Welcome to Live and Learn, a production of the Honors Program at the University of Connecticut. I am Danielle Chaloux and this week we’re hearing from students and alumni at last Fall’s networking night sponsored by the student alumni association. If you’re looking to connect with fellow students and UConn grads this semester’s networking night is on Thursday, March 1st in the Alumni center starting at 6:30pm. Visit saa.rso.uconn.edu for more information.
DC: “What made you come to the networking event tonight?”
“Oh I attended the CLAS networking night and I gained a lot of information through them as well about how to connect to other people and what networking really is.”
DC: “can you define it?”
“It’s going out and creating a connection with someone else that can help guide you further in your education or in your future.”
DC: “so as someone who has the career experience, you’ve made the next step successfully- I’m presuming- how have you been able to do that? and what would you tell students that are looking at that next step?”
“Well, part of what we discussed tonight, it’s going to be at some point in your career it will be who you know and not what you know and it doesn’t hurt to listen to an opportunity. It may be an opportunity you don’t think is right for you, but it never hurts to listen. Because sometimes the perception of what you think the opportunity is about and what the reality is can be completely different. So having every chance to listen and sit down and talk and explore it is important. So I would say that in itself is great. I remember taking away from, my brother graduated, his commencement speaker said, “in your career, it’s not until you find your fifth job until you find your career” so you’re fifth stop is not where you’ll end up, but where you’ll kind of plant roots”
DC: “put all the pieces together”
DC: “And what has uconn taught you in your career”
“I’m a people-person and I think a lot of that came from the courses I took like public speaking and acting courses and brought out different traits of mine that I can use in my career every day. So I can say I took that from UConn.”
“So my biggest recommendation is to join an activity and be actively involved. There are so many student activities, you can have leadership roles, and get experience, and meet people and immediately become engaged with a group of people.
“I think don’t worry as much as you’re probably worrying right now because I think the benefit of being a liberal arts student at UConn is the fact that you have such a broad and diverse background. And embrace that and know that that actually is what the future holds for you. Employers are looking for candidates that have certain skills and what they bring to the table and they are not going to look for that niche. You don’t have to solve for everything as a freshman and a sophomore the opportunities will be there. I think if you embrace what UConn offers, by the exposure that you have, and again all that you will learn over the course of your four years, as each year progresses it’s going to become a little more clear. And even when you graduate with that degree I think you do speak to alumni members where they started out in isn’t always where they ended up.”
DC: “So where did you start?”
“Communications was my major and after failing an accounting class and realizing perhaps business is not where I want to be but that’s where I thought when I came here as a student. But then bridged into communication and from there realized I can use that as I went into marketing because, again, I was able take al lot of the skills I used here and, again, it’s things like working in a team environment, it’s being able to juggle and prioritize projects, it’s being able to articulate, being clear in how you write and how you speak. Those are just some of the core skills the university helps you refine and gives you exposure and opportunities to learn further. That’s what really takes you further, I think when you leave here with your degree you have that opportunity, no one is rigidly looking to pigeon-hole you so don’t torture yourself and do it on your own.”
“I would tell my younger self to pay attention and be more aware of what you’re looking for. Also, my younger self figure out what you want early because then you can start building up for that moment. If you start your first year and you keep building up through your fourth year you’ll eventually get what you want and I think that’s the best thing you can do.”
“A good thing you can do when going to any networking event is having questions prepared to ask the people you are speaking with so that you’re never stuck in awkward silence. If you don’t know what to say”
DC:”What questions are on your list?”
“Oh where are you from? I know someone from that area.
have you been to bla-bla-bla near that area? What do you do at your company? How long have you been at your company? And things similar to that.”
“The only thing I can talk relative to networking is…it is such a small world out there that you will run into people over and over again in your career and if you developed those connections, you are going to run into those people again. Maybe as a competitor, or as a customer, or vender, or whatever. And, you already have a relationship developed that will help you in your job. And if you don’t and if you develop a not-so-nice relationship, that can hurt you as well but the whole issue of networking can be wonderful. And, as I said, helping you in the future, you just don’t know what the future is going to bring.”
DC: “And what are you doing for work?”
“I work in human resources”
DC: “okay and so how did you get there from where you started”
“Just networking because I met a friend from here at UConn when we first started at the West Hartford branch so when I cam back from over seas I was in contact him and he helped network me a job where he used to work.”
“It’s all about the people. Regardless of what business you’re in, it’s a people-business. You’ve got to be able to deal well with people and that will be part of your success is dealing with people”
“Whatever comes your way, grasping it and going with it.”
DC: “And what have some of those opportunities been?”
“For example, I was really interested in medicine. So I was stressing out trying to find shadowing experiences, ended up working at a baking shop over the summer and the baker’s owner, her sister was a PA, so I was able to shadow an open heart surgery done by her sister and that was something just by chance, it wasn’t anything I was seeking to happen.”
DC: “So what have you learned from networking? Kind of generally”
“From networking most importantly I learned it doesn’t matter who you’re talking to because someone knows someone who knows someone or whatever they may do, if it’s not exactly what you want them to do, once you start talking to them you can change your mind about your whole career path.”
That’s all for this week, if you’re looking for a chance to win an Honors long sleeve t-shirt visit honors.uconn.edu/podcast where the code word is networking.
[Danielle Chaloux]: Welcome to Live and Learn, a production of the Honors Program at the University of Connecticut. I’m Danielle Chaloux and this week we’re hearing from students.
[Taylor Edgar]: Hello, my name is Taylor Edgar. I am a junior biology major on the pre-med track, and I am in Dr. Heather Read’s lab, researching auditory physiology and sound discrimination.
[DC]: So when you go into the lab, and you say, “Hello I’m here!”, what do you do?.
[TE]:For most of the day we’re running what we call behavior, which is the actual experiment. So the morning crew comes in and they set up all the technology, they boot the computers up, they get the rats ready. We have a set of rats that we bring up from the vivarium. Throughout the day we are bringing the rats in one by one, and putting them in what we call behavior boxes, where the experiment itself is run. They are very controlled environments. And so when you’re working your shift, you could be moving the rats in and out of behavior boxes, you could be recording data, you could be running the rats on what we call enrichment, which is where we put them in little wheels for them to run around in which is their exercise. Near the end of the day you could be weighing the rats, and calculating how much food they should be getting because they are on a food restriction diet to ensure they are motivated to actually complete the tasks that they do. But essentially throughout the day you can be doing whatever needs to be done.
[DC]: And when the rats go into the behavior box, what do they do?
[TE]:So, when they are in the behavior box, they are in this polymer cage within a much larger box, that’s soundproofed. They are essentially subject to little bouts of sound. So they have sound currently, they are in phase zero. And they essentially listen for a sound coming from the left or a sound coming from the right. And depending on where that sound is coming from, they go and tap on a little port, and if they get a sound direction correct then they are rewarded with, we give them strawberry flavor ensure, and if they are wrong then they get a little fifty second timeout where the lights come on and a little sound plays that they don’t enjoy. To initiate each trial they need to poke on a center port, so phase zero is essentially them training to discriminate between the direction of the sound.
[DC]: And what is the goal of the research? What is the question that will hopefully be answered?
[TE]: So again like I said, they are in phase zero right now. The next phase is taking away the direction of the sound, so they have to discriminate the type of sound and whether they associate it with the left or the right. Essentially, what we’re trying to do is train them to discriminate sound and once we achieve that we are going to launch into something called optogenetics, which is a new field which that essentially goes into the brain of the rat and we essentially able to inhibit certain parts of the auditory cortex and from that we’re able to see which part of the auditory cortex is controlling that sound discrimination, that ability to tell what a sound is and where it is coming from and what it means. Research into the auditory cortex, exactly what it does, what the parts do, is currently what we’re trying to achieve.
[DC]: And how did you end up in Dr. Read’s lab?
[TE]: A lot of times people on campus they, the reason they land in labs is that they’ve contacted professors, they’ve connected through the teachers they’ve had or they’ve emailed people that they’ve seen the research of and say they’re interested. And after a lot of emailing and a lot of communication, eventually they do land in a lab. I was actually connected through one of the current lab leads. She is a brother in my academic fraternity, and she knew that Dr. Read’s lab was going to lose a lot of members because they were all graduating, and she knew that I was looking for a lab and she thought I would be a good fit. So she put me in communication with Dr. Read, and that is essentially how I got the position.
[DC]: This would be another example for those out there listening of networking.
[TE]: Networking with other students, because people always think networking is, you know, with adults, people older than them that have already achieved high above. But networking can just be with your peers on campus.
[DC]: If you were to give yourself a piece of advice a year ago, or two years ago, what would be the advice you would give to your younger self?
[TE]: Well, to my younger self, I would probably tell her it’s ok to fail. Because I came from a very competitive high school, and because of that, I’m very grateful for being able to go there because it allowed me to develop the skills I needed to be in the Honors Program and to do well in school. However, it did put a weight on my shoulders when I hit college that I expected to be a straight A student just like I was in high school. And, for college, it’s a good idea and it’s a good thing to strive for, but it’s not always achievable. And it’s ok if you get a B, if you get a B-, in a class, if you get lower than that you can always retake the class if it’s really that big of a deal. And, it was a very big stressor when I was a freshman, even when I was a sophomore, that I thought I was a complete failure because I wasn’t doing as well as I did in high school. So being able to say, “Hey, it’s okay. You’re still doing well. You can still do this.” would be a good bit of advice.
[DC]: Is there a resource on campus that you would recommend to your peers? That they might not already know about?
[TE]: Specific to Honors or specific to UConn?
[DC]: No, just to UConn in general.
[TE]: I think everyone is aware of this resource, but a lot of people are hesitant to use it, as I was in my beginning years. Knowing that your professors they have office hours for a reason. And they want to see you at those office hours, because they want to see that if you don’t understand the material or if you’re a little unsure about something, they want to help you. They’re there for that, they don’t want to see you fail! For me it was very intimidating having to tell myself, “Hey you need to see a professor you can’t deal with this on your own.” So definitely seeing your professors during office hours, seeing them anytime you can.
[DC] For a minute, I’d like to go back to the idea of failure that Taylor talked about. For high achieving students, failing an exam or a class or not getting the internship you applied, even getting less than an A is devastating. I know, because I’m one of those students who didn’t get a B in anything until college, and when I saw it on my transcript I went home and cried. If this hits a little close to home, on Friday January 26th, at 4PM in Laurel Hall 306, the Honors Program is hosting a “Stay Whelmed” workshop, on failing well! Members of the enrichment team will share their own stories of failing, and we’ll be talking about finding the silver lining in failures. Attending this event counts toward Sophomore Honors. That’s all for this week, for previous episodes, and to enter in to win an Honors Program long-sleeve t-shirt, visit honors.uconn.edu/podcast, where the code word is, you guessed it, failure.
Welcome to Live and Learn. A production of the honors program of the University of Connecticut. I’m Danielle Chaloux and this is Season Two.
This week, as we welcome students back to campus, we are welcoming them back to another semester and another opportunity to get involved. We’re sharing a conversation between Christine Wilson, the Director of Student Activities and two Honors student leaders: Himaja and Colby. Here’s Christine:
Christine: Himaja, we’re going to start with you. You started to explain how Peer Allies Through Honors, PATH and what the purpose of the organization is, but I would love to hear some more about the organization, how it’s organized and some of the things the organization does.
Himaja: Absolutely. PATH is essentially made up of the mentees, which are the Honors freshman students, the mentors, which are the upperclassmen Honors students, and the coordinators that run the whole show behind the scenes. Essentially, what we do is we plan events to really bring mentees and mentors together and so we ask mentees and mentors do, at a minimum, 3 events per semester and we host a wide variety of events. Recently we hosted a cookie decorating and pumpkin painting event for PATH. That was really cool; we had a great turnout and everyone really enjoyed it. So we do a ton of cool, fun activities to initiate and help foster that bonding between mentors and mentees.”
Christine: So I’m curious about this coordinator position that you mentioned. Are these coordinators students?
Himaja: These are students, yeah. It’s been great, we have eight coordinators, we all work together. We have two event coordinators, we have marketing coordinator, which is me, and communications. we have a head coordinator, peer ally relations as I mentioned and a digital coordinator who deals with updating your facebook profile and helping to bring together mentors and mentees.
Christine: that’s great! I love the way that you’re organizing this with leadership that you’re really reimagining what it means to be an officer in a student organization. To really be more in tune with how students actually live in student organizations now. That’s great.
Himaja: Thank you.
Christine: Alright. So, Colby, would you mind talking about the Honors Council a little bit?
Colby: Honors Council is what I consider to be a general home for Honors students here on campus. So, what we do is we try to aim to make the Honors community on campus more enjoyable, more inclusive, and promote a well rounded student through Honors. We have a couple different avenues we do this through. We like to host events and through those events we provide leadership opportunities to underclassmen, through sort of similar to what PATH has through coordinator positions. So, this semester we have two positions. One through community service and one for our largest event of the year: International Night, where we are having underclassmen help us with that. We also focus on community service. Like I said, we have a community service coordinator and we are also a great connection to Honors faculty. Throughout my time here, with Honors Council I have gotten to know many of the Honors faculty and staff and they have been entirely supportive of our initiatives and are a voice for the Honors students throughout campus.
Christine: There are two things in there that piqued my interest that I’d like you to follow up on. One of them is you talked about a well rounded Honors student. What is your opinion about what “well-rounded” means?
Colby: A well-rounded student balances their coursework as well as being engaged with their community. And that can be something all the way from what we do. We’re very focused on the Honors program and giving a positive environment for Honors students. Or it could be playing on an intramural team, getting to know other people. Just being involved; not just going to your classes and it being the end of the day. You’re involved in more.
Christine: Thank you. On a big campus like this life can become so compartmentalized so quickly. Right? Your eating is separate from your working out is separate from your classes is separate from your organizations. And I really like that you’re drawing together your academic life with your extracurricular lives. I think that’s important. I’d like you each to talk about the impact of being in your student organizations on your academic work. Has it had an impact? If so, what has that been? And you can use this as practice for an interview question later because someone might as you this if you’re interviewing for a job. So, tell me about your involvement and how that helped you develop your skills. Himaja, would you like to go first?
Himaja: Yeah, absolutely. Being in PATH has definitely helped me academically in ways I probably wouldn’t have imagined at first. I would say the number 1 thing is time management for sure. It really helped me generate a skill to multitask and to make sure that I’m scheduling things right, keeping on top of things, making sure I’m doing my work for the organization. At the same time, making sure I’m putting enough time into my academics. So that definitely was an important skill that I learned just being involved in an Honors organization in general. And specifically for PATH, it’s definitely taught me a lot of leadership. Running an organization with over 200 members, mentors and mentees combined, it’s a really big organization on campus. Running the show and making sure we’re communicating effectively, we’re addressing issues that pop up, we’re really helping to give the mentors the resources to really bond with mentees. That takes a lot of leadership, planning, thought and effort and PATH has really taught me a lot of that that I applied to my academics, without even thinking about it on a daily basis.
Christine: That’s great. Sounds like it’s had a really good impact. A lot of lessons. Colby, what about you?
Colby: A lot of the same aspects. Where it’s time management or something like that and leadership working as a team. But I wanted to talk about something a little bit different. One of the things I realized that working with the Honors council is integrating policy and practical solutions to what I do. So, what I said earlier, I’m a chemical engineer and there’s a lot of disconnect between the research being done and how politicians and government officials are utilizing that in order to make effective policy. And, one of the things that i have been able to learn a little more about is policy, making decisions. In the past I have done a couple of outreach programs about Honors living and learning communities and the sophomore honor requirements. I have made a couple of surveys about that in order to poll the general population and then report back to the Director of the Honors Program to give her student opinions and data to work with to inform her decisions. My involvement in Honors Council has really pushed me to pursue an environmental policy aspect of my career that I’m not sure would have been so strong had I not decided to join newsletter my freshman year.
Christine: Himaja, let’s talk about what’s challenging in your student organization. You’ve talked about how meaningful it is, how inspirational it is, but we all know that things can be challenging sometimes. So, what’s challenging about your organization for you?
Himaja: One thing we’re trying to work on is effective communication and making sure we can document who comes to which event. So just making sure we’re properly recording attendance and giving credit to those who come. Also, making sure to properly congratulate mentees and mentors who really put in their time and effort into path to make sure both of them succeed.
Christine: So Colby, would you mind talking about a challenge, in a different way, maybe a challenge that you’ve encountered in your organization that you’ve overcome?
Colby: So, one of the challenges that I’ve tried to work on while serving as president of the Honors Council is collaboration with other Honors orgs. That has always been one of the hardest things to do. You have your own executive board, with your own idea on how an event will run, who’s going to run what part of it, who’s booking the room, who’s doing this and that. You have a set way of how you’re doing things in your organization. When you reach out to other organizations it can get a bit hairy as to “okay how much do we want to work with them on this” “oh I want to keep this part for us”. Something that we’ve worked on a bit, but still working through, is the collaboration with others. So, for example, International Night, which is an evening of cultural performances, hosted by Honors Council as well as Honors for Diversity, another student organization here on campus. we’ve been working on getting groups together, figuring out decorations, figuring out the food that’s going to be at the event, working with catering, all of that stuff. In the past this has just been an Honors Council event and last year we reached out to them to collaborate with International Night. And, we didn’t do a whole lot with them and we basically did everything the way we had done it in the past. The “status quo” International Night from our perspective and honestly sort of tacked their name on it on the side. So, this year we tried to be a bit more proactive and given them opportunity to work with us on International Night and I think it will be a great success and you’ll see the added perspective from their part at the event.
Christine: In my experience in working with student organizations, you point out one of the most difficult things. And it’s not just student organizations, I would say it’s sort of people. It’s amazing how fast a group can become its own culture and when you go to collaborate. We talk about it as “difficulty communicating” or “difficult to work together” but it really is melting two cultures and it is extremely difficult. And some days I think maybe we have 651 groups because people make their own thing, just because it’s easier than trying to join a group that already exists and I think students instinctively know this when they come to talk to us. They say “I know there’s an X, but my Y is different.” It’s easy to see for someone like me from the outside to say they’re splintering, but what I know students are trying to do is do something on their own terms. So we don’t prohibit that. But there are only so many resources so when they do go to work together, like what you’re talking about it can be challenging. Thank you for sharing that and I also appreciate your honesty in sort of articulating what happened last year and that you went down a different road this year and you had a different result.
Danielle: That’s all for this week. For past episodes and for a chance to win an Honors Program long sleeve t-shirt visit honors.uconn.edu/podcast where the code word is Martin Luther King.
Listen to Graham Stinnett, archivist at the Dodd Center, read a version of Aladdin from 1908.
Danielle: Welcome to Live and Learn, a production of the Honors Program at the University of Connecticut. I’m Danielle Chaloux, and this is a special finals episode.
Danielle Chaloux (DC): Can you please introduce yourself for me?
Graham Stinnett (GS): Sure. My name is Graham Stinnett and I’m an archivist at the Archives and Special Collections which is located at the Dodd Research Center.
DC: And briefly, what is the Dodd Center in general?
GS: So the Dodd Center is largely programming organization that oversees human rights related programs, offers awards to NGOs and folks doing work around human rights, continuing the work of Thomas J. Dodd who was in executive trial counsel during the Nuremberg Trials in 1946, as well as being a senator and a congressman of Connecticut. But more so his sort of stamp on the human rights record is kind of what the Dodd Center tries to continuously advocate for. And so there are all kinds of things. We teach classes in the Center; the Human Rights Institute is there, Judaic Studies is there, but largely, 3/4s of the building is made up of the archives and special collections.
DC: And what are archives?
GS: Just generally archives are kind of the collected memory of individuals, businesses, organizations. We, being the University of Connecticut Archives and Special Collections, we are kind of the one stop shop for all of the recorded past of the university. That’s everything from the corporate functioning of the university itself to student organizations that have recorded and documented their work over the existence of the university. And then further to that it’s kind of the one of a kind, focused collecting of objects that have enduring value—important historical objects, documents, papers, media, digital materials, etc. We kind of work in all frames of the recorded past.
DC: Can students use these materials and resources?
GS: Absolutely. So, kind of a big distinction between a library and an archive is that the only thing you can’t do is browse the stacks and you can’t check out material like you can in the library. The library has this fantastic kind of freedom to it where you can walk through the stacks, browse book by book. When you come to the archives, we kind of oversee how you handle the materials because a lot of the stuff we’ve got is very rare, fragile, old. It has preservation and handling requirements, so a lot of the stuff needs to be kind of minimally impacted by the research that we’re trying to facilitate. So, you can come in, you can browse the materials that we have online, and then you can request one of those objects, or a book, or a newspaper, or a photograph, whatever it might be. And then we’ll bring the box to you in the Reading Room which is located in the Dodd Center, and you can spend all day just kind of, you know, perusing through the research collections we have.
DC: Excellent. And so today we have a piece of one of the collections to share, and for the listeners at home, what have you brought out for us?
GS: So, this is from the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection, which is one of our larger collecting areas we have in the tens of thousands of literature books. And that ranges from very basic kids books to pop-up books to young adult literature to critiques of how children are written about or how they’re portrayed or illustrated. So today I’ve brought a copy of Aladdin from 1908 and it’s called Aladdin Or The Wonderful Lamp and Other Stories from the Arabian Nights.
DC: And so what we’ll do today is we’re gonna read the story cause we know you all have finals and are a little bit stressed so hopefully this brings you back to a nicer time of maybe lighthearted childhood.
GS: Okay, Aladdin Or The Wonderful Lamp.
GS: Once in a large city of China, there lived a boy named Aladdin, who was so lazy and careless that he would do nothing but play to the grief of his mother, who was a poor widow. One day when Aladdin was playing in the streets as usual with his idle friends, a stranger came up, and began to talk to him. He said that he was Aladdin’s uncle, and meant to do great things for him, and, kissing Aladdin many times, he asked to be taken to the house where he lived. Very much surprised Aladdin led the way to his home and told his mother the strange uncle had come to see him.
Now, the stranger was really no relation at all to the boy, but a wicked sorcerer known as the African Magician, who wished to make use of Aladdin to carry out a secret he had made. He had learnt by his arts that a wonderful magic lamp was hidden beneath the ground in a certain part of China, and knowing that if he had this treasure he would be the most powerful person in the world, he soon found out the exact spot where it lay, and made up his mind to get it. But, though he had learnt where the magic lamp was hidden, he was not allowed to take it himself. And having noticed, as he walked about the streets of the nearest city, that Aladdin was a sharp boy, he had decided to make use of him for his purpose. He soon made the poor widow believe that he was indeed the boy’s uncle, and saying that, he now meant to provide for all of his wants. He persuaded her to let him take Aladdin out for the day.
Aladdin was delighted to go, and, his pretended uncle, having bought him some gay new clothes, took him to visit the best parts of the town, and gave him many nice treats. After a while, he led him away from the city, right out into the country, saying he wished to show him a very beautiful garden. And Aladdin, though now very tired, was still ready to follow his new friend. When they came to a certain lonely place they stopped, and the magician made a fire. Throwing some incense into the blaze he uttered a few words of magic. Instantly the ground opened, showing a little cave, with steps leading down below.
“Go down those steps,” said the magician to Aladdin. “And you will find yourself in a most beautiful garden, at one end of which a lamp is burning. Bring me the lamp; we shall both be rich for life. But first of all put this ring on your finger and it will keep you safe from harm.” The magician placed a ring on Aladdin’s finger, and then the boy ran down the steps at once and soon found himself in the loveliest garden he had ever seen. On every side were trees laden with fine fruits which Aladdin fancied were made of brightly colored glass. And, thinking them very pretty, he filled his pockets and loose tunic with them, little dreaming that they were really dazzling jewels of priceless value. He soon found the lamp, burning at the top of some steps, and putting out the light he placed in carefully in his vest, and ran up the steps to the mouth of the little cave.
“Give me the lamp boy!” cried the magician impatiently. “No!” said Aladdin. “Not until you help me out of this hole.” The magician was so eager to snatch the magic lamp, that these words sent him into a violent rage, and throwing some more incense into the fire, he uttered certain words that caused the ground to close over the cave so that Aladdin was buried alive. Having thus failed to get the treasure he wanted, and not having power to open the ground a second time, the magician went back to Africa in a great rage, and poor Aladdin was left to his fate, knowing now that his pretended uncle was really a wicked sorcerer. For a long time he wept and cried out for help, but no help came. At last he clasped his hands together in despair and prepared to die.
As he clasped his hands together, however, he happened to rub the ring given him by the magician, and instantly there appeared an enormous genie, who said, “Who dost thou want? I’m ready to obey thee.” “Then get me out of this!” cried Aladdin. In a moment he found himself on the ground above, and, full of joy, he ran off home and told his mother of all his adventures. Next day, finding there was nothing to eat in the house, Aladdin said he would sell the old lamp he had bought from home an evening before. But just as his mother began to rub it up, to make it a little cleaner, there suddenly appeared another hideous genie, who said, “What dost thou have? I am ready to obey thee.” “Bring us something to eat” said Aladdin. Instantly the genie brought a fine feast set out on rich dishes of silver and then he vanished. Aladdin and his mother sat down to this feast with great delight, and afterwards, by selling the silver dishes one by one, they were able to live in comfort for a long time.
Aladdin now began to improve very much, leaving off his idle ways and growing into a sensible young man, and as he made it his business to talk with merchants and wise men, he learnt much from them and soon found out the real value of the jewel fruits he had brought from the underground garden. It was about this time that Aladdin first saw the sultan of China’s only daughter, the beautiful Princess Badroulbadour, and falling in love with her at once he made up his mind to marry her. So one day he sent his mother to the royal palace with a dish full of the precious fruit jewels. Telling her to present these to the sultan as a gift from him, and to ask the Princess’s hand in marriage at the same time.
After going to the court for several days, Aladdin’s mother at last was brought before the sultan, and laying her gift at his feet, she asked him to allow his daughter to be married to her son, Aladdin. The sultan was delighted with the dazzling gems, and he said if Aladdin would send him forty golden basins full of the same kind of fruit jewels, carried by forty black slaves led by forty white slaves, and would also provide a splendid palace for her to live in, he should certainly be married to the princess. When Aladdin had heard what the sultan had said he took the wonderful lamp and rubbed it hard. Instantly the genie appeared and asked his commands. Aladdin told him what he required, and the genie vanished, but soon returned with forty golden basins of jewels, forty black slaves, and forty white slaves. Aladdin at once sent the slaves with the golden basins to the sultan, and then he desired the genie to bring him a handsome suit of jeweled trimmed clothes, fit for a king, a splendid horse to ride upon, and forty richly dressed slaves to attend on himself. He also ordered gorgeous robes and slaves to be brought for his mother. And then the genie instantly carried out his commands. Aladdin then dressed himself in his glittering garments and rode in great state to the palace, where he was received very kindly by the sultan, who promised that the marriage should take place directly, he had provided a suitable palace for the princess to live in. So, when he returned to his home at night, Aladdin once more called up the genie, and ordered him to build a gorgeous palace, with walls of solid gold, and windows, doors, and pillars, all covered with precious gems, and to set it up in the open space opposite the royal palace.
Next morning, the golden palace was ready, it’s dazzling jewel windows glittering to the sunlight and when Aladdin entered he found it completely furnished in splendid style, with lords, ladies, and slaves in attendance, with great treasure of gold and silver laid only in a secret place known only to himself. The sultan was now perfectly satisfied, and that very day, Aladdin was married to the beautiful Princess Badroulbadour. He was very happy indeed, and lived the life of a splendid prince. But trouble was yet in store for him.
The wicked African magician was still alive, and having learnt by means of his arts of all that had happened to Aladdin, he made up his mind to try once more to obtain the magic lamp. So, he came back to the capital of China, and soon thought out a cunning plan. Learning that Aladdin was away hunting, he dressed himself up as a poor merchant, and buying a basket full of small lamps, he went from street to street crying out, “New lamps for old lamps! Old lamps for new lamps!” He soon made his way to Aladdin’s palace where he was seen by one of the princess’s ladies, who said to her mistress, “A foolish fellow outside is giving away new lamps in exchange for old ones. Shall I give him that rusty old lamp in Prince Aladdin’s room, and get a nice new one for it?” The princess, having no idea of the real value of the magic lamp, answered, “Yes. It down at once by all means.” The attendant did so, but no sooner had the cunning magician snatched the old lamp from her, then he rubbed it hard, and the genie appeared. “Carry me and Aladdin’s palace with all inside it to the middle of Africa!” cried the magician. And instantly his command was obeyed.
When Aladdin returned from hunting next day, he was full of dismay to find that his palace and beautiful princess had disappeared, and, guessed it once that this was the work of the wicked magician. The sultan was in such a rage that he declared that Aladdin should be killed unless his daughter was soon restored. Aladdin set off at once to look for his princess and palace, but, finding his search in vain, he had at last flung himself down in despair on the bank of the river, thinking that he might as well drown himself. In his grief he had forgotten the wonderful powers of his magic ring, but as he laid by the river he had happened to rub the ring, and instantly there appeared the same genie he had seen in the cave. Aladdin was delighted to see the genie, and he said at once, “Set me down beneath the window of the princess’s room in my palace, wherever it may be.” Directly as he had spoken, he found himself in the midst of a lonely plain in Africa, outside his own splendid palace. He soon made his way to the room of the princess, and, full of joy, they rushed into each other’s arms. The magician was, happily, in another part of the palace, so Aladdin and the princess were able to arrange a plan in getting rid of him. Having settled everything, Aladdin hid himself behind the curtains, and, then the princess sent out one of her ladies to invite the magician to come to a little feast with her. The magician came in good time, looking quite delighted for, until now, the princess had refused to have anything to do with him, and he wished above all things to win her favor. And directly he arrived, a grand feast was served.
The princess chatted and laughed, pretending to be very friendly with the magician, and presently she offered him a cup of wine, in which a deadly poison had been mixed by Aladdin. The wicked magician dazzled by the smiles of the beautiful princess, drank off the wine at once, and instantly he fell over on the couch, quite dead. Aladdin now rushed forward, and, searching amongst the dead magician’s clothes, he found to his great joy the magic lamp. He rubbed it at once, and when the genie appeared he commanded him to set the palace down again in its proper place in the capital of China. This was instantly done. And when the sultan looked out of his window next morning, he was full of surprise and joy to see Aladdin’s dazzling palace, standing in its place once more. He quickly went to embrace his beloved daughter, and rejoicing for her safe return were kept up all over the country for a long time. And now that the wicked magician was dead, Aladdin was safe from harm and the sole master of the wonderful lamp, and he and his beautiful Princess Badroulbadour lived happily together to the end of their lives.
DC: The end!
GS: And what the listeners couldn’t see were some of the illustrations that came along with it. So there’s one, subtitled “The genie carries Aladdin’s palace into Africa.” and it’s kind of a gaunty man with leather straps on his feet and his shins and he’s got a big, winding robe up around him that ultimately comes up onto his head and he’s carrying off this gigantic pagoda looking palace over what is probably the Nile. There are camels, there are elephants, there are little lions, lionesses, around the banks of this river. The coloration is kind of a cross fade of psychedelic greens and blues and purples. It’s kind of basic but that’s one of the only colored images in the book.
DC: So if you’re interested in learning more about archives, what are some resources you can check out?
GS: Well one of them is the podcast I’m working on that is hosted at whus.org, and it’s called D’Archive. Every week I interview somebody who does research in archives or works in an archive or a library, someone who is a specialist around materials that we have. And I play audio samples from our collections which are kind of hard to listen to often. Things have come from real to real tape or come from cassette or vinyl, so having to do that electronic migration of a lot of the media is the work of an archivist, basically. Having to make sure that things are still accessible to this day, even though that media is slowly disintegrating. So that’s something you can check out, and it’s a weekly feature. We also do exhibitions, come on by the Dodd Center if you can! Archives and special collections are open Monday to Friday, there’s always somebody there to answer reference question or to chat about the great stuff that we have.
DC: Excellent. Thank you so much.
GS: Thank you.
DC: That’s all for this semester. We’ll be back in the spring with the next season of Live and Learn!
[Danielle Chaloux]: Welcome to Live and Learn, a production of the Honors Program at the University of Connecticut. I’m Danielle Chaloux, and this is Episode 8 for the week of November 13th. Dr. Nicholas Leadbeater of the Department of Chemistry will be hosting a Lunch & Learn on Tuesday, Nov. 14th, at 12:30 PM in the Buckley Classroom. All majors are welcome to join Dr. Leadbeater in an informal conversation over lunch. RSVP at honors.uconn.edu/lunchlearn. And on Thursday, Nov. 16th, stop by the Student Union Theater at 7 PM to hear from the Pollinators Protection Panel, featuring beekeepers, professors, and the state apiary, talking about the necessity of bees and how to save them.
[DC]: This week we’re talking Education Abroad with Katie Ouimette, a junior Art major and global student mentor in the Study Abroad Office. Katie has recently returned from Australia and speaks about her experience. We’ll also hear from Matt Yates, the associate director of Education Abroad.
[DC]: What is the importance of Study Abroad?
[Matt Yates]: It’s very important in this day and age. We all know that this world is very globalized and that there are a lot of different, competing ideas and perspectives and cultures, and in order to make sense of that, it’s important to engage, not to pull back. It doesn’t matter what your perspective is and your personality if you’re not really somebody who is a people person or you don’t really see yourself going out a lot, that’s fine, because there are so many ways to engage with difference: difference of opinion, difference of religion, difference of language, no matter what you’re studying, you can find a way to globalize that. And that’s important of course, not only for the practical things of getting a job but to become a better person. We have an ethical obligation to work with other people, we don’t live in a world where we can get to do whatever we want, for better or worse. And so we should do right by them, we can only do right by them if we talk with them, if we engage with them, if we get to know who they are as people. Going abroad isn’t necessarily just about taking classes in your discipline, which I hope people do, that’s great! They can make academic progress towards a degree, they can take languages that will give them practical skills to get jobs, but it’s also really about learning who you are as a person, and how to ethically act towards others in a way that will help this world become a better place.
[DC]: And what about Honors students specifically? Can you earn Honors credit abroad?
[MY]: Yes, that is possible. We do have some programs that are more geared towards Honors students, so that’s something that advisors can help recommend to students depending on what they’re looking into, but yes that is possible.
[DC]: And what about thesis research?
[MY]: I would be more than happy to help students try to find programs in which they can do that. Research can often be very customized, right? So, it’s maybe more a matter of doing a impending study, network with faculty members, and then, not necessarily “studying abroad” but going abroad and registering with our travel registry so that you get insurance and are connected with the resources that you need in order to be successful and save for when going abroad.
[DC]: For a student who is maybe just starting out their UConn career, what advice would you give them, specifically regarding Education Abroad?
[Katie Ouimette]: My first piece of advice would be going to talk to your academic advisor and let them know that that is in your mind, so then you can plan accordingly and then you can know what program you want to go on and what program will offer the course you want to take while abroad, a lot of people, plan to take their gen eds abroad so that they don’t have to worry about taking their specialized classes in their course. So that, really just planning ahead and letting all of your advisors know, and even coming in and talking to a Study Abroad advisor, they’re more than open to talking to people who are years ahead from studying abroad.
[MY]: Talking about students who come in and I’ve talked with a lot of juniors and seniors in high school who say “I know in my second semester of my junior year I want to do this program” and like wow you’ve done a lot of research and you know exactly what you want to do, there are students like that. And then there are students who, one of the best students I have ever worked with was a student at Kansas State who came into the office the day before the deadline to apply to one of our most intense academically challenging exchange programs in Australia. And he completed the application on time and went and got scholarships for a lot of the programming he worked on while in Australia. He’d liked to say he came back with “down one penny” because he had enough scholarships and work while he was there, he was able to cover the costs of not only his program but also the traveling he did while he was there, so you don’t have to plan everything out to be a successful student is my point. It’s great if you do, and that’s what we’re here for, we’re here to talk about that process, the strategic process, it’s best that you do, I recommend that you do try to think things out and that’s what we’re here for too. If the moment strikes and you feel like the opportunity is there, come talk to us we can definitely see what we can do.
[KO]: That’s another thing I noticed. I was one of those students who was not together at all. I had no clue where I wanted to go, I know that I wanted to abroad, I’ve been thinking about going abroad my whole life, but I just waited and waited until the deadline, so you have to be flexible, and you have to think “Ok, I can’t go to Barcelona so where should I go?”, and I waited and waited so that a ton of deadlines were passed, so I kind of ended up in Australia, and I went and had an amazing time. So really being flexible and sometimes things don’t go to plan, even if you do plan ahead years in advance.
[DC]: What would you say to students who are on the cusp of leaving to start their semester, year, or experience abroad?
[KO]: I think one of the cliche things people always say is “never say no” and always be open to experience, and when someone says “Oh, do you want to go try this weird food”, try it! If they ask you to go on some trips say, “yes of course I’ll go” or “of course, I’ll try it” because you’re never going to get that chance again, and if you do it might be a little different, and to always take every opportunity that you can.
[MY]: I think that’s very well said, I would definitely jump on the food piece, I’m a big foodie, and part of the reason why I love Education Abroad so much is because I love to try new things, and to talk about that. And that’s something that I worked with with my students when I was teaching them at Kansas State was that I asked them to try different foods in Hong Kong and in Paris, two very very different cities, and to discuss it, because food is a very social thing, it’s something that we all have to engage in. Katie was saying earlier how it’s in the small things that you kind of have culture shock in, based on unknown assumptions I think that’s dead right, because another topic, not just food, that I like to talk about with students is, because we can all relate to it and it’s also kind of fun, is toilets. Like how to flush a toilet when you’re going abroad can be so different and force you to challenge you to think about something you never really thought about. In the states, for most of the toilets you just flush, right? But you may be prompted to think about how to do that when you’re abroad. And that can be uncomfortable and unsettling but it can also be exciting because this is something that I never thought about before. This is a way in which the culture is formatted, for whatever reason, has a different approach. Food is the same way, sleeping habits, when people eat, all the different things that go into our lives that we don’t have to think about are brought to our attention full force whenever we’re abroad and that can be very unsettling but also incredibly exciting and it makes you become a lot more open to experiences and open to other people’s stories, and doing right by them, and helping the world become a better place.
[DC] If you’re thinking about studying abroad, there are options that work for almost any constraint. The Education Abroad Office in Rowe 117 is a great resource to ask the questions you’re worrying about. Live and Learn visited the Puerto Rican and Latin American Cultural Center (PRLACC), located on the fourth floor of the Student Union. We spoke with two undergrad student workers, Ashley Amaro and Stephanie Andrade about the programs and community of the cultural center.
[AA] Our programs are usually student run and they do give more of an idea of what you can do to better yourself as an individual and to give you more of an idea that you are as capable as anyone else on this campus to get as far as you want to. And it’s giving you that motivation to push yourself further while also giving you that community that’s also pushing you forward. You can come if you want to expose yourself to different cultures around the world and embrace all the different parts of Latin America. We do have another program called Cafe con Leches where we have a guest speaker come in and we talk about social issues or we talk about things that impact a person’s life on campus.
[SA]: One of the biggest things is that we want to be a resource to people so we even smaller things, we had one just recently which was “How to Apply to Jobs as a LatinX Student”, the kind of things you want to say on your resume, like your second language, they try to teach you on how to emphasize that, especially the LatinX community, but could be absolutely anyone.
[AA]: The community is very family like, you have someone to talk to at any point in time that’s not going to judge you for any decisions you made or the classes you take or for switching your major five or six times, or even if you had a bad grade on your exam and you’re questioning who you are, there are people there who are going to motivate you. You can be of any ethnicity, of any culture, you can be somebody who’s never dropped by the center before, and you just need someone to talk to, they are there for you. How we can make you feel comfortable, knowing that when you’re comfortable and you are relying on people around you, you do the best that you can be. Being a part of this campus, it’s not just making it past your academics, it’s about making bonds that will last a long time.
[SA]: It’s very diverse. I want people not to think that they come in and they’re going to find one kind of LatinX student, and it’s not like that, they are so different. Typically there’s always music or talking and you can also find all sorts of majors and stuff like that, and that’s one of my things that you find all sorts of different kinds of people in the center and they’re always welcome to help you. I get to work with people who are genuinely driven to try and help people. Recently we just had a meeting and we talked about how we can help Puerto Rico with everything that’s happen and I think that’s amazing that I’m a part of something much bigger.
[AA]: This is a center that is so dedicated to helping the society around them and helping the communities within the LatinX community, and the drive to help other people. We see how we’re all working together to make sure they get to what their goals are, and that’s my favorite part of the center, it’s knowing that they want the best for me. They’re going to do whatever they can, and what’s in their power, to get whatever I need, and I reach my goals.
[DC]: That’s all for this week. To provide feedback and to enter to win a limited edition Honors Program long sleeve t-shirt, visit honors.uconn.edu/podcast where the code word is GLOBAL.
[Danielle Chaloux]: Welcome to Live and Learn, a production of the Honors Program at the University of Connecticut. I’m Danielle Chaloux, and this is Episode 7 for the week of November 6th. On Tuesday, November 7th, at 5PM in Laurel Hall 201, Dr. Erin Cox from Counseling and Mental Health Services will discuss strategies and tips to manage stress levels, perfectionism, and demanding schedules. We’ve heard from Dr. Cox in Episode 3, so check that out for a teaser. This week, we’re going to get a peek into ANTH 2400: Analyzing Religion. It’s an Honors Core class taught by Jocelyn Linnekin. Here’s Professor Linnekin.
[DC]: Can you provide a brief overview about what that class is?
[Jocelyn Linnekin]: This is the course where I, um, mess with their minds as much as I possibly can. I want to make them rethink, push, probe, everything they ever thought about religion. It’s very wide ranging, it’s challenging, but I think I guide the students through very well. It’s very excited because with Honors students you have a tremendous amount of discussion and they’re smart. It’s great fun!
[DC]: And what are some of the topics in this wide-ranging course that you’re covering?
[JL]: I start out with, what is religion, and I ask if religion has to be theistic, do there have to be deities, do there have to be supernatural beings? So we start out with various definitions of religion. And rather quickly move into different famous scholarly approaches to and rejections of religion. I rather like putting Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, alongside anthropologists,and the K’iche’ Maya Book of the Dead. It’s intended to be a juxtaposition of very different sorts of sources but, having Freud and Marx and Nietzche and the Christian mystic Gregory of Nyssa, and Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, just go home and tell them you’re reading THAT, they’re going to know the tuition is worth it.
[DC]: What’s the importance of this course?
[JL]: My pitch for this class initially was that there are few institutions that are more implicated in today’s crises, conflicts, politics, one hardly needs to say, religion is implicated in so many arenas of life globally from one end of the earth to another. That the wide ranging nature of this course, I hope makes them better world citizens, better informed, better able to understand conflicts that seem overtly religious but actually there are always underlying claims that could be ethnic or national or based on territory.
[DC]: And from a student perspective, here’s Nathan Friday, a sophomore studying Biomedical Engineering with minors in Math and Computer Science and Engineering.
Last semester you took an Honors Core class.
[Nathan Friday]: Yup.
[DC]: What course did you take?
[NF]: The course I took was ANTH 2400: Analyzing Religion, and it’s really, I don’t know, I really liked the course just in general because it felt very different than a lot of the other courses I’ve been taking up until that point.
[DC]: How is it different?
[NF]: Just in terms of engagement, assignments, and expectations in the classroom I think. So, you know, we had a lot of expected readings that we’re supposed to do, so that we could come to class prepared to talk about whatever concepts she wanted to bring up. She really focused on bringing up a wide range of examples for each concept that we talked about, despite the fact that it was kind of a point of the class that it’s very difficult to make broad assumptions about any particular belief system. There is an interesting element to that, that you can talk about things in a general sense but we also had this caveat that nothing applies to everything universally.
[DC]: At the end of the semester, when you looked back at the class, and you said, “Oh, you know, in my ANTH 2400 class, this is what I learned.”
[NF]: What I learned exactly from it? Oh, man. I would say that I learned an appreciation for the anthropological method more than anything else, you know, understanding the role of ethnography, that kind of thing, where somebody goes into the field and does work with these people who are completely different from them in some senses. And, it really comes away with a different understanding, and you can spread that to other people, and help expand our view of the world.
[DC]: And how did this class square with your very science heavy major coursework.
[NF]: It was refreshing, honestly. The previous semester I had taken a presidential election class as one of my UNIVs, and, I liked the break from the science sometimes, you know, because I do like politics, religion, I like those topics and I like talking to people about that. I like the interaction you can get in those kinds of classes. It’s why I’m taking a modern drama class this semester, is that I like that interaction you can get. It doesn’t happen as much in the science heavy courses.
[DC]: How will you apply the things you’ve learned in these classes that are nothing like your major to your major?
[NF]: I don’t know if I feel like I have to apply to my major, I feel like it makes me a more well-rounded person just in general. And I think that benefits me.
[DC]: Here’s another sophomore student, Nandan Tumu, studying Computer Science and also took ANTH 2400 last semester. Is there value in that interdisciplinary nature?
[Nandan Tumu]: I think there is enormous value in it, personally, I think that no matter how much of the sciences or how much of the field you know, everything boils down to people. At the end of the day you’re going to be working with people. The products you make are going to serve people. And your users are always going to be people. You’re going to work with people to create everything you create. Understanding religion, something so critical to how people carry on their daily lives, is I think important to understand. Because, if you do understand that,if you understand where people are coming from, you can build deeper connections with them, you can understand their drive, you know, what makes them tick.
[DC]: What’s the biggest takeaway you had at the end of the semester when you kind of had that moment of reflection on, “Well, I learned a lot this semester.” What was the thing that stood out for this class.
[NT] How much of an understanding I’d gained of other religions. There’s a lot of source text we read in that class. And, when we discuss it in class, I think that, our understanding of the material is deep in a way that’s unlike any non-Honors class I’ve taken. What we read and how we discuss what we read really makes a difference in terms of an Honors Core, because the discussion is not surface level, it goes deeper than that. The thoughts that your classmates bring to the table are sometime ones you never thought of before. And Professor Linnekin’s method of teaching the class I think really furthers students’ understanding of religion as a whole.
[DC]: Live and Learn spoke with the Women’s Center about what they do on campus, how to get involved, and what the cultural centers can do to help the student population be more aware of the world around them.
[Stephanie Goebel] My name is Steph Goebel, I’m the outreach committee chair for the Women’s Center here at UConn. The Women’s Center was created to establish gender equity here at the University of Connecticut, so it came out of campus activism, activism around equality in access to the field house, equality for university professors who weren’t receiving tenure on the basis of gender, just to continue to make sure that we’re educating the student body on what gender equity is and how they can help and pursue that as students here at UConn and then as they go into the greater world, achieve that in the spheres of influence after the university. It’s also to make sure that the university is holding themselves accountable to that equal treatment of everybody regardless of gender. They are able to create programs that address topics of gender-based violence, gender-based issues like pay equity, one thing we’re very focused on is campus safety, so they do things like the SlutWalk, and then they have the Speak Out afterward. And then we talk about different issues pertaining to what it’s like to be a woman on this campus, what it’s like to be a man on this campus as well. So they’ve got the Men’s Project which focuses on masculinity and the role that plays in young men’s lives here at the university and how masculinity influences the way you think about so many things. It’s also focused on making sure we’re not exclusionary in our work, that our work isn’t sexist or that it’s not classist and that we’re working within that to make sure we’re achieving goals on that sort of multi-dimensional level because everything is sort of interconnected.
[DC]: So what is gender equity, as a definition?
[SG]: It’s being treated in everybody’s eyes, regardless of gender, especially as a university student or somebody who teaches here that you’re going to be treated on the basis of your work, rather than your gender.
[DC]: And the Women in STEM program, what does that involve?
[SG]: That’s run by my friend Kavya. She runs it like this mentorship program, so you’re assigned another student who’s going to be your mentor in that program. It’s for younger students who are in that Woman in STEM program, and to make sure these women feel comfortable in the field that they’ve chosen, that they continue on with it. Especially, as a woman, when you’re one of the only women in the classroom. And I think it sort of encourages you, that yes it is hard but it can be done, and I’ve done it before and I’m so passionate about it and I love it so much now.
[DC]: What advice would you have for students who are maybe just starting their UConn career.
[SG]: I think it’s really about knowing yourself, finding out what your interests are, and being ok with that you don’t have something to fill every box, that if you’re passionate about something, run with it. And that your free time is so important, that element of self care is so important, it’s more important than your resume or how long it is. I think that coming to UConn, I would hope to tell myself, to take it slow and dive in headfirst, and experience and understand that you don’t have to be perfect.
Coming to the Women’s Center, coming to one of the Cultural Centers, figuring out how your identity plays into the work that you do here and how it informs the education you’re getting here, how it informs the work that you’re eventually going to do, understanding the intersection of your identities, because the Cultural Centers aren’t just for people who are of that identity, it’s for everybody to learn more about those cultures.
[DC]: That’s all for this week, stop by honors.uconn.edu/podcast and enter for a nifty long-sleeve t-shirt with the code word “self-care”.
[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!
[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 honors.uconn.edu/podcast 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”.