ODI Faculty Fellow

Dr. Evelyn M. Simien is a Professor of Political Science and is also affiliated with the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and American Studies programs.

I am a native of Lake Charles, Louisiana. I am the proud graduate of a historically black college/university (HBCU)--that is, Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA). I graduated cum laude from XULA with a BA in political science, and a double minor in African American Studies and Mass Communications (with a concentration in broadcasting). I received my MA and Ph.D. degrees in political science from Purdue University. While I was a student at Purdue, I was president of the Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA) and I worked at the Black Cultural Center (BCC). I am the mother of three young children, a tween boy, and two toddler girls. In my past life, I was a radio announcer for a R&B/Hip Hop radio station. I hosted what was called "The Quiet Storm," which was the late-night programming slot for relaxed, romantic, love songs. Presently, I am the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) Faculty Fellow for the 2022-23 academic year assigned to the African American Cultural Center (AACC). I am also a Professor in the Department of Political Science at UConn, which is a notable accomplishment, given the scarcity of African American women at major research intensive universities.

  E-Mail: evelyn.simien@uconn.edu

Interim Associate Director for Student Programs

Carl Dean, Jr. brings eighteen years of experience in student development in academics, leadership, and personal and professional growth, including being the Assistant Director and Counselor for Student Support Services in Storrs.

I am a Connecticut native, born and raised, living most of my life in Bloomfield, Hartford, and East Hartford. I am a proud alum of the University of Connecticut with a degree in Finance. As an undergrad, I went from walk on to co-captain of the University’s Men’s Track team, where I broke the freshman record in the in the 55 meter dash and tied second all-time in the same event upon graduating. I also worked and was involved in the AACC. I have a Master’s in Human Services from Capella University, focusing on growth, development and retention of first-generation college students of color. I worked in the world of Finance and corporate training and development for many years before returning to the university as a professional. I am currently serving as Interim Associate Director for Student Programs for the AACC. I am also Assistant Director for Student Support Services, a program I am also an alum of. I have a personal interest in creative arts and poetry. I self-published two books of poetry, Rhythm (2013), and Life… Through the Words Between the Lines (2001) and I’m currently working on a memoir. I teach a FYE performance poetry course which provides a creative platform for aspiring poets, writers, singers and artists to create, hone and share their talents at the University of Connecticut. I enjoy the creative arts as well as reading and learning about life transformation and self-development. My greatest enjoyment is spending time with my two grown daughters, son-in-law and two granddaughters.

E-Mail: carl.dean_jr@uconn.edu

Interim Assistant Director for Operations

Velda Alfred-Abney brings twenty years of experience to the role after having worked as a Program Coordinator for the Engineering Diversity and Outreach Center and as the Executive Assistant for Vice President/Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Frank Tuitt.

I am St. Lucian born and raised, I migrated to Brooklyn, NY as a teenager where I attended Boys and Girls High School. I graduated from SUNY Oswego in 2002 with an MBA. I joined the UConn Staff in 2004 as a Residence Hall Director with the Department of Residential Life.  I am currently serving as the Interim Assistant Director for Operations for the African American Cultural Center (AACC).  I enjoy working with and advocating for students. I am interested in Social Justice, Multicultural Affairs, and Student Leadership Development.  I am a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my partner, two daughters, family, and friends.  I also enjoy traveling and learning about different places, people, and cultures.




E-Mail: velda.alfred@uconn.edu

Graduate Assistant

Ahmed AboHamad is a Ph.D. student at the Philosophy Department. He obtained a B.A. in Biological Sciences and Philosophy, summa cum laude, with honors in 2021 from Connecticut College, where he had experience working with the Division of Institutional Equity and Inclusion to support first-generation students and students of color in their transition from high school to college.

I was born and raised in a small village in the Nile Delta, near a city called Tanta. I was fortunate to attend STEM October, a USAID-funded Egyptian public boarding high school near Cairo. I came to the U.S. for the first time in Aug 2017 to start my undergraduate education at Connecticut College, and I started my graduate education at UConn in August 2021. I am interested in the Philosophy of Education, Moral Psychology, and Social Epistemology.

E-Mail: ahmed.abohamad@uconn.edu







Graduate Assistant

Shanari Fearon is a Ph.D. student at the Department of Educational Leadership, with focus on Sports Management. She obtained a B.A. in Journalism and an M.A. in Higher Education Management from The University of the West Indies, Mona.

I am a first-generation graduate student in the Neag School of Education. I am born and raised in Jamaica where I attended the University of West Indies in Kingston. I hold a MA in Higher Educational Management and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with a sports focus from The University of West Indies. One of my main aims is to consistently demonstrate and promote inclusive and diverse policies that will transform the lives of students. My research interests include examining issues of marginalization and racial discrimination in sports and higher education. My hope is to continue to promote Black Joy and Excellence daily through transformative practices. ‘Do not think Limits’ – Usain St Leo Bolt