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Eastern Takes Two "Alternative Breaks" During Spring Recess

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Eastern students Lisa Forcellina (left) and Kim DePaolis (right) with Eastern's AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer Max Goto (center) working in raised garden beds at the Generous Gardens Project in Greenville, SC, for their week-long spring break in March.

Willimantic, Conn. - This past spring recess, Eastern Connecticut State University students participated in two "alternative break" trips. Both trips lasted a week in March; one group volunteered with the Generous Gardens Project in Greenville, SC, and the other volunteered in the Natchaug State Forest in Eastford, CT.

 Seven students worked with the Generous Gardens Project, a nonprofit organization that grows and distributes fresh produce to anti-hunger efforts in South Carolina. "Generous Gardens taught us so much about gardening, how to be 'green' and the importance of giving back," said Cassandra Marion, a senior majoring in visual arts. "The amount of work we were able to achieve made coming back every night exhausted totally worth it."

The group learned about sustainability and urban gardening while planting seeds, harvesting vegetables, composting, working on raised garden beds and other agricultural tasks.
 
"Generous Gardens helped to reignite my passion for helping people by expanding my repertoire of skills and offering me a novel vehicle for service," said Kimberly DePaolis, a junior double majoring in early childhood education and psychology. "Being completely submerged in a self-sustaining farm for the purpose of helping those in need of food was incredible."

"On Wednesday we had the day off and went for a hike on Paris Mountain, and later got to explore the town," said Lily Egan, a junior majoring in communication. "I wouldn't have traded our trip for anything. I needed an escape from regular life in Connecticut. The work was hard but also relaxing; a real stress reliever."


Another group of seven students took day trips from Eastern to Natchaug State Forest throughout the week, where they built bridges and did trail work with the Connecticut Forest and Park Association. "The labor was tough, but not as difficult as I was expecting. I especially liked working with the power tools when we were building the bridge," said Anastasia Matos, a sophomore majoring in business administration. "I was out of my element, but everyone was so kind and helpful; I felt a real connection with everyone."

The Natchaug State Forest group enjoyed a hike through the forest and an education on forestry and conservation. "This trip was fun and rewarding, and, like all alternative break trips, a great way to learn new things, meet people and lend a helping hand," said Kurt Stefanscyk, a junior majoring in environmental earth science. "It feels good to give back."

The purpose of "alternative breaks" is to provide the opportunity for students to serve outside of their own communities in a drug-and-alcohol free environment. For information about Eastern's upcoming alternative break trips, contact the Center for Community Engagement.

 

University's 14th Annual Excellence Expo

Written by Akaya McElveen

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Willimantic, Conn. -Eastern Connecticut State University held its 14th Annual Excellence Expo sponsored by The School of Education/Professional Studies and Graduate Division on April 15 in the Student Center.

The expo featured more than 100 students presenting their research presentations, business marketing plans, communication advertising campaigns, photography exhibits and poster displays. Provost Rhona Free said that the expo reflected Eastern's model of "integrative learning," where students apply the knowledge learned in class by conducting experiments, research and other creative activity, and then sharing that through presentations and publications, eventually applying their learning in the workplace after graduation. Others like Jaime Gómez, interim dean of education and professional studies/graduate division, believes that the Excellent Expo is a great way to prevent academic excellence in students from becoming "invisible." 

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As part of the opening ceremonies to the expo, Psychology Professor Carlos Escoto, coordinator of undergraduate research and creative activity, presented an Undergraduate Research Mentor Award to Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, Phyllis Waite Endowed Chair of the Center for Early Childhood Education.
 
Trawick-Smith received the award for involving students in his research of children's play activities. "Students provide interesting fresh insights into our work, and ask questions I would never think to ask," he said. "It has been great fun working with students on this research." Trawick-Smith's student researchers have joined him in presenting their findings at national conferences and publishing their work in national early childhood education journals.

Student research was on display throughout the Student Center. While special research presentations from the Business Administration and Education Departments were conducted in rooms located on the first level of the Student Center, business marketing plans, communication advertising campaigns and photography exhibits were held in rooms located directly across from the Betty R. Tipton Room, where poster boards were on display.
 
Jordan LaRusso, who presented a poster on "Freedom of Speech in Schools," discussed the topic of verbal and written speech in our school systems in terms of the First Amendment. It was a project she started in her Ethics and Law class for Communication, and she felt that "conducting research and choosing my own topic is really what had drawn me to present here."

Similarly, Amanda Eckert, who presented a poster on the effects of social media on society titled "Do it for the Vine: and Other Excuses Social Media Gives Us," chose to present at the expo because she had the opportunity to present on a topic that she was genuinely interested in.
 
Judges included Gómez; George Hernandez, Windham Regional/ Small Business Specialist; Robert Jeannette, director of health services; Stephen Nelson, interim chief information officer; Edward Osborn, director of university relations; Michael Palumbo, technical support analysis; Peter Polomski, owner of The Lily Pad and Chase Rozelle III, associate professor in the Performing Arts Department. Members of the local community have been invited to judge the expo since 2004.
The 2014 Excellence Expo committee included Theresa Bouley, associate professor in the Education Department; Maryanne Clifford, economics professor; Doncho Petkov, business administration professor; Terri Toles-Patkin, communication professor and Nanette Tummers, health and physical education professor.

Annual Eastern Excellence Expo Set for April 15

Written by Dwight Bachman


Willimantic, Conn: -- Eastern Connecticut State University's School of Education/Professional Studies and Graduate Division will hold its 14th Annual Excellence Expo on April 15, 2014, from 1-3p.m. in the Student Center.  The public is invited. Admission is free.

More than 110 students, supported by 10 faculty mentors, will present research projects and posters showcasing the five departments in the School of Education/Professional Studies and Graduate Division: Business Administration, Communication, Economics, Education, and Health and Physical Education.
Presentations include business marketing plans and communication advertising campaigns;  research presentations from business and education students; and a gallery photography exhibit of framed prints and color slides, just to name a few.  Poster research includes topics on communication law and ethics; health communication issues; and systems analysis.

For more information on the Excellence Expo, contact Pat Kucharski at (860) 465-5264 or email her at kucharski@easternct.edu.

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."

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."

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.

"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."

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.

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.

Ready to Climb

Written by Akaya McElveen

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Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC) recently introduced two climbing walls for its preschool children; the wall are documented in the short film, "Ready to Climb: Bringing the Climbing Walls to the CFDRC."

"Ready to Climb" was produced by Eastern communication students Sarah Pierce, James Nixon, Dylan King and Attah Agyemang in their Documentary Production class taught by Denise Mathews, professor of communication. Students gained hands-on experience in directing, field shooting, conducting interviews, editing and other production skills. The video will be used to highlight to prospective families and students some of the experiences available to children at the CFDRC.

The indoor and outdoor climbing walls serve to support children's cognitive, social-emotional, creative and physical development, and provide critical experiential learning opportunities for Eastern students who hope to work with young children in their careers. Niloufar Rezai, director of the CFDRC and Darren Robert, professor of Health and Physical Education, detail the benefits of the addition of the climbing walls, citing risk-taking and peer motivation as a few. For instance, children in the center use the climbing walls to improve their hand-eye coordination, said Rezai.

Health and Physical Education students Teresa Rozycki, Mattie Brett and Josh Tamosaitis appear in the video as they work to support the children. Claudia Ahearn, CFDRC lead teacher, also appears in the video.  
The climbing walls were made possible through the support of the ECSU Foundation.

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