Vote Julia M. Yakovich
University of Connecticut
Julia M. Yakovich
Director of Service Learning Initiatives
Organization/institution description (<500 characters)
The University of Connecticut is a national leader among public research universities, with more than 32,000 students seeking answers to critical questions in classrooms, labs, and the community. A culture of innovation drives this pursuit of knowledge throughout the University’s network of campuses. Connecticut’s commitment to higher education helps UConn attract students who thrive in the most competitive environments, as well as globally renowned faculty members. UConn fosters a diverse and vibrant culture that meets the needs and seizes the opportunities of a dynamic global society.
How do you train, educate or prepare entrepreneurs? (<500 characters)
Everyday I have opportunities to connect our young minds to real world community challenges and engage students to think critically about how to disrupt current structures. I encourage students to be brave and take risks and make mistakes, especially while they are still in the safe environment of the University. In my role, I connect faculty and students to course-relevant community based projects that blasts them into a reality setting where the content and their learning comes to life. Students working with community projects are then activated to grapple with socially challenging projects and are allowed space and time to develop ways of tackling those challenges through different means, whether it be research, fundraising, or the ultimate of development of a product, program, business or social enterprise. Students who are involved with my office have the opportunity to venture outside of the walls of the University while thinking creatively and stretching themselves much like the way of an entrepreneur.
I support both students and the community in taking their ideas, individually or as a group, to the next level. I provide a pathway for students to be stakeholders in their own education and provide resources like grant and award opportunities so they can put their ideas into action. UConn has enormous resources as it relates to supporting both students and community members with every step of their journey from idea formation and incubation to product design and implementation. In using the resources through CCEI, the Werth Institute, the Office of Undergraduate Research, and the Small Business Development Center, UConn is a place where both new ideas and already established small businesses can get to the next level.
What impact did your program have in 2019? (<500 characters)
2019 was a monumental year where much magic happened between the students, the faculty, and the community. This was the year that our Mechanical Engineering Senior Design Students repaired and restored the Keney Memorial Clock Tower in the North End of Hartford with the City of Hartford, Friends of Keney Park, and Keney Park Sustainability Project. It’s also the year that Electrical Engineering Senior Design Students are taking on the design of solar panels to sustainably provide energy to the Keney Clock Tower and surrounding park. UConn first year students straight out of high school designed products to create a better quality of life for the autism community and their families. The designs made their way to the National NPR spotlight. Multiple student designs, such as a bathroom tracker, a refrigerator door lock, a bathtub sensor, can all be further developed. Some students have applied for innovation grants to bring these products to life and have also submitted award proposals through Not Impossible Labs. The School of Business Management Information Systems Capstone will be working with one group of freshmen to actualize their bathroom tracker app design this spring semester. Other students are applying for Change Grants at UConn to increase their non-profit business to expand to schools in the North End of Hartford teaching and having elementary students utilize hydroponic growing systems that they can learn at school and bring home. Students are designing thermal water heating systems for a greenhouse at Keney Park Sustainability Project (KPSP) to increase the growing capacity that KPSP will be able to provide the Hartford Public School System Food and Nutrition operation. Additionally, UConn MIS will be developing an app for the Hartford Public School System to track and inventory their food for ultimate efficiency. An all-female Engineering team from Biochemical Engineering is designing a biodigester for a sustainable village in rural Uganda that will empower women and girls to be the business owners, health workers, infrastructure builders in the Masindi Region of Uganda. In 2019, students are currently working on developing a collaborative program that works with Food Service Establishments (restaurants) on the disposal of their Fats Oils and Grease (FOG) in the wastewater system. This is a brand new program that will emphasize the collaboration between private-public relationships that will ultimately support food service operators, critical infrastructure and will enable students to think creatively about conversions of FOG and entrepreneurial outcomes of this initiative.
What people are saying about Julia M. Yakovich ...
Julia crosses sectors between education and community builder. As the Director of Service Learning Initiatives, she does both for the University of Connecticut and for the community at large. Julia is a bridge builder between University faculty and students and combines with community needs. In recent months she has facilitated the restoration of the Keney Memorial Clock Tower in the North End of Hartford by UConn School of Engineering students and is currently working on the installation of solar panels for the lighting of and around the memorial tower, This semester Julia is fostering the development of patentable Engineering designs to enhance the lives of individuals afflicted with autism. Yakovich is fostering the work behind several projects in collaboration with the Keney Park Sustainability Project enabling the growth of vegetables and fruit for the Hartford Public Schools Food and Nutrition Program and will be overseeing the development of an application to ensure real-time inventory of food product also for the Hartford Public School System. These are a small handful of project Yakovich facilitates utilizing University resources combined with relevant community assets and needs. Anne Gebelein