Left to right, Deja Seawright, Sam Marr, Bri Paiva, Kristen Urban, Paige Matheson, Josh Henton, Liz DelBuono, Taylor Herold, Amanda Stanton, Josh Mazyck, Yubi Delgadillo, Molly Serven, MarthaDenisky, Shayna Blumell, Ash Talbot and Freddy Cruz.
This summer, more than 1,000 incoming first-year and transfer students participated in the Student Orientation, Advising and Registration (SOAR) program. The SOAR program, coordinated by the Office of Student Activities, in collaboration with the Academic Advising Center and Admissions Office, offers new students the opportunity to visit campus for an overnight stay to experience all of the resources and services available to support them in their transition to Eastern’s campus.
SOAR 6 – Groups 13 & 14
Other SOAR topics include financial literacy, privilege and social justice, access to online resources and services like the SAIV-RT, Counseling, Wellness and AccessAbility. The Student Orientation Counselors, current Eastern student leaders with extensive knowledge in training on campus programs, spent time with all new students throughout SOAR and assisted them in navigating the SOAR experience.
On June 9, Eastern and Willimantic police officers along with Special Olympic athletes, wives of state troopers and Eastern students, faculty and staff participated in the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Connecticut. The statewide torch run takes place over three days, with 1,500 officers and athletes covering more than 583 miles through 100 cities and towns throughout Connecticut, ending at Southern Connecticut State University for the opening ceremonies to signify the start of the summer Special Olympic Games. Eastern police officer David DeNunzio said organizers want to raise $10,000 this year. There is still time to contribute. Checks can be made payable to “Special Olympics of Connecticut” and sent to Public Safety, Eastern Connecticut, 44 Charter Oak Road, Willimantic, CT 06226.
Innovative application of high impact educational practices at Eastern has earned the school recognition by the Colleges of Distinction Guide.
“We’re so happy to recognize Eastern for developing skills relevant to graduates’ lives,” said Tyson Schritter, executive editor for Colleges of Distinction. “High student engagement in college is one of the keys to a successful undergraduate education. With an increasing emphasis on hands-on learning techniques, Colleges of Distinction applauds Eastern for practicing methodologies that prepare students for their futures.”
Schools must demonstrate results across four distinctions — Engaged Students, Great Teaching, Vibrant Community and Successful Outcomes. High school counselors and educators make nominations, and each school is evaluated on key indicators including student engagement, student empowerment and curricular innovation. Colleges that have distinguished themselves in each of the four distinctions and that have demonstrated dedication to enriching student outcomes through innovative learning opportunities are then invited to join Colleges of Distinction.
The annual process to select the nation’s Colleges of Distinction also includes a review of each institution’s freshman experience, as well as its general education program, strategic plan, and alumni success and satisfaction measures.
“Colleges of Distinction is more than an annual ranking of colleges and universities. We only include colleges that offer every student a holistic and valuable experience,” said Schritter. “The Colleges of Distinction have earned solid reputations for serving their students and nurturing success. Like Eastern, our member schools provide the affirming undergraduate experience every student deserves.”
Eastern students celebrated Independence Day with thousands of local residents at the 31st Boom Box Parade in Willimantic on July 4. Students proudly displayed Eastern banners ahead of the Eastern float, captained by President Elsa Núñez. Students handed out candy to excited children along the parade route, assisted by President Núñez’s grandsons, Avery and Ethan, who did a great job keeping up with the float. “It is great to come out and support the Windham community,” said Bernice Kwarteng, ’17 from East Hartford. “The kids are so excited, and it is fun to get swept up in the excitement of the parade.” Other students who volunteered included Sarah Tricarico, Eddie Pavliscak, Mariana Vega, Goy Volodate, Donte Fraser, Freddy Cruz, Brianna Torres, Shanice Earl and Tyler Mack. Alumna Samone Jones-McCarthy and Kim Silcox, director of the Center for Community Engagement, helped make the event a great success.
Child and Family Development Resource Center Boom Box Parade
The Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC) hosted its annual Mini Boom Box Parade on July 1. Adorned in patriotic clothing and costumes, children who are enrolled at the CFDRC and their families marched across campus for the “kid version” of Willimantic’s Boom Box Parade, the town’s annual Fourth of July celebration.
“We started the Mini Boom Box Parade around Eastern’s campus as an effort to connect the children with the University community,” said Niloufar Rezai, director of the CFDRC. “Children feel a sense of pride as they parade through campus, greeted by the community. We thank all who joined us, and especially thank Eastern’s Department of Public Safety for providing escorts along the parade route!”
In the wee hours of May 22, 13 Eastern biology students and biology professors Patricia Szczys and Matthew Graham trekked to the rainforest of Costa Rica to experience a 12-day trip they had been preparing for since January.
The students had spent the spring semester in groups of three and four students each reading scientific literature and preparing research proposals for studies they would conduct in the field while in Costa Rica. During six days in the humid lowland rainforest at Selva Verde, they completed experiments on leaf-cutter ant foraging strategies; predator recognition and avoidance behavior by the strawberry poison-dart frog; effectiveness of aposematic warning colors and patterns in snakes; and population density and sex ratio of the green and black poison-dart frog.
Aside from these projects, the group spent time hiking, observing animals and identifying plants there are part of the rich biodiversity of the tropical rainforest. The group visited the world-renowned La Selva Biological Research Station; toured an organic export-oriented pineapple plantation; hiked the lava fields at Arenal Volcano National Park and then bathed in the park’s hot springs; toured the Don Juan coffee plantation; and hiked to the Continental Divide in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
The Tropical Biology course and field trip to Costa Rica is offered in alternating spring semesters and fulfills an upper-level course requirement for Biology majors. This class, along with its sister course, Tropical Biology in San Salvador, Bahamas, continues a tradition in the Biology Department of offering an international field experience in the tropics every year since 1968. Professor Szczys has been leading groups to Costa Rica since it replaced Belize as the terrestrial-focused course in 2008.
Eastern students and Professor Scisco visit Newgrange, an ancient tomb and spiritual site in Ireland dating back to 3200 BC. With the Eastern contingent were 13 Quinnipiac University students and their faculty members Gary Giumetti and Sharlene Walbaum.
From June 4 to July 2, 14 Eastern psychology majors studied “History of Psychology” at University College Dublin, Ireland, with Assistant Professor Jenna Scisco. The Republic of Ireland is celebrating the centennial of the 1916 Easter Rising, a revolutionary event that led to Ireland’s ultimate independence from Britain. Students were immersed in Ireland’s fascinating yet turbulent history through a historical walking tour in Dublin’s city center; a visit to the Michael Collins Center in Clonakilty to learn about his critical contributions to the Irish Revolution and Civil War; and a guided tour of Skibbereen Heritage Center to learn about the tragic Great Famine. The students also visited Kerry Wollen Mill to learn about the wool industry in Ireland and toured the beautiful Ring of Kerry on Ireland’s southwest coast. On another course excursion, the students visited Newgrange, an ancient tomb and spiritual site dating back to 3200 BC, and Clonmacnoise, a monastic site settled in 544 AD. The 14 Eastern students studied alongside 13 Quinnipiac University students.
Eastern students and Jenna Scisco, assistant professor of psychology, visited the Michael Collins Center in Clonakilty, Ireland, to learn about the contributions Collins made to the 1916 uprising and the Irish Civil War.
By learning about Ireland’s history through these site visits and associated readings, the students came to understand why psychology was late in arriving in Ireland relative to the United States, with modern scientific psychology not appearing in Ireland until the 1950s. The students also had the opportunity to see the Ballinasloe Asylum from the outside, providing a glimpse into Ireland’s past treatment of individuals in these facilities. To wrap up the four weeks in Ireland, students saw “The Wake,” a play at Abbey Theatre in Dublin, featuring an Irish woman with extreme behavior who ultimately was taken to an asylum to assess her mental health.
In late May 2016, 16 students and three members of the Department of Environmental Earth Sciences faculty travelled to Iceland to study geology for 10 days. This was the department’s first trip to Iceland and marked a new chapter in its efforts to expand and diversify experiential learning opportunities for EES majors.
The group arrived in Iceland at 4 a.m. and immediately set out from the airport at sunrise to visit Reykjanes Peninsula, only 10 miles away. By 9 a.m. they were soaking in the famous Blue Lagoon spa, surely the best way to recover from a five-hour overnight flight!
Every day thereafter the group was treated to Iceland’s gorgeous natural scenery, volcanoes of every size and type, incredibly raw tectonic landscapes, vast icecaps and glaciers, and thunderous waterfalls. They also took time to experience Iceland’s modern society, which has managed to develop a thriving sustainable lifestyle in one of Earth’s harshest environments.
“The trip was a wonderful learning experience and a true geo-adventure for our students,” said Professor Dickson Cunningham. Students climbed volcanoes, walked on a glacier, sailed past icebergs, scampered behind waterfalls, tiptoed past hot springs and geysers, stared in awe at huge volcanic cliffs on black sand beaches and stood on the rift boundary that separates the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. They also examined traditional Icelandic folklore and society, visited a modern geothermal power plant and explored Reykjavik’s attractive city culture.
U.S. Embassy Budapest briefing with Public Affairs Counselor Eric Watnik
Seven Eastern students happily returned home to Connecticut on June 7 after completing a two-week global field course that focused on the nature of culture and communication in Poland, Austria and Hungary. Titled “The Nazi Aftermath in Central Europe: History, the Media and the Holocaust,” the class was led by Eastern Communication Professor Beltrán, who described the trip as “varied, packed and intensive.”
The course included official briefings provided by the American embassies in Warsaw and Budapest; lectures at prestigious European universities; a meeting with the director of the Centropa Jewish Historical Institute in Vienna; afternoon tea with a Holocaust survivor; and encounters with communication professionals in the areas of public relations and investigative reporting in Warsaw, Krakow, Vienna and Budapest.
Relaxing at the baroque Szechenyi baths in Budapest
Among the historical sites visited were the newly opened Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw; the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi extermination camp; the Schindler’s List factory and Wawel Royal Castle in Krakow; Vienna’s sumptuous Imperial district; the restored Jewish Quarter and Dohany Synagogue in Budapest; and the majestic Budapest Castle district that overlooks the Danube River.
Farewell dinner at the Gerbeaud cafe in Budapest
The field course also included cultural activities, with a special viewing of the Leonardo DaVinci portrait of “A Lady with an Ermine” at the Wawel Castle; frequent stops at famous coffee houses and cafes; an evening concert at the Great Hall of the Franz Liszt Music Academy in Budapest; and a relaxing morning spent soaking in Budapest’s baroque Szechenyi Thermal Baths.
Allison Speicher, assistant professor of English at Eastern, has published a new book, “Schooling Readers.” Speicher focuses on what she calls the, “Common School Narrative” fictional stories about one-room schools written during the 19th century. “This is a really important time in the history of schooling; public schools were basically invented during this period,” said Speicher. “Other scholars have studied literature related to other reform movements during this time period but there hasn’t been much activity around literature related to school reform, so this book fills that gap.”
Speicher found 130 stories from novels and magazines to analyze and include in her book. “As I look at these stories, I think about how they respond to the educational changes occurring in the 19th century,” said Speicher, who describes the groundwork for public school systems that was laid during this time period. The book contains four main themes that Speicher analyzes throughout: Spelling bees and school exhibitions; teachers adopting their students; school violence; and student teacher romance. “I found it very interesting that even though the United States is divided up sectionally during this time period, these stories are very similar across the country and on both sides of the Civil War,” said Speicher.
Windham public school teacher Beth Martin helps dual language learners understand what is happening in the classroom and become more comfortable speaking in English.
The Center for Early Childhood Education has announced a series of 10 new videos funded by a two-year grant from the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood. “Reflections from the Field” is a series of brief videos featuring teachers and family child care providers who reflect on strategies they use to support children’s development. The series features four teachers from Eastern’s Child and Family Development Resource Center, including two who joined the center after recording their interview at their former place of employment. The videos include footage from nine early childhood settings across Connecticut, from Bridgeport to Willimantic to Plainfield.
One of the videos was edited by Eastern Communication student Lupe Marquez with support from Ken Measimer. The remainder were edited by Sean Leser with videography by Leser and Measimer. Most of the videos were produced by Terry Surprenant and Leser. All ten videos in the series can be viewed at: http://www1.easternct.edu/cece/reflections-from-the-field/
Melody Kramarz, left, with mentor Kinesiology and Physical Education Professor Anita Lee
Melody Kramarz, aSport and Leisure Management major with an Exercise Science concentration, won the 2016 Undergraduate Research Investigator Award at the Eastern District of the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) America annual conference on May 24. Her research project is titled “Relationships between Behavioral Motives and Physical Activity of College Students: An Empirical Analysis of Exercise Motivation.”
Melody first presented her in-progress research at the Association for Applied Sport Psychology Northeast Regional Conference, held at Springfield College in April 30; at the Eastern District of (SHAPE) America for the undergraduate research investigator competition; and finally, at SHAPE’S annual conference in Atlantic City, NJ. Melody is also a recipient of the 2016 Jean H. Thoresen Eastern Connecticut State University-American Association of University Professors (ECSU-AAUP) Scholarship. She used this scholarship to financial support her conference trips.
Her research mentor, Kinesiology and Physical Education Professor Anita Lee, said that “undergraduate research is a powerful and important experience to develop students’ critical thinking, problem solving, and quantitative analysis skills. These are essential components of liberal arts education.”
Soccer player Hailey Lehning ’17 and baseball player Ron Buchetto ’17 join President Elsa Nunez to celebrate the Presidents’ Cup.
For the third time in the seven-year history of the award and for the second straight year, Eastern has earned the Presidents’ Cup for the 2015-16 academic year. The award is given to the top academic institution in the Little East Conference (LEC). The LEC Presidents’ Cup measures the highest cumulative grade point average of the eight institutions in the conference. Each college or university calculates the cumulative GPA for its student-athletes who competed in the league’s 19 championship-sponsored sports.
Eastern had earned the inaugural award during the 2009-10 academic year and in 2014-15 won for the second time with a cumulative grade point average of 3.11. In 2015-16, the Warriors again outdistanced runner-up Keene State College with a 3.18 GPA – the highest by an institution in the history of the award. “I congratulate the scholar-athletes of Eastern Connecticut State University for earning back-to-back Little East Conference Presidents’ Cups, the LEC’s highest academic award, as well as earning the highest ever institutional cumulative GPA since the inception of the Cup.” said Commissioner Cora H. Brumley. “This prestigious award clearly demonstrates intercollegiate athletics’ ability to enhance the academic mission of our member institutions. The Warriors’ staff is to be commended for their role in facilitating their student-athletes’ achievements.”
“The Eastern Department of Athletics is proud to receive the Presidents’ Cup for the second straight year, as it reflects the hard work that our student-athletes put into their fields of study and the passion they show in the classroom,” remarked Eastern Director of Athletics Lori Runksmeier. “I think it’s great that the Little East has chosen to honor academic success with the highest award the conference gives. The priority shown by that decision embodies what Division III athletics is all about.”
In addition to academic success, Eastern teams won or shared LEC regular-season championships in men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, and women’s lacrosse, with the women’s basketball team and baseball teams capturing LEC post-season tournament titles and qualifying for NCAA tournaments.