’Cuse Conversations Podcast
Episode 149: The State of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility at Syracuse University With Mary Grace Almandrez
Original air date: Sept. 21, 2023
In June, the Supreme Court decided to undo decades of judicial precedent by reversing rulings that allowed race-conscious admissions programs, preventing colleges like Syracuse University from considering race as one of many factors in deciding which qualified applicants are admitted. As the University’s vice president for diversity and inclusion, Mary Grace Almandrez was paying close attention to the rulings. While Almandrez was deeply disappointed by the rulings, she pointed to the University’s long track record of fostering an environment where all students feel welcomed and supported as proof that Syracuse University will not waver in its commitment to DEIA issues. Almandrez discusses the rulings and their impact on current and prospective students, shares how the University remains committed to being a national leader in DEIA efforts, and highlights what the campus community can expect from the inaugural D.E.I.A. Symposium on Oct. 3.
Episode 148: Raising Awareness While Battling Cancer: Danielle Koppenaal ’17 Shares Her Story and Stories of Fellow Cancer Survivors
Original air date: Sept. 12, 2023
In May, Danielle Koppenaal ’17 was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. She is 28 years old. In this “’Cuse Conversation,” Koppenaal shares her approach to battling cancer by taking it day by day. She talks about how she leans on her support system, her efforts to stay active and her commitment to raising awareness about cancer—particularly the increase the medical community is seeing in what it calls “early-onset” cancers in the United States. To chronicle her own journey and to share other stories of cancer survivors, Koppenaal started the Cancer Chats podcast, an Instagram account and a blog. As a big sports fan, she also works to support the V Foundation for Cancer Research.
Episode 147: Carolina Panthers’ Anish Shroff ’04 Hopes to Inspire Future Generations of South Asian Sportscasters
Original air date: Sept. 5, 2023
Anish Shroff ’04 is the only minority radio play-by-play voice of a National Football League (NFL) team, but the landscape is changing, and Shroff feels proud when he looks around the sportscasting landscape and sees a plethora of talented South Asian broadcasters working for ESPN, MLB Network, Fox Sports, TNT and other national media outlets. It’s a stark contrast from when Shroff was watching sports and saw the field dominated by white men. Growing up, Shroff was a sports-crazed kid, an avid baseball player, rabid collector of sports trading cards and someone who read the Newark Star-Ledger sports section cover-to-cover. He always wanted to be a sports broadcaster, and thanks to parents who supported his dreams, Shroff has realized those childhood dreams. Shroff is entering his second season calling Carolina Panthers games on the team’s network of radio stations, and he’s also handled play-by-play duties for ESPN’s coverage of college football, college basketball, men’s lacrosse and baseball. Shroff discusses his path to the NFL, how he cultivated his voice as a broadcaster, why he feels future sportscasters should embrace reading and learning history to help hone their on-air skills, and how he’s forever thankful that his immigrant parents encouraged him to pursue his sportscasting dreams.
Episode 146: Helping Students Reach Their Potential With Steve Herndon, Assistant Vice President for Student Living
Original air date: Aug. 21, 2023
Living in a residence hall on North Campus or an apartment on South Campus is more than just a place to rest your head at night for students. They find friendships, build community and develop relationships that can sometimes last a lifetime. Residential learning impacts a student’s holistic development, a place to learn, thrive and develop into leaders. Steve Herndon, the University’s new assistant vice president for student living, leads a team responsible for helping students find their community and realize their potential through their housing experiences. A respected leader in residential education, housing and student development, Herndon discusses how his team helps students reach their full potential, why Syracuse University was the perfect fit for the next chapter in his career and the profound role residential living plays on campus.
Episode 145: Welcome to the Orange Family! Previewing Syracuse Welcome With Carrie Grogan Abbott G’03
Original air date: Aug. 14, 2023
The Syracuse University family is expanding, as more than 4,000 first-year students will move into their residence halls during Syracuse Welcome, the University’s annual new student orientation program, running Aug. 24-27. Syracuse Welcome represents the first steps in a student’s Syracuse journey, and the week-long orientation is filled with programs designed to make new students and their family members feel at home through engaging academic and social events, including New Student Convocation, a key component of Syracuse Welcome. Carrie Grogan Abbott G’03 is the director of new student programs, and her team strives to help students feel a sense of belonging to the Syracuse University community from their first day on campus. Abbott shares why Syracuse Welcome is the perfect way to introduce new students to campus, reflects on the Goon Squad’s pivotal role during move-in, and offers advice to ensure move-in runs smoothly.
Episode 144: Behind the Orange: Otto is Going Into the Mascot Hall of Fame!
Original air date: Aug. 7, 2023
Syracuse University’s iconic mascot Otto the Orange is a Hall of Famer! Otto is part of the Mascot Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023. This special ’Cuse Conversations podcast explores Otto’s history, Otto’s impact on the University and Central New York communities and the significance of this honor with Julie Walas ’07, a former Otto and the current coach of the mascot team, and alumni Ottos Brian Lapis ’91, Jeff Kurkjian’15 and Zannah Bailey ’14. They’ll share their memorable stories.
Join the University’s celebratory send-off for Otto on Thursday, Aug. 10 on the Irving Avenue side of the JMA Wireless Dome. Otto will be inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Indiana during a ceremony and family-friendly fan fest on Saturday, August 12th. If you live in the area, you’re invited to support Otto in person. You can also make a gift to support Otto through the Otto the Orange Mascot Fund.
Episode 143: Curiosity Helps Ryan Smith ’92 Transition from Lawyer to Decorated ESPN Anchor/Television Reporter
Original air date: July 13, 2023
Ryan Smith ’92 anchors ESPN’s flagship “SportsCenter” program, and he’s a Sports Emmy-winning host of ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” and “E60.” Smith also serves as a legal analyst for ESPN and ABC News. But his path to journalism was unorthodox. After earning his political science degree from the Maxwell School, Smith went on to earn his law degree from Columbia Law School. A successful practicing lawyer, Smith didn’t feel satisfied, so he pivoted to pursue a career in television. The bet paid off. Today, Smith combines his love of law with his passion for journalism. Smith discusses his unusual career path and the skillsets from being a lawyer that carry over to journalism. He shares why he’s forever curious about the stories he tells, how he enjoys making complicated issues easy for the audience to understand, the important role Syracuse University played in his life, and the best piece of advice he ever received.
Episode 142: Zava! Meet Maximilian Osinski ’06, the Breakout Star of Season 3 of ‘Ted Lasso’
Original air date: June 13, 2023
Back in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused worldwide angst and turmoil, a show debuted on Apple TV+ that emphasized the importance of hope and believing in yourself. “Ted Lasso,” which recently concluded its third season, has been a feel-good television hit from the first episode. Early in the third season, the show introduced a new character, Zava, who was never lacking in confidence and self-belief. While Zava’s bravado jumps off the screen, fans of the show might not know that the real-life actor who plays Zava is Maximilian Osinski ’06, who never played a minute of soccer in his life. On this “’Cuse Conversation,” Osinski, who earned a bachelor’s degree in drama from the College of Visual and Performing Arts, discusses his breakout role on “Ted Lasso” and how he overcame his doubts about whether he could play the world’s greatest soccer player. Osinski shares why Syracuse University was his dream school, recalls his first role in a major motion picture: as former Orange football standout Gerhard Schwedes ’60 in the Ernie Davis ’62 biopic, “The Express,” explores how being born in a refugee camp to immigrant parents inspired him to pursue his dreams and more.
Episode 141: Providing a Voice for the Systematically Suppressed With Erykah Pasha ’24
Original air date: June 5, 2023
From an early age, Erykah Pasha ’24 has been driven to provide a voice for those who have been systematically oppressed and suppressed in her hometown of Syracuse, and she always knew Syracuse University was where she wanted to study. Enrolling in the dual degree political science and sociology program in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the College of Arts and Sciences, Pasha credits the University for providing her with the resources and, more importantly, the opportunities to effect change. On this ‘Cuse Conversation, Pasha, a Kessler Scholar and McNair Scholar, discusses her research, how she hopes to create change through this summer experience and how her time on campus helped her find her voice. As Pride Month is celebrated across the country, Pasha, who identifies as queer, shares how both the Intercultural Collective and the LGBTQ Resource Center play a pivotal role in her development as a campus leader and how the programs and engagement efforts offered through the LGBTQ Resource Center created a home-away-from-home atmosphere.
Episode 140: How The Rising Popularity of Esports Led to Syracuse University’s Newest Degree Program
Original air date: May 16, 2023
Electronic sports, or esports, has seen a remarkable spike in popularity over the years, with a recent study from Pew Research finding that 90% of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 play video games. Seeking to both capitalize on the tremendous popularity of esports and continue to innovate, expand career options in emerging fields and deliver academic programs that meet its students’ needs, Syracuse University will soon begin offering a new, first-of-its-kind degree program focused on esports. The program taps into the rapidly growing, multibillion-dollar esports industry, serving as a continuation of the work already happening on campus. Jeff Rubin, special advisor to the chancellor on esports and digital transformation, Olivia Stomski, professor of practice of television, radio and film and director of the Newhouse Sports Media Center, and Chris Hanson, associate professor of English in the College of Arts and Sciences, were on the University-wide task force charged with conducting the benchmarking that led to the creation of the esports program. Rubin, Stomski and Hanson reveal why the time was right for Syracuse University to add an esports degree program, share how the new academic offering will position students for success once they graduate, explain the research that went into creating this program and discuss the rapid growth of esports on campus.
Episode 139: Pursuing What Fulfills You: Ruchatneet Printup’s ’23 Non-Traditional Journey to a Film Degree
Original air date: May 9, 2023
Instead of feeling pride over being the first member of his family to earn a college degree, Ruchatneet Printup ’23 felt trapped in a dead-end job that lacked purpose, meaning and fulfillment after earning a biomedical computing degree from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1988. Thirty-five years later, after embarking on an unconventional path that took him from an office job in Philadelphia to serving his community as a non-profit advocate on the Tuscarora Reservation, Printup was driving a truck delivering the Buffalo News when he had a life-changing epiphany. As he meditated, he realized he needed to pursue his passions and return to school to earn a film degree. This week, Printup will graduate from Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) with a film degree. One of 12 University Scholars, the highest undergraduate honor the University bestows, Printup has made the most of his second undergraduate experience. A Haudenosaunee Promise Scholar, Printup plans on using his degree to ensure more Native Americans’ voices and stories are represented in film. Printup shares how he will make a difference as a film director, how the University’s well-rounded course load made him a better storyteller, and why as soon as he walked into his first class at Syracuse he knew he was where he was meant to be. Printup, who says he had to venture outside of his comfort zone and become fearless while making the difficult adjustment of going back to college later in life, shares how he inspired his daughter, Gehnew, to follow his lead and pursue her dreams as a fashion design student in VPA.
Episode 138: Comparing Voter ID Laws in the US and UK With Gretchen Coleman ’22
Original air date: April 25, 2023
The United Kingdom is about to hold the country’s first elections where voters are required to show ID when they vote. The reason behind the policy change is a growing mistrust in the election process, and the new laws closely follow those in the U.S. Gretchen Coleman ’22, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in political science, democracy and elections at the University of Manchester, has researched voter ID laws in the U.S. Now, she’s shifting her focus to U.K. elections, thanks to a Fulbright postgraduate award. Coleman will analyze materials sent to voters informing them of the policy change to examine how well-informed voters were about the policy shift. Coleman’s findings will be used for a report on how the U.K. can improve its elections. Coleman stops by to discuss her research and how she became interested in politics and elections, compares voter ID laws in the U.S. with the U.K., addresses the growing concern in the U.S. over voters not trusting election results, and shares how she wants to use this research to make election laws less discriminatory and more representative.
Episode 137: Lessons for the Next Climate Disaster
Original air date: April 19, 2023
Extreme weather events like hurricanes, floods, and droughts are becoming more frequent in many places and more severe. These events can cause widespread damage and displacement, and they can be very difficult to recover from. On this episode, Elizabeth Carter, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, digs into her own research on disaster response and mitigation. She talks about how we plan, prepare for and think about the changing climate, and why environmental issues are often tied to humanitarian crisis.
Episode 136: Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2023
Original air date: April 4, 2023
April is a time for the Syracuse University community to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. This year’s theme is “Community Coming Together: Strength in Unity,” representing the University’s diverse AAPI community uniting across our differences to demonstrate they are strong voices that can face challenges together. It’s an important and timely theme, especially following the challenges of the last three years, including the COVID-19 pandemic and a troubling rise in anti-Asian hate crimes and bias incidents. On this student-centric ‘Cuse Conversation, we hear from AAPI Planning Committee members Marykate Keevins ’24, who is studying television, radio and film in the Newhouse School and political science in the Maxwell School, and Lia Jiening Fu Margolis ’23, a student in the School of Architecture. They discuss planning this year’s celebrations, why they wanted to get involved, what their cultural heritage means to them, and how their time at Syracuse University helped them discover more about their identities.
Episode 135: Reconstructing the Lives and Genealogies of Enslaved People: Maxwell, iSchool Faculty Partner on Searchable Database
Original air date: March 27, 2023
Beginning as early as the 15th century, the lives of more than 12.5 million men, women and children of African descent were forever altered as they were forced into the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Wanting to capture the important details found in these registries, Tessa Murphy, associate history professor in the Maxwell School, collaborated with Michael Fudge, a professor of practice in the School of Information Studies, and student research assistants on a unique, interdisciplinary research project to create a publicly accessible, searchable database of more than 16,000 former enslaved people in St. Lucia in 1815. The project, “Slavery in the Age of Abolition,” uses slave registries to reconstruct the life histories and genealogies of people enslaved on the expanding frontiers of the British Empire. Murphy and Fudge discuss how the project came to be, the arduous task of compiling their database, the challenges of digitally capturing historical records from more than 200 years ago, how this database can serve as a teaching tool for the descendants of these former slaves, and how the project provided students in both Maxwell and the iSchool with valuable real-life experience.
Episode 134: Hall of Fame Sportscaster Bob Costas ’74 Reflects on Career, Baseball and His Love of Syracuse University
Original air date: March 20, 2023
Bob Costas ’74 grew up idolizing New York Yankees’ Hall of Fame outfielder Mickey Mantle, and he loved listening to baseball on the radio. When he arrived at Syracuse University in the fall of 1970, Costas just wanted to one day land a radio play-by-play job in baseball. Little did Costas know he would one day wind up in Cooperstown as a Major League Baseball Hall of Famer alongside Mantle and his childhood heroes. Costas’ broadcasting career has included winning 28 Emmy Awards, calling 12 Olympics, and covering multiple World Series, Super Bowls and NBA Finals. On this ‘Cuse Conversation, Costas discusses his love for baseball and the new rules changes meant to speed up the pace of play, reveals which broadcasters inspired him, remembers thinking his career was doomed to fail after hearing his first sportscast, shares how WAER and the Newhouse School helped him develop his voice and his style, and relives his most memorable sportscasting moments.
Episode 133: Brianna Sclafani L’23, G’23 Highlights the Work of the Community Review Board
Original air date: March 8, 2023
Brianna Sclafani L’23, G’23 is a 3L law student in Syracuse University’s College of Law, graduate student in the Maxwell School’s master of public administration program, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Global Rights and Organizations/Impunity Watch and chair of the University’s inaugural Community Review Board. The Community Review Board (CRB) was established in 2021 following an independent review of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) by former Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and is responsible for providing oversight for key DPS functions that impact the University community. Growing up in Newtown, Connecticut, and attending Virginia Tech as an undergraduate, Sclafani’s life has been irrevocably influenced by the gun violence that has impacted her communities. Her decision to pursue a career in law and her ongoing commitment to public service and giving back were inspired by these events. Sclafani discusses her experience as a student in the J.D./M.P.A. joint degree program, the work of the CRB, and ways students, faculty and staff can get involved in its mission to improve transparency, accountability and community relations on campus.
Episode 132: Thomas Wilson ’23 Is Fulfilling His Dreams Thanks to InclusiveU
Original air date: March 3, 2023
Like most children, Thomas Wilson ’23 grew up watching television. But his preferred shows weren’t cartoons. Rather, he loved watching the local and national newscasts, dreaming of one day being a reporter. A senior studying broadcast and digital journalism in the Newhouse School and political science in the Maxwell School, Wilson is now living out his dreams, thanks to Syracuse University and its InclusiveU program, which brings students of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities to campus to experience college life in a fully inclusive setting because of the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education. Wilson recently was named one of this year’s recipients of the Unsung Hero Award in honor of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A news anchor on Citrus TV, Wilson is also the executive producer and creator of “Thomas on the Town,” a show where Wilson interviews University community members. He is a leader who inspires colleagues and community members to be better.
Episode 131: Reflecting on One Year Since Russia Invaded Ukraine
Original air date: Feb. 21, 2023
Feb. 24, 2023, marks one year since Russia invaded Ukraine. Professor Sean McFate teaches classes at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School and Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. On this episode, McFate, one of Syracuse University’s faculty experts on the war in Ukraine, discusses the anniversary of the war in Ukraine. McFate is one of the world’s leading experts on mercenaries, and he authored “The New Rules of War: How America Can Win — Against Russia, China, and Other Threats.” McFate also served as a paratrooper and officer in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division under Stan McChrystal and David Petraeus.
Episode 130: Transforming First-Year Students Into Leaders Through the WellsLink Program
Original air date: Feb. 15, 2023
For the last 19 years, the WellsLink Leadership Program has transformed the lives of first-year students of color at Syracuse University through mentoring and a series of structured academic, social and cultural enrichment activities. Scholars like Josh Ortega ’25 and Sophia Moore ’25 achieve success and develop into leaders on campus through their time in WellsLink, a nationally-recognized leadership program. Ortega and Moore stop by to discuss how the program facilitated their transition from high school to college, how they honed their leadership and academic skills, how they thrived through hands-on peer mentoring, and why they are driven to make a positive impact in their communities through their experiences with WellsLink.
Episode 129: Super Bowl Winning Head Coach Tom Coughlin ’68, G’69 on Overcoming Adversity, Being Forever Orange
Original air date: Jan. 31, 2023
Tom Coughlin ’68, G’69 won two Super Bowls as head coach of the New York Giants, and with the Super Bowl fast approaching, we sat down with Coughlin on the latest episode of the Syracuse University podcast. Coughlin has a new book out, “A Giant Win,” describing how, in Super Bowl 42, his Giants shocked the football world by knocking off Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played. The book is a lesson in how to overcome adversity and how to respond when life hands you a setback. Coughlin relives those Super Bowl championships, shares why Syracuse was his dream school, recalls playing alongside Orange football legends like Floyd Little ’67, G’16 and Larry Csonka ’68, and discusses why he and his late wife, Judy, became passionate about helping families tackle childhood cancer through the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation.
Episode 128: National Champions! Catching Up With Men’s Soccer Head Coach Ian McIntyre
Original air date: Jan. 9, 2023
Ian McIntyre took over the Syracuse University men’s soccer program in 2010, and the Orange won five matches combined over his first two years. But from the moment he assumed the role of head coach, McIntyre has been building up the program, and on Dec. 12, his team reached the pinnacle, claiming Syracuse’s first national championship thanks to a thrilling win over Indiana University in penalty kicks. The dramatic performance in the championship of the College Cup was the perfect ending to the best season in school history, as the Orange claimed this year’s national championship, ACC postseason tournament title, and the ACC regular season division championship. McIntyre relives the night Syracuse was crowned champions of the collegiate soccer world, shares how his student-athletes and coaches celebrated their national title, recounts when he felt his team was capable of making a deep run in the postseason, discusses the vital role support from the campus community and alumni played in the team’s postseason run, and more!
Episode 127: Lessons From Surviving a Heart Transplant With Author Emma Rothman ’21
Original air date: Dec. 15, 2022
Emma Rothman ’21 was 12 years old when she had a heart transplant. It’s easy to understand why Emma is still working to process everything that’s happened in her life to this point. In this ’Cuse Conversation, Emma talks about her health journey, her Syracuse University experience and how writing her book, “Things My Therapist Doesn’t Want Me to Say: Ten Years Post Heart Transplant,” has helped her process the challenges she’s faced in her young life and embrace something she spent a lot of time trying to hide—her heart transplant is a big part of who she is. Emma has started a non-profit, Hearts for Emma, and encourages people to sign up for the National Donate Life Registry.
Episode 127 audio and transcript [coming soon]; total run time: 28:35.
Episode 126: Training the Next Generation of Inclusive Education Teachers in New York City Through the Bridge to the City Program
Original air date: Dec. 13, 2022
For the last 25 years, the School of Education has offered aspiring inclusive education teachers a unique opportunity to hone their skills as student teachers in New York City through the Bridge to the City program. It’s an immersive, semester-long experience where student teachers are placed in partner schools in urban neighborhoods to learn under the watchful eye of cooperating teachers. Tom Bull, assistant teaching professor and director of field relations in the School of Education, directs the Bridge to the City program, while Abby Horton ’19, a Bridge to the City alumna, landed her job teaching kindergarten and first grade at Midtown West School thanks in large part to her experiences with Bridge to the City. They discuss the program, how it helps train and prepare the next generation of inclusive education teachers, the valuable role the School of Education and Syracuse University have played in their lives, and more!
Episode 125: Peppie Calvar Discusses Holidays at Hendricks, Spreading the Light of Music Around the World
Original air date: Nov. 22, 2022
For more than a decade, hundreds of talented students in the Setnor School of Music in the College of Visual and Performing Arts entertain the Syracuse University community each December with live musical performances during Holidays at Hendricks. Jose “Peppie” Calvar is director of the Hendricks Chapel Choir and artistic director of Holidays at Hendricks, and he spends 18 months organizing each year’s concert celebrations, which features two in-person concerts on Dec. 4 and a virtual concert performance on Dec. 11. Calvar stops by to discuss Holidays at Hendricks and what the student-led concerts mean to the University community, why Holidays at Hendricks is such a special celebration and what people can expect from this year’s performances. Calvar also shares the challenges of producing the first virtual Holidays at Hendricks during the COVID-19 pandemic, how he went from being an engineering student to pursuing a career in music and his passion for spreading choral music around the world through a series of international residencies.
Episode 124: No One Will Outwork Us: Get to Know New Women’s Ice Hockey Coach Britni Smith
Original air date: Nov. 15, 2022
As she looks to make her mark on the Syracuse University women’s ice hockey team, Britni Smith, just the second head coach in program history, is relying on a key principle that helped the Orange soar to new heights in recent seasons: No one will outwork the Orange. Smith comes to Syracuse with a decorated resume, excelling as both a defenseman with St. Lawrence University and an accomplished assistant coach at Clarkson University and with Hockey Canada. On this ‘Cuse Conversation, Smith discusses why she wanted to become the Orange’s next head coach, how she relates to her student-athletes, how she created a team-first culture and what makes Syracuse University a special place. Smith also shares her coaching philosophy, why she’s a talented recruiter, what it was like to earn her first win with the Orange and how she fell in love with hockey while playing on a homemade rink in her hometown of Port Perry, Ontario.
Episode 123: Diane Schenandoah ’11 Shares Indigenous Principles and Practices as Honwadiyenawa’sek (One Who Helps Them) at the Barnes Center
Original air date: Nov. 8, 2022
Diane Schenandoah ’11 joined the staff at Syracuse University last July as Honwadiyenawa’sek—the Haudenosaunee word for “one who helps them.” Firmly rooted in her Haudenosaunee heritage—her mother was a clan mother of Oneida Nation’s wolf clan; her father an Onondaga Nation chief—Schenandoah brings teachings of gratitude, faith, peace and inner resilience to students who meet with her. As Honwadiyenawa’sek, she offers a range of healing modalities, including energy work and acupressure, art therapy, dream interpretation, tuning forks, and ritualistic smudging with sage and tobacco, to help students find their center in today’s hectic world. On this ’Cuse Conversation, Shenandoah shares about her life growing up on Oneida Nation lands with her close-knit family; her spiritual principles and practices; her role as faithkeeper; her art and singing careers; and her experience at Syracuse since joining the team at the Barnes Center.
Episode 122: How Supporting the United Way Employee Giving Campaign Makes a Difference in Central New York
Original air date: Nov. 2, 2022
The United Way of Central New York has been making a difference by providing residents with access to essential resources for 100 years, and the Syracuse University community has supported the United Way through its employee giving campaign since 1972. The campaign kicked off on Oct. 14 and runs through Dec. 16. On this ‘Cuse Conversation, Michael Frasciello, dean of the College of Professional Studies and one of the co-chairs of the University’s employee giving campaign, discusses how making a donation of any size is guaranteed to help someone in need in our community. Frasciello shares why it’s important for University employees to give what they can to help their neighbors, spotlights some of the fun and creative ways employees are supporting this effort, and how all gifts benefit the Central New York community through more than 70 unique and impactful programs and projects offered by the United Way’s 28 nonprofit partners.
Episode 121: The Power of Holistic Healing and Wellness With Therapist and Entrepreneur Rachel Johnson ’17, G’19
Original air date: Oct. 26, 2022
In her work as a therapist, Rachel Johnson ’17, G’19 knew she was making a difference in the lives of her patients. But she also realized her work wasn’t impacting an often overlooked segment of the population when it comes to mental wellness and holistic health: Black people. So she founded Half Hood Half Holistic in her adopted hometown of Syracuse as a holistic wellness business that allows Black individuals, couples and families to have the space to heal and work on their mental, physical and spiritual health. The author of the “Self Love Workbook for Black Women,” Johnson discusses what holistic health means to her, what healing looks like for Black people, why it’s important to debunk the stigmas and stereotypes associated with mental health services, how she helps make holistic healing accessible for all who seek it, the important role holistic healing plays in helping communities heal from racial harm, and how a program called Say Yes to Education helped Johnson hone her skills at Syracuse University.
Episode 120: The Challenges of Eldercare and Caregiving With Sociologist Mindy Fried ’72, G’75
Original air date: Oct. 14, 2022
Mindy Fried ’72, G’75 is a sociologist, a teacher, an author and the creator, producer and host of “The Shape of Care” podcast. On the podcast, she tackles the topics of eldercare and caregiving in this country from a unique perspective—approaching her work through the lens of both her education as a sociologist and her experience a caregiver for her father before he passed away about a decade ago. Fried discusses her personal experience as a caregiver, the many issues facing caregivers and her connection to Syracuse University.
Episode 119: Mapping Syracuse University’s Academic Future with Gretchen Ritter, Vice Chancellor and Provost, and Jamie Winders, Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs
Original air date: Oct. 10, 2022
The Syracuse University campus community is embarking on an important five-year journey of self-discovery and self-improvement, revamping its Academic Strategic Plan (ASP) to position itself as a leading global institution that attracts the best students and accomplished faculty who are respected thought leaders. The goals are ambitious: creating an unsurpassed student experience that is guided and informed by extraordinary scholarship, research and discovery. The stakes are high: determining how Syracuse University can improve its academic excellence at every level while fostering a sense of welcome and belonging and ensuring the distinctive excellence, accessibility, and collective success for all members of the campus community. Gretchen Ritter, vice chancellor and provost and chief academic officer, and Jamie Winders associate provost for faculty affairs, discuss the University’s revamped Academic Strategic Plan, how it can set Syracuse University up for sustained success, why members of the campus community should get involved in deciding the future of the University, and how this ASP differs from other higher education institutions.
Episode 118: Diabetes Advocate, Author and Podcaster Stacey Simms ’93
Original air date: Oct. 6, 2022
Stacey Simms ’93 is an award-winning podcaster and author who has been sharing stories, advice and news about diabetes on her Diabetes Connections podcast, through her blog and in two books: “The World’s Worst Diabetes Mom” and “Still the World’s Worst Diabetes Mom.” In this ’Cuse Conversation, she talks about her approach to raising a son with diabetes and how she’s found professional success as a trusted voice in this space. Stacey, who started her career in television news before moving to talk radio, also shares some strong thoughts about the business of broadcasting, including some pointed advice for young women in the industry, and talks about her experience at Syracuse University and the meaningful relationships she’s developed with the people during college.
Episode 117: Ashia Aubourg ’18: Food Justice Advocate Helps Empower Communities Through Food
Original air date: Sept. 27, 2022
Food was always at the epicenter of Ashia Aubourg’s ’18 life, and she dreamed of being a chef until an experience at an award-winning restaurant in Boston helped Aubourg realize an important lesson: not everyone has the same access to food. Aubourg started thinking about food inequality and food justice, and headed to Syracuse University to be one of the first students in Falk College’s fledgling food studies program. Today, Aubourg serves as the lead of Asana’s global culinary program, blending her love of food and communications with a drive to empower her community. Aubourg discusses food justice and food insecurity and how these issues affect millions of Americans, how food plays an important role when it comes to social justice, healing and culture, how she’s helping to mobilize Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC)-owned businesses to help everyone gain access to healthy and nutritious food, and how her time at Syracuse University helped fuel her passions.
Episode 116: Get to Know Ethan Bair, Syracuse University’s New Rabbi
Original air date: Sept. 22, 2022
As a student at Oberlin College, Ethan Bair experienced such a meaningful connection with Hillel and with his rabbi that he was inspired to become a rabbi. Something about building community and teaching the ways of the Torah to college students resonated with Bair, who earlier this summer was named Hillel at Syracuse University’s new rabbi and will serve as Jewish chaplain at Hendricks Chapel. An accomplished Jewish community leader, Rabbi Bair shares how he assists with the holistic development of Syracuse University’s Jewish students, why he’s passionate about forming meaningful connections and impactful relationships with the campus community, the importance of finding your joy and passion, and why being part of the multi-faith community at Hendricks Chapel is such a blessing.
Episode 115: Studying Human Behavior and Turning Policy Into Practice to Address Food Insecurity
Original air date: Sept. 15, 2022
The Office of Community Engagement is hosting Food Insecurity Awareness Week to raise awareness about food insecurity issues on the Syracuse University campus and in the City of Syracuse. On this ’Cuse Conversation, we spotlight the incredible, data-driven work being done on campus to address food insecurity and food justice. Colleen Heflin, associate dean, chair and professor in the Maxwell School’s public administration and international affairs (PAIA) department, and Len Lopoo, a Maxwell PAIA professor and director of the Maxwell X Lab, explain how the Maxwell School and Maxwell X Lab partner with respected public policy leaders on campus to study human behavior, turning policy into practice to combat food insecurity and other issues affecting our citizens.
Episode 114: Behind the Curtain with Former WWE Head Writer Brian Gewirtz ’95
Original air date: Sept. 11, 2022
In his new book, “There’s Just One Problem… True Tales from the former, one-time, 7th most powerful person in WWE,” Brian Gewirtz ’95 pulls back the curtain on professional wrestling by sharing “fascinating and hilarious” stories (those are Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s adjectives!) from his fifteen-year career with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Gewirtz describes how earning The Rock’s trust first led to a job in professional wrestling and later to a senior vice president role with The Rock’s production company. It should come as no surprise that there’s a lot of Orange that weaves through Gewirtz’s story.
Episode 113: Get to Know Bakeer Ganesharatnam, New Women’s Volleyball Coach
Original air date: Aug. 30, 2022
For the first time in more than a decade, the Syracuse University women’s volleyball program has a new head coach: Bakeer Ganesharatnam, the seventh women’s volleyball coach in school history. Ganesharatnam boasts an impressive coaching resume and has a reputation for helping student-athletes achieve success on the court and in the classroom. Ganesharatnam discusses what made the position so appealing, why he was the right person to lead the Orange, how he’ll use analytics to help his team get better, how he develops a positive team culture, and why his team enjoys a unique home-court advantage.
Episode 112: Keeping Campus Safe: Get to Know Chief Craig Stone
Original air date: Aug. 25, 2022
What does it take to keep 21,000-plus students safe on a thriving residential campus located in the heart of an urban area? On this ’Cuse Conversation, we go behind the scenes with Craig Stone, associate vice president and chief of Campus Safety and Emergency Management Services, who joined Syracuse University this past spring. Campus safety is a critical undertaking on any college campus, and Stone and his team work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to protect our community and ensure the University is a safe place to live, learn and work. Chief Stone discusses his new role and his background in campus safety and law enforcement; the priorities for his tenure as chief; how the Department of Public Safety (DPS) is engaging with community members this fall; common misconceptions about DPS; strategies for protecting yourself and your belongings on campus; and more.
Episode 111: Previewing Syracuse Welcome With Carrie Grogan Abbott G’03
Original air date: Aug. 22, 2022
Syracuse University is preparing for more than 4,000 first-year students to arrive on campus this week for Syracuse Welcome, the University’s new student orientation program. Syracuse Welcome represents the first steps in a student’s Syracuse University journey, and on this ‘Cuse Conversation, Carrie Grogan Abbott G’03, director of New Student and Family Programs, discusses what students and their families can expect during Syracuse Welcome. Abbott shares tips and best practices to ensure move-in runs smoothly and highlights the important role the student volunteers known as the Goon Squad play in helping new students move into their room. Abbott addresses how this year’s Syracuse Welcome will be different from years past, runs through the programming highlights from the week and explains why the New Student Convocation is a key component of Syracuse Welcome.
Episode 110: Room Décor Inspiration With Interior Decorator Amie Freling ’89
Original air date: Aug. 17, 2022
Leaving behind your family and friends and embarking on your Syracuse University journey can feel daunting to both the student and their family members. As the University prepares to welcome thousands of first-year students to campus for Syracuse Welcome, we invited Amie Freling ’89, a well-known interior decorator, home décor expert and social media influencer, to share her tips on how to take a residence hall room and make it feel like home. Freling, who earned a bachelor’s degree in illustration and design from the College of Visual and Performing Arts, has a keen eye for taking spaces and sprucing them up, adding life and color to even the most drab of rooms. The owner and operator of Meme Hill Studios outside of Rochester, Freling discusses how to decorate a room on any budget, the importance of going vertical to maximize the room’s space and storage, how accent pieces can make a room feel more welcoming, how to add color to any room, and common mistakes for parents and students to avoid when it comes to decorating.
Episode 109: Helping Civilian Victims of War With Sana Bég ’04, Doctors Without Borders
Original air date: July 5, 2022
More than 12 million Ukrainians have fled their home since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded the sovereign nation on Feb. 24. Facing a violent present and an uncertain future, the fates of these women, children and elderly Ukrainians is up in the air. But one organization is providing medical assistance to these refugees: Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders as it is known in the United States. Sana Bég ’04 is the director of communications for Doctors Without Borders in South Asia. Bég discusses how Doctors Without Borders assisted those Ukrainian refugees, the atrocities her organization witnessed while providing relief, and the toll the war has taken on these citizens. A proud member of an Orange Legacy family— Bég is one of four Syracuse graduates in her family— Bég shares how Syracuse helped her discover more about her identity and cultivate her storytelling skills, why she wanted to be a voice for the voiceless, and why she became forever curious.
Episode 108: Speech Language Pathologist Alex Middleton ’22
Original air date: June 28, 2022
As the United States celebrates Pride Month, the ‘Cuse Conversations podcast wanted to spotlight the LGBTQ+ community here at Syracuse University. Alex Middleton ’22 recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in speech language pathology from the communication sciences and disorders program in the College of Arts and Sciences. Alex discusses how they knew since middle school they wanted to be a speech pathologist, providing people with the voice to advocate for themselves. They share how a paperweight convinced them to travel across the country and pursue their speech pathology degree at Syracuse, and why the University’s LGBTQ Resource Center provided a home and a solid support system on campus. Note: This podcast includes discussion of potentially sensitive topics. Please listen with care.
Episode 107: Family, Football and Father’s Day With Dino Babers, Head Football Coach
Original air date: June 15, 2022
Dino Babers is a family man. Entering his seventh season as Syracuse University’s head football coach, Babers has always preached the value and importance of family. On a special Father’s Day ’Cuse Conversation, Babers shares stories from a childhood spent growing up on a military base with a father, Luther, who served in the Navy for 21 years, how that upbringing influenced his coaching style and how his father taught him discipline. Babers also shares why he treats his football team as a second family (Babers admits he has “104 stepsons” under his watch) and how his life forever changed when the first of his four daughters, Breeahnah, was born.
Episode 106: Faith, Service and Community With Father Gerry Waterman, Catholic Chaplain
Original air date: June 10, 2022
Father Gerry Waterman has been making a difference in the lives of Catholic students on the Syracuse University campus since 2016. As the University’s Catholic Chaplain, Father Gerry brings people together for sermons and service, and he is proud to share his faith with the campus community. Father Gerry discusses how the Catholic Center provided a sense of community to Syracuse students during the pandemic, how a fateful encounter while out for a run convinced him to join the Syracuse University community, why he was beyond humbled to receive the Chancellor’s Forever Orange Award and why he’s passionate about making wine.
Episode 105: Get to Know Mary Grace Almandrez, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion
Original air date: May 31, 2022
After spending the last 25 years in leadership roles in higher education, Mary Grace Almandrez takes over on June 1 as Syracuse University’s new vice president for diversity and inclusion. Almandrez discusses why she is so passionate about making the Syracuse University campus a welcoming place for all, shares what diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility means to her, and explains why the Filipino phrase “Bayanihan” (building community) has played such an important role in her life.
Episode 104: Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Original air date: April 28, 2022
April is a time for the Syracuse University community to come together and celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. This year’s theme is “Regrounding: Celebrating Our Identity,” focusing on sharing and celebrating the pride, strength and joy demonstrated by our on-campus AAPI community. It’s an important theme, especially following the challenges of the last two years, including the COVID-19 pandemic and a troubling rise in anti-Asian hate crimes and bias incidents. On this student-centric ‘Cuse Conversation, we hear from Merci Sugai G’22, the AAPI Planning Committee co-chair, and Hyejun Yoo ’22, who moderated the commemorative lecture Q&A with Michelle Zauner. They discuss planning this year’s celebrations, why they wanted to get involved and how their time at Syracuse University helped them discover more about their identities.
Episode 103: Trailblazing Women’s Lacrosse Standout Katie (Rowan) Thomson ’09, G’10
Original air date: April 19, 2022
Katie (Rowan) Thomson ’09, G’10 helped grow the Orange women’s lacrosse program into a perennial power during her four years on campus. An electrifying playmaker, Thomson graduated as Syracuse’s all-time leader in points (396) and assists (164). A three-time All-American, Thomson’s teams won the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament game in 2007 and later reached its first Final Four in 2008. Thomson became the first female lacrosse player and second female student-athlete to have her jersey retired when her No. 21 was raised to the Dome rafters on Feb. 20. Thomson shares how she was blown away by the honor of having her jersey retired, her favorite memories from her time with the Orange, and how she’s applying the lessons she learned at Syracuse to the next wave of talented Division I standouts as the head women’s lacrosse coach at the University at Albany.
Episode 102: Grammy Award winner Joanie Leeds ’00
Original air date: March 31, 2022
It’s a musical ’Cuse Conversation with Joanie Leeds ’00, 2021 Grammy Award winner for best children’s music album. She teamed up with a female producer and several talented female musicians to create “All the Ladies,” an album designed to entertain, inspire, educate and empower.
Joanie shares the story of her journey and the chances, odd jobs and interesting gigs she took along the way to becoming a successful artist who creates music loved by children and their parents.
Episode 101: Author, speaker and life coach David Essel ’79
Original air date: March 10, 2022
As a kid growing up in Utica, David Essel wanted to be an NBA star. While he walked on to the Syracuse University men’s basketball team, his time at the University ultimately led him on a very different professional journey. He’s built a successful career writing about and supporting people through addiction recovery, relationship difficulties, grief counseling and professional challenges. Visit his website to learn more about Essel’s work. He is a big believer in the power of positivity, which has been both difficult to come by and more important than ever during the last two years of pandemic living. Essel talks about his education and experience at Syracuse University and his drive to help others in this ‘Cuse Conversation.