Alum Leaders Drop Off Life Advice at Residence Halls

photo of uconn alumni richard robinson '79Students relaxed on chairs and couches in South residence hall one night in September and listened to Richard Robinson ’79 (CLAS) talk about his journey from his undergraduate days at UConn to becoming one of the first African-American state Supreme Court judges in Connecticut.

The comfortable setting had the feeling of a casual fireside chat and gave students a chance to ask questions in a relaxed environment. It also had a more serious purpose: giving students advice and insight into how to lead and persevere now and after graduation.

Robinson was the first guest speaker Series Encouraging Self-Discovery (SEEDs), a new program for students featuring alumni who are bold leaders, even during difficult times. Using humor and forthright honesty, Robinson urged students to enjoy their time at UConn and to explore many opportunities on campus. He also spoke about attending law school at West Virginia University in the ’70s and his commitment to social change.

SEEDs brings an inspirational alum into a residence hall to share their story. The idea is to give students insight now and into their futures after they become alums themselves.

In October, Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis ’05 (NEAG), ’06 MA, a teacher who survived the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting by hiding her class in a bathroom, came to Shippee Hall to talk about moving on from life’s darkest hours.

“She wasn’t here to talk about Sandy Hook. She was here to talk about the day after,” said Elly Daugherty, dean of students and associate vice president, who developed the series.

Next, the series will bring in West Hartford Mayor Shari G. Cantor ’81 (BUS) on Feb. 21 to talk about ethical leadership and women in leadership.

The new series is a partnership between the Division of Student Affairs and the UConn Foundation and is funded by the Foundation’s Parent Fund.

“We’re working collaboratively to show that being a Husky is greater than your days as an undergraduate,” Daugherty said.

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