Maya Sophia Galeano ’24

Maya Sophia Galeano is an Honors student studying Animal Science. She is currently working on her Honors Project, which will be presented on May 1st in the 2024 Honors Showcase.

Tell us a little about yourself: Where are you from? What drew you to URI? Are you a first generation college student?

I am from Milton, Massachusetts. I originally attended Stony Brook University but discovered my passion lied within animal science. I did some research and found out URI had a great animal science program and it was close to home. Being close to home means a lot to me as I’m very close to my family. I am a first generation college student on my mom’s side of the family and I am very proud to be the first one!

Tell us your story… what’s going on in your classes that you think is share-worthy? Do you have an internship or research project you want to tell us about? 

I am currently working on my honors project which studies cognitive behavior in lambs. I’m working with Maria Hoffman on Peckham farm this spring lambing season. Some of the ewes have been fed a beta glucan supplement from mushrooms to see if it has any effects on their mothering ability. I wanted to see if the offspring of those ewes had heightened cognitive abilities compared to the ewes that did not receive the beta glucan supplements. To test the cognitive abilities of the lambs I created a rubric with help from Dr. Hoffman. The rubric measures things like how quickly the lambs stand up after being born, how quickly they nurse off their mom, if they have trouble breathing, if they vocalize and communicate with their mom, and if they are actively exploring their enclosure.

HPR courses at URI are designed to be more experiential, hands-on and discussion based courses where you learn from the experiences of your fellow students as well as your instructor. What HPR courses have you taken and what have been your experiences in these classes?

I’ve taken a few honors classes. AAF 150H, GEO 271H, HPR 224G, HPR 344, and HPR 412. Out of these the most significant one was GEO 271H because I struggled a lot in that class. It was about dinosaurs which I thought was cool but for some reason I could not get my head around the concepts. Thankfully, Professor Fastovsky was very helpful and after meeting with him to review my past exams I was able to pass the class. He especially helped me prepare for the final which I was very nervous for and I will always remember him wishing me good luck right before handing me the final. It’s teachers like him that make me love URI because he truly wanted me to succeed and reached out to me to help me out.

How have your Honors classes helped you integrate into life at URI and beyond? Please describe any impact it had on your experience so far at URI.

My honors classes have allowed me to meet all kinds of people and I’ve made some really good friends in my classes. In my current class, HPR412 I got to meet a veteran named Tracy. She has shared some really cool stories in class and I think it’s awesome I not only get to attend classes with people my age and similar backgrounds but people from all kinds of backgrounds and various ages. Her background allows her to give really good ideas in class on how to communicate with people on bettering the environment regarding textiles. Having classes with so many different people allowed me to see the world from their eyes and gain a new perspective on URI and college in general.

How has your Honors education helped you to think differently about topics within or outside of your major or other area of study? Has it introduced you to new concepts or ways of thinking? Has it changed the way you thought about an important issue? 

The honors classes I have taken with Karl Aspelund has really changed my perspective on the textile industry. I knew that we as a country are not very eco friendly. Learning how unsustainable our practices are can be really upsetting and can paint a bleak future. But Karl has a way of teaching of how the textile industry works with hope. He empowers us to believe we can change things and have the power individually to start change. Thanks to him, I have hope now with any situation that seems bleak. Karl has given us so many templates where we can start making a plan and teaches us that something that seems impossible can be done.

As you completed your Honors course(s), what are ways that you feel it helped prepare you for life after URI? 

My honors courses have helped me prepare for life after URI in all kinds of ways. Especially with classes like AAF150H and HPR 344, I feel like I had a chance to learn how people of different races and sexualities have struggled throughout history and how the power of protest can really change people’s lives and even laws. These classes taught me that people have so much power when they come together to change the world and this gives me hope and ideas for life after school. If I were ever to come upon an issue which means a lot to me I can take what I learned from these classes to inspire change.

What are your short and long term plans post graduation? 

After graduation, I want to take a year break to save money up to help my parents pay for graduate school. I currently work at Pet Supplies Plus as a manager and love it there. I’ve learned so much about people, exotic and small animals at the store and will continue to learn more for the next year. Managing people can be tricky as well as you never want to hurt anyones feelings but I also have to firm. So I’ve learned theres a balance and a way to talk to people individually. I’m not quite sure where I want to go to graduate school but I know I want to work towards my doctorate and continue research on how to improve the welfare of production animals in the country.