very politically engaged and interested in passionate students who who want to talk to each other and exchange views and, and argue a little bit in the best way.
Venkat Raman 12:35
Yeah. debate and discussion. Now, what did you find that the students were from all over the place was it attracting was UVA attracting students from all over the world?
It absolutely does. And there is it is a state school, so it does have a minimum percentage that have to come from within Virginia. And that was actually that was something that I struggled with at first because I remember my freshman year, meeting so many students who were all from, it seemed like everybody was from Fairfax County, Virginia, and I like they were all from the same world. And they all you know, if they didn't actually know each other, they at least had the same sort of touchstones and were familiar. And I was outside that. So I always not always I for the first years, but like, like, I was missing something. But that became less important. And there there is a very large, you know, both across the US and international contingent as well at UVA definitely attracts, you know, a global student body so that was nice.
Venkat Raman 13:42
So, how did you find the classes? The teaching, the professors?
Yeah, well, like I said, I I sampled almost a bit of everything. never took any engineering classes, but I could, almost everything else. Yeah, so there's, there's quite a range. I, I was big on I loved lectures, that was for some reason, but I think that's like what I pictured college being as sitting in the lecture hall and having this you know, amazing, motivating lecture. So I loved the lectures and there were some there are some absolutely fantastic, you know, renowned lectures at UVA, I had a, an econ professor, Lee Coppock, who was just incredible, very memorable with, you know, give these if these lectures that were practically performative. And then, yeah, later, later in my time there once you get to sort of the 3000-4000 level classes, and you're in these seminars, and yeah, they're just very intensive, good teachers and professors at UBI are exceptional. For the most part. I hardly had, you know, a bad experience there. There have a very high standard.
Venkat Raman 14:56
You said you came in undeclared. part of the journey to finding a major come about I mean, how did you...
Yeah, another, another kind of accidental happenstance actually. So I, I took French from the get go, I was always every semester I was enrolled in a French course, because I had taken French all through high school. And it was very important to me to keep that language skill up, I didn't want to, you know, just have taken French in high school and like, you know, barely remember how to say my name is whatever. So it was important to me to keep keep the language going. And then the more French classes I took, the more I liked it and kind of realized as I was getting into my third year, and I needed to declare a major, and then I could add a second one later, once I decided that that was like, Well, why would I not just declare my major, I've nearly got the major credits, I'm going to continue. And it's going to be a useful thing. It has been a useful thing throughout my career since So, that's how French became the first major that I declared. And then I fulfilled the requirements for politics major as well, at the end of my fourth year, so those were my two, the two that I finally learned it on.
Venkat Raman 16:13
Let's sort of move on to the campus life, and maybe start about start off from the dorms and the living and all that and then talk about social cultural stuff.
Yeah, I mean, the dorm, the housing situation, UVA, as far as I know, it's pretty standard. I don't obviously don't have other schools to compare it to, in my personal experience. But yeah, you as a freshman, you're in a dorm or suite. I think that's, that's fairly normal. UVA does have a unique system, they do residential colleges, that you can opt into. And those are their dorm, or I think some of them are sweet, but they're living situations, or University Housing that's open to all four years of students. And actually, I did that my first year. And that was really interesting. Because you come in a freshman in your year down the hall from a third year, fourth year, your roommate will also be a freshman. But you're living in a mixed group, which is very cool. And you can get a lot of guidance. And I don't know, kind of learn your way around pretty quickly, which was nice. I will say I think the downside of that is there's definitely something to that freshman dorm experience that you don't quite get if you're in a mixed level. dorm, the residential colleges, but there it was nice. There was a particular community feel to that, that that was very cool.
Venkat Raman 17:40
So did you go off campus after a couple of years? Or did you...
I did Yeah, I did my second year in University Housing as well. But then they're they offer they offer after you proceed to University Housing and an apartment. And I think it's something like a lottery system, I'm not sure. But anyway, then I did my my third and fourth year off campus and Charlottesville is fairly affordable, I think probably mid range. And lots of there are lots of housing options around you know, pretty close to grounds. And lots of people if you're involved in a club or or social organization, there's often there's a house for that social organization that you can live in, usually as a third or fourth year. And that's a really nice option I had had some close friends, that obviously creates a very cool community within itself. And you get to live with people who share whatever interested is but your club is, you know all about. So that's a nice option.
Venkat Raman 18:45
So what kinds of activities did you engage in on campus? What were you... ?
Yeah, so there were, there were two major ones. My very first year, first semester, I happened to end up getting spotted and recruited onto the the walk on women's rowing team, which is basically like the trial team to then join the, you know, the real rowing team, which is no joke there, D one NCAA D one team. They've got a lot of titles to their, you know that they've won. And it's a very serious team. So yeah, I ended up doing that my first semester freshman year, and it was quite an experience. I wouldn't trade it. But I will say I did not continue after first semester because I did not go to school prepared to be, you know, a full time athlete. So that was intense. And it was a very cool experience. But I pretty quickly realized, this isn't gonna work for me. This isn't what I'm here to do. Yeah, so then it was I think it was about a year later, I found the Cavalier Daily, which is the independent student run newspaper at UVA. And that became I mean, half the time I call that my major, because that's what I was really, really dedicated to I loved it I spent, you know, as many if not more hours on the paper than on my academic system, maybe. But it was. Yeah, it was really where I found my calling at UVA was on the paper. And I worked as a reporter for them, and then a news editor, and then I was the managing editor of the paper, my last last year there.
Venkat Raman 20:32
So that to me screams journalist. You didn't, you didn't end up pursuing journalism, or is that...
Yeah, you know, I very strongly considered it. It was interesting, it was, I feel both lucky and unlucky. In some ways, the time that I was managing editor of the paper, a series of things happened that put UVA in the national spotlight. And that was a student, fellow, peer of mine, actually, that I knew, was violently arrested on campus or just off campus. And that brought, you know, a strong series of protests from Black Lives Matter movement, and it brought national papers to our campus as well. And then there was a Rolling Stone article on campus sexual assault that also brought intense scrutiny to UVA. And so we were reporting on these things, you know, managing a team reporting and personally reporting on these things, alongside ABC, CBS, and NBC. And I mean, it was, it was nuts were the deep end. And I think before that, I was very much considering a move towards journalism in my career. And I don't know if I would quite call it burnout. But I think reporting those those issues so intensely, and they felt very personal, or campus, and it was people that we knew or indirectly knew. And recording those issues alongside sort of the frenzy of national media made me question whether journalism was the right move for, for a career, whether that was what I really wanted. So I kind of took a step back from that I still, I loved managing the paper, it was, you know, if I could have that job, I would absolutely. But unfortunately, unfortunately, it's reserved for students. Yeah, but that was, I mean, it was an amazing experience. It was, like I said, it was you were in the deep end. And that's another thing I think, that I really valued about, about UVA in general, and the culture, the student culture, there is, you know, you are taking the lead, it's not, you know, you're not being told what to do. You're not you can of course, you can always seek guidance, but like foot paper, for example. It really is run by students. We have alumni, we had alumni advisors. But the administration doesn't have a hand in it. It's completely, you know, up to the students, you know, who have the have the podium to take the lead. And that was amazing, but it was also very difficult. So yeah, that was, that was what happened to journalism.
Venkat Raman 23:21
Let's sort of move on and talk about your different summers while you were at UVA. What did you end up doing for summer?
Yeah. So my summers with my family abroad, I think my summers were maybe a little more non traditional. I did spend, actually, I spent the summer after my freshman year doing a term, I did a study abroad term in the summer, which was great because I think I would have loved to do a semester abroad. But I needed all I needed all of my semesters to figure out, you know, where I was going with my studies and what I was going to major in, so I needed those semesters on campus, but I still very much one of the semester abroad experience. So I loved that I did. I did my first summer after UVA, or after my freshman year, in Lille, France. And that was an amazing experience. And then I did, I guess the other notable one was my, the summer after my junior year, I spent a year I spent the summer as a summer associate at a consulting firm, and realized pretty quickly that I did not want to go into consulting, which was very good to find out because that's actually going into your eye that feels like you show up fall of senior year back on campus, and everybody's doing consulting, recruiting like it really seems like that is a big career path for many UVA students. So it was very good to have somebody that way and No, that's not what I want to do.
Venkat Raman 25:01
So what did you, So maybe, inverting that question, what did you think, What kind of career did you want to pursue now that you had decided on at least one major? And if you were on track to complete the political science? What do you think? Where were you headed?
I think it was very, very unclear, actually. So I still had going into college. And coming out of college, I still had the idea that I wanted, I wanted an international career in some way my family had lived abroad and spent some time abroad, I knew that I wanted to be able to travel, I either wanted a job that would take me places or a job that would allow me to be where I wanted to be. But that's, I mean, that's still pretty broad. I didn't, I didn't necessarily have a clear idea of what I wanted. And that was very difficult my senior year, because you're watching so many of your peers, who either know for sure what they want to do, or have a pretty good idea of what they might want to pursue when they're pursuing that. And so I was pursuing sort of just a broad array of options. And I feel very lucky because the happenstance that I pursued, I decided to pursue this French major, I then found through the major a program that would allow me to be abroad right away, after I graduated University, and that was the top of the teaching assistant program in France, that they encourage a lot of their French majors to consider. And it's amazing program you spend a year, or you can spend more than a year but you spend at least an academic year as a teaching assistant at a French school, high school or middle school or elementary school. And I actually ended up doing it in an overseas territory of France, in Martinique, which was just amazing, fascinating, like, really out there experience. And yeah, definitely not something I would have found or considered on my own. But so I was very glad that I've been able to find that through my French department at UVA. But yeah, it didn't didn't really narrow down what I wanted to do. I think that's, that's still in process, still something I'm working on.
Venkat Raman 27:15
Talk about what you might do differently. If you went back to UVA for four years. Yeah, whether it's another four years or repeat those four years. But what what are the things that you feel you might not do again? Or do?
I think I would try more in terms of just various, I mean, I was very involved with the paper, but I wasn't really involved with paper until about halfway through my second year. So I think I would, if I were starting all over again, I would love to just give more organizations, more Student Activities a chance. And I think I think I waited. You know, I didn't really know what I wanted to do. But I thought that I knew a lot of what I didn't want to do. So I would I would flip that around. If I were starting again, and just try a lot more because you know, 17, eight to 17 when I started 1819. You know, you don't you don't know what you don't like, necessarily. So yeah, I wish I had gotten more engaged in my first couple of years. And then, on the flip side, I think if I were starting all over again, knowing now the passion that I have for Foreign Affairs and politics, I would have entered on that major track much sooner than I did. I didn't actually start that major track until my third year and I wish I had the chance to take more because EPA has an incredible politics department amazing professors amazing curriculum. So I wish I had more time to take advantage of that as well.
Venkat Raman 28:50
So I thought one of the one of the valuable things you could provide us some input or insight and advice to students who are applying today to any us college or maybe looking at UVA what would your advice to them be?
Yeah, well, I guess the first thing and this is maybe counter to what I just said, the first thing is don't be too short about what you think you want because it can all change and you should be open to changing so you know if you think you want to be an English major still take that course and you know, cognitive psychology or whatever it is and just just explore while you wonderful thing. And I've lived abroad now many years and been exposed to their systems, but I still maintain the wonderful thing about the US university system is just the chance to explore all of these different interests and at many schools you are required to explore you have your, your core course requirements and they literally force you to you know, try things that you wouldn't necessarily think you'd be interested in. And I think that's, that's just fantastic. So my first piece of advice would just be to be open to Even if you think you know what you want, and that's great if you have, you know, already have a passion that you're very sure about, but always be open to trying something else. And then specifically about UVA, and this goes back to it being such a big school is that I can say with almost certainty that whatever you're interested in, whatever you're passionate about UVA has an answer for you, most likely, there's so many resources, and so many different you know, not even just courses and professors, but so many different clubs, or I'm sure, you know, you would find peers that are interested in the same thing. And yeah, that's the big benefit of it being a large school is that there's, it just has a lot to offer. And then, going back to the point about UVA student body and how opinionated age they are, just have lots of conversations, because that's going to be where some of the best learning is, and it's probably holds true. No matter what university you end up, just one of the amazing things about being in college is that you're on this campus with these, you know, either hundreds or 1000s, or 10s, of 1000s of peers who are, you know, vibrant and intelligent and interested. And that's just your best chance to just meet all of these wonderful people and have lots of interesting, you know, mind opening conversations. And, yeah, that's one of the things I probably miss most about being being at a university is, is that aspect of it.
Venkat Raman 31:31
So we are kind of nearing the end of this podcast, I wanted to give you a chance to talk about anything that we haven't covered or talked about, or talk more about some specific aspect, some fond memory or memories.
Yeah, well, I think you briefly mentioned the, like, the social environment earlier, and I didn't really talk about that. But I think that's an important consideration for anybody who's looking at a school. And UVA. Pretty, I mean, again, it's so big has something for everybody. But one of the things that I really appreciated about UBI was that it's not dominated by any one type of social life. And in there, there is Greek life there. But you don't have to be involved in Greek life to have, you know, a great social life. There are all of the many student organizations and they each have, you know, sort of their own social centers and, and social lives. And then there's all of these rich UVA traditions, it's a very old school, they've had to have centuries old traditions that are that they're very, very fond of. And if you go there, I guarantee that you'll be fond of them as well. And yeah, and those that leads into actually, some of my fond memories of my time at UVA is all of these rich traditions. There's something at UVA called secret societies, which is you'll learn about if you do you know, any informational session or a campus tour, because you'll see, you'll see these looks like graffiti, but like these letters on the steps, a z or a seven. And those are secret societies at UVA, which is a very intriguing thing you get, you can't just choose to join them, you get selected. And there's a whole secret process. And there are varying levels. And you know, some people you'll never know until they die, that they were in a secret society and some people you'll just never know if they're in a secure society. So it's, it's, you know, both fun and and they do they do wonderful things, while there's purpose behind philanthropic organizations, but they're also you know, it just adds this layer of tradition and richness to student life at UVA. And a lot of that also centers around the return though, which is beautiful, and the line which is, you know, has its own unique traditions. And as you get on towards your upper classmen years, you'll undoubtedly attend, you know, lawn room parties or, you know, spend warm Virginia afternoons hanging out on on the line and, you know, quote, unquote, studying, but nobody ever really gets any studying done on the line. Yeah, so it's just it's a school with, with a rich history and a lot of traditions and that's a really wonderful thing.
Venkat Raman 34:26
No, that's, that's great. Thanks for sharing that. So I really, really appreciate you coming on the podcast and sharing so much about UVA. I think it's going to be extremely beneficial to all the listeners out there, and I wish you well on your journey.
Hope you enjoyed our podcast with Chloe Heskett about UVA.
Chloe’s theme through college was Exploration. Her desire to have a career abroad was her compass.
She majored in French and Political Science.
She was in varsity rowing the first year and then found her niche in the campus daily, Cavalier. She rose to become the Managing Editor of the paper in her senior year.
She spent a summer after her Freshman year in Lyon and another summer in consulting.
I hope Chloe’s podcast motivates you to research the University of Virginia for your undergraduate pursuits.
Many thanks to Admissionado, the college counseling firm for referring Chloe Heskett as our guest today.
For your questions or comments on this podcast, please email podcast at almamatters.io [firstname.lastname@example.org].
Thank you all so much for listening to our podcast today.
Transcripts for this podcast and previous podcasts are on almamatters.io forward slash podcasts [almamatters.io/podcasts].
Till we meet again, take care and be safe.
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