The work of UConn Philosophy/Political Science graduate and joint Public Policy/Latinx Studies MA student, Caesar Valentín, is featured in a recent Obama Foundation Class of 2020 Video. After joining the Obama Foundation Community Leadership Corps in the summer of 2019, Valentín started a peer mentoring program at his local high school, Connecticut River Academy (CTRA) in East Hartford, CT. The program (still in development) was proposed with the intent creating greater student and teacher unity at the school. Valentín attended CTRA from 2012 to 2016 and was a part of the school’s original graduating class. He noticed a disconnect growing among the students and the teachers as the school became larger and moved into a bigger building. His group, called ‘Bout That Action, paired upper class-men with underclassmen so that younger students would have a friend from the moment they started school. This would also give upperclassmen valuable mentoring experience. Implementation was halted due to COVID-19, but ‘Bout That Action and Caesar still intend to follow through with this mentoring program.
About his upcoming entry into the Instituto and Department of Public Policy joint MPP/MA program, Valentín said, “The skills I hope to get from the MPA/MA program are wide, but they start with being able to help out Black and Brown communities. I never saw any faces involved in the public sector growing up, and as I have gained age, finding those who look like me is very slim. The MPA will allow me to develop myself as a professional and be able to make quality connections and change, while the MA will allow me to understand the structural forces that necessitate these shifts in culture. Whether I go into government, politics, non-profits, diversity and inclusion work, or anywhere else my life may take me, I know that the MPA/MA program will have prepared me for doing so.”