Orett Burke Jr.
A talented basketball player at his former college, Orett transferred to UMass Amherst to study biological sciences in hopes of one day becoming a doctor.
I can do so much and do exactly what I love. I think that's one of the big things about UMass. My dreams was to play college basketball and to be a doctor. I always had that dream. I'd never tell anyone, but I always had that dream. Dickinson was actually in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. And I was actually recruited to play basketball there. And during my time there, we had a lot of success. We made it to the Elite 8 of the national championship and we were top 10 in the country. But I just knew that, with that type of rigorous schedule and the pre-med, it was just way too much. And I kind of wanted to focus just on pre-med. I transferred into UMass last semester. So currently I'm a second-semester student at UMass. To go from a small high school to very small private liberal arts school. And then to go to school that has like 30,000 kids, it was a big change. And my question coming in was, how am I going to make my own presence? The transfer students stick together. They really do. And even if they're not around all the time, I simply just go ask people how to get somewhere, or how does something work, and they're not afraid to answer. Because they know it's a big campus. That's the thing about UMass. Everyone is literally here to help. I feel like I've been here for a couple years already. Currently, I'm working with Team Positive Presence on campus. We try to promote positiveness. And if we see students, faculty, or whoever, doing certain kind things to students, we reward them. But we also do events with leadership and whatnot, and kids that feel troubled or anything, we're just here to make them feel more positive about being on campus here at UMass. If you told me five years ago I'd be in a lab working during the summer for two months, I'll tell you you're lying. During the summer, when I worked with Dr. deRonde and Dr. Tew, they made chemistry fun, in the way. I didn't feel like I was working. I felt like I was doing an experiment and I'm gonna see results. And that's exactly what happened. And they're still there for advice. They said, you can always come there whenever you want. And I really thank them for the experience that they gave me. You can literally do anything. Even if you're not a science major, there's so many things out here for you. There's probably one class that would change your mind, just like me in high school. I'm not sure how many schools in America where you're able to do research on what you want to do and be with someone you want to be inspired to be in 10 years. And I think that's one of the greatest advantages about UMass. My name is Orett Burke Jr, Class of 2017. I stand for dream-chasing, and I stand for UMass.