Quinn Normandeau '21

What happens if you're undeclared in college?

Our How I Chose My Major blog series highlights students from different colleges across UNH and explores how they chose their majors and minors, what they've learned through their programs, the coolest places they get to study and so much more!

Today, UNH alumna Quinn '21 talks about coming into the College of Health and Human Services undeclared, with the hope of studying occupational therapy. Today, Quinn works for Saco Bay Kids Pediatric Therapy and wouldn't change a thing about the UNH journey that led her to where she is today.

"I wouldn't have had half of the opportunities and experiences that I did without being undeclared first. While it was an unexpected beginning, I wouldn't change my UNH journey at all."


UNH student and wildcat statue

Me rubbing the Wildcat's nose for good luck one last time at my undergraduate graduation

What was your major at UNH?

Occupational therapy (OT). I graduated undergrad in 2021 and I graduated from my grad program in December of 2022. The OT program is an advanced standing master's program so it's a little sped up. UNH was the only school I applied to and I applied directly into the OT program. I put undeclared CHHS as my second option (not really understanding what that meant) and found out I wasn't admitted into the OT program when I received my UNH acceptance letter. While this was a bittersweet moment, being undeclared provided me the opportunity to attend the school I fell in love with and get a second chance of making it into the OT program.

Me and my colleagues wearing yellow for World Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Day

Me and my colleagues wearing yellow for World Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Day

Where are you working now?

I currently work as an occupational therapist in a pediatric outpatient clinic called Saco Bay Kids Pediatric Therapy in Saco, ME. I specialize in feeding therapy and I am the "champion" of our new pediatric oncology program (meaning that I am the lead professional helping to organize all of the education, marketing and coordinating with our therapists). I also have been taking the lead on clinic-specific marketing, which means I have worked to retake all of our headshots, update all staff bios, post and create social media content, etc. 

CHHS Dean's Office Staff at Accepted Students Visit Day during my graduate assistantship as an academic advisor

Me and UNH CHHS Dean's Office staff at Admitted Student Visit Day during my graduate assistantship as an academic advisor

What was being undeclared at UNH like?

It was nerve-wracking and at times overwhelming to come to such a big university without being declared in a major. However, I had a very hands-on academic advisor who was able to help set me up for success by getting me into OT-specific classes and stay updated and on track with my gen-eds. I think the scariest part of being undeclared was feeling like I didn't belong in any particular program. We didn't have the Academic and Career Engagement (ACE) program when I was a freshman, so my advisor, Mary Beth Carstens (the lead and creator of the ACE program), as well as Marc Smick, another academic advisor in the Dean's Office at the time, were my school support team. They helped me feel included and gave me a sense of belonging. I started my job in the CHHS Dean's Office my sophomore year before I was accepted into the OT program, working alongside the other work-study students, Marc and Mary Beth.

How did you choose your major?

I knew going into UNH that I wanted OT, and I was very determined, accepting no alternative path. I wasn't admitted at first, but I took all of the OT-specific courses that I was allowed to, was ahead with my gen-ed courses, and applied via the internal transfer program. Thankfully, I was accepted.

OT Scholarship night where I was one of the recipients of the Nancy Holt Talbot OT Scholarship

OT scholarship night where I was one of the recipients of the Nancy Holt Talbot OT Scholarship

How did UNH support you as an undeclared student?

I had a very hard time my first year, not being in a declared major and being extremely home-sick. My parents suggested that I lean on my academic advisor for support and Mary Beth Carstens ended up being one of the most influential people in my UNH journey. Mary Beth Carstens introduced me to Marc Smick, who hired me as an undergraduate work-study student in the CHHS Dean's Office. Through this experience, I was able to meet other UNH CHHS students. This job and Mary Beth's and Marc's connections helped me to then join the Dean's Ambassador program, and eventually the ACE Mentor program. Each new opportunity pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped UNH to feel a little more like home, giving me the sense of belonging I was seeking while still undeclared. 

UNH student and staff with mascot

Me and CHHS Director of Career and Professional Success Riannon Nute during an Admitted Student Visit Day right before the students walk underneath the arch at T-Hall

How has UNH prepared you for your current career?

UNH offers a vast array of opportunities and if you take advantage of them, you can achieve a greatly diverse education. Our occupational therapy program set me up for success in my current OT job by offering a rigorous and expansive program. Outside of OT, I was able to explore my interests in marketing and leadership, and my connections in the CHHS Dean's Office helped me find the right opportunities to expand upon these skills. Some of my extracurriculars included the Dean's Ambassador program, ACE Mentor program, SPARK program, work-study through the CHHS Dean's Office and even my graduate assistant job as an academic advisor for undeclared students in the CHHS Dean's Office. 


Don't Miss Out on Learning More About the College of Health and Human Services:

Sign up for Admitted Student Visit Days

learn more about competitive majors and transferring internally to a major 

It's Okay to be Undeclared in College

UNH alumna Emily Gibney '21 talks about coming into the College of Health and Human Services undeclared with the dream of studying nursing. Though being undeclared seemed overwhelming at first, UNH's dedicated advising led to Emily's current path as a Staff RN on the Acute Cardiac Care Unit (ACCU) at Boston Children's Hospital.  read more about emily