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May 2013 Archives

Eastern Police Offer Bike Classes for Officers

Written by Dwight Bachman

Willimantic, Conn. -- Police officers from Derby, Milford, Norwich, University of Vermont and the Connecticut State Police have converged on the campus of Eastern Connecticut State University to learn how to effectively ride a bike while on patrol. Eastern police officers Jim Salvatore and Jene Comstock are also participating in the class.

Lt. Thomas Madera, operations commander for Eastern's Police Department, is the lead instructor for the class. Police officers will be taught how to maneuver through tight spaces; climb curbs and stairs; how to ride in traffic; learn proper use of gears; and effectively use their brakes. They will also learn defensive tactics and how to balance at slow speeds.

"Riding a bicycle may seem easy," said Madera. "After all, most everyone has ridden a bike before. And we've all fallen off many times. Police officers whose primary duty is to ensure public safety have a heightened sense of duty and responsibility to hone the skill of bike riding, as they often find themselves in crisis situations. The bike also enables officers to more easily engage in community policing -- interacting more closely with individuals; gaining their trust; and letting them know we are their friends and caretakers, there to ensure public comfort and safety as much as possible."

The bike class runs this week from May 20-24. Classes will also be taught to officers from other police departments  on June 10-14 and July 15-19. For more information about the bicycle classes, contact Madera at or (860)-465-5310 or (860) 465-0007.

Eastern to Host "College Knowledge Days"

Written by Dwight Bachman

college knowledge class.jpgWillimantic, Conn. - On May 21, 22 and 23, more than 1,470 students in grades five through 12 will gather in the Betty R. Tipton Room in the Student Center at Eastern Connecticut State University to participate in "College Knowledge Days." The students will come from schools in Bloomfield, Bridgeport, Coventry, Bethel, Danbury, East Hartford, Ellington, Enfield, Vernon, Hartford, Manchester, Meriden, New Britain, New Haven, Norwalk, Sandy Hook, Stamford, West Hartford, Storrs, Pawcatuck, Union, Watertown, Wethersfield, Willimantic and Gales Ferry.

college knowledge fountain.jpgThe visiting students will participate in a number of lectures and group activities facilitated by Eastern staff. The presentation, "Preparing for the Future," instructs students on how to research and choose the college that is right for them. The presentation, "Financing My Future," focuses on paying for a postsecondary education. Group discussions will analyze payment options such as federal student aid, grants, work-study and loans. Group activities such as "When I Grow Up," will give visiting students the opportunity to discuss what they want for a future career and the process that it takes to attain that career.

 "College Knowledge Days are a great opportunity for students and educators to start the conversation about postsecondary options," said LaQuana Price, Eastern's assistant director of admissions, who coordinated the event. "The program allows students to start planning early for their future."


Carlotta Walls LaNier Inspires Eastern Graduates

Written by Dwight Bachman and Ed Osborn

lanier speaking ok.jpgWillimantic, Conn. --  1,256 undergraduates and 41 graduate students heard the roars and cheers of thousands of their family members and friends as they celebrated their achievements at Eastern Connecticut State University's 123nd  Commencement exercises at the XL Center in Hartford on May 14. 

Carlotta Walls LaNier, the youngest member of the "Little Rock Nine," gave the Commencement Address, telling the graduates "This is your moment, a time you have been looking forward to and working toward since you first arrived at Eastern.  Celebrate the moment; seize it.  Step out into your future bravely and boldly."  LaNier noted that the graduates were bound to encounter challenges.  Those experiences will be "the greatest teacher in the grand classroom of life. Those challenges will show you who you really are."

The Little Rock Nine was a group of nine African American students who desegregated Central High School in Little Rock, AR, in 1957. Due to the segregation policies of Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus and the mob atmosphere in Little Rock at the time, President Dwight Eisenhower ordered 1,000 members of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division to Arkansas to provide protection and escort the nine students to class throughout the 1957-58 school year.

Despite the daily military escort, LaNier and her friends were kicked, hit with rocks, threatened, and shunned. Her own home was firebombed.  As the onslaught continued, "the more determined I became to get my diploma."  Today, she has "made peace with my past."
LaNier turned to the Class of 2013 and encouraged them to have the same commitment: "Finish whatever goals you have set for yourself.  Find the strength, fortitude and determination to see it through. When you see injustice, how will you respond?  I hope you take the heroic stand." LaNier was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa at the Commencement Exercises.
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Eastern President Elsa M. Nunez told the graduates, "There is no other country in the world that places its future so firmly in the hands of the people.  You are now the next generation of citizen leaders in our state and in our nation.  . . . The world needs your energy, your enthusiasm, and your skills . . . There is a challenge out there ready for you to conquer, whether it's helping out at your church or synagogue, volunteering at the local senior center, or inventing a new surgical procedure. There is a team somewhere that needs you to complete its mission."


commencement two grads.jpgAs an example of the contributions Eastern students are making in the world, Nunez cited more than 100,000 hours of volunteer work performed by Eastern students, faculty, and staff each year in local communities, noting that President Barack Obama's had named Eastern to his National Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the third time in four years that past March.At the same time, President Nunez told the graduates to "be yourself and do what makes you happy," and quoted New England bard Henry Thoreau, who wrote: "Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still."


commencement - happy grads.jpgFrom the Governor's Foot Guard Color Guard in attendance, to the plaintive sound of the bagpipes of the St. Patrick's Pipe Band and the pre-event music of the Thread City Brass Quintet, Eastern's graduation ceremonies were marked by dignity, grace and elegance. Senior Jessica Johnson sang "America the Beautiful," and Senior Class President Thomas Balestracci presented President Núñez with the class gift, a scholarship funded by more than 200 donations from the graduating class. Balestracci encouraged his classmates to continue donating so that the scholarship would grow. "We have all benefited from our experiences here at Eastern. These experiences are the ones that we will keep with us forever as we move on. They will be the ones we will look back upon and realize that they have helped us become who we are today.  We lived up each day like it was our last at Eastern, and now, it really is our last day. We have turned our dreams into reality during our time at this University and we made memories that will last a lifetime."

commencement - melendez.jpgYvette Melendez, vice president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education, the governing body for the 17 Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, brought greetings on behalf of the Board of Regents.  "Congratulations to each and every one of you for reaching this incredible milestone.  This is one of those moments that will forever be embedded in your memory.  You are at the beginning of a future you have just begun to mold.  You took the first step in that journey by enrolling at Eastern.  You have much to be proud of."  Meléndez urged the graduates to make their contribution to society "in the way that Eastern has taught you.  You have worked exceedingly hard . . . you have learned that regardless of major, you are part of a community."


nana speaking blog.jpgNana Owusu-Agyemang of Ghana, West Africa, delivered the Senior Class Address. She thanked the faculty for their support, saying, "During my time here at Eastern, I have met professors that I simply cannot forget -- professors who really care for their students. It will forever strike me how much time professors at Eastern are willing to spend with each much of themselves they give.  It's not just the professors who make Eastern what it is. At Eastern it's not just about imparting knowledge, it's about joining hands to mold each student into a richer person academically and mentally, as well." Owusu-Agyemang closed by quoting the late philosopher Alan Watts, who once said, "The attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be."
"May our truth be a good truth," said Owusu-Agyemang. "May our world be a good world. May our mark be a good mark."

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Carlotta Walls LaNier made history at age 14 when she enrolled at Central High School as a sophomore. On the first day of school she was surrounded by an angry mob that prevented the nine African American students from entering the building. After two weeks of protests and violence, President Dwight Eisenhower sent U.S. Army troops to Little Rock to protect the "Little Rock Nine" by escorting them to class for a year. Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus closed Little Rock schools for the 1958-59 school year, forcing LaNier to take correspondence courses. In June 1960, she became the first African American female student to graduate from Central High School.
LaNier has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the prestigious Spingarn Medal from the NAACP in 1958, and the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian award, which was bestowed upon the Little Rock Nine in 1999 by President Bill Clinton. She is also the author of "A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice of Little Rock Central High School."

Students Meet India at Provenance Center in New London

Written by Dwight Bachman


India art-tryptic_flat.jpg  
 Willimantic, Conn: -- DeAndrea Knox,  Braden Herrick and Lauren Hopper, three Eastern Connecticut State University students majoring in Visual Arts Department, have worked with Neeta Omprakash, Eastern's resident Nehru-Fulbright scholar-in-Residence from India, to interpret the 1892 Indian play, "Chitraganda," an ancient East Asian story with contemporary western imagery.

A group of young artists from Goa, India, have created visual interpretations of the same story. The art from India and the work of the three Eastern students will come together in the exhibition, "Chitraganda: Connecting the Polarities," taking place at the Provenance Center in New London from May 4-May 28. The Provenance Center is located at 165 State St. in New London. A reception takes place from 6-8 p.m. on May 4.


 The play's concept focuses on a woman who wrestles with being torn in two, trying to appease both her masculine warrior side with feminine side. "Through the art, visitors can see the commonality of themes and concerns that cut across the globe," said Gail Gelburd, professor and chair of Eastern's Visual Arts Department.


 During the spring 2013 semester, students in Visual Arts Professor Nancy Wynn's class, Art 334: Exhibition, Documentation and Publicity Design, worked to design and produce the visual identities for "Chitraganda." Wynn's design students studied the play, its meaning and viewed artwork produced by the Indian students using the play as inspiration. They conceptualized and designed a visual identity, and orally presented to a committee, led by Omprakash, who serves as curator for the exhibition; Gelburd, who serves as advisor and mentor for the Eastern students; Leigh Balducci, associate design and publications officer in the Office of University Relations; and Roxanne Deojay, collections manager for the Akus Gallery.


 The committee was thorough in its critique, providing constructive criticism, as well as much praise. Gelburd observed, "Under Professor Wynn's guidance, I was pleasantly surprised by the level of research and thought that went into each work. The students took the constructive criticism like professionals and incorporated it into their work. They have developed the skills needed to work with clients."


 After the presentation, a final design was chosen and all collateral was designed and produced by Miranda Nocera. 

 For more information on the Provenance Center in New London, CT, visit

Denegre Wins U.S. Department of Energy's Science Internship

Written by Danielle Couture

nick denegre 2.jpgWillimantic, CT - - Nicholas Denegre, an environmental earth science major at Eastern Connecticut State University, has been selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Energy's science laboratory internship (SULI)  program at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)  this summer in Washington State.

Denegre will work on a Rooftop Unit (RTU) Network Savings Analysis project, where he will evaluate the operational efficiency of these units, the energy use, carbon emissions and cost savings from various retrofits.

"I understand this will be an intense and challenging experience," said Denegre. "I am thrilled and honored that they selected me and I will have the chance to work with some of the leading scientists in the nation."

Educational opportunities at Eastern propelled Denegre further than he had expected. "By majoring in Environmental Earth Science, I have acquired skills and abilities that can be applied in a compelling approach to my career," said Denegre. "Courses with Professors Fred Loxsom, Catherine Carlson and Timothy Swanson have all provided me with interesting and very useful capabilities that will allow me work with the U.S. Department of Energy."

Upon completion of his project, Denegre will make a presentation on the outcome and complete a research project report. In the future, Denegre hopes to pursue a career working as a professional in the field of sustainable development.

Health and Life Sciences Summer Research Program

Written by Danielle Couture

summer science laboratory.jpgWillimantic, Conn: --  Eastern Connecticut State University will serve as host to a six- week summer health and life sciences research program involving six other Connecticut colleges. The Health and Life Sciences Undergraduate Research Program Initiative runs from June 2-July 12, and will give students an opportunity to gain vital knowledge and experience with basic laboratory skills, while exposing participants to job opportunities that will position them competitively in Connecticut's health and life sciences job market.

The summer research program is a result of a three-year Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Careers Training grant (TAACCCT) from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration.

Participating colleges include Norwalk Community College, Gateway Community College, Capital Community College, Middlesex Community College, Manchester Community College and Charter Oak College.


summer science three students.jpg"This is the biggest thing we have ever done in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for any summer research program at Eastern, and it's right in line with the State of Connecticut's interest in workforce development in the health and life sciences," said Carmen Cid, dean of Eastern's School of Arts and Sciences.

"We are excited to offer such a great opportunity to undergraduate students in the health and life sciences fields," said Star Jackson, Eastern's curriculum and program coordinator for health and life sciences grants. "Not only will students get hands-on research experience, but they will also be given many opportunities for personal, career and academic development. This will be an innovative learning experience that students are sure to remember."

Students will work directly with Eastern faculty who teach and work in the modern life science fields, including biochemistry, organic chemistry, biotechnology, biology, health education and environmental earth sciences. Each week will focus on an area of modern scientific inquiry, allowing students to gain scientific skills and knowledge. Specific areas of study include critical scientific skills and basic concepts of investigation; molecular identification of nervous system progenitors; and physical activity epidemiology and health, to name a few.

Students will also get training on how to develop a resume; be involved in mock job interviews; visit Connecticut health and life sciences industry and graduate school facilities; and interact with graduate and medical school students in the state to learn how to prepare for a job within these fields.

Students Honored at Inclusive Excellence Ceremony

Written by Gabrielle Little

Latoya Smith Speaks.JPGWillimantic, CT - Nearly 112 students with a 3.5 cumulative grade point average or higher, and an additional 20 students who have demonstrated exemplary co-curricular engagement across campus were recognized at Eastern's first Annual Inclusive Excellence Student Award Ceremony. The award ceremony recognized the academic, campus-wide, and personal success of African, Latino/a, Asian and Native American (ALANA) students at Eastern.

inclusive nunez.jpg"Saluting the academic achievements of more than 100 students of color today, and the contributions they and other students are making to enrich the cultural diversity of this campus is not only a way to congratulate the students receiving this recognition, but it is a message to everyone on our campus and beyond--we are proud of the achievements and contributions of today's awardees, because they deserve it, and because it reminds us of our core value of inclusion," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez as she acknowledged the recipients.

"All of you are receiving this award represent the realization of the value of academic excellence, inclusion and empowerment," said Rhona Free, vice president of academic affairs. inclusive gomes and asian.jpg"You have given yourselves access to a set of careers and opportunities that are only available to those who have demonstrated that they set and meet high standards, that they have exceptional analytical skills and that they are highly motivated. Your futures are bright."

"This event presents an amazing opportunity to share the accomplishments of more than 130 ALANA students with the campus community," said Amilcah Gomes, student development specialist and organizer of the event. "I am thankful to be part of this event's unique role in highlighting ALANA student success at Eastern."


inclusive gomes and aaron daley.jpgLatoya Smith '06, Eastern alumnus and producer of multimedia content for Black Enterprise magazine delivered the keynote address. "Going to college for me wasn't just about putting the letters B.A and B.S. and then M.S. on my resume and defining myself by a piece of paper," said Smith. "The experience meant so much more to me. I thought about the sacrifices my mother had made so that my brother and I could get an education. Or the sacrifices of our grandparents and great grandparents, who marched, sat in and fought for justice so that we could have an education. That kept me feeling humbled and never entitled." Smith graduated magna cum laude from Eastern with a Bachelor of Science in Communication and a Bachelor of Arts in History. She also holds a Master of Science degree in Print Journalism from Boston University.

inclusive gomes and latino yisel deoleo-gregory.jpg 

Awards at the event ranged from Academic Achievements and Athletic Excellence recognition to Career Development and Global Partnership recognition.

Eastern Announces Community Service Expo Winners

Written by Chris Herman and Anne Pappalardo

cce Expo - dubois, lewis fuccelino.jpg

Jenn DuBois, Valerie Lewis and Lisa Forcellina present their People Helping People (PHP) Weekly Pen Pals Program with kids from the Natchaug Elementary School at the Service Expo.  At the event, the Pen Pals Program received the Strengthening Communities Award.

Willimantic, CT -Several community service programs won top honors at Eastern Connecticut State University's Community Service Expo on April 19. Guest judges from the Willimantic community, as well as Eastern faculty and staff, awarded prizes in six categories, including Broadening Horizons, Putting Liberal Arts into Action, Going Green, Leadership Development, Strengthening Communities and Best New Program.

 "The Service Expo is an opportunity for our students to share their experiences in the community, to reflect on their contributions and to articulate how the experience relates to their liberal arts education," said Kim Silcox, director of Eastern's Center for Community Engagement. "Eastern faculty and our community partners judge the projects in each category, and tell us how impressed they are with the dedication of the students."


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Luis Rodríguez, assistant director for the Center for Community Engagement (CCE), and Jacqui De Cormier, AmeriCorps*VISTA at the CCE, pose with Jason Coombs, director of dining services at Eastern. Coombs was awarded the Faculty/Staff Community Engagement Award for his lead role in planning and organizing Eastern's annual Day of Giving Community Celebration.

The Puentes al Futuro (Bridges to the Future) middle school and high school afterschool programs won first prize in the Best New Program, Broadening Horizons, and Leadership Development categories. The program also won runner-up in the Putting Liberal Arts into Action category. The Education Club's "Science Extravaganza" was runner-up in the Best New Program category, while the Social Work Club's WAIM "Adopt-a-Family" and "No-Freeze Shelter Toiletry Drive" was runner-up in the Broadening Horizons category.

The first-prize winner in the Putting Liberal Arts into Action category was the VITA Tax Assistance program. The Going Green category award-winner was "Alternative Spring Break: Generous Gardens," a community service effort that took place in South Carolina. The Strengthening Communities category first-prize winner was the People Helping People club's "Weekly Pen Pals Program with Natchaug" effort. Runner-up in the same category was the "Brooklyn Correctional Institute's GED Tutoring Program."

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