Immigration & Invisibility of Latinos: Eastern to Host Live Podcast

 An episode of “In the Thick,” a podcast about race and politics co-hosted by award-winning journalists Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela, will be recorded at Eastern Connecticut State University on Oct. 22 in the Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC) Concert Hall. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; show starts promptly at 6 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public; guests must register at

“In the Thick” is a new podcast by Futuro Media Group that provides insight on breaking news and politics from a person-of-color perspective. The episode at Eastern will concern immigration and the invisibility of Latinos, both nationally and within Connecticut communities.

Hinojosa and Varela–known for their work with the award-winning National Public Radio show “Latino USA”– sit down with different activists, politicians, advisors, influencers and journalists of color discuss situations that they say mainstream media fails to talk about. The focus of the show at Eastern will be around undocumented youth movements.

In Connecticut, the Latino community is growing rapidly, with Latinos being the largest and fastest growing marginalized group. Joining the discussion will be Charles Venator-Santiago, associate professor with the Department of Political Science and El Instituto at the University of Connecticut as well as director of both the Puerto Rico Citizenship Archives Project and the Puerto Rico Status Archives Project; Kica Matos, attorney and director of the Center on Immigration and Justice at the Vera Institute of Justice; and Lucas Codognolla, executive director of Connecticut Students for a Dream.

The live recording was made possible by the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut and the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund.

Eastern Music Program to Present 9 November Concerts

Eastern Band

Eastern Connecticut State University will host a variety of musical events this November, including faculty recitals, guest performances and ensemble works. All events will be held in the Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC). Admission is free and open to the public.

On Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the FAIC Foyer, students of Eastern’s Opera Workshop and special guests will carry out performances depicting arias, duets and ensembles from various operas in celebration of National Opera Week.

On Nov. 2 at 2:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall, the Music Program will host the Charter Oak Brass Band. Performing in Connecticut since the late ’80s, this band will perform repertoire of the British-style brass band.

On Nov. 3 at 3 p.m. in the Concert Hall, the Music Program will conduct their fall concert with the Willimantic Orchestra, featuring works of Barber of Seville Overture, Chabrier’s Suite Pastorale and Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kijé Suite.

On Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 9 at 2:30 p.m., the Concert Hall will host a faculty recital titled “Hopping Through History: Two Piano Multi-Media Concert.” This recital is a collaboration of faculty members from Eastern’s music, theatre and visual arts departments, and will consist of a two-piece piano performance by pianists David Ballena and Okon Hwang. The time periods in history that will be depicted are Baroque, Classical, Romantic and the contemporary.

On Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Instrumental Room (room 108) of the FAIC, the guitar studio will host “Guitar Night.” This night will consist of solos, duos and mixed chamber music of classic repertoire and new arrangements of popular music.

On Nov. 20 at noon in the Concert Hall, the piano studio recital will celebrate the progress and achievements of student piano players throughout the semester.

On Nov. 23 at 2:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall, the Brass Ensemble Concert will take place. This concert will include performances from brass and percussion students featuring original compositions and transcriptions from the Renaissance period to today.

On Nov. 24 at 2:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall, Eastern’s various percussion ensembles will feature performances from the Chamber Percussion Group, World Percussion Ensemble and other larger percussion ensembles.

On Nov. 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall, Eastern’s Concert Chorale and Friends will host “Music for Choir and Brass.” Conducted by David Belles, this event will feature “Gloria” and “Christmas Cantata” by composers John Rutter and Daniel Pinkham.

Written by Bobbi Brown

11th Annual Poverty Awareness Marathon Benefits Shawn’s Cupboard

Eastern alumnus Austin Darley '14 returned to campus for the annual event.
Cross country coach Kathy Manizza and Professor Charlie Chatterton finish an early-morning lap.
Student volunteers Lindsay Allard, Sarah Farag, Tristen Kijak and Elisabeth Graves collect donations for Eastern's on-campus food pantry, Shawn's Cupboard.


Eastern Connecticut State University held its 11th annual Poverty Awareness Marathon on Oct. 18. More than 100 members of the Eastern community ran and walked to raise awareness of poverty in Windham and across the nation. In recognition of the 38 million people in the United States who live in poverty, the marathon collected more than 200 nonperishable food items for donation to Eastern’s on-campus food pantry, Shawn’s Cupboard, which was created to fight food insecurity of among students.

Professor Charlie Chatterton, the organizer of the event, spoke on why he runs. “The challenge is to think about this issue all year along; this is an issue that exists nationally and locally. I run because I believe in the respect and dignity of all people.”

Marathon participants began in front of the Student Center and ran/walked 1.2-mile loops around campus—22 laps equal 26.4 miles. Most participants—faculty, staff and members of athletics teams and clubs—ran a partial marathon, as permitted by class and work schedules.

In recognition of the 38 million people in the United States who live in poverty, the marathon collected more than 200 nonperishable food items for donation to Eastern’s on-campus food pantry, Shawn’s Cupboard, which was created to fight food insecurity of among students.

Volunteers from the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC), the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) and the Health & Physical Education and Sport & Leisure Management Club (HPE/SLM) helped facilitate the event, collecting donations, directing the runners and providing refreshments between laps.

Organizers of the event also set up signs throughout the running path which included statistics on national poverty rates and poverty rates in Windham. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, for example, 11 percent of the population in Windham lives in poverty and one in six children across the nation do not know where their next meal will come from.

 “We’ve had a great turnout, with a lot of good energy and we are really raising awareness of issues related to poverty in the United States,” said Lindsay Allard ’21, a member of the HPE & SLM Club.

Written by Vania Galicia

Eastern Pequot Tribal Council Members Speak on Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Natasha Gambrell performs her tribe’s courting dance. Photo provided by Intercultural Center.

Eastern Pequot tribal Council members Natasha Gambrell and her mother Valerie Braxton-Gambrell came to Eastern on Oct. 14 in honor of Indigenous People’s Day. Gambrell, a 2015 Eastern graduate and her mother shared the history of the Eastern Pequot and spoke about the current struggles their tribe faces today.

Gambrell began her presentation by recounting the history that has led her tribe to the fight they are in today to prove their existence.  After the Pequot tribe was split into two in 1979, the Eastern Pequots and the Paucatuck Eastern Pequots, had to submit separate petitions for federal recognition. Although the Eastern Pequot originally put in their petition for federal recognition in 1979, it was not moved into the preliminary stage until 2000 and years later was completely removed. As of 2005, the Eastern Pequot Tribe in Gambrell’s words, “ceased to exist,” based on the decision of the U.S. Interior Department.

When Gambrell’s tribe was deemed “nonexistent,” she was 13 years old. “I witnessed genocide first hand that day,” she said. She continued to explain the generational traumas that have been passed down by generations before her and why she fights for her voice to be heard today.

She spoke about children who have been taken from indigenous families, and been have lost for generations prior to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Enacted in 1978, the act allows adopted indigenous children to access information about their tribal ties; but anyone adopted prior to the act continues to be locked out of their documents today. Gambrell said she fights “to bring our kids home.”

Valerie Braxton-Gambrell. Photo provided by Intercultural Center.

Braxton explained further what federal recognition means for their tribe. “Federal recognition does not equal casinos, it means access to healthcare, education, mental health treatment and more.”  Gambrell said, “My job is to make sure the next seven generations don’t have to fight like we have had to.”

Gambrell, shared the struggle her tribe has to keep their history and culture alive. Although she wore pieces of regalia to the event, she explained how they all were significant and treasured because of their scarcity. Her Eastern Pequot headband, which is no longer made, was passed down to her from her grandmother from the 1970’s. Her choker was given to her by her aunt and her ribbon shirt by her uncle.

Braxton also spoke of the difficulty of keeping her tribe’s language alive because of the generational erasure of indigenous people. She added that even into the 1970’s not all indigenous people were allowed to vote.

Gambrell also presented one of her tribe’s courting dances at the event. She has been dancing the “eastern blanket jingle” and “northern traditional” dances since she was seven. She described the blanket jingle she presented to be similar to a butterfly in a cocoon. She began the dance by swaying her blanket back and forth, picking up the speed of her dance as it continued. As the dance progressed she opened up her blanket more and more until it was fully open. Traditionally the dance would end with the dropping of the dancer’s blanket in front of the man they want to marry.

Braxton and Gambrell invited all in attendance to their annual powwow, held every fourth Sunday in July. To learn more about the Eastern Pequot and their efforts to fight for federal recognition visit

Written by Vania Galicia

Eastern to Present ‘Convergence’ on Oct. 24-27

Eastern Connecticut State University’s Theatre Program will present “Convergence” from Oct. 24-27 in the Proscenium Theatre of the Fine Arts Instructional Center. This biannual concert of Eastern’s Dance & World Performance concentration will feature choreography by Eastern faculty, alumni and guest artists.

Choreography will be presented by Professor Alycia Bright-Holland, guest artist Charles Anderson and four alumni-Alexis Tribble-Bryant ’17, Shatima Cruz ’17, Charliece Salters ’18 and Sinque Tavares ’17. The show will feature individual and collaborative pieces, reflective of the choreographers’ influences and interpretations of modern dance.

The shows on Oct. 24-26 will take place at 7:30 p.m. and the Oct. 27 show is at 4 p.m. Tickets are free for Eastern students; $5 for other students and groups of 10 or more; $10 for senior citizens; $12 for Eastern faculty, staff and alumni; and $20 for the general public. To purchase tickets online, visit

Journalist Maria Hinojosa to Record Live Podcast on Immigration at Eastern

“In the Thick”, a podcast on immigration, will be taped at Eastern Connecticut State University on Oct. 22. The show, hosted by award-winning journalists Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela, will discuss the issues surrounding immigration and Latino invisibility, both nationally and in Connecticut. The live taping was made possible by the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut and the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund.

“In the Thick” is a weekly political podcast that provides insight on breaking news and politics from a person-of-color perspective. Hinojosa and Varela sit down with different activists, politicians, advisors, influencers and journalists of color to discuss situations that they say mainstream media fails to talk about. The focus of the show at Eastern will be around undocumented youth movements. Panelists will be announced prior to the event.

The show takes place in the Fine Arts Concert Hall on Oct. 22. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the show will start promptly at 6 p.m. The show is free and open to the public; however, guests will have to register at

Written by Molly Boucher

Students Volunteer Across Willimantic for ‘Day of Caring’

Students disinfect toys at the Abundant Life Church playroom.
A student paints at the Abundant Life Church.
Students pose near a Willimantic River waterfall before planting local species and weeding invasive plants, in collaboration with the Willimantic Whitewater Partnership.
Students harvest potatoes at the Lauter Park community garden.
Students weed the Grow Windham green house.
Left to right: Kim Silcox, director of the CCE; Jim Bellano, director of economic development for the Town of Windham; Mario Conjura, vice president of People's United Bank; Paula Gilberto, president and CEO of United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut.
Shawn Maynard, executive director of Windham Hospital, addresses the crowd of volunteers during the opening ceremony.


A fleet of Eastern students took up shovels and brooms on Oct. 5 for the annual Day of Caring, a large-scale volunteer effort in collaboration with United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut. Nearly 90 student volunteers dispersed to locations across Willimantic for a variety of fall clean-up projects. Organizations included GROW Windham, the Abundant Life Church, the Windham Area Interfaith Ministry, CLICK, Horizons and the Joshua’s Trust Church Farm.

Before students went to their assigned locations, local leaders thanked the students and spoke to them about the importance of the work they were going to be completing throughout the day. “It is amazing to see so many young people out here this early in the morning, and I commend you all for being here,” said Shawn Maynard, executive director of the Windham Hospital Foundation. “Wear proudly the shirts you are wearing and live united.”

Paula S. Gilberto, president and CEO of the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, also spoke about what has been done in the community through financial contributions and volunteerism in the area. “With $300,000 raised, we worked with our partners last year to make sure that 360 Windham students participated in in-school and after-school programs. These programs help them stay on track academically so that they graduate from high school. Emergency financial assistance was provided to 8,500 people to help with rent, utilities and transportation. Nearly 5,000 people called the United Way hotline seeking assistance in connecting with health and human service organizations.”

Students pick up trash near Main Street.
A student cleans the entrance of the Windham Area Interfaith Ministry.
Students work in the GROW Windham garden.
Volunteers harvest potatoes at the Lauter Park community garden.
A student paints a tool shed at GROW Windham.


Mario Conjura, vice president of People’s United Bank and chair of the Windham Regional Advisory Board, asked students to think about what matters the most to them as they went out to the community to work. “What matters the most to you? What are you passionate about?” asked Conjura. “A community is defined by a shared concern or passion ensuring children that succeed in school, people get jobs and are financially secure, people are healthy and basic needs are met during tough times. Together we are going to do amazing things. I look forward to seeing you again soon, and thank you for spending the morning with us bright and early.”

Eastern students contributed 472 hours of work and picked up more than 100 bags worth of trash around the community during the day. Students also helped out at a community garden, helped clean town museums, planted plants in the community, created literacy kits, built small bridges and more.

One of the many organizations that Eastern students volunteered with on ‘The Day of Caring’ was the Willimantic No Freeze Shelter, which provides a safe place to sleep to those who find themselves homeless during the winter. Students assisted the shelter with their Frogtober Fest Race by handing out drinks to runners and directing runners on the path across town.

Another location where students helped was CLICK, a community kitchen whose goal is to make food more sustainable by providing space to local entrepreneurs and small businesses to cook and plant produce. Students assisted CLICK’s staff by constructing protective covers for their plants. “Thank you for the wonderful help. The students were delightful,” said Leigh Duffy, who worked with the students at CLICK. 

Kim Silcox, director of the Center for Community Engagement at Eastern, commented on the results of the day. “I saw many areas that had not been raked clean in many years and they looked great afterwards. The Taylor Court garden was really overgrown and the volunteer who tried to manage it really appreciated the help, the students turned it from a jungle into a clean, enjoyable community garden.”

Written by Vania Galicia

Faculty Present Research on Teenage Mothers in Kenya, and Music Recitals

On Oct. 2, Steve Muchiri, assistant professor of economics, continued the Faculty Scholars Forum at Eastern Connecticut State University with a discussion on motherhood in developing countries. Muchiri’s research examines the impact of free education on teenage motherhood in Kenya, where up to 20 percent of women 20-24 years of age become mothers before their 18th birthdays.

In developing countries, Muchiri found that many adolescent pregnancies are caused by child marriages, sexual violence and coercion, and that contributing factors are lack of access to education, reproductive health services and poverty. His findings concluded that impoverished, poorly educated and rural girls are more likely to become pregnant than their wealthier, urban, educated counterparts.

All these factors point to the lack of choices and opportunities for poor, rural adolescent girls in Kenya.  Like many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the Kenyan government has introduced free or subsidized education policies, starting with free primary education and later secondary education.Muchiri’s presentation showed some of the potential that these free and subsidized education policies have on teenage motherhood.

On Sept. 28 in the FAIC Concert Hall, the Music Program’s Faculty Recital Series showcased lecturer Amanda Baker on flute; guest cellist Cara Cheung; and David Ballena, assistant professor of music, on piano, performing trio of works by Bohuslav Martinu, David Lang and George Crumb. The program focused on the unexpected departure points of inspiration—how composers are inspired, and what is the thread that carries through from the spark of an idea to the finished composition. The Faculty Recital Series was created as a means to raise scholarship funds for current and incoming Music Program students. All donations collected will directly support Music Program student scholarships and awards.

On Oct. 5 in the Concert Hall, Jeff Calissi, associate professor of music, and lecturer Matt Bronson performed chamber literature for percussion, sharing the stage with guest percussionist Michael Jones.

Jeff Calissi and Matt Bronson

Michael Jones

By Dwight Bachman

Alyssiah Wiley Basketball Tournament Aims to End Relationship Violence

Wilye's mother, Corrina Martin, speaks during the tournament's intermission.
Students host tables in the Student Center that quiz passersby about their knowledge of relationship abuse.
Corrina Martin poses for a photo with the tournament's winning team.
The student organization Fashion Forward put on a mini fashion show.
Eastern graduate Ashon Avent served as master of ceremonies.


Eastern Connecticut State University hosted a 3-on-3 basketball tournament on Oct. 9 to honor former student Alyssiah Wiley. The event featured an array of activities aimed at raising awareness of relationship, dating and intimate partner violence—Wiley was an Eastern student in 2013 when she was murdered by her boyfriend.

Wiley’s mother, Corrina Martin, spoke at the event. She is the founder and president of the nonprofit organization Mothers of Victim Equality. Throughout the afternoon, informational tables were laid out in the Student Center to create a “journey to awareness” and the Sports Center lobby was lined with resource tables.

To honor Wiley’s reputation as a fashionista, the event also featured makeup demonstrations and a mini fashion show by the student organization Fashion Forward, aimed at female empowerment.

Event organizer Brenda Westberry, a lecturer in the sociology program, said that men were a target audience for awareness-raising event. While both men and women are victims of relationship abuse, national statistics indicate that males perpetrate intimate/sexual violence at a far greater rate than their female counterparts.

The College Dating and Abuse Poll shows that girls and women between the ages of 16–24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence—nearly triple the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2018 National Crime Victimization Survey indicates that violent crime is a growing problem, with an increase from 2.7 million reported incidents in 2015 to 3.3 million incidents in 2018. In that time, the number of victims of rape or sexual assault rose from 204,000 to 347,000.

Table one of the "journey to awareness" was dedicated to Wiley's memory.
Brenda Westberry (left) introduces Corrina Martin and her family during the opening ceremony.
The student organization Fashion Forward put on a mini fashion show.
Students hosted resource tables in the Sports Center lobby.


“I’m talking to the males in the room,” said Martin during the tournament’s intermission. Martin has lost two daughters and a granddaughter to abusive male partners. “The hardest thing a parent can do is bury their child. Even harder is when you don’t have a child to bury,” she said, referring to the disappearance and dismemberment of Wiley. 

Martin called for men to be sensitive, informed partners. “Take a stand. Don’t worry about masculinity or coming off as weak. Worry about being a good partner.” She added, “Don’t just play this game (basketball). Visit the tables, learn the signs, be proactive. If nothing else, learn the signs of relationship violence.”

One initiative of Mothers of Victim Equality is to implement a national violent offenders registry. Martin said that one of her daughters’ murderers had a record in one state but not in Connecticut. “We need a national registry, not just individual states,” she said. People’s interested in signing a petition in support of a national registry can visit and search “National Violent Offenders Registry.”

Throughout the tournament, students perused tables, learned about the local sexual assault hotline (1-888-999-5545), reviewed offerings at Eastern’s Women’s Center and explored other resources. They learned about Wiley, a psychology major who went by the nickname “Lele.” With the influence of social media and cell phones, they learned about the subtleties of digital abuse. Participants also wrote letters to survivors of domestic violence. A quiet room in the Student Center was reserved for a labyrinth where visitors could contemplate and reflect.

Event organizers and Wiley’s family hope to make the Alyssiah Wiley End Relationship Violence Basketball Tournament an annual event. Sponsors included the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Criminology and Social Work and the Office of Equity and Diversity.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Eastern to Host ‘FAFSA Day’ Oct. 27. Free Application for Federal Student Aid

Eastern Connecticut State University will host “FAFSA Day” on Oct. 27 from 1-4 p.m. in Webb Hall, Room 410. Open to current and prospective college students, FAFSA Day is meant to help students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in a timely manner.

Swiftly completing FAFSA paperwork can increase a student’s chances of receiving fair and equitable financial aid. FAFSA opened Oct. 1 and will be available until June 30, 2020. Students are urged to file as soon as possible.

Students and their families will be filing for the 2020-21 school year by using 2018 tax return data. “FAFSA Day” is a free service provided by Eastern’s Financial Aid Office, which urges students to attend the event, especially first-generation students.

For more information and to register, visit:

Written by Molly Boucher