‘My First Year Story’ gives a new perspective on the college experience

Tomaso Scotti, the host of “My First Year Experience,” shares how the podcast came to be and plans for the future on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. Photo courtesy of the author.

Adjusting to college life during a global pandemic has proven to be an extremely difficult task for all involved, but the “My First Year Story” podcast offers guidance and advice for students, especially for those trying to navigate their first year of college in a mostly online format.  

The podcast discusses the current state of the community at the University of Connecticut and its potential for the future, featuring students, staff and faculty as guests.  

Tomaso Scotti, the host of the podcast, said its purpose is to “lay out a sort of guide for first-year students, especially in this age of the pandemic, and let them know failure, mistakes also are OK and it’s only one part of the step.” 

The podcast was created after David Ouimette, the executive director of UConn First Year Programs, suggested it to Helena DeBald, a program coordinator, in March 2020. DeBald then brought the idea to two of the producers of the podcast, Casey Jaycox and Hannah Peterson, who began putting together a team and searching for a host, according to Scotti. 

The first episode of the podcast aired on Nov. 2, 2020 with UConn president Thomas Katsouleas as a guest.  

The students featured on the podcast thus far have been Destiny Cruz, an eighth-semester allied health sciences major, and Allison Determan, a second-semester engineering major.  

Ouimette also made an appearance on the podcast and discussed the First Year Experience Programs, Learning Communities and other resources for first-year students at UConn.  

According to Scotti, the topics and guests for the episodes were decided in team meetings during the fall semester. The episodes were then scheduled, recorded and released. For example, the most recent guest was Jamelia Morgan, a professor at UConn School of Law, who spoke about the creation of the U.S. Anti-Black Racism course and the importance of its existence in the nation’s current political climate. 

When asked about the group most impacted by the podcast’s creation, Scotti said he noticed the podcast has made an impact on many students, even those who do not go to UConn. 

“Everybody gained something from it whether it was experience, a kind of community in this time where we are kind of all isolated or even just advice from the podcast,” Scotti said.  

Scotti said in speaking to listeners, especially non-students, they believed “these conversations tell a story that you don’t hear these days because everyone’s inside their houses.” 

The team hopes the podcast will grow into multiple seasons. They may also have a UConn freshman each season, according to Scotti.  

The “My First Year Story” podcast airs every other Thursday on Spotify, iHeartRadio, Apple Radio and Podbean. The next episode is scheduled to be released on Thursday, Jan. 28.  

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