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March 2013 Archives

Eastern on President Obama's Community Service Honor Roll

Written by Dwight Bachman

Honor Roll Day of Giving.jpg     Willimantic, CT - Eastern Connecticut State University has been honored by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the U.S. Department of Education as one of the nation's colleges and universities that are leading the way in bettering their communities through community service and service learning.

     Eastern was one of 609 institutions of higher learning acknowledged on President Obama's "Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll" earlier this month, recognized for their work in serving local communities through volunteer programs and other activities.

honor roll blood drive -2.JPG     "Community service has been a hallmark at Eastern since our earliest days in the 1890s as the Willimantic State Normal School," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "Today, our Center for Community Engagement works closely with our faculty to ensure that the service that our students perform in local communities aligns with their academic programs.  In providing thousands of hours a year of service to dozens of social agencies and nonprofits, Eastern students are demonstrating their social responsibility while learning valuable professional and organizational skills.

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     To be recognized by President Obama as a university that exemplifies such service is something that everyone on our campus should be proud of." To better coordinate student service projects in the community, Eastern's Center for Community Engagement (CCE) was launched in September 2009. A full-time director, assistant director, a shared administrative assistant, an AmeriCorps VISTA member and a part-time university assistant staff the center. The center also provides leadership opportunities through federal work-study employment for students.

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     Eastern's commitment to service is exemplified by the comprehensive volunteer efforts in area schools by Eastern students. Programs to assist schools with student academic performance, behavior and motivation are widespread and effective in all six schools in the district, as well as in local preschool programs. From 2008-09 to 2011-12 Eastern's Center for Early Childhood Education partnered with two area early learning centers to address early literacy. Over the three-year period ending in the 2011-12 academic year, the project improved the language and early literacy skills of nearly 600 preschool-aged children by providing professional development and literacy coaching to 50 teachers and staff. Thirty-nine Eastern students were involved in this project through academic coursework.

   bridge to the future - orange dancers-good shot.jpg      Eastern students are also engaged in local schools outside of the classroom. Four hundred and forty-nine students volunteered 5,180 hours in long-term volunteering programs in Windham schools through the CCE and student clubs. Including students who participated in academic service-learning, more than 1,000 students contributed more than 60,000 volunteer hours in area schools. Students in the Business Administration Department provide database and website services to area nonprofits, assisting them in providing more effective services. Nonprofits also benefit from students engaged in the Community Grant Service Corps, supported by the Office of Academic Affairs. Students learn how to assist nonprofits with grant research, through use of the University's "Work Hub," an on-campus worksite dedicated to community-campus collaborations. In all, students provided more than 100,000 hours of service to the local community in 2011-12.

  honor roll puentes al futuro kids.jpg    The Puentes al Futuro/Bridges to the Future Mentoring Program demonstrates Eastern's commitment to community service. English Language Learners (ELL) in the Windham Public Schools struggle with assimilation into the school community both socially and academically. The Puentes al Futuro Program assisted ELL students at Windham Middle School (WMS) by integrating in-school tutoring and mentoring with afterschool and summer academic and cultural enrichment with the goal of encouraging students to excel academically and to attend college. The program is a collaborative effort between the Center for Community Engagement (CCE), WMS teachers, family liaisons, and afterschool program staff. WMS students have developed positive mentoring relationships with Eastern volunteers who have committed to continuing their mentoring relationship with the students as they transition to high school.

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       Students in the program showed very positive gains in math comprehension, from a mean of 17.8 on the pre-tests to a mean of 54.2 following the instruction. Comprehension remained high at the end of the six-week program, with a mean of 48.7. Students' language arts skills improved as they wrote poetry and performed before families. The project was supported by FWS, AmeriCorps VISTA and a state education grant.

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The Collegiate Health Service Corps (CHSC) is a program coordinated by the Center for Community Engagement with a community partner, Eastern Area Health Education Center. The CHSC's mission is to expose undergraduate students to health careers through service learning experiences that promote culturally competent health and disease prevention education to medically underserved communities. Student volunteers participate in three program phases of 25 hours each.
honor roll puentes al futuro college students.jpg     In the past year, nine students contributed 234 hours of service at three elementary schools and one after-school program at a community center in Windham, CT, during the academic year. Students conducted a needs assessment to identify nutrition, public health and wellness topics of interest to the children in each of the programs. They then developed lesson plans with weekly objectives and site-specific activities; 80 lessons were provided at the four sites. Subject areas included nutrition, bullying, staying physically active, hygiene, emergency preparedness and stress and behavior management. Students also worked with a local community garden. Program coordinators at the 4 sites expressed great satisfaction with the program, indicating that the children learned a great deal and the program helped address critical public health issues in the Windham community, which has the highest obesity rate in the state. The AmeriCorps program supported this program.

Honor Roll Day of Giving Student.jpg      Eastern's "Day of Giving," held on the day before Thanksgiving each year, has become one of the University's most highly acclaimed traditions. For six years in a row, more than 450 needy individuals and families have been served a Thanksgiving meal in the University's dining hall. This is a collaborative effort between students, faculty, administrators, contractors and service providers in the community to ensure that people who might otherwise go without a Thanksgiving meal are served with dignity and respect.  More than 100 volunteers from across the campus, including student servers and staff from the University's food service provider, come together to cook, serve, clean up and provide transportation for anyone in the local community who would like to attend.  In addition to the Thanksgiving meal, students work with local grocery stores to gather canned goods -- more than 5,000 items were delivered to soup kitchens and food pantries this past year.  

honor roll cce spring cleaning with kate.JPG     In all, Eastern students, faculty and staff donate more than 106,000 hours of time annually to local communities, a value of $2.3 million annually. "Congratulations to Eastern Connecticut State University," said Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS. "Through its work, institutions of higher education are helping improve their local communities and create a new generation of leaders by challenging students to go beyond the traditional college experience and solve local challenges."

     The CNCS oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education. Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors, including the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, the school's commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships, and measurable community outcomes as a result of the service.

Latino Migration Exhibit at the Windham Textile Museum

Written by Dwight Bachman


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                                                  Parade in Hartford                                                   

     Willimantic, Conn: -- Eastern Connecticut State University and the Windham Textile and History Museum will present, "The Latino Migration Exhibit," beginning March 22 and running through Dec. 8. The exhibition is being presented at the textile museum, which is located at 411 Main St. in Willimantic. Museum hours are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

     The exhibition is a multi-media documentation of the cultural, religious, political and economic life of Latinos in Willimantic, the result of almost two years of collaboration between the museum's board of directors and Eastern faculty and staff.  The Latino Migration Exhibit is part of a series of ethnic exhibitions by the Windham Textile and History Museum to document the histories of immigration to Windham and Willimantic. The exhibit also acknowledges and celebrates the significant contributions that immigrants from Europe, Canada, and Latin America have made to the development and growth of the region since the 19th migration customs.jpg

   Customs officials conduct their standard inspection of new arrivals from Puerto Rico.

     On April 13 from 2-5 p.m., a public reception will take place in the textile museum as part of the exhibit, and on April 19 at 7 p.m., Norma Boujouen will give a keynote address on Latino migration to Willimantic.


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Recruitment of Puerto Rican workers was facilitated by their citizenship status and the rapid expansion of commercial air traffic routes connecting Puerto Rico to the United States.

     Latinos in Willimantic are mostly of Puerto Rican heritage. "While the emphasis is mostly on Puerto Ricans because they still constitute the largest Latino sub-group in the town, through this multi-media presentation, we have also illustrated the recent history of immigration from Mexico, Guatemala, Panama and the Dominican Republic," said Ricardo Pérez, associate professor of anthropology at Eastern and guest curator. "We wanted to create a better representation of the changing landscape of Latino immigration to the town, which mirrors current trends in Latino immigration to other parts of the United States."

      "I am very pleased that our faculty and staff are part of this wonderful exhibit featuring the life of Latinos in Willimantic," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez, "and we are proud of the faculty members who have curated the exhibit. I think patrons and visitors of the Textile Museum will be impressed by the breadth of culture and history on display.  I encourage our entire community to visit the exhibit over the coming months."

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Working conditions were difficult at the Hartford Poultry Company's (HPC) chicken processing plant, with tens of thousands of chickens processed daily. Puerto Ricans, largely from the western town of San Sebastían, were recruited and flown to the United States to work in the HPC plant in Willimantic as early as 1958.

     The Puerto Rican community of Willimantic has its origins in the numerous workers who were recruited during the mid-1950s to work in such industries as poultry, meat packaging, and cotton and textiles, which provided steady employment to a large number of people in eastern Connecticut.

    "The main purpose of this exhibit is to celebrate the historical, economic and cultural contributions of a very dynamic and diverse Latino community," said Arroyo. "This exhibit about the history of Puerto Rican migration to Willimantic will contribute significantly to educate the general population by focusing on the positive contributions that Puerto Ricans have made to Willimantic's history and economy."


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Willimantic students in the Puentes al Futuro program receive cultural and enrichment activities as well as academic support in the summer and after-school during the school year.

     "Though the exhibit room is not large, it is filled to the rafters with an impressive display of the culture and history of Latinos," said Jamie Eves, executive director at the mill museum. "We have secured historical documents and materials that will be displayed during the exhibit. We also have identified and selected members from Puerto Rican families that first migrated to town for interviews about the history and development of the Puerto Rican community and other Latino groups since the mid-20th century."

     The exhibit focuses on four themes: labor migration, culture, religion and politics.  Eves, who is also a part-time lecturer in Eastern's History Department, provides the historical background to the economic significance of labor migration to Willimantic's economy. Interviews are conducted with Felipe Silva, a man who worked in both the Hartford Poultry Company chicken processing plant and the American Thread Company, and Maria Rivera, a woman who worked at the chicken processing facility.


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                                  Mexico Festival:  Cinco de Mayo celebration.

     While the cultural focus of the exhibit is on Puerto Ricans, it also includes information on Mexicans and Mexican celebrations such as Cinco de Mayo. Interviewees on the exhibit's videos include Leonor Vásquez, who organized the Puerto Rican Awareness Week in 1987; Sofía Cortez-Gómez, who chaired Colectivo Mestizal, a cultural group dedicated to promoting Latino American and Caribbean culture in eastern Connecticut; Leticia Rodríguez, who volunteers to organize the Cinco de Mayo Festival; and Luis Díaz, a retired schoolteacher who talked about the historical significance of race and ethnicity in understanding Puerto Rican culture.

     The exhibit was installed by Roxanne Deojay, interim director of the Akus Gallery at Eastern and Art Professor Imna Arroyo, a well-known Puerto Rican artist whose work critically explores issues about culture and identity. The exhibition will showcase Latino artifacts, music, festivals, lectures, traditions, paintings, printmaking, sculpture and video kiosks, with images reproduced electronically.

Admission for adults is $7; students and seniors are $5; and tickets for members of groups are $4. Museum members and Kids Club members are admitted free of charge. Guided tours take place on Sunday at 2 p.m.

     For more information on the "Latino Migration Exhibit," contact Perez at ; (860) 465-0191.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

Christophr J. Herman

 Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's Women's Center is coordinating a one-mile march to address issues of gender violence at 11 a.m. on April 9 in front of the Student Center.

According to the National Association for Women (NOW), one woman is beaten by her husband or partner every 15 seconds in the United States. NOW also reports that three to four million women in the United States are beaten in their homes each year by their husbands, ex-husband or male lovers.

The march is designed to promote gender equality by critically examining cultural ideals of gender and gender relations. Students, faculty and the public are invited to participate and help address issues of how gender is shaped by social class, ethnicity, age, religion, sexual orientation and geographic location.

For more information on the event, contact Starsheemar Byrum at (860) 465-4313 or

Concert Chorale's Fund-Raising Dinner

Written by Dwight Bachman

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Willimantic, Conn:  -- The Concert Chorale at Eastern Connecticut State University is hosting a pasta fund-raising dinner on April 6 at 5 p.m. at St. Joseph Church in Willimantic to benefit Eastern Concert Chorale's performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City in March 2014. Tickets are $8 and $5 for seniors and children 12 and under.
Several of the chamber vocal and instrumental ensembles will perform for dinner guests, as well as act as hosts for the evening, which will include a raffle. For more information on the dinner, contact David Belles at or call (860) 465-0246.

Eastern Connecticut State University is the state's public liberal arts university and serves approximately 5,400 students each year on its Willimantic campus and satellite locations. It is the policy of Eastern Connecticut State University to ensure equal access to its events. If you are an individual with a disability and will need accommodations for this event, please contact the Office of University Relations at (860) 465-5735.

Early Childhood Education Wins Telly Award

Written by Rebecca Holdridge

cece-cfdrc children.jpgWillimantic, Conn.  Eastern Connecticut State University's Center for Early Childhood Education (CECE) has been awarded a prestigious Telly Award for the production of "Investigating Balls" in the Internet/Online Video Education category. The Telly Awards honor outstanding television, video and film production programs, focusing on the technical quality, rather than on content.

 "Investigating Balls" is part of the newest series of videos from the CECE, which highlights how teachers at Eastern's Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC) implement engaging projects on a variety of topics. The video features teachers Amy Tyler, Patty Gardner and Amie Theriault, as well as Niloufar Rezai, director of the CFDRC, as they describe how they engaged preschoolers in different learning activities while investigating the properties of balls.
 "Since releasing the video last fall, we have received very positive feedback from those in the early childhood field about how useful they've found the content of this video," says Julia DeLapp, the CECE's program coordinator. "It's great to get acknowledgement for the technical quality of the video as well."

 Individuals responsible for developing "Investigating Balls" include Ken Measimer as director of the video; students Sean Leser and Ross Page as videographer/editor and music composer respectively; and alumnus Nick Napoletano in animation.

 This is the third Telly Award that the CECE has received. The first two were awarded in 2010 and 2011.

Eastern Presents Author Lisa Taylor

Written by Rebecca Holdridge

Lisa Taylor Photo (2).jpgWillimantic, Conn. Author Lisa Taylor will present a poetry reading from her latest book, "Necessary Silence," on April 4 at 7 p.m. in Room 301 of the Science Building at Eastern Connecticut State University. A book signing and light refreshments will follow the reading.

Taylor's creative writing has appeared in "The Worcester Review," "Haight Ashbury Literary Review," "Birmingham Poetry Review," and many other journals. "Necessary Silence" was unveiled at the Willimantic Public Library on March 16. This is Taylor's fourth collection of poetry.    

Taylor graduated from the Stonecoast Master of Fine Arts Program at the University of Southern Maine, and is a former fellow at the Vermont Studio Center. This summer, she will be a fellow at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland. She has traveled across the United States and Ireland to read her work.

For her reading schedule, visit


Social Work Club to Host Seminars on Dating Violence

Written by Christopher J. Herman

Willimantic, Conn: -- Members of the Social Work Club at Eastern Connecticut State
University are hosting, "Dating Without Hating: Taking a Stand Against Dating Violence," a series of workshops on April 9-10 designed to raise public awareness on dating violence, as well as policies and services available to protect students from dating violence. The initiative, supervised by Sociology Professor Thomas Broffman, aims to reach victims and also provide friends of victims and batterers with tools of intervention when they see red flags for dating violence.
The initiative, with support from Eastern's Women's Center, hopes to engage student clubs and raise public awareness in activities taking place in residence halls and sporting events. In addition to teaching Eastern students what constitutes dating violence, the group's specific objectives include teaching the warning signs of dating violence;  teaching bystanders what to do to help a victim; and because the group believes dating violence can only be ended if both men and women work together, encouraging men to attend the workshops.
The initiative cites the dating violence tragedy that occurred when Yeardley Love, a 22-year-old, fun-loving and ambitious lacrosse player for the University of Virginia was brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend.

On April 9, from 10:30 a.m. to noon, an information table with educational literature will be set up in the Student Center. A trivia game featuring multiple choice questions on dating violence statistics and healthy versus unhealthy relationships will enable students of directly engage in a discussion on dating violence.

On April 10 at 3 p.m., Duane de Four, public speaker, educator and blogger from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will discuss healthy relationships, dating violence and bystander intervention during University Hour in the Betty R. Tipton room.

Also on April 10, from 5- 6 p.m. de Four will lead a session on dating violence for male students only. From 7 to 8 p.m., de Four will lead a third and final session, "Standing up for Love," providing his perspective on the tragic Yeardley Love incident.
 Research indicates dating that violence occurs in one out of five college dating relationships; 58 percent of students do not know how to help a friend who is a victim to partner violence; 40 percent of victims are under age 18, while 80 percent of victims are under 30 years of age; individuals between the ages of 20 and 24 are the most at-risk population for partner violence; 440 men were killed due to a violent relationship in 2000; in 2010, 1,017 women were killed by their intimate partner in the United States; and last year, nearly 2,400 women and children stayed in Connecticut domestic violence shelters because they were in serious physical danger.

Eastern Present the Campus Slammer

Written by Rebecca Holddrige

Willimantic, Conn. The Campus Slammer, a statewide Connecticut story slam event, will take place on April 9 from 7-9 p.m. in Room 110 of Webb Hall at Eastern Connecticut State University. Anyone affiliated with a college or university in Connecticut is invited to participate.

Participants need only to put their name in a hat to "slam the story down" and share a five-minute personal story on the selected theme. No reading from a script is allowed. 

Several other Connecticut colleges and universities including the University of Connecticut, Western Connecticut State University, Manchester Community College and the University of Hartford, are holding their own slam events. Two finalists from each slam will move on to the Campus Slammer Finals at Connecticut College in New London on April 27. The final winners will receive free entry to the Connecticut Storytelling Festival.

For more information, visit

Eastern's Environmental Alternative Spring Break

Written by Christopher J. Herman

Willimantic, Conn. -Eastern Connecticut State University's Center for Community Engagement is sponsoring a group of Eastern students who are participating in the Alternative Environmental Spring Break Trip on March 22 and 23. The Environmental Trip project team, along with Connecticut Forest and Parks Association and the Connecticut Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club,  is also holding a free special screening of the film, "Seeking the Current" for the public at 4 p.m. on March 24 at the Connecticut Forest and Park Association Headquarters.
"Seeking the Current" stars filmmakers Nicolas Boisclair and Alexis de Geheldere as they canoe the entire 500-kilometer course on the pristine Romaine River in Quebec before Hydro-Quebec begins construction on four hydroelectric plants. Along with Roy Dupuis, one of Canada's most renowned actors, Boisclair and de Geheldere explore a wide variety of renewable green energies and their profitability by interviewing experts across Quebec.

Volunteers from the Connecticut Forest and Parks Association and the Connecticut Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club are providing meaningful service projects, educational opportunities and environmental experiences for Eastern students and their trip advisor this year, Biology Professor Elizabeth Cowles. Eastern students will have the opportunity to build log and lumber bridges, based on the theories and understanding of nature of Henry Thoreau and Gifford Pinchot. They will also participate in a panel discussion with conservation and environmental experts about environmental sustainability. Participants are also hoping to perform some trail work on a portion of the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut. The student trip leader is Calvin Underwood.
           For more information on the screening of "Seeking the Current" and Eastern's Alternative Spring Break Trip program, contact Kim Silcox at (860) 465-4426.

Police Department Holds Tip-A-Cop Event

Written by Danielle Couture

Willimantic, CT - - The Eastern Connecticut State University Police Department will work with the Middletown Police Department, in conjunction with Special Olympics Connecticut, to hold "Tip-A-Cop" from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on March 21 at the Amici Italian Grill at 280 Main St., Middletown. This is the first time that the Eastern police department has worked with Middletown police on this project.
Middletown and Eastern Connecticut State University police officers will be taking orders and serving customers for lunch and dinner alongside Amici Italian Grill staff to support Special Olympics Connecticut.

Tip-A-Cop will donate 100 percent of the tips made to benefit the 13,000 athletes and partners of Special Olympics Connecticut.  Amici Italian Grill will donate 10 percent of the sales on March 21 to support the event.

The Special Olympics, the charity of law enforcement officers all over the world, provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. This competition gives them the opportunity to develop physical fitness; demonstrate courage; experience joy; and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

For more information contact Thomas Madera at or call him at (860)-465-0007.

Gambling Awareness Campaign

Written by Danielle Couture

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Left to right, Leslie Bueno, Mary-Beth Bailey, Stacei Browne, Stacie Greeno, President Elsa Nunez, Christine Lillis and Sociology Professor Thomas Broffman.

Willimantic, CT - - Thomas Broffman, assistant professor of social work, and five students in the Social Work program are coordinating a gambling awareness campaign during the spring semester to educate the Eastern Connecticut State University community on the warning signs and issues of problem gambling. The campaign is sponsored by the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling.
 The campaign consists of several events that run into April. The campaign's first event welcomed Joe Turbessi, author of "Into the Muck," to Eastern on Feb. 21. Turbessi discussed how his experiences with gambling led to problems in his social and financial life, and how he eventually recovered.
 Eastern residence halls have events planned for the month of March to spread awareness and inform students on the effects of gambling. According to the Connecticut Council on problem gambling, the rate of gambling on college campuses is twice that of the general population. The campaign team wants to bring this message to where students live. They are concerned with the severity of the punishment and the lack of follow-up provided for those who are caught gambling in residence halls.
The next event will take place at 6:30 p.m. on April 4 in the Paul E. Johnson Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library, where a panel of six recovering gamblers will speak to Eastern students about their experiences and inform the community of support programs being offered.

For more information on Gambling Awareness Semester at Eastern, contact Thomas Broffman at (860) 465-0298 or

Arts and Culture Series

Written by Christopher J. Herman

Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's Center of Community Engagement (CCE) will host its annual Arts and Culture Series from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. on March 21 and 22 in Mead Hall.
              The Arts and Culture Series is performed by Eastern students for local Connecticut school children in elementary afterschool programs. More than 200 students are expected to come to campus on both days to engage in a variety of activities, where they will learn about this year's theme -- India. 
         Eastern's Repertory Dance Troupe is choreographing a dance based on traditional Indian styles to teach the students. Nanette Tummers, professor of health and physical education, will teach them yoga. Neeta Omprakash, a visiting Fulbright Scholar with the Visual Arts Department, will lead storytelling sessions. In concert with Omprakash's story, the program will have a read-a-long, borrowing a book from the J. Eugene Smith Library.

Arts and crafts are based on traditional crafts from India and will include making patakas, a traditional style of flag; kites; and cut-out hands to create henna designs. The arts and crafts program is led by students Shawn McCabe, Elliot Woolworth, Josh Beltre, Federicca Bucca and Megan Sniffin, and is advised by Omprakash and Vista/Volunteer and Event Coordinator Jacqueline De Cormier.
          For more information on Eastern's Arts and Culture Series, contact Jacqueline De Cormier at

Alternative Spring Break Trips

Written by Christopher J. Herman

Willimantic, Conn. - For the second year in a row, Eastern Connecticut State University's Center of Community Engagement will sponsor two groups of Eastern students participating in Alternative Spring Break trips on March 22 and 23. This year's trips have students working for the "Environmental Trip" and Hurricane Sandy disaster relief.

The Environmental Trip group will remain in Connecticut to participate in environmental programs and activities. Students will have the opportunity to build log and lumber bridges based on the theories and understanding of nature of Henry Thoreau and Gifford Pinchot. They will also participate in a panel discussion with conservation and environmental experts about environmental sustainability. The trip participants are hoping to also perform some trail work on a portion of the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut, as well as a short hike. The student trip leader is Calvin Underwood.

The second group, led by students Brielle Heinl, Christina Mazzatti and Rebecca Ingoglia, is going to New Jersey to engage in Hurricane Sandy disaster relief work. The students and their advisors, Anthony Aidoo, professor of mathematics, and Hall Director Emma Blandford, will work on volunteer projects in Ocean and Atlantic Counties. Specifically, they will work in Tom's River, Seaside Heights, Manahawkin, Atlantic City, Brigantine and several other communities affected by Hurricane Sandy. Their projects will include removing sand from buildings and homes; rebuilding dunes; improving trails and parks; working in after-school programs; painting projects and working in community food banks, just to name a few.                                The Alternative Spring Break Program allows students to use their spring break to perform meaningful service for the community. The trips give students an opportunity to meet new people, learn new things and to step away from traditional learning and living. Each weekend or weeklong trip integrates service, reflection and education, and focuses on topics such as poverty, hunger, housing, health care and disaster relief. Trips are offered throughout the year in local and national destinations.

For more information on Eastern's Alternative Spring Break Program, visit

Eastern Chamber Singers to Tour

Written by Nana OwusuAgyemang

chamber singers 1.jpgWillimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's Chamber Singers will perform on March 24 at 7 p.m. at Christ Church on Capitol Square in Raleigh, NC. The performance is part of the University's premiere vocal ensemble annual Spring Tour.  A varied program of a cappella choral music will be presented.  Admission is free although donations will be accepted.

The Chamber Singers is composed of 20-25 auditioned singers from various departments throughout the University. Repertoire performed by the Eastern Chamber Singers encompasses chamber music from more than four centuries.
The annual Spring Tour allows the Eastern Chamber Singers to share their music beyond the boundaries of the University; enrich the musical lives of audiences both near and far; and enhance the cultural experience for members of the ensemble.

In addition to local appearances throughout Connecticut--including performing with Connecticut's professional choir CONCORA -- members of Eastern's Chamber Singers have visited recent tour destinations such as Montreal, Washington, DC., and Carnegie Hall in New York City, as well as the upcoming performance in Raleigh.
Donations at the door will be used to help fund the Chamber Singers' upcoming performance at Carnegie Hall in 2014.

Eastern to Host 36th Annual College Bowl

Written by Gabrielle Little

College bowl.jpgWillimantic, CT - Eastern Connecticut State University will host the 36th annual College Bowl at 7 p. m. on March 18 in the Student Center Theatre. The public is invited. Admission is free. Timothy Swanson, associate professor of physics, will host the show.

The College Bowl is a single elimination competition that consists of teams representing various academic majors on campus. The Biology team and Mathematics team are this year's finalists. In the semi-final matches, The Biology team beat the History Department Team, and The Mathematics Team beat the team of Biochemistry majors.

The winning team will be presented with a "traveling plaque," for display by the winning department for one year. The plaque was made by a member of the first winning team in 1977 and has been presented to winning teams for the past 35 years.

For more information about the show, contact Zosia Carlquist at (860) 465-4317 or, or Timothy Swanson at (860) 465-5217or


Eastern to Hold Play Readings

Written by Nana OwusuAgyemang 

 Willimantic, Conn. - The Performing Arts Department and Drama Society at Eastern Connecticut State University will present the spring 2013 Phoenix New Play Series at 7:30 p.m. on March 16 in the University's Student Center Theater. The public is invited. Admission is free.

 The play series consists of rehearsed readings of student-written and directed one-act comic mysteries. These new works feature the outstanding talents of student writers, directors and actors. Four plays were written by current students; two were written by alumni.

 Plays to be read include "It Was You... Right?," written by Shane Kegler '11 and directed by Amanda Conkey; "The Alien," written by Kegler and directed by Shannon Erwin; "Sacrifices For The Sake Of Art," written by Alex Renner '11 and directed by Kelsey Guggenheim; and "It's All Reich," written by Christopher Herman and directed by Corey Welden.

 The Drama Society's Phoenix New Play Series began in the 1960s. Its mission is to feature student-written/student-directed new works using a bare-stage minimalist approach in order to focus on the dialog. "The present directors and their casts have worked diligently to bring the plays from 'page to stage' as rehearsed readings which will offer clearly defined characters, relationships, and situations in a manner that focuses on the writers' words," said Theatre Professor Ellen Brodie.

"The plays presented this spring may move to other venues as well," continued Brodie. "In the professional world of theatre, rehearsed readings are the essential next step for a playwright to hear the text and audience response, in order to prepare for fully staged presentation in the future. The Phoenix New Play Series offers these new works for the audience's delight and critiquing."

For more information, please call the Performing Arts Department at (860) 465-5325 or visit the Performing Arts website at

Eastern to Present "Mother Goddess" Exhibition

Written by Nana OwusuAgyemang

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       Left, installation artist Amina Ahmed, and right, curator Neeta Omrpakash.


Willimantic, Conn. - The Visual Arts Department and Akus Gallery at Eastern Connecticut State University will present the exhibition, "From Motherhood to Mother Goddess," from March 14 to April 25.

The opening reception on March 14 will feature English Professor and storyteller Raouf Mama; Tenzin Wangchuk who will perform Tibetan chants; and performance artist Karen Dolminitsh. The reception will take place from 4-7 p.m. in the Akus Gallery on the lower level of Shafer Hall. A related symposium takes place on April 3 from 3-5 p.m. in Shafer Auditorium with scholars from various disciplines and cultural backgrounds.

akus-mobile color.jpg"The more than 30 artworks in this exhibition are an attempt to analyze the process of transcendence from motherhood to Mother Goddess," said Neeta Omprakash Naique, curator and Nehru Fullbright scholar.  "The artists have expressed their views and queries in visual language, bringing together iconic as well as anthropomorphic forms of Mother Goddesses from Tibet, India, Africa and America's Marilyn Monroe!" These artists are local, national, international and reveal the universality of this theme.

akus mail.jpeg"The 16 participants of this exhibition are first-and second-generation transnational artists from India, Africa, Cuba and Puerto Rico who question the tradition of worship, and juxtapose it with contemporary reality," said Gail Gelburd, professor and chair of the Visual Arts Department. "They further make an attempt to connect with personal experience and give it a universal connotation, and in turn, propel one to question the very concept of the Mother Goddess. In doing so, they invariably search for the one (Mother Goddess) from their contemporary society."

Omprakash says, "The process of de-coding the meaning of various symbols and the revelation of the inherent meaning is amazing and enriching. This exhibition further adds colors from America onto my Indian palette."

Omprakash has become the quintessential transnational engaged in global exploration. akus-koulikoro-woman-peggy-blood.jpgShe has reached across thousands of miles from Goa, India to Connecticut, to explore the myths of gods and goddesses. As a resident Nehru-Fulbright scholar, she has inculcated students and faculty with the myths of India, while discovering the diversity of the United States. Using her role as an art critic, she has explored the art of African American, Cuban, Latina and Tibetan art and the diversity that represents art in the United States. "She has found a bond in the universality of the Mother and the Goddess. In this exhibition and catalog, she shares that transnational universality," said Gelburd.

For more information about the exhibition, please contact the Akus Gallery at or (860) 465-4659

Eastern Chamber Singers to Tour

Written by Nana Ama OwusuAgyemang

chamber singers.jpg Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's Chamber Singers will perform on March 24 at 7 p.m. at Christ Church on Capitol Square in Raleigh, NC. The performance is part of the University's premiere vocal ensemble annual Spring Tour.  A varied program of a cappella choral music will be presented.  Admission is free although donations will be accepted.

The Chamber Singers is composed of 20-25 auditioned singers from various departments throughout the University. Repertoire performed by the Eastern Chamber Singers encompasses chamber music from more than four centuries.
The annual Spring Tour allows the Eastern Chamber Singers to share their music beyond the boundaries of the University; enrich the musical lives of audiences both near and far; and enhance the cultural experience for members of the ensemble.

In addition to local appearances throughout Connecticut--including performing with Connecticut's professional choir CONCORA -- members of Eastern's Chamber Singers have visited recent tour destinations such as Montreal, Washington, DC., and Carnegie Hall in New York City, as well as the upcoming performance in Raleigh.
Donations at the door will be used to help fund the Chamber Singers' upcoming performance at Carneige Hall in 2014.


Eastern to Hold Vocal Recital for Professor Riggs

Written by Nana OwusuAgyemang

emily riggs BEST.jpg Willimantic, Conn. - The Performing Arts Department at Eastern Connecticut State University will hold a faculty solo vocal recital to welcome new faculty member Emily Riggs on March 10 at 3 p.m. in Shafer Auditorium. The vocal recital will feature Riggs singing in a variety of languages. The public is invited. Admission is free.

Riggs, a new voice professor and Vocal Studies coordinator at the University, is a soprano singer and an active member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Her current research and performance focuses on 20th and 21st century art song of Latin America. Riggs has recorded and translated more than 50 songs by world-class composers from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Perú and Venezuela, and appears regularly with her husband, Perúvian pianist David Ballena, in performances throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

Active as a soloist and recitalist, Riggs recently collaborated with the two-time Grammy Award-winning music ensemble, Eighth Blackbird, in a performance of Schoenberg's chamber music works at the University of Richmond. This past January, she received critical acclaim from The New York Times for her performance in the Brooklyn Art Song Society's presentation of Charles Ives' complete songbook, "114 Songs," at the Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn, NY.

Non-Credit Classes Supporting Children's Creativity and Skills

Written by Danielle Couture

Willimantic, CT - - The School of Continuing Education at Eastern Connecticut State University will be offering three non-credit classes in March, April and May in the Child and Family Development Resource Center that support young children's creativity and skills.

Teresa Surprenant, instructor of education, will teach "Supporting Your Child's Musical Development." The class will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on March 18. The class is an informative, hands-on musical event that will enable parents to learn about their child's musical development and how to support it. Childcare will be provided.

Surprenant will also teach "Supporting Your Child's Literacy Skills Through Daily Routines." The class will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on April 10. The class enables families to support their children's development by engaging them in meaningful discussions during daily routines.

Visual Arts Professor Claudia Widdis, will teach "Exploring Abstract Wood Sculpture." The class will run from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on May 7. During the class, families will be using wood and other materials to make fun creations for children.

The fee for each workshop is $10 per adult. Dinner will be served from 5:30-6 p.m. To register, contact Indira Petoskey, assistant dean of the School of Continuing Education, at (860) 465-5066 or

Visiting Writers Series Presents Michael Sheehan

Written by Rebecca Holdridge

Michael Sheehan Photo.jpgWillimantic, Conn. The Eastern Visiting Writers Series at Eastern Connecticut State University will present author Michael Sheehan for a book signing and reading on March 6 from 7-8 p.m. in Room 301 of the Science Building.
 Sheehan will read from "Proposals for the Recovery of the Apparently Drowned," published by Colony Collapse Press in 2012. Refreshments will follow the reading.
 Michael Sheehan's fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared or are upcoming in "Conjunctions," "Necessary Fiction," "The Quarterly Conversation," and "The Rumpus." He graduated from the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Arizona, and was a fellow of the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and the Vermont Studio Center. Sheehan currently serves as the reviews editor and assistant fiction editor for "Diagram," and formerly the editor-in-chief of "Sonora Review." 

Eastern to Host Star Show

Written by Gabrielle Little

Star Projector .jpgWillimantic, Conn. - The Robert K. Wickware Planetarium at Eastern Connecticut State University will host a star show titled, "Comets," at 5:30 p.m. on March 11. The public is invited. Admission is free. Russell Sampson, associate professor of physical sciences, will host the show.

During the show, Sampson will present some of the latest highlights from space science and astronomy. A question and answer session will follow.
The next planetarium show will take place on April 29 at 5:30 p.m. For tickets or free private star shows, contact Zosia Carlquist at (860) 465-4317 or, or Sampson at (860) 465-0188 or

Healing: A Mechanism for Social Justice

Written by Gabrielle Little

arisa white (2).jpgWillimantic, CT - Artist and activist Arisa White will present a creative writing workshop at Eastern Connecticut State University on March 13 at 11 a.m. in Room 223 in the Student Center.  White will also speak that same day during Eastern's University Hour Series from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre. The public is invited. Admission is free.

White's presentation will discuss mechanisms for healing; her role as an activist against domestic violence; and how to achieve social justice.

White is a Pushcart Prize nominee; received the Cave Canem Fellowship Award in 2011, and has been nominated for a 2013 NAACP Image Award for her book, "Hurrah's Nest."  She is also the author of the poetry chapbooks, "Disposition for Shininess" and "Post Pardon." White received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

CAPTION: Artist and activist Arisa White

Eastern Hosts Post-Graduate Service Panel

Written by Danielle Couture

Willimantic, CT - - Eastern's Center for Community Engagement will host a post-graduate service panel in the Student Center Theatre from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on March 7, which will consist of a discussion on the personal experiences of participants in AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, FoodCorps and Teach for America.

            The panelists include Kate Callahan, FoodCorps member and registered dietitian; Liz Broussard, FoodCorps member; Chris Brechlin, AmeriCorps member and coordinator for the Nonprofit Alliance of Northeast Connecticut; Kat Womboldt, a Teach for America teacher in the Windham Center School; Brianna London '10, who served in the Peace Corps as a woman and community business development specialist in Burkina Faso, West Africa; Luke Walsh, AmeriCorps member and coordinator for the Nonprofit Alliance of Northeast CT; and Logan Place, Eastern Area Health Education Center AmeriCorps member.

            Panelists will provide information about their jobs, experiences and how they initially got involved in their organization. A question-and-answer session will follow the discussion.

            "This event will provide students the opportunity to broaden their career options and apply a networking opportunity in vibrant public service organizations," said Janell Lewis, a senior from Hamden majoring in psychology who organized the event        

For more information on the post-graduate panel, contact Jacqui DeCormier by e-mail at or by phone at (860) 465-5158.


Eastern Honors Winners of MLK Distinguished Service Award

Written by Gabrielle Little

MLK Award Winners 2013.jpgWillimantic, CT - Eastern Connecticut State University presented the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award to senior Soely Barros, Indira Petoskey, assistant dean of the School Continuing Education and the Honorable Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Lubbie Harper Jr. at a reception on Feb. 27 in the J. Eugene Smith Library. The awards recognize members of the campus community and community-at-large whose actions demonstrate distinguished service in promoting the ideals of King, and to further the goals of diversity and social equality.  

MLK Bille Jean Young speaking.jpgActor and poet Billie Jean Young delivered the keynote address. She encouraged the audience to love and demonstrate love through unselfish commitment. "Love has the capacity to transform humanity," she said. "Some of the greatest accomplishments in the world have come about through love. Love can conquer hate and bring abomination to its knees." She described a member of civil rights and social activist, people who demonstrated "love with its working clothes on." Young ended her presentation with her self-written signature poem, "Fear Not to Fall," the title of her latest book.

MLK audience.jpg

"Tonight's award recipients help us highlight Dr. King's legacy, one that is an enduring message of love, justice and unity; a dream not yet fully realized," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez, as she acknowledged the recipients for their work in relation to Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy. "King said; 'Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.'"

MLK Soel Barros speaking.jpg 

Barros '13, a double major in Spanish and social work carrying a 4.0 GPA in Spanish and 3.4 GPA in Social Work, currently serves as the president of the African Club of Eastern (A.C.E). Barros also serves as a bilingual tutor for Eastern's Dual Initiative Program, where she helped incoming students transition to college. Barros works in the the Study Abroad office under the School of Continuing Education, and volunteers as an intern at the North Windham Elementary School, where she mentors 12 elementary schoolchildren. Barros cited Dr. King, "'If you can't fly, run. If you can't run, walk. If you can't walk, crawl, but whatever you do, keep moving.' That's what I've learned from the people I come across in life. Although I am graduating from Eastern, I will be here in spirit."


MLK Indira Petoskey speaking.jpgPetoskey, affectionately known as "Dr. P," oversee international students, global field courses, non-credit professional programs, along with national student exchange and study abroad. She also participates in the Hartford Immigrant Advisory Group, and conducts English and English as a Second Language (ESL) tutoring sessions. She also volunteers with her church to serve the community by conducting clothing and food drives; visits the sick in hospitals and intheir homes; and participates in the Multicultural Think Tank for the New England Resource Center for Higher Education (NERCHE). Petoskey said she chooses to love unconditionally in spite of her circumstances. "I overcome worries by trusting God, and I overcome hurts inflicted by others through loving people." She quoted Martin Luther King Jr. saying, "I have decided to stick with love; hate is too great of a burden to bear."

The Honorable Supreme Court Justice Lubbie Harper Jr. was nominated to the position of Superior Court Judge in 1997 by Governor John Rowland. On Jan. 5, 2005, Governor M. Jodi Rell nominated Harper to the Appellate Court. On Feb. 23, 2011, Governor Dannel P. Malloy nominated Harper for elevation to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

MLK Justice Harper speaking.jpg "As I reflect on the significance of this award, I am reminded of Dr. King's dream and admiration for our nation. I am reminded that we are still chasing the dream." said Harper. He ended with a quote from Dr. King: "'It is only in the dark that, you can see the stars'" - so, as we continue to search for the stars, we must always keep in mind the works of public service and our obligation to make a difference."


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