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Published on December 05, 2019

Five Alumni Return to Campus to Inspire Students

Ashon Avent ’08, CEO & Founder, Main Avent Sports & Apparel and general manager at Renegade Fitness

Kelli Byrd ’12, partnership manager for the CT State Employees Campaign

Clifford Marrett, director of the Center for Internships and Career Development

Todd Aviles ’14

Elijah A. Oliver ’07

Five Eastern Connecticut State University alumni returned to campus on Nov. 21 to participate in a Promoting Academically Successful Students (PASS) Networking Dinner hosted by Eastern’s Office of Internships and Career Development.

On Nov. 22, Eastern’s student club M.A.L.E.S. (Men Achieving Leadership in Excellence and Service) presented Eddie Brown III ’19 with its 2019 “Alumni of the Year” award. “I just want to show young people that they matter, that they have something inside of them that is worthy of being expressed, and that they have so much to contribute to their communities and to our country,” said Brown in thanking the club for his award. He is the director of youth services at Hartford Communities That Care.

The alumni visitors included Todd Aviles ’14; Elijah A. Oliver ’07; Ashon Avent ’08; Eddie Brown ’19; and Kelli Byrd ’12. Each spoke of challenges they face and how they learned to manage their college experience with the help of resources such as Eastern’s Center for Internships and Career Development.

Oliver is the associate director of admissions at Manchester Community College and spoke glowingly about the PASS Dinner: “The evening was another reminder and more confirmation of where I’m supposed to be!” Author of the book “From Takeoff 2 Touchdown,” Oliver also founded Take FLYGHT Enterprises (TFE), an organization with programs designed to help young people become the best people they can be. Money & Math Work$, a TFE component, is designed to educate and prepare students in grades K-12 to be fiscally responsible and independent and covers financial topics such as savings, debt, education, credit, budgeting, spending habits and more.

Eastern students at the dinner appreciated the life messages offered by the returning alumni. “This exciting event lifted everyone’s spirits, hopes and dreams,” said Telisha Ramsay, who is majoring in criminology. “These alumni are doing great jobs in their respective fields. It is clear that Eastern created an environment for them to realize their full potential, and this networking opportunity inspired me to want to tap into all the resources Eastern provides to be the best in my own professional life.”

Written by Dwight Bachman