Arm Coalition Team

ARM Coalition

The coalition was commissioned by Vice President and Dean for Student Life Suzy Nelson and Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart in fall of 2017 in response to work being done by CASE (Class Awareness Support and Equality) and aims to connect our students with the highest financial need to resources.

Leslie Bridson
Director of Financial Aid, Student Financial Services

I am passionate about removing economic barriers to an MIT education.  Being a member of the ARM Coalition gives me yet another opportunity to provide students with guidance, full access to resources, and support. What makes me tick? Nature, good laughs, kindness, dessert, helping others and spending time with my family and friends.

Aurora Brule
Advisor, International Students Office

I immediately became interested in participating in the ARM coalition because I believe its goals and mission will help students who live with or experience financial hardship and raise awareness of this topic. Being part of such a diverse group of colleagues and students who, in their current positions already work to address issue of economic inequality, was also an excellent opportunity to learn about other efforts around campus and to work to improve access to resources and options. As an advisor to international students I hope that our final resource inventory and recommendations will be a useful practical guide to all our students and colleagues.

Naomi Carton
Associate Dean, Graduate Student Support, Residential Education

I enjoy being part of a team of committed individuals who care about “the whole student.” We are part of a community of faculty, staff, administrators and students who are dedicated to supporting students in and outside the classroom by locating resources to make them successful.

My passion is to educate students about nutrition and eating on a budget. I am a mom of two picky eating tweens which allows me to have fun with recipes and drag them on shopping trips to find the fun ingredients.

I bring a lot of creativity and energy to all aspects of my life. While at MIT, I created a program near and dear to my heart “raising healthy kids on campus.” This program has allowed me to bring nutritious meal planning to our graduate community.

Valeria Martin Del Campo
Student, Executive Board Member of CASE

Born in LA to a Mexican working class family, I know firsthand that access to resources is imperative for success. It was others' kindness and generosity in giving me access to resources I otherwise wouldn't have that has led me to where I am today. As part of the ARM Coalition, I have the privilege to help other students of all income levels feel like they belong at MIT and have equal access to resources and opportunities. All MIT students are admitted due to their brightness and potential, and I want to make sure every student has access to the tools to reach that potential.

René Andrés García Franceschini
Student, President of CASE

I am a senior majoring in Civil and Environmental Engineering and minoring in Statistics and Data Science. In my position as president of Class Awareness Support and Equality (CASE), I have led numerous efforts in promoting awareness of socioeconomic issues at MIT, combating food insecurity, increasing financial literacy, providing access to winter clothing, and tackling other issues related to financial insecurity. I have always wanted a direct channel to MIT staff and faculty for students to receive support for issues related to financial insecurity. Being a part of such group gives me the exciting opportunity to provide the student perspective on roadblocks that exist to accessing these resources, as well as to provide solutions to these problems.

Shannon Hunt
Executive Assistant to the Director, MIT Libraries

As a person who grew up poor, I recognize that access to education can be life-changing. However, low socio-economic status creates huge barriers every step of the way, many of which are invisible to people who haven’t dealt with them directly. I am glad to be part of this coalition, which is committed to acknowledging those barriers, and, where they can’t be eliminated, to helping students over them. I’m also happy to be part of a group that is providing tools on how to have discussions around issues of class, as these conversations are key in eliminating the stigma which often comes with low socio-economic status. When I’m not supporting MIT’s Director of Libraries, I am probably singing, boiling something (the Boston-Irish way), making terrible Dad-style jokes, or dealing with the complex emotions of my cat, Sophie, who one day hopes to be Instagram famous.

Jessica Landry
Program and Policy Administrator, Office of Graduate Education

The ARM Coalition is an example of the institutional values that have made me proud to work at MIT for nearly 18 years. The MIT student community is made up of unique individuals, each of whom arrive to campus with their own story - their own set of experiences that may not be apparent to others. I am honored to work among a group of dedicated colleagues across many offices who listen to these stories, and offer holistic support to students as they pursue their goals. In my role, I connect graduate students with resources that can help them with personal and academic challenges, including the particular needs of students with families. I regularly draw upon my past experiences as a working college student and global backpacker, and my current life as a parent and civically engaged resident of Boston.

Dijana Milenov
Graduate Student, Architecture

Studying at MIT brings me great hope that there are numerous people and strong communities which believe and fight for social justice. I am particularly honored to be part of the ARM coalition and to bring in a graduate as well as an international community perspective. Since I personally benefited from MIT resources, I hope more students will have access to equal opportunities.

Cathy Modica
Academic Administrator, Physics

Throughout a career in higher education of more than 25 years, the most compelling part of my work has always been student well-being.  I consider being able to support the careers of young scientists academically and personally to be a vocation, not just a job, and I feel privileged to work with the talented students and dedicated faculty and staff at MIT.  I take pride in having been a founder of a training program for student support professionals at MIT called When Support Gets Personal, which for several years provided education about the resources MIT has available for students undergoing personal or psychological difficulties.  Now as a member of the ARM coalition, I can continue to work on the mission of ensuring that every student at MIT has access to all the resources – material, emotional, academic -- each one needs to achieve his/her/their highest potential.  The MIT family is my family of choice.

I like to think that my personal life is as rich as my professional life.  Some of my passions are literature, art, craft, architecture, and Americana and roots music.  I am a sturdy New Englander by birth but discovered the pleasures of road trips fairly late in life, so put me in a car heading west and I’m a happy camper.  The greatest joys in my life come from my two sons, the world’s best daughter-in-law, and a new granddaughter.

Miri Skolnik
Assistant Dean, Student Support Services

Being part of the ARM Coalition allows me to do many of the things I care about that involve my commitment to social justice. In my twenty years of supporting students, I have tried to keep in mind an uncomfortable truth, that socioeconomic inequality exists, and affects people’s experiences in profound ways. I am grateful for working at an Institution like MIT, which is elite without being elitist, an institution which values hard work and talent rather than pedigree. I believe that higher education can be a place which helps level the playing field of opportunity, but to do this, we need to make sure that we are providing a hospitable place for students of all income levels. This means making sure that students have full access to resources. This means that we create a sense of belonging. The ARM Coalition is committed to both of these, and I am honored to be a part of it.

On a personal note, I bring the following experiences and values. I am a New Jersey native, a current Newton resident, and a fan of good coffee, a hearty brunch, ironic humor, and talking about feelings. I encourage you to reach out to me or to the Coalition, at any time. We are here to help!

Full Coalition Membership List

Leslie Bridson Director of Financial Aid, Student Financial Services
Aurora Brule International Student Advisor, Office of Graduate Education
Naomi Carton Associate Dean, Graduate Student Support, Residential Education
Valeria Martin Del Campo Student, Executive Board Member of CASE
René Andrés García Franceschini Student, President of CASE
Alex Hoyt Staff Associate I, New Student Programming & Advising, Office of the First Year
Shannon Hunt Executive Assistant to the Director, MIT Libraries
Somiya Kalloo Assistant Dean for Academic Programs, Office of Minority Education
Jessica Landry Program and Policy Administrator, Office of Graduate Education
Melissa Martin-Greene Assistant Director, Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)
Dijana Milenov Graduate Student, Architecture
Cathy Modica Academic Administrator, Physics Department
Jeremy Orloff Lecturer in Mathematics, Experimental Study Group
Jeba Sania Student, Questbridge Scholar Program
Miri Skolnik Assistant Dean, Student Support Services
Elizabeth Young Associate Dean & Director First Year Advising/Programs, Office of the First Year