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Leann Mclaren discovers a love for research at UConn

By Grace Merritt
While classmates are packing for spring break in Florida, UConn senior Leann Mclaren is getting ready to head to Detroit for an “alternative spring break.”

She and other UConn students will be working with children in an afterschool program and packing meals for low-income seniors.

“It’s more meaningful to me than going to Miami,” explained Mclaren, a row of sparkly stud earrings outlining her ear. “I feel like you can always do vacations, but these trips are specific to undergrads. When will I get the chance to do this again?”

Mclaren is all about helping others improve their lives. A double major in political science and history, she has a special interest in racial history. Her goal is to become a college professor. Through teaching and research, she hopes to help raise awareness and spark public policy to help disadvantaged populations.

“Getting people to think a lot deeper about why things may be the way they are is one of my ultimate goals,” she said.

Mclaren, 21, often punctuates her sentences with a mischievous laugh, exudes an easy confidence. She was raised in Manchester, Conn., the middle child of Jamaican parents—he a machinist, she a medical assistant. They didn’t have the opportunity to go to college themselves but always told their children that education was the key to everything.

During her time at UConn, she discovered a love for research. She won several scholarships, including the Greenblatt Undergraduate Research Award Fund, which has helped fund her research into voting patterns of West Indian immigrants in Hartford.

“Getting people to think a lot deeper about why things may be the way they are is one of my ultimate goals,” she said.

“I’m trying to predict how they would vote if they were to show up to the polls more often in the future and how that may change Hartford politics as well as Connecticut politics,” she said. “I’m combining my background in politics and history to produce an analysis that may help the community.”

Her next step is graduate school. She is waiting to hear from more than a dozen doctoral programs across the country.

Since coming to UConn, she has gone to a scholar conference in Michigan, studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, and interned with U.S. Rep. John Larson.

“All of these things really made my goals a reality for me so I’m definitely thankful for UConn for that,” she said. “I don’t know if I’d be able to do all of it at any other school, especially with all the support they’ve given me and all the belief they’ve had in me too.”

Support Undergraduate Student Research

You can support undergraduate student research by donating to the Greenblatt Undergraduate Research Award Fund.

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