Adella Dzitko-Carlson Completes Music Fellowship

Eastern Connecticut State University student Adella Dzitko-Carlson ’19 devoted three weeks this summer to mastering the clarinet and analyzing music scores. As part of an on-campus fellowship that concluded this August, she worked with her faculty mentor, Professor Christopher Howard, to strengthen her performance skills and obtain a better understanding of her role as a musician.

Her intensive schedule included playing the clarinet for six hours a day and studying score sheets for three hours a day. She also took the time to begin preparing her repertoire for graduate school auditions and her senior recital. Howard noted that the goal of the fellowship was for Dzitko-Carlson to understand the clarinetist’s role in a broader sense.

When studying the scores, she also analyzed the roles of other instruments in a composition. “I allowed the pieces to inform my decisions on dynamics,” she said. “I also thought about what other instruments can do when applied to playing with the clarinet.”

Dzitko-Carlson plays the clarinet throughout the year, but she hadn’t had the opportunity to fully immerse herself in her playing. “It was nice to have extended periods to focus only on practicing,” she said.

Howard noted that she was not only playing music and analyzing it but gaining experience few ever get. “One of the more invaluable skills that Adella was able to get out of this experience is learning how it feels to be completely enveloped in a regimen that’s as intense as she went through for the past three weeks.”

In addition to playing the clarinet and studying score sheets, Dzitko-Carlson also had writing assignments in which she reflected on the new perspectives and knowledge she was gaining as a musician.

Professor Chris Howard and Adella Dzitko-Carlson.

One of the obstacles she faced was keeping up with the challenging schedule. “A big challenge was definitely building up mental endurance; it took a lot to get through the long days while remaining focused and productive the entire time.”

Howard added, “Playing the clarinet is not something that many people realize can be as physically taxing as it is. Something we had to be careful about was performance injuries. We had to be aware of things like hands and facial muscles.”

Howard commented on how much work and effort it took from Dzitko-Carlson to get through the three weeks. “This is not something that is suited for every music student; it takes a very special type of student to do what she did. Adella is one of the hardest working students I’ve ever worked with; she completely took the challenge and ran with it.”

Dzitko-Carlson plans to continue playing the clarinet and obtaining her master’s degree in performing arts after graduating from Eastern.

Written by Vania Galicia

STEP/CAP Students Perform Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls”

Lefto to right,Tatiana Stokes, Tyanna Soto, Jackie Verian, Myrdline Nourrissant, Liddy Siggia, Tajmarnie Appolon, & Norine Andrade

Eastern Connecticut State University STEP/CAP students performed a staged reading of Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls” on Aug. 9 in the Fine Arts Instructional Center’s Proscenium Theater. The Summer Transition at Eastern Program and Contract Admissions Program (STEP/CAP) was designed to help prospective Eastern students prepare for the rigors of college coursework the summer prior to beginning college.

Center, Jackie Verian; left to right:. Tajmarnie Appolon, Tatiana Stokes, Myrdline Nourrissant, Norine Andrade, Liddy Siggia, & Tyanna Soto

Students in the STEP/CAP program worked with Eastern’s performing arts staff for four weeks to rehearse pieces from Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf.”

Left to right, Chasidy Eubanks Perry, Brooklyn Ortiz, Jahney Dudley, Myrdline Nourrissant, & Tatiana Stokes

“For Colored Girls” is a choreopoem made up of a series of poetic monologues that follow the stories of seven women who have faced oppression in a racist and sexist society. The series of poems address issues such as rape, abusive relationships and racism.  Some of the poems that students performed included “Dark Phrases”, “No Assistance”, “I’m A Poet Who”, “Latent Rapists’”, “Somebody Almost Walked off Wid Alla My Stuff”, “Sorry”, “A Nite with Beau Willie Brown” and “A Laying on of Hands.”

The final show highlighted African and Hip Hop dance performances choreographed by senior, Jaqueline Verian ‘20.  Professor DeRon S. Williams, who directed

Left, Tatiana Stokes and Myrdline Nourrissant

and also choreographed pieces, expressed how instrumental Verian was in the process. “Initially Jaqueline was merely providing an outlet for students to free themselves from the stresses of the STEP/CAP program, but Professor Morgan and I thought I thought it would be a robbery to not showcase Jackie’s outstanding work, leadership and passion.”

The students rehearsed several days a week for four weeks prior to the performance. Rehearsals consisted of learning choreography, stage directions, designing lighting and projections for the performance. One of the challenges students faced was getting the right pronunciation for the poems, but they practiced on their own time and helped each other get the pronunciations down in time for the performance.

Professor Kristen Morgan, who helped design the performance, noted that the students involved grew immensely in a short period of time. “They accepted the challenge of working with a script that was new to all of them and it was rewarding to see their confidence improve,” she said. “Their relationships with each other also grew, and their creative sparks were ignited.”

Williams, also commented on the changes students experienced by the end of the four weeks. “From day one, the students were a bit shy and reserved, but throughout the process, I witnessed their growth as individuals and the development of their confidence,” he said.

Students also commented on how performing the pieces allowed them to grow and feel more empowered. Liddy Siggia ’22 said, “Performing these pieces felt empowering and it was also a good way to spread the message to everyone, both men and women, that these are common struggles that women face every day.”

Tyanna Soto

Tatiana Stokes ‘22, who was also a part of the performance commented on the experience. “The play itself was something that stood out to me because I had never heard about it before, but by the end of it, it had affected me in an enlightening way that left me surprised.”

Jaqueline Verian ’20, who took part in several pieces commented on how the pieces allowed her to connect with other women’s experiences. “I appreciate the fact that these poems realigned my understanding of abusive relationships,” she said. “They also showed me how manipulative and misconceiving abusive relationships can be to an outsider’s eye.”

Verian said that by the end of the experience she felt more empowered and prepared to start the new school year. “Since I am a new actor, being involved in these strong and very powerful pieces helped influence me to push myself,” she said. “These performances became both learning experiences and releases of emotions. I wish I could personally thank Ntozake Shange for her work.”

Written by Vania Galicia

Young Writers Inspired by Month Abroad in Italy

The Eastern group poses for a photo at Florence’s Uffizi art gallery.

Fifteen students from Eastern Connecticut State University spent the month of July in Italy, writing short stories inspired by Italian culture and history. English Professor Chris Torockio led the group of young writers through the five-week field course titled “Creative Writing Abroad.”  Based in Florence, the students met for writing workshops at Studio Arts College International (SACI) and wrote stories based on their explorations of Tuscany and beyond.

“Studying abroad in Italy for five weeks was one of the greatest experiences of my educational career,” said English major Ashlee Shafer ’19. “I worked on a short story about a college student who’s studying art history in Florence, struggling with family issues and her own sexuality. I used landmarks and scenery to describe the setting. Being able to actually live in and explore Florence helped immensely with the setting and art-history information for my story.”

The massive Duomo cathedral in Florence-- Chris Torockio
Pompeii-- Jordan Corey
Capri, Amalfi Coast-- Jordan Corey
Students tour the Uffizi-- Chris Torockio
Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre-- Jordan Corey
Vernazza, Cinque Terre-- Joyce Figueroa
Piazzale Michelangelo

 

Jordan Corey, an English major and spring 2019 graduate, wrote a story centered around the historical figure Girolamo Savonarola, an Italian-Dominican monk who was executed in Florence in 1498. “I did a bit of research to produce this story,” said Corey, “from reading up on Savonarola’s extensive history to visiting his statue in person.”

Reflecting on her extended stay abroad, Corey said, “I think it’s impossible to go on a trip of this magnitude and not come back changed in some way. There’s an undeniable element of exploration attached to living in a new country for more than a month. I have a better understanding of my goals as a writer, of my connections with people, and of the steps I need to take to fulfill my plans. A momentary switch in culture does wonders for a recent college graduate.”

Art major Julianna Tigeleiro ’21 wrote a story that deals with grief and the emotional impact of travel on a person’s life. “There’s a big emphasis on how actions in the past can affect the future,” she said, “and the impact that different experiences can have on how someone perceives events in their life.”

Speaking to the writing workshops, she said, “Being in Italy with amazing writers my age who take writing seriously and care about improving their work as well as giving feedback was a great inspiration.”

The sun sets behind the mountains at Vernazza, Cinque Terre. Photo courtesy of Joyce Figueroa.

Communication and English double-major Joyce Figueroa ’21 wrote a story that follows a day in the life of a girl who lives in Cinque Terre, a string of seaside villages along Italy’s rugged northwestern coast. “We interacted with many locals who helped us to experience Vernazza authentically,” she said of her visit to one of Cinque Terre’s five villages. “The people were very inviting, pointing out fun activities and their favorite restaurants. It’s because of this experience that I chose Vernazza as the setting of my story.”

“Traveling abroad is such a valuable experience for students, especially those in creative fields,” Figueroa added. “It allows us to step out of our comfort zone and experience new things. That kind of learning is not something we get to experience in the classroom. These lessons will stay with me for years.”

Other highlights of the trip included tours of art galleries and landmarks, such as Florence’s Duomo cathedral and Uffizi art gallery, and trips to the towered Tuscan village of San Gimignano, the beachy city Viareggio and the picturesque coastal villages of Cinque Terre.  

Written by Michael Rouleau

David Frye Interviewed for ‘History Channel’ Documentary

History Professor David Frye sat down on July 26 for an interview with producers from Onza Entertainment, who flew in from Spain to get Frye’s perspective on geo-political forces impacting the global order. Onza Entertainment is producing a series for the History Channel titled “A History of the Future.”

The series was conceived by Diego Rubio, professor of applied history and global governance at IE University in Segovia, Spain. The History Channel is part of the A&E Network, which will air the television series this fall and in early 2020 in the United States, Spain, Portugal, Iberia and several other European countries.

“Claudia Lorenzo, who serves as line producer for the series, and I wanted to talk with Professor Frye because he is one of many renowned experts from around the world who is best qualified to discuss the ‘The Future of Globalization’ episode,” said Rubio via telephone from Spain during the interview.

Rubio and his colleagues had read Frye’s new book, “Walls: A History of Civilization in Blood and Brick,” which has received rave reviews from around the world. New York Magazine, the History Book Club, Booklist and Kirkus Review are among the many literary organizations that have written glowing reviews of the book. The book has been ranked one of the “20 best books of 2018,” and best-selling author and historian Tom Holland praised it as “a haunting and brilliant achievement.”

Another insightful review came from Barry Strauss, author of “The Death of Caesar: The Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination.” Strauss commented that Frye “writes . . . about what lies on either side of them (walls) with so much grace and insight that you hardly noticed that 4,000 years of history have passed, and now you have to rethink all your perceptions.”

Ferran Estelles, director of content for Onza Entertainment, said, “We wanted Professor Frye to share his wisdom and reflect on how some historical events can shed significant light on the societal, political and economic changes that the near future will bring to the international order, i.e., power balances, migration, trade and so on.”

During the interview, Frye said walls have shaped human behavior throughout history. He said in ancient times, walls were on every continent. They were not controversial; in many instances, walls created the security needed for citizens to safely pursue art, culture and commerce. “Without walls, there would have been no Chinese scholars, Babylonian mathematicians or Greek philosophers.”

Written by Dwight Bachman

Tip-A-Cop Raises $1,650 for Special Olympics

Left to right: Eastern Police Sergeant Lisa Hamilton; Angelo Simoni of the Board of Regents; Eastern Buildings and Grounds Officer Corrina Thompson; Tip-A-Cop supporter Nathan Botting; and Eastern Police Sergeant Lawrence Botting.

The Eastern Connecticut State University police department joined the Willimantic and Middletown police departments for the sixth annual Tip-A-Cop on July 25 at Amici Italian Grill in Middletown. All tips earned at the fundraising event went to the Special Olympics of Connecticut, the designated charity of law enforcement in the state.

Public safety officers traded in their uniforms for aprons and waited tables at the restaurant. All tips went to the fundraiser in addition to Amici donating 10 percent of all sales that day, contributing to a grand total of $1,650 for the Special Olympics of Connecticut.

Angelo Simoni, executive director of student relations and compliance for the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System and a Tip-A-Cop event organizer, said, “The Special Olympics is a great organization that does a lot of great work for the people of Connecticut. More than 13,000 people benefit across the state from this partnership!” Tip-A-Cop has raised more than $15,000 over the last six years, according to Simoni.

Eastern’s police department is a long-time supporter of the Special Olympics of Connecticut. Another annual fundraiser is Jail-N-Bail, in which officers ‘arrest’ members of Eastern’s campus community who are then ‘bailed’ out of a fake jail. All proceeds go to the Connecticut Special Olympics. Eastern police also participate in the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which kicks off the local Special Olympics games every year.

Written by Vania Galicia

‘College Consensus’ Ranks Eastern Among Best Colleges

College Consensus, a college review aggregator that combines the latest results from the most respected college ranking systems with actual reviews of college students, has recognized Eastern Connecticut State University for the second year in a row. Eastern has been ranked among the “Best Colleges and Universities in Connecticut for 2019” and the “Best Regional Universities in the North for 2019.”

“Congratulations on making the Best Regional Universities in the North for 2019 and Best Colleges and Universities in Connecticut for 2019,” said Carole Taylor, marketing director for the College Consensus. “Your inclusion in the lists shows that you are making an impact on students that will have a transformative effect on their lives and the lives of others.”

Eastern began in 1889 as a normal school preparing teachers for careers in Connecticut’s elementary schools. Today it is known as Connecticut’s public liberal arts university. Eastern is home to 5,200 students, with more than 90 percent of them coming from Connecticut.

To identify standout colleges, College Consensus averages the latest results from the most respected college ranking systems, including U.S. News and World Report, along with student reviews to produce a unique rating for each school. Read more about the organization’s methodology at: https://www.collegeconsensus.com/about.

To see Eastern’s College Consensus profile, visit https://www.collegeconsensus.com/school/eastern-connecticut-state-university.

Written by Vania Galicia

Eastern Art Gallery to Present Beatrice Modisett’s ‘Consistency of the Temporal’

The Art Gallery at Eastern Connecticut State University will present “Consistency of the Temporal” from Aug. 27-Oct. 10 in the Fine Arts Instructional Center. The exhibition features local mixed-media artist Beatrice Modisett. The opening reception will occur on Sept. 5 from 4-6 p.m. Modisett will give a talk prior to the reception from 3-4 p.m. in the Art Gallery.

Modisett’s works are inspired by geological formations, personal histories and the systems that humans create in an attempt to navigate and control the landscape. Erosion as a means of creation is another theme of her art.

Modisett’s most recent work is inspired by her recent immersion in Brescia, Italy, a city that was built on the foundations of its own ruins. She has also pulled inspirations from her late grandparents’ farm and home in eastern Connecticut. Her paintings, works on paper and pit-fired ceramics weave together her geological and auto-biographical histories.

Residents of Brescia often unearth subterranean artifacts and objects the city’s past. In her exhibition at Eastern, Modisett presents objects that she has extracted from the earth, in a gesture of homage to her own heritage. The large-scale paintings in the exhibition were formed through the accrual and erosion of layers of thinned oil paint. The ceramic and mixed-media sculptures present as objects that could have been pulled from the geological events that the paintings depict, and serve as windows through which to view those events.

The Art Gallery is located in room 112 of the Fine Arts Instructional Center on Eastern’s campus. Gallery hours are Tuesday and Wednesday 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday 1-7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 2-5 p.m. Parking is available in Cervantes Garage and in the Student Center parking lot. For more information, call (860) 465-4659 or visit http://www.easternct.edu/artgallery.

Written by Vania Galicia

Students Learn How to Budget and Manage Their Money

Jason Kahn, director of campus relations for SOFI Company, explains the importance of budgeting and managing credit to 91 STEPCAP students.

Aware of the challenges of paying for college that students frequently experience, the Office of Financial Aid presented “Budgeting & Managing Your Credit” on July 24, 2019, in the Student Center Theatre. The presentation to 91 STEP/CAP students was part of the office’s Summer Project. It targeted STEP/CAP students but was open to the campus community; it was designed to help students become more effective at managing student loan debt and finances. Students listened attentively as Jason Kahn, director of campus relations with SOFI Company (Social Finance), led the presentation.

June Dunn, assistant dean of the Office of University Opportunity Programs, shares her personal experience with budgeting and managing credit with STEP/CAP audience.

Eastern’s Summer Transition at Eastern/Contract Admissions Program (STEP/CAP) combines an intensive, six-week summer bridge program with year-round counseling and academic support. The residential summer program includes academic courses in mathematics, public speaking and time management skills; cultural activities; and other support. STEP/CAP students passing the summer program enroll at Eastern in the fall.  

“Understanding how to budget and manage one’s credit should be very high on one’s list of priorities, as good credit leads to a successful experience,” said Neville Brown, assistant director of financial aid.  Due to lack of experience, many students are often vulnerable to credit pitfalls. “Our students learned that if used effectively, a budget could be a very useful tool to avoid unnecessary debt and improve credit. It can help one to discover ways to find money and plan for the future.”

Earlier on July 10, the Office of Financial Aid presented a session, “Student Loan Information Session,” exclusively for Eastern professional colleagues, to enhance their awareness of the invaluable contribution they can make in assisting students with managing their college careers.

Brown said the Office of Financial Aid will present the sessions again later this fall in response to positive feedback and popular demand.

Written by Dwight Bachman

Faculty Cut Textbook Expenses with ‘Open Education Resources’

Math Professor Kim Ward

Three Eastern Connecticut State University professors will help their students save a significant amount of money on textbooks this fall due to CSCU-funded grant project. Nicolas Simon, assistant professor of sociology, Associate Professor of English Daniel Donaghy and Associate Professor of Mathematics Kim Ward will receive CSCU grants to develop and support Open Education Resources (OER) strategies in their classrooms that will reduce the overall cost of textbooks.

OER makes learning a collaborative effort by tailoring existing resources to the specific content of a professor’s course. OER materials include digital learning materials, modules, lectures, games, simulations, course syllabi, homework assignments and quizzes. Studies show that professors use these open resources in a similar manner to traditional textbooks.

English Professor Daniel Donaghy

According to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), the price of college textbooks has soared, increasing by 73 percent—four times the rate of inflation— over the past decade. Many textbooks cost more than $200, some as high as $400. The PIRG says nearly 5.2 million undergraduate students spend $3 billion of financial aid on textbooks each year.  One in three students used more than $300 a semester in financial aid to pay for their textbooks. At $12/hour, a student would have to work 20 hours on campus to cover the cost of a single $250 textbook.

When Reference and Instruction Librarian Angela Walker and her colleagues hosted an outreach event to promote the use of OER on campus, student Ailyn Dilone from Eastern’s Student Government Association (SGA) revealed the results of research she had conducted. It showed that “students either do no purchase the textbook at all, which negatively affects their learning, or drop classes altogether because they cannot afford the required materials. Free or affordable textbooks would allow students to do their reading, come prepared to class and do their homework. If students spend less hours working to pay for textbooks, they have more time to study. The use of OER supports student retention and shows that we care.”

“In the spirit of knowledge sharing, the quantity of valuable resources is steadily growing,” said Walker, who works with grantees. “OER are learning resources in the public domain and can, with permission, be used freely by any teacher.”

Math Professor Ward began exploring OER in 2008 as the coordinator of Eastern’s Math Foundations Program, employing OER materials in her Algebra and Precalculus Mathematics and Calculus Technology classes to provide students with significant cost reductions on textbooks. This fall, she will adopt her class “Differential Equations” to an OER strategy. She notes that the sequential nature of math, coupled with its own vocabulary, need for persistent studying and the speed at which math is taught creates major problems for students. She says the addition of expensive math textbooks is a “recipe for failure.”

Today, thanks to Ward’s use of a free textbook and supplemental practice materials for her course in Blackboard, students have unlimited attempts  to completing problems; access to online textbooks, videos and worksheets; flexibility of deadline dates; and easy submission of assignments. During the 2018-19 academic year, 705 students of Ward’s students had no textbook or software expenses, up from 126 during the 2014-15 academic year. “This is important to me. I may not be able to reduce tuition, but using and promoting the use of EOR is a viable way to help as a faculty member, as it has provided students with much needed financial relief.” 

Sociology Professor Nicholas Simon

English Professor Donaghy will be breaking new ground in his English 233 course this fall, as there are currently no OER materials available for a literature course in contemporary poetry. He said he will begin by reviewing available resources and then research other online resources for materials. He wants to make sure his course is “culturally relevant, with a reading list that includes the widest range of voices that I can find.”

Donaghy says, “I will use the open textbook ‘Naming the Unnamable: An Approach to Poetry for New Generations’ by Michelle Bonczek as a starting point for my OER project.” Donaghy expects to save money on textbooks for 25 students. “I hope to keep the total cost of textbooks below $40.”

Simon surveyed students before submitting his application. He will use OER in two sections of his Introduction to Sociology courses this fall. He also created supplemental materials with his application—Powerpoints, discussion topics on current events and happenings in the community, learning exercises, and course and student outlines—which he hopes his colleagues in the 17 CSCU institution will use to relieve their students from financial constraints as well.

Simon previously used “Society: The Basics” by Macionis which cost about $100. Using OER, his students can download his adopted textbook—“Introduction to Sociology, Second Edition”— for free. Students who prefer a paper version can rent it for about $15 or buy their own copy for $20-$30. Based on Simon’s research, “If students buy or rent my OER materials, I anticipate a savings of $5,190 for my 40 students this fall. If only 10 more instructors select this textbook in the CSCU system, the savings for students can be more than $50,000.”

Walker said the attempt to make education affordable to all is a growing movement worldwide. She said she and her colleagues, along with the staff from the Center for Instructional Technology, are available to help professors with technical help in integrating OER into Blackboard in their classrooms.

Written by Dwight Bachman

‘Andrej 5K’ Fun Run in Honor of Late RHAM High School Teacher

The second annual “Andrej 5K” will occur on Sept. 28 at 10:30 a.m. at Mansfield Hollow State Park. The fun run/walk is in honor of Andrej Cavarkapa, an avid runner and high school teacher who passed away in January 2017 while jogging near his home in West Hartford. The event was created to keep Andrej’s spirit alive, as well as to raise funds for his memorial endowed scholarship at Eastern Connecticut State University.

Cavarkapa was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzcegovina, in 1987, the son of Branko and Aleksandra Cavarkapa. He was four years old when his family moved to the United States. He graduated from Eastern in 2009 with degrees in biology and biochemistry, and also received his master’s degree in secondary education from Eastern in 2012.

Cavarkapa was a science teacher at RHAM High School where he was known as “Mr. C.” He was passionate about his job and worked to make physics and chemistry accessible to all students. His interest included art, music, environmental activism and running.

The Andrej Cavarkapa Memorial Endowed Scholarship honors Andrej’s passion for running and education by assisting biology majors with financial need, with a preference for RHAM graduates.

Last year, 190 people ran or walked in the inaugural Andrej 5K. All are welcome to run or walk the trail – including dogs – although the terrain is not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs.

Those unable to attend are encouraged to run or walk in solidarity. People from as far as Hawaii and Idaho participated in solidarity last year.

Entrants can register for the run online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2nd-annual-andrej5k-runwalk-tickets-53841399074. All proceeds will go to Andrej’s memorial endowed scholarship. You can also be a sponsor of the event and donate directly to the scholarship by filling out the Andrej Cavarkapa Memorial Endowed Scholarship sponsorship form, found at https://ecsufoundation.com/andrej5k-sponsorship/.

An after party will follow the run. Follow the event’s social media pages for more details: https://www.facebook.com/Andrej5K/ and https://www.instagram.com/andrej5k/.

Written by Vania Galicia