Going back to school as an adult can be hard, but that’s not the case for the members of the UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources Alumni Board (UCAHNRA). This group of dedicated, engaged CAHNR alums continue to come back to – or at least visit virtually –their alma mater in order to foster a strong network and provide support for current students.
The nine alumni leaders who currently serve on the Board help other alums connect with current students and support the College by organizing philanthropic and volunteer activities. One of the Board’s primary means of helping students is through the UCAHNRA Endowed Scholarship Fund. This fund is a permanently endowed scholarship in the UConn Foundation awarded annually to deserving students. The Board does not hesitate to provide continued support to students during unprecedented times like the current global pandemic, underscoring their mission to assist in providing CAHNR students with a transformational experience despite societal or financial challenges.
The Board also gives out three awards for faculty, staff, and alumni each year to recognize their contributions to the College.
The UCAHNRA Board works closely with Dean Indrajeet Chaubey to help him realize the College’s strategic vision.
“The UCAHNRA Board members are a testament to the sense of community and inclusivity we foster within our College,” says Chaubey. “We truly appreciate their desire to continue to be a valuable part of CAHNR and ensure that current students have opportunities to grow and thrive.”
Roland Perreault ’82 ’89: (President) Physical Therapist and Outpatient Rehab Manager, Yale New Haven Hospital
Pam Roberts ’70 ’77: (Treasurer) Emeritus Associate Professor, UConn Physical Therapy Program (retired)
Sarah Ammirato ’20: (Secretary) Soil Conservationist, USDA-NRCS
Molly Stanavage ’16 ’18 ’21: Agricultural Teacher, Southington High School
Michelle Lewis ’13 ’21: Educational Program Assistant II, UConn Department of Animal Science
Amy Salai ’15: Clerk Typist, Undergraduate Admissions Office
Chelsey Yearwood ‘16: Founder/CEO, Freqeunchi Collective
Andrew Zadora ’09: Natural Resources Ag Mechanics Ag-Ed Instructor, E.O. Smith High School
Kimberly Alvarez ’20 ’22: (Student Representative) Animal Science Major
UCAHNRA Board president Roland Perreault is a physical therapist and outpatient rehab manager at Yale New Haven Hospital. Perrault received his BS in physical therapy from the School of Allied Health in 1982 and then his MA in exercise physiology from the School of Education in 1989, now both departments within CAHNR.
Perreault joined the Board six years ago and became president this year. He says he took on this leadership opportunity to help refocus the Board’s mission and find new strategies to achieve it.
“We’re getting closer to what we want to be and it’s very exciting,” Perreault says.
Through events, lunches, meetings, and talks, UCAHNRA finds creative ways to help alumni connect with faculty and learn about the exciting research going on in the College.
Chelsey Yearwood, who graduated from the Department of Allied Health Sciences in 2016, joined the Board in April 2021. Yearwood currently works at a cannabis wellness company.
“It was an honor to be asked [to join the Board], and I look forward to collaborating with the team, particularly around health and cannabis,” Yearwood says.
As the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Board to hold its meetings online, they realized there was an opportunity to connect with alumni outside the state who normally would not be able to make it to the Storrs campus.
“We realized we need to cast the net further,” Perreault says. “The pandemic has given us an opportunity to pause and think about the way we do things and how we might do things going forward and make them a little bit better than we have.”
Michelle Lewis, a 2013 alumna and current staff member from the Department of Animal Science, joined the Board as a voting member in 2017 and is now serving her second term. Lewis says she joined the Board to become better connected with alumni outside of animal science.
“The Board’s primary and most important function is really to connect all of the alumni of the College to let them know what’s going on,” Lewis says.
Lewis encourages other alumni to be involved with UCAHNRA, which allows alumni to “support the College that supported them,” Lewis says.
“I’ve really appreciated the insight I’ve been able to gain from being on the Board,” Lewis says. “It’s great to still be involved with only a modest commitment of time and energy.”
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