2024 Career Everywhere Recognition & Celebration Event

A huge thank you to everyone who attended our first in-person Career Everywhere Recognition & Celebration event! It was wonderful to see so many Career Champions in-person and virtually. We are extremely grateful for all the work done the past year to support UConn students on their career journeys, and a big congratulations to our award recipients! Learn more about each of our recipients and the incredible work they were able to accomplish this year.

Employer Career Advocate of the Year: Katie Pandolfi

Katie Pandolfi is Talent Acquisition Specialist for Enterprise Mobility and a UConn School of Business Alum. She has demonstrated a strong commitment to engaging with UConn students and advancing their career development initiatives, epitomizing the spirit of Career Everywhere. Katie has been actively involved in various activities, including participating in the La Comunidad Intelectual case studies, serving as a panelist at the Career Everywhere Conference, and contributing insights as a panelist for the Women’s Affinity Panel on Personal Branding. As articulated by the nominator, the recipient’s “unwavering dedication exemplifies their role as a career advocate at UConn.” 

Student Nominated Staff Career Mentor of the Year: Jeffrey Alton

Jeffrey Alton is the Assistant Director of UConn’s Asian American Cultural Center and UConn College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and Neag School of Education Alum. He has exemplified the qualities of a strong student employee supervisor and mentor. With deliberate focus, he has consistently guided students in the development of essential life skills, while also providing personalized support in navigating their individual career journeys. 

This support has encompassed a range of activities, including conducting mock interviews, offering constructive feedback on resumes, and providing valuable insights into the expectations and perspectives of hiring managers. Through his steadfast dedication to engaging with students on a daily basis, Jeffrey has established themselves as a trusted resource that many students turn to for guidance.  

Colleague Nominated Staff Career Advocate of the Year: Nicholas Boston

Nicholas Boston is the Educational Program Administrator for the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department, as well as a UConn College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Alum. He has taken proactive steps to ensure that student workers derive meaningful experiences from their roles by instituting a seminar series focused on Career Competencies. This initiative educates students on the significance of these competencies and highlights how their current tasks align with future career prospects. 

Nicholas’ nominator also highlighted the recipient’s unwavering dedication to promoting career awareness across the department, inspiring colleagues to recognize the transformative impact they can have on students’ career trajectories through their everyday actions. 

Student-Nominated Undergraduate Faculty Career Mentor of the Year: Dr. Jaci VanHeest

Dr. Jaci VanHeest is Associate Professor and Director of Educational Psychology. The impact of her efforts is unmistakable, as evidenced by the 12 student nominations she received. These nominations attest to the profound personal and professional growth facilitated by Jaci. As expressed by one nominator, “they play an influential role in the lives of students from the very first moment you enter their classroom, through their mentorship, sincerity, and passion, they make sure that those who enter their classroom on day one of the semester have grown by the time they leave on the very last day.” 

Student Nominated Graduate Faculty Career Mentor of the Year: John J. Preli

John J. Preli is Instructor In-Residence for the School of Business and Academic Director – Undergraduate FinTech Major. He has fostered a classroom environment that mirrors workplace attributes.  By using real-world projects, inviting in industry experts, and assigning practical applications, the recipient of the Student Nominated Graduate Faculty Career Mentor of the year award helps students to gain valuable insights into current trends and dynamics to empower collaboration, diverse perspectives, and networking opportunities.  After 40 years with IBM, the award recipient joined the School of Business as a faculty member in the Department of Finance with the goal of sharing the lessons they learned in their professional career and support all students in their own career journeys. The impact that this instructional approach has had on students can be described best through the words of one of the nominations – “This frequent exposure to industry professionals has not only expanded my knowledge but also provided networking opportunities crucial for my career growth.”   

Colleague Nominated Faculty Career Advocate of the Year Award: Anna Ramos

Anna Ramos is Lecturer & Academic Advisor for Allied Health Sciences and UConn College of Agriculture, Health & Natural Resources Alum. By intentionally infusing career competency development into the core of her classroom curriculum, Anna curated her course content and syllabi language with career development opportunities to meet the needs of their students. She designed and implemented a Career Portfolio assignment which served as a summative assessment for students to explore and reflect on a chosen career in their field of interest.  Through collaborations and consultations with Career Center staff, Anna utilized guest speakers, HuskyCT Career Readiness modules, NACE career competencies and Career Center resources to weave together an authentic assignment that helps students understand how to articulate their skills and create networking opportunities to advance their understanding for a position of interest. Her commitment to their students’ post-graduation success is truly admirable, and her determination to provide equity in career development is evident in the work she does and how it motivates those who work alongside her.   

Career Competency Innovation Award: Natalia Smirnova

Natalia Smirnova is Associate Professor in Residence in Economics and UConn PhD in Economics Alum. Natalia garnered an impressive 4 nominations, testament to her dedicated work in advancing her students’ career development. Natalia’s achievements include aligning course syllabi with NACE career competencies, integrating career readiness modules across their courses on HuskyCT, designing assignments focused on career competencies, presenting at national and regional conferences, and conducting impactful research on the impact of career-focused assignments on students’ knowledge acquisition within their chosen fields. Her approach to embedding career development into her teaching not only equips students with essential skills but also demonstrates a commitment to fostering holistic growth and success beyond the classroom. 

Our award winners are excellent examples of the work that all of our Career Champions do both on- and off-campus to help our students wherever they are in their career journeys. Thank you once again to everyone who attended the celebration this week, especially Dr. Danielle DeRosa for hosting and President Radenka Maric for sharing the importance of Career Everywhere to UConn’s mission.

By Lily Guberman
Lily Guberman Marketing Assistant