Felicia Griffin-Fennell ’99 (CLAS), ’05 MA, ’07 Ph.D.
Degrees: BA, psychology; MA and Ph.D., clinical psychology; graduate certificate, women’s studies
Job title: Director of STEM Starter Academy at Springfield Technical Community College; independent researcher
When Felicia Griffin-Fennell was invited to participate in a CLAS alumni career panel for psychology and human development and family studies majors in the fall of 2013, she was excited to share her personal experience with research at UConn and how her professors inspired her to pursue her passion for psychology.
The panel was part of an ongoing event series sponsored by CLAS and UConn’s Center for Career Development that invites young alumni and seasoned professionals from a particular field back to Storrs to engage with current students. Alumni panelists share their personal career experiences and advice, take questions from the audience, and network with student attendees at each event.
Griffin-Fennell says that the skills she learned as an undergraduate and graduate student researcher proved to be valuable in her current work as an independent researcher and director of the STEM Starter Academy at Springfield Technical Community College. There she ensures that freshman get a jumpstart in math before entering college through a pre-college summer bridge program and receive continued academic support throughout the year.
After sharing these experiences at the career panel, Griffin-Fennell was approached by Samantha Micael ’14, then a senior majoring in human development and family studies. This initial interaction sparked a mentoring relationship, which was facilitated through the CLAS Career Advisor Program.
“Samantha was a bit nervous about her career aspirations and her graduate prospects, but I think that’s typical for anyone who has the passion and the drive that she has,” says Griffin-Fennell.
The pair had monthly check-ins about academics throughout Micael’s senior year at UConn. Griffin-Fennell provided advice about what programs would give Micael an advantage when applying to graduate school, such as participating in undergraduate research.
The best piece of advice Micael said she received was to “stay calm and that it was going to work out in the end.”
With the guidance of Griffin-Fennell, Micael reached out to a professor in her department and participated in research during her senior year—an experience that Micael says opened doors to other opportunities and showed her that she was capable of doing graduate-level work.
A year after the mentorship began, Micael is now attending Drexel University for graduate studies in family therapy. She hopes to become a licensed family therapist and help children living in urban environments.
Griffin-Fennell continues to be involved in the CLAS mentoring program and hopes to participate in future career events to help more students like Micael.
“A lot of students get nervous when they think about their careers,” Griffin-Fennell says, adding that she often tells students not to get hung up on their particular degree because the skills that they learn can prepare them for many and diverse opportunities.
Want to participate in an alumni career panel? Contact Caitlin Trinh, director of alumni relations for CLAS, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Reid DiRenzo