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UConn's got talent: Staff edition

By Katie McWilliams
On April 25, 2014

  • UConn’s faculty and staff members got the chance to showcase their talents Thursday evening in the Student Union Ballroom. Payroll department member Renee Ferriere won 1st prize with her belly dance routine. TROY CALDEIRA/The Daily Campus

Everybody knows UConn students are the best and the brightest around, but yesterday night's stars of the lights and stage were faculty and staff.
"We all know UConn is full of talented students. What we sometimes forget is how talented our faculty and staff are," emcee Carlyle Bethel said at the beginning of the performance.
The second Spring Weekend event on the kick off day, "UConn's Got Talent: Staff Edition" featured three talented acts of staff and faculty, who were judged by a panel of three UConn community members. On the panel was Director of Student Activities Christine Wilson, Toya Ambrose, the cheerleading and dance team coach and UConn's beloved mascot, Jonathan the Husky.
For the first act, members of The Aquatudes Michael Rocchetti, Tom Bittel and Dick Bascom, all of the Planning, Architecture and Engineering Services played surf rock. With Rocchetti on the bass, Bittel on guitar and Bason on the bongos, the trip played a three song set of familiar surf-rock. Two of the songs were original compositions by the band made to emulate the popular '50s style of music. The middle tune, however, was a No. 1 hit from 1959 called "Sukiyaki." Rocchetti said the song was from Japan and was one of the only foreign songs to make it to a number one spot in America. After the band's spirited and funky performance, they received a score of 27 out of 30.
The middle performance was by Human Development and Family Studies professor Kari Adamson, who recently was awarded tenure. Her talent was unique and she said she started developing this talent as a stress management method.
"One thing I do for stress therapy relief is rewrite popular songs about what's stressing me out," Adamson said.
Her performance was based on Don McLean's hit song from the '70s "American Pie." Instead, Adamson titled it "Why, Why Are My Grades Not So High" in a tribute to her students who often frustrate her with their excuses for why assignments and papers don't get turned in on time. One lyrics from the song read, "But fall semester, made me shiver, with every paper, they'd deliver." Adamson's performance had the audience laughing with its honesty and apt observations. The judges awarded Adamson 26 points, giving her a final 10 because she reached "tenure."
"I love your positive coping method," Wilson said as the judging concluded.
The final act was Renee Ferriere, a staff member in the Payroll Department. Ferriere performed an exotic belly dance in full costume. The upbeat music and athletic dance moves were exciting and colorful and earned Ferriere first place in the competition. After being awarded three consecutive 10s by the judges, Ferriere took home the first place trophy.
Adamson came in third place and the Aquatones took home second.
Sumia Hussain, a sixth semester Allied Health major who coordinated the event and is the marketing co-chair for Spring Weekend said that the idea for the event came from her involvement with UConn Empower and was an effort to connect students to faculty and staff.
"Last year when I was on the board of Empower we wanted to do professor karaoke," Hussain said. "The faculty and staff I know love to learn, teach and care and I wanted to show people that faculty care."

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