UConn Alumni


The Advice & Perspective series is an opportunity for UConn alumni to share lessons they have learned since graduating, with current UConn students. All events in this series this summer will feature Black alumni sharing their advice and perspective on navigating the process of setting and achieving career goals as Black professionals.

The featured alumni will provide insight on aspects of their career journey which they believe have been crucial to their success: taking risks, building professional wealth, self-advocacy, finding a sense of belonging, and setting and adjusting goals.

We invite you to join us and hear from these professionals who are leading successful careers in their fields. All of the panelists hold an undergraduate degree from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) and have used their degree to pursue careers in a variety of fields including information technology, politics, higher education, fundraising, law, real estate, and pharmaceuticals.


How Advocating for Myself Advanced my Career

Thursday, June 17, 2021  | 3:00 pm-4:00 pm

Advocating for yourself and your career development is a valuable skill. It's also one that can be intimidating and takes practice. Join us for a conversation with Ebun Ojekunle ‘14 (CLAS), a UConn alum who successfully advocated for an opportunity to learn a new skill at her previous role, which led to her landing the job she has today. Ebun is a Chemistry grad who now works as an Analytical Scientist in drug safety R&D at Pfizer and has a number of years of experience in the Pharmaceutical industry. Although she has a role she enjoys and clear career direction now, there were times in earlier years where Ebun wasn't sure what her interests or next steps were; during our conversation, Ebun will also share how she navigated those times and how she recently used her advocacy skills to secure a professional mentor who has been instrumental in helping her think about next steps in her career journey.

Please RSVP by Wednesday, June 16, 2021.

How I Built Professional Wealth During and After College

Tuesday, June 22, 2021  | 3:00 pm-4:00 pm

Chauntay Mickens ’10 (CLAS) is a firm believer that building professional wealth early is important, especially to supplement earning a college degree. Chauntay was a double major in sociology and African American studies while balancing her academics and student athlete role on UConn’s Volleyball team. She simultaneously worked with her professors and coaches to figure out her post-grad plan. She landed a role as a teacher in the D.C. area before shifting her career trajectory to working in philanthropy and fundraising. In her current role as Associate Director of Development at Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), Chauntay’s work supports the organization’s mission to eliminate the economic mobility gap for African American, Latinx, Indigenous communities through programming. Through her own experiences and the work she does with MLT, Chauntay has learned that earning a college degree is valuable, but it’s not enough on its own; building and sustaining professional relationships and participating in experiential learning are equally important. Join us for our conversation with Chauntay to learn more about her career path and additional steps to take to set yourself up for career success.

Please RSVP by Monday, June 21, 2021.

How We Found a Sense of Belonging as Friends and Professionals

Postponed - Wednesday, July 7, 2021  | 3:00 pm-4:00 pm

Feeling a sense of belonging has been shown to lead to increased mental health, camaraderie, and productivity in the workplace… but it's easier said than done, right? Join us for a conversation with Ashton Beason-Jones '11 (CLAS) and Jordan Bennett '11 (CLAS) who will share how they have both found a sense of belonging at various points throughout their careers. Both political science majors (and roommates!) at UConn, Jordan now works in political communications while Ashton has made a career shift into IT. Throughout his career in politics, Jordan has always been drawn to jobs that revolve around impact, or as he puts it, making a difference through relationships and storytelling. Being Black, queer and a first-generation college student, he has worked in various spaces where he did not find many others who shared his identities, such as with a reproductive rights organization and on Capitol Hill, but he has prioritized finding a sense of belonging due to the importance of his work. Ashton, on the other hand, has considered many career paths throughout his college and post-college years, but has remained in IT at companies like Apple and Cigna because of the strong relationships he has built with mentors and colleagues of many different identities and experience levels. Also a first-generation student and now professional, he stresses the importance of finding people who will build your confidence, provide constructive criticism to help you improve, and advocate for you when opportunities arise. Both Ashton and Jordan are still good friends today and are excited to share their stories and advice around belonging.

Please RSVP by Tuesday, July 6, 2021.

How Goal Setting (and Pivoting) Led me to Become a Leader in my Field

Wednesday, July 14, 2021  | 2:00 pm-3:00 pm

The importance of goal setting is something that many of us learn at a young age, but not all of us take to heart. Shanyelle Young '92 (CLAS) certainly did - and now she is a broker, owner, and realtor at S Young Realty & Associates, LLC, her own real estate agency. Backing up a little, just after graduating, Shanyelle started her career in a management training program at Allstate. Her goal was to climb the ladder and make a name for herself in the corporate world, and that program was helping her work towards that goal. After a few years, she decided to pivot and take some time off of work to start a family; she had 3 wonderful children (who are also all UConn alumni) and became a stay-at-home mom for 7 years. When reentering the workforce, Shanyelle's goal was to find a job with flexible hours that would allow her to stay active in her children's lives; she landed on real estate. However, after just a few years in real estate, Shanyelle fell in love with the work and decided to pivot again and make a name for herself in the real estate market by opening her own agency. She is proud to run an agency that does business 100% by referral and to be one of few Black women in a white male-dominated field. Join us for a conversation with Shanyelle where she will share more examples of times when she has set goals and pivoted throughout her career along with some advice on how to implement these strategies as a college student or recent grad.

Please RSVP by Tuesday, July 13, 2021.

How Taking Risks Led Me To Career Success

Tuesday, June 1, 2021  | 2:00 pm-3:00 pm

Join us for a conversation with Don Bell ’10 (CLAS) ’13 JD who will share how building a sense of inner confidence and taking big risks has provided even greater rewards and fulfillment. Don is a History alumnus and a graduate of UConn Law School where he currently serves as the Assistant Director for the Center for Career Development. From moving back to Connecticut by himself for college, to chasing extreme weather, to running for office and being an elected official, Don is well-versed on risk taking and the importance of being confident and willing to try new things and push yourself. Don’s determination and work ethic landed him several roles on Capitol Hill which awoke his passion for diversity and equity in government. Don emphasizes the importance of recognizing that when you see people doing great things, remember that they started from the beginning too. Don has acquired a lot of wisdom along the way and is happy to share it during our conversation.

See recording of this event here!

Questions & Additional Information

If you graduated prior to 2018 and do not have a Handshake account, please review instructions on this webpage: https://career.uconn.edu/handshake/

If you have questions or require additional information for any of these events, please contact Lisa Famularo, Career Consultant via email.

These events may be recorded for UConn and UConn Foundation promotional materials.