The Charger Blog

Enrollment Communications Leader Continues Journey of Lifelong Learning

Meet Colby Thammavongsa ’15, ’21 EMBA, associate director of admissions and enrollment communications, a proud University of New Haven alum who rediscovered his love of music while in quarantine.

November 20, 2020

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of the virtual CTE discussion.
Colby Thammavongsa celebrates his mother and father’s birthday this past year.

The lifeblood of the University of New Haven are the faculty and staff members who dedicate their lives to helping our students reach their goals. Periodically, we’ll introduce you to a member of the staff so you can learn more about him or her – beyond their day to day work.

Image of Colby Thammavongsa.
Colby Thammavongsa is a member of the University of New Haven’s Executive MBA 2021 cohort..

Next up is Colby Thammavongsa ’15, ’21 EMBA, associate director of admissions and enrollment communications, who loves Halloween and who met the “light of his life” earlier this year.

Renee Chmiel: What do you like to read?

Colby Thammavongsa: My favorite book of all time is The Importance of Being Earnest (technically it’s a play). I’m a fan of Oscar Wilde’s work overall, specifically because of the social commentary and satire. The absurdity of human behavior is so fascinating to me, and I enjoy the comedic delivery. Recently, I’ve been glued to the poets showcased by Button Poetry. The piece I always go back to is “We Slept Here” by Sierra DeMulder. The vulnerability, honesty, and raw human emotion in her work is so movingly beautiful.

I’m reminded regularly that professional success is grounded in confidence, composure, and self-control, which is warranted. Yet, I’m captivated by the arts because conveying the complications of feelings and identity in such a pure form is refreshing.

RC: What do you enjoy the most about working at the University of New Haven?

Image of Colby Thammavongsa and Dr. Henry C. Lee.
Colby Thammavongsa arm wrestles with renowned forensic scientist Dr. Henry C. Lee before an Open House at the University of New Haven.

CT: I enjoy witnessing the growth of the University. As a former student and current staff member, I’m amazed at how the University continues to change in order to meet the demands of new employment trends, student expectations, and our evolving world. Whether physically expanding the campus, creating new academic programs, or navigating our new normal, the University of New Haven does a great job of being an innovative institution.

RC: How do you celebrate Thanksgiving?

CT: My father is one of ten children, and most of my relatives are within New Haven county. All of us usually gather for a traditional Thanksgiving feast in Naugatuck, Conn., at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. As you can imagine, with the volume of humans in our family, it may not be wise to do that this year. It’s always a delight to catch up with my extended family and have everyone in one room for the holiday, so I’m bummed about that.

RC: What are you most thankful for this year?

Image of Colby Thammavongsa and his dog dressed for halloween.
Colby Thammavongsa and his dog, Winifred, came out of their shells this Halloween.

CT: The greatest joy of 2020 has been my dog, Winifred. She is a Sheepadoodle, and we rescued her in late-January as she was going to be euthanized after not selling as a Christmas puppy. I’m baffled by that because she is the sweetest, smartest, and most-loving sentient creature. I never had a pet growing up, so I’m new to this dog-dad-life. Winifred celebrated her first birthday in October, and we are as happy as can be! She is the light of my life.

RC: What have you been doing during the pandemic?

CT: In addition to working from home in our new normal, I’m also learning from home as a student in the University’s Executive MBA program. My classes have been engaging, as the content is very current, and my classmates contribute to an enriching experience. I’m so happy to continue on my journey of lifelong learning.

Aside from trying new things, I’ve used this time to revisit old passions. I was an active musician for several years, and I played guitar in a local band with my best friends. We played shows regularly and had a few annual tours throughout New England. I miss it every day, and picking up the guitar during quarantine has been rejuvenating. I traded my skinny jeans for skinny ties!

RC: What causes are you most passionate about?

Image of Colby playing his guitar and singing
Colby Thammavongsa and his band with his best friends play a show in 2014.

CT: In terms of philanthropies, I developed a passion for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in college that continues to grow. St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats, and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Families also never receive a bill from St. Jude. I, fortunately, haven’t been directly impacted by such diseases, but I am amazed by how the collegiate movement to support St. Jude unites students and administrators in campus-wide efforts across the entire world. I served as the adviser for the UNewHaven chapter for several years and recently took a step back to further my education and professional career. Still, it is my hope to return more actively and serve St. Jude in a greater capacity in the coming years.

RC: What do you enjoy the most about the fall?

CT: My favorite part about fall is Halloween. I’ve always been a fan of horror movies and spooky stories, so it’s such an exciting time of the year for me. Growing up in Connecticut, I definitely took it for granted because having all four seasons is normal here. Now, I make sure to dive headfirst into the pumpkin coffee, hoodie weather, and the changing of leaves – it’s my favorite season!