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Alumna Discusses Anti-Racist Pedagogy in Elementary Schools

 

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On April 24, anthropologist Hilda Lloréns '96, presented "Arrancando Mitos de Raíz: Guía para una Enseñanza Antirracista" en Puerto Rico (Pulling-up Myths from their Roots: A Guide for the Anti-Racist Teaching of Puerto Rico's African Heritage), published in 2013. The book's presentation, which was sponsored by the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work and the Intercultural Center, detailed the findings of the research project, "Beyond the Self: Towards an Integral Approach to an Anti-racist Pedagogy in Elementary Education."
This research project was funded by the National Institutes of Health and spearheaded by Isar Godreau from the Institute of Interdisciplinary Research at the University of Puerto Rico-Cayey. The project sought to explore whether institutional racism was embedded in school curricula and whether black children were exposed to racism and discrimination in school.

The research team found that at the institutional level, in curricular materials and lessons, students were taught five recurrent and specific myths about Africa, the African heritage and blackness in Puerto Rico. These five myths are: 1) Africa is a poor, primitive place of little importance in the world; 2) slaves were passive victims of slavery; 3) all black persons in Puerto Rico were slaves prior the abolition of slavery; 4) the contributions of African heritage are limited to music, folklore and hard labor; 5) in Puerto Rico, the majority of black persons disappeared as a result of race mixing or "mestizaje." At the interpersonal level, racial discrimination among students included rejection, humiliation, mockery and even physical abuse of black children. Consequently, the research team found that students who are victims of racism experience emotional instability, anxiety and isolation. Students often begin to experience racism in elementary school and continue to encounter racism throughout the entirety of their schooling experience.

During the presentation, Lloréns explained the findings of the research, as well as the contents of "Pulling-up Myths by the Roots." The book offers a practical guide for teachers, social workers, education students and the community-at-large to understand the effects of racism and suggest ways in which they can begin to effect anti-racist change both at the institutional and interpersonal levels. Lloréns donated a copy of the book to the J. Eugene Smith Library.

Celebrating 125 Years of Service to the Community

Written by Ed Osborn

 

Eastern wrapped up its spring semester series of 125th Anniversary celebrations with Community Engagement Day on May 2. The day began with a luncheon and panel discussion featuring four alumni in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room. Anabelitza Lozada '11, Levar Mitchell '12, Matt Blocker-Glynn '03 and Victoria Nimirowski '87 discussed how they turned their community engagement experiences at Eastern into successful careers. The event was sponsored by the Center for Community Engagement, the Center for Internships and Career Development, and the Office of Alumni Affairs.

Lozada graduated with a bachelor's degree in Social Work. The following year, she completed her master's degree at the University of Connecticut's School of Social Work. She currently is the social worker for the Support for Pregnant and Parenting Teens program at Windham High School. Mitchell earned his Bachelor of Science in Sport and Leisure Management with a minor in Sociology. He currently works as a sports, fitness and recreation director at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hartford, and is the youngest sports director in Connecticut. Mitchell is pursuing his master's degree in Social Work at the University of Connecticut.

Blocker-Glynn graduated with a B.A. in History. He received his M.Ed. in Human Relations Counseling from Plymouth State University, and then came back to Connecticut to direct the University of Hartford's Center for Community Service six years ago. Nimirowski has been the executive director of the Windham Area Interfaith Ministry (WAIM) since 2005.

In the afternoon, the CCE sponsored the annual Service Expo, during which time student volunteers displayed posters and other visual manifestations of the various service projects that have taken place during the 2013-14 academic year. The annual Distinguished Service Awards ceremony took place in the Student Center Theatre following the Service Expo.

Kimberly DePaolis, a junior double-majoring in early childhood education and psychology, won the Student Community Engagement Award for her leadership, fundraising and volunteer work locally and abroad--in such countries as Jamaica and Ecuador--earned her this award.

Professor of Anthropology Ricardo Perez earned the Faculty Community Engagement Award for working with Eastern students in service projects with Willimantic schools in the Puentes al Futuro (Bridges to the Future) program. The Community Partner Engagement Award was given to '09 alumnus Christopher Brechlin, who worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer with ACCESS Agency and is now the CEO of Blueprint for a Dream, a "social enterprise" that focuses on northeast Connecticut. Professor of Sociology Cara Bergstrom-Lynch won the Service Learning Award for her fundraising efforts and community organizing. Since 2007, more than 550 students in her senior seminar have organized more than 120 community projects. The Community Event Award was given to Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). From January to April of this year, the 10 students involved in the program put forth more than 456 hours of tax assistance, filing approximately 9,500 returns for low-to-moderate income individuals and families.

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In the evening, "La Familia de Mucho Colores," a community cultural celebration in the Betty R. Tipton Room, concluded Community Engagement Day. Arnaldo Rivera and his band Vente-Tú played Latin Jazz and Salsa; children from the Puentes al Futuro ("Bridges to the Future") program danced to Mexican polkas, a Puerto Rican bomba and other Latin American music. Dancers fom the El Sagrado Corazón Catholic Church also joined in the festivities.

Eastern Graduates 1,227 at XL Center

Written by Ed Osborn

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Willimantic, Conn. - More than 12,000 family members and friends filled the XL Center in Hartford on Tuesday, May 13, to cheer on their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, as 1,162 undergraduates and 65 graduate students received their diplomas at Eastern Connecticut State University's 124th Commencement exercises.

Nicholas Lawson, director of field human resources for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa during the Commencement Exercises, and offered remarks following presentation of his honorary degree.

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Lawson has worked with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) for the past 17 years, a group he proudly describes as the "preeminent emergency medical humanitarian organization in the world." As Director of Field Human Resources for MSF since 2007, Lawson is responsible for the oversight of 35,000 staff across the globe, and leads the development and implementation of MSF's vision as a member of the MSF Executive Management team. Over the years, he has traveled to and coordinated humanitarian and medical relief efforts in Uganda, Pakistan, Burundi, East Timor, South Sudan and Afghanistan.

Lawson spoke of the organization's core principles of service, independence, impartiality, neutrality, ethics and engagement, and described his early years with MSF, when he faced the challenge of bringing medical supplies to civilians in Afghanistan caught in the crossfire of that nation's civil war.  In the end, he said MSF's focus was simple: to "alleviate the suffering of vulnerable people in crisis."

His charge to Eastern's 2014 graduating class was equally simple:  "What place does service and engagement in the public realm have in the careers we dream for ourselves? Is that activism? Is it volunteerism? Is it civics? Will it be a lifelong professional choice? . . . You will be richer than you can possibly imagine if you do actually make that choice."

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                                             Eastern President Elsa Nunez

Other speakers at the Commencement Exercises included Eastern President Elsa Nunez; Catherine Smith, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, who represented the Board of Regents for Higher Education; Senior Class President Zachary Yeager; and Brittany Lane '14, who delivered the Senior Class Address. Other members of the platform party included Gregory Gray, president of the Board of Regents; Willimantic Mayor Ernie Eldridge; and other Eastern officials.

Nunez gave her traditional charge to the graduates, telling them, "I hope you look forward to the next chapter in your lives with optimism and expectation, knowing that the faculty and staff on our campus have done their utmost to prepare you for this day."
 
Nunez cited examples of applied learning experiences ranging from internships at ESPN and Cigna to study abroad trips to Costa Rica and Switzerland, to undergraduate research into genetics and emotional health among senior citizens, to working in South Carolina on anti-hunger efforts, as examples of the hands-on experiences that Eastern students receive in applying their liberal arts education.

 "Never be satisfied with a half-hearted effort, never assume that the way things have been done is the way we should do things in the future. Intellectual curiosity and a moral commitment to a better life for all people are hallmarks of a liberal arts university in our democracy. The best way to honor Eastern and our faculty is to remain true to what you have learned here."

 Nunez closed her remarks with a quote from the 19th-century Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda:  "Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life -- think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success."

More than 40 percent of the graduates were the first in their families to earn a bachelor's degree. As Connecticut's only public liberal arts university, Eastern draws students from 164 of the state's 169 towns. Approximately 90 percent of graduates stay in Connecticut to launch their careers, contribute to their communities and raise their families.

Senior Class President Zachary Yeager presented the Senior Class Gift to President Nunez--an annual Class of 2014 scholarship--and said, "College has been the time to make mistakes and learn from them, a time to challenge ourselves, and a time to step out of our comfort zone . . . We will carry the memories that we have made in the past few years at Eastern with us for a lifetime."

Catherine Smith, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, offered remarks on behalf of the Board of Regents for Higher Education.  "I want you to know how deeply moved and excited we are about the great work you have done to earn your degree tonight," said Smith. "This is a significant milestone, and you should be very proud. The journey isn't easy, and there are no shortcuts to earning an undergraduate degree, but the benefits are enormous. Eastern has prepared you well for all the challenges you will face as the 21st century-economy continues to change. Pursue your career with the same dedication that has brought you to this fabulous day."
 
In her Senior Class Address, Brittany Lane urged the graduates to "pack your bags" and get ready for a new journey. She listed five items to include on the trip. First on the list: a belief that "every day is a great day to be alive," something she learned from one of her professors, Dan Switchenko. Second on her list was a commitment to helping others. "Volunteer; give back to your community; give back to your school. It is far more rewarding than a paycheck." 

  The third item on her list was to live life with kindness. "You never know the impact that your kind words could have on someone's day or even their life. Make your mark." Lane told her peers to also "remember to take the memories you have made at Eastern with you . . .  These are the moments that stand the test of time."

 Finally, Lane reminded her classmates that "there is no place like home. For your duration of time spent here at Eastern, it has become a second home . . . a close community of students from different walks of life coming together to live and learn in harmony . . . No matter where your journey takes you after today, no matter how many bumps in the road you may hit, always remember that we all have a place here at Eastern. You are all important. You will all accomplish incredible things; and our journey starts today." 
 
From 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, this year's graduation ceremonies again reflected the University's Commencement traditions of dignity and grace. University Senate President Gregory Kane presided over the commencement exercises; seniors Emily Chuber, Rachel Jung and Emma Kuehnle sang "America the Beautiful"; Senior Mame Fatou Diop gave the invocation; and History Professor Anna Kirchmann was recognized as the 2014 Distinguished Professor Award recipient.

 

Sociology Honor Society at Eastern

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's sixth annual induction ceremony of Alpha Kappa Delta, the international sociology honor society, occurred on May 2 in the Student Center Theatre. This year eight students were inducted--each of them juniors and seniors majoring in sociology with cumulative grade point averages of 3.3 or above.

 Before the induction, Sociology Professor Cara Bergstrom-Lynch described the value of a sociology degree. "You have learned to conduct research, analyze data, present information and think critically, and you've gained a global perspective," she said. "Many of my students have gone on to successful careers in education, nonprofit and business. Also, you might find it interesting to know that Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Jackson, Ronald Reagan and Michelle Obama were all sociology majors."

 The event's keynote speaker, Sociology Professor William Lugo, spoke of the role of activism in society. "Activism isn't about participating in a protest or being a part of some group," he said. "It's about how you live your life in general, and doing the right thing."  

 This year's inductees include Heather Demers of Oxford, MA; Kyle Donovan of Manchester; Lindsay Emblidge of Waterford; Amy Gutgsell of Old Lyme; Samantha Marsh of Plainfield; Olivia Muscarella of Oakdale; Anne Stolpe of Mystic; and Brianna Sullivan of Wethersfield.

"ALANA" Students Recognized for Academic Excellence

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Recipients of the Diversity Scholars and Inclusive Excellence Awards. Back row, left to right, are Shaleah Richards, Gregory Riley, Njeri Dodson, Destiny Hartmann, Amilcah Gomes, Briana Tucker, Tyler Hernandez, Kayla Enwerem. Front row, left to right, are Jonathan Correa, James Chadic.


Willimantic, Conn. - The 2014 Inclusive Excellence Student Awards Ceremony was held May 2 at Eastern Connecticut State University. The event, sponsored by the Advising Center, celebrated the academic achievements of Eastern's "ALANA" students--African-American, Latino, Asian and Native American students. A total of 143 students were recognized.

            "Across the country, minority students are underrepresented on college campuses and graduate at lower rates," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "Here at Eastern we are committed to reversing that trend by fostering a community of inclusion, diversity awareness and academic excellence."

            The event's keynote speaker, Carmen Cid, a Latina from Cuba with nearly 30 years' experience as a college professor and administrator, and a distinguished scientist in the field of ecology, spoke on the topic of "finding your inner voice."

            "You have diverse backgrounds and broad educations; you can do more than one thing," said Cid, currently the interim president of Quinebaug Valley Community College and long-time dean of Eastern's School of Arts and Sciences. "Finding your inner voice takes time and practice." She also spoke of the benefits of diversity: "In ecology, the more diverse an ecosystem, the healthier it is. This is true for a college campus, too, and for society."

            Among the 143 students recognized were the Diversity Scholars Award recipients: Jonathan Correa, a sophomore biology major from Trumbull; Njeri Dodson, a freshman biology major from Bridgeport; Destiny Hartmann, a freshman accounting major from Stonington; Tyler Hernandez, a sophomore education major from Waterbury; Kayla Enwerem, a freshman from Waterbury; and Briana Tucker, a freshman social work major from Glastonbury.

Also notable were the recipients of the Inclusive Excellence Awards: James Chadic, a senior mathematics major from Norwich; Vanessa Cioe, a senior sports and leisure management major from Fall River, MA; Shaleah Richards, a senior psychology major from Hartford; and Gregory Riley, a junior biology major from West Haven.

Arts and Sciences Research Conference and Exhibition

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University held its 14th Annual Arts and Sciences Research Conference and Exhibition (ASRCE) on April 12. The event featured oral and visual presentations of student-led scientific research and artwork. More than 50 presentations were delivered by students from a range of academic departments. 

 Mike Manzi, a junior majoring in environmental earth science (EES), presented on shoreline erosion due to weathering along Block Island. "I have enjoyed being a part of every step of the scientific process," said Manzi. "The best part is knowing that the information from my project can be used in the future by others doing research in this field."

 "Students studying environmental earth science have the opportunity to carry out exciting field-based research," said EES Professor William Cunningham. "Last summer undergraduates carried out original and important research in Idaho, Spain and various localities around southern New England. Their findings were presented at Saturday's event."

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At the ASRCE, Mathematics Professor Mizan Khan won the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Mentor Award. He was nominated by one of his students, Richard Magner, who has conducted extensive "number theory" research with Khan. 
 "Students who are interested doing research should ask a faculty member about opportunities in their area of interest," said Psychology Professor Madeleine Fugere. "I am always impressed by the quality of the research presented at this event."

Laura Markley, a junior majoring in EES, presented on population, natural resources and sea level rising in Bangladesh. "My research experience at Eastern has provided me with invaluable hands-on field experience," said Markley. "I'm lucky to be able to present on topics that interest me and address real-world problems."

"This event gives students the chance to experience the 'next step' in the research process: presentation," said Peter Bachiochi, psychology professor and faculty mentor. "It is very motivating for them."

"As a faculty mentor it is very rewarding to see your students present. It represents the culmination of a lot of hard work," said Fugere. "The ASRCE is one of the best academic events all year."

Eastern Hosts 2014 Research and Exhibition Conference

Written by Jordan Sakal


Willimantic, Conn. -  Eastern Connecticut State University will host its annual Arts and Sciences Research Conference & Exhibition on April 12 from 8:30 to 1:30 p.m. This annual event highlights student creative activity undertaken within the 11 departments and 13 majors in the School of Arts and Sciences.

 The conference is a forum for Arts & Sciences students to give oral and poster presentations of research they have conducted while at Eastern.  Students will also be reading poetry, discussing interpretations of literature, and displaying artwork. This exhibition will be the first ever to feature an award presented to faculty mentors for services to their student researchers.
 
 The award is student-nominated, and draws attention to the fact that Eastern students and faculty contribute to scholarly fields of inquiry beyond the classroom. The opening ceremonies of the conference will begin at 9 a.m. in room 104 of the Science Building. There will brief introductory remarks by Professor Nick Parsons, Dean Martin Levin of the School of Arts and Sciences, President Elsa Núñez and Provost Rhona Free.

Warriors Against Violence Rally

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - On April 1, a crowd of Eastern Connecticut State University students gathered on the Student Center patio for "Warriors Against Violence," a rally to raise awareness of dating violence. The event started with a march around campus and concluded with a speech by author and advocate Susan Omilian.

During the march, students shouted empowering statements of courage and antiviolence, led by a speaker with a megaphone. "Wherever we go, however we dress, no means no and yes means yes!" shouted the crowd of female and male students.

At 2 p.m. on the Student Center patio, Omilian took the podium and told the story of her niece, Maggie Wardle, who was a 19-year-old sophomore in college when she was shot and murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1999. At the time of this tragedy, there were no on-campus organizations dedicated to awareness, intervention or victim support of dating violence and related issues.

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Since her niece's death, Omilian has spoken across the country on the topic of dating violence. Colleges across the nation, including Eastern, have established on-campus resources to handle these issues, such as Eastern's Sexual Assault Response Team (SART).

"Warriors Against Violence," an event within an ongoing awareness-raising campaign, was organized and sponsored by the Womens' Center, SART and a number of social work students.
 
According to Omilian and other authorities on the topic, warning signs of an unhealthy, abusive relationship can be emotional, physical, psychological, sexual and economic. If they have any concern whatsoever, students are urged to utilize Eastern's support resources.

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."

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

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