Yale staff member encourages students to become your ‘Best Self’

Seth Wallace, an educator, consultant and activist from Yale University, gives a lecture to UConn students at the Rainbow Center about emotional Intelligence for Queer Individuals. This lecture is about how to correctly position oneself during the unavoidable social network with others. (Zhelun Lang/The Daily Campus)

It’s not every day you hear from a lecturer who transitioned from working as a body piercer at a tattoo parlor in Groton, Connecticut to becoming a project coordinator for Yale University’s Center for Emotional Intelligence.

Seth Wallace spoke at the University of Connecticut’s Rainbow Center Wednesday afternoon as part of their weekly “Out to Lunch” (OTL) series with his lecture titled, “InspirED: Emotional Intelligence for Queer Individuals.”

“Emotional Intelligence is, simply put, making your emotions work for you rather than against you. And I will extend it to say ‘Why is it important for any marginalized or oppressed group, anywhere?’” Wallace said.

The entire lecture felt more like an interactive support group. Wallace handed out one out of four tools called the “Meta Moment,” a double-sided paper where he asked the audience to write and draw out the qualities they see as portraying their “best self.”

He also passed around a six-step system to help the audience understand and learn how to best react in a situation where they may feel triggered into becoming emotionally agitated.

The latter was exampled through a real-life scenario.

“That person probably has a (explicit) perspective about Transgender people because of what I did and I feel bad about it,” Wallace said about a past incident where he negatively reacted to a former acquaintance for asking an invasive question.

“That’s why (Emotional Intelligence) matters, because I had a choice about how I reacted, and I chose the wrong one,” Wallace said.

Students at the lecture agreed Wallace’s presentation made a positive impact on them, despite being very quiet.

“I thought it was very pragmatic, compared to other ones I saw,” Zach Candelaria, seventh-semester general studies major, said.

“You use (Emotional intelligence) in everyday life, and based on how you see yourself reacting to a stimulus, it makes you ask ‘why did you do something?’ It sounds like it comes from a completely random place but it makes sense,” Candelaria added.

For more information about the Rainbow Center and their upcoming OTL series, visit rainbowcenter.uconn.edu.     


Arlene Blum is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at arlene.blum@uconn.edu.