’Cuse Conversations Podcast

[Block S, microphone icon] ’Cuse Conversations

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 117 audio and transcript [PDF]; total run time: 37:23.

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 116 audio and transcript [PDF]; total run time: 25:32.


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 115 audio and transcript [PDF]; total run time: 31:58.


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 114 audio and transcript [PDF]; total run time: 36:26.


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 113 audio and transcript [PDF]; total run time: 28:04.


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 112 audio and transcript [PDF]; total run time 26:33.


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 111 audio and transcript [PDF]; total run time 29:42.


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 110 audio and transcript [PDF]; total run time 27:36.


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 109 audio; Q&A and transcript [PDF]; total run time 34:40.


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 108 audio; Q&A and transcript [PDF]; total run time 30:38.


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 107 audio; Q&A and transcript [PDF]; total run time 19:18.


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 106 audio; Q&A and transcript [PDF]; total run time 29:02.


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 105 audio; Q&A and transcript [PDF]; total run time 31:14.


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 104 audio, Q&A and transcript [PDF]; total run time 31:14.


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 103 audio, Q&A and transcript [PDF]; total run time 25:09.


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.

Learn about Joanie’s spring/summer concert dates on her website and find her music on YouTubeSpotify and more.

Episode 102 audio and transcript [PDF]; total run time 34:40.


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.

Episode 101 audio and transcript [PDF]; total run time: 21:42.


Episode 100: NFL Network Host Andrew Siciliano ’96

Original air date: Feb. 9, 2022


Andrew Siciliano ’96 doesn’t know how he got so lucky. Every Sunday is surreal as he brings highlights from around the NFL to millions of fans around the world as host of DIRECTV’s RedZone Channel. As Super Bowl 56 approaches, Siciliano will be in Los Angeles as part of NFL Network’s coverage of the big game. On this ‘Cuse Conversation, Siciliano discusses the Super Bowl and the role he will play for NFL Network. He shares the biggest ways Syracuse University and WAER impacted his broadcasting style, reveals the big break that launched his career, and gives advice to sportscasters looking to follow in his footsteps.

Episode 100 audio, Q&A and transcript [PDF]; total run time: 33:16


Episode 99: Fueling Team USA’s Olympians with Dietitian Maggie McCrudden ’14

Original air date: Feb. 4, 2022

The Winter Olympics are underway in Beijing, and Team USA’s top athletes have their sights set on winning gold on the world stage. But before these athletes compete, many of them work on developing healthy nutrition habits with Maggie McCrudden ’14, the food and nutrition registered dietitian for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee who leads Team USA’s nutrition program. McCrudden, a former rower at Syracuse University, discusses how she developed a lifelong appreciation for food and its impact on our bodies, and how her approach to nutrition incorporates data and science with meeting people where they are. She shares how being a former Division I student-athlete helps her gain the trust of these Olympians and why her four years at Syracuse University were truly transformative.

Episode 99 audio, story and transcript [PDF]; total run time: 31:53


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