Month: March 2018

HESA Program Hosts Clothing Drive for Displaced Students Residing in Connecticut

Left to Right: HESA Graduate Assistant Rico Destinvil, Professor Kari Taylor, HESA student Jessica Gramajo Vivas, Professor Reggie Blockett, HESA Student and Staff Development Manager Danielle DeRosa, and Professor Milagros Castillo-Montoya stand with donated clothing.  Photo by Shawn Kornegay.

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, Connecticut schools welcomed a wave of Puerto Rican students who had been displaced from their homes and communities on the island. This February, the HESA program and campus partners (the Department of Educational Leadership, HESA students, and the HESA village) ran a winter clothing drive to benefit newly-arrived Puerto Rican students at two local high schools.

Professor Milagros Castillo-Montoya, who spearheaded the project, initially approached Christina Rivera, an Ed.D. student in the Department of Educational Leadership, with the idea. Rivera was able to connect Dr. Castillo-Montoya with the two Connecticut schools that expressed the need for donations: Hartford Public High School and Windham High school.

Once the school connections had been made, Castillo-Montoya said, the HESA and EDLR communities mobilized to collect a total of 270 items, which included coats, jackets, boots, scarves, pants, and gloves. HESA practicum student Jessica Gramajo Vivas created a flyer to notify the HESA and EDLR communities of the opportunity to donate items, and HESA Student and Staff Development Manager Danielle DeRosa coordinated with current HESA students to distribute donation boxes to collect items.

“The success achieved in so little time would not have been possible without the people who helped get the word out, HESA students who collected donations at their respective assistantship sites, assistantship site and practicum site supervisors who allowed donations to get collected there, and everyone who donated,” said Castillo-Montoya. She also highlighted donations from EDLR faculty, HESA students, and the entire HESA village.

“For these high school students and their families, some of which are living in shelters, this made a big difference,” said Castillo-Montoya. “Thank you to all who got involved and helped make this happen.” While unable to assist in all hurricane relief efforts, this drive was an opportunity for the HESA and EDLR communities to build on existing relationships and support local students in a targeted and timely way.


Neag Student Groups Team Up for Ignite Fundraising Campaign

LID students at 2017 NAME Conference
LID students attended the National Association for Multicultural Education Conference in 2017.

Today begins the final week of HuskyDrive’s sixth annual Ignite fundraising campaign, which is a crowdsourcing competition that brings together students and recent alumni to raise money for their favorite UConn organizations. The 32 groups in the 2018 competition are not only raising money for their causes, but also competing to win an additional $20,000 in prizes by having the highest number of current student and GOLD (graduates of the last decade) alumni donors. Groups may also earn additional prize money through a series of fundraising, creative, and social media challenges throughout the competition.

This year, two student groups in the Neag School of Education, Husky Sport and Leadership In Diversity (LID) are teaming up for the campaign. With a shared goal of supporting Neag students in their pursuit of excellence towards equity and justice, the two organizations are excited to be partnered for the competition.

“I think it is awesome that LID and Husky Sport are able to partner for the Ignite fundraising campaign. I believe that LID and Husky Sport are both committed to making sure that students of color in K-12 schools receive an equitable education by providing resources to the teachers and schools they attend,” remarked Neag School of Education Academic Advisor and LID's Program Adivsor, Mia Hines, on the partnership.

Husky Sport students in a Classroom doing Push-ups
Husky Sport pairs UConn students with Hartford youth while utilizing the power of sport to build relationships.

Husky Sport is a community-campus partnership that utilizes the power of sport to build relationships, engage in shared learning, and empower stakeholders within the North End Hartford and University of Connecticut communities. Current IB/M Teacher Preparation Program student and Husky Sport Student-Staff Leader, Bricherland Quinones, elaborates on the importance of supporting Hartford students saying,

“Husky Sport matters because the program supports a community that has exhibited needs with enhanced exposure to a college, education, physical activity, and nutrition. There’s a need to support healthy lifestyles and holistic development, while opening relevant pathways in which members of the community can access.”

Not only is Husky Sport important to the population it serves, but UConn students involved benefit immensely as it gives them a unique opportunity for involvement in communities similar to those that they may someday be working in. “The way the organization trains and helps to professionally develop each [UConn] student is amazing because they try to be as accurate as they can by informing each participant on the historical and structural realities that exist while also working alongside this population,” adds Quinones on Husky Sport’s commitment to college student development.

Leadership In Diversity is a mentoring program that helps maintain and encourage confidence and success in students of color pursuing careers in the fields of elementary, secondary and higher education. As research demonstrates, there is an important relationship between the representation of teachers of color and academic achievement of students of color. LID hosts panels, workshops, and conferences that build on the foundations of the Neag School of Education's IB/M program and provides opportunities to learn outside the classroom. Kimberly Duhart, the current secretary of LID, explains, “Not only has LID been a support system, but I have also learned so much from the opportunities that we receive both on the state and national level. With LID, I have been able to travel to the National Association for Multicultural Education conference in Utah this past semester, as well as host our own Multicultural conference for professionals and students.”

Symone James teaching a child
Husky Sport and LID alumna, Symone James is currently a 5th grade teacher who uses her experiences from UConn and applies them to her teaching philosophy.

Neag Alumna, Symone James, who is currently a 5th grade teacher at Roger Sherman Elementary in Meriden, CT, was thrilled to hear of the partnership for this campaign. As a former president of LID and Student-Staff Leader with Husky Sport, James has a strong connection with both programs. On this joint opportunity she commented,

“So much of what I learned and my beliefs regarding race, equity and privilege came from my experiences through LID and Husky Sport. There’s so much potential and opportunities for new pathways through this partnership.”

Separately, Husky Sport and LID are both strong programs that mean a lot for the professional development and support of Neag students involved. However, the collaboration will help both programs grow and expand the reach of Neag students in providing equitable opportunities for education and outreach while they are at UConn and beyond. “I was so pleased when I heard the idea for the fundraising collaboration from (Husky Sport Managing Director) Dr. Justin Evanovich.  Husky Sport has benefited greatly from its participation in Ignite in the past, and it makes great sense to join with LID. Both programs share common missions and have made positive impacts in the lives of Neag students, and students throughout the state of Connecticut. I am excited for this year, and hopefully other collaborations in the future,” commented Dr. Jennie McGarry, department head in Educational Leadership and Husky Sport founder.

"Both programs share common missions and have made positive impacts in the lives of Neag students, and students throughout the state of Connecticut." - Jennie McGarry

Husky Sport staff photo, 2017
Husky Sport's team of leaders meet regularly to discuss relevant and important topics around equity and education.

Financial support generated during the 2018 Ignite campaign will fund scholarships, conferences, professional development opportunities, sustained community engagement, K-12 school partnerships and projects, and student-faculty research collaborations for Neag students in both programs. This is the beginning of a new relationship within Neag student-led programs which support students who are invested in equity and social justice issues.

“With additional funding, I can see students being supported to continue building their skills and preparedness in their educational leadership roles beyond their time at UConn. Students will have the means to attend professional development opportunities, aid their efforts within K-12 school settings, and create new and transformational actions around their passions in education,” explains Dominique Battle-Lawson, an Academic Advisor in the Neag School of Education and LID Program Advisor.  

To support, Husky Sport and LID in the 2018 Ignite campaign, make a donation by clicking DONATE below.

Blue banner with white lettering encouraging folks to DONATE


PK-3 Leadership Program’s Instructor: Roszena Haskins

Roszena Haskins
Roszena Haskins, Ed.D. grad and current PK-3 Leadership Instructor. Photo credit: Shawn Kornegay

This Spring, a former Ed.D. student, Roszena Haskins (‘17) will begin facilitating the third and final module of the 2017-18 PreK-3 Leadership Program at the University of Connecticut. The module titled, Leading for Equity, Excellence and Early Success, covers a variety of topics with the ultimate goal of preparing educators to build a school culture led by caring, competent, and well rounded leaders.

Like all the facilitators who join the PreK-3 Leadership Program team, Haskins is an expert in her field. She has over 20 years of experience as an educator and a strong passion for equity and diversity. Currently serving as the West Hartford Director of Adult and Continuing Education and the district’s Director of Diversity Advancement, Haskins works with other members of West Hartford Public School’s Equity and Diversity Council to strengthen the cultural competence of the district and advance institutional equity. Her multiple roles in district-wide early education and diversity initiatives require her to stay up-to-date on ever-changing federal, state, and local policy changes. This expertise coupled with a commitment to the children, caregivers, and community has prepared Haskins for her upcoming role as an instructor with the PreK-3 Leadership Program.

Haskins is excited to share her experiences as she explains, “Navigation across agencies, organizations, and constituents is something I enjoy personally and professionally and hope to contribute to the PreK-3 Leadership Program.”

In addition to her direct experience in the field, Haskins is an accomplished researcher. Her doctoral dissertation for the University of Connecticut’s Ed.D. program focused on Black and Latino students disproportionately leaving college without a degree as a result of low access to college-level courses and extended time spent completing developmental education requirements. She bridges her research and the importance of initiatives like the PreK-3 Leadership program by explaining,

“Longitudinal research shows that investing in high quality early education programs, leveraged by highly competent, knowledgeable and skillful leaders promotes post-secondary success and improved life changes as adults.”

Haskins looks forward to working with other state leaders, as well as the Expert Advisory Panel, who are passionate about early childhood development and inclusion. She stated, “I continue to be eager to contribute to building the leadership capacity of committed educators through an equity-focused lens.”

The PreK-3 Leadership Program is thrilled to Dr. Haskins on board, as Program Director Dr. Karen List describes her as “very hard working,” with a “strong background in diversity and PK-12 leadership,” Dr. List adds,

“She genuinely connects with people. The importance of relationships is evident in her style.”

Sport Management Alumna Visits Pyeongchang For 2018 Olympics

Olympics rings in 2018
Ithaca College School of Business Sport Management students during their visit to Pyeongchang, South Korea during the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Associate Sport Management professor at Ithaca College, Dr. Rachel Madsen, had a very exciting opportunity this past February to travel to Pyeongchang, South Korea and volunteer at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Madsen, a 2010 graduate from the Sport Management and Women Studies doctoral programs, spent over two weeks in South Korea with 20 Ithaca College School of Business Sport Management students.

During her first ever Olympics, Madsen and her team worked specifically with the event operations department in seven different competition venues, interacting with fans, athletes and coaches to provide customer service.

She and three of her students volunteered in the skating rink that housed figure skating and short track speed skating. Because those are two of the most popular events in the Olympics, they are typically scheduled to air live during U.S. prime time, meaning very early mornings for Rachel and her team.

Hockey rink, Rachel Madsen
Dr. Rachel Madsen, overlooking the skating facilities in South Korea during the Winter Olympics.

“Many days for us required waking up at 4:30 a.m. to catch a 5:15 a.m. bus to the skating rink. From 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., we managed the fans and other visitors to ensure that everyone had a positive experience while also staying safe and not interfering with the athletes,” she said.

When asked about one of the greatest experiences that she had during her trip, Rachel said it’s too hard to narrow it down to just one.

“We often came face to face with famous athletes and other VIP’s, such as IOC members and the Today Show hosts. We were able to attend history-making events as fans, which was a dream come true. The Korean Olympic Committee often provided free tickets for volunteers to attend events, as long as the event wasn’t sold out,” she said. “Additionally, as Americans, we were often treated like celebrities by Korean fans and volunteers. Many Korean fans asked us where we were from and when we said New York, they often wanted to take pictures with us.”

Though Rachel spent only 17 days in South Korea, her students were lucky enough to spend five weeks assisting at the games. In doing so, they were able to take part in a monumental worldwide event and appreciate the importance of embracing culture and diversity.

“The students really learned what it takes to put on an event of this size. When watching the Olympics on TV, it’s impossible to understand the incredibly complicated logistics of organizing, training, transporting, housing, feeding and motivating 20,000 volunteers,” she said. “Being part of a large volunteer staff also enabled them to interact and become friends with other volunteers from all around the world.”