Romance Focus: Dogspotting of UConn President

Alana Valdez, 8th semester fine arts major, talks about her dating experiences and what she looks for in a guy. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

There are two kinds of people in the world, those who have romantic partners and those who don’t. But that doesn’t mean the latter have to be miserable. I sat down with Alana Valdez, a two-weeks single eighth-semester fine arts major from Naugatuck who talked to me about her personal interests and views on life, dating and her future.

Valdez, who is the president of Dogspotting of UConn, laughed when asked about her reputation on campus.

“Sometimes people come up to me and ask, ‘are you the girl from Dogspotting?’ Which I find kind of funny,” Valdez said, chuckling to herself. She’s involved in both the Facebook group, in which people post pictures of dogs on campus and other related content and the group’s Tier I-organization, which she founded last year.

Valdez wants to pursue a career in visual arts, but she still maintains other various hobbies. This includes playing video games, occasionally reading, browsing the Internet and participating in roller derby: a contact sport that mixes roller skating and typical elements of indoor sports competition. Basically, your typical nerd.

Her favorite kind of weekend? Valdez enjoys sleeping late into the day (waking up around noon) and needing “maximum time to vegetate.” However, she added that she still liked hanging out with small groups of friends, occasionally going to small parties or even heading to a bar with them, since she just turned 21 years old last August.

Valdez giggled when asked about her personality and what made her a “catch” for other single people. She said she thought she was friendly and funny, but she “also [likes] to think [she’s] a little intimidating,” and that she might even play that part of her personality up. Nonetheless, her reputation as a leader for the dogspotting group on campus has allowed her to meet new people.

Valdez’s ideal date is someone with an adaptable sense of humor, but also sharing her taste in surreal, absurd, Internet-type humor, though she said it had to extend beyond just memes and “dumb jokes.” She also would like someone that had a mutual respect for art, though they wouldn’t have to take it as seriously as her. Her typical first date would be just something simple: grabbing food at a local, casual food place.

No-no’s for Valdez’s potential date interests involve having no artistic appreciation, being constantly on a phone instead of talking face-to-face and having “gross, misaligned or bad teeth.”

This is not to say Valdez is without flaws. Along with having a tendency to be awkward and aloof in situations where she doesn’t feel personally invested enough to feign enthusiasm, she also admitted that she didn’t always confront issues that faced her, instead of ignoring and bottling them up.

From her previous experience with her ex-boyfriend, Valdez learned that she needed to learn how to immediately talk about her problems so that she doesn’t breed resentment over time for people that bother her.

Moreover, when it came to first dates, Valdez also admitted that she wasn’t always the most direct person when it came to dealing with an unsuccessful first date. After a brief pause, Valdez noted, “I’m really bad with being point blank or rejecting people.” Her favorite method of dealing with that kind of issue? Gently letting them down afterward through another means of contact, though she said she usually would like to continue being friends with people she has dated.

Though ending a long-term relationship certainly created a few issues for Valdez, including having to deal with the inevitable awkwardness that came seeing her ex-boyfriend, she looks forward to a more “adventurous” and spontaneous future, where if she’s up for something like driving around campus late at night, she’ll have someone who wants to enjoy that with her.

However, while admitting that sometimes she missed the physical affection that came with being in relationship, Valdez said she was still happy being on her own and doesn’t want anything long-term. She was relieved that she didn’t have to feel necessarily responsible for another person’s happiness — and also liberated by “just being able to worry about myself.”

“I think the main thing is to figure out the other things that you want to do and to go after doing them,” Valdez said as a bit of advice to other people who are single.

“For me, it’s about being able to do what I want when I want to.” 


Anokh Palakurthi is associate life editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at anokh.palakurthi@uconn.edu. He tweets @DC_Anokh.