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 2

Episode 34 Anita Marshall

New episode available December 10!

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

New episode available November 19!

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 particpating 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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