In celebration of Mother’s Day, we have a special treat for our listeners with two guests on this week’s episode! Tomaso sits down with mother/son duo and UConn alumni Judy and Justis Lopez. Judy currently works with the UConn Women’s Center, while Justis is the CEO of his educational entertainment company Just Experience, LLC, and a consultant for the Council for Opportunity in Education. The discussion begins with Justis and Judy describing their transformational journeys with UConn, explaining the full circle feelings of helping and inspiring each other through their educational goals. As the conversation shifts to their professional pathways, the positivity and enthusiasm both guests exude becomes even more evident as integral to how they approach the “firsts” they’ve experienced in life. Tune in to learn more from this inspirational mother/son pair about the importance of relationships and resilience in achieving your dreams.
This episode features Sage Phillips, a junior Political Science and Human Rights major, who was recently named a Truman Scholar. The Truman Scholarship is a tribute to the late 33rd President and public service with the goal of inspiring the next generation of public service leaders. Listeners will quickly learn why Sage was selected for this premier graduate fellowship as they follow along with her conversation with Tomaso. As the conversation begins, Sage shares her experience of being a member of the Penobscot Nation and growing up in Maine. Sage goes on to talk about the impact that her family and heritage continues to have on her and how they helped with her decision to come to UConn. Never losing her passion for advocating for the rights of Native American and Indigenous people, Sage discusses her involvement in the Native American Cultural Programs and how she became a member of the UConn President’s Council on Race and Diversity, created the Native American & Indigenous Student Association, as well as how she became involved in the coalition for banning the use of Native American mascots in Connecticut. Tune in to learn more about Sage’s inspirational journey, her activism for creating a more inclusive community for Native and Indigenous people and how she has become a public service leader.
Joining Tomaso this week is Yiyi An, a first-year international student from China. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UConn partnered with institutions around the world to offer international students ways to complete their coursework elsewhere while still connecting and engaging with other international students attending those schools. One such institution is the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC), which is where Yiyi studied for the fall 2020 semester. Now taking classes fully online through UConn, Yiyi talks about the challenge of being in a different time zone than her peers and professors while simultaneously enjoying the flexibility of online courses and the freedom to create her own schedule. Although still early in her Actuarial Science major, Yiyi is excited to begin searching for future internships and explore other ways to gain experience in the field, but most of all, she cannot wait to arrive on campus in person and experience all that UConn has to offer, particularly meeting new friends and visiting the Dairy Bar.
This episode welcomes Mrya Cerrato, a first generation college student double majoring in Psychology and Human Development and Family Studies. Myra shares her story of how she transferred from UMass Dartmouth to UConn Stamford, and then arrived at UConn Storrs in the spring 2020 semester. Now, as a junior, she participates in virtual clinical psychology research, collecting qualitative data from mothers with PTSD, through UConn’s McNair Scholars Program. She gives valuable insight about McNair, explaining how it’s not only a gateway to research, but also to graduate school and post-graduation life. Beyond academics, Mrya is involved with Jumpstart, which is an early childhood education program. While learning the best ways to engage young children, she is also gaining experience in her field that could lead to many outcomes, from social work to family policy and advocacy, to child psychology, or all of the above! Listen along as our host, Tomaso, sits down with Myra, getting curious about her story as a first generation student and how she plans to accomplish her goals within her areas of passion.
Join Tomaso as he sits down with Damani Douglas, the first Chief Diversity Officer in UConn’s Undergraduate Student Government history, to talk about his journey and involvement in student government. In this episode, Damani explains his beginnings as a member of the ScHOLA²RS Learning Community that inspired him to explore different leadership roles. Throughout the discussion, Damani reaffirms the “cliché that there really is a club or organization at UConn for everyone”, no matter what their passion is. The conversation then shifts to the importance of the new Chief Diversity Officer position in USG and how it came to fruition. Listen to learn more about satisfying your need for involvement in important dialogue and activism while on campus and beyond.
This episode features Associate Professor of Law at UConn, Jamelia Morgan. Through her education at Stanford University and Yale Law School, Professor Morgan gained expertise in criminal law, critical race theory, equality law, disability law and policy, prison law and policy, and policing. Professor Morgan talks about how she supported creating the 'U.S. Anti-Black Racism Course' at UConn alongside other faculty because of student demand for the course. Although she began her career as a paralegal, teaching was important for her to explore because she believes education is the key to changing structural racism which still exists today. Our host Tomaso echoes how important it is to have conversations like theirs in university settings.
In this episode, Tomaso sits down with the Executive Director of UConn's Office of First Year Programs and Learning Communities, David Ouimette. David shares his own experiences as a first-year student at Gettysburg College, and as the conversation continues, listeners will hear about how David's strong passion for “student success from the start” helped to pave the way for the development of UConn's First Year Experience Program, Learning Communities, the Academic Achievement Center, and the LCIZ Makerspace. Under David’s leadership, these innovative initiatives strive to provide holistic guidance, opportunities, and resources to enable students to actively engage and thrive at UConn.