Hillyer’s Noel Casiano is Showcased on a Hartford Mural That Honors Community Leaders

Hartford Mural
Hartford Mural

A colorful new two-story mural in the Frog Hollow section of Hartford, on the corner of Park and Lawrence Streets, is part of an ongoing effort to celebrate the culture and history of the neighborhood. UHart’s Noel Casiano, assistant professor of psychology & human services at Hillyer College, is one of the community leaders whose realistic image is featured on the mural. 

The project is managed by SINA (Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance) through a partnership formed by Connecticut Children's Medical Center, Hartford Hospital, and Trinity College, with the mural featuring Casiano sponsored by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. In addition to Casiano, it features the likenesses of Iran Nazario, CEO of Peacebuilders, Jacqueline Santiago-Nazario, CEO of Compass Youth Collaborative, and other touches of imagery relevant to the theme. Artist Micaela Levesque, who created the colorful mural, is known for her work recognizing such trailblazers as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Kamala Harris, and Michelle Obama. 

“I was extremely humbled that my local community and the city of Hartford nominated me, and very honored that I was a finalist,” says Casiano, who teaches courses in psychology, urban trauma, human addictions, and human services. “I now plan to include further discussions of how human service professionals can make a positive impact on local urban communities by advocating for the emotional and behavioral health of all citizens,” he adds, reflecting on new academic ideas the mural has sparked. 

Casiano teaches his students the importance of understanding how community violence, addictions, family dysfunction, and racial injustice can lead to adverse consequences for children and families in urban communities. “Such communities have diverse cultures, art, music, and leaders who can make positive impacts,” Casiano says.  

Last year, the professor appeared on Connecticut’s FOX61 news to discuss the enormous number of child abuse and neglect cases in the nation, with more than 10,000 children in the state alone requiring the involvement of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF). 

“Our relationship with Noel goes back to 2009 when he was given a neighborhood service award,” shares Logan Singerman of SINA. “He was recognized for his exemplary efforts with DCF, working with adolescents. During that award program, Noel’s supervisor called him one of the best social workers she had ever encountered.” Among the stories the supervisor mentioned was how Casiano went above and beyond to help a young man from El Salvador, and how he turned life around for his half-brother Bobby, for whom he took on the role of foster father. 

There are indeed many stories that can be told of Casiano’s background that add up to a clear picture of why he and his contributions are so highly valued. He even wrote and published a book called Just a Kid from Park Street: Reflections of a life of Trauma, Loss and Resilience, which describes the personal challenges that follow severe personal distress. 

I was extremely humbled that my local community and the city of Hartford nominated me, and very honored that I was a finalist.

Noel Casiano, Assistant Professor of Psychology & Human Services

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