Alumni Stars

Alumni Stars

Follow your passion. Follow your dream. These students did and in doing so gave themselves the greatest gift.
Rochelle Giménez
Former Dean,
School of Continuing Education

A-E | F-J | K-O | P-T | U-Z


Angelos, Maria ’98

After I left Eastern, I got a job at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where I received a MS in Management. I have continued working in higher education and began teaching college English and Spanish. I have also been certified to teach English as a Second Language.

The staff at the School of Continuing Education was inspirational and encouraging. Everyone was wonderful!

Ashton, Robert (Bobby) Leo Jr. ’03

Prior to 2002 I had been a fairly successful business man in the computer cabling industry serving as a manager and company owner for over 12 years. The industry had taken a significant downturn after 2001 due to the recession and I took a voluntary layoff in 2002. I found myself bored with the jobs I had been doing; they were not intellectually challenging for me. I also wanted a job that did not require me to travel all the time. At the time I had completed about 70 hours of college that I could apply towards a degree.

I contacted Eastern’s School of Continuing Education in March of 2002 and gradually started developing a portfolio that I could use to attain some college credits for life experiences. I also started to plan on attending college with the goal of completing a college degree in Computer Science. I hoped to start college in December. In August, I was asked to take the layoff. I quickened the pace and submitted a completed portfolio in the fall and completed the process by the end of the year. I received over 50 college hours from the portfolio.

In January, I started college at Eastern with the goal of completing thirty hours of college by December of that year, 2003. I must say that it was a fun time. I was not very good at applying myself to college and study when I was in my twenties but now was different. I suspect that the disciplines I was forced to learn in the business world taught me the study and work disciplines I needed for college. I completed my thirty hours while maintaining about a 3.8 grade point average. This may not seem like a lot since I was not working, but that was not all I was doing. In April of that year, I realized to get the kind of job I wanted I would need more than the degree. In 2002, the IT industry was in bad shape for those looking for jobs. A lot of the competition out there had bachelor degrees and more experience than I had. To combat this I signed up for a yearlong program at New Horizons Computer learning centers, where I took classes in Microsoft operating systems, Cisco Networking, and IT Project Management. Each class was eight hours a day for four or five days. I took twenty-five courses.

By September of 2003, I was in my last semester of school and completed about nine classes at New Horizons. I had attained my Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator certification and Cisco Certified Network Associate. I used this information to find a job. In October, I was offered two positions. One position was a Systems Support Specialist for the Town of Glastonbury, and the other was a Programmer for the City of Hartford. Both jobs paid OK, and I would get valuable experience. I accepted the position with Glastonbury. The story does not end there however.

I finished my degree in December and the following July I completed my Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer certification. In October the position of Information Technology Manager became open with the town. This job would mean a large pay raise. The requirements for the position included a bachelor’s degree and the MCSE certification. I was indeed fortunate to have completed these requirements before this position became available. I was one of about 150 applicants for the position and the town was not known for promoting from within. After four months and many interviews, I was promoted in February of 2004.

I consider myself very fortunate that everything fell into place the way that it did. A great deal of thanks goes to Nancy Tarkmeel for working with and advising me on what to do and how to get it done in the time frame that I had to work with. Riette Pranger also helped a great deal with her classes that help to organize and create the portfolio.

Berry, James ’01

James Berry ’01 is the Manchester, CT Chief of Police. He graduated from the School of Continuing Education with a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology and criminal justice.

Prior to his current position, Chief Berry was chief of police in Trumbull, a post he assumed following a 25-year career with the Hartford Police Department. During that time, he served 10 years as the ERT team leader and as commander of the Bomb Squad. Berry also worked as a Trained Police Assessor Certified Post Police Instructor. He is affiliated with several organizations, including the Hartford Guardians, the National Black Police Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the International Counter-Terrorism Officers Association.

Chief Berry highly values the education he received during his time at Eastern. He specifically recalls Professor Dennis Canterbury’s class on globalization.”The level of instruction and his knowledge of his subject were inspiring and motivating.”

Bingham, Anne Carr ’99

I was proud and happy to receive my master’s degree from Wesleyan University in 2005. Inspired by a most enjoyable, worthwhile, and successful experience at Eastern, I decided to continue on an academic path and so enrolled in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program at Wesleyan. My graduate concentration was early European history and culture. It was demanding – but invigorating, mind-stretching, and exciting work.

Since that time, I have continued to study on my own, and to write, both for publication and to leave a memoir-record of my life for my children and grandchildren. In addition, I have been volunteering with Hospice Southeastern Connecticut. This has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever undertaken.

At the present time, I am helping to market a book written by my husband, Robert Kim Bingham. It is about his father’s (Hiram Bingham IV, who was posthumously awarded with a U.S. postage stamp in May of 2006) courage and self-risking efforts, in contravention of U.S. State Department directives, to save refugees fleeing Germany through southern France at the beginning of World War II (before America entered the fray), while he was a consular officer in Marseilles. The book is entitled Courageous Dissent: How Harry Bingham Defied His Government to Save Lives, published by Triune Books, Greenwich, CT. Having been in the writing business for years, I now find myself in the marketing business, which is terra incognito for me; but his story is so compelling that if my efforts result in Harry’s amazing saga getting into the public domain, I will count it as my most satisfying “success story.”

I would have to name Dr. Stacey Close, Professor of History and African-American Studies, from whom I took two courses, as my mentor while at Eastern. In a senior seminar on African-American history, Professor Close encouraged me to “get my teeth into” the subject of Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, famous African-American heart surgeon, for my seminar thesis. My research took me physically up and down the East Coast and by mail, phone, and email, out to the Midwest. Probably I have never put more elbow grease or brain matter into any project; and, with Dr. Close’s continuing encouragement, I believe I turned in the best academic document I’ve ever written, Daniel Hale Williams: African-American Hippocrates.

Boucher, Jacqueline ’05

I completed my degree while working full-time and paying my way through school. CLEP, Dantes, Winter session, Summer classes – I did it all! The professors in the Psychology department fostered such confidence in my abilities that I was able to maintain a great G.P.A. and become a member of PSI CHI. The skills I obtained at Eastern were relevant and valuable. I use them every day in my career supporting individuals with special needs.

I am so grateful to the staff at Eastern! The School of Continuing Education helped me reach my goal–being the first person in my immediate family to graduate from college. Kate Waitte is an angel! She takes a personal interest in each student she mentors. Kate’s dedication accelerated my graduation date! I still keep in touch with Kate!

Butler, Holly ’07

Ms. Butler of Groton was one of the first graduates of Eastern’s BGS program designed for those interested in the field of human services administration. As a single mom, Holly worked full-time to achieve her dream of completing a bachelor’s degree. It took Holly many years to complete her associate’s degree, because she worked afternoons and evenings. When she saw an article about Eastern’s Saturday BGS program, she signed up. Holly went on the “Fast Track” to finish her bachelor’s degree. She also participated in Eastern’s Credit for Lifelong Learning (CLL) program. Holly was selected for the Southeastern CT Women’s Network scholarship. Ms. Butler was profiled in the February 2007 issue of the New London Day’s Grace magazine. Now with a new job as a Mental Health Worker for Natchaug Hospital’s Care Plus Program in Groton, Holly works with at-risk adolescents and graduated in May 2007.

A Personal Note of Appreciation
My adviser, Gail Turner, went above and beyond all of what I needed to help me in my personal goal of obtaining my Bachelor’s degree. She was always there to help me, walk me through various processes of the journey, and make me feel as though I was the only student she had to advise.

In addition, the whole Eastern team: Financial Aid, Carol Williams, Dr. Broffman, Gloria Roby, all the professors, and more than I can mention here made the whole campus experience of the Fast Track program an experience I’ll never forget. Everyone including my classmates was a great support system. It provided an environment of “can do”. We were all in it together. No one was left behind. It was a great educational experience. Thank you so much.

Canova, Melissa ’06

I am presently and was, while I was in school, the Director of Mayflower Montessori School. I don’t think I would label my success story to my job, but definitely to who I am as a person. My educational experience (Sociology department to be more specific) has influenced my life in so many ways. I feel that I am a better person–less judgmental of others and more compassionate for those who could use it. I have been so inspired that I am presently working towards my Master’s Degree (and would also like to earn my Ph.D.) so that I can teach at the college level. I only hope to be able to influence someone as much as the teaching staff of the sociology department at Eastern has influenced me.

I had two mentors: 1) Kate Waitte and 2) Dr. Kim Dugan. Kate helped me to feel like a student–even though I am a non-traditional. She helped to create and assist me with my program of study and to make all my classes come to together so that I could graduate “on time.” Kim Dugan was such an academic influence! I entered the first class I ever took with her (Research Methods) with a kind of attitude–what did I need her class for? Let me tell you, it was an academic wake up call. She made me work and I discovered a new side to myself I never knew existed. I continued taking classes with her–mainly because I liked the challenges she offered. She is very humble. She claims she just does what she enjoys, however, she changed my life! I am presently continuing my education to obtain a Master’s degree in Public Administration. In this program, I feel I am extremely well prepared thanks in part to the sociology department at Eastern.

I was also a full-time student at Eastern. I am married and have a 3 year-old daughter. All this and I graduated Cum Laude.

Cipriano, Grace Ann ’03

Going to college was a life-long dream that was put aside due to my father’s death when I was 13 and an early marriage (at 18) which ended in divorce. I had two children to care for and needed a full-time job quickly, so I was lucky to land one with the State of Connecticut. When both my children went to college, I decided it was time for me to start! I got a head start by receiving some credits for my life experience and then finished my degree while working full-time as an Administrative Assistant. I graduated in Spring 2003. Although my degree hasn’t changed my career (at least not yet), it has given me much more confidence both personally and professionally. Since I am close to retirement (but a young retiree!), I am planning on putting my degree to good use with a post-career career. I would definitely encourage others like me to work away at a degree even if it means one course at a time.

When a friend of mine who had been going to college a piece at a time told me she was graduating, I realized that the time had passed by. While I was still dreaming about going to college, she had reached her goal and graduated. I think starting is the hardest thing to do for an adult student.

Kate Waitte was my adviser, and she helped me to determine which major to continue with and what courses to take. I was also able to handle two courses a semester with her encouragement. Altogether it took me six years, but it was worth it. I hope to continue with further schooling once I retire, hopefully on a full-time basis for a Master’s degree.

Grace Cipriano has retired from her position of a CSU Administrative Assistant in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs at Eastern.


Frazier, Brian ’03

Since graduating with a major in music/fine arts, I taught two years at East Catholic High School and am now in my third year as a Hartford Public Schools Music Teacher. I currently teach at R.J. Kinsella Magnet School of the Arts, grades Prek-8. I went to University of Hartford/HARTT School and in 2005 completed a dual Masters’ Degree in Music Education Pedagogy and Choral Conducting. I spent 5 years as Director of Music at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Middletown and am presently Director of Music/Organist at The Church of St. Anthony of Padua in Bristol. I am currently doing post-graduate work at UCONN, studying for my sixth-year degree in Educational Leadership as part of the UCAPP program and am working on my internship for this program at Windsor High School. My wife and I live in New Britain.

Gay, David (Major General)

Major General David Gay was Adjutant General for the State in the mid-90’s. He graduated with a degree in Public Policy and Government from Eastern in the early 1990’s. At that time, Eastern’s School of Continuing Education had an off-campus site at the Hartford Armory making it convenient for Guard members to complete a baccalaureate. He served as the Chairman of the State Readiness Committee for Y2K and was responsible for developing the State Information Plan.

Halidis, Andreas ’04

After graduating from Eastern, I enrolled in a MBA program at AIU. At the time, I traveled as a salesman for Liquid Charge (energy drinks) in Florida while finishing up my degree in Healthcare Management and Finance/Accounting. When I graduated in late 2005, I got a position at the Mayo Clinic as a site Coordinator for the medical records department.

I would like to thank the entire Biology and Art departments. Dr. Cid, Dr. Gable, Dr. Koning, Prof. Lula Blocton, Prof. Chimyen, Andy Jones, Dr. Kutty,… the list goes on. Their dedication and understanding contributed to my success!

Haynes, Erika ’00

I worked my way through college, having two children and a career along the way. I now teach not-for-profit management at the Hartt School at the University of Hartford. My husband and I were able to purchase a business in 2005, and it has since grown by 20%. My education at Eastern was personalized and well-rounded. I have an opportunity to apply all of my business skills everyday. Thank you!

Heest, Karen Van ’05

As a mother of two, going back to school had to be part-time and effective. I needed someone to help me attain my goal.

Kate Waitte was wonderful! She assessed my previous credits, set me on course, and cheered me along the way. I am now in Eastern’s Certificate/Master’s program in Early Childhood Education.


Kimbro, Kris ’06

I began my college career as a traditional student back in 1989. I had earned an Associate’s Degree but discontinued my schooling to pursue work. As the cliché goes, “time flies.” I realized I was not getting any younger so I made it my mission to earn my Bachelor’s Degree. The School of Continuing Education at Eastern Connecticut State University was very accommodating to me. I was in the “Fast Track” program and was able to complete my degree very quickly. While completing this degree was far from easy, the program assisted me to finally achieve this goal. This has enhanced my current career. I plan on pursuing an MBA this fall.

I would like to commend two individuals at the School of Continuing Education. Gail Turner was extremely helpful in getting me started in the “Fast Track” program. She always had time for my questions. Also, on the faculty side, Professor Martin Fenelon was simply outstanding. I had the pleasure of having two courses with him. His combined work/teaching experience definitely attributed to my learning and classroom experience.

Kris Kimbro is an Accounting Administrator for a privately held telecommunications company. Kris earned a Bachelor of General Studies in Management from Eastern.

King, Michelle ’07

Currently I work at Natchaug Hospital Clinical Day Treatment School as an education assistant. I am 26, and have 3 biological children and a stepson. Since graduating from high school in 1998, I have continued my education at UCONN, until I became pregnant with my first child. I then transferred to QVCC, where I received my associate’s degree in general studies. After attending Eastern in the School of Continuing Education, and having two more children while at Eastern, I worked full time and balanced school.

As a part-time student, Kate Waitte was an excellent mentor/advisor. She helped me achieve my goal of graduating. It was so wonderful for my stepson and my oldest to be able to see me accomplish this graduation. It is very important to me and my family that our children learn the value of education. With the help of many understanding professors, I was able to take on the challenge of being successful at Eastern, despite the fact that I work full-time and have two children under 3! Thanks, School of Continuing Education, my professors, and my family, for pushing me to finish what I started 9 years ago!!!!!

Labonne, Nancy ’02

In early 1992, as I was working with the Dislocated Worker population of Southeastern Connecticut, it occurred to me that my Associate’s Degree alone wouldn’t be worth much if I planned to advance my career. I decided that I would follow the advice that I was giving to clients and began looking into finishing my Bachelor’s Degree.

I looked at several universities that advertised business programs, but Eastern was definitely the best fit for anyone with a full-time job and a young family. It was closer to home, had a more attractive tuition rate, as well as a great list of evening courses that would fit my already full schedule. I met with Sue Harkness from the School of Continuing Education and discussed the process for admission to Eastern. I decided to take my course of study one class each semester so as not to take too much time away from my family. Sue was always available to discuss which course would fit the requirement that I was trying to meet as well as offer encouragement down a long and difficult road toward graduation.

Going back to school proved to be a great thing as our daughters were growing up. When they would complain about having to do homework, I would remind them that I was getting up at 3:30 am every morning to do my homework before I went to work, so they really had nothing to complain about! However, all those mornings of reading and studying along the way gave me an opportunity to set a good example of how hard work and dedication could pay off for the girls. I even let them open my grades when they came in the mail, so they knew before I did what grade I had earned that semester.

Ten years and 19 classes later, I walked at graduation at Eastern on a bright and sunny Sunday afternoon. At the age of 41, I was the first four-year college graduate in my family. My husband, two daughters, and my mother watched as I walked across the stage to receive my degree with honors from Dr. Carter. I was so proud of my accomplishment, that I went and had my picture taken in my cap and gown.

Lacombe, Beatrice ’06

I had earned my Associate Degree in 1971 with a major in Computer Science. After working in my career as a computer technician for 5 years, I put my career aside to raise my family. Once my youngest daughter was in high school, I went back to work outside the home to help out with upcoming college expenses, but found that my computer education was no longer current. I worked in clerical positions, which I enjoyed, but did not feel that I was working up to my full potential.

My first “push” was when my oldest daughter graduated from college and I saw how thrilled and proud she was. That’s when I enrolled at Eastern. I had a good start with the credits from my Associate Degree, even though the courses had been taken a long time ago. I just took 1 course at a time, not setting a specific target graduation date since I had teenagers who were also in college. Our lives were still quite hectic and I didn’t want to overwhelm myself.

Two years later, my second daughter renewed that drive in me when she graduated and I felt encouraged to continue my studies and keep pushing. As each course was completed I could see my completion date get closer. My youngest graduated the next year, and I could then dedicate more of my attention to my own college path, despite two weddings. I took some self-study courses to earn course credit, as well as summer courses. In 2006, I completed my goal of Bachelor of General Studies, with my main concentration in business courses. My current position is presently being re-evaluated, and I’m sure my degree will have an impact on my future growth with my employer.

Although I did not have a specific mentor at the school, the professors were more than willing to help and encourage me whenever I started to falter.

LePine, Susan ’01

Susan is a School Counselor in Windham Middle School in Willimantic.

Lynch, Martin J. ’97, ’99, ’07

My success at Eastern has come in two distinct ways: Sometime this spring I will have reached my 80th birthday, while completing my third major at this institution. These majors include degrees in accounting (BS 12/1997), economics (BA 5/1999), and mathematics (BS 5/2007).

Following a 40 year career in Research and Development for the chemical-pharmaceutical industry with retirement from Pfizer Inc. in 1993, I decided in 1995 to supplement my academic background in chemistry (BS 1949 and MS 1953) and management (MBA 1988) with business-related courses offered by the School of Continuing Education at Eastern.

This decision was influenced by prior appointments to local, regional and state boards and commissions over a six-year period followed by twelve consecutive years as an elected Town Councilor in Ledyard, CT. This service was recognized by an Official Citation of the General Assembly of the State of Connecticut and a Proclamation by the Mayor and Town Council of Ledyard in March 1996.

Prior service in the Navy in 1944-1946 and the Army in 1953-54, and the above public activities gave me a perspective that encouraged continuing my education throughout my career, and most notably at Eastern.

My mentor at Eastern encouraged me to continue my studies, and was available by phone call, email or conference when I needed assistance in responding to concerns or questions that arose over the years.

Mariano, Peter F. ’08

What a wonderful relief it is to be graduated! I was full time and just shy of matriculation in the Spring of 2000. I walked across the stage at commencement with the intention of completing my class work that summer. Well, I leapt into work and travel and am now 31 years old, operating two successful businesses with my brother. My wife told me I should get in contact with Eastern to find out about earning my degree. That was when I spoke with Joanne Melody. She was an absolute pleasure to work with. She was professional, very thorough and most importantly patient. From our first conversation to the final details months had passed. She was always willing to pick up where I left off and get me closer to completion. Joanne made what I was sure would be a laborious process, quite painless. Thank you for having such a dedicated person on staff.

McAllister, Alisa ’05

It was just after turning 37 that I decided I needed to fulfill a goal which I had never accomplished. I had always wanted to return to school and at that time I had just been laid off from a position in retail. I met with Kate Waitte in the summer of 2001, and we discussed my course of study. She made me feel comfortable with my decision since I could start at the local community college and then transfer to Eastern. That was very important at the time since I was still a “mom” first.

After starting school I obtained a job at the local high school in the technology department. I had worked in telecommunications in my younger years and this was a great entry into an emerging field. Kate worked with me so I could incorporate my field into my degree. I graduated in 2005 with a BGS in Business Administration with a minor in computer science.

I am currently a Systems Administrator at Jewett City Savings Bank. Thanks to Kate’s guidance I am now able to pursue my Microsoft certification. Every aspect of my experience at Eastern is incorporated into my position. From PowerPoint presentations to policy writing, everything I learned at Eastern has helped me in my career.

Thanks again to Kate Waitte who assisted me in following my dream and achieving my goal.

McBride, La Shawn – Graduated December, ’93 (Walked May, ’94)

I completed two years as a traditional student while attending a college in Columbia, SC. After my sophomore year in college, I made the decision to marry and was also expecting my first child. At the encouragement of so many, and with my desire to finish school, I began taking classes at Eastern in the fall of 1988. I was hired into a full-time position at Eastern in the fall of 1989. After a long haul of 5 years, I completed my undergraduate degree in December 1993. It was long and hard but well worth it. In midstream, I had a second child who was born in the Spring of 1993 and a week after she was born, I was back in my class learning about the “Philosophies of The Orient” taught by Dr. Hope Fitz, who by the way, couldn’t believe I was back so soon. and I probably shouldn’t have been, but I didn’t want to drop the ball. I didn’t want to ever be one who said, “I wish I had.” Sometimes circumstances occur in our lives that take us on a different course. I wanted to be an example to my children that education is important and that although circumstances may occur, it doesn’t mean that your dreams in life can’t be fulfilled. It just may take a little longer, but as long as you have the desire and the can accomplish your goals. Along the way, I experienced so much support from so many people here at Eastern. I am currently kicking around the idea of going back for my Master’s.

My mentor in the School of Continuing Education was Dr. Carol Williams. When I made the decision to go back to school she was the first person that I met with. She was able to guide me through the process of transferring my 2 years of undergrad work to Eastern and outlined my course of study. She was always available to meet with me to make sure I was on course. I am grateful for the guidance and encouragement provided by the School of Continuing Education and for the open door policy provided by Dr. Williams. Thanks, Carol!

La Shawn McBride is the Coordinator of Human Resources Programs at Eastern.

Medeiros, Elisa ’08

I did not have the opportunity to attend college when I graduated from high school. Instead, I went into restaurant management, but eventually I realized that I was not going to progress very far, so I decided to go to school to become a Radiologic Technologist. Eventually I became a Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist, and with my prior management experience, I was able to transition to an administrative position, but I realized that without my degree, I was going to hit a glass ceiling. That was when I made the decision to go to Eastern.

I met with an adviser from Continuing Education, and that was when I learned about the BGS program, the CLEP and Dante exams, and that I could get 30 credits for my radiology training. That was eight years ago. I earned 30 credits taking CLEP and Dante exams, and I took a few business courses and a few GER courses. Then I had an epiphany (or perhaps a midlife crisis); I did not want to do business administration anymore. I was sitting in Kate Waitte’s office, and she did not even flinch when I told her that I wanted to change my major. We put together a plan, and now, three years later, I am graduating Summa Cum Laude and getting ready to apply to grad school for my PhD in psychology.

There were times when it was pretty tough; most of my classmates were young enough to be my kids, and taking two classes during the fall and spring semesters as well as winter- and summer session while working full-time did not leave me with a lot of idle time. But in the end, it was all worth the price.

I cannot say enough about everyone with whom I interacted at Eastern. From Kate and the rest of the Continuing Education staff to my professors; from the registrar’s and bursar’s offices to the people in the Student Center; everyone was friendly, helpful, courteous, and a part of my success.

I leave Eastern full of different emotions. I am proud of my accomplishments, thrilled to finally attain a Bachelor of Arts degree, anxious and excited to begin applying to grad school, and a little sad that I will no longer be part of the day to day life of Eastern, but I feel well prepared for anything that comes my way. Thank you, Eastern.

I would not have been able to successfully navigate my courses without the help of Kate Waitte. Kate helped me change my major, kept me on track, responded quickly to my emails and voice mails, and talked me down from every mini-crisis I had during this experience. She was my compass, and I will be forever grateful for her time and concern.

Mosley, James M. ’08 (See featured article)

At the age of 78, James Mosley will be fulfilling a lifelong dream to graduate with his Bachelor of General Studies in Social Science. He began taking courses with Eastern four years ago in Groton and Willimantic. After completing the Credit for Lifelong Learning portfolio, Mosley was awarded 51 credits for a lifetime of interests and multiple careers. He is retired from the United States Navy and General Dynamics Corporation.

Mosley is one of the pioneer African-Americans in the Navy Submarine Service. He was featured in the book published by Glenn A. Knoblock in 2005, Black Submariners in the United States Navy, 1940-1975. He has tremendous knowledge of African-American history, much of which he experienced. He worked very hard to take courses and continue his education. He recently became a grandfather for the 11th time and a great-grandfather for the 1st time. After originally earning his associate’s degree from Mitchell College in 1976, he could never afford the time or money to complete his bachelor’s. Eastern off-campus courses in Groton and the Credit for Lifelong Learning program provided the means to finally accomplish attaining his bachelor’s degree.

He intends to continue his education by attending graduate school. His current interest is in molecular biology and genetics. He had many years of experience in medicine and sciences allied to medicine.

2011 Note of Interest: Mosley recently published his life story detailing his battle for equal treatment in his first book, Life Under the Microscope as an African American.


Pelletier (Eaton), Maurita ’00

Reassessing my life goals in my mid 40’s, I realized a major one had yet to be accomplished. I yearned for personal success as a Physician Assistant. Checking the reality of the situation, family financial responsibilities kept me working full-time. In addition, my two children were in college. I could not afford to quit work and attend class full-time. It seemed like an insurmountable time table. Daunting part-time classes over 5 years to obtain a BS degree and another 27 months of PA training at my age! I was working full-time, on-call, and would have to commute on Route 6 nearly 50 miles to Eastern after work.

How badly did I need to accomplish this? I asked myself.

My mantra was, “I don’t want to wake up when I’m 50 and say, ‘I wish I had.'” I knew ignoring this goal would haunt me. So I began my journey figuratively and physically.

The School of Continuing Education and their staff were instrumental in helping me accomplish all my prerequisites in a tight time frame which enabled me to apply to Quinnipiac University’s PA Program. I met with them on several occasions to assess offerings that would satisfy entrance requirements. I felt they were tuned into the needs of the adult learner coming back into an educational setting. I graduated with honors from Eastern in 2000 and received a Master’s in Health Science from Quinnipiac University in 2003. I am currently employed full-time with Advanced Radiology Consultants in Trumbull, Connecticut, and I am very glad. I did it (3 months before I turned 50)!

Perry, Julie ’00

After graduating from Eastern, I continued my education and earned my Masters in Library Science from Southern. I currently work as a library media specialist for Norwich Public Schools.

Returning to school was difficult at first, but the people in the School of Continuing Education really helped me with the transition and with finding the best way to achieve my goals.

Pineault, Sandi ’03

My current job is Cultural & Community Programs Manager for the Mohegan Tribe. I have worked for the tribe since October of 1996. My first position was in the enrollment department, which quickly transitioned into doing outreach/storyteller. I have worked in our museum, the Tantaquidgeon Museum, the oldest consecutive Indian run museum in the United States. I have worked with our Historic preservation department and now currently as the manager of the Cultural and Community Programs department. My department is in charge of external and internal community programs. We provide outreach to numerous schools, universities, elderly centers, clubs etc. We put on the annual wigwam (powwow) held the third weekend in August where hundreds of Tribal dancers from across the Americas, entertainers, and drummers gather to celebrate the harvest of the green corn. We also provide educational materials to the public when requested. Besides the above mentioned items we provide arts and crafts and cultural programs for our tribal membership.

I started working towards a higher degree in Accounting while a senior at Norwich Free Academy (High school) at Three Rivers Community college back in 1988. I received my degree from Three Rivers in 1994. Then I transferred to Eastern Connecticut State University. Prior to my transfer I had the opportunity to work in accounting for a year and discovered that accounting was not going to be my lifelong occupation. I found that I had an interest in History and Social Science. Fortunately all of my credits from Three Rivers were able to be transferred and would count fully towards my new path. While taking my classes at Eastern there was one professor who stood out the most for me, Professor Stacy Close. Doctor Close intrigued and inspired me to learn and to continue my education. He was one of the reasons that I had started taking educational classes to become a teacher. While my ambition is still to continue my education and obtain my teaching certification, time has become a constraint and restricted my ability to take classes.

Quint, Dawn (Formerly Dawn Lapointe) ’02

I was a self-employed cleaning person when I began at Eastern. I told my counselor that I wanted to get a Bachelor’s Degree so that I could get into some form of social service work. Once I received my degree, I began going to job fairs. At my second job fair a recruiter from United Services called me in, and I was hired as an advocate for their local domestic violence shelter. I now manage a shelter for The Network Against Domestic Abuse in Connecticut.

Sue Harkness was my counselor. She guided me through the process of developing my area of study, so that I could facilitate a career change.

Ramus, Eileen ’02

Having retired from a major pharmaceutical company, I felt I needed a new challenge. This new challenge came about when of friend of mine introduced me to the Continuing Education Program at Eastern Connecticut State University. I applied for and was accepted into the program. As I had an Associates in Arts from a two year college, I needed a curriculum to fulfill my needs for a Bachelor’s Degree. The members of the School of Continuing Education were most helpful in aiding me to choose the right courses needed to fulfill these requirements.

I loved every minute of my classes at Eastern, especially the lectures. The professors were most helpful with any problems I may have encountered with understanding complicated material.

Although I had a fulfilling lifetime career, furthering my education at Eastern has made me a more fully informed and well-rounded citizen.

I graduated in 2002, magna cum laude, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History. During my “career” at Eastern, I was on the Dean’s List for each quarter. I was elected to “Who’s Who” among students in American Universities and Colleges, and was nominated and excepted into the honor society “Omicron Delta Kappa”. I still enjoy the privilege of begin a member of this society. I was also nominated and accepted to “2001 All American Scholars” by the Chair of the History Department, Dr. Stacey Close.

One of the best choices I have made in my life was to enroll in the Continuing Education program at Eastern Connecticut State University. I highly recommend it.

Roby, Gloria – May ’07

When I started working at Eastern, I was already studying at Capital Community College in Hartford. In the summer of 2005 just as I was finishing my Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts, the School of Continuing Education at Eastern began offering the “Fast Track” degree program on campus.

I thought it would take too long to go the traditional route for a Bachelor’s Degree, where the “Fast Track” program would be quicker and being on campus, it would be very convenient. I also enrolled in the Credit for Lifelong Learning (CLL) program. After I put together the materials for the CLL portfolio, I felt that I could succeed at whatever goal I set my mind to. That achievement increased my confidence and self-esteem. The portfolio is a way of bringing together all your previous work experience both paid and volunteer.

While managing a family, working full-time, and going to school, I made the Dean’s list.
I’m looking forward to graduating. This accomplishment has a very personal meaning for me. For many years, I kicked myself for not being a traditional student, but this May I will be accomplishing a goal I set for myself over 20 years ago.

I would like to thank the faculty and staff of the School of Continuing Education. I especially would like to thank Associate Dean Carol Williams who helped me get started. I would also like to thank Sue Crowley for her help.

Gloria Roby is the Administrative Assistant to the Dean of the School of Continuing Education.

Roland, Pamela – ’06

Completing my degree changed my life! I had a job that I liked and a family that I liked a lot, but I always felt that something was missing. I had a sense that I had left something unfinished. I met Dean Gimenez and learned that she had completed her education later in life. I made the comment to her that I wished I could finish school and get my degree. She simply told me I could. From the moment I met with Nancy Tarkmeel and everyone else at the School of Continuing Education, I was impressed by how hard they worked to develop a program that worked for me. The Credit for Lifelong Learning Program was challenging, but also, one of the most positive experiences I have ever had. At the beginning, I just wanted to finish my degree, but I was truly amazed by how much I learned. I was able to take classes that I could actually apply to my job and I met some great people. I graduated in May 2006 and although it has benefited my career, most importantly, it benefited me personally. I have more confidence and know that I can do anything I want.

I was fortunate to have several mentors at the School of Continuing Education. I was inspired to go back to school after meeting Dean Gimenez. Nancy Tarkmeel was there every step of the way – at my best and worst moments. She was always willing to listen and find a way to help me achieve my goals. There were so many others that supported me – Mimi Chayer, Gail Turner and Carol Williams. I was constantly amazed at the kindness and involvement of everyone in the School of Continuing Education- everyone made me feel like they were committed to my success.

Rolfe, Steven ’08

I have just completed the Credit for Lifelong Learning program. This class has helped me to achieve what I thought was out of my reach. I came to Eastern just about a year ago, after taking 8 years off from my Bachelors. I am living proof that with hard work, and some very caring and helpful teachers, anybody can turn their life around, and accomplish whatever they set their mind to. One teacher that really stands out is Riette Pranger. Without Riette helping, and pushing me to succeed, I probably would have given up. She really cares about the students and goes the extra mile to help them to be successful. Teachers like her are hard to come by. Thanks so much for the Credit for Lifelong Learning program which has helped me achieve a goal that I thought was out of reach.

Savino, Melanie ’08

There is a time in everyone’s life when they question whether they want more out of their careers. For me, that was 10 years ago. At first I thought I would be too old to go back to college, but once I signed up for continuing education classes at Eastern I found I was not the only “older adult” going back to school. Having classes offered at night made it easy to fit them in around my full-time work schedule and family life. It was a big adjustment for my family at first, but with support from my wonderful husband and two sons, I was able to maintain an “A” average throughout my college term at Eastern. I must say that even though it took me ten years to complete my degree, it was well worth it. I encourage anyone who wants more out of life to take advantage of every educational opportunity possible. You are never too old to learn!

While attending Eastern, I found that Kate Waitte was a wonderful source for advice, guidance and support. Any time I had a question or needed guidance to ensure I was on the right track, Kate was always there to listen and provide advice.

Schlechtriem, Carol ’04

I was a young person with a full-time job, and I found my niche by going back to school at Eastern. The programs and curriculum accommodated my schedule and the outcome was a win/win situation.

I highly recommend Eastern.

Sue Harkness (at Eastern) was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Her thoughtfulness, constant encouragement, and guidance were commendable.

Shane, Dawn May ’07

My name is Dawn Shane, and my journey at Eastern started in the Fall of 2001 to earn my bachelor’s degree. I will be graduating with honors in the Spring of 2007, just six short years later. I returned to college with less than thirty credits and almost eleven years out of the classroom. I knew this journey would be challenging as I had to balance a full time job, raise two sons, take care of a home, and go to school. Looking back–I’m glad I did it and didn’t give up!

I chose Eastern because my husband, who is also an Eastern graduate, encouraged me to call the School of Continuing Education to get started. We did some research on the Eastern website and I was especially interested in their Credit for Lifelong Learning (CLL) program. With twenty years of work experience, I was excited to know that I could turn my learning and work experiences into college credit. In August of 2001, I met with Nancy Tarkmeel, who helped me establish a degree plan and she also suggested one class that would start me off with a positive classroom experience. I also signed up for the CLL workshop and began the process of transferring previously earned college credit to Eastern.

My return to college started off slowly. I only took one class per semester in order to keep the balance in my life, and I wanted to complete my CLL writing portfolio so I could earn credit without taking the actual courses. I am thankful that my experiences in the business world helped me to learn about technology, accounting, finance, project management and management of people–all of which translated into the equivalent of 30 college credits! This was a huge jump that put me on the fast track to graduation. I could not have done it without the guidance and support from Nancy Tarkmeel and Riette Pranger. Both were very helpful in guiding me through the CLL program and encouraging me to complete my portfolio. What made this even better for me was that the credit I earned put me on the path to the Business Information Systems degree program, which is my field of work and my desired degree plan.

After completing the Credit for Lifelong Learning program, I took advantage of the summer and winter intersession course offerings and other non-traditional learning to speed up my progress. If I had to do things all over again, I would have continued my education to earn my bachelor’s degree many years ago, but Eastern made it all possible. I hope to continue on at Eastern to pursue a Master degree in Organizational Management. I appreciate the opportunity to share my success story with you and hope that you will give Eastern a try.

Smith-Overton, Lisa ’06

Lisa Smith-Overton is a 2006 graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University with a Bachelor of General Studies degree (focus in Communication and English). She has held various positions primarily within the public sector in federal and state entities such as Eastern Connecticut State University, University of Connecticut Foundation, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and Department of Veterans Affairs; and is a Persian Gulf veteran of the United States Navy. She is currently on staff at the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, the State’s leading force for women’s equality and the oldest commission under the Connecticut General Assembly.

Lisa is also a writer and freelance photographer, and her non-fiction work can occasionally be seen in the East Hartford and Glastonbury editions of weekly periodical The Reminder News which is published east of the river. She credits many staff and faculty at Eastern for helping her to discover and strengthen her talents within her chosen field of writing, and specifically credits Dr. Edmond Chibeau, Associate Professor of Communication in the School of Education and Professional Studies for his support and encouragement. She is pursuing her Masters of Fine Arts in Professional Writing at Western Connecticut State University. Her goal is to teach college-level courses on creative writing at a community college and to start a sideline business as a professional photographer.

Tiedt, Veronica V. ’03 ’06

After attending classes sporadically for 25 years, having raised two children and quickly approaching my 50th birthday, I learned about Eastern’s BGS program from a friend and decided to finally complete my degree. I met with Dean Tarkmeel to discuss the program and shortly thereafter began working on my binders and presentation for Credit for Lifelong Learning.

I obtained over 30 Credits for Lifelong Learning and transferred credits from other institutions, which gave me the incentive to complete the balance of the coursework and obtain my Bachelor’s Degree in General Studies with a concentration in Business Management. I obtained my degree in 2003, seven months ahead of schedule (my 50th birthday was in December).

After obtaining my BGS, I took the next semester off to decide what my next step would be. I set a goal to obtain my master’s before I turned 55. I wanted to be a good example for my grandchildren since no one else in our family had ever completed college. I started working on my Master’s in Organizational Management at Eastern shortly thereafter and graduated with that degree in December 2006. I will walk in May 2007 with the rest of my classmates.

Completing my degree has given me a great sense of achievement and a desire to assist others in setting and meeting goals. As the administrator for an eight-lawyer law firm in Hartford, CT, I am mentoring staff, encouraging them to further their educations, and giving presentations and conducting workshops on various management topics.

I would also like to secure a part-time position with Connecticut community colleges, business schools, or four-year facilities as an adjunct professor, so I can share what I’ve learned through lifelong learning and at Eastern. It is my belief that when we cease to learn, we cease to live and take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities that cross our paths throughout our lifetime.


Vivar-Orum, Norma – ’07

When I came to Eastern, I had two associate’s degrees, a full-time job as a paraprofessional teaching assistant, a family with three teenagers, and no real sense of direction. I never could find a major concentration in college that really suited me. I knew what I wanted to study, but no courses were available in Sustainable Energy. Then Eastern brought Dr. Fred Loxsom from San Antonio, TX and created the Sustainable Energy Studies department. Energy issues are going to at the forefront of international relations for the foreseeable future. In fact, energy issues will likely drive the economy and steer diplomatic relations for generations. I am very proud that Eastern had the vision to create the endowed chair position and catalyze an academic Center where people can learn to be better prepared to face energy issues in the future. I could not be happier than I am working at Eastern in support of the academic side of the Sustainable Energy Studies.

Greg Ashford was a fabulous adviser. He was supportive, encouraging, and enthusiastic. I was also supported by several other advisers at the School of Continuing Education whenever I needed help. You folks made this really easy for me! Thanks!

Norma Vivar-Orum works in the Sustainable Energy Studies department at Eastern as a University Assistant.

Watson, Harry – ’07

Mayor of the Town of Groton, started college at Eastern in 1967. He graduated in May 2007. Through Eastern’s Credit for Lifelong Learning program, Watson was able to convert into college credits what he learned in his 36-year career as a lead Research Scientist at Pfizer, in his 15 years in elected office and through his experiences as a volunteer in the local community. Watson says, “Getting a degree was something I always wanted to do and life just always seemed to get in the way.”

Wolter, Michael ’04

My father passed away right before the start of my freshman year. A lot of changes happened so fast in such a short time. I became a Resident Assistant my sophomore year. I learned a lot of great life/career skills in that position. Due to family needs, I needed to move home for a time.

I began to work full-time. I used a lot of the skills I learned at Eastern, but I always wanted to finish my degree. I came back a few years later and graduated. In my final semester, I made the Dean’s List. Now I am a Resident Director at Central and a graduate student at Eastern.

When I wanted to come back to school, I wanted to take a full load of classes plus overload for Intersession. I asked Dr. Carol Williams to believe in me, and I will succeed. She granted my request. I ended both sessions with high marks and a greater confidence in my skills and myself.