Student Success Story: Justin Monell

Justin Monell (him/him/el) completed a two-year sociology program at the University of Bridgeport before transferring to the University of Connecticut to finish his degree. In 2014, he earned his Bachelor’s in Sociology and Political Science with a minor in Latinx Studies. In 2016, Justin obtained his Master’s of Education from Springfield College and as of 2020, has entered a Doctoral program pursuing a degree in Higher Educational Leadership & Organizational Studies at Bay Path University. Currently, he holds the position as the Director of Career Services at Elms College in Chicopee, MA. 

How did you choose your major and your program?

As a first-generation college student, I had no idea how to choose a major, program, or minor. I went through active conversations with my peers and reviewing various college websites to understand a little more about my options. I transferred to UConn from the University of Bridgeport where I completed two years of their sociology program. I then entered UConn with the goals of continuing Sociology and adding Political Science as a double major. My overall goals were to go on to law school after UConn.

Please share two or three noteworthy internships, co-curricular activities, volunteer experiences, jobs, programs, or other degrees and certifications acquired that contributed to your current success.

I was a member of the Mentoring, Educating, Training for Academic Success (METAS) program through the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center. This experience allowed me to understand how professionals work at universities and colleges. Semesters later, I would serve as one of the coordinators of the program to support the incoming Latinx community finding a home-away-from-home. I also was a supervisor for conference housing that operated out of the Housing and Residential Life program at UConn. This experience in Residential Life assisted me in obtaining my first graduate position as a Residence Hall Director at Springfield College.

Did you overcome academic, career preparation, or job search obstacles during your time at UConn? How?

Yes, as a Latinx student, I spent most of my time at PRLACC (Puerto Rican / Latin American Cultural Center). This allowed for community and connection building with professional staff and many collaborative organizations. This sense of community allowed for my success in a predominantly white institution.

Please share if groups, organizations, or other resources at UConn contributed to your career success and how.

Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center and La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Inc.

What advice would you give to current UConn students who are looking to follow the same career path?

Follow your goals but ensure that you have many different options. Note that your GPA will dictate how many different opportunities you can be a part of. Pick a major you are good at and complete it with a high GPA. Your undergraduate degree is very transferable and can open various doors.

By Sarah Krafcik
Sarah Krafcik CLAS Career Ambassador Sarah Krafcik