Friends from my study abroad group and I gathered in the Plaza Mayor of Salamanca, my home city.


Dear Accepted Students,


Congratulations on your acceptance to UMass Amherst! I was undeclared when I entered UMass, and I want to tell you a little bit about what that meant for me.


I decided to come to UMass undeclared because yes, I had an idea of what I wanted to study BUT I was afraid to commit to one thing and risk missing out on other opportunities. Plus, I had pressure from all over the place to settle on this major or that minor. I chose to roll the dice and enter the University semi-nervous but really excited and open.


At orientation, I joined a RAP (Residential Academic Program) specifically for undeclared students. I met so many other freshmen who were in the same position I was. I took Anthropology 100 in my RAP, having class in my residence hall with the people on my floor. We transitioned from high school to college together, developing study habits and forming groups to prepare for exams. The environment was close-knit and led to a strong connection with my professor, who I had for another class in the spring. I also took OASIS, the individualized seminar for academic success, where I learned about all of the opportunities and resources this giant campus has to offer. Plus, my instructor was an academic advisor herself and advised me on classes until I declared my major!


Speaking of my major, you might be wondering what I've done since that exciting and nerve-wracking first year! I double majored in Spanish and English and joined the Commonwealth Honors College. I also completed the Interpreters Studies Certificate and spent a semester abroad, living with a host family in Spain! I was such a fan of Undergrad Advising (YOUR advising center as an undeclared student!) that I began working for them as a Peer Advisor. Finally, my love for the Spanish language and legal issues led me to pursue a trip to South America and complete a thesis on Indigenous land rights.


I had no idea how things were going to pan out for me during my time at UMass... but I was confident that coming in totally open to all of my opportunities would allow me to explore different paths. Hopefully I'll be teaching English abroad in Spain for a year after I graduate, and then enter law school within a couple of years. I wish you all the best... go UMass!


Samantha Ryan

Class of '12 


PS: If you come to a spring Open House, attend the afternoon session for undeclared students, and I'll see you there!


Selected photos from Sam's UMass (and beyond!)  experience:

I can't believe four years have passed since my parents dropped me off at Van Meter Hall in September '08!


A fellow Spanish major and I bonded with a group of Peruvian children in the indigenous community of Solo.

At one indigenous community in Peru, we traversed through the jungle and crossed a river in this zip line cage. What an adventure!

Acclimating to foreign cuisine is an experience like no other!


Part of my study abroad excursion to Seville was a visit to Italica, the site of the oldest Roman ruins. The Roman Amphitheatre seen here dates back to 206 BC!

Pamela R. Marsh-Williams, Ph.D.
Assistant Provost & Dean

This website is part of Undergraduate Advising & Learning Communities. We provide undergraduate students a variety of opportunities and services designed to facilitate the best academic experience possible. 609 Goodell Building, UMass Amherst.

UA&LC Units: Undergraduate Advising, Residential Academic Programs, Domestic Exchange Programs, Five College Interchange