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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Alumni Spotlight – Meg Brannan (’16)

by Rebecca Nelson

Meg Brannan grew up in upstate New York, in Oneonta, and stayed in New York for her undergraduate career before coming to UConn to matriculate into the HESA program. Graduating from UConn in 2016, Meg now works as an Area Director at Lewis and Clark College. Much like the explorers for whom the college is named, Meg moved far west across the country to Portland, Oregon, where Lewis and Clark College is located.

 It turns out that Meg has more in common with the famous explorers than just moving west. She is constantly challenging herself and pushing herself to do things that scare her, much like an adventurer, within her own life. She says that she deliberately chose to complete her HESA practicum in the Office of Community Standards because it made her the most nervous, rather than choosing a path that felt safe or familiar.

“Push yourself to get involved in things that make you uncomfortable,” she said. “Things that push you and challenge you to grow.”

She attributes her growth and success in HESA to this adventurous attitude: doing things that made her nervous during her time in HESA, she says, prepared her to go out into the world and be a confident professional. The feeling of confidence and accomplishment that comes with successfully doing something you never thought you could is what Meg seeks out in every experience.

 The HESA program provided plenty of opportunities for Meg to challenge herself, from a practicum in the Office of Community Standards and a graduate assistantship at the Rainbow Center to regular facilitation experiences and public speaking. Thanks to HESA, Meg says she is much better at giving presentations and facilitating. She calls herself a hands-on learner, which made the HESA program a great fit for her. “I learned so much more than I would have if I was just sitting in a classroom being lectured at,” she said. Seeing the impact of interactive assignments and presentations in HESA made a powerful impression on her that she carries into her professional life.

 During her time at the Office of Community Standards, Meg discovered a passion for student conduct management, which led her to specifically seek out a job that incorporated both housing and conduct responsibilities, exactly what she found in her current position. In her first semester as an Area Director, Meg trained as a Title IX investigator and hearing officer, and spearheaded RA selection. She’s also been putting in extra hours at work to go to student conduct administrator conferences through the Association for Student Conduct Administration (ASCA), and plans to go to the national ASCA conference next year. Her career path has been different from what she would have expected, in part thanks to the variety of experiences she had as a HESA student. “You can’t really plan out every single detail of your career for decades at a time,” Meg said. “The experiences you have will shape the direction you go in.”

Other than pursuing things that scare you, Meg says that one of the keys to success in HESA is to “get involved in things that are meaningful without spreading yourself too thin.” HESA has so many opportunities to learn and get involved in, she says, but you have to “whittle it down and dive deeply”. It’s a common temptation to try and do as many things as possible, to boost your resume with diverse experiences, but Meg recommends instead finding the most impactful experiences and putting your all into them. One experience, she says, like her practicum in the Office of Community Standards, can be “more than just one thing on your resume”, but a multitude of challenges rolled into a single experience. During her time in community standards, for example, she was the facilitator of the book club. “The book club was outside the realm of HESA, and wasn’t an academic expectation, but I took it really seriously,” she said. “It allowed me to connect with professional staff members.” Choosing a book and running the book club, she says, pushed her to be deliberate on what concepts she wanted to focus on in her work, and she “would see that show up in [her] daily life”, and saw that it left a lasting impact on the people who were part of the book club. She chose Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, which is about how embracing vulnerability takes great courage, but allows you to become a better person, colleague, leader, and friend.

During her graduate assistantship at the Rainbow Center, Meg says that “allowing [herself] to be vulnerable” was one of the greatest challenges and learning experiences, but also one of the greatest sources of success. In Brene Brown’s book, which Meg says is now one of her favorites, Brown says that “when we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof…we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable.” Embracing vulnerability, an important lesson that the book teaches, allowed Meg to experience great success during her time at the Rainbow Center. She proposed, developed, and ran a program which the Rainbow Center has sustained since she left. The F.A.M.I.L.E.E. Mentor program helps first-year UConn students adjust to life at UConn with the help of continuing students, focusing on academics, maturity, independence, leadership, and empowerment. Meg says that the experience had “a lot of autonomy to do everything and anything”, which was “scary at times”.

 While at the Rainbow Center, Meg was trained in Husky Ally Safe Zone facilitation, which taught her how to create safe spaces for people of all gender identities, expressions, and sexualities. She has taken the skills with her since then, particularly the focus on inclusion. Her experiences at the Rainbow Center challenged her and has made her confident enough to be “willing to confront or intervene” in problematic situations.

“I don’t really like a typical office job that’s the same every day,” Meg says. Instead, she pursues opportunities that are dynamic and surprising, as exemplified by her experiences at the Rainbow Center, and continuing now in her job as an Area Director. She says that no matter what she does, she wants to be “happy and healthy in her career”, which for her requires a job that allows her to make “really close and personal connections with students” so she can “hear their story, help support them, and help them be successful.”

Since completing her HESA program, Meg says she’s been pleasantly surprised by the amount of free time she has. At first, she says, she “didn’t quite know what to do with [herself]”, but has come to embrace the free time. “I didn’t realize how wonderful free time would be for my self-care,” she says. “And how it would give me the energy and motivation to be even better at my job.”

 HESA, Meg says, has contributed to her current success “in a million ways, from really small things to really big things.” Put yourself out there, she says. Find mentors who challenge you. Take on opportunities that scare you and force you to dig deeper within yourself and into the world. Get out of your comfort zone, and, according to Meg, you’ll go far. If Meg’s career and successes are anything to go off of, it seems that her advice is worth listening to.

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

Alumni Spotlight – Louis Cameron III (’16)

by Carissa Rutkauskas

Louis Cameron III wearing a dashiki
Louis wearing a dashiki and showing love for his beloved fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, incorporated.

Louis Cameron III (HESA ‘16) is no stranger to exploring new communities. Born in Würzburg, Germany, and having lived in or visited Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Costa Rica, Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Boston, New York City, San Antonio, Washington D.C., and San Francisco, Louis is a self-declared extrovert who identifies himself as a Black man who has worked at and attended predominantly White institutions. He believes that equity-minded policies, practices, and programs for people with marginalized identities are essential, both inside and out of institutions of higher education.

After graduating from East Carolina University, in Greenville, NC (2013), the University of Connecticut Educational Leadership Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) program was Louis’ next stop. He describes those 2 years as the most formative years of his life. He looks back fondly at his time at UConn and went so far as to say, “I love everything about UConn”. Louis misses being at graduate school and the learning perspective it affords, where his cohort offered him opportunities to reflect on his assistantship, practicum, and readings with like-minded individuals.

Now the Resident Director (RD) for 310 first-year residents of Hardey and Cushing Houses on the Newton Campus of Boston College, Louis supervises a team of 12 Resident Assistants, one Graduate Staff Assistant, one Programming Graduate Assistant, and one Graduate Minister. In this position, his priority is to assist residents transitioning into the college environment, which is a great fit, as Louis is energized by working with first-year students. Recently he completed training his RAs, with a focus on rejuvenating his staff, and is looking forward to the RA selection process. At BC the RDs change residences each year, so he is excited about interviewing and selecting strong staff who will remain at Hardey and Cushing Houses in the coming year, carrying on his vision and excellence even after he has left.

Louis with two of his best friends and fellow HESAs, Mike Malenfant and Aisha Folkes, celebrating at UConn’s 2016 Grad Prom.
Louis with two of his best friends and fellow HESAs, Mike Malenfant and Aisha Folkes, celebrating at UConn’s 2016 Grad Prom.

While he enjoys the challenges of working in an environment different from his UConn experience, he knows he won’t remain in residential life forever, even though he was an RA as an undergrad. When Louis accepted his position, he had in mind a piece of advice given to him as a first-year HESA student by a then second-year HESA student: Your first position out of graduate school doesn’t have to be your dream job or your forever job. Think about the benefits and opportunities for growth it can provide you. As an RD, Louis sees an opportunity to work somewhere that provides housing, and where he can gain experience supervising a staff, training undergraduate students, overseeing a community, and facilitating conduct hearings. It is a generalist position in an institution that is different from his HESA experience at a large, public, flagship research institution: BC is a private, smaller, conservative Jesuit institution, with a much different student population, especially in terms of race and class. Louis’ time at BC is providing him with unique experiences, which include serving in an on-call duty rotation, furthering his passion area through the department’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion committee, and working with a diverse group of students, as well as colleagues that have a variety of professional competencies.

Louis Cameron III at UConn HESA graduation with his family
Louis with family from Massachusetts and Virginia during his 2016 UConn HESA Hooding Ceremony.

Looking forward, this RD sees his future intersecting four competencies: student conduct, ethics and morality, equity, social justice, and inclusion, and assessment, evaluation and research. Two of those four were strongly influenced by his HESA faculty, Cathy Cocks, director of Community Standards, and Dr. Milagros Castillo-Montoya, HESA professor:. “Cathy is a friend and mentor and inspires me in my understanding of student conduct and ethical fitness,” Louis said. “And thanks to Milagros, I know more about equity-mindedness and I am now obsessed with assessment—going into HESA, I did not like research or assessment, but now I’m a huge Qualtrics fan.”

Only time will tell which college or University Louis will call home in the future, but for now, he is settling into his role at BC as a professional, after 20 years of being a student. He is using this opportunity to work on his self-reflection as a practitioner, and to discover how to adapt his learning and developing for a non-academic role. Louis is looking forward to auditing a course on higher education public policy to expand his knowledge, and you might even see him on campus in May for the HESA graduation ceremonies!

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!



“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:

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!

DiGorio (’13) Presents #CSAM14: Moving into Your Role as a New Professional


Rollins College

Jeremy DiGorio, a 2013 graduate of the UConn HESA program, collaborated with colleagues from NASPA, Oregon State University, and University of Miami to present the ” #CSAM14: Moving into Your Role as a New Professional” webinar.

This dynamic webinar  incorporated the viewpoints of five new professionals in the field of higher education and student affairs who shared their confessions, job searching tips, and  lessons from their first few years in the field. Free to  both NASPA and non-NASPA members alike, this type of support for undergraduates, graduates, and new professionals bolsters interest our field and further backs the supportive nature of related professional organizations.

We are proud to recognize Jeremy’s contribution to the field and join him in celebrating “Careers in Student Affairs Month!”

Austein ’06 Presents about Enrollment Management

Thanks to Chad K. Austein (HESA ’06) for sharing some presentations he completed this year!

  • “Ellucian Recruiter: Best Practices for a Successful Enrollment Management Operation,” Kean University, January 2014
  • “Implementing an Enterprise CRM Strategy,” American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), April 2014
  • “Ellucian Recruiter: Best Practices for a Successful Enrollment Management Operation,” New Jersey Association of College Admissions Counselors (NJACAC), upcoming presentation, June 2014