Month: March 2021

UConn ECE News Briefs


By Carissa Rutkauskas



NACEP 2020 Connect 2020: The NACEP Digital Forum

Brian Boecherer, UConn ECE’s Executive Director and Carissa Rutkauskas, Program Specialist for Outreach and Evaluation, presented “Pivoting to Online During COVID – Data and Trends” on October 26th for the annual national NACEP Conference: Connect 2020. Seventy attendees from around the country streamed the 40-minute session. The presentation touched on topics like communication strategies that foster a stronger community, solutions to common classroom problems, best and worst practices from the UConn ECE professionals, qualitative and quantitative student data, and UConn’s new practice of recording high school teachers and their lessons.
NACEP 2020 Accreditation Commission


On November 4th, Brian Boecherer, UConn ECE’s Executive Director, presented at NACEP’s Accreditation Commission, and spoke about UConn ECE’s approach to accreditation standards. Familiar with the process, UConn ECE has been accredited with NACEP since 2007. UConn is one of 116 concurrent enrollment programs throughout the country that holds this distinction and the only program in New England.



NACEP 2020 Concurrent Enrollment Review
On November 5th, Brian Boecherer, UConn ECE’s Executive Director, presented with colleagues Fabiola Juarez-Coca of Boise State University and Melanie Nappa-Carroll of Syracuse University on the much-anticipated peer-reviewed concurrent enrollment journal: The Concurrent Enrollment Review (CER). This peer-reviewed academic journal on concurrent enrollment, which is three years in the making, will be the first to offer educational professionals, researchers, and policymakers insight into this interdisciplinary model of education.





UConn ECE 101
What is UConn ECE? What courses are offered at my school? How much do courses cost? How does it differ from Advanced Placement? Answers to these questions and more can be found on our new UConn ECE 101 page.



Meet our Community
Who are the people of UConn ECE? Visit our newly updated “Meet our Community” page for insights from UConn ECE Students, Alumni, Instructors, Site Representative, Principals, and Faculty Coordinators. Complete the form to be featured on our website as well!



Community Reviews
You can read reviews about restaurants and hotels before you go… here is your opportunity to read about UConn ECE before taking a course. Take advantage of this new program feature to discover first hand experiences of others, or complete a review to share your own UConn ECE experience:



Middle School Outreach

On November 25th , UConn ECE staff spoke with students at Mansfield Middle School for the third year in a row during their College and Career Readiness Day. Although we were unable to be in person this year, we were still able to interact virtually and play a dynamic game of UConn ECE and College Ready Jeopardy with the students. If you know of a middle school who would like more information on UConn ECE and outreach activities for their students, please contact us at

Teaching Genocide for Human Rights

By Glenn Mitoma


This past November marked the 75th anniversary of the opening of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, which sought to bring to justice two dozen high ranking German leaders. Over 11 months, prosecution teams from the United States, France, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union, led by US Supreme Court Justice Robert J. Jackson, conducted a systematic autopsy of the Nazi’s war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against peace. Alongside Jackson worked a young Connecticut lawyer named Thomas J. Dodd, for whom the University of Connecticut’s Thomas J. Dodd Research Center is named. Jackson, Dodd and the other prosecutors at Nuremberg were attempting not only to convict the individual Nazi leaders like Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, industrialist Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, and propagandist Julius Streicher, but also to present before the world the architecture of death and destruction we now know of as the Holocaust. The trial was an exercise in education as much as law, and many of the participants hoped that the lessons learned would help put the world on a path to peace and justice.


Seventy-five years later, the lessons of Nuremberg are as important as ever. In Connecticut, the General Assembly recently adopted a statute requiring education about the Holocaust and other genocides to be part of the social studies curriculum in every school district. Today, reflecting on the legacy of Nuremberg, we have a responsibility and an opportunity to teach about the Holocaust and genocide in a way that supports human rights.


Teaching and learning about the Holocaust and genocide, while important, can be fraught. By definition, these topics are traumatic and include episodes of extreme dehumanization, violence, and brutality. At best, students can find genocide difficult to comprehend; at worst, students can become traumatized (or retraumatized) in the face such material. Teachers, too, will grapple with the challenges of understanding and presenting age-appropriate learning materials about something so fundamentally inappropriate. Clear guiding principles and learning objectives, such as those provided by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, are essential.


Despite these challenges, the importance of learning about genocide and the Holocaust has never been greater. In recent years, rising authoritarianism, racism, and anti-Semitism have demonstrated that the building blocks of genocide exist in every society. At the same time, the spread of disinformation, propaganda, and conspiracy theories—often, like those targeting billionaire philanthropist George Soros, reviving anti-Semitic tropes—have found an all-too-eager audience online and in the real world. Effective genocide education can be on one important way of confronting these troubling trends and building a broader culture of human rights and democracy.


This semester, I piloted a new course for our Human Rights program, introduction to Genocide Studies. Designed as a critical, interdisciplinary, and practically engaged course, the learning objectives encompass areas of knowledge, values, and skills. These include:


• Students will demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how and why particular genocides have occurred, with reference to the key historical, political, and social contexts.


• Students will analyze social and psychological factors that enable or constrain genocide.


• Students will apply their knowledge to the world outside the classroom to identify contemporary impacts or risks of genocide.


• Students will apply their knowledge to the world outside the classroom to commemorate, advocate against, or prevent the perpetration of genocide.


• Students will develop empathy for victims or targets of genocide.


• Students will foster the respect for diversity, common humanity, and justice.


The course materials, such first-person testimonials, primary source documents, documentary films, monuments and memorial, as well as scholarship, are selected to allow students to explore the ways historians, psychologist, lawyers, political scientists, and others have tried to understand genocide, and on what and how we can know about genocide as a human experience. Reflective journals, structured classroom dialogues, and an emphasis on supportive relationships are all used to try to avoid easy moralizing and distancing of genocide and to help students think about power and responsibility in relation to genocide perpetration and prevention. In the end, my hope is that the course is fundamentally anti-genocidal in that it pushes back against the frames of mind that makes genocide possible, and equips students with the ability to take action and contribute to or develop practical efforts commemorate, advocate against, or prevent the perpetration of genocide.


The design of this course follows not only recommendations for responsible teaching and learning about genocide, but also the basic tenets of human rights education (HRE). Rooted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the HRE framework emphasizes not only teaching about human rights as subject, but also teaching through human rights (i.e., pedagogical approaches that honor and uphold students’ dignity and humanity) and teaching for human rights (i.e., learning outcomes that make students better equipped to claim their own rights and respect the rights of others). For genocide education to avoid leaving students feeling depressed and disempowered, it needs to embrace the opposite of genocide: a vision of justice and humanity that teachers and students together can work toward.


Like the Nuremberg Tribunal, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the result of a post-World War 2 effort to come to terms with the legacy of violence, dictatorship, and atrocity that had characterized the preceding years. The UN Human Rights Commission, chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, drafted the Declaration mindful, as the Preamble states, that “disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.” But while Nuremberg provided the first autopsy of the horrific crimes of Nazi regime, the Universal Declaration provided a vision for how the world might build a more just, free, and equal world by centering “the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family.” Toward that end, the Commission not only recognized that the right to education was among those “equal and inalienable rights,” but that teaching and learning were at the core of how we would build that better future.


Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction. (emphasis added)


As we emerge from the forced isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be much work to be done to address the devasting impacts it has had on our individual and collective lives. Among the things we can take from both the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is that the path to a better future often begins with learning the lessons of the past. This includes confronting difficult truths and acknowledging accountability for violations of human rights. But it also includes articulating a vision of the future, rooted in shared values and fundamental principles, toward which we can work together. Holocaust, genocide, and human rights education are an important part of that work.

Registration Reflections: Holly Saad and Maureen Steinhoff Stonington High School


Registration for the 2020-2021 academic year created many new challenges for high schools and their students to navigate. At various points in the year, schools made the decision to move to remote learning and could only communicate with students through e-mail and video calls. This means that each school had to adjust how they helped students register for their UConn Early College Experience (ECE) classes. The article below highlights some of the creative ways that Site Representatives found success in helping students register for classes this year.


HOLLY SAAD – Site Representative (LEFT)
MAUREEN STEINHOFF – Site Representative (RIGHT)

We are honored to be featured in the Early College Experience Winter Magazine as the site representatives for Stonington High School. We are both school counselors and have been Site Representatives together for three years. Just when we felt we had the ECE registration process down, COVID-19 forced us into distance learning mid-March. This school year, we’ve been operating in a hybrid instructional model, splitting our student body into two cohorts. With little to no in person contact with students, we were forced to create new ways to communicate and follow through with our UConn ECE Students and families.


One procedural practice that we’ve always had in place that helped us tremendously during distance learning and the hybrid model is making deadlines for students about a week earlier than UConn’s deadline. This allowed us time to cross check rosters with applications and enrollment status reports then track down students that had yet to complete the process. “Tracking down” students looks different these days. We can’t always pull students from study hall (or class when we are desperate) if they are not in the building so we’ve been proactive with our frequent email reminders. We created email groups for UConn ECE Students and their Parents/guaridans. This was a time-consuming task, but well worth it with all of the deadline reminders, instructions and links to resources we’ve been sending. When email hasn’t been an effective way to communicate, we divide and conquer and call home. We’ve also utilized our daily morning announcements to remind students of deadlines and resources for assistance. The resources on the UConn ECE website have been super helpful! We share them with students often.


It’d be remiss of us not to thank Todd Blodgett for his help and accessibility throughout the registration process. In a typical school year, we would hold workshops to assist students with the process and Todd would join us to answer questions and expedite the process. During full remote learning in the Spring, we advertised and held a couple Q&A Google Meets to assist students. The Google Meet link was sent out to all of our UConn ECE Students and families encouraging them to join and Todd was there as well to assist. Communicating with our UConn ECE Instructors has been helpful as well. We’ve asked them to relay information to their students and we have even joined their classes to assist students with the process.

Thank you to all our Site Representatives who are working so hard to make sure our students are successful and have the support they need during these unprecedented times. We are all in this together. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our office if you need anything, and know that we are here for you year round.

The Heroes of Our Time



By Brian A. Boecherer


For those of you familiar with the EuroVision Song Contest, you may recognize the title of this new section of the UConn ECE Magazine as a refrain from the 2015 song contest winning song, Heroes. The phrase is used in other modern songs too, and naturally, for those who know Russian literature, it is nearly identical to a famous Mikhail Lermontov novel from 1840 — Hero of our Time. We are using this as a title to highlight members of the UConn ECE community who help promote social well-being, social cohesion, and improve the lives of others. They are everyday heroes who engage in current issues of our times — they are members of the UConn ECE community who provide leadership in the form of education, the arts, activism, and more. Their energy and interactions change lives in a personal way and offer us examples of how our engagement helps others, as well as ourselves.


Jane Yalof

UConn ECE Alumnus 2016-2017, Glastonbury High School
Singer, Mentor, Community Leader


"Think about what your own interests and passions are. Do what you want to do, not what others want you to do. Don’t worry about achieving leadership experience, that will come if you do what you love. If you are doing what you are passionate about, you will want to be a leader."


Jacob Skrzypiec
UConn ECE Instructor in Human Rights
Educator, Activist, Thought Leader


"We need to prepare students to be civically engaged, decent, educated, and paying attention. This is a response to the current political climate...We need students to practice human rights in the classroom and in their lives."


Fizza Alam
UConn ECE Alumnus 2016-2017, Waterbury Career Academy
Proactivist, Thinker, Optimist, Community Educator


"Because of the pandemic, we all have the opportunity to stay inside our house and look outwards. This is true about our own person too. There are so many communities that are hurting. I want people to have a little bit of sympathy. Take away your own personal interests for a second and see if you can consider someone else’s and help them. Don’t do it because you want..."





Jane Yalof
UConn ECE Alumnus 2016-2017, Glastonbury High School
Singer, Mentor, Community Leader


Young people need to understand that good leaders come with a host of other positive characteristics – humility, an adventurous spirit, and the ability to cultivate communities. Jane Yalof is such a leader, and her story is as impressive for a young adult as it is for a seasoned professional. Jane is active in a diverse array of activities at the University of Connecticut and is a leader in all of them. As she told me, she did not set out to be a leader, “it just sort-of happened”. And lead she does. Over her time at UConn, Jane has been active mentoring students, teaching mentoring to students, and continues to enliven female students as Music Director and singer in the all-female acapella group, Drop the Bass.


Jane is a UConn student who will be graduating Spring 2022 with a combined undergraduate and master’s degree in the Neag School of Education. She is light-hearted, bright, and has an optimism in society that has come from her deep engagement with it. Over the last five years she has seen how one person’s engagement can positively affect others. That’s how she started her activity as a mentor, by being mentored. Since then she has been actively involved as a mentor and teaching assistant through First Year Programs and through her involvement in Community Outreach. Jane engages in these community-oriented activities because her actions help others and teach others to help society in their own personal way. At the end of our hour-long conversation it is clear to me that Jane counts her successes in terms of the communities she fosters, the relationships she makes, and the tough conversations she helps other students have as a facilitator. It is impact on a personal level that counts. “[As a mentor and teaching assistant] we really created a safe space and helped students through tough issues. Many times, just by listening, and often by sharing our own personal stories. It is about learning to care for each other and protect each other.” Giving yourself to create a community makes you vulnerable, but it tends to make the community strong. Jane gives her time freely and extensively to help lead and educate others on the power of themselves.


In addition to her extensive mentoring and community outreach, which has also led her to a local elementary school as a tutor and to Alabama to engage on issues of racial injustice, Jane spends a great deal of time in the all-girl acapella group, Drop the Bass, where she serves as the Music Director and Vice President. “Do you get the name?” she asks me. “Drop the Bass – we are an all-girls singing group. ‘We don’t need no man’,” she says, with a joking lilt. This engagement, however, has become more than a creative outlet – it has become a community of young women who are interested in supporting young women and understand their layered identities, their power, and their impact on others. It is a community that works together to express important messages. As Music Director, Jane teaches music, runs rehearsals, supports others for voice parts, finds music to arrange (or arranges it herself) so the group of 16 young women can vote on what they will practice and perform for the community. “It is very girl-empowering, with a deep impact. It is about the singing, it is about enjoying what you are doing. It is about service too.” Their genre is female power ballads – “Cosmic Love”, by Florence + the Machine, and “The Village”, by Wrabel, (a gender power ballad) about a person who is transgender and their parents do not accept them yet. “The song is about there being nothing wrong with you. Rather, there is something wrong with them if they cannot come to you and ‘get’ you.” They are currently working on, “Don’t Worry About Me”, by Frances, which is dedicated to families and friends of those who lost their loved ones to COVID. It has not been easy working together during COVID, because they are working together at a distance, using Zoom. But they are recording their parts and working with another UConn student to synchronize it and make a video.



Jacob Skrzypiec
UConn ECE Instructor in Human Rights
Educator, Activist, Thought Leader


Talking with Jake about human rights and about making society kinder, smarter, and less polarized is anything but depressive. During the course of my interview, Jake makes me feel like I am the single most important person for making change happen. He is right, change starts with our everyday interactions with others. But indeed, in a climate where some politics has turned populist and daily human rights can be fragile, his words have a touch that unlock optimism and encourage a “benefit of the doubt” to others. What are we personally doing to make things better? Jake suggests that we should focus on what we can affect, make it better, and then reach a little bit further.


Jake (MA, UConn Neag School of Education, 2014) is a UConn ECE Human Rights instructor at Manchester High School (certified 2015) and is one of the founding figures in helping to develop a UConn ECE Human Rights program. Manchester High School (MHS) is unique in its vision of human rights as in June 2015, MHS made human rights a required course for graduation. Every student in Manchester has to take human rights, and with their five certified UConn ECE human rights instructors, most students are leaving the high school learning the “for and through” of human rights, but also walking away with UConn credit.


Jake mentions the for and through of human rights throughout our conversation. A brief explanation for us newbies: The Council of Europe succinctly explains that education is a right, but also a way for realizing rights, and we “put our rights and democracy into practice, and defend our rights and those of other people, if they are not respected – LEARN FOR THEM. Experience and feel the principles of human rights and democracy — LEARN THROUGH THEM.”


“How do we move kids and adults to think about the for and through? By practicing human rights in the classroom and in their lives.” For the last five years Jake has engaged in tempestuous issues with students to model and teach civility and open dialogue. Among other things, Jake teaches listening to others, even when you disagree, so that you may learn about what motivates others.


An important pivot point for Jake happened about three years ago. In his UConn human rights course, he had two students debating about transgender rights — both on opposing sides. The conversation got heated and turned into what he called a “bickering match”. Jake had to separate the students and administration got involved. Jake has reflected on that moment and says, “That anger, deep fear, and the unknown of someone else’s perspective struck me. Students are still developing and trying to learn, often as they speak.” But it struck him as being emblematic of society. “It is important to focus on the skills of communication, academic discourse, basic patience, and humility with our students so that they can be good adults.”


In addition to his work in the classroom, which includes teaching human rights at UConn in the summer for University of Connecticut’s College Access and Preparation Program (UCAP), Jake has been at the forefront of bringing human rights to social studies curriculum throughout the State and on the national level. It started when MHS gave him and his colleagues the latitude and encouragement to develop a human rights program for the school. But to do that well, Jake reached out to the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center and the Connecticut Human Right Partnership — bringing organizations and individuals together for human rights advocacy. From there he helped to build the Human Rights Summit, which is a human rights workshop day for teachers, students, and the community. Then Jake, along with fellow UConn ECE human rights instructor, Chris Buckley (Brookfield High School), became the regional representatives for Human Rights Educators USA, to advance human rights education, advocacy, and opportunities on the national level. “It is a diverse organization, a powerful group,” Jake says bluntly and with pride.


Jake is also part of the leadership group in The National Council for the Social Studies, Human Rights Education Community, which works to promote human rights as an academic concentration in the high schools, and develop a new C3 social studies standard in human rights. “Four years ago [they] were more hesitant to embrace human rights education in K-12, but today that dynamic has completely changed. There is now a thirst for this curriculum to embed human rights into national social studies standards. There has been a cultural shift here.”


Circling back to the beginning, how does Jake stay positive and how does he help his students from turning morose in the face of historical and current atrocities?


“It’s hard; it’s not an easy task. We might be looking at a human rights violation — voting rights for example — and look at the history of suppression. We have to acknowledge there are screwed up things going on, but we also have to look at the positive work that is going on. Let’s focus on the accomplishments and the tools to make things better. It is important to give students tools to work at resolving issues.” It is also about self-care. Since COVID hit, Jake has been on over 70 hikes, not to lose himself or his connection with family and friends. “There still is positivity in the world. We need to focus on that too,” he says. He also invests time into writing. His recent article entitled, “A Ripple of Hope,” Media Voices for Children, Vol. III, explores how students are often more hopeful and ready to get involved than adults. “We need to build on youth voice. Support it, cultivate it. The kids get it,” he says with a smile in his voice. “Going to class every day, I love it, I can see hope in students’ eyes. They are engaged and excited about it. This is good stuff. We have to bring out that hope and optimism. That’s our job.”



Fizza Alam
UConn ECE Alumnus 2016-2017, Waterbury Career Academy
Proactivist, Thinker, Optimist, Community Educator feel better about yourself. ...That’s fine too... But there are people out there — our neighbors — who are cold, hungry, and in need. Be empathic about one thing and try to make local action. See how you can help one person and execute it to the end. I don’t know all the ways, but people are innovative – donate clothes, start a community garden in a food desert, mentor... If everyone did one thing, all the problems wouldn’t go away, but we would know that we live in a caring society. We can be in a better place together. These things are so simple I sometimes don’t feel like I can put it into words.”


Fizza says many times during our 90-minute conversation, “I am just like everyone else.” By the end of the interview her insistence that we all share the same characteristics of a generous spirit and care of others leaves me wondering about the different stages of how environment influences conceptual schema — thoughts progress to words and words to actions. In other words, how do we stand up and take action in what we believe. Fizza says that she is a product of good luck — good parents, good mentors, and environmental inequality. The combination has given her insights into how neighbors live side by side — how they help each other and what may happen if they don’t.


Fizza was born in Pakistan, from a family that was forced to migrate due to the partition of India in 1947, and migrate again in 2001 because of societal dangers. When she was a year and a half old, her family immigrated to the United States — Waterbury, Connecticut. She enjoyed growing up in Waterbury, where “neighbor helps neighbor,” but it wasn’t until she was in the tenth grade that she realized that her majority-minority city “had serious issues”. She was recommended and was accepted to attend the Global Leadership Institute at Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut, just one town over. “I went into this gorgeous building, and the dining hall was filled with nutritious foods, the teachers had advanced degrees, and everything was totally different. I saw the differences.” Fizza saw the inequality and realized that access to opportunity — access itself — was what made the difference in a person’s life. “I don’t think kids should be put at a disadvantage because of where they grow up. Kids have aspirations and need access.”


Growing up, Fizza says, her parents were like her friends’ parents — they worked multiple jobs, sometimes 14-hour days — and Fizza, like her peers, would go home after school, take care of siblings and help around the home doing laundry and making food. She enjoys the diversity of Waterbury, although she admits that not everyone is welcoming of Muslims. She says it is because they don’t really know the culture. She recalled a situation that happened to her in kindergarten, when she was five, and had henna on her hands for Eid. “My teacher took me by the hands to wash them, forcibly, with soap and scolded me for “dirtying” them with marker. I couldn’t understand why and felt wrong.” It wasn’t until later that she realized it was a lack of education.


Since then she has made education and educational campaigns a central part of her approach to making change happen. In 2019 Fizza earned a summer internship with Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, where she worked directly with the congresswoman in Waterbury. As a capstone project, Fizza organized a panel on immigration at Naugatuck Valley Community College. “Congresswoman Hayes really gives women of color an opportunity and a voice.” Fizza told me that Congresswoman Hayes bought a select number of tickets for her interns to join a fundraising dinner so they could see what that “other world” looks like and sit at the table with leaders like Nancy Pelosi.


“I have had such great mentors in life. I rolled the dice and got really lucky. If I didn’t meet these people, I would have been very different. So, I am grateful for all that I have. It is luck. Really good luck.” It has also been really good effort.


Fizza has continued her education and awareness campaigns with a large voter registration effort in partnership with Be (A)Part, a non-profit that supports youth involvement, engagement, and activism. Fizza has been working on advancing the issue of absentee voting since 2018, when she was also working on the Hayes election campaign. She sees absentee voting as an issue of access. “We need to expand the vote, because the elderly and low income [people] need greater access.” Be (A)Part reached out to her as she had positioned herself as the youth expert in absentee voting. She says she brought the perspective of an urban woman of color and could speak to how people were being left out because of where they lived and how they lived. As part of the campaign, Fizza was part of a voter outreach and suppression panel. “I love how you can take an idea and then do something with it.”As Fizza is slated to graduate this spring with a double major in political science and economics, she is making plans for her next steps. “I want to make an impact on my community. God willing, I will attend law school next fall. I am an American, and an immigrant, and a woman.” I am not sure where I want to go with that, but I am interested in the impact of law on war and on inequality. Many things go back to laws.” Fizza tells me more about the Sharia and how it is counter to most people’s modern perception of it. She explains how the Prophet, who she modifies with “upon him be peace,” explained that war takes things away from people – possessions, symbols, churches, meaning, people, concepts – and that there should be restrictions on how war is conducted. “I want society to better understand these concepts and expand them.”


Fizza’s philosophies are instructive and they help give perspective on how we can build a better society in our local community. She sees education as offering people access to see how things work and gives them the tools to help themselves and others. She credits her parents and her faith with these perspectives.


“I want to make an impact and help people. For example, the attorney general impacts our lives in so many ways that we never see. You need an education to figure out these things. If I make it through law school, I will be able to understand a new world and bring it back to my community. [Slight pause] I am here, and I don’t know when the next person like me will be in this situation, so I need to do it. When you focus on helping one person or one community, you can stay motivated and stay focused. I hope everyone can feel this way. Learn, and bring it back to your community. I don’t understand how this is a controversial way of thinking.”

The Director’s Thoughts


Welcome to the Winter edition of the UConn Early College Experience (UConn ECE) Magazine. I am happy to introduce this edition of the UConn ECE Magazine to you, because it also introduces a new approach to how the editorial board plans that the Magazine will continue for the future. This edition kicks off our vision of looking at our UConn ECE Community as a source of inspiration, positive change, and good work. We want the Magazine to engage with the issues of our time and show how our community is handling these issues. We want the Magazine to be a source of information, wisdom, and positive energy. The Magazine will continue to update our community on program changes, enhancements, and report important data. That part will not change. We are adding to the Magazine so that administrators, instructors, and students find useful examples of leadership and motivation. We want to tap into the richness of our community and reflect the best of what is going on as a guide to others. That said, we are not attempting to show inherent attribution – because they are UConn ECE, they are wonderful. Rather, the approach is, let’s all look at the successes of our UConn ECE community and let’s be inspired by their words and actions.


There is a great deal of research that suggests that the news we read influences our cognitive biases and mental health. Bad news reinforces the search for more bad news and confirms that all is going down the chute. We don’t want to stick our heads in the sand and pretend that there is no negative news; we want to be a positive source of information and discussion on what we can do about it. To that end, this edition of the Magazine will address issues of teaching and learning during COVID-19. Chris Malinoski, Ph.D., writes about moving biology labs to an online platform and Professors Glenn Mitoma and Alexia Smith write separately about teaching in the social sciences during a period when group inequality is evident in society. Four high school principals will lend us their voices and share how they are caring for their communities. We have also reached out to our community and are highlighting three “agents of positive change”. In addition, we have program statistics, the largest programs, the News Brief, and other interviews to keep you interested. Let us know your thoughts – we improve by listening, reading, and considering your words seriously. That is good advice for us all.


Thank you for being part of our UConn ECE community, and we hope you enjoy reading.



Brian A. Boecherer, Ph.D.
Executive Director