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March 2014 Archives

Eastern Student Selected for Competitive Internship

Written by Michael Rouleau


Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University student Evan Walsh, a junior communication major, was offered a summer internship with The Ohio State University's Mentorship Initiative for Student Life (MISL) Program. Walsh is one of only eight students nationwide selected for the MISL Program, which is intended for aspiring student affairs professionals.

The MISL Program is an eight-week immersion experience during which paid interns will on campus as a cohort and participate in a number of academic and professional responsibilities.

"A reason I love the college setting so much is that there are so many ideas and people," said Walsh, who is also a resident assistant of Nutmeg Hall. "College is an exciting place; that's why I want to make a career in higher education." Walsh will spend 25 hours per week working with OSU's Office of Student Life. Outside of those 25 hours, Walsh will participate in reflection and cohort meetings, GRE preparation, professional development sessions, portfolio completion and other tasks. The main event of the internship is the Capstone Experience, which will bring MISL interns to Atlanta, GA, to explore cultural and higher education opportunities.

 In order to be considered for the MISL Program, Walsh had to first be accepted into the National Undergraduate Fellows Program (NUFP), which only accepts 150 new members nationwide per year--an achievement in itself.


 MISL Interns will work in Office of Student Life departments of their choice. "I am intrigued by student residential life, Greek Life and community engagement," said Walsh. "My prospective departments are the Center for the Study of Student Life; The Ohio Union, Student Activities and Greek Life; and Buckeye Civic Engagement Connection."

As a student at Eastern, Walsh has been involved in and out of the classroom. "So many departments I've worked with, particularly the Department of Housing and Residential Life, have provided me with immense support, networks and mentorship in my pursuit in student affairs," said Walsh. "For that I am extremely fortunate and grateful."

Eastern Inducts New Class of Alumni Fellows

Written by Danielle Couture

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           left to right: William Kelly, Eastern President Elsa Nunez and Robert Hacker

Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University inducted its sixth class of Alumni Fellows on March 26 in the Paul E. Johnson Community Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library.  Inductees included Robert Hacker '86, a dentist who runs a successful practice, and William Kelly '82, deputy director of securities lending for Bank New York Mellon.

 Hacker '86 earned his degree in biology at Eastern and went on to Tufts School of Dental Medicine where he earned his Doctor of Medical Dentistry Degree. Hacker practiced with other dentists for three years before buying a Branford practice from a retiring dentist. While running his own practice, he advanced his dental education at Americus Cosmetic Institute in New York City, which led to be one of the first practices in the area doing cosmetic dentistry.
  
 Hacker travels to Ecuador annually with his family to provide free dental work for poor children. He is also a member of the American Dental Association, the Connecticut State Dental Association and the Branford Chamber of Commerce. Kelly '82 double majored in Economics and Public Policy and Government at Eastern. Today he serves as deputy director of securities lending for Bank New York Mellon, a role in which he is responsible for more than $300 billion of business activity, and Global Head of Client Management, where he makes sure the bank's list of clients are satisfied with the services provided by the investment professionals he supervises. As part of his job, Kelly has traveled throughout the United States and to nearly 30 countries.

 Both Hacker and Kelly give credit to Eastern for getting them to where they are today. When Hacker went to graduate school at Tufts, he couldn't believe he was chosen to be in the same class as people from schools like Yale, Cornell and Harvard. "Seeing all these Ivy League schools and competitive universities made me nervous about who I was up against," he said, "but I quickly realized that Eastern had prepared me well. I had a solid knowledge of basic sciences and the team of teachers I had not only got me into one of the top dental schools, but allowed me to compete with other students from universities around the country and the world."

 Hacker talked about how having a liberal arts education contributed to the success of his career. He had to take a psychology class as part of the core curriculum, which helped him relate to his patients later on. "I would recommend taking the opportunity to get a well-rounded education and be creative when picking your classes, because you never know where skills from those classes will be needed later in your life," said Hacker.
 
 Kelly says he gained crucial skills from Eastern that helped land him his first job in the field. "I was chosen for a leadership position because of my ability to communicate effectively and my ability to demonstrate leadership experience that I learned from my foundation at Eastern," said Kelly.  He also explained how one opportunity in his work led to many more opportunities and experiences. He advised students to keep in touch with their networks whether it be through Eastern or through professional ranks. "Become associated, become active within your particular field and have that desire to reach out beyond your comfort zone," said Kelly. "It's easy to get settled in, but the opportunities that are afforded to us as young professionals are limitless."

The Eastern Fellows program was established in the 2008-09 academic year to recognize and engage distinguished Eastern alumni in the life of the University.  This program is a means of enriching the educational experience of current Eastern undergraduates by exposing them to alumni who are able to share their work experiences with students in realistic terms. The program is an exciting and stimulating way for our students and faculty to benefit from the knowledge of accomplished professionals.

Eastern Presents Ella T. Grasso Awards

Written by Ed Osborn

McGrory Kwakye Nunez and Boylan.jpgleft to right, Kathlee McGrory, Belinda Kwakye, President Nunez and Betsy Wade


Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University presented its Ella T. Grasso Distinguished Service Awards on March 26, 2014. The program, now in its sixth year, recognizes members of the campus and local community whose actions demonstrate distinguished service in promoting Grasso's ideals to advance women's rights and gender equality.
 
Awards were given to Betsy Wade, the first woman to be a copy editor at The New York Times and a former resident of Willimantic; Kathleen McGrory, a distinguished member of the Eastern faculty and former academic vice president in the 1980s; and Eastern student Belinda Kwakye.
 
The keynote speaker of the event was Connecticut Superior Court Justice Maria Araujo Kahn. "I benefitted from the women who came before me like Ella T. Grasso," said Kahn. "They paved the way to success for girls and women like me and for students like you."

Wade enjoyed an extraordinary career as a dedicated wordsmith and self-described "troublemaker:" She was the first woman copy reader ever hired by The New York Times, the first woman chief copy editor on the foreign desk and the writer of the Practical Traveler column for 14 years. She was also the first woman to serve as president of the New York local of the Newspaper Guild, the largest in the nation and a named plaintiff in the landmark sex discrimination lawsuit against The Times.

Stacey Close, associate vice president for equity and diversity praised Wade and her distinguished career.  "Betsy Wade was a true fighter for gender equality and women's rights." Wade's granddaughter Jennifer Boylan, Eastern's interim coordinator of AccessAbility Services, added, "My grandmother was a longtime fighter for the Equal Rights Amendment and supported a woman's right to sue for better conditions and treatment in the workplace."

Provost Rhona Free spoke next in honoring McGrory, who returned to Eastern after administrative and teaching positions at Hartford College for Women, Stanford University, the University of Virginia and Georgetown.
"At Eastern, Kathy took action; when she was an academic vice president, she singlehandedly raised Eastern's percentage of female workers on campus from 13 percent to 25 percent and she was also instrumental in founding the first women's center on campus."
 
Belinda Kwakye, a senior who helped found the Black Student Union on campus, is an advocate for both the LGBT community as well as for clients of the Department of Children and Families. Kwakye was recognized by Vice President for Student Affairs Ken Bedini who called her, "A tireless worker for her fellow students and for the wider community. Belinda is an active leader and a great student who realizes what it takes to be a student leader and role model on campus."

President Elsa Nuñez closed the event with remarks that extolled the virtues of the women who have gone before her, the women who stood with her during the event, and the women who will walk in the halls of Eastern and make a difference in the future.

 

Chief Justice Rogers and Judge Kahn to Speak at Eastern

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - Two high-level Connecticut court officials will speak at Eastern Connecticut State University on March 26 for Eastern's University Hour series. At 3 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre, Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers and Superior Court Judge Maria Kahn will speak with the Eastern community about justice and the judicial system in today's world. 

Born and raised in Angola, Africa, Kahn was appointed a Superior Court Judge in 2006 and currently is assigned to hear criminal matters in the Fairfield Judicial District Courthouse. She moved to the United States at 10 years of age, is fluent in three languages and serves on a number state and national Bars. 

Rogers, a Connecticut native, was sworn in as Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court in 2007--the second woman ever to reach this designation in Connecticut. She was also appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the State Justice Institute's Board of Directors. In addition to serving on a number of prestigious Bars and committees, Rogers is also an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law.

"The event is open to the public and will be organized in a question-and-answer format," said Starsheemar Byrum, coordinator of the Women's Center. "Arrive early at the Student Center Theatre to ensure a good seat."

Majors Fair Helps Undeclared Students Choose Course of Study

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - Back by student demand, the Majors Fair occurred on March 13 in the Betty R. Tipton Room in Eastern Connecticut State University's Student Center. The Majors Fair, intended to help students with undeclared majors pinpoint a course of study, brought together faculty from all academic departments in one room for students to speak with.

 The Student Government Association (SGA), in collaboration with the Advising Services Center, organized and promoted the event, which hosted more than 20 informational tables staffed by faculty and served roughly 60 undeclared students.

"I'm leaning towards a major either in women's studies or social work," said undeclared freshman Kayla Enwerem. "I want to work with people, and the subject matter of these majors is real eye-opening to me."

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 Last semester the SGA conducted a survey that showed that undeclared students felt "ignored." This response encouraged SGA Student Issues Committee Chair Emily McDonald, a senior majoring in psychology, to reinstate the event--which had not taken place for several years due to lack of interest. "I switched majors earlier in my college career," said McDonald, "so I can relate to the struggle of an undeclared major not knowing what to study or where to go."

 "Business administration is my number one prospect," said undeclared freshman Alex Obernier. "I came to the Majors Fair to learn about different minors and concentrations. I'm considering minoring in marketing. Next semester I'll declare."

The Majors Fair was also promoted at local high schools for incoming Eastern freshmen. "I like the early childhood education major," said incoming freshman Amber Dupont, a senior at Windham High School. "In school I've done a couple of 'observations' and I find the work interesting, and I just really like working with little kids."

"I think I'll go with either education or business administration," said undeclared freshman Rebecca Pilney. "I came to a liberal arts school so I could test the waters and try a bit of everything."

Students Participate in Honors Singing Auditions

Written by Danielle Couture

 

Willimantic, Conn. - Four Eastern Connecticut State University students participated in honors auditions at the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) on March 8 at Central Connecticut State University.

Students Melinda DeDominicis, Renae St. John, Moriah Perrett and Alexis Kurtz prepared and performed three to four selections in English, French, German and Italian for a panel of adjudicators.
 
St. John received an Honorable Mention for her performance in the Upper College Division. More than 35 students (freshman and sophomore class standing; junior and senior class standing) from private voice studios and universities across Connecticut were present.

Beltran Attends Anniversary of Hungarian Holocaust Exhibition

Written by Michael Rouleau

 

Beltran- Woman at Holocaust exhibit3.jpgent of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights acation Professor Cesar Beltran; on the right is Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation for Human

Adjunct Professor of Communication Cesar Beltran recently represented Eastern Connecticut State University at "Holocaust in Hungary" at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. The exhibition was in observance of the 70th anniversary of the deportation and extermination of the Hungarian Jews.

The exhibition reflected on the political and social events that led to the Hungarian Holocaust, the various atrocities committed against Hungarian Jews, and the acts of courage by those who resisted the status quo and safeguarded Jews. "The event was solemn and dignified and attended by some 120 invitees," said Beltran. Above, Beltran talks with Katrina Lantos Swett of the Lantos Foundation.

Gambling Awareness Campaign Targets Athletics

Written by Michael Rouleau


Willimantic, Conn. -- Four students in the social work program at Eastern Connecticut State University have been given the task of raising awareness about problem gambling within the athletic community. While this is the sixth annual Gambling Awareness Semester the social work program has developed, this year's campaign is a bit different.

The target population includes coaches and athletes, both of whom are at-risk groups to develop a problem with gambling. The student group, along with their supervisor Thomas Broffman, professor of social work, will be trying to improve the education and training athletes and coaches receive about gambling.


The National Council on Problem Gambling has declared March as National Problem Gambling Awareness Month (NPGAM). Their affiliate, the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling (CCPG), is again partnering with the Eastern Gambling Awareness group as it has done the past five years.

By partnering with the CCPG, Eastern's Gambling Awareness group hopes to bring attention to how athletic populations are at-risk of developing problem gambling. This population was chosen because athletes are prone to gambling due to their competitive nature, need for action and perception of social norms.
According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, 9 percent of athletes across 11 different sports reported that they wager on sports at least once per month; 67 percent of all college students bet on sports; and30 percent of male student athletes reported they have wagered on sports in the past year.


Along with increasing and improving the education that members of the athletic community receive, the Gambling Awareness Group at Eastern hopes to raise awareness about the resources available if someone does have a potential problem with gambling.

Possible warning signs of a problem gambler include: missing deadlines and important activities; difficulty in concentrating; lying to loved ones about gambling; and gambling to escape boredom, pain or loneliness.


Gambling among athletic communities is often overlooked due to the amount of awareness building that already occurs regarding drugs, alcohol and suicide. Problem gamblers are also more prone to risky behaviors such as drugs and alcohol. If gambling awareness was increased among athletes and their communities, teammates, coaches or family members might be able to spot a potential problem early on and get problem gamblers the resources they need before it is too late.


If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, please call the CCPG (Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling) hotline at this confidential number: 1-888-789-7777, text them at 847-973-5685, or visit them at: www.problemgambling.org

Eastern Graduate Takes Her Talents Overseas

Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University alumna McKenzie Hyde '13, of Colchester, CT, has a record of volunteer work in developing countries and academic excellence that has led her to the London School of Economics (LSE). Hyde is pursuing a master's degree in international development with a focus on refugee and migration studies at the prestigious school. She is 2013-14's sole recipient of the Alumni and Friends of LSE Scholarship, which is paying for her tuition. How did she earn this distinguished scholarship?

 During her four years at Eastern as a political science major with minors in Spanish and peace and human rights, Hyde spent much of her time traveling and developing her skills as a humanitarian. In 2011, she volunteered in Haiti for three weeks, doing disaster relief after the earthquake of 2010. Soon after her stint in Haiti, she went on to Ghana, where she taught English in orphanages. Immediately after graduating in December 2012, Hyde went to India, where she taught English and nutrition education, worked on HIV/AIDS outreach programs, and rescued young girls and women from the sex trafficking trade.

 "After spending much of my career at Eastern researching global social issues, I believe we have a moral obligation to do something to combat these issues and make the world a better place," said Hyde. Some of her interests include anti-trafficking policy, postcolonial and postmodern feminist discourse, and social and political policies in developing countries.

While at Eastern, Hyde also presented her honors thesis, "Unraveling Sex Trafficking Policy in India: A Case Study of Political Discourse on Trafficking in India," at the Northeastern Political Science Association Conference in Boston, MA--an exceptional opportunity for an undergraduate student.

Hyde also held several internships with Connecticut political leaders, including U.S. Senators Joseph Lieberman and Richard Blumenthal, as well as Chris Murphy during his U.S. Senate campaign, and in the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Connecticut.

When not volunteering, interning or studying, Hyde was heavily involved on campus. She was a member of the Student Government Association; served as vice president of the Peace and Human Rights Committee and treasurer of the International Students Association; and worked in the Intercultural Center and the Center for Community Engagement. She even served as an administrative assistant to Eastern President Elsa Núñez, who said, "McKenzie has a unique combination of moral strength, humility and compassion. I have no doubt that she will do something significant in the coming years as she continues to find ways to improve the quality of life in developing countries."

Gambling Awareness Campaign Targets Athletics

Written by Michael Rouleau


Willimantic, Conn. -- Four students in the social work program at Eastern Connecticut State University have been given the task of raising awareness about problem gambling within the athletic community. While this is the sixth annual Gambling Awareness Semester the social work program has developed, this year's campaign is a bit different.

The target population includes coaches and athletes, both of whom are at-risk groups to develop a problem with gambling. The student group, along with their supervisor Thomas Broffman, professor of social work, will be trying to improve the education and training athletes and coaches receive about gambling. The National Council on Problem Gambling has declared March as National Problem Gambling Awareness Month (NPGAM). Their affiliate, the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling (CCPG), is again partnering with the Eastern Gambling Awareness group as it has done the past five years.
 
By partnering with the CCPG, Eastern's Gambling Awareness group hopes to bring attention to how athletic populations are at-risk of developing problem gambling. This population was chosen because athletes are prone to gambling due to their competitive nature, need for action and perception of social norms. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, 9 percent of athletes across 11 different sports reported that they wager on sports at least once per month; 67 percent of all college students bet on sports; and30 percent of male student athletes reported they have wagered on sports in the past year.


Along with increasing and improving the education that members of the athletic community receive, the Gambling Awareness Group at Eastern hopes to raise awareness about the resources available if someone does have a potential problem with gambling. Possible warning signs of a problem gambler include: missing deadlines and important activities; difficulty in concentrating; lying to loved ones about gambling; and gambling to escape boredom, pain or loneliness.


Gambling among athletic communities is often overlooked due to the amount of awareness building that already occurs regarding drugs, alcohol and suicide. Problem gamblers are also more prone to risky behaviors such as drugs and alcohol. If gambling awareness was increased among athletes and their communities, teammates, coaches or family members might be able to spot a potential problem early on and get problem gamblers the resources they need before it is too late.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, please call the CCPG (Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling) hotline at this confidential number: 1-888-789-7777, text them at 847-973-5685, or visit them at: www.problemgambling.org

Mama Chosen as Faculty Row's Super Professor

Written by Akaya McElveenMama.JPG

Willimantic, Conn. - Distinguished Professor of African Literature and Storytelling at Eastern Connecticut State University Raouf Mama has been invited to join Faculty Row's network of Super Professors. Faculty Row is a private network originally developed for educators and researchers to connect, collaborate and share ideas nationally. It is now the leading network of experts for more than 100,000 academics globally.

Faculty Row has Fulbright Scholars, TED Speakers and countless accomplished academics. These include invited international scholars and faculty from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Stanford universities.

Super Professors are a peer-reviewed group of expert academics that consistently demonstrate excellence, passion and clarity. Super Professors are recognized by traditional academic institutions as well as emerging technology entities looking to change the landscape of academia. Many individuals have begun acknowledging Super Professors as independent thought leaders.

"Faculty Row is pleased to welcome Professor Raouf Mama to this elite group of accomplished academics," said Amy Hunter, director of the Faculty Row Network.
Besides being recognized as one of Faculty Row's Super Professors, Mama is the recipient of two Connecticut State University Excellence Awards, two Greater Hartford Arts Council Individual Artist Awards and two artist fellowships from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, which has also awarded him the title of Master Teaching Artist. In December 2004 Mama was awarded a Distinguished Immigrant Award. In January 2005, the office of the English Language Program in the U.S. State Department awarded him the title of Senior U.S. English Language Specialist.
A graduate of the University of Michigan with an M.A. and  Ph.D in English and Education, Mama is fluent in English, French, Fon and Yoruba, and proficient in Spanish and German.

Mama performs African and multicultural stories, blending storytelling with poetry, song, music and dance. An orator from the African oral tradition, he has been a keynote speaker at literary award ceremonies and fundraisers as well as a plenary speaker at international and regional conferences in the United States, Benin, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Venezuela. He also lectures on African literature and African folklore and conducts workshops on storytelling and creative writing. He is an expert on the power of folktales as multicultural teaching and learning tools, especially as tools for teaching literacy skills, creative writing and public speaking.

Mama regularly travels to Benin to work with English teachers, Peace Corps Volunteers, education professionals and children, using storytelling as a multicultural teaching and motivational tool. Participants' evaluations and comments often point to Mama deepening their appreciation of the power and magic of storytelling.

Over the past 10 years, Mama has worked in partnership with UNICEF and the School of African Heritage in promoting education and cultural awareness through storytelling.  In 2005 and 2006 he travelled to Benin as a Senior U.S. English Language Specialist and provided training for English teachers in all 12 provinces. In December 2008, he participated in the first International Festival of Storytelling and the Spoken Word in Benin.

"Eastern in 4," Eastern's Revamped Academic Plan

Written by Michael Rouleau


Willimantic, Conn. - As part of Eastern Connecticut State University's 2013-18 Strategic Plan, "Eastern in 4" is now a requirement for current students and incoming freshmen. The goal of "Eastern in 4" is to lay out a tight and comprehensive plan--including academic and career goals--that will lead students to their bachelor's degrees in four years.

"Eastern in 4" has existed as an informal objective for several years now, but recent data supporting the need for college-career planning has caused the University to revamp and mandate the program. "There are so many options and requirements in a college setting," said Alison Garewski, a professional advisor with the Advising Center. "Students unknowingly taking courses they don't need--costing them more money and prolonging their time in college--is an issue nationwide."

With nearly 1,000 freshman at Eastern this year, approximately 650 have completed their academic plans. Though the plans are designed in group sessions of five to 20 students, each four-year plan is individualized according to a student's degree requirements and preferences--taking into consideration which liberal arts courses to take, internships and study abroad opportunities.

"Every semester when registering for classes I use my four-year plan to aid in my selection," said Christina Harmon, a sophomore majoring in psychology. "'Eastern in 4' was a great way for me to learn what classes I need to take and how to stay on track in order to graduate on time."

While "Eastern in 4" is available to all students and majors, it is especially useful to transfer students, continuing education students and those switching majors. "This program is ideal at Eastern because we're a liberal arts school," said Chris Drewry, a professional advisor with the Advising Center. "Students are required and encouraged to take courses outside of their major, so having this direction is really helpful."

"Before making my 'Eastern in 4' plan, I had no idea if I could fit a double major's worth of classes into my schedule," said Thomas Hacker, a freshman with a double major. "Now I have a roadmap to double major in music and communication in four years."

Students Participate in Honors Singing Auditions

Written by Danielle Couture


Willimantic, Conn. - Four Eastern Connecticut State University students participated in honors auditions at the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) on March 8 at Central Connecticut State University.


Students Melinda DeDominicis, Renae St. John, Moriah Perrett and Alexis Kurtz prepared and performed three to four selections in English, French, German and Italian for a panel of adjudicators.

St. John received an Honorable Mention for her performance in the Upper College Division. More than 35 students (freshman and sophomore class standing; junior and senior class standing) from private voice studios and universities across Connecticut were present.

Eastern Shows Documentary on Military Rape

Written by Michael Rouleau


Willimantic, Conn. - A showing of the award-winning documentary "The Invisible War," followed by a panel discussion of Eastern Connecticut State University administrators with military and veteran-support experience, took place in the J. Eugene Smith Library on March 3.

 The critically acclaimed 2012 documentary examines the "epidemic of rape" within the U.S. military. While the film acknowledges military sexual violence is perpetrated against both men and women, "The Invisible War" focuses mostly on the testimonials of servicewomen who were raped by their male counterparts and superiors and then discriminated against upon reporting the incidents.

 In different yet similar accounts, recurring themes emerged in which these servicewomen's lives and careers were threatened if they did not sexually comply; they received pressure not to file reports after the incident(s); when reported, their claims were dismissed by higher-ups; they were called liars; they were blamed for being raped; and they received virtually no support or justice.
Director of Eastern's Veterans Educational Transition Services Center Lawrence Schmitz, a Navy veteran of 20 years, said that within the military is an older generation of members with a lot of power and status who do not appreciate having women in military service. "Truthfully, there is a 'good old boys' mentality among many older members," he said. "They are either unaware of the way things are or refuse to change, and their resistance is surely a barrier when it comes to holding offenders accountable."

 On the topic of solutions, the director of Eastern's Women's and Gender Studies Program, Maureen McDonnell, said victims advocacy agencies can help victims to navigate the system to obtain justice. "Though this is a resource, there are still many barriers," she said.

 In regards to the restructuring of the military justice system, Maria Busineau, program manager of the Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Eastern Connecticut, said there are two bills currently under review that would introduce investigation and prosecution of these cases by outside entities. "However, this process is at the beginning stages," she said. "It may be years before the changes, if any, are actually implemented."

EES Defeats Political Science in College Bowl Competition

Written by Dwight Bachman


On March 12, the Eastern College Bowl completed its 37th consecutive season.  Held in the Student Center Theatre, the College Bowl is a competition for undergraduates representing various majors.

The championship match saw the lead exchanged several times, a match that was not decided until the final question. The team representing the Environmental Earth Science (EES) Department defeated the team from the Political Science Department. EES had won matches against Economics and Mathematics to reach the finals, while Political Science had won its previous matches over Biochemistry and Biology. The winning EES team included students Dustin Munson, Cody Lorentson, Daniel Grondin, and Mackensie Fannon. 

College Bowl questions asked come from many different academic and non-academic areas, often involving audio or visual clues. Questions in this year's championship match included ones involving Dante's "Inferno," Julius Caesar and his crossing the Rubicon, phobias, songs from Disney movies and one titled, "The Doors of Eastern," in which contestants were asked to identify buildings on campus after seeing photographs of their front doors.  The question that decided the winner of the 2014 College Bowl  involved the naming of Transuranium elements. 

The College Bowl is organized and run by Tim Swanson, associate professor of physical science, who originated the competition in 1978.  This year, he was assisted by Biology Professor Gloria Colurso and Marty Levin, interim dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.

Football Star Maurice Clarett Speaks At Eastern

Written by Jordan Sakal

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Willimantic, Conn. - Arguably one of the greatest freshmen to ever play college football, visited Eastern Connecticut State University on Feb. 26 to speak to students about the rise and fall of his football career, and his life choices about drugs, alcohol and partying. Clarett's constant refrain,"Show me your friends and I'll show you your future," reminded students that friends can lead you to great things, or down the wrong path as was the case for Clarett.

 His story began with memories of his youth and incarceration for stealing vehicles and breaking and entering. After his third incarceration, he was taken under the wing of Roland Smith, a juvenile corrections officer who agreed to mentor Clarett and be the father the teen so desperately needed. From this positive reinforcement, Clarett became a football star, graduated early from high school, and attended college at Ohio State University. There he set rushing records as a freshman in addition to becoming the first freshman to start for the Buckeyes in 48 years. According to Clarett, things began to fall apart at Ohio State. He ran into his old friends from the street and began to make poor decisions, delving into the world of drinking, partying and crime. As a result, he was kicked off the football team in the summer of 2003.

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The loss of football led Clarett into a tailspin of depression. "I substituted drugs, women and the party lifestyle because I still craved the attention of the thousands of screaming fans that football provided me but that I no longer had access to." In 2005-06, Clarett was given a second chance when he was drafted by the Denver Broncos of the National Football League. Even that second chance could not help Clarett; the drugs, partying and depression continued. "Drugs had me so far in their control party all day, party all night and it destroyed me."

After his release by the Broncos, Clarett's life spun further out of control. On Aug. 9, 2006, he was arrested for weapons possession and speeding. He spent the next four years in jail, saying of the experience, "Prison can either humble you or turn you into an animal. I became a humble man."

Maurice Clarett's story is the inspirational tale of a meteoric rise to stardom and fame and a terrible crash back down to reality, with the message that even in the darkness of despair, one can still change one's life and grow. Maurice Clarett has done just that.

Meth Mania," Eastern Professor's New Book

Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - Nicholas Parsons, assistant professor of sociology at Eastern Connecticut State University, discussed his new book "Meth Mania: A History of Methamphetamine" on Feb. 19 during Eastern's Wednesday Seminar series.

            Parsons was first introduced to the topic of methamphetamine use in 2001 when pursuing his graduate degree in the state of Washington. "I hadn't heard much about methamphetamine growing up in Connecticut or attending college in North Carolina," said Parsons. "But the topic received much media attention in the Northwest, and I was especially interested in how it was being portrayed."

            According to Parsons, there have been three major "scares," or sustained levels of media attention, regarding methamphetamine. The first was the "methedrine" scare of the late '60s and early '70s; then the "ice" scare of 1989; and most recently the "crystal meth" panic, which occurred from roughly 1995 to 2006.

Each of these "scares" was characterized by sensational media coverage--for example a horrific murder committed by someone allegedly under the influence of the drug or a neighborhood meth lab exploding--and calls for punitive drug policies. "Generally the mainstream news media has only shown part of the story--the scary, sensational part," said Parsons. "This partial reporting is a disservice to the public, as they are not being fully informed. The historical and sociological reasons why the problem exists or the drug is harmful are rarely discussed."

"Meth Mania" examines the history of methamphetamine in the United States, its relationship with the mass media, and the resulting public and political reception. "Hysteria leads to political action," said Parsons. "Policy decisions made in a state of hysteria may address those immediate problems but their shortsightedness creates new ones in the long run."

One of Parsons' major findings is that reducing the supply of a drug does not reduce demand, which is why legislation such as Prohibition and the War on Drugs has not succeeded in reducing drug use. According to Parsons, when restriction on supply occurs circumvention follows, not prevention. "Meth labs did not exist until the early '60s, after pharmacies started to face new restrictions on selling meth-based drugs," said Parsons. "Since users could no longer buy it, they started making it themselves."

This restriction on supply, while seeming to be an immediate solution to drug use, has resulted in other issues. "Of course meth is harmful and I wouldn't suggest anybody using it," said Parsons. "But many of the problems associated with drugs in society extend from the unregulated black markets that emerge, and not just the chemical properties of drugs."

Eastern Student to Present at National Conference

Written by Jordan Sakal

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Willimantic, Conn. - Eric Cerino '14 of Stratford, a psychology major at Eastern Connecticut State University, will present his research project, "Investigating Subjective Age, Level of Activity and Depressive Symptoms in Older Adults" at the 18th Annual Posters on the Hill Conference in Washington, D.C. on April 28-29, 2014.

Subjective age is defined as how old one feels; the goal of Cerino's research was to see if depression levels were impacted by how young a person feels and how active he or she is in society. "I wanted to tackle something that affects senior citizens," said Cerino. "At the Trumbull Senior Center, I taught a computer course to seniors and fell in love with the idea of helping seniors. I have dedicated my research to them."

The results of Cerino's study indicated that seniors who had a more youthful subjective age reported fewer depressive symptoms. In addition, seniors who took part in more activity (both physical and cognitive exercises) tended to have a more youthful subjective age. Cerino, mentored by Eastern Psychology Professor Jennifer Leszczynski, had one of 60 posters selected from approximately 600 submissions. All presenters will discuss the impact of their research experience with members of Congress during the conference

Cerino was a fall 2013 recipient of a Jean H. Thoresen ECSU-AAUP Scholarship,  for which he submitted a proposal entitled, "Subjective Age and Senior Center Activity's Relation to Depressive Symptoms in an Elderly Sample." 

"Eastern's AAUP Chapter is proud to be supporting Eric in his research," said Professor Catherine Carlson, AAUP Treasurer and coordinator of the Thoresen Scholarship.

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Students Excel at Kennedy Center Theatre Festival

Written Anne Pappalardo

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Willimantic, Conn. - A number of Eastern Connecticut State University students recently attended the Region I Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF). The festival, held this year in Hyannis, MA, is annual event attended by more than 1,000 students and faculty from colleges across the Northeast. The KCACTF is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide that has served as a catalyst for improving the quality of college theatre in the United States.

The Eastern students were accompanied by Professor Ellen Brodie, Assistant Professor J.J. Cobb, Assistant Professor Kristen Morgan, Associate Professor Chase Rozelle, and Lecturer Alycia Bright-Holland.

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Eastern's students were active in the conference's events, workshops and competitions. Joseph Staffa's projection design work for "Once on this Island," directed and choreographed by Bright-Holland, won first place for Scenic Design Excellence at the conference. He was awarded a one-week trip to the KCACTF national conference in Washington, D.C. This is the second year in a row that one of Morgan's students has won a first-place national KCACTF award for their projection design.

Keri Smart, mentored and supervised by Assistant Professor Anya Sokolovskaya, won a one-week scholarship to the prestigious Stage Craft Institute of Las Vegas for her costume design of Eastern's production of "The Birds." Smart may be remembered for her highly creative use of feathers in her costume design for last February's production, directed by Brodie. The cast of last year's production of "Once on This Island," directed and choreographed by Bright-Holland, won a regional Merit Award for Excellent use of African and Caribbean dance and performance.

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Four student actors -- Stephanie Madden, Kinde Queenan, Dan Fernandez and Kelsey Guggenheim -- were nominated to participate in the event's Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition. Emily Rieser, Mya Ta, Chad Dominique and Alexis Kurtz were scene partners in the competition. Guggenheim and Fernandez also participated in the festival's New Play Project initiative.

Design/Tech/Management students Amanda Conkey, Joe Staffa, Matt Pryke and Keri Smart were nominated to participate in the conference's Design/Tech and Management Exhibition. Staffa, Pryke and Smart were also selected from among 15 finalists in this competitive event. In addition, Conkey was selected to compete in the Malty Musical Theatre performance on the final night of the event based on her performance in Eastern's musical, "Once on This Island."

Maggie Casto, Megan Velasquez, Stephanie Madden, Alexis Kurtz, Emily Rieser and Liz Pelletier made up of more than half of the participants in the festival's Play Slam performances. Zach LaSala auditioned for and received a part in the conference's One-Act Play competition. Abby Weston was one of four students from the Northeast region to be selected to be an administrative intern for the event.

Eastern to Present Ella T. Grasso Awards

Written by Jordan Sakal

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Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University will present its Ella T. Grasso Distinguished Service Awards on March 26, 2014. This program, now in its sixth year, recognizes members of the campus and local community whose actions demonstrate distinguished service in promoting Grasso's ideals to advance women's rights and gender equality. Three awards will be given: to a member of the community; a member of the Eastern faculty/staff; and an Eastern student.

Recipients of the award work to serve the needs of women by organizing or empowering women, advocating on behalf of women's rights, and/or providing outreach to women in need of supportive services. While promoting justice and peace, recipients of the Ella T. Grasso Distinguished Service Award also take the initiative in planning and implementing programs to broaden the representation of women at various levels of society including socioeconomic, political, medical/health sectors, the fine arts and the social sciences.

Eastern Concert Chorale to Perform at Carnegie Hall

Written by Danielle Couture

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Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's Concert Chorale has been invited to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall on March 17 at 8 p.m. Eastern's chorale is composed of students, faculty and community members. This will be the fifth time that the group has been invited to Carnegie Hall.

 

ConcertChorale-belles.jpgDavid Belles, associate professor of performing arts and conductor of the concert chorale and chamber singers, will serve as conductor for the concert. The chorale will perform John Rutter's "Requiem" as part of a choral ensemble with choirs from Connecticut, Arizona, California and Kentucky.

"It's not every day we get the opportunity to sing in such a renowned place as Carnegie Hall," says concert chorale member and music major Renae St. John. "I am happy to be performing Rutter's works, which I personally enjoy. They're composed in such a way that they are easily accessible to all kinds of choirs, regardless of skill level or membership."

Prolific Author to Teach Special Course at Eastern

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - Jeff Benedict, bestselling author, award-winning features writer for Sports Illustrated and Eastern Connecticut State University alumnus, will join Eastern's faculty this summer to teach an upper-level communication course. The prolific writer, teacher and public speaker--and 1991 Eastern graduate--will lead COM 460, "Non-Fiction Writing from Idea to Publication," a three-credit course being held on Saturdays from June 28 to Aug. 9.

 "We are proud of Jeff and his distinguished career in journalism, and happy to have him back on campus," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "His work is value-centered and focuses on critical issues of society. Jeff is a role model for young people aspiring to be writers."

COM 460 will cover the stages of non-fiction writing from idea conception to publication. Using Sports Illustrated stories and his own books, Benedict will teach students how to develop story ideas, conduct interviews, structure a story, develop sound writing habits and promote a story. Benedict will use his own story drafts and interview transcripts in his lesson plans; students will also engage in role playing and question-and-answer sessions.

"We are delighted that Jeff will be teaching on our campus this summer," said Eastern Provost Rhona Free. "The students in his course are in for a real treat.  They will be learning from a seasoned pro, one whose straight-forward, engaging writing style has gained critical acclaim and an expanding national readership." Jeff Benecict Jabari Coach K cover.pdf


 Benedict will use one of his latest projects, a Sports Illustrated cover story about the relationship between Duke's head basketball coach Mike Kryzyewski and freshman Jabari Parker.  The story has been featured on CBS News, Fox News Channel and ESPN radio.
 
"Sound writing is a key that has unlocked doors to a rich life of experiences and priceless relationships," Benedict said.  "As a student at Eastern I never imagined I'd make a career out of telling stories.  I am eager to share what I've learned with the students at my alma mater."
 
Students interested in signing up for Benedict's course should visit www1.easternct.edu/ce/jeffbenedict.

Benedict has authored 12 books, including his most recent book, the New York Times bestseller "The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football." His writings have also appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and SI.com, and have been the basis of programming on 60 Minutes, 20/20, Good Morning America, The Early Show, Dateline and the Discovery Channel.
 
Benedict is a nationally recognized authority on athletes and crime, Indian gaming, eminent domain, and leadership and ethics in business. He is also a distinguished professor of English at Southern Virginia University.

Professional Fashionista on How to Dress for Success

Written by Michael Rouleau


Willimantic, Conn. - Trish Eigenbrode, fashion style consultant with Debbie Wright's Project Closet, spoke with Eastern Connecticut State University students on March 3 about how to dress professionally--and fashionably--on a budget. The event, titled "Dress for Success," emphasized the importance of image and dressing appropriately in the workplace.

 Eigenbrode started off with a few fashion-supporting statistics. "First impressions are formed within 20 seconds, and once formed they are hard to change," she said. "Only about seven percent of what we think of people is based on what they say. Dressing well establishes credibility."

 A self-proclaimed "fashionista" with years of experience in corporate America, Eigenbrode explained a number of fashion dos and don'ts to the Student Center Theatre audience of female and male students. "Focus on fit not size," she said. "It doesn't matter what the tag says, but that the outfit fits your body well."

 Regarding women, Eigenbrode said that accessories should be kept simple and perfume minimally applied. For women and men alike, she said cleavage should be covered up--suggesting that men and women can form an especially undesirable type of cleavage if the lower back or upper buttocks are not fully covered. 
According to Eigenbrode, many professionals have become too liberal with dressing "business casual." Rather than dressing casual, she says professionals should dress "business smart." She assured students that dressing for the professional world does not need to be boring. "Dress creatively. It's okay to mix colors, textures and patterns. Just be smart when personalizing."

Eigenbrode concluded the presentation with an outfit-making demonstration, where she made 40 outfits out of 12 articles of clothing. "You can dress professionally and fashionably without spending a lot of money," she said. Her final words of advice were that one should never pay full price and that everyone should shop at a number of stores, including thrift and consignment shops, to find a variety of styles and sales.

 

Eastern to Present Madeleine Albright

Written by Danielle Couture

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Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's Arts and Lecture series will present Madeline Albright, 64th Secretary of State of the United States, in the Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium at 7 p.m. on March 28, where she will speak about "Economy and Security in the 21st Century."


Albright served as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 1993-1997. From 1989-1992, she served as president of the Center for National Policy. Previously, she was a member of President Jimmy Carter's National Security Council and White House staff, and served as chief legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Edmund S. Muskie.


In 1997, Albright was named by President Bill Clinton as the first female Secretary of State and became, at that time, the highest ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government. As Secretary of State, she reinforced America's alliances, advocated for democracy and human rights, and promoted American trade, business, labor and environmental standards abroad.


 Albright is an endowed professor in diplomacy at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. She co-chairs the United Nations Development Programme's Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor and serves on the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Board of Trustees for the Aspen Institute and the Board of Directors of the Center for a New American Security. Albright is also chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm, and chair of Albright Capital Management LLC, an investment advisory firm. She is the author of five books and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

Eastern to Present Girl Rising Project

Written by Danielle Couture


Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's Women's Center will present the Girl Rising Project as part of the University Hour Series at 3 p.m. on March 12 in the Student Center Theatre.
 
Girl Rising is a groundbreaking feature film that spotlights the stories of nine unforgettable girls born into unforgiving circumstances. The film captures their dreams, their voices and their remarkable lives. It is also a movement dedicated to empowering and achieving educational equity for girls around the world.
University Hour is free and open to the public.

Eastern Students Research Project Published Nationally

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Eastern Connecticut State University students Jacob Rusconi '14 of Manchester and Dylan Ross '14 of Hampton, recently had their research findings published in the journal on the proceedings of the 2013 conference of the National Council on Undergraduate Research (NCUR). Rusconi and Ross both are majoring in Business Information Systems (BIS). They originally conducted their research in fall 2011; their findings were presented at the NCUR Conference in La Crosse, WI, in April 2013.

Ross and Rusconi's research was a systems analysis of a certified commercial environmental and water monitoring laboratory, Premier Laboratory, Inc., based in eastern Connecticut. The goal of the research was to identify opportunities for improvement in the lab's existing water monitoring systems and procedures. 
In conducting their research, Rusconi and Ross treated the laboratory as a socio-technical system, in which the technical aspects of the operations were seen as being interdependent with cultural and political factors found in the laboratory, its client's organizations and communities.

To capture the many dimensions of the problem, Rusconi and Ross applied the Work System Method (WSM) developed by Steven Alter, professor of information systems at the University of San Francisco. The WSM approach allows analysts to better formulate the problem at hand; analyze multi-dimensional possibilities for improvement; provide recommendations for change; and justify them. Eastern was among the pioneering universities to introduce this methodology in its BIS program.

"Using this method, we gathered data from the laboratory through interviews with key stakeholders at the organization," said Rusconi. "We also observed the work system being utilized. We then proceeded to extract additional data from the existing Laboratory Information Management System, analyzed it and summarized it, following the WSM template."

As a starting point, Rusconi and Ross documented the essential characteristics of the system such as customers, products, work processes, stakeholders, information flows and technology. They were able to identify the important parameters of the system and current critical problems and issues; evaluate the diverse needs of the organization; and discern opportunities for improvement.

"As a result of our findings, we produced recommendations on how to better the laboratory's systems and procedures for water monitoring," said Ross. "We found that the laboratory needed to automate and streamline manual tasks and repetitive procedures; create preconditions for better system performance; and eliminate possibilities for monitoring and reporting violations. Following these recommendations, the lab can anticipate reductions in the penalties received by the public water systems served by the laboratory."

Rusconi and Ross first teamed up in the BIS program's Systems Analysis and Design course where their project initiated.   They presented the project at the 2012 Eastern Annual Student Excellence Expo, where it placed second in its category.   Later, with Professor Doncho Petkov's guidance, they prepared their research paper for submission to the 2013 conference. 

The paper was accepted and Rusconi presented it at the national NCUR conference this past April.  Ross was unable to attend the conference, as he was presenting Eastern's Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) Student Chapter's database-driven website project at the AITP National Conference in St. Louis, MO. Ross was the project manager of the Eastern team, whose project was selected as one of the top 10 in North America.  

"The Systems Analysis and Design course taught by Dr. Petkov has been an excellent learning experience," said Ross. "Working with Jacob and learning from his work experiences has taught me a lot about teamwork and about what is required in a real-world system analysis. I have taken my experience from this research project and will apply what I have learned into my education and my future employment."

While working full time as the informatics and operations manager at Premier Laboratory Rusconi returned to school in fall 2010 to pursue a Bachelor of General Studies (BGS), with a concentration in Business Management.  He switched to the Business Information Systems (BIS) major, finding it was more in line with his career goals, and became a member of the Eastern Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) Student Chapter. 

"The classes Dr. Petkov and Dr. Citurs teach are current, practical and relevant," said Rusconi. "They develop and enhance the use of strong analytical skills and critical thinking, as well as teach students strong methodology and knowledge within the BIS discipline and industry." 

Rusconi has been inducted into the Upsilon Pi Epsilon International Honor Society for Computer and Information Disciplines. "This was an especially great day because my 9-year-old twin sons attended the ceremony and told me they were proud of me, and couldn't wait to go to college. My education at Eastern has confirmed my abilities and skills by providing me a framework and structure to practically apply them effectively."

Michèle Bošković Authors Fourth Book

Written by Akaya McElveen

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Willimantic, Conn. - Michèle Bošković, French professor in the World Languages and Cultures Department at Eastern Connecticut State University has authored her fourth book titled "Paroles d'auteurs jeunesse: Autour du multiculturalisme et des minorites visibles en France" (In Youth Authors' Words: Multiculturalism and Visible Minorities in France) published by Rodopi Publishers, based in the United States and the Netherlands. The book is a collection of interviews with 12 children's literature writers and one illustrator. It explores multiculturalism in France through the work of children's literature.

Bošković wrote the book with the intent to show a realistic reflection of what French society really is, to change the way society looks at diversity and to bridge together different communities. Bošković purposefully chose writers of diverse backgrounds to include in her book. She began the process in 2007, and began her interviews while on sabbatical in 2008. "In the field of literature, children's literature is not generally recognized as literature," says Bošković.
She cites racism as a problem in French society. Bošković explains that by combating the problem through exposing children to diversity in children's literature, there is a likelihood that the new generation will be more informed than children who were in school 30 years ago. "For there to be less racism," said Bošković, "you have to start with children."

John O'Donnell to Exhibit "STILLLIFE" at Schumacher Gallery

Written by Akaya McElveen

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Willimantic, Conn. - John O'Donnell, visual arts lecturer at Eastern Connecticut State University, will have an exhibit titled "STILLLIFE" on display at the Westover School's Schumacher Gallery in Middlebury, CT. The exhibit runs March 18-28. A public reception with the artist will take place on March 22 from 4-6 p.m. Located in Westover's Louise B. Dillingham Performing Arts Center, the gallery is open Monday through Friday from noon until 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 1-5 p.m.
"STILLLIFE" is a title that refers to the category of painting as well as to a calm reflection on life and time. O'Donnell's process and materials are inspired by the history of painting and contemporary abstraction. In the studio he paints directly onto found objects and then attempts to replicate them on a burlap canvas with gesso and acrylic paint. Sometimes he uses oil paint and spray paint to reference different historical and contemporary processes.

  The exhibition also includes a video piece created by O'Donnell, who was inspired by a musical composition written and produced by Seattle-based musician Jean Chalant.

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