Annual Award Recipients

FYE Instructor of the Year 2018-2019

Betsy photoElizabeth Cracco, Ph.D.

Director, Counseling and Mental Health Services

Dr. Elizabeth Cracco has been the Director of Counseling and Mental Health Services at UConn since 2013. She has previously worked in college mental health at the University of Wisconsin, the College of the Holy Cross and Connecticut College.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Boston College and her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

At the University of Connecticut, Dr. Cracco is a member of the University CARE Team, teaches in the First Year Experience Program, and is highly involved in the development of experiential mental health intervention programs including the Connect and Challenge retreat program.

Nationally, she serves as a member of the Jordan Porco Foundation Clinical Advisory Board, and previously has served as a member of the Center for Collegiate Mental Health Advisory Board.


Karen Skudlarek

Educational Technologist, CETL Education Technologies and Learning Initiatives

Karen graduated with a B.S. in Business from UConn and spent the next 16 years working in the private sector at Nestlé R&D as a Systems Administrator in the IT Department.  When the facility shutdown she decided she wanted to work in higher education because it closely matched the working environment at the research center.  She began working at UConn as a Systems Administrator in 2005 and found so many other possibilities available, such as teaching a UNIV 1800 class.

After she had her son, Ryan, she became interested in how children learn.  This inspired her to go back to school to earn her M.A. in Educational Psychology focusing on Cognition, Instruction and Learning Technology at the Neag School of Education.  This allowed her to transition from a computer support role to an Educational Technologist in the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) at UConn.  She evaluates new technologies to enhance teaching and learning as well as conducts training sessions with faculty on integrating new technologies into their courses.  In addition, she is passionate about working with students and enjoys teaching the UNIV1800 class and working with students in the UConn Connects Program.

FYE Mentor of the Year 2018-2019

Scarlett Du

Sijia (Scarlett) Du

Psychological Sciences, Expected Graduation December 2019

Scarlett is from Chongqing, China, a city that is famous for its enthusiastic people. Besides being a mentor in FYE class, she is also an active member of the UConn Badminton Team and has attended many tournaments in MA and NY. Scarlett believes that most of the international freshmen have similar problems as she did, namely lack of verbal confidence and feeling alienated in the new environment. As a result, she planned in-class activities for students to enhance linguistic skills and encouraged them to get more involved in events outside of the class. To provide more social support, she treated her students as family members and devoted much time cooking for  them. She was inspired by the FYE mentor experience and hopes to become a teacher or counselor in the future.

Elena Jillson

Allied Health, Expected Graduation May 2020

Elena plans to be an occupational therapist in the future. She is from Saratoga Springs, NY and had the opportunity to be a mentor twice: Fall 2018 with Pam Fischl and Fall 2019 with Anne D’Alleva. In addition to being a mentor, she is apart of UConn Love Your Melon Camus Crew, CHAARG, and is on the executive board as the St. Baldricks Coordinator for the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH). Having the chance to mentor not only once, but twice, allowed her with so many opportunities and she met so many amazing people. Mentoring has truly been a crucial part of her UConn experience. She always strived to make the classroom a welcoming environment for the students and made sure she was easily accessible to my students. She did not want them to see her as their teacher, but rather as a resource and a friend they could turn to.

 Archive of past winners