A Few Words with SEPS Alum Bonnie Edmondson ’87 (Communication & English)

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Inspiration. Innovation. Integrity. These concepts embody the faculty and students, as well as the work and mission, of the School of Education and Professional Studies (SEPS) at Eastern Connecticut State University. Recently, SEPS staff had the opportunity to talk to a distinguished alum of the Communication and English programs at Eastern, Dr. Bonnie Edmondson, about the relevance of these concepts.

Dr. Edmondson currently serves as an education consultant and program manager at the Connecticut State Department of Education. A highly accomplished athlete and coach, Dr. Edmondson is a member of the Eastern Connecticut State University Athletic Hall of Fame. She also had the great honor of serving as a U.S. Olympic Team coach for Women’s Track and Field in Rio this past summer. Ironically, her hammer throw performance was strong enough to send her to the Olympics in 1992; however, she was denied this significant opportunity because the event was not yet recognized for women.

edmondson-throwing72dpiAs someone who has faced numerous challenges, yet experienced tremendous success throughout her career, we asked Dr. Edmondson to shed light on how inspiration, innovation, and integrity have played a role in her life and her career.

“Inspiration, innovation, and integrity are inextricably connected, with integrity serving as the foundational component; the other areas build on integrity,” she suggested. “If you stay true to your core values and beliefs with the integrity that you establish with other people, they’re more likely to follow and support you as a leader. Once you have that foundation, you can build with innovation and inspiration. Without integrity, how can you move on?”

Dr. Edmondson emphasized the fundamental role of integrity when it comes to achieving true success in sports and athletics. “Building character and having goals are what you need to get in place to accomplish the integrity of fair play, teamwork. It’s not just about you, it’s about cultivating opportunities,” she said.

Asked about how she dealt with the failure to recognize women’s throwing that prevented her from participating in the Olympics, she explained, “I had two choices—be bitter or cultivate the situation and decide how to make it right to move forward. I chose to see the much larger picture, the greater good.”

In fact, Dr. Edmondson worked hard to have women’s hammer throw recognized in the Olympics, and it was, as of 2000. This well-earned victory was further enhanced by her recent opportunity to serve as an Olympic coach.

edmondson-olympic_rotator“As an Olympic coach in Rio, I personally experienced that the ‘Olympic spirit’ is far greater than any one person or one team. All these people are coming together for a common cause, building character, to make the world a more symbiotic, more synchronistic place.”

As the conversation came to a close, Dr. Edmondson reflected on the time she spent earning her bachelor’s degree at SEPS and Eastern. She explained, “One of the things I remember most [about Eastern] is the nurturing environment. Folks were there to help people succeed. They were always going the extra mile. I remember the ‘warm home feeling’ of the campus, which is a huge benefit for people. The environment is intimate; people truly care and are interested in you as a person. These qualities influence you; you’re surrounded by people who model integrity, and it becomes contagious.”

There can be little doubt that Dr. Edmondson models the very same integrity that once influenced her on the campus of Eastern.

2015 TIMPANI study gets national coverage

On December 7, Eastern Connecticut State University’s Center for Early Childhood Education announced the results of its 2015 TIMPANI Toy study. The annual study, which is led by Dr. Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, is now in its seventh year of investigating how young children play with a variety of toys in natural settings.

CBS-affiliated WFSB broadcast a story on the findings, which has been picked up by other network affiliates across the country.

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Eastern Partners with National Organization to Diversify the Teaching Profession

Eastern Connecticut State University introduces national partnership program for growing the state’s teaching force. The new Holmes Masters program is designed to attract and prepare educational change agents from historically underrepresented populations. The initiative is the first of its kind within the region and reflects a partnership with the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education’s (AACTE) Holmes Scholars program. The inaugural cohort of Holmes Masters is scheduled to enroll summer 2016.

The Eastern Holmes Masters program is poised to draw applicants from a national pool. Participants will have to meet rigorous admission standards set forth by both the Holmes network and the University. With a focus on equity and diversity, participants will also participate in university-school partnership programming that supports teacher preparation and PK-12 student learning. Holmes Masters will be supported with ongoing mentorship coordinated at the university and national levels.

To learn more about Eastern’s Holmes Masters program or to apply, visit the Graduate Division online or phone 860.465.5292.

Graduate Fair

Come learn more about the graduate degree offerings at Eastern. Faculty will be available to answer questions about our Master’s programs in Accounting, Organizational Management, and Education.

Announcing the Minority Teacher Incentive Grant Program

If you are a college junior or senior interested in teaching and are a member of a minority group, the State of Connecticut can help you with education costs in return for teaching in a Connecticut public school. For more information and to apply, download the 2015-16 Minority Teacher Incentive Grant Program Nomination Form. Forms can be submitted to Dean Easley’s office, Webb 160, in order to obtain his required signature and will then be returned to the applicant, who will mail the completed form directly to the State of Connecticut’s Office of Higher Education.

Alumna Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to Speak at Commencement

Written by Ed Osborn

Adichie Named one of Time Magazine’s 2015 100 Most Influential People in the World

Willimantic, Conn. – Internationally acclaimed author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ‘01 will receive an honorary doctorate and bring greetings to the graduates at Eastern Connecticut State University’s 125th Commencement exercises at the XL Center in Hartford on May 12. Adichie grew up in Nsukka in southeastern Nigeria. Her work has been translated into 30 languages and has appeared in publications around the world.

She entered the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, to study medicine and pharmacy, leaving at the age of 19 to continue her education in the United States, but on a different path. She has been writing since the age of four; her first publication appeared when she was in secondary school in Nsukka.

Adichie first entered Drexel University, transferring to Eastern Connecticut State University to live with her sister, a doctor based in Connecticut. She graduated summa cum laude from Eastern in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication. Adichie subsequently earned her master’s degree in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University. After publishing her first two books, she studied at Yale University and graduated with a Master of Arts degree in African History.

In 2004, Eastern presented Adichie its Distinguished Alumni Award. During the 2005-06 academic year, Adichie was awarded a fellowship at Princeton University, following which she received a fellowship to study at the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard University. In 2008, she was awarded a Macarthur Fellowship, popularly known around the world as the Macarthur Genius Award. And last month, Ms. Adichie was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Adichie is the author of a collection of short stories, “The Thing Around Your Neck,” and three novels. Her first novel, “Purple Hibiscus,” won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.

Her second novel, “Half of a Yellow Sun, won the Orange Prize—the world’s top prize for female writers—and was also a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, a New York Times Notable Book, and a People and Black Issues Book Review Best Book of the Year. Her latest novel, “Americanah,” was published around the world in 2013. It has received many accolades, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and recognition as one of The New York Times Ten Best Books of the Year in 2013. “Half of A Yellow Sun” was also made into a feature film, starring Thandie Newton and Chiwetel Ejiofor, and “Americanah” is set to be adapted into a movie starring Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo.

In addition to her writing, Ms. Adichie has been invited to speak on many occasions around the world. Two of the most notable are TED Talks. The first, “The Danger of a Single Story,” was delivered in 2009 and is now one of the Top Ten most-viewed TED Talks of all time. The second, “We Should All Be Feminists,” has started a worldwide conversation about feminism, picking up even greater inertia after it inspired the song “Flawless” by Beyoncé.

Adichie is committed to assisting young aspiring writers. As one of her commitments, she started an Annual Writers Workshop in Nigeria that draws applications come from around the world. Her deep love for her country is evident in her work, and in 2011 the Nigerian Government awarded her the Global Ambassador Achievement Award.

Eastern Ranks in Nation for Health and Physical Fitness Major

Eastern named for one of the nation’s best bachelor’s programs to major in Health and Physical Fitness by College Factual and reported in USA Today, November 2014.  According to the source, “A degree in health and physical fitness education prepares students for a career assisting others in recreation centers, schools, resorts, health clubs and more. As people continue to place emphasis on the importance of fitness, career opportunities are become more readily available.”  The ranking is based on overall academic quality.

Jacob Easley, Dean of the School of Education and Professional Studies adds, “We are proud of dedicated faculty who work closely with students to help them meet their academic and professional goals. Those majoring in health and physical education are also able to pursue teacher certification, thereby expanding their career options.”