Month: February 2024

Alumni updates – class of 2019


Cassandra DiPierro

High School: Fairfield Warde High School 

College: Dickinson College, BA in Psychology, 2023

Favorite UConn ECE Memory: My favorite UConn ECE memories were the role play debates that I participated in for my US History and Modern European History courses.   

Best UConn ECE Benefit: The most useful benefit of ECE was the college credit I gained, which allowed me to take additional electives in college and further explore my academic interest in public health.  

What are you currently doing? I am currently pursuing a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology at the University of Toronto in Canada through the support of a Fulbright Graduate Studies Award. With the knowledge I gain from this experience, I hope to work to improve the access and quality of LGBTQ+ healthcare in the United States.  

Amara McNeil

High School: Classical Magnet School – Hartford, CT

College: Fordham University/Lincoln Center – B.A. in Theater Design and Production, 2023

Favorite UConn ECE memory: My favorite memories are the heated debates that we would all get into in Philosophy class. Even our teacher would get passionate! Everyone cared, and those early conversations sparked a love of philosophy that I carry into my artistry.

Best UConn ECE benefit/ takeaway: Having an insight into materials, I would be able to study more in-depth in college. There were many moments were I remembered a text or topic that was touched on in my ECE class. 

What are you currently doing? Now, I am a freelance lighting designer. After wrapping up my post-grad fellowship as the Howell Binkley Fellow, working on shows such as The Wiz and Come From Away tours. I am now prepping my own design here in NYC, as well as getting ready to assist Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons!

Karissa Touma

High School: Wolcott High School

College: Western New England University, B.S. Actuarial Science degree, 2022

Favorite UConn ECE memory: In one of the UConn ECE courses I took we had a huge party to celebrate everyone passing the final exam! It was so great to celebrate everyone’s hard work in the course and the amazing accomplishment.

Best UConn ECE benefit/ takeaway: The best UConn ECE benefit was having enough credits to graduate college an entire year earlier than expected. This saved me money in tuition and allowed me to begin my career sooner.

What are you currently doing: I recently got married in October 2023 and work full time for the Cigna Group as a Senior Actuarial Analyst. I am in a reserving role for our Vision and Individual and Family Plans (IFP) blocks of business. I have passed 6 Actuarial exams, all ASA pathway modules, and 3 VEEs.

Morgan Nace

High School: Daniel Hand High School

College: UConn, College of Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, 2023

Favorite UConn ECE memory: My favorite UConn ECE memory was getting to do hands on labs in physics.

Best UConn ECE benefit/ takeaway: The best benefit of my ECE course in physics was learning how to study for freshman year courses at college. Experiencing UConn level exams helped me feel confident for my future after high school.

What are you currently doing? I am currently a Product Engineer at Ensign-Bickford Aerospace & Defense (EBAD) in Simsbury, CT. EBAD makes mission critical hardware for the aerospace and defense industry. At EBAD, I get to be on a team that makes separation stages and flight termination systems for launch vehicles and missiles.

Keegan Eveland

High School: Middletown High School

College: University of New Hampshire, B.S. Zoology with a minor in Animal Behavior

Favorite UConn ECE memory: I really enjoyed learning how to customize and design enrichment suitable for the species that you’re working with. There is something about seeing an animal’s mind at work and how they approach and solve puzzles that is so telling about their perception of the world and gives a glimpse into the inner workings of their cognitive processes.

Best UConn ECE benefit/ takeaway: Getting to learn about advanced subject matter that I otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to during high school was highly beneficial. Enrolling in dual-enrollment courses guided me to the line of work that I am passionate about and currently work in today.

What are you currently doing? During my undergrad years, I focused on studying population acoustics of Brazilian Free-Tailed bat swarms in New Mexico, as well as the acoustics of various bat species in Brazil. I got to dip my feet into some field work gathering acoustic data for Little Brown bats in a large hibernacula in Vermont. This year I am a post-baccalaureate research fellow at Johns Hopkins investigating the navigation behaviors of Egyptian Fruit bats. When I am not doing that I also assist in neurological surgeries and experiments for Big Brown bats that are looking at how they process sounds in the auditory pathway of the brain.

Jonas Goemans

High School: Edwin O. Smith High School

College: Hasselt University, Bachelor in Biology, 2023

Favorite UConn ECE memory: I truly loved taking these advanced classes with like-minded classmates, it made our interactions and lessons really interesting. I would say my favorite memory would be the dissection of a fetal pig in Biology.

Best UConn ECE benefit/ takeaway: Due to taking these college level courses I was ahead of my cohort when starting my Bachelor in Biology in Belgium.

What are you currently doing? I am currently doing an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree in Tropical Biodiversity and Ecosystems (TROPIMUNDO). I also recently completed an internship at Chondrolab in Chile studying juvenile sharks and have been pursuing my passion in rock-climbing, both indoors and outdoors.


2023 Italian Immersion Day and Quiz Bowl


By Jessica Dunn

Photos by Greg Miller


On November 2, 2023, we welcomed about 75 students to the UConn Storrs Campus for the UConn ECE Italian Immersion Day & Quiz Bowl. Tina Chiappetta-Miller, UConn ECE Italian Faculty Coordinator, coordinated the event and was the Master of Ceremonies for the day. Dr. Chiappetta-Miller and UConn ECE Executive Director,    Christopher Todd, kicked off the day with a warm welcome to all student participants and Instructors from Bristol Central High School, Plainville High School, North Haven High School, and Newington High School. Students were set up for an exciting day full of immersing themselves in Italian culture, grammar, history, and much more. They were encouraged to take full advantage of this opportunity – to interact with the amazing UConn Italian Teaching Assistants who facilitated the morning Immersion Sessions, collaborate with their peers from neighboring Connecticut high schools, and to bring their best to the head-to-head, jeopardy-style Quiz Bowl competition.


The three-year gap in offering this student event made the anticipation that much stronger. When students broke into groups to attend the morning immersion sessions, and Instructors gathered to finalize Quiz Bowl rules and expectations, it was evident that the energy and enthusiasm was present. As lunch concluded and the rules were finalized the students, Instructors, TAs, and staff reconvened in the theatre for the Quiz Bowl. Throughout the competition each high school took to the stage to compete head-to-head with another high school in hopes to buzz in first and answer enough questions correctly to qualify for the next round. Students had limited time to answer questions, and they had to provide their answers in Italian only. Dr. Chiappetta-Miller stated, “the Quiz Bowl ended in no less than a twist when it turned out that Newington and Bristol Central had drawn. We had to go to penalties and the Newington team came out on top!” It was a very exciting and close competition, with Newington High School winning first place, followed by Bristol Central High School in second place, and Plainville High School in third place. A bonus MVP round was played at the end of the event, where individual students competed on stage against one another. Alex from Newington High School was named the MVP of the day.


Thank you and congratulations to all who participated. We look forward to hosting this event again next year!




French Immersion Day & Quiz Bow


By Jessica Dunn


Just one week after the UConn ECE Italian Immersion Day & Quiz Bowl, we held the French Immersion Day & Quiz Bowl on November 9th. Coordinated and hosted by Dr. Florence Marsal, UConn ECE French Faculty Coordinator, the day was set up in a very similar manner to the Italian event. The French Immersion Day & Quiz Bowl is the longest running UConn ECE student language event, dating back to 2001. Since its creation, several hundred students have participated from dozens of our partner high schools across the state. This year UConn ECE Instructors brought about 80 student participants, representing Lewis S Mills High School, Daniel Hand High School, Lyme-Old Lyme High School, Granby Memorial High School, Cheshire High School, Nathan Hale-Ray High School, Tolland High School, and Edwin O. Smith High School.


UConn ECE Students attend this event annually to participate in immersion sessions in the morning facilitated by UConn French Teaching Assistants, and to compete in a head-to-head, jeopardy-style Quiz Bowl in the afternoon. It is evident that the students are passionate about learning French and their Instructors have prepared them well for when they step on stage for the main event. Rules and expectations of the competition have been adjusted throughout the years, but some of the long-standing rules of the Quiz Bowl include:

  1. Teams are open to all registered ECE students with up to 4 students per team.
  2. The questions are set ahead of time: they have to do with history, literature, culture, grammar.
  3. The questions are read in French, and the answers are given in French. Only understandable answers will be accepted.
  4. When you press your buzzer first and it lights up after the end of a question, your team has 10 seconds to answer. If no answer is given, the other team has 10 seconds. If no answer is given then, another question is read.
  5. The first team who totals 5 good answers moves on to the next round. For the final game, the first team who totals 10 good answers wins the quiz bowl.
  6. Audience prompting is not allowed. Cheering yes, prompting no.


    This year, Nathan Hale-Ray High School came out on top, bringing home the first-place trophy. Second place was awarded to Daniel Hand High School, and third place went to Edwin O. Smith High School. We commend all students who participated and appreciate the passion and enthusiasm the Instructors and students bring to learning the French language and competing in this event. We are always amazed by the student talent exhibited throughout the event and how the students continuously challenge themselves to reach the next level of language mastery.

    2023 UConn ECE Cardboard Boat Race


    By Jessica Dunn


    Amidst a very wet fall season, and a rain delay from our original scheduled date of Friday, September 29th, we were able to host our UConn ECE Cardboard Boat Race at the Avery Point Campus on Friday, October 6th. With over 300 students in attendance, we kicked off the academic year with one of our largest annual student events! This year’s theme, School Mascots, in honor of UConn’s newest addition Jonathan XV, brought about much collaboration, dedication, teamwork, and school spirit which was quite evident as students prepared for and participated in the event. Students spent countless hours prior to race day planning and building their handcrafted cardboard and duct tape boats, and then arrived at the event eager to listen, engage, and share failures and successes with their peers and presenters.


    Students spent the morning in academic demonstrations and presentations with esteemed UConn faculty and staff, enjoyed lunch, UConn Dairy Bar ice cream, and of course were eager to test out their cardboard boats at race time. Amongst the thirteen participating high schools, 19 boats entered into the race for a chance to be named the 2023 Champions and to take home the coveted Championship Trophy. Teams were recognized with trophies for placing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in each of the four heats. The 1st place boat in the Championship Race, The Morgan School’s “M.S.S. Dog Pound”, took home the cardboard trophy for the second year in a row! In addition to the awards presented for placing in the races, The Morgan School’s “M.S.S. Dog Pound” took home the Best Visual Award, The Sound School’s “Usain Boat” won the Best Boat Name Award, East Granby High School’s “The Templor Transporter” was awarded the new Interdisciplinary Collaboration Award, and University High School of Science & Engineering’s boat, “The Raging Rooster”, earned the People’s Choice Award.


    This event would not be possible without the dedication of the UConn ECE Instructors who participate, the UConn Faculty and Staff who share their wisdom and knowledge throughout the day, and the amazing student participants who inspire us to offer opportunities such as the Cardboard Boat Race where they express their enthusiasm for learning and challenge themselves to reach new heights in their educational journey.



    Heat 1 Trophies

    1. Waterford High School- Blue & White Skipper
    2. BRASTEC- ANG Haddock
    3. Ellington High School- The Great Knight Shark

    Heat 2 Trophies

    1. The Morgan School- M.S.S. Dog Pound
    2. Waterford High School- Lancer Battle Bus
    3. The Sound School- Usain Boat

    Heat 3 Trophies

    1. Valley Regional High School- USS Pags
    2. Waterford High School- S.S. Samuelson
    3. The Sound School- Row v. Wave

    Heat 4 Trophies

    1. East Granby High School- The Templor Transporter
    2. Ellington High School- The Dark Knight
    3. Waterford High School- WH-yeS!


    Fall 2023 PD Overview


    By Stefanie Malinoski


    This fall in Early College Experience we’ve hosted eighteen professional development workshops for groups of Early College Experience Instructors who offer UConn courses in English, Sustainable Plant and Soil Science, American Studies, Environmental Science, Philosophy, Physics, Economics, Human Rights, European History, Sociology, Animal Science, Communications, Music, Chemistry, Chinese, and Math. Our ECE affiliated library media specialists also met for a virtual training with Babbidge Library staff.  Another twenty-four events are slated to occur during the winter intersession and spring semester either in person or virtually. Notes on some of the events which occurred during the fall semester are below:


    Sustainable Plant and Soil Science Instructors meet in person at Southington High School with Faculty Coordinator, Julia Kuzovkina. The workshop included diverse activities including a field practicum on analyzing soil for specific purposes, a discussion and update on plant diseases, and learning about new trends in the landscape industry. The group also discussed students’ preparation for future careers in the Green Industry and took part in a hands-on floral workshop where teachers were introduced to beautiful fall arrangements which can be introduced in their Floral Art classes.


    American Studies Instructors were provided with a copy of Ann Petry’s novel “The Street”. Shawn Salvant, Professor of English, and Africana Studies from UConn spoke to the group about the text and what it means to revisit the classic novel in 2023. Instructors led by Faculty Coordinator Laurie Wolfley then designed curriculum focused on “The Street” which was shared with all participants for future uses in their American Studies classroom.


    Chemistry Instructors participated in a hands-on lab activity with Faculty Coordinator, Dr. Fatma Selampinar after hearing from Dr. Kerry Gilmore from UConn’s Chemistry Department. Dr. Gilmore’s research surrounds Green Chemistry and its facilitating impact on photochemistry. Dr. Kerry and the Instructors discussed how these chemistries can be performed in the classroom and opened up the discussion for collaborative work in the area in the development of new processes, screening natural catalysts, and bringing advanced chemical processes to their classrooms.


    Economics Instructors met for their professional development workshop and heard from fellow ECE Instructor Ian Tiedemann from Greenwich High School, Scott A. Wolla, Economic Education Officer, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and Ariel Solomon, Curriculum Designer, Marginal Revolution University. Ian Tiedemann highlighted his students’ who created a podcast script for the 2023 issue of the Journal of Future Economists. The theme was “Economics of Globalization”. Ian’s students submitted their podcast script titled “It’s a (s)Mall World: Globalization, E-Commerce, and Shopping Malls” which can be reviewed in the Journal of Future Economists. Scott A. Wolla’s shared a teaching activity “Teaching Market Structures with Gum” and discussed “Monetary Policy has Changed. Has Your Teaching?” Ariel Slonim, Curriculum Designer, Marginal Revolution University presented on: “Supply, Demand, Action! Harnessing interactive tools to teach supply and demand” and “Cracking the Code: Understanding GDP and Inflation through interactive tools.” ECE Faculty Coordinator for Economics, Natalia V. Smirnova discussed “Teaching Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Topics in Economics”.


    Environmental Science Instructors met with Faculty Coordinator, Dr. Morty Ortega at Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area in Burlington, CT where they interacted with staff from the Department of Environmental Protection learning about the private lives of bears and bobcats and habitats.


    Marine Science Instructors set out aboard the “Mystic Seaport Express” captained by Liz Sistare (UConn ’13), Waterfront Operations Supervisor on the Mystic River with Faculty Coordinator, Dr. Claudia Koerting during their professional development workshop. The group of 13 teachers conducted water testing by taking readings using instruments that measure salinity, oxygen, and temperature. They deployed a water sampler to retrieve water samples near the bottom of the river and gathered surface water samples as well. Instructors performed two plankton tows and brought samples back for microscopic evaluation. An additional two sample sites were chosen, and all samples returned with the group to the seaport sailing center where they tested for chlorophyll content using a fluorometer and performed a light/dark experiment with water from two sites. At the sailing center the group ran their analysis, looked at the plankton tow and compared oxygen uptake in the light/dark bottle experiment. Conversations were held about how these samples could inform scientists and regulators about policy guiding water use in the river. By the end of the day Instructors learned a new method, a new instrument, and made new connections and shared ideas to implement in their UConn Marine Science courses.


    Philosophy Instructors met with Faculty Coordinator Prof. Mitch Green who led a discussion on “post-truth” epistemology after instructors watched, a Ted Talk by UConn Professor Michael Lynch: “How to See Past Your Own Perspective and Find Truth.”


    More information and pictures from the many professional development workshops hosted this fall can be reviwed on “ECE PD Blog” on the Early College Experience website. Dates for spring workshops will be posted to the ECE website’s “Dates to Remember” section once details are finalized. We look forward to continuing to utilize the winter months with additional virtual workshop opportunities and welcome our community members to campus in the spring for more professional development events.




    2023 News to Know

    NACEP Leadership Academy

    Christopher Todd was accepted into the 2023 cohort of the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) Leadership Academy. Over the course of the next year, Chris will join two dozen emerging leaders from across the nation as they participate monthly topical seminars, peer-to-peer discussion groups and in-person meetings focused on the research and policies which drive concurrent and dual enrollment programs.  As part of the academy, Chris will attend a Washington Policy Summit in April and will be conducting a capstone research project.


    NACEP National Conference

    UConn OECP Executive Director Christopher Todd and UConn ECE Program Specialist for Outreach and Evaluation Carissa Rutkauskas attended the 2023 National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) National Conference October 22-25 in St. Louis, Missouri. Rutkauskas attended the Outdoor Conversations preconference event and Todd attended the first in-person session of the Leadership Academy, followed by the Welcome Reception at Busch Stadium, the legendary home of the St. Louis Cardinals. They were accompanied by Connecticut colleagues Ansley Diamond, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) System and Program Manager for Library Consortium Operations, Patrick Carr, first time NACEP attendees who were making connections with concurrent and dual enrollment for the State.

    Welcome & Opening Plenary Shayla Rivera Aerospace Engineer and former Rocket Scientist with NASA turned corporate trainer, Int’l Speaker, TEDx Speaker, TV & Radio Host, Emcee/Host, Comedian, Actor, Writer motivated the audience on day one with the importance of people’s stories and the impact that verbal and non-verbal exchange has on others. Todd and Rutkauskas spent the next two days making connections with professionals from the CSCU System, New England Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NEACEP colleagues), and experts from the field across the country. In addition to wearing his Pedro Martinez Red Sox (#45) Jersey into Busch Stadium, Todd’s highlights of the NACEP conference were meeting his Leadership Academy Cohort colleagues for the first time and deep diving into several key issues during the state policy summit.  Rutkauskas appreciated the data sharing ideas present by Willamette Promise’s Pat Ketcham and Addie Howell and well as learning about IPEDs reporting from Amy Hubbard, Executive Director of Early College, University of Maine System, in the Research Forum.


    College Credit Self-Tracker

    The new College Credit Self-Tracker, developed by UConn ECE, is a google doc-based spreadsheet that students can copy and keep track of the UConn courses they take in high school, along with other college-credit bearing courses­­.


    Concurrent Enrollment Review

    Volume 1 of the Concurrent Enrollment Review CER was released in Fall of 2023, with a strong connection to UConn ECE. Brian A. Boecherer, former UConn Office of Early College Programs (OECP) Executive Director and current Chief Executive Officer/Consultant, Olive Shade Higher Education Consulting is the publication’s Editor-in-Chief and Christopher Todd, OECP’s current Executive Director, joins colleagues from Syracuse University, Boise State University, and University of Pittsburgh to serve as an Associate Editor. Carissa Rutkauskas’s, UConn ECE’s Outreach and Evaluation Specialist, with former UConn ECE graduate student, high school teacher, and Labor Organizer with the Connecticut Education Association, Kathrine Grant’s paper Formative Threads in the Tapestry of College Credit in High School: An Early History of the Development of Concurrent Enrollment and a Case Study of the Country’s Oldest Program was included. Their research explores contributing factors to DE/CE development and provides a historical review of the longest running CE program in the United States, the University of Connecticut’s Early College Experience Program, founded in 1955.

    Concurrent Enrollment Review (CER) is the first independent, open access, peer reviewed journal dedicated to research in the field of dual/concurrent enrollment. CER, hosted by Syracuse University Libraries on Berkeley Electronic Press’s Digital Commons platform serves a variety of functions for the broad array of constituents and institutions that comprise the field of dual/concurrent enrollment. CER aims to build community through active readership, scholarship development, publication and peer review (


    New Courses Offered

    ASLN 1102: Elementary American Sign Language II (Dr. Linda Pelletier). Continued development of basic knowledge and understanding of conversational ASL.

    CHIN 3210: Chinese Composition & Conversation I  (Dr. Chunsheng Yang). Development of high intermediate to advanced speaking and writing competency. Taught in Chinese.

    CHIN 3211: Chinese Composition & Conversation II (Dr. Chunsheng Yang). Development of high intermediate to advanced speaking and writing competency. Taught in Chinese.

    KINS 1100: Exercise and Wellness for Everyone (Ms. Allison MacKenzie). Overview of the five pillars of health (exercise, nutrition, sleep, stress and relationships); role of exercise in health promotion and disease prevention across the lifespan; impacts of exercise in leisure time, culture, community, careers and the workplace.

    MATH 1070Q: Mathematics for Business and Economics (Dr. Anthony Rizzie & Dr. Andrew Jaramillo). Linear equations and inequalities, matrices, systems of linear equations, and linear programming; sets, counting, probability and statistics; mathematics of finance; applications to business and economics.