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HESA Alumni in the News

HESA’s Mock Interview Program Welcomes Alumni Participation

The course “Seminar in Higher Education” is an important aspect of the HESA core curriculum.  Set in the final semester of the HESA program, the course is designed to further integrate HESA’s curriculum and practice-based experiences to prepare students to make the transition into the next chapter of their journey, whether it be in a professional setting or entering into a doctoral program.

Traditionally, the course has featured a mock interview component which gives students the opportunity to refine their interview skills. This spring offered that same opportunity to students, but featured an exciting update. Intentional changes were made to further reflect what students will experience in a first-round interview while simultaneously providing an opportunity to network with the HESA alumni community.  Instead of the traditional in-person mock interviews, students connected with HESA alumni over digital platforms for virtual, web-based interviews.

HESA Program Director Dr. Kari Taylor, who is teaching the seminar this spring, worked with Caitlin Trinh, Director of Alumni Relations at the Neag School of Education, as well as Ana Clara Blesso, Assistant Director for Experiential Learning at the Center for Career Development, and Lisa Famularo, a HESA student whose Graduate Assistantship is with the Center for Career Development.  Caitlin reached out to program alumni and helped connect them with the initiative, while Ana and Lisa helped to prepare students for this experience by giving a presentation to the class on how to best prepare for an interview prior to the mock interviews with alumni.

Each student submitted a resume and cover letter for a position to which they were interested in applying.  These resources were shared with the alumni who served as the mock employer. Instead of one day for all the interviews, each student-alumni pair negotiated the scheduling of their own interview.  With these changes to the overall experience, the HESA community was able to use its strong reciprocal relationships to help students refine their career skills and build valuable professional and mentorial relationships.

To get a better understanding of the new mock interview experience, we caught up with one student-alumnus pair: Current second-year HESA student Cristina Carpentier and HESA alumnus La’Rez Wilson (‘13), who currently serves as the Community Relations Coordinator in the Department of Social Change at The Ohio State University.

 

The Student Perspective

Headshot of Cristina Carpentier
Cristina Carpentier

What do you feel that the mock interview program offered you at this point in your HESA experience?

CC: I thought the mock interview assignment was really helpful. Considering that the job search is taking up most of my brain space these days, it was nice to have a class assignment with direct application to that process. While I didn’t end up actually interviewing for the position I chose for my mock interview, the experience still offered me the direction and motivation I needed to improve my interview skills. La’Rez offered me specific feedback on things I did well and the answers that needed further thought; it was a solid combination of a confidence boost and an opportunity for growth. It was also nice to connect with a HESA alum so close to graduation because it reminded me of how far this community extends.

 

How did you prepare for the interview?

CC: I wanted to be able to answer questions with concrete examples tied to my skills and values.  So to prepare for the interview, I scanned the job application for specific skills the employer was looking for and came up with a list of my related experiences. I also read through the office’s and institution’s websites so I could clearly explain how I saw myself fitting into those spaces. Lastly, I came up with a few questions that would help me get the pointed feedback I was looking for from my mock interviewer.

 

What’s one thing that surprised you about the interview?

CC: I was surprised by how quickly La’Rez and I connected!  I suppose it could’ve been because I knew he wasn’t actually looking to hire me – that certainly took some pressure off – but I think it was more than that.  I liked knowing that he had been through the same graduate program I’m currently going through. It made me feel more comfortable than I was expecting to feel, which helped me to put my best foot forward.  I also appreciated having the opportunity to talk to him a bit about his position and function area. He offered me some helpful and comforting insights on the job search within the service learning and civic engagement function area that I was not planning to walk away with.

 

What’s one particularly great piece of information you took away from the mock interview process?

CC: I walked away from the mock interview process understanding the importance and value of presenting your most authentic self in interviews. I struggled to answer questions when I began thinking about what the interviewer wanted to hear and he noticed this struggle. On the flip side, the responses that came from my personal values and experiences were clearer and more meaningful. La’Rez advised me to take a moment to myself to consider what I really want to say before responding to challenging questions. I now know that doing so will help me to offer more genuine and effective responses.

 

What advice would you give to next year’s mock interviewees?

CC: I would advise next year’s mock interviewees to take full advantage of the opportunity by really applying themselves to the assignment and working to build a connection with their interviewers. The job search is a pretty daunting process – take all the help you can get!

 

The Alumnus Perspective

Headshot of La'Rez Wilson
La’Rez Wilson

Can you take us through your journey since you graduated from the UConn HESA program?

LW: Currently I’m at The Ohio State University and I’m working as a Coordinator within their Department of Social Change.  I found myself there basically because of my love of working with students, specifically in the realms of civic engagement and service learning.  Before coming back to Ohio, which is where I’m originally from, I was doing similar work at Washington University in St. Louis for 4 years. I remember applying for jobs during my second year in the UConn HESA program and I was a little nervous because I was one of the folks in our cohort that didn’t like interviews.  When I found the position at Washington University I thought: I love working with students and I love working with kids, so it’s a good combination. While at UConn, I was working in the Office of Community Outreach and I was a Graduate Assistant for the Community Service Learning Community, and those positions made me really want to look into how I could do that professionally and full-time.

 

What made you want to be a mock interviewer?

LW: Well, I thought back to my own mock interview experience.  At the time, I felt like I just tanked! Some of the biggest feedback I got was that I didn’t leverage my skills and experiences enough to really showcase all the work I had done.  So when I got the email about being an interviewer for the mock interview program, I thought: this is my time to professionally give back. I know what it’s like to go through the interview experience, I know what it takes to prepare for an interview.  At Washington University, I did a phone interview, I did a Skype interview, and of course I had an on-campus interview, and then as part of the job selection process I was required to write an essay. And all this while trying to figure out my plans for the future, still applying for other jobs, and in the midst of my final semester at HESA; it was pretty stressful.  So when I got the email from HESA I thought, I need to share these experiences with others and really offer that space for reflection.

 

What insight were you excited to share with Cristina?

LW: I wanted to share what I was feeling during my own interview experiences, and to dig deeper and understand what she felt during the mock interview.  Because those same emotions and behaviors are going to translate themselves into the real-life experience, so let’s take some time to reflect on it now while we still can.  I also wanted to share some tips that I’ve picked up along the way from interviewing, from mentors, from my own experience, from my friends. As part of my current position, I work with incarcerated youth in hopes of helping them gain skills in order to reenter society effectively.  We’ve been doing workshops in some of the detention centers in the central Ohio area and one of the things we talk about is how to recognize illegal or touchy questions that aren’t necessarily related to the job. For those populations, it’s particularly helpful to understand that because there are such high stakes involved.  With Cristina, we didn’t really touch on questions to look out for or anything like that, but we did touch on how to stay vigilant about what’s being asked and why. Knowledge is power, and that’s going to be helpful going into the interview process.

 

What would you say to HESA alumni who want to get involved in the mock interview program?

LW: Do it!  It sounds so to-the-point, but seriously.  Mock interviews are a great way to professionally give back, but they’re also a way to make sure that you are still prepped and primed for the career search experience.  One piece of advice that I received from a mentor along the way was that if you have the opportunity to be on a search committee, take it. Because it helps you to see what others are seeing when they’re evaluating candidates, but also to improve your eye for recognizing talent.  I think that’s something that’s not easily taught. So I think being a mock interviewer is a good opportunity to keep those skills sharp and to share your experience. And ultimately, one of the strongest things that we can do as alumni is help share our stories, help make the process a little smoother, a little less stressful.  I told Cristina all that I’m telling you: I was stressed out, I was nervous about interviews, and I think it was validating for her because she felt the same. And it’s good to be able to say hey, I was there, it’s going to get better. And let’s talk about how to get there.

As we wrap up another semester, we’d like to extend our gratitude to everyone who contributed to this year’s successful mock interviews. If you are an alumni who is looking to get involved for future mock interviews, please contact Dr. Kari Taylor.

Neag School on the Map: Higher Education and Student Affairs Alumni Employed Nationwide

Where do UConn HESA Alumni go after graduation?  This map shows the program’s national reach, with HESA alums pursuing careers in Higher Education from the University of Alaska all the way to Georgia State, from Smith College to UC Berkeley.  The HESA program is proud to showcase alumni placements.  If you are a recent alumnus/a and would like to be featured on our website, please email us.

Jeffrey Alton (’06) interviewed for Insight into Diversity to talk about Asian American and Pacific Islander serving institutions

Asian American Students Find Academic, Cultural Support at UIC

Editor’s note: This story, written by was originally posted in Insight to Diversity in March, 2017

“It is critical to provide services to ELL (English-language-learner), first-generation, and low-income students because they are often the most vulnerable populations on our campuses,” says Jeffrey Alton, associate director of the Asian American Resource and Cultural Center (AARCC) at UIC. “Also, for Asian and Asian American students, the added notion of the model minority myth, that all Asians are successful and smart, may be hampering the institution’s recognition of their need for support.”

 

Asian American Students Find Academic, Cultural Support at UIC

Jack Nguyen (’15) named Director of Asian Pacific Islander American Affairs at the University of Florida

Multicultural and Diversity Affairs selects new APIA Affairs director

Editor’s Note: This story, written by Sara Tanner, originally appeared on the UF News website on June 29, 2017

After a thorough national search, the University of Florida’s department of Multicultural and Diversity Affairs (MCDA) is pleased to announce that Jack Nguyen has been selected as Director of Asian Pacific Islander American Affairs. He will start Monday, July 17.
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Paula Milone-Nuzzo (’89)- alum in the news

Nursing dean named president of MGH Institute of Health Professions

Editor’s note: This story, was originally posted on the Penn State News website on March 24, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Paula Milone-Nuzzo, professor and dean of the College of Nursing, has been named the new president of the MGH Institute of Health Professions. Milone-Nuzzo will end her tenure at Penn State in August and a national search for her replacement will begin immediately.

MGH Institute of Health Professions is an independent graduate school in Boston founded by Massachusetts General Hospital and the only degree-granting affiliate of Partners HealthCare.

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Maria D. Martinez (’96) – alum in the news

Maria D. Martinez ’83 MSW, ’96 Ph.D. — Assistant vice provost at the Institute for Student Success in Undergraduate Education and Instruction at the University of Connecticut

Editor’s Note: This story, written by Neag School’s Shawn Kornegay, originally appeared on the Neag School’s website

Maria D. Martinez earned a master of social work degree from the University of Connecticut in 1983. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in professional higher education administration at UConn’s Neag School of Education in 1996. Prior to that, she earned her bachelor of arts degree in sociology from the City University of New York.

Martinez began her career at UConn in 1986 as a counselor within Student Support Services (SSS), where she worked with low-income, first-generation college students. She became the SSS program director in 1993. In 1995, Martinez became the director of the Center for Academic Programs, where she managed the operations of the TRIO Programs (Student Support Services, Upward Bound, and Talent Search).

In 2011, she was named assistant vice provost for ISS and UE&I, where she provides strategic and operational leadership for units and programs within ISS; oversees the delivery of services to facilitate the transition from secondary school to college; and manages the Institute’s budget.

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HESA alum and current instructor Fany Hannon (’08)

UConn Leader Recognized for Contributions to the Hispanic Community

Editor’s Note: This story, written by UConn Communication’s Kenneth Best, appears in UConn Today’s September 16, 2016 issue

During the upcoming celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month on the American Spanish language television network Univision, one individual recognized for her contributions to the Hispanic community will be Fany Hannon ’08 MA, director of the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center (PRLACC).

Hannon’s work with UConn students will be seen by viewers of Univision’s affiliates in Connecticut and the Springfield, Mass., region as part of the network’s Nuestro Orgullo Hispano – Our Hispanic Pride – segments aired in commercial breaks as part of the month-long celebration, from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

Read the entire article here

Felix (’08) Graduates with Doctoral Degree from BGSU

We would like to congratulate an alumnus of our program, Vivienne Felix (HESA Class of 2008), on receiving her PhD in Higher Education Administration from Bowling Green State University. Our program is always proud to see graduates continue on their respective journeys as scholar practitioners, and we are excited to follow your continued contributions to the field, Dr. Felix!

Below is a link to the the May 2016 commencement ceremonies at Bowling Green State University. If you’d like to see an alumnus get another hood beyond the blue and white presented at HESA Hooding, skip to 50:39 – 50: 58 https://dvss.bgsu.edu/public/publicPlayer.php?movie_id=e0167b534d0fc27d917f38ed1bec90bd

 

“Bringing Theory to Practice” – Hunter (’14) Starts STEM Student Mentoring Program

Truth Hunter (HESA Class of 2014), Assistant Director for Bard Educational Opportunity Programs at Bard College, started a peer mentoring program called “Bringing Theory to Practice.”

Hoping to help historically underrepresented students who are pursuing majors in the STEM fields, Hunter hopes that the program can provide students the opportunity to build “soft skills,” such as working effectively in groups and building networks, as well psycho-social skills that will increase students’ success in the classroom.

Hunter hopes that conversations with the Bringing Theory to Practice participants can minimize the stigma related to asking for help, encourage students to utilize their available resources, and spur students to create a network of support that serves as a source of motivation. A more detailed write up about Hunter’s efforts can be found in an article in the online magazine Oblivion, available at the following site: https://oblivionpub.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/bringing-theory-to-practice-creating-a-culture-of-support-and-collaboration-in-stem/.

Here at UConn HESA we are always proud to hear about the efforts of our graduates and the impact that they are able to make as their careers progress. We wish Truth the best of luck in her continued efforts at Bard, and appreciate her call to bring theory to practice in the field of student affairs.

 

Rapoport (’11) Selected for NACA Mid Atlantic Regional Conference Planning Committee

Elizabeth Rapoport (Class of 2011)  was recently selected to serve on the NACA Mid Atlantic Regional Conference Planning Committee as the Volunteer Center Coordinator; her fourth consecutive year serving as a part of the RCPC for this region. Elizabeth would be more than happy to connect with any students who are interested in a career in Student Activities to share with them how to leverage NACA as a graduate student and young professional!

Connect with HESA Alumni