Live and Learn

Episode 5 10.23

[Danielle Chaloux] Welcome to Live and Learn, a production of the Honors Program of the University of Connecticut. I am Danielle Chaloux and this is Episode 5 for the week of October 23rd. Halloween is coming up and Honors for Diversity is hosting their annual “My Culture is Not a Costume” discussion about how one can show appreciation for a culture without disrespecting members of a cultural group, or culturally appropriating their traditions. That will be on Tuesday, October 24th in the Student Union room 317 (7-8 PM). On Wednesday, October 25th, we are celebrating student research, scholarship, and creative projects with the fall Frontiers poster exhibition in the Wilbur Cross south reading room from 5-7 PM. Stop by to see undergraduate students and what they’ve been up to.


And now, a UConn professor who is studying exertional heat stroke, heat illnesses and hydration to find ways to prevent sudden death during sport and physical activity.    


[Douglas Casa] My name is Douglas Casa. I am the CEO of the Korey Stringer Institute. I am a professor of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut.


[Chaloux] We spoke with Dr. Casa about his work at the Korey Stringer Institute, working with undergraduates, and what the research has shown.


[Casa] Korey Stringer was an NFL offensive lineman for the Minnesota Vikings and he died from an exertional heat stroke in August of 2001. He is the only NFL player in history, in 100 years, to die during a practice or a game. Like I said, he had a heat stroke, really brutally hot conditions on the first day of practice in Minnesota during a heat wave back in 2001. And, he struggled that day in the heat and the next morning he came back and it was hot again and struggled again that day and unfortunately he did not have appropriate treatment in regards to rapid cooling. He stayed hyperthermic for too long and ended up passing away in the middle of the night the following day. I worked with his widow, Kelsey, for many years after as an expert witness on the lawsuits she had. And, when she settled with the NFL, her and Commissioner Goodell, from the NFL, asked if we would be willing to host a lasting legacy for Korey to prevent future things like this from happening for athletes who are fighters and laborers. And that is what we have been doing the last seven years.


[Chaloux] And what is exertional heat stroke?


[Casa] Exertional heat stroke happens when people get severely hyperthermic, or they get too hot. The intensity is too high, the environmental conditions could most likely be oppressive. They have central nervous system dysfunction like maybe they’re unconscious or have cognitive dysfunction. If you stay hyperthermic, like above 104 or 105 (degrees) range for more than 30 minutes, it’s very likely you’ll have long term complications. You could potentially die from the incident so the appropriate, best practice is treatment for heat stroke is cooling someone down as fast as possible.


[Chaloux] What is the research or work that you’re doing at the Institute?


[Casa] So we have two big things that we do at the Korey Stringer Institute. One side that we do is anything related to enhancing athletic performance, or military performance, a person that has to do intense physical activity, especially in the heat… how can you enhance performance? Things like body cooling strategies, keeping your temperature down, heat acclimatization, getting used to the heat, hydration, the influence of certain medications or supplements or different clothing or textiles, or things like that. So anything you can do to enhance performance. The second half of what we do at KSI has to do with the medical and clinical side of things. What are the best ways to prevent, recognize, treat, and help people recover from an exertional heat stroke. And then other things related to preventing sudden death during physical activity whether they be cardiac conditions, or head injuries, or other conditions that could put people at risk. so the medical/clinical side is half and enhancing athletic performance, especially in the heat, is half of what we do.


[Chaloux] And what are some of the findings you’ve seen over the past several years?


[Casa] So I’d say some of KSI’s biggest contributions to the medical literature and society at large is definitely things we know about recognizing and treating exertional heat stroke. So, what are the right modalities to assess body temperature for instance. And in terms of what is the best way of cooling a hyperthermic person, what are the ramifications for the different amount of time it takes, and we basically played a big role and we are proud of the role we took in getting people to use cold water immersion for treatment of heat stroke. And then also the strategy called “cool first, transport second”. So if someone has a heat stroke at a in high school or college, most of those places that follow best practices, they cool them on-site before shipping them to the hospital because they don’t want to lose any of the minutes waiting for an ambulance, waiting to go back to the hospital, waiting to start cooling at the hospital because it takes us out of that 30 minute window we have to get their temperature down rapidly. And then we’ve also done a myriad of things in the realm of preventing heat stroke. But, anytime you’re preventing heat stroke like things like heat acclimatization, hydration, body cooling, those are also things that enhance athletic performance in the heat. So we’ve done a lot of work in that area that has contributed to the exercise science, performance side of things but also the literature.


[Chaloux] Do you work with undergraduates in research?


[Casa] Oh yeah, we are extremely thankful. One of the big reasons I think KSI has had much success over the last seven years is the undergraduates from the University of Connecticut. We have about 20 staff that consists of Masters students, PhD, post-docs, and professors that are paid by the Korey Stringer Institute. But then we had 60 volunteers, that takes us to about 80 people for staff, and those 60 people played intrical roles in the research studies we do. I’ll just give you one example. We did a study that we contacted every single high school in America to see if they had an athletic trainer and the extent of coverage if they did, and if they didn’t why they didn’t. So we contacted all 21,000 high schools and we only did that because of the amazing staff that we have. So we literally had 30 people working on that for a year.


[Chaloux] And did you hear from all 21,000 schools?


[Casa] Well we contacted all of them up to four times, but we actually an amazing dataset. We actually ended up having correspondents with almost 12,000 of the schools, which is incredible for really getting an idea of what is happening nationally. And we have another project now where we’re actually back again contacting all of the high schools. And right now we are less than 1000 left of every high school that we got information on for what we needed for our study. And this is all happening because of the incredible undergraduates here that are super smart, super motivated, and they come to us as a lot of them have a passion or interest in either sports or medicine, or often a combination of them both.


[Chaloux] What are some of the qualities a researcher looks for in an undergrad assistant?


[Casa] We don’t look for anyone that doesn’t have experience, per say. We look for someone that has the interest and the passion, the internal motivation, someone who just feels a connection with what we’re doing.


[Chaloux] So do some investigation about the labs and the work that’s being done at UConn. Talk to some professors and see if your interests line up!


[music break]


[Chaloux] When Spencer Matonis, a junior in the Honors Program studying Material Sciences and Engineering with a concentration in Nanotechnology, went looking for research, he found a business need instead and found Coalesce, a database for undergrads to find opportunities. Can you talk about the process of founding a start-up and how that came to fruition?


[Spencer Matonis] Absolutely. About October 26th of 2016 is when I first incepted Coalesce and put pen to paper to essentially sketch out the very first structure of the site as well as the workflow that currently exists with students getting into research and getting a job, how professors get funding, and then how I would like to see it happen. I took that workflow and made it into a software system. What I ended up doing was I found a software called Bubble which allows for a non-technical website building essentially, so it’s much more design-oriented, it is in between traditional coding and something maybe like Squarespace. Bubble is a nice middle ground, and the design-oriented process was really good for me. So, essentially with Bubble I was able to make an early MVP, a minimal viable product, in about a month, and then once I got to that stage and I started taking on marking efforts and tackling data entry stuff as well as consumer interviews. I was able to talk to the Bubble community and essentially got a couple of freelance developers to work with, so with those developers in place  and freelancers for data entry, it’s just a big hustle and grind and you’re constantly pitching, so I probably end up pitching by proxy about once a day. So I’ve pitched 365 times more or less. And it’s amazing, one thing I was thinking about recently is that you can pitch 150 times, and you’re generally supposed to use the same narrative, and you want to have a narrative, you want to be able to tell your story, how you got into the sector, what’s the need, what’s the solution, and what’s the market, in 2 minutes in the same exact format you tell it the same way every time, and it’s amazing after 200 times or so, something new might click. And you would be able to broaden your perspective, and realize I can see why people are telling me this or I see the market from a different angle now, and you might make a slight adaptation or iteration. It is a long process so, you have to be patient. It is a taxing process, so you have to keep up your mental health, you have to have a support structure. I think it all goes back to why you chose the topic and what you’re interested in. If you’re just looking for the money, or fame, start-ups are not the option for you. It is a lot of tinkering and frustration and failure.


[Chaloux] And what’s your pitch?


[Matonis] My pitch is that we’re the first ever database for students, that we’re the first ever database for university research labs, and we’re bringing specialized software to a sector that has been left behind in the past 10 years or so. So there’s Blackboard and other ed-tech solutions for all the classes that you take, yet graduate students don’t have that resource. So professors up until this data have hodge-podged bunch of different things together, and now we’re bringing a platform that will hopefully go on every research computer in the country, and we’ll be able to help them with inventory at bringing new students into the lab, getting them funding, managing lab operations on a day-to-day basis, in a much more efficient and intuitive platform that currently is out there.


[Chaloux] That’s all for this week. Visit to tell us about your favorite class at UConn, share feedback, and enter to win a long-sleeve Honors Program t-shirt with the code word “macaroni”.


[outro music]


Episode 4 10.16


Welcome to Live and Learn, a production of the Honors Program at the University of Connecticut. I’m Danielle Chaloux, and this is Episode 4.


Are you interested in helping first-year Honors students transition to UConn? Do you want to enhance your leadership and communication skills? Become a UNIV peer facilitator, and earn 6 Honors credits while leading a class of first-year Honors students and working closely with a UConn faculty member. There will be information sessions on Tuesday, October 17th at 4:45pm, Wednesday, October 25th at 5:30pm, and Thursday, November 2nd at 4:45 pm, all in the Shippee Pequot Room.

The Honors Humanities and Arts Collective is hosting a professional development workshop about creative entrepreneurship on Thursday, October 19th at 5:15pm in the Buckley Classroom. Guest speaker Allison Kuhlman will talk about about starting a creative business and marketing yourself.

And if you’re a junior or senior, there’s a thesis retreat coming up on Sunday, October 22 from 1-5pm. Whether you’re planning, researching, analyzing or writing, the retreat will provide a structured environment, with time for chatting with friends, focused writing, and breaks – snacks included. RSVP at


We’ve seen rave reviews about the opening weekend Honors community service event in collaboration with Jumpstart, here’s Associate Director of Community Outreach, Gina DeVivo Brassaw, and junior Digital Media and Design student Anna Janott to talk about how you can find a community service project that fits your schedule.

Gina DeVivo Brassaw – Students run all of our programs, so we have 110 student leaders that run a variety of different programs or services or initiatives. For service programs we have semester-long programs that students can get involved and go out weekly to area non-profits, students can go on trips around the country, serving and living together and reflecting about different social issues, or they can get involved in one-time projects. Community service days are when agencies come to us with weekend projects. everything from raking leaves to running bingo at nursing homes, to running Special Olympics events. And students sign up online, we provide the transportation, and they serve for 2-4 hours on the weekend and they come back and give a quick evaluation of the program, and that’s it. It’s a great way to get involved easily without much of a time commitment in case they have a lot on their plate. Typically they get involved in that type of program to start getting involved.

D: How can students get involved in Community Outreach?

The best way to figure out what a student wants to do is to go to our website: So, I typically recommend that they go on the website, figure out what programs they’re interested in and contact the student leader directly.

D: And who are the people that serve with Community Outreach?

Well a lot of people come into UConn wanting to help and wanting to serve. Community Outreach gives them that opportunity, so they come from a background of wanting to do community service. Or, you get others that didn’t realize it was their calling and then they find it when they come here. It really is inspiring seeing all these people who are just so dedicated to what they are doing and who has been involved since coming to UConn and will continue to be past UConn. They just work to help others and inspire others to be the same.

D: If you’re already a student leader who’s passionate about public service and/or the environment, there are several scholarship and fellowship opportunities available to you. The Truman Scholarship, Udall Scholarship, Mt. Vernon Fellowship and Newman Civic Fellowship all seek change agents who demonstrate passion, intelligence, commitment, and leadership on issues important to them.  And there’s an information session on Monday, October 16th at 4:30pm in Rowe 420.


For involvement out in the wilderness, UConn Outdoors offers something for everyone.

My name is Leah Rossettie. I am the coordinator for Outdoor Programs, part of UConn Recreation

D: What does that entail? What’s offered under that umbrella?

We have our rental center down in the Student Union, room 228, our Adventure Center, that’s where we do equipment rentals so anything from backpacks, mountain bikes, two burner grills that are great for tailgating. Sleds for snow in the winter. Beyond that we do weekend trips. Sometimes a simple day trip. If you’ve never been mountain biking or rock-climbing before we can take you out, teach you the basics, and get you on real terrain out there. Some overnight trips over the weekend, sometimes backpacking, some overnight mountain biking, and then extended trips over the breaks. Week-long adventures. This Thanksgiving break we’re going to the Grand Canyon, over winter break we’re going to Yellowstone National Park for the first time ever. If you’re not so sure you want to go that full level of commitment going off campus we have evening clinics. Paddle clinics, which take place in Brundage pool in SRF; we also have backpacking 101, where we talk about things to pack, good things to eat, things you want to avoid doing, and even bike maintenance clinics taught by our biking mechanics down in the Adventure Center if you want to learn how to take care of your bike on your own and these offer the knowledge tools to do that.

D: Do you have to know anything about mountain biking or rock climbing in order to go on these trips?

You do not! We are super beginner-friendly. Everything we do is geared towards entry-level beginners. Someone who has always wanted to do something and never had an avenue to get involved with it before. We try to remove barriers, and that’s a big part of our trips, is that we try to educate people on if this becomes a life-long passion for you, we’d like to give you the tools to do it safely and responsibly in the outdoors. So we’re a really good introduction if you want to learn how to do something like rock climbing or mountain biking, cross country skiing. Whatever it is, we have professional and student staff go out on those trips to guide you through those activities we do. We do have different level of intensity trips. Some are much more laid back than others, but it’s all beginner friendly. We provide the equipment and instruction, and vehicle transportation out to the site.

D: How would a student go about signing up to participate in any of the programs?

Any and all of our programs registration, because we do have limited spaces, is handled through our online registration portal, You’ll be able to scroll through our calendar. You’ll see not just UConn Outdoors, but also any offerings for Bodywise, Intramurals, or any other special events that we have going on. You can click on any of those individual events and get a bit more of a description, and then you can register. If it’s a free, local trip, as many of our local trips are, on the weekends that are day trips, then you’re all set. Those rosters are kind of fluid, so you can add or drop up until the Wednesday before, and then we kind of lock up and prepare for those people who are going on the trip. If it’s a paid trip, you have until the end of the next business day to come in and make payment on that trip to confirm the registration. At that point, we start getting more information out as the trip gets closer. If it’s an overnight, like the Grand Canyon, we obviously have some of those pre-trip meetings so that we can make sure you’re prepared to go on this adventure. Or just drop into the UAC and ask around because our staff are definitely excited to tell you about some of the different trips and some of their favorite trips.

D: There are costs associated with the overnight trips and some of the programming, what about renting equipment?

So our equipment rentals they do have costs associated with them. They are extremely affordable compared to if you went to a commercial outfitter. We have everything from cross country skis, tents, backpacks, so if you go with us and you really enjoyed it, and there’s no spaces on any more backpacking trips for the rest of the semester, and you have a couple of friends and want to get together and do it yourself, you can absolutely do that. Our staff are happy to help you with places to go. It depends on how long you want to rent it for. We have day rates, weekend rates, and week long rates, depending on the item. But again, they’re extremely competitive if you compared it to what a commercial retailer would be charging.

D: And it’s right on campus!

It is right on campus, yes, so it’s super convenient location.

That’s all for this week, thanks for listening. Feedback and segment suggestions are encouraged, visit While there, enter to win a limited edition Honors Program long sleeve t-shirt, by entering the code word, adventure.

Episode 3 10.9


Welcome to Live and Learn, a production of the Honors Program at the University of Connecticut. I’m Danielle Chaloux, and this is episode 3.

The Holster Scholars First Year Project is an enrichment opportunity for curious first-year Honors students. Holster projects are in-depth, individualized learning experiences completed during the summer after the first year (so for current first year students, 2018). Beyond some basic requirements, projects are self-designed. Scholars receive $4,000 in research support to complete their projects during the summer under the guidance of a faculty member.

Interested in learning more? There’s an information session on Monday, October 16, at 7:00pm in the Buckley Classroom.

Here’s 2016 Holster Scholar Katie Grant, who investigated the public perception of school choice options in Connecticut.

[Katie Grant]: to the students that were in my position two years ago, go for it, it’s something you won’t regret. No matter if it comes out in a successful Holster acceptance or not you will learn something about yourself through it and that’s the most valuable thing you can get.

As the semester is now fully underway, stress levels all over campus are rising.

Counseling and Mental Health Services offers a wide range of options for students. They include clinical services such as individual therapy, group therapy, and on call support 24/7, as well as free activities, such as drop in consultation hours, yoga classes and various workshops throughout the semester.

To learn more, visit, or call 860-486-4705

Here’s Dr. Erin Cox from CMHS to talk about stress and perfectionism.

[Dr. Erin Cox]: One thing that I always like to emphasis is that stress itself is not a bad thing. It’s just really how that stress is impacting us or how we think about that stress. At certain levels stress is pretty normal throughout college. If you have midterms coming up that’s going to be a stressful experience and perhaps would help you be more motivated to study and do well. That being said, a lot of student are impacted by numerous stressors at once and that might build up to become something more like anxiety or depression or other types of more significant health concerns where it’s starting to impact your ability to function.

So there’s a number of self-help strategies that’s I’m a big fan of. One of my favorites would be something like meditation or deep breathing exercises. There’s a lot of great YouTube videos and apps out there that offer instruction on how to mediate. My favorite strategy is called diaphragmatic breathing. It’s a specific technique that taps into our relaxation response, which is through our parasympathetic nervous system, and the technique for this is to kind of breathe, essentially, into your belly. So your diaphragm is an organ right above your belly and when you breathe into your diaphragm you are triggering this response in your body. Your nervous system thinks “I’m safe now. I’m breathing in a calm manner. And that sends a message to your brain.” The trick is to kind of take nice slow breaths in and out of your nose and maybe about counting about 3 to 6 counts in and 30 to 6 counts out and really focusing on getting it into your belly. If you do this for a few breaths that’s great, but it’s actually even more effective if you’re doing it for about 5 minutes per day, in a kind of meditation practice.

So I personally like to use apps as a guide, because if I don’t have a guide, I will only meditate for about one or two minutes and then I get bored, so use a guide and that will kind of help you stay track on time.


One of my other favorite strategies is to really consider the way we think about stress. When we’re stressed out, we tend to think about things in a more illogical, maybe more negative way than what is actually the reality of the situation. And so sometimes when we take a step back, we can see the more logical ways of thinking. And there’s a whole field of therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy, that’s based on this principle. And they’ve identified what they call cognitive distortions, which are specific ways in which people think about things that are a little bit more illogical. Essentially what you want to do is learn to recognize when you’re using a cognitive distortion. For example, magnifying a problem, so if I fail this exam, I assume that I failed the class and that I failed out of college; that would be an example of magnification. What you want to do with that is kind of step back and say “I am magnifying right now, what’s an alternative way of viewing this problem? Well, I failed the exam, that’s not great, but maybe if I talk to the professor or the TA, if I have a study group, if I think about a different way to study, then I can turn it around, and one exam does not make my final grade.”


So that would be a way that you’re challenging that thought. And that’s essentially the idea with cognitive behavioral therapy – to identify negative thought patterns and to challenge them.


One thing I’d really like to emphasize are our free drop in services. One thing that we often hear from students is concern about wait time for getting in for therapy, things like that. To a certain degree, there can be a wait time, just like when you call a doctor’s office or a dentist’s office, things like that. But we do have a lot of rapid access services. So certainly our emergency on call services are available, but our drop in consultation program, which is technically called the “Consultation and Support Hour,” is a really amazing service for students, you know if you’ve just gone through a breakup, if you’re having a roommate problem, if you’re struggling with test anxiety. Our clinicians are trained to identify these concerns and give you tools, resources, referrals to other campus agencies that can really be helpful, and often, actually, many of the students who use the drop in service find that they do not need to come back for longer term therapy. They find that those resources were enough to get them through that one particular difficult time. So that’s one of my favorite services that we offer, and that is free. It’s available on a first come, first serve basis every day of the week during the school year.


UConn Recreation offers a wide variety of programming opportunities. Over the next few weeks, Live and Learn will dig a little deeper into what’s offered. Today, we’ll hear from Steve Drasdis, Coordinator of Club Sports, as well as Meg O’Neil and Ashleigh Jepson, both students involved with clubs sports. But first, some information on the new recreation facility that’s currently under construction.

[Cyndi Costanzo]: My name is Cyndi Costanzo, I am the executive director of UConn Recreation.

[DC]: You’re the person in charge of the big construction project happening on Hillside Road.

[CC]: I absolutely am. It’s very exciting! I call it my building, which I’m not really sure that’s what the university is calling it, but it feels very much like my building. Uh, the project is on time. It is also on budget, which is great. And, we will plan to open that building in August of 2019. And so students that are on the campus right now will be using that building. And we’re very excited about that.

[DC]: And what will it look like when it’s done?

[CC]: For students that are on the campus, they can stop by the Student Union right now and see our video fly through, as well as the two models that we have available for students to see. And really, capture the essence of how, how big the building is. We developed a fantastic aquatic center, which will be two individual pools, and that will really meet the need of a lot of our club sports athletes as well as our recreational users. We’ll have four fitness centers. One of the fitness centers that we have outlined right now will house more equipment than what is currently available in the entire recreation center. We also will have four gymnasiums with wood court floors as well as two additional, what’s called a MAC court, or a Multi Activity Court, more of a synthetic surface. Those six courts are surrounded, by a really unique design, an indoor running track. And then we have our outdoor adventure center, which will be part of the actual building, which now most people know that’s an annex program for us and available in the Union. Now in there it will run all the programs that we currently run, our cycle share program, signup for our weekend adventure programs where we take students to offsite locations, from everything from mount biking to ice climbing, etc. In addition we will expand our climbing center. Currently we have a relatively small, mostly bouldering climbing center. We will expand the bouldering that will be available in our new climbing center but will also add the high climbing elements. And we will be the home to the 55 foot high climbing center, which will be the largest in New England!

[DC]: And here’s the club sports team.

[Steve Drasdis]: So we have 39 club sports, ranging from men and women’s soccer, women’s basketball, baseball, softball, men and women’s rugby to more nontraditional sports such as woodsmen, skydiving. We have three different horse disciplines, so pretty much something for everybody. You don’t have to have any experience with some of these clubs to participate. Obviously if you try out for the men’s lacrosse team and you have no idea about lacrosse, you don’t know what a lacrosse stick is, that might not be something that is going to work for you. But we have other sports, even if you have never tried them that you can come out and try. So running, for example, or archery, you can go out and try it even if you have never done it. If you just want to run recreationally, you fit and run with them. They have group runs four to five times a week, you can do that as long as you’re following the membership requirements, paying your dues. But if you really want to be competitive and compete and you want to go to the races, they take 45+ members to the races on weekends, so you can go do that. Similar to archery, where they have a competitive team and they go and they compete at a very high level but then they have people who just come to practice twice a week and practice their shooting on targets. So, it’s a really cool dynamic where you don’t have to be experienced in some of these clubs. You can come in and you kinda learn. Rugby is another good example, where we have a lot of athletes that have even played varsity sports or have played high school football and they want to go to the next level but they don’t know what to do and they’re very athletic, rugby pretty much takes anyone. And, that’s one of those things where they can come and participate in a new sport, a unique sport that is growing in America and be really successful.

[Meg O’Neil]: That also opens up the opportunity to be on more than one club sports team, which I think is awesome since D1 takes up so much of your time that you can’t really be on two D1 sports teams. But with club sports I see athletes all the time going from practice to practice and just being able to try out different kinds of sports which is a great opportunity.

[SD]: The way that we have it set up is that these teams, while they might not be competing all year, they’re kinda doing things as a team from August usually through April and when the school year ends.

[DC]: So it being October now, is it too late to get involved in club sports?

[SD]: No, again some of that goes back to tryouts, so we have those set tryout dates that they need to attend. Some of our clubs will have fall and spring tryouts, some will not. We do have certain roster deadlines in general, so for example a team like running that will take everyone, October 13th is our fall roster deadline this year, when for the fall no one can join after that date. But then in the spring when classes begin around MLK day, in the spring there is six week window where people can join teams again if teams are accepting new members.

[DC]: And the best part of club sports?

[Ashleigh Jepson]: I would say the best part of being on a club sport is that it really is that, it’s a club and you’re getting to play the sport that you love. So, you’re not just joining a team, like in high school, but you’re getting a whole new network of people you might not have met otherwise at this huge university. It really does make UConn feel smaller, and these teams act like a family. They have dinners, they have practices and team bonding events all throughout the year. You’re really joining a close group of friends that you’ll have for the next four years.

[DC]: And maybe beyond.

[S2]: Yeah!

[DC]: If you’re interested in club sports, check out That’s all for this week! To enter to win Honors Programming swag, provide feedback, and suggest future segments, visit, where the code word is BALANCE. (outro music)



Episode 2 10.2

(thoughtful music)

Welcome to Live and Learn, a production of the Honors Program at the University of Connecticut. I’m Danielle Chaloux, and this is episode 2.

On Tuesday, you and two friends can test your STEM knowledge by participating in the STEM Bowl from 7:30-8:30 PM in Laurel Hall 107. Winners receive a Dairy Bar gift card!

On Friday, swing by the Business Career Expo from 11 AM-3 PM in the Student Union Ballroom. More information about this event at

And on Thursday and Friday, check out the Conference on Business and Human Rights – Protecting Rights at the End of the Line. Here’s Associate Political Science Professor Shareen Hertel.

Professor Hertel: This year’s conference is really looking at how companies and communities interact along the supply chain, so beyond the factory floor, how are communities impacted positively or negatively by business’ presence in the community.

Danielle: What would you stay to students who might be thinking they’re not the target audience necessarily?

Professor Hertel: I would encourage students to come no matter what point in their career they are academically or their interest or their field of interests because as I say to students in my own classes I teach on related themes you will make more decisions about what to buy or use in your life than you will ever vote.

Danielle: And what if you can’t miss class for two days to come to the conference?

Professor Hertel: So you can come to any part you can come to. We ask that you register online.. we have a really beautiful portal it’s and just fill out the end. And that way if you come during the lunch hour we know to count you for lunch and you can drop in to as many sessions as you can.

That website has registration information as well as speaker bios and an agenda.

Also upcoming is the Fall Frontiers Poster Exhibition application deadline on October 9th. Undergraduate students in all majors at all campuses can apply to present their research or creative activity. For more information and to apply, visit

To hear a little more about research, here’s Dr. Alaina Brenick, of Human Development and Family Studies. We heard from Dr. Brenick last week during the last lecture presentation so what we’re going to talk about is what is research and how to get involved and what office hours looks likes from the other side of the desk.

Danielle: So what is your research about?

Dr. Brenick: My research focuses on how children and adolescents experience, evaluate, or make sense of, and respond to victimization particularly when it’s based on aspects of their social identity. Um so if they’re being bullied, or excluded because of their sexual identity, their gender identity, their ethnicity, their immigration status.

Danielle: How would you help students get started? So, when…I think a lot of students are maybe a little bit nervous about going to talk to a professor, and I know it’s not one size fits all, but what’s kinda—how would you say: “Here’s how to prepare for going to talk to a professor, whether it’s in office hours or maybe an appointment.”

Dr. Brenick: I think that office hours are great. So one of the things that you said that you wanted to see was what office hours looks like from this side. Really, if, if somebody came to my office hours I would be surprised, because most of the time people don’t come to office hours because of the sense of feeling like they might be intruding, or they’re potentially intimidated by us, or don’t even know what to say. But you don’t always have to know what to say—you can just come by. And, and those office hours that we have are a time where we’re just dedicated to being there for you in whatever way that means. So if students wanted to come up and say, “I’m interested in research and I don’t know how to get involved in it… can you tell me about it, can you tell me about your research?” That’s always an excellent question to ask any faculty member, because faculty love talking about their research—they do. Um, so if you don’t know you can always start the question with, “Can you tell me about your research experience?” Um, and that’ll open up the floor to have the faculty member discuss what they’re doing, discuss how they got involved in it.

Danielle: And so, when you’re working with Honors students specifically, whether that’s you know on a thesis or something like that, what is, what is that process like?

Dr. Brenick: Yeah, so I have… I’ve really had great fortune working with a number of different students, and they’ve each kind of taken their own path, whether it was creating a study from scratch or whether it was looking for data that I had already collected and looking at it in a new way doing some secondary data analyses. Um but really we start off with these conversations. Um I tell them about all of the different data sets that I do have, and I explain the opportunities they have within my lab, and I talk to them about my areas of expertise. So, if you’re not interested in the data I’ve already collected, here are they ways I can best mentor you if your interests are aligned with mine um but you want to conduct your own study.

Danielle: If you’ve checked your student admin and have a hold to go see your advisor, here’s Dr. Jess Hoffmann with what to expect from that meeting.

Dr. Hoffmann: We are going to talk about how things are going. We’re gonna talk about what your plans are, what they would be interested in registering for. We’re gonna talk about what they’ve gotten involved in. The meeting will probably go more smoothly if they come with some ideas—they don’t have to be very specific, humongous plans—they can just be “I’ve heard about this class from my friend, sounds really interesting to me”. It could be, you know, “Orientation I said I wanted to be pre-med, but now I’m thinking I’d be much more interested in studying history”… it could be anything like that. So we’ll just have a conversation, we’ll map some things out. After the student leaves, they will then be in charge of registering by themselves at their registration appointment date.

Danielle: And what about students who are not in their first year who’ve kind of done this before but maybe are still in ACES as a sophomore (that was me, just so you know. That was me until Jess said “No really you have to pick a major otherwise they’re gonna kick you out of UConn.”)

Dr. Hoffmann: Okay, so I don’t think the conversation went just like that, but there are students who are kind of pre-applying to their programs… if they are in that situation we’ll talk about where they are in terms of getting geared up for the application, you know, we’ll think positive thoughts but then we’ll also think worst case scenario, what would you wanna be registered for and what direction would you want to be going in if this doesn’t work out for whatever reason. If they are not a first year student and they are not pre-pharmacy, teaching, sports management whatever it may be, we’ll just talk a little bit more about where their explorations have taken them, what they’ve learned being involved in their extracurriculars—what did they particularly like about community service, why did they decide that they didn’t want to be in the Pre-Law Society… if this is a student who had some academic struggles, we’ll talk about academic resources, what their academic goals are, are they headed in that direction… really the conversation can go in a variety of ways.

Danielle: So let’s hear from our STEM Advisors

Kaitlin: My name is Kaitlin Heenehan

Anne: And my name is Anne Kim

Kaitlin: And our role is multifold… we work particularly with the STEM Scholar community, who are students who received a particular scholarship, but we also serve as secondary advisors to all Honors students to help them to feel comfortable here at UConn and connected to resources.

Danielle: So are you the people to come talk to to get your hold lifted?

Anne: We are not. Um we are available for all sorts of appointments, but if you have a hold in Student Admin the advisor listed on your Student Admin profile is the person you would need to get that hold lifted.

Kaitlin: We also are resources when perhaps their advisor can’t meet with them right away we are resources to them as well. Um same thing with Dr. Hoffmann… we all provide that kind of secondary resource… so hopefully students in the Honors Program will feel that they always have somebody to go to… we like to say that we’re kind of good people to go to when you don’t know where to go because we can either answer the question for you, get you connected to the right person on campus, point you in the right direction… we can help if you don’t know where to go.

Danielle: And what are some of the questions that students are asking about this time in the semester?

Kaitlin: I’m getting a lot of students who are, having taken their first exam, whether they’re a first year student or not, and may need some extra support on campus. And what I’ve been telling them is our best Honors students are the ones who ask for the most help because there are so many resources on this campus, and it’s really your role to reach out and to ask for help and to go to office hours and to go to the Academic Achievement Center. It’s really beneficial if you utilize all of the resources. So I’m getting a lot of questions, or not necessarily even questions, just students telling me about how things are going in their classes or not going according to plan, and that’s okay, because there’s still plenty of time in the semester and there’s still tons of time to reach out for help.

Anne: And you’d be surprised how many people are feeling the same way. If you’re feeling like this is a huge adjustment and you don’t know how you’re handling it, there are a lot of students feeling the same way. I know at this point in the semester it’s easy to look around you and see other students seem like they have their routine down and everything’s going well; you know you might still be struggling to adjust and that’s completely normal. This a huge change from high school, um and I think a lot of students are realizing that the things that worked for them in high school aren’t necessarily working right now and that’s exactly why we’re here.

That’s all for this week. To enter to win Honors Program swag, visit, where the code word is Muppet.





Episode 1 9.25


Welcome to Live and Learn, a production of the Honors Program at the University of Connecticut. I’m Danielle Chaloux, and this is episode 1.

This week is Suicide Prevention Week. There are a variety of events happening all over campus, visit to find out more.

Swing by the Konover Auditorium at the Dodd Center until 2pm on Monday to hear from 2017’s Holster Scholars about their research.

The Fall 2017 STEM Career Fair is Tuesday and Wednesday from 11am to 3pm on the third floor of the Student Union. A list of employers can be found on the Center for Career Development’s website,


The Honors Faculty Member of the Year Award recognizes and thanks a teaching faculty or staff member who has made outstanding contributions to the Honors Program and exceeded their job expectations in providing exceptional educational experiences to Honors students.

“My name is Alaina Brenick and I was the Honors Faculty Member of the Year. I’m an assistant professor in Human Development and Family Studies. I’m going to talk about the broad overview of my research. The title of my talk is “Growing Into and Out of Peace and Tolerance: The Need for a Developmental Understanding of Intergroup Relations and Victimization.”

If you couldn’t make it to the Last Lecture on September 13th, here’s what you missed:

“Are four year olds really racist?”

“Adolescents might say something like ‘On Wednesdays we wear pink’ and thus if you’re not wearing pink, you will be excluded. It’s a ‘Mean Girls’ reference for any of you who didn’t catch that.”

Dr. Brenick spoke at length about her research in the Middle East, and the work she’s done with Israeli and Arabic Sesame Street:

“In work that I did in the Mid-East with Arab and Israeli children, I was able to find that by preschool age, children in the Mid-East demonstrate a negativity towards the other that is extreme and polarizing. I don’t know how many of you spend time with three and a half, four year olds, five year olds right now, but if you can think about that, and think about hearing these words come out of their mouth: ‘They’re godless.’ ‘They want to kill us.’ ‘They bomb our streets.’ ‘They’re terrorists.’ So we got some clear indication that there is some parroting going on, right? They learn these words from the adults in their society.”


“But here’s the thing – those young kids, they had these negative attitudes, but we asked those same preschool age children in the Mid-East to evaluate situations of intergroup exclusion. So we’d show them these pictures, right, and we would say: ‘Oh this picture of the girls on the swing. The girl who’s standing off to the right, she comes from a different country.’ Those children who said that those outgroups were ‘godless,’ that they ‘bombed their streets,’ that they’re ‘terrorists’ – they didn’t apply those extreme negative stereotypes. They just parroted them. They hadn’t internalized them. They have a basic understanding of the labels, of the categorizations associated with these groups, but they don’t understand what that’s supposed to mean in terms of how they interact with these groups. They would say things like ‘It doesn’t matter if he’s an Arab, you can get to know him and become his friend because we should be friendly to everyone and not refusing to play with them. It doesn’t matter where she’s from.’ So a few minutes before, they’re talking about these individuals being ‘godless bombers’ and now they’re saying ‘We can all be friends.’ How do we promote this pro-sociality and prevent those negative stereotypes from developing? Because we know when those negative stereotypes develop, that leads to violence, that leads to conflict, that leads to discrimination, that leads to structural inequality.”


“So, we spent some time working with Sesame Street and it was awesome. Sesame Street is amazing. Sesame Street is across the world and there are Muppets and different programs that are specific to the needs of the children in those areas. These are the Muppets like we would have Elmo, and Big Bird, and Snuffleupagus, and Cookie Monster. Instead we have Dafi, and Haneen, and Juljul, and Tantan, who are the Muppets on the Palestinian, Jordanian, and Israeli Sesame Streets. What they decided – the creators of Sesame Street – was that they needed to have some sort of program that promoted positive messages about the groups – about both groups – so that both Arab and Israeli children could see positive representations of themselves in the media. That they weren’t inundated with ‘they’re supposed to be involved in conflict’ or ‘they’re supposed to hate each other.’ But also to promote the understanding of the outgroup.”


“So the first study that we did was with crossover episodes. These crossover episodes were actually bilingual, bicultural episodes where the Muppets from the Palestinian street would come over to the Israeli/Jewish street, and the Muppets from the Israeli/Jewish street would go over to the Palestinian Sesame street, and they would have interactions. And it might be something like – now mind you, the Muppets are the age of the children watching, they’re about four years old. So they only speak their native language so they can’t communicate with each other. But they’re there, they come, and they see an adult, and they see this other Muppet, and they’re making sandwiches. ‘What’s that?’ ‘What’re you eating?’ And the other Muppet says in the other language ‘I’m eating falafel.’ But this Muppet doesn’t understand that. They speak a different language so they’re interacting through this adult, and they find out ‘Oh, that’s what you call falafel? I call falafel this.’ ‘I like falafel. You like falafel. We both like falafel.’ Simple as that, everybody likes falafel.”


So they have these crossover episodes and it’s representing this contact across groups that they might not have in their own lives, but they’re seeing Muppets who they relate to engage with the outgroup. They’re learning about the outgroup, they’re learning about the similarities, and they’re seeing that there can be positive contact between these groups. When we followed up after running these series, we were able to find that the attitudes about the outgroup, relations with the outgroup became more positive after viewing these programs.”


{thoughtful music}

We’re into the swing of the semester now, and homework and midterms are real. Let’s hear from the Academic Achievement Center on some of the resources they offer to help you succeed.

“So hi I’m Leo Lachut, I’m the director of Academic Support and also the Assistant Director of First Year Programs and Learning Communities.”

“Hi I’m Sloane Krauss-Hanley and I’m the Learning Services Coordinator in First Year Programming and Learning Communities, specifically in the Academic Achievement Center.”

“A great way for us to explain it is we don’t teach you Calculus, but we can teach you how to be successful in a Calculus class. We help students put the pieces together. Maybe work with their advisor or their parents and friends and figure out how as an individual to be successful at UConn.”

“There’s also a program “UConn Connects” which any student can sign up for and that’s a great way to be held accountable by someone, whether it’s another student or faculty or staff member on campus, someone like us potentially. It’s a great way to actually be held accountable to see if you’re keeping up with your work. When it comes to procrastination, it’s all about figuring out what time you have to do things and it shouldn’t be left until the night before, so managing your time effectively is really important. You can do it all, you can have fun, you can play an intramural sport, you can be in a club, you can do whatever you want to do and do your academics on time, and we can help you figure that out if you need some help.

So can you speak a little bit to the Connects Program. What is that?

“I often compare it to if you were working here and your niece or nephew were at UConn and they were struggling, what would you do? You would probably meet with them on a weekly basis and help them network across campus. So these – we have about 104 right now volunteers, faculty and staff, who take on a mentor each semester – a mentee rather – and they work one on one over the course of the semester. Maybe they need time management, maybe they just need someone to talk to once a week and check in with. Maybe they need resources, so whatever that person needs.

So how would a student access these resources?

“Yeah, so we’re in the Rowe Building, which if you don’t know what that is, if you’re facing the library, the main entrance, turn around. We’re across the seal, and we’re in Room 217 so you can come in. We have walk-in hours. We’re there for you every weekday, so Monday through Thursday it’s 9:00 am to 7:00pm. And then Fridays it’s 9:00am until 4:00pm to just walk in and sit down with someone.

And so what does, when you walk into that meeting, what does that look like?

“We really try to treat the student as an individual. To say ‘Why aren’t you getting the grades you want?’ ‘Why don’t you feel you’re being successful?’ ‘Why aren’t you feeling like you’re getting what you want out of here out of your UConn experience?’ So, say I’m taking this class, I’m not really getting the grade I want or I want to know how I would best prepare for this class and the coaches can help with that.”

What do you see as the most common issue or concern that students come in with?

“I feel like it varies throughout the year and throughout the semester really. Right now we’re seeing a lot of time management and study skills because first exams are coming up or they’ve already happened. I think it varies, what do you think Leo?”

“It’s seasonal, so after the first round of exams. But then often times we’ll have a student who has a strong GPA but they’re trying to move to one of our professional school, so they have GPA requirements and they’re trying ‘how would I best strategically set myself up to achieve a GPA that would get me to professional school. So we’ll have appointments based on that. Or my ultimate goal is a graduate program or medical school, and we can help students be strategic in helping them lay that out. And we work collaboratively all across campus with advising centers and all the different resources as well to help them network to what they need.”

Of all the resources that are on campus, what are some of the hidden gems that you send students to?

“First of all, it would be our center, number one, in the fact that many people feel that the only reason they would go to our center is if they’re failing. We always tell people if you have a 3.9 or a .9, we probably can help you navigate UConn.”

If you’re interested in learning more, or in becoming a mentor, visit

That’s all for this week. To enter to win Honors Program swag, visit, where the code word is popsicle.  We’ll be talking with Dr. Brenick in the studio next week, so if you have questions, please send them in at Until then, I’ll leave you with these words from Nelson Mandela.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the human heart than it’s opposite.”



College can be overwhelming. Keeping up with all of the available opportunities at your disposal is a major time commitment, and that’s on top of classes and homework and going to sleep at a reasonable hour.

UConn has the resources to help you make the most of your time in college. And I’m here to help you navigate them.  This is Live and Learn, a podcast about finding your way through college.

I’m Danielle Chaloux, and this semester I’m going to talk to  faculty who can help you with your thesis , to university staff about what to do when your hard drive crashes or your grades aren’t what you’d thought they’d be, and to students who have been right where you are now – and made it out the other side.

You’re in the right place and you’re here because you’ve worked hard. But now it’s time to work smart.  Start Monday morning, on your walk to class. Spend 10 minutes getting up to date with upcoming events and approaching deadlines and stay ahead of the pack with the inside scoop on taking advantage of everything UConn has to offer.

Live and Learn: coming September 25th to a podcatcher near you. Subscribe at and you’ll get new episodes when they come out, because you already have enough to remember.

This is a production of the University of Connecticut Honors Program.