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 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.

    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!


    UConn ECE Wallace Stevens Poetry Contest


    By Sean Frederick Forbes, Ph.D.
    Director, Creative Writing Program
    UConn English Department


    When I learned that the theme of this year’s ECE summer magazine was going to be “Growth Mindset: Challenging the Status Quo,” I nodded in approval. For any writer, especially a poet, it’s important to consider the role that a healthy “growth mindset” plays in the writing process. Every time one writes a poem, an essay, a text message, or even a grocery list, one is learning to write all over again. Writing a villanelle requires an understanding of the way repeated alternating refrains and a specific end rhyme scheme are employed to convey a complex narrative to the reader/listener versus texting one’s sibling to ask for a huge favor which requires one to think about effective and persuasive phrasing. The writer adapts to the nuances and limitations of each writing form, and in turn, the writer is growing by questioning and challenging the norms set before them. It’s the poet’s exuberant curiosity coupled with the impulse to take risks that allows for creative thought and expression.


    My fellow judges, Sophie Buckner and Dan Healy, (both PhD candidates in the English department and creative writers), and I selected three poetry packets by Grace Dehnel, McKena Clemons, and Natalie Crowley, as the first, second, and third prize winners, respectively. With almost 100 submis­sions for this contest, and no identify­ing information on each packet during the review process, our three winners all happened to be students from Rockville High School. This was very exciting to find out as Mrs. Nordlund, their Rockville High School instructor, was once a Summer Institute fellow for the Connecticut Writing Project housed in the English department at UConn and she’s also a poet herself.

    During the reading and deliberation process, Sophie, Dan and I thought carefully and critically about the pre­sentation of the poems in each packet. We considered the ways in which the speaker’s voice establishes tone, and the form and style employed, as well as many other factors. What was most telling to the three of us was that

    these three poets were moved by their rum­bustious desires to express themselves in poetic form, and for that we are eternally grateful.
    In Grace Dehnel’s poem “Air,” the speaker presents the denotative mean­ing of the word “free fall,” and takes on the typography that one would expect to find in an online or print dictionary such as a phonetic pronunciation guide, the part of speech of the word (“free fall” is a verb), and the word’s meaning. Typographically, the poem’s layout is a free fall-esque form that can unsettle the reader ever so slightly. This innovative decision allows the speaker to present a narrative voice to the reader in a most provocative man­ner with lines such as “A gravitational pull--/ intangible & untouchable & yet/doesn’t let you leave does it?” What’s most striking in these lines are the ways in which spacing, notably the large gaps within a line, create a tension within the narrative presented since the speaker breaks free from the constraints of traditional poetic line and stanza breaks expectations.
    McKena Clemons’ poem “The second month” astonishes the reader with its use of a spare aesthetics juxta­posed with deep-rooted cultural and historical stings about the month of February. In the first few lines, the reader is symbolically exposed to the natural elements associated with a wintery climate—the chilled air, the dead trees, and the muddy slush of too much snow and sometimes rain. Clemons then ends the poem with three thought-provoking lines for the reader to ponder over: The streets are flooded with red hearts but they didn’t leave blood stains. / The shortest month dedicated to love and black bodies. / February is hypocrisy.” These lines can lead the reader to be con­templative and inquisitive about how some months in a calendar year can induce such deep thinking.
    Natalie Crowley’s poem “Maybe it’s the Maybelline” the speaker confronts feminine beauty standards based on the cosmetics industry and the emotional, physical, and psychological affects and effects of applying mascara to one’s eyelashes. In the first few lines, the speaker informs the reader that in 1872 the first commercial mascara was created: a mixture of “petroleum jelly and coal dust.” In doing so, the reader becomes fixated on the human eye and the drastic and harmful “lengths” one takes in wanting to have allur­ing-looking eyelashes: “Sneaking into my sister’s makeup. / I used her mas­cara. / Got a cyst on my eye.” As one continues to read Crowley’s poem, one engages with the speaker on multiple levels in a succinct yet profoundly substantive style of voice.
    Listen to Poetry readings

    Grace Dehnel

    Grace Dehnel is a junior attending Rockville High School and is enrolled in the creative writing program. She enjoys writing poetry and is a Sunken Garden finalist.
    My ECE courses have allowed me to gain a new understanding of the world and see things through different lenses. With my pieces, I thematically and structurally explored the four elements of nature.
    I love poetry because it allows me to explore the dark side of human nature through the use of metaphors.



    free fall

    /ˈfrē ˌfôl/


    “to move under the force of gravity only; fall rapidly.”

    Vertical   descent--

    I   was   weightless.

    My   body   began   rapidly

    approaching   the   ground--

    reaching   its   terminal   velocity.

    Time   is   impermanent   &   I

    wondered   who   it   was   going   to   take   next.      [Was I the one chosen on Time’s waitlist?]

    A   gravitational   pull--

    intangible   &   untouchable   &   yet

    doesn’t   let   you   leave                   does   it?

    My   body  steadily   becoming   limp.

    My   eyes   feel   dry,         my   mouth   arid   &   my

    arms   sting   from   the   harsh  gusts  of  air

    that   tear   at   my   skin.         [Razor blades]

    I   think   I’ve   accepted   that   this   is   it   for   me--

    Perhaps   my   body   will   become   a   cloud

    &   overlook   the   sky--

    Transitory   clouds

    do   not   have   worries   or   fears.

    I   feel   my   body   shutting   down--

    My   eyes   unfocus   as   I   stare   at   the   sky

    littered   with   clouds--

    I   see   nothing   anymore         [Dead before I had hit the ground.]

    McKena Clemons

    McKena Clemons is a Junior at Rockville High School where she is on the Varsity Golf Team. McKena is a proud advocate for social and environmental justice.
    Sophomore year of high school I dealt with the transition of growing into my skin and where I fit socially. I began writing poetry which helped me grow and continue to grow into a better artist, activist, and a better person.
    I have taken two ECE UConn classes and they both have been my favorite. The classes are challenging but I know they have prepared me for college.
    My poetry has always been a tool so I could express myself. Throughout my poems there are themes of racial identity, gender identity, and coping with difficult moments in life as a child.


    The second month


    The air is chilled but days are warm.

    The trees are dead but they dance in the wind more.

    The pure white snow is nothing but a muddy slush.

    The ground is frozen but grass still grows.

    The weatherman promises just rain but no one is surprised by snow.

    The month is second to all and first to some.

    The streets are flooded with red hearts but they didn't leave blood stains.

    The shortest month dedicated to love and black bodies.

    February is hypocrisy.



    Natalie Crowley

    Natalie Crowley is a junior at Rockville High School and is a member of the creative writing program. She enjoys painting and is a part of the lacrosse team at her school.
    Poetry has allowed me to express my opinions and commentate on issues in an artistic way.
    My UConn ECE experience has given me a broader perspective on United States history as well as current social and political issues.
    My poetry addresses my own experiences in the school system as well as how creativity is suppressed in modern education.

    Maybe it’s the Maybelline
    In 1872, the first commercial mascara was created:

    Eugene Rimmel’s plumping serum--

    a formula consisting of petroleum jelly and coal dust.

    A rite of passage for middle school girls.

    Cheap drugstore Maybelline,

    pulled over lashes,

    over and over,

    until the hairs clumped together--

    Just like how those girls stick together,

    traveling in packs that I pretended to hate.

    I wanted to be more like them.

    Sneaking into my sister’s makeup.

    I used her mascara.

    Got a cyst on my eye.

    I will never do that again.

    It was like the Universe told me,

    No, it’s not your time yet.

    I settled for an eye lash curler and Vaseline.


    I am jealous of those girls now.

    When the tiny bottle and wand don’t fit in my hand,

    I try over and over.

    Black smears on my fingertips,

    a constant reminder of who I am not.

    Uneven, stuck together–

    I practice at night instead of studying.                  I’ll do it in the morning.


    The mascara weighs my eyes down in class.

    I’m fighting sleep as I watch those wide-awake girls

    Is there a HIIT for eyelids?

    No one looks at me differently.

    No one looks at me.

    I wonder if Mr. Rimmel is a scam artist.

    Do guys even like it?

    Do I even like it?

    Sitting in my chair with a test

    I barely passed--

    I let my finger run over the still wet ink--

    my fingers coated in another layer of black.


    News to Know

    NEACEP Conference 2023

    In their first post-pandemic regional conference, attendees from the six New England states and beyond gathered at the University of Rhode Island, Feinstein Campus in Providence for the New England Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NEACEP) on Friday, May 5, 2023. The theme was “Upward and Outward” and over a dozen breakout session centered on themes of equity, policy, and teaching and learning. Dianne Lassai Barker, National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) Director of State Engagement, addressed a group of nearly 100 people with an overview of NACEP and thoughts on equity and inclusion. UConn ECE was well-represented: on the planning committee, as a sponsor, and through presentations. University High School of Science & Engineering (Hartford) Principal, Sean Tomany, and UConn ECE American Studies Instructor, Jennifer Todisco, presented “Expanding ECE Offerings and Equity”; Jake Skrzypiec and Sarah Wiederecht (Manchester High School) and Chris Buckley (Brookfield High School) UConn ECE Human Rights Instructor presented “Building Bridges: Human Rights & the Early College Experience Classroom”; and our own, Chris Todd, represented UConn ECE in two sessions. His first presentation, “Navigating the Tide: Expanding Pathways to Concurrent Instructor Certification in an Era of Teacher Uncertainty,” Todd spoke to the struggle with the recruitment and retention of teachers. He was also part of a panel for the “Expanding Pathways to Postsecondary Readiness through Dual Credit” session with others from the state: Ajit Gopalakrishnan, CT State Department of Education; John Maduko, President, CT State Community College; Anne Dichele, Quinnipiac University, CT; Karen Hynick, CEO, Quinebaug Valley Community College; and Thomas Coley, Executive Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Enterprise Performance, CT State Community College.


    UConn Pre-College Summer

    UConn Pre-College Summer (PCS) is growing with options! With over 30 course offerings for students to experience in the areas of Fine Arts, Digital Media, Pre-Med, STEM, and Social Sciences, we are also now offering a credit course option. Students now have the opportunity to earn two credits by taking the AH 2001: Medical Terminology course. The course provides an introduction to and mastery of medical terminology. Students will be studying the location, functions, terminology and pathology of the organs of the various systems of the body. In a unique two-week format, the course will be delivered in a distance learning model during the first week followed by a second week of a hands-on, residential experience. To check out the full list of course offerings visit, (contributed by Melanie Banks)

    Italian Studies Workshop

    This winter, Italian Studies at UConn (ILCS) launched a pilot Professional Development workshop series for teachers of Italian across Connecticut and the Tri-State area. The series, entitled, “Lasciatemi cantare: Teaching Italian Language and Culture through Music,” was generously supported by funds from the Consulate General of Italy in NY and ECE and was delivered in hybrid form – simultaneously online and in person. The workshop’s four Saturday morning sessions in January and February focused on using music theory and Italian theater, opera, and popular music in the language classroom. UConn Italian Ph.D. candidates David Lara and Rosy Pitruzzello (who is also a Plainville HS teacher) led two sessions each with presentations and interactive exercises aimed at expanding the didactic benefits of incorporating different kinds of music into language instruction. The combination of language pedagogy, songs, and music videos led to lively discussions among the participants, all of whom came away with access to new materials, a collaborative space for continued development, and many practical applications for their classrooms. ILCS hopes to bring the workshop back next year with a different topic of focus. Please contact Tina Chiappetta-Miller with any suggestions at: (contributed by Tina Chiappetta-Miller)


    Congratulations to our UConn ECE Faculty Coordinators on their promotions

    Promotion to Associate Professor In-Residence

    - Dr. Emma Bojinova, Agricultural and Resource Economics

    Promotion to Professor

    - Dr. Oksan Bayulgen, Political Science

    Promotion to Professor In-Residence

    - Dr. Fatma Selampinar, Chemistry

    Congratulations to Educational Lead­ership UConn ECE Faculty Coordina­tor, Dr. Danielle DeRosa, for defend­ing her dissertation, Exploring Sense of Community for Undergraduate Women in Sport Management.

    TEDx Talk

    UConn ECE HDFS 1070: Individual & Family Development Instructor, Mr. Becker, from Daniel Hand High School gave a TEDx Talk about his passion for wellness and journey on becoming a teacher, called The skill of wellness: maximizing your health to benefit the world. He talks about, “How a transformational moment at 15 would inspire my life’s work… I teach to enhance the wellness of my students; I coach to help students be­come respectful, responsible, honest, & caring people who will impact the world for good.”

    Growth by the sea


    by Carissa Rutkauskas


    The 2023 UConn ECE Marine Science Symposium was held over two days this year, May 30-31, and saw a record number of participants. Nearly 200 students from seven schools (The Morgan School, University High School of Science and Engineering, Marine Science Magnet High School, Ledyard High School, Waterford High School, Coginchaug High School, and The Sound School) spent a day at the UConn Avery Point Campus. The first day was opened with Larissa Graham, Education Coordinator, of the Connecticut National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) introducing her work. NERR provides stewardship, research, training, and education at each of the 30 reserves in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, allowing reserves to have an environmental impact at the local level, as well as at the national level.1 Ms. Graham closed her talk by sharing opportunities with students on how they can volunteer with NERR ( The rest of the day was student-driven with students presenting about and listening to poster presentations on the research they had done and touring different aspects of the Avery Point Campus. Capitan Marc Liebig hosted a tour of the R/V Connecticut, a 90’ steel single screw research vessel that was designed and built for the University of Connecticut in 1998 and is outfitted for year-round coastal service.2 Dr. Koerting also provided tours of the water labs and other research labs throughout campus. On Wednesday morning, 33 students presented their work, individually or in small groups, in front of their peers in the auditorium. The afternoon session featured over 30 poster presentations, including posters from the previous day. Faculty and members of the Marine Sciences Department joined the ECE Students for this part of the event to show their support and provide the students the opportunity to make connections with UConn Faculty and students.

    UConn ECE Marine Science Faculty Coordinator and event organizer, Dr. Claudia Koerting, explained that participants were from two very different courses - MARN1003E: Introduction to Oceanography with Laboratory or MARN 1001E: The Sea Around Us. Introduction to Oceanography is designed for marine sciences and environmental sciences majors. Students study the processes governing the geology, circulation, chemistry, and biological productivity of the world’s oceans. Laboratory experiments, hands-on exercises, and field observations are a required component. UConn ECE Students may meet this requirement through their year-long projects which were presented during the symposium. The Sea Around Us helps students understand the relationship of humans with the marine environment. This non-majors course teaches students about the ocean processes they need to understand marine resources, the development and use of the coastal zone, and the impact of technology on marine ecosystems. The students enrolled in MARN 1001E reviewed the literature to take complex topics that could then be accurately communicated to the general public.

    2022-2023 UConn ECE Professional Recognition Awards


    by Jessica Dunn


    UConn Early College Experience and the University of Connecticut publicly recognize and thank outstanding Instructors and administrators whose dedication and commitment help make UConn ECE successful. Those recognized have exceeded program expectations and excelled in preparing their high school’s students for the next level in their education.

    UConn ECE faculty, staff, and award winners look forward to the annual Professional Recognition Awards Ceremony each year as a momentous time to decompress and celebrate the accomplishments and successes of the community. This year, we were finally able to host a fully in-person Awards Ceremony for award winners, family, and friends on the UConn Storrs Campus, something we have not been able to do for the past four years. Our award winners and guests gathered for the Awards Ceremony at the UConn Alumni Center on April 21st for an elegant sit-down dinner where they were welcomed by OECP Executive Director, Christopher Todd as well as UConn’s Associate Vice Provost, Dr. Peter Diplock.
    This year there were many outstanding nominees, who were nominated by colleagues, students, and UConn Faculty for their exemplary instruction and management of the UConn ECE Program. We had the great honor to select and recognize eleven Professional Recognition Award winners along with six award winners of the Silver Jubilee Award, newly recognized at this event. The Silver Jubilee winners were recognized for their dedicated partnership with the UConn Early College Experience Program for the last 25 years. These instructors have successfully maintained their certification by attending workshops and have remained engaged with the UConn ECE program as a dedicated partner, advocate, and ally. Recognizing partners with at least 25 years of service is the first step in rolling out our years of service recognition program, and we look forward to identifying and honoring those with long standing partnerships with the UConn ECE Program.

    The UConn ECE Program would not be successful without the passionate and dedicated partners we are honored to work with, and we are grateful for all you do.

    Thomas E. Recchio Faculty Coordinator Award for Academic Leadership

    Dr. George Chunsheng Yang, Chinese, University of Connecticut
    Principal Award for Program Support & Advocacy

    Katelyn Miner, Manchester High School
    Site Representative Award for Excellence in Program Administration

    Kathleen Deane, Conard High School
    Instructor Award for Excellence in Course Instruction

    Sarah Lindstrom, Spanish, Bristol Central High School

    Joseph Mancino, Physics, Glastonbury High School

    Joshua Hersh, Political Science, The Spire School

    John Lizzi, Political Science/Human Rights, Housatonic Valley Regional High School


    Jennifer Todisco, American Studies, University High School of Science and Engineering
    “Rookie of the Year” Award for Excellence in First-Year Course Instruction

    Christopher Kerr, Educational Curriculum and Instruction, Newington High School

    Joseph Tarantino, English, University High School of Science and Engineering
    Award for Outstanding Research in the Field of Concurrent Enrollment

    Pamela Peters, University of Connecticut/ Michigan State University
    Silver Jubilee Award

    David Bittel, Physics, Bristol Eastern High School
    Joanne Choquette, Spanish, Portland High School
    Richard Fritz, Biology, Marine Science Magnet High School
    Michelle Graveline, Statistics & Mathematics, Conard High School
    Margaret Kimmett, Chemistry, Valley Regional High School
    Marcie Vázquez, Spanish, Lyman Hall High School

    Connecticut High School Ethics Bowl

    by Jessica Dunn
    UConn Early College Experience in partnership with UConn’s Department of Philosophy hosted the Fifth Annual Connecticut High School Ethics Bowl on the UConn Storrs Campus. Dr. Mitchell Green, UConn ECE Faculty Coordinator managed and supported this year’s event. This year there were ten teams from eight high schools around the state who competed: Hotchkiss School, Choate Rosemary Hall, Masuk High School, Torrington High School, Wilcox Technical High School, the Hopkins School, Xavier High School, and Trumbull High School.
    Students arrived for the day-long event with excitement and eagerness to engage with one another and debate the most challenging ethical issues of our time. Teams consisted of 3-7 students each who were judged by philosophers from both UConn and Yale on the breadth and depth of their thinking. This regional competition is a qualifier for participating in the National High School Ethics Bowl at UNC- Chapel Hill, and this year’s competition was very impressive, with Hotchkiss School coming out on top as the #1 winner, and Choate Rose­mary Hall as the runner up.
    UConn looks forward to hosting this event again in 2025, as Yale University will host the 2024 regional competi­tion.

    UConn Chemistry May ECE Lab Day

    by Dr. Michael Kienzler
    Assistant Professor
    UConn Chemistry
    Dr. Fatma Selampinar
    UConn ECE Faculty Coordinator for Chemistry
    Associate Professor in Residence UConn Chemistry


    On May 18th, the UConn Chemistry Department hosted the May ECE Lab Day (MELD) for students taking UConn Chemistry at their high schools. UConn Chemistry opened its doors to almost 125 high school students from Berlin, New Britain, Norwich Free Academy, O. H. Platt, and The Woodstock Academy at the UConn Storrs Campus. MELD was coordinat­ed by the UConn Early College Experience Program Office in partnership with UConn ECE Faculty Coordinator, Dr. Fatma Selampinar and Assis­tant Professor in Chemistry, Dr. Michael Kienzler. The event started with a presentation by Dr. Kienzler on a surprising phenomenon for a select group of molecules—a process called photoswitching. The lengthy Q&A session after the presentation showed the remarkable interest from high school stu­dents on the topic. Next, the students transitioned to the hands-on activities where they split into groups and went to six undergraduate teaching labora­tories. In the labs they did a set of experiments designed by Dr. Kienzler and supervised by graduate students, to learn more about photoswitches. Small groups of high school students synthesized a bright red azobenzene dye and then recorded the ultra-violet/visible spectrum for their molecules. At the same time, students learned about thin-layer chromatography and used this chemical separation method to observe photoswitching of an azobenzene after shining light on it.
    The event enabled the high school students to have a hands-on laboratory experience on the UConn campus and provided opportunities for students who are interested in doing research of their own to communicate and connect with a research faculty member, Dr. Michael Kienzler, and research graduate students.


    Feedback from the Instructors was inspirational and provided confirmation of the true benefit to the student participants:


    “My students were raving about the quality of the presentation and correlated lab experience. They were inspired to ponder the connections between their own understanding and the concept of photoswitches.” – Brendan Wilkosz, Berlin High School


    “The students and I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation and the lab experience! The event was well orga-nized and hands-on which is most engaging for the students.” – Manila Mathur, New Britain High School


    “I can say that my students were excited by the new (to them) subject matter in the lab experiment and inspired by being at the University and in a college setting, if only for a day. We will now finish our school year with renewed enthusiasm thanks to the UConn trip!” – Donna Kaiser, Stamford High School


    “It was fantastic! The students thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m just sorry I couldn’t have convinced the others in my class to sign up for the UConn ECE program, because I know they would have loved it as well.” – Nike Agman, Enfield High School