The e-newsletter of Eastern Connecticut State University
Eastern wrapped up its spring semester series of 125th Anniversary celebrations with Community Engagement Day on May 2. The day began with a luncheon and panel discussion featuring four alumni in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room. Anabelitza Lozada '11, Levar Mitchell '12, Matt Blocker-Glynn '03 and Victoria Nimirowski '87 discussed how they turned their community engagement experiences at Eastern into successful careers. The event was sponsored by the Center for Community Engagement, the Center for Internships and Career Development, and the Office of Alumni Affairs.
Lozada graduated with a bachelor's degree in Social Work. The following year, she completed her master's degree at the University of Connecticut's School of Social Work. She currently is the social worker for the Support for Pregnant and Parenting Teens program at Windham High School. Mitchell earned his Bachelor of Science in Sport and Leisure Management with a minor in Sociology. He currently works as a sports, fitness and recreation director at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hartford, and is the youngest sports director in Connecticut. Mitchell is pursuing his master's degree in Social Work at the University of Connecticut.
Blocker-Glynn graduated with a B.A. in History. He received his M.Ed. in Human Relations Counseling from Plymouth State University, and then came back to Connecticut to direct the University of Hartford's Center for Community Service six years ago. Nimirowski has been the executive director of the Windham Area Interfaith Ministry (WAIM) since 2005.
In the afternoon, the CCE sponsored the annual Service Expo, during which time student volunteers displayed posters and other visual manifestations of the various service projects that have taken place during the 2013-14 academic year. The annual Distinguished Service Awards ceremony took place in the Student Center Theatre following the Service Expo.
Kimberly DePaolis, a junior double-majoring in early childhood education and psychology, won the Student Community Engagement Award for her leadership, fundraising and volunteer work locally and abroad--in such countries as Jamaica and Ecuador--earned her this award.
Professor of Anthropology Ricardo Perez earned the Faculty Community Engagement Award for working with Eastern students in service projects with Willimantic schools in the Puentes al Futuro (Bridges to the Future) program. The Community Partner Engagement Award was given to '09 alumnus Christopher Brechlin, who worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer with ACCESS Agency and is now the CEO of Blueprint for a Dream, a "social enterprise" that focuses on northeast Connecticut. Professor of Sociology Cara Bergstrom-Lynch won the Service Learning Award for her fundraising efforts and community organizing. Since 2007, more than 550 students in her senior seminar have organized more than 120 community projects. The Community Event Award was given to Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). From January to April of this year, the 10 students involved in the program put forth more than 456 hours of tax assistance, filing approximately 9,500 returns for low-to-moderate income individuals and families.
In the evening, "La Familia de Mucho Colores," a community cultural celebration in the Betty R. Tipton Room, concluded Community Engagement Day. Arnaldo Rivera and his band Vente-Tú played Latin Jazz and Salsa; children from the Puentes al Futuro ("Bridges to the Future") program danced to Mexican polkas, a Puerto Rican bomba and other Latin American music. Dancers fom the El Sagrado Corazón Catholic Church also joined in the festivities.
One hundred forty-three students were recognized at the Second Annual Inclusive Excellence Student Awards Ceremony held on May 2 in the Betty R. Tipton Room. The event, sponsored by the Advising Center, celebrated the academic achievements of Eastern's "ALANA" students--African-American, Latino, Asian and Native American students.
"Across the country, minority students are underrepresented on college campuses and graduate at lower rates," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "Here at Eastern, we are committed to reversing that trend by fostering a community of inclusion, diversity awareness and academic excellence."
Carmen Cid, a Latina from Cuba with nearly 30 years' experience as a college professor and administrator, and a distinguished scientist in the field of ecology, delivered the keynote address. "You have diverse backgrounds and broad educations; you can do more than one thing," said Cid, currently the interim president of Quinebaug Valley Community College and long-time dean of Eastern's School of Arts and Sciences.
"Finding your inner voice takes time and practice." She also spoke of the benefits of diversity: "In ecology, the more diverse an ecosystem, the healthier it is. This is true for a college campus, too, and for society."
Jonathan Correa, a sophomore biology major from Trumbull; Njeri Dodson, a freshman biology major from Bridgeport; Destiny Hartmann, a freshman accounting major from Stonington; Tyler Hernandez, a sophomore education major from Waterbury; Kayla Enwerem, a freshman from Waterbury; and Briana Tucker, a freshman social work major from Glastonbury, were named recipients of the Diversity Scholars Award.
Inclusive Excellence Awards were presented to James Chadic, a senior mathematics major from Norwich; Vanessa Cioe, a senior sports and leisure management major from Fall River, MA; Shaleah Richards, a senior psychology major from Hartford; and Gregory Riley, a junior biology major from West Haven.
Jerrod Greider Memorial Service
More than 200 students, faculty and staff gathered at the Foster Clock Tower on May 5 to honor Jerrod Greider '14, a senior history/secondary education major who passed away on April 29. Jerrod had his sights set on teaching history in the secondary grades, following in the footsteps of his mother Kathleen, who is the Superintendent of Schools in Farmington.
Father Larry LaPointe opened the service, noting that the clock tower ws the center of campus and the place the University community gathers to lift up the memory of community members who have fallen. "We are very saddened today by the loss of such a young life, one with such promise," he said.
President Elsa Núñez noted Jerrod's passion for teaching and the kindness and support he provided the children who he taught. Supervising teachers in his other clinical experiences described Jerrod as "sensitive" and "kind," an "intelligent future teaching professional" having "the qualities sought in a caring, compassionate teacher."
Marc Provera, one of Jerrod's 13-year-old students at Illing Middle School in Manchester, wrote the following about his student teacher: "Mr. Greider loved everyone he met. Every person that knew him loved him as well. . . I will never forget the first day he came to our school. You could tell that he was happy to be there. He touched the hearts of many students, friends, teachers, and family."
History Club Vice President Joe Garzone also spoke at the service: "I will never forget when I first met Jerrod at a History Club meeting my freshman year. His character, intelligence, and wit commanded respect from all our members. His personality made him someone everyone could get along with and he enjoyed their presence as well."
Music for event was provided by guitarist Morgan Brown; members of the Chamber Singers, accompanied by Eric Ouellette on keyboards; and vocalists Emily Riggs and Melinda DeDominicis.
The Le Le Project: A Tribute to Alyssiah Wiley
More than 60 students, faculty and staff gathered in the Student Center on May 2 to participate in "The Le Le Project: The Life and Legacy of Alyssiah Marie Wiley," a celebration the life of Wiley, who passed away a year ago, a victim of domestic violence. Wiley was a Psychology major with a minor in Biology and was a member of Eastern's FEMALES organization.
Father Larry LaPointe opened the service, remarking on the silence that fell over the room as one of respect. Wiley's life of was caught in a "different type of silence," he said, "a silence that is dangerous and one that should compel the campus community to do its part in ending the silence."
Starsheemar Byrum, coordinator of Eastern's Women's Center and Sexual Assault Response team, remembered Wiley for her beauty and determination to succeed. Student Deidre Montague sang a tribute to Wiley. Shereen Moore, president of FEMALES, who spearheaded The Le Le Project, discussed some of Wiley's joys, and Eastern's Fusion Dance Team delivered an energetic tribute in Wiley's memory.
Onya Harris, one of Wiley's mentors, delivered the keynote address, encouraging the audience to understand that while one may experience hardships and difficulties, one must embody the strength and courage to call on friends, family and support groups to help them land on their feet."
FEMALES, MALES, NOW, PRIDE Alliance, West Indian Society, Peace and Human Rights, the Intercultural Center and the Women's Center all participated in the The Le Le Project memorial service. Wiley's mother and family attended the event and expressed their gratitude for the tribute.
Eastern presented its Cesar Chavez Distinguished Service Awards on April 26 to Todd Aviles, a senior majoring in Sociology; Robinson Camacho, a family liaison working for Windham Public Schools; and Kimberly Armstrong Silcox, director of Eastern's Center for Community Engagement. The program recognizes members of the campus and local community whose actions demonstrate distinguished service in promoting educational opportunities and/or advancement for members of Latino groups and acts that represent a commitment to positive Latino youth development.
Aviles has been fully engaged at Eastern since he arrived on campus. He served as the president for the MALES organization for the past two years. A native of Hartford and a strong advocate who believes heavily in giving back to his community, Aviles currently works for the Center for Internships and Career Development as a peer counselor. He also worked in the Center for Community Engagement and the Office of Student Orientation. In his spare time, Aviles likes to read and write poetry.
In addition to serving as a family liaison for Windham Public School, Camacho is also coordinator for the high school Puentes al Futuro/Bridges to the Future after-school program. The program meets twice a week at Windham High School and Eastern.
'I am Latino' is a series of classes that Camacho developed, which focuses on motivating, encouraging and opening the eyes of the youth through visual media and interactive lectures. The class is direct and to the point, and its purpose is to make young people think about where they are and where they are going. Young people hear about successful Latinos in history and today, as Camacho goes over statistics on Latino dropout rates, low college attendance rates and the importance of education, by telling his story about dropping out of college and then realizing he needed to finish his college education.
Silcox is director of Eastern's Center for Community Engagement, which opened in 2009. She serves on many nonprofit boards and committees and has received numerous awards for service to the community. She is an advocate for students, faculty and communities, working to build and facilitate meaningful partnerships in the Windham community.
Eastern's Theatre Program and Drama Society presented "The Laramie Project," written by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project, in the Harry Hope Theatre from April 24-27. The play was directed by senior theatre major Kelsey Guggenheim.
The Laramie Project follows the true story of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming who was kidnapped, severely beaten, tied to a fence in the middle of a prairie outside Laramie, WY, in 1998, and left to die just because he was gay.
Kaufman and fellow members of the Tectonic Theater Project made six trips to Laramie over the course of a year-and-a-half in the aftermath of the murder and during the trial of the two young men accused of killing Shepard. They conducted more than 200 interviews with the people of the town. Some people interviewed were directly connected to the case, and others were citizens of Laramie. Kaufman and Tectonic Theater members constructed a deeply moving theatrical experience from these interviews and their own experiences.
Guggenheim was given the opportunity to direct this full-length stage production through Pathways to Leadership. The program for students interested in directing includes a series of directing classes, stage management and assistant directing duties, and opportunities to direct staged readings, children's theatre and one-act plays. Students with special skills have the opportunity to direct a full-length, fully-staged production as part of the Harry Hope Theatre season of shows.
More than 130 students, staff, faculty and administrators from colleges and universities throughout Connecticut shared best practices on how to make Connecticut campuses more sustainable at a statewide campus sustainability conference held at Middlesex Community College on April 25.
The conference was organized by Eastern's Institute for Sustainable Energy and featured more than 20 presentations from campus representatives sharing the details of their sustainability initiatives, successes and challenges. Presenters and participants came from a broad range of public and private universities, colleges and community colleges. The conference and many of the energy initiatives on Connecticut's campuses are supported by EnergizeCT and the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund.
"The idea for this conference arose from the desire to hold an event where students, faculty, staff and administrators from public and private colleges and universities across the state could come together to discuss campus sustainability from a variety of different perspectives," said Laura Worthington, conference organizer and energy technical specialist for the Institute for Sustainable Energy. "This type of collaboration is vital to the sharing of best practices and trading of ideas that will continue to move us forward and keep Connecticut on the map as one of the greenest states in the nation."
Eastern and Yale University announced that they will co-chair a new "Connecticut Alliance for Campus Sustainability" that will serve as an ongoing statewide network to facilitate greater coordination and cooperation on sustainability among public and private institutions of higher education. The primary purpose of this collaboration is to share information as peers, foster partnerships and develop system-wide strategies to address climate change and adaptation, local and regional resiliency, stormwater and water management, land use and other sustainability-related issues.
Eastern President Elsa Núñez said, "We are thrilled to partner with Yale University in leading the Connecticut Alliance for Campus Sustainability. Together we look forward to engaging our public and private peer institutions to model environmental stewardship in our buildings, classrooms and communities."
The new alliance will tap into the many resources available to help campuses engage in actions that will reduce their environmental footprint, increase resiliency and save costs. These include EnergizeCT programs administered by Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating; programs of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection; and national programs such as the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment and the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
Eastern's English Department hosted its spring 2014 English Night in the Betty R. Tipton Room on April 28. The event began with a warm welcome from Lisa Fraustino, chair of the English Department.
The English major awards ceremony followed. Brooke Baldwin and Akaya McElveen were the recipients of Service to the Department Awards, which are awarded to students who have helped with departmental projects, coordinated events or organized student clubs that have connections to literature or writing. The Award for Lifetime Learning was awarded to Meaghan Eales. This award is usually granted to a returning student who has shown a steady love of literature, writing and the pursuit of knowledge. Eales was also awarded the Commitment to Teaching award for her dedication to teaching.
Angelia Dilella was awarded the Contributions to the Cultural Life of the Campus Award, which is awarded to students who have been actively involved as a writer or editor in literary publications. Dilella also was awarded the Award for Academic Excellence for her demonstration of superior ability and dedication to reading literature and interpreting it well in class discussions and in written work.
First-year writing awards were presented to Danielle Campitelli and Emilio Estrella. The first-year writing awards are given to students in College Writing and College Writing Plus whose writing is innovative, creative, well researched or uniquely articulated. Campitelli's research paper, "Faking it Until I Make It," written for Professor Mika Taylor's first-year writing class, exemplified those qualities. Estrella's innovative and creative writing paper was titled "Music and Society: Cause and Effect."
The event concluded with senior seminar presentations from Professor Reginald Flood's "Writing Poems/ Reading Culture" seminar; Fraustino's "Adaptation and Ideology" seminar; and Maureen McDonnell's "Monstrous Women" seminar.
Two Eastern students walked off with the two top prizes in the Fourth Annual 2014 Connecticut Campus Slammer Finals, a statewide storytelling contest that took place at Connecticut College on April 26. Jonah Craggett, a junior from New Haven majoring in English with a minor in Anthropology, won top honors. Daniel Solomon, a junior from Woodstock majoring in History with a minor in Asian Studies, was the runner-up.
The 2014 Connecticut Campus Slammer Finals is held in conjunction with the Connecticut Storytelling Festival. The event is sponsored by the Connecticut Storytelling Center. "This is amazing," said English Professor Raouf Mama. "This is the first time that two students from the same university have won first and second place." The contest requires that students craft a five-minute personal story and tell it in a spoken-word competition scored on creativity, relation to theme and delivery. No props, notes or instruments are allowed. The competition is timed, which helps train students to hone their words and delivery to avoid penalty points given for exceeding the time limit.
Craggett and Solomon had competed previously on Eastern's campus in a local contest and then moved forward to the state finals. Campus Slammer is the "Final Four" for wordsmiths. Both Craggett and Solomon are students in Mama's storytelling class. Chion Wolf, voice actress, producer and photographer for NPR Radio and host of "The MOUTH Story Slam" at the Mark Twain House, served as Mistress of Ceremonies.
Participating colleges included Eastern, the University of Connecticut, Manchester Community College, Connecticut College and Middlesex Community College. Above, left to right, are Wolf, Mama, Craggett and Solomon.
On April 22, a group of 80 students and 20 representatives of the Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) from Nassau, Bahamas, visited Eastern as part of the group's annual College Road Trip, which came to the Northeast this year.
Candice Deal, assistant professor of accounting and a native of the Bahamas, hosted the group. The 100 visitors heard presentations from the Center for Community Engagement and student clubs and organizations; met with international student representatives; took a tour of Eastern's campus; and were briefed on admissions policies. The campus visit culminated with a luncheon in the Paul E. Johnson Community Conference Room with Eastern students, faculty, and staff.
The Third Annual Collaborative Jail 'N' Bail event, held on Webb Hall Lawn on April 29 to raise money for Special Olympics Connecticut and Habitat for Humanity, had a great turnout and raised more than $5,000 for Windham Habitat and Special Olympics of Connecticut.
In the past two years, the event has raised more than $16,000 in cash and donations. "I would like to offer a huge thanks to our Facilities staff, without whom this event truly cannot happen," said Psychology Professor Peter Bachiochi, faculty advisor for Habitat for Humanity. "They helped with building/setting up our jail cell and tents, delivering tables, chairs, providing power, filling the dunk tank and much more. Thanks to Nick Messina for setting up the live feed that more than 750 people checked out. Thanks to Jason Coombs and Chartwells for providing hot dogs for everyone. Thanks to our judges who laid down the law. And thanks to all the other good sports throughout the day!" Police Officers Thomas Madera and David DeNunzio also were instrumental in organizing the event.
On April 28, the normally tidy playground of Eastern's Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC) was transformed into a muddy obstacle course for the "Fun Mudder" -- a preschool version of "Tough Mudder," a military-style mud run. The event hosted groups of children ages three to five who are enrolled in the CFDRC's preschool classroom. The two groups, each with approximately 25 children, were allowed one hour of play in the Fun Mudder course. "The goal was simply to complete the course; not to win or get a fast time," said Health and Education Professor Darren Robert. "We want the kids to try things they normally wouldn't; to get out of their comfort zone a bit."
Some of the mud-ridden obstacles included a crawl through wet leaves under a bridge; a walk through kiddie pools filled with ice water; a slip and slide into a puddle; a balance beam; and more. The children were chaperoned and cheered on by parents, students and staff, many of whom also participated in the muddy mess to encourage the toddlers. "This event was the culmination of the last few months of physical education work," said CFDRC Director Niloufar Rezai. "Today's obstacles required motor skills such as climbing, balancing, jumping and crawling."
Veteran and Eastern alumnus Brandon Strout '09, a physical education teacher at Windham Tech who helped out at the event, said, "The Fun Mudder is good because it shows the kids that fitness can be applicable to every day play. Plus, they don't often get to play in the mud."
The CFDRC would like to thank students of Windham Tech who built signs for the obstacles; all those who helped build and chaperone the course; and the late Nancy Tinker, whose work as director of the office of Facilities Management and Planning was instrumental in the construction of the CFDRC.
Eastern's softball team, which became the first program to win five straight Little East Conference regular-season crowns this season, has dominated the LEC all-conference first team with five selections, among them Pitcher-of-the-Year Erin Miller of Waterford.
Miller, the program's fourth Pitcher-of-the-Year in the past five seasons, was joined on the first team by first-team repeaters Mattie Brett (Waterford) and Sam Rossetti (Shelton) and first-time selections Stephanie Johnson (Plantsville) and Alyssa Hancock (Waterford). Brett is a senior centerfielder, Rossetti a junior first baseman, Johnson a senior corner outfielder and Hancock a sophomore shortstop.