Ramon E. Peralta, Jr. ’93
President, Alumni Board
Ramon is a 1993 Cum Laude graduate from the University of Bridgeport with a BFA in Visual Arts. While at UB, Ramon served as a Residential Advisor, a Purple Knight and several leadership positions in various student clubs and organizations.
Ramon is the founder of Peralta Design in Shelton, Conn, which he started while at the University of Bridgeport in 1992. In 2008, Ramon pursued Peralta Design full time and began to build it into what it is today. Ramon has 23 years of experience in advertising design, branding, and marketing. Ramon most famously served as Senior Art Director on the team behind Priceline.com and spent 10 years as Jay Walker’s Creative Director launching hundreds of startup companies.
Ramon is a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and a member of the Shelton Exchange Club, and sits on the Board of Directors of the Valley United Way. Ramon is a 2016 Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce Gold Seal recipient. Gold Seal Awards recognize business leaders who exemplify the spirit of selflessness and volunteerism. Ramon’s professional affiliations include: The Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council, The Greater Bridgeport Latino Network, The Graphic Artists Guild of NYC, The Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Bridgeport Regional Business Council. He also volunteers for NSBE Jr, the March of Dimes, and the Harding High School Presidential Development Mentoring Program.
Ramon addressed the Class of 2017 at this year’s Commencement. He lives in Shelton, Conn. with his wife and has two adult children, and enjoys golf, running, cycling, and traveling.
Gwendolyn Brantley ’13
Vice President, Alumni Board
Gwen is a 2013 graduate of the University of Bridgeport with a MS in Counseling and a specialization in Human Resources Development. She is currently the Executive Director of Leadership Greater Bridgeport and runs her own non-profit organization, ACCESS Educational Services, Inc., a community-based organization with a mission to encourage K-12 students to attend college and pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Gwen is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, Fairfield County Alumnae Chapter, Member and President of the Scholarship Committee at First Baptist Church in Stratford, C0nn., Board member and Secretary for Capital Preparatory Harbor Charter School in Bridgeport, Bridgeport Proposers Cradle to Career, and Public Policy Chair and member of the Greater New Haven Metropolitan Chapter of The National Coalition of 100 Black Women. Gwen also is a Consultant with WOW! Creative Design based in New Haven, Conn., providing grant writing and program development to other non-profits and small businesses.
Miguel Arroyo ’07, ’09
Miguel has made the University of Bridgeport (UB) his home. In 2007, Miguel graduated from UB with a B.A. in International Political Economy and Diplomacy, and Social Sciences. Afterwards, he received a Masters degree in Business Administration in 2009 and a Master’s degree in Global Development and Peace in 2013. Presently, Miguel is a doctoral student at UB’s School of Education while working as the assistant director of admissions at UB. Miguel is a passionate advocate for immigrant and refugee rights. He considers himself a global citizen and sees UB as a global village, where students from all around the world can live and learn. He speaks English, Spanish and is currently learning Mandarin. Miguel is originally from Chile and was raised in Miami, Florida.
Dennis Brotherton ’86
Dennis is a 1986 cum laude graduate of the University of Bridgeport with a BS in Physics. He completed his degree as a part-time student, and is a member of Alpha Sigma Lambda, the part-time honor society. Now retired, Dennis’ engineering career spanned nearly fifty years with information systems, telecommunications and aerospace companies, with the last sixteen years at Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, Conn. Dennis has been on the University of Bridgeport Alumni Board for nearly twenty years, and has been President of the Board for the last three years. In 2009, he was a recipient of the University of Bridgeport Distinguished Alumni award.
Elena Cela ’13, ’15
Currently pursuing a Doctorates of Psychology at Springfield College, Elena works as an adjunct Professor at the University of Bridgeport and as a Mental Health Clinician at LifeBridge Community Services. A proud Albanian, Elena found a home at the University of Bridgeport in 2009 where she earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Human Services and obtained Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling shortly thereafter.
Asheke (“Shake”) Culzac ’09
After earning a BS (cum laude) in Accounting and Finance from the University of Bridgeport in 2009, Shake is currently a Vice President and a member of the Securities Lending and Finance team within Trading & Liquidity Strategies for BlackRock. He supports the business through the implementation of strategic projects, facilitates cross-business initiatives within the firm, and creates executive-level presentations aimed at responding to macro-economic trends and regulatory actions.
Anne-Fried Drath, Ed.D. ’09, ’11, ’17
Anne-Fried Drath is 2009 summa cum laude graduate of the University of Bridgeport with a BS in Psychology. She also received an MS in Counseling: Clinical Mental Health from the School of Arts and Sciences in 2011, and in 2017 a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the School of Education. Her research is geared towards students’ adjustment to college. Currently, she works as a therapist for a diverse population but focuses on treating children and teenagers where she uses her skills learned in the counseling program as well as in the educational leadership program. Anne-Fried is originally from Sylt, a northern German island, and has lived in Westport, Conn. since 2002.
Robin Fiftal, PA ‘17
Robin is a recent graduate of UB’s PAI (Physician Assistant Institute) where she served as her Class President. As part of her leadership efforts, she led UB’s medical mission to Guatemala in January 2017, and served as a student liaison of the Student Academy of AAPA (American Association of Physician Assistants), representing UB on the national level as a voting member. Robin has just passed her medical boards and will begin her work as a PA in Bridgeport Hospital’s ER in August.
Jeffrey Fleurantin ’15
Jeff is a 2015 graduate from the School of Engineering with an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering. Currently, Jeff works at Sikorsky as a Material & Process Engineer and part of the ELDP – Engineering Leadership Development Program for Lockheed Martin. He gives back and has remained involved with UB by supporting various efforts with NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) and supporting Professor Jani Pallis with projects such as Sikorsky Family Day, where current students from the School of Engineering offered hand on activities for employees and their families.
Senad Ibrahimbegovic ’11, ’13
Senad is a 2011 graduate from the University of Bridgeport’s Shintaro Akatsu School of Design with a BFA in Graphic Design / Marketing Communications. In 2013, he also received an MPS Degree in Design Management. Senad’s current role is with Save the Children Federation in Fairfield, Conn. where he is a senior graphic designer. Senad’s other professional affiliations include BRB/THRIVE Bridgeport. Senad is also a strong volunteer and an avid runner and OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) athlete. Senad currently lives in downtown Bridgeport, Conn, while most of his family lives in Branford on the shoreline of New Haven County.
Melanie Jackson `06, `17
Melanie has a BS in Fashion Merchandising and an MPS in Design Management from UB. She has been with Lord and Taylor since 1996, and is currently a Visual Manager. She has attended the Women’s Campaign School at Yale (2014) and New Leaders Training Seminar Fellowship in Hawaii/India (2015), as well as the Connecticut Commission on Children Parent Leadership Training Institute.
Gabriella Marinaccio ’10
Gabriella Marinaccio is a 2010 graduate of the University of Bridgeport with a BS in General Studies through the IDEAL Program. After graduating from the University of Bridgeport, Gabriella went on to pursue a master’s degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from Fairfield University, with a passion for teaching English to people of all ages and creating ESL materials. In 2014, Gabriella founded the CT ESL Center with the mission of teaching English vocabulary online to help English learners succeed in social situations. Gabriella grew up in Trumbull, Conn. and currently resides with her husband in Norwalk, Conn.
Kali Mason ’12
Kali Mason is currently the Registrar at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, MS. A recipient of the Eunice and David Bigelow Scholarship, Kali graduated from UB in 2012 with her B.A. in Literature and Civilization with a concentration in History. After graduating, UB she went on to study at Marist College and received her Master’s degree in Museum Studies in December 2013.
Luke Meadows ’02
Luke is a 2002 graduate of the University of Bridgeport with a BA in Communications. He has since started his own business consulting non-profits across the United States with their fundraising events, such as a very unique event involving dropping golf balls out of helicopters to raise money in very obscure ways! Working with Hootie and the Blowfish, the Tim Tebow Foundation, and hundreds of other organizations to raise millions of dollars has opened ideas for many aspects of fundraising. Luke was a member of the Purple Knights Men’s Soccer Team from 1998-2001 with a three-year stint on the Men’s Coaching Staff, post-graduation. Luke was involved in the Connecticut soccer scene until 2008 when he returned to his native suburb of Denver, Colorado, where he currently resides.
Askar Morisseau, M.A. ’13
Askar is a 2011 Magna Cum Laude graduate of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Sociology and a minor in Philosophy and African American Studies. In 2013, she graduated from the University of Bridgeport with a Masters of Arts in Global Development and Peace with a focus on Conflict Resolution. Askar became a Public Allies Connecticut/Americorps member in 2013. She was stationed in Bridgeport, CT where she worked as a Development Coordinator at the Regional Youth Adult Social Action partnership (RYASAP) Student Space. In 2014, she was awarded the mayor’s award for National Service by Mayor Bill Finch for her work in Bridgeport. In 2014, Askar became the Program Coordinator for the All Stars Project of Bridgeport, and in 2015, she received the All Stars Community Outreach Award for her outstanding outreach performance in program recruitment. In 2017, Askar became the Interim Director of the All Stars Project of Bridgeport. Through leading the All Stars, Askar has worked with over 2,500 young people and their families in Bridgeport to provide quality afterschool and developmental opportunities for growth. Askar has been a member of the CT juvenile Justice Alliance, Ladies in Formation and founding leader of WAKE (Women Advocating Knowledge to Empower). Askar has led seminars and workshops for UB Key 2 Empower and She Looks Just Like Me STEM Conference. In the fall of 2017, she was inducted into the National Coalition of 100 Black Women-New Haven Metropolitan Chapter, where shortly after, she was elected Madame Co-Chair of Membership. Currently, Askar is pursuing her dreams as an entrepreneur in launching her new ventures called Ankorz, while working as the Youth Coordinator at Hall Neighborhood House on the East End in Bridgeport.
Suzanne Palys ’91
Suzanne is a 1991 graduate of the University of Bridgeport with a BS in Visual Arts. Over the past 24 years, Suzanne’s professional design work has encompassed branding, packaging, and marketing materials for highly visible corporate clients including ConnectiCare, Norelco, Avent, Sonicare, Office Depot, and Motorola, among others. Suzanne is currently the creative director/founder of Treefrog Communications, where she assists corporate and small business clients in logo, package design, and prototype construction to provide consistent, top-tier service. Suzanne has been involved with the University of Bridgeport Alumni Association since 1990 when she was invited to participate as a student representative. She served as a President of the organization for several years. In addition to volunteering her time in the Oxford community, Suzanne has served as a Girl Scout leader for the past 12 years. Currently, in support of her husband’s membership to the National Guard, Suzanne is proud to join the Connecticut Guard volunteers as the treasurer of Charlie Company’s Family Readiness Group. This group serves to support guardsmen and their families during their deployments to be certain that families are aware of and utilize the support services that the National Guard can provide to families while their loved ones are serving our country. Suzanne is originally from Mt. Kisco, NY. She currently lives in Oxford, Conn. with her husband, Joe, a 1989 UB graduate, and has two daughters in college.
Crystal Parks ’15
Crystal works as an IT/Network Engineer at Cisco Systems. As part of the Network Services team, her role is to provide and maintain Cisco’s technology infrastructure through the optimization of network connectivity solutions within the workforce. Crystal holds a bachelors from University of Bridgeport for Computer Engineering, and a Certified Associate’s degree in Data Science from North Carolina State University.
Ellen Hyde Phillips ’67
Ellen Hyde Phillips, owner of Fairfield Interiors, is a noted interior designer, art consultant, artist, teacher and mentor with over 35 years of experience in interior design. Having earned a degree in Art from the University of Bridgeport, Ellen is an active alumnae, as well as an adjunct with UB’s SASD students, focusing on interior design. Ellen is a Golden Knight as of 2017, and a member of our Distinguished Alumni Roster. Ellen is a member of the Fairfield Connecticut Arts Advisory Committee and serves as a mentor to local design students. She is an Adjunct Professor of Interior Design at her alma mater and a Guest Lecturer on the Business of Interior Design at Fairfield University. Ellen is an Associate Member of the American Society of Interior Design (ASID) and the Interior Design Society (IDS), as well as a Member of the National Association of Senior Move Mangers (NASMM). She is also a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS), helping people safely stay in their homes with comfort and grace.
Chelsea J. Robinson ’15
Chelsea J. Robinson is a 2015 graduate of the University of Bridgeport with a BS in Psychology. Chelsea has three years of youth development and non-profit experience. She is the Program Coordinator for ACCESS Educational Services, was a Program Assistant at All-Stars Project of Bridgeport, and has volunteered for both organizations. Chelsea is originally from Brooklyn, and she has made her home in the City of Bridgeport since 2011.
Michelle Romero `17
Michelle is a 2017 graduate of the University of Bridgeport with a BS in Human Services. In her 15-year career with the US Army, she has done numerous tours all over the U.S. and Europe, and served a war tour in Afghanistan 2012-2013. Michelle is currently ranked as a Staff Sargent, and works for the U.S. Army National Guard in Stratford.
Lawrence Santora ’68, ’69, ‘81
Larry is a 1969 graduate of the University of Bridgeport with a BS in Graphic Design / Marketing Communications. After completing his undergraduate degree, he taught Graphics and Industrial Arts in public school for several years and attended UB in the evenings for his MS in Education. He followed his teaching assignment with a career in Marketing Communications at Pitney Bowes in Stamford, Conn. Larry’s Career spanned forty years managing the areas of Corporate Communications, Identity Control, Branding, Advertising and Marketing Collateral. Now retired, Larry has volunteered in his community and state and is a retired auxiliary Connecticut State Trooper.
Le (Sherry) Sheng ’13
Sherry is a 2014 graduate of the University of Bridgeport with a MBA in Finance at the Trefz School of Business. She also has a BS in Accounting from Nanjing Institute of Technology in Nanjing, China. Sherry has three and half years of work experience in the financial industry and currently works at an independent financial services firm located in Westport, Conn. As a Graduate Assistant at the Trefz School of Business at UB, Sherry focused on data analysis in Financial Management textbooks and re-writing the financial concepts. Sherry is originally from Jiangsu, China and speaks Mandarin, Cantonese, and English. She enjoys traveling and currently resides in Norwalk, Conn.
LUTCF, FSS ’91, `15
Matthew is a 1991 cum laude graduate of the University of Bridgeport with a BS in International Business and a Minor in Modern Languages (Spanish, French & Japanese). He also completed an MBA at the Trefz School of Business in 2015. He is the recipient of the prestigious University of Bridgeport MBA Merit Scholarship 2014-15, which is awarded based on outstanding academic achievement. He is also a member of Delta Mu Delta and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies.
Matthew has over 24 years of financial services experience, with the last seven years providing investment, trust, private banking, lending, and insurance advice to high net worth and ultra high net worth clients in the Los Angeles area. He has completed the Certificate in Personal Financial Planning, earned with distinction, at The University of California Los Angeles in 2008. In 2013 he returned to school attending The American College of Financial Services, where he completed the Financial Services Specialist (FSS) and the Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) designations.
Matthew is a member of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) and has served on the boards of several prominent LGBT non-profits: ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Financial Services Industry Exchange (FSIX), Out & Equal Workplace Advocates (Los Angeles), Los Angeles Gay, Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and Log Cabin Republicans (New York). Matthew is originally from Franklin Lakes, New Jersey and has made his home in the Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles since 2002.
James Swain, JD, LLM, `75
James graduated from UB in 1975 with a degree in Political Science. While on campus, he was very active in Student Government and the Organization of Black Students (now BSA), which meets every two years for a reunion all over the U.S. He received his Juris Doctorate from Temple University in 1978, and a Master of Laws degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1986. He served over 23 years as an Assistant United States Attorney, and has practiced labor relations and labor standards litigation among many other areas within the field of law.
Regina Vermont `05, `08
Regina has both a BS in Social Science and MS in Counseling from UB. She is currently a Parent Activities/Home School Coordinator for the Bridgeport Board of Education. She is the President of Alpha Kappa Alpha’s Theta Tau Omega Chapter, advisor to NSBE, Jr., and on the board for the CT Witness Project, Girls Lead, Inc., Milford Chapter of The LINKS Incorporated, Jack and Jill of America, and State of Connecticut Commissioner of Equity and Opportunity.
Ian Welsch ’03
For over 15 years, Ian Welsch has been actively involved in education and nonprofit leadership, and since 2008, he’s been busy running The Motivational Edge, a Miami-based non-profit, which utilizes culturally relevant arts as a motivational platform to inspire youth toward academic achievement, increased self-confidence and the building of essential life skills. ME specializes in therapeutic art services, mentoring, job readiness and life-skill development to ensure each youth is ready to make a positive impact in their community. As Founder and CEO, Welsch has assembled a vibrant team of experienced and caring Teaching Artists and Child Care Professionals. “I am proud to say that The Motivational Edge has served over 10,000 students throughout Florida, and we now have our eyes on national expansion in the years ahead!” adds Welsch, who formerly taught for Miami-Dade County public schools and earned his master’s degree in education at UB. For more information about Welsch’s work, visit www.TheMotivationalEdge.org. Ian is also a Distinguished Alumni.
Lacora Wood ’16
Lacora was a Resident Assistant as well as a Guest Relations Associate from January 2013 to May 2017 on campus. In these roles she has helped numerous residents call the University of Bridgeport home. She was also a Teacher’s Assistant and tutored for the Biology department. Her tutoring sessions benefited so many members of the purple knight community as they voyaged on for excellence. She graduated Cum Laude and recently started her year of service with Americorps as a teacher in the wonderful community of Bridgeport.