Clarice is an accomplished Honors student at the University with an accolade of awards and honors behind her, including being a Homer Babbidge Scholar and an Audrey L. Jarelle Family Sciences Award winner. She is a proud First Gen college student and spoke with us about her experiences and advice!
Nishitha Edupuganti: Hi Clarice! Please introduce yourself to the readers. What is your major, minor, plan of study? How did you choose it and why?
Clarice Pennock: I am technically a senior, but I am doing a co-op this year at the Center for Career Development as a Programming & Content Coordinator. I am a Human Development & Family Sciences major, with a minor in Spanish. I spent my first year as a Spanish major because that’s what I thought I wanted to do, but I took an HDFS course as an elective and I realized I loved the program. I saw all the different career paths that come from HDFS like therapy, counseling, and nonprofit work that really excited me.
NE: What are some of your interests and how you do think they relate to what you are studying?
CP: Non-academic, I really enjoy film and music and they actually inspired my research ideas for my thesis. I initially wanted to focus on how music education in low-income communities affects children academically, and I’m interested in analyzing film and music for language and behavioral cues.
NE: What are some of the coolest projects/experiences you have had a chance to work on?
CP: When I was at the Center for Career Development last year, I worked on building the office’s Affinity Pages resources for students with many different backgrounds whether it was ethnicity, race, religion, sexuality, and several more identities. Through that experience, I had the opportunity to do a lot of research into resource groups, scholarship opportunities, and job posting websites in an effort to support communities who are largely underrepresented in the professional workforce. One of the pages was a First Gen page, which meant a lot to me!
Also, while working at the UConn Stamford campus, I got to build a master list of employers by industry for our regional campuses. This project allowed me to look into the various majors and professions students from different campuses were looking at after graduation and see what would best serve them. A lot of the time, our regional campus students are looking at specific industries and job functions, so finding companies committed to recruiting them is really important.
NE: How do you think diversity, accessibility, and your experience as a First-Gen student has affected your professional path?
CP: I think I am uniquely situated in that I am a white First Gen student, so that has played a role in what resources have been available to me, and thinking about the experiences of First Gen students of color guides a lot of my work and professional goals. I strongly believe that you have to have people that are representative of the communities you serve at the forefront of diversity and accessibility efforts. With accessibility conversations especially, a lot of the focus is on levels of physical ability but something that I worked on this past semester was programming for our neurodiverse students, which was really great to see continue to be implemented at the CCD. When I put all these together and look at my future job aspirations, I don’t think I could see myself in a place where diversity and accessibility aren’t present and a priority.
NE: What are some internships you have had and some career goals you have?
CP: Firstly, my internship at the Career Center as a Career Intern allowed me to learn so much about career development and also allowed me to connect with staff members about opportunities in areas that I am interested in. I have had internships in Human Resources and Corporate Partner Relations since then, and I would say the biggest tool I utilized to get these was the Handshake platform. I always recommend Handshake to all my friends! As far as career goals go, I know that I want to work in the nonprofit space, with a focus on low-income communities. Working in Human Resources allowed me to get a look into what the corporate world is made up of, and also made me passionate about wanting to work in the Corporate Social Responsibility sector.
NE: Who are some people that helped you advance in your professional path?
CP: Definitely Leo Lachut, who works at UConn First Gen. He also sends out weekly emails to everyone at UConn who is a First Gen student (if you aren’t getting those emails, sign up!). Also Amelinda Rossitto, who works at the CCD was also a First Gen student, and she has given me so much guidance about applying to internships and graduate school. I would recommend anyone who isn’t sure about the internship/job application process to sign up for a Career Coaching appointment with her!
NE: What is some advice you have for other UConn students?
Take as many electives as you can early on in your college career, but it’s never too late to take an elective either! Also, I found that just getting involved on campus helped boost my resume for my applications so if you don’t have any work or internship experience, don’t worry! You can even run for E-Board in your extracurriculars to get leadership experience! And for our First Gen students, join UConn First Gen and try to go to the meetings. It is a really cool community of students with great networking events.
If you would like to reach out to Clarice, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.