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Education Commissioner to Visit UConn Mentor Connection
(Released: July 19, 2002)

By Janice Palmer, Office of University Communications

STORRS, Conn. -- Connecticut's Commissioner of Education is going to summer camp at the University of Connecticut on Wednesday, July 24. Theodore Sergi will get a first-hand look at how the state's investment in talented high school students from targeted school districts pays off.

The UConn Mentor Connection, which runs through July 26, is supported in part by the state's Interdistrict Cooperative Grant Program. The three-week summer program places 84 high school juniors and seniors side-by-side with faculty and researchers at UConn. Students develop creative projects and conduct investigations while building a collaborative and personal relationship with a university mentor. They also learn about career options, and get a taste of college life by living in residence halls, eating in dining halls, and interacting with students of diverse backgrounds and interests.

The UConn Mentor Connection, now in its seventh year, is sponsored by the Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. Joseph Renzulli, director of the center, is looking forward to the tour.

"Commissioner Sergi will see for himself some of the challenging research that young people are doing while at UConn Mentor Connection and the strong bonds that develop when they have an opportunity to work with mentors who are on the leading edge of research and artistic development," he says. Renzulli, the program's creator, is also the Neag Professor of Gifted Education and Talent Development.

Beginning at 2 p.m., Sergi will visit several sites to observe students and their mentors conducting research. From 5-6:30 p.m. he'll attend a banquet honoring the students' accomplishments in the Lewis B. Rome Commons, where he will have a chance to talk with the whole group.

The program is funded through a $130,000 grant from the Connecticut Department of Education and an endowment from UConn Trustee William Berkley.

Students chose an area of study from among 34 options. The sites include:

  • Astronomy - studying the red planet through a telescope and using NASA provided materials;

  • Medieval Studies - reading classic tales and watching modern movie versions to trace their origins;

  • Archaeology - digging up history and mystery with the state archaeologist at various locations around Connecticut;

  • Education - testing the waters as students go into area schools to experience the life of a classroom teacher;

  • Engineering - learning the basics of inventing by designing multipurpose vehicles for use on land, in the air and on the sea

Of the 84 students, half are from the state's targeted school districts. Eighteen students are from out-of-state, including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Florida. For the first time, two Native Americans, one from North Dakota, the other from Kentucky, are attending on a scholarship sponsored by Michael Tucker, a member of the Mashantucket Pequot tribe.

2002 UConn Mentor Connection Students

Bethel Kaitlin Hildebrand Chemistry
  Ian Spain Genetics & Evolution
Bethlehem Gary Parkosewich Advertising
Bloomfield Sarah Corrigan Biomedical Engineering
  Noah Blum Mathematics
Bridgeport Ashley Wacker Chemistry
  David Hoang Memory Formation
  Deonna Mouning Photography
  Chansavanh Phanthalangsy Photography
  Mohammed Magba-Kamara Web Page Design
Bristol Michelle Dawiczyk Brain Power
Brookfield Samantha Henderson Brain Power
Burlington Nicole Miller Beneficial Bacteria
Danbury John Siri Electrical & Computer Engineering
Darien Amelia Tomas Beneficial Bacteria
East Hartford Tonya Reid Advertising
  Sarah Walls Archaeology
  Tracy Lauren Education
  Minh-Tue Le Language Development
East Windsor Samantha Hitchcock Web Page Design
Ellington Julia Okun Puppet Arts
Enfield Gregory Fay Brain Power
Madison Justin Frank Chemistry
Manchester Maricela Moquette Creative Writing
Middletown Amber Au Advertising
  Monika Maciborek Archaeology
  Melissa Martinez Language Disabilities
Meriden Jill Breisford Biotechnology
  Julia Paslavska Education
  Joshua Miranda Mechanical Engineering
  Bobbie Lake Medicinal Plants
  Anthony Maurizio Web Page Design
Monroe Jennifer Prushko Drug Development
New Britain Amanda Grzywacz Advertising
  Saheli Sadanand Medicinal Plants
New Haven Tiffany Fleming Creative Writing
  Sade Heard Web Page Design
New London David Yoselevsky Plant Science
North Haven Joseph Babcock Astronomy
  Carrie Smith Creative Writing
  William Babcock Fairy Tales
Plainfield Nicole Ruffo Archaeology
Somers David Petrella Wildlife Studies
South Windsor Michael Rosenberg Astronomy
Stamford Kendia Hyppolite Education
  Rachel Cunningham Music
Vernon Nicole Carreau Medicinal Plants
West Haven Rachel Lysak Language Development
  Steven Maresca Mechanical Engineering
  Beatriz Posada Web Page Design
  Shannen Tyson Puppet Arts
Wolcott Brian Wheeler Biotechnology
  Julie Van Fleet Education
  Lindsey Albert Pharm. Science Research
  David Parsons French Studies
  Nicole Munro Wildlife Studies
Longwood Andrew Ackerman Photography
Tampa Lee Ettleman Creative Writing
LaGrange Rachael Conniff Web Page Design
Attleboro Aimee Nadow French Studies
Hopkinton Gregory Garabedian Creative Writing
Northbridge Michael Sasseville Materials Science
New Jersey
Oakland Katherine Tsubota Genetic Disease Research
Princeton Kiersten Huckel Mathematics
Willingboro Zachary Beachem-Winder Advertising
New Hampshire
Bow Jenna Borbidge Drug Development
New York
Brooklyn Reuven Huntley Mechanical Engineering
Commack Mili Abraham Drug Development
East Greenbush Douglas Adler Advertising
Flushing Faizzan Ahmad Biomedical Engineering
Hills Shujon Mollah Beneficial Bacteria
North Bellmore Kristyn Forte Educational Psychology
Scarsdale Jason Brodsky Genetic Disease Research
North Dakota
Trenton Brian Hansell Archaeology
July 2002 Releases
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