Level Up Podcast

Level Up on Presence and Belonging is a production of the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Florida. Each week, CDO Antonio Farias interviews a member of the university community to hear their story of belonging and to learn about their work here at UF. Join Antonio each week for a fresh episode of Level Up. Below is a list of previously aired episodes.

You can find all the Level Up episodes on soundcloud.com.

You can subscribe to Level Up with the following RSS feed: http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:568437753/sounds.rss

Or find Level Up on iTunesStitcher and GooglePlay.

We welcome your feedback and suggestions for future guests on the podcast. Please email level-up@ufl.edu.



Season 3

051 Patty Xirau-Probert

In this last episode of Season 3, Antonio speaks with Patty Xirau-Probert, Assistant Dean for Student Advocacy and Inclusion in UF's College of Dentistry. Patty shares how storytelling has helped her find belonging through her life's journey and how she is finding a renewed sense of focus and intention during the current crisis. We look forward to bringing you Season 4 of Level Up in August!

050 Katrice Graham

In this episode, Antonio talks with Dr. Katrice Graham, Director, Knight Division for Scholarships, Career Services and Multicultural Affairs, in the College of Journalism and Communications, and President of the Association of Black Faculty and Staff. Antonio and Katrice talk about the ways in which belonging is community based and intergenerational. Listen in to be among the first to hear about an exciting new project that ABFS is working on to showcase the history of black students at UF.

049 Evie Cummings

In this episode, Antonio talks with Evie Cummings, Assistant Provost and Director of UF Online. Evie talks about the power of online education to provide flexible, accessible and customized pathways to higher education and how the lessons we are learning in the COVID-19 crisis will help us to adapt to a "new normal."

048 Nicole Stedman

In this episode, Antonio catches up with Nicole Stedman, Professor and Associate Chair in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication. Nicole shares how she is using the COVID-19 crisis as a teaching opportunity to discuss how systems change and how we build community resilience. Join Antonio and Nicole as they consider how we will emerge from this time as a stronger and more connected community.

047 #ufcelebrate2020 Special Episode

In this special episode of Level Up, we have pulled together excerpts from some earlier interviews with exceptional Gator women in honor of Women's History Month and #ufcelebrate2020, the University's yearlong celebration of the passage of the 19th amendment. We hear from Trustee Anita Zucker, Dean Onye Ozuzu, Assistant Professor Porchia Moore, Dr. Sindia Jimenez-Rivera and student Brittany Bryant, a group of inspiring leaders and change makers who are moving the Gator Nation forward.

046 Curtis Taylor

In this episode, Antonio sits down with Curtis Taylor, Associate Professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Associate Dean for Student Affairs in the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. Curtis shares his recipe for belonging with three magic ingredients and explains why it is so important to doing our best work.

045 Kat Garcia

In this episode, Antonio is talking with Kat Garcia, 4th year pre-med student, President of the new student organization Unity in Diversity and organizer of the group’s inaugural 5K run, walk, roll event on April 4. Kat talks about her Cuban heritage and how allowing herself to be uncomfortable has helped her grow and find joy in the process.

044 Laurie Brown

In this episode, Antonio is talking with Laurie Brown, Assistant Director, Custom Solutions and Community Engagement, in the Office of Professional and Workforce Development. Laurie shares her excitement for the upcoming Inspiring Women Leaders Conference, happening March 9 and 10, here at UF. Laurie is a lead organizer of this sellout event and lets us know why this work brings her joy.

043 Paloma Rodriguez

In this episode, Antonio talks with Paloma Rodriguez, Director of the Office of Global Learning at UF's International Center. Paloma talks about how her sense of belonging has shifted through her global travels and how she brings this multifaceted perspective to bear in her work with international students and study abroad programs. Tune in to find out what Antonio and Paloma love about the Spanish language!

042 Kate Ratliff

In this episode, Antonio talks with Kate Ratliff, associate professor of psychology and executive director of Project Implicit. Antonio and Kate consider why the IAT is a valuable tool for exploring biases and disrupting disparities. Tune in to find out what Kate loves about Gainesville!

041 Laura Blecha and Katia Matcheva

In this episode, Antonio is talking with Laura Blecha and Katia Matcheva, both astrophysicists and professors in UF's Department of Physics. Laura and Katia take us from Earth's backyard, the solar system, to deep space and the realm of super massive black holes. They also tell us about some exciting events much closer to home--UF's celebration of the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a full week of events February 13-19 with free public lectures and hands-on events for kids. Find out more at www.phys.ufl.edu/womeninscience2020

040 Alex Hernandez

In this episode, Antonio talks with Alex Hernandez, a 4th year graduate student studying comb jellies at the Whitney Lab in St. Augustine. Alex is also President of the UF chapter of SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanons/Hispanic and Native Americans in Science) and is currently organizing the Southeast Regional Conference (February 28-29). Are comb jellies the earliest animal on the Tree of Life? Tune in to find out!

039 President Kent Fuchs

In this episode, Level Up has a very special guest--UF President Kent Fuchs. For President Fuchs belonging starts with family and takes root in the formative years of higher education. Find out about a day in the life of a university president and the location of the best secret selfie op with President Fuchs!

038 Mikaela and Brendan David-John

In this episode, Antonio sits down with Mikaela David-John, 1st year graduate student in Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and Brendan David-John, 3rd year graduate student in computer science. Brendan is from Salamanca, NY, representing the Seneca Nation of Indians and Mikaela is from Syracuse, NY, and is a member of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. As married graduate students, Mikaela and Brendan share how they found belonging through the Native American Students Association as undergraduates and are paying that forward by establishing an American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) chapter here at UF.

037 Krista Vaught

In this episode, Antonio talks with Krista Vaught, Director of Academic Strategic Initiatives and Compliance at the Levin College of Law and President of the Academic and Professional Assembly (APA). Krista tells us how she found belonging through joining the APA and is now fostering belonging for others through innovative programs including the APA Ambassadors, the Warm Welcome and Bowling with Strangers.

036 Jodian Blake

Welcome to Season 3 of Level Up! In this episode, Antonio talks with Jodian Blake, Community Health Resource Coordinator for the UF Health Cancer Center. Jodian, a recent immigrant from Jamaica when she arrived for her first year at UF, shares how CaribSA, the Caribbean Student Association, gave her a feeling of home and helped her thrive. Today, Jodian finds joy through her family and connecting with the community.

Season 2

Episode 35 Herby Zephir

In this episode of Level Up, Antonio talks with Herby Zephir, a 3rd year Haitian American student in the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conversation. Herby shares the story of his journey from his urban upbringing in Homestead, Florida, to a life of adventure as a wildlife ecologist. We close out season 2 with a wide-ranging discussion that touches on the experience of low-income students, code-switching, the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars program, and kayaking the Potomac.

Episode 34 Anita Marshall

In this episode, Antonio speaks with Anita Marshall, lecturer in the Department of Geological Sciences and Director of Operations for the International Association for Geoscience Diversity. Anita shares how a near-fatal accident led her to a new found passion for finding ways to say "yes" to geology students with disabilities. What is Anita's favorite volcano? Listen to the end to find out!

Episode 33 Carrie Blanchard Bush

In this episode, Antonio speaks with Carrie Blanchard Bush, UF's Director of Strategic Initiatives. Carrie provides a glimpse into the future of the campus and how the university sets and evaluates its institutional priorities. She also offers her super practical strategies for cultivating joy in your daily life.

Episode 32 Ron Anderson

In this episode, Antonio sits down with Ron Anderson, University of Florida's ombuds. Ron talks about his student centered mission, the power of networks and the joy of having a lasting impact on students' lives. Ron closes with a powerful testimonial from an alumni that you won't want to miss.

Episode 31 Ellen Bledsoe and Kelsey Lewis

In this episode, Antonio speaks with PhD candidates Ellen Bledsoe and Kelsey Lewis. Ellen, a 5th year graduate student studying wildlife ecology, and Kelsey, a 7th year graduate student researching the biology of sex determinants, discuss practical actionable steps to creating inclusion in the laboratory and why this makes for better science.

Episode 30 Porchia Moore

In this episode, Antonio welcomes new faculty member, Dr. Porchia Moore, assistant professor of museum studies in the School of Art + Art History. Dr. Moore discusses how engaging with her ancestry has evolved her sense of belonging and shares her enthusiasm for helping shape a new generation of museum professionals who are prepared to act as provocateurs, a role she herself relishes.

Episode 29 Anita Zucker

In this episode, Antonio speaks with UF Trustee Anita Zucker, Anita talks about her journey from being a student leader, to public school teacher, to CEO and member of the UF Board of Trustees. She shares her passion for early childhood education and for the "hidden gem" that is the University of Florida.

Episode 28 Brittany Bryant

In this episode, Brittany Bryant, a third-year transfer student, talks to Antonio about how overcoming obstacles, finding her vocation and being the light for others fuel her journey at UF.

Episode 27 Carlos de la Torre

In this episode, Antonio welcomes Dr. Carlos de la Torre, the new director for the Center for Latin American Studies, back to the University of Florida. Dr. de la Torre talks about his plans to further diversify the Center and how his work studying populist regimes in Latin America informs his understanding of modern global politics.

Episode 26 Gaby Hernandez 

In this episode, Antonio talks with Gaby Hernandez, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design in the School of Art + Art History. Gaby talks about two characteristics for belonging--love and representation and how she has found this through the different chapters of her life from her childhood in Costa Rica to coming to UF as a graduate student.

Episode 25 Alexandra Bitton-Bailey

In this episode, Antonio sits down with Alexandra Bitton-Bailey, Academic Innovation Specialist with the Center for Teaching Excellence. Alex shares her passion for helping people find their place and how education has been her gateway to belonging.

Episode 24 Mark Kaplan

In this episode, Antonio sits down with Mark Kaplan, Vice President for Government and Community Relations at the University of Florida. Mark explains how his experiences being bused to a diverse middle school and later working in affordable housing helped shape his commitment to building community. 

Episode 23 Leanne Dumeny

In this episode, Antonio talks with Leanne Dumeny, an MD PhD student working in genetics and genomics. For Leanne, coming to UF opened doors to belonging through friends who shared her interests and mentors who helped her find her passion for research.

Episode 22 LaKendra Cook

In this episode, Antonio talks with LaKendra Cook, program assistant for the Integrated Product and Process Design Program in the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. Find out what the drive-through window at McDonald's and a top-notch engineering program have in common in this week’s episode!

Episode 21 Nikole Miller 

In this episode, recorded in spring 2019, Antonio sits down with Nikole Miller who is now starting her second year at the Levin College of Law. Nikole tells an inspiring story about her work with a creative writing program for prisoners that shaped her view of law and helped her find her passion.

Episode 20 Onye Ozuzu 

In this episode, Antonio talks with Dean Onye Ozuzu of the College of the Arts. Dean Ozuzu describes how language and literacy provided access and belonging as a child and how dance and movement gave her a new sense of belonging as a young adult. She also talks about the new Center for Diaspora Arts and Entrepreneurship.

Episode 19 Bob Graham Center Fellows

In this episode, Antonio turns the tables on a group of Bob Graham Center Fellows--Kahyla Borges Santos, Eli Nir and Gloria Li. Antonio appeared on their podcast last semester and was so inspired by their commitment to public service and the community that he decided to learn more.

Interested in hearning Antonio's talk with the BGC Fellows? Check out Let's Talk GNV!

Episode 18 Bianca Quinones

Welcome back to Season 2 of Level Up! In this episode, Antonio is speaking with Bianca Quinones, the new Program Director for Hispanic-Latinx Affairs, with Multicultural and Diversity Affairs at the University of Florida.

Season 1

Episode 17 Katie Vogel Anderson

Join us for the last episode in season 1 of Level Up! Antonio talks with Dr. Katie Vogel Anderson, clinical associate professor in the College of Pharmacy and chair of the Faculty Senate. Find out why attending her first faculty senate meeting was such a powerful moment of belonging for Katie.

Episode 16 Val Raymond

In this episode, Antonio is talking with Val Raymond, 4th-year economics student and Student Government Diversity Affairs Executive Secretary. Learn how Val’s appreciation for the journey lead him to the UF Hall of Fame.

Episode 15 Jeremy Waisome

In this episode, Antonio speaks with Dr. Jeremy Waisome, postdoctoral associate with the Department of Computer and Information Science and Engineering. Find out why Jeremy is known as the poster child for the College of Engineering’s outreach opportunities and how she is paying it forward.

Episode 14 Sindia Rivera-Jimenez

In this episode, Antonio sits down with Sindia Rivera-Jimenez, a chemical engineer and a lecturer for the Institute for Excellence in Engineering Education. Find out why Dr. Rivera is a happy engineer and learn about an amazing carbon capture project on this episode of Level Up!

Episode 13 Chris Salinas and Michael Gordon

In this episode, Antonio catches up with MBA candidates Chris Salinas and Michael Gordon. Chris and Michael share that their sense of belonging comes from working with small, close-knit teams working toward a common purpose. And, find out what Marie Kondo and the Coast Guard have in common in this episode of Level Up!

Episode 12 Donna Parker

In this episode, Antonio is speaking with Dr. Donna Parker, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Associate Dean for Diversity and Health Equity with the College of Medicine. Donna tells us how a family tragedy sparked her interest in medicine and how she found belonging in the United States after emigrating from Jamaica as a college student.

Episode 11 Feihong Wang

In this episode, Dr. Feihong Wang, a lecturer in the Department of Psychology, tells us how the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity’s programs have given her a sense of empowerment and control over her long-term personal and professional goals

Episode 10 Trokon Johnson

In this episode, Trokon Johnson, a fourth year graduate student in Electrical and Computer Engineering, shares how vulnerability is a source of strength and joy and gives us a glimpse into the future of super computers.

Episode 9 Michael Bowie

In this episode, Antonio is speaking with Dr. Michael Bowie, Assistant Professor and Director for Community Engagement and Diversity Outreach in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Michael walks us though his journey to belonging from Washington, DC, to Swaziland, to his home at UF.

Episode 8 Naz Erenguc

In this episode, Antonio speaks with Naz Erenguc, Associate Director of Admissions for the MBA program and President of the Association for Academic Women. Naz shares how her deep ties to Gainesville and the university have forged her sense of belonging.

Episode 7 Jania Lowe

In this episode, we hear from Jania Lowe, a second year journalism student, who tells us how participating in Gatorship, a social justice and inclusion retreat, was a transformative experience that gave her a deep sense of belonging at UF.

Episode 6 Hazel Levy

In this episode, Antonio sits down with Dr. Hazel Levy, a professor in the Department of Pediatrics, whose research interests include molecular biology and gene therapy vector development. Hazel talks to us about how great teams and strong leaders spur innovation and discovery.

Episode 5 Mary Kay Carodine

In this episode, Mary Kay Carodine, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, introduces two key concepts: stepping in and the power of “I don’t know.”

Episode 4 Michelle Smith

In this episode, Antonio talks with Michelle Smith, Assistant Dean for Inclusion with the College of Health and Human Performance and the Levin College of Law. Michelle is a triple Gator, who recently returned to UF after serving as the Chief Change Agent for Gainesville Regional Utilities. Michelle shares how creating belonging for others became her life’s work and how heavy lifting and belly laughing are two of Michelle’s secrets to finding joy.

Episode 3 Gerry Altamirano

In this episode, Antonio talks with Gerardo (Gerry) Altamirano, Assistant Dean and Director of the Disability Resource Center. Gerardo talks about finding belonging through his first-gen, Mexican American and queer identities. He also tells us about the secret / not-so-secret agenda of the DRC.

Episode 2 Diedre Houchen

In this episode, we're talking with Diedre Houchen, a postdoctoral fellow with the Center for Race and Race Relations at the Levin College of Law at UF. Diedre shares how a personal connection with a professor gave her, as a nontraditional student, a sense of belonging in the academy and how she replicates that experience with her own students today.

Episode 1 Will Atkins

In this episode, we'll hear from Will Atkins, Associate Dean and Director of Multicultural and Diversity Affairs, MCDA. Will talks about his experience with PAACT—a three-day program that focuses on the successful transition of incoming Black first-year students at UF that Will calls his place of belonging. Will also talks to us about his vision for MCDA as a model for the campus.

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