Professor’s New Book Examines Stories of Suicide-Loss Survivors

Michèle Bacholle

WILLIMANTIC, CT (01/16/2019) Michèle Bacholle, French professor at Eastern Connecticut State University, recently published her sixth book, titled “Récits contemporains d’endeuillés après suicide,” which translates to “Contemporary stories of mourners after suicide.” Bacholle’s book is the first to examine autobiographical writings by contemporary French novelists who are survivors of another person’s suicide.

Bacholle noted that although suicide is unfortunately prevalent in modern society, it is still a stigmatized and contentious topic in the United States and France. This stigmatization often impacts those who have lost someone close to them.

“Literature has its fair share of writers who committed suicide,” she said, “but only recently – since 2000 – have French writers become increasingly open about their loved one’s suicide and started publishing about their loss and grief, breaking the taboo and allowing suicide to enter the public discourse.”

Bacholle’s book examines how literature assists people who are grieving. She highlights the lives of writers Éric Fottorino, Delphine de Vigan, Philippe Grimbert, Zahia Rahmani, Olivier Charneux and Chloé Delaume as they regrouped after loss, typically involving extensive and drastic changes. In reflection, Bacholle thoughtfully explores the unique kind of mourning that comes with suicide.

She stated: “Although most of the writers I studied asked the questions customary of that kind of mourning, such as ‘why’ and ‘what if,’ most celebrated their loved one’s life and did not let their fatal decision taint or even re-fashion their memories and the life of the deceased.”

“Récits contemporains d’endeuillés après suicide” is divided into three parts. The first part addresses the weight of family. “Fottorino’s adoptive father’s suicide allowed him to reconnect with his biological father,” said Bacholle. “Vigan wrote about her mother’s suicide to break the silence on family secrets and end suicide’s contagion, to protect her own children from secrets’ toxicity.”

The second part, focusing Grimbert’s and Rahmani’s works, touches on history, including the trauma of the Holocaust and the Algerian War of Independence, major events that caused delayed suicides. The third part considers Charneux and Delaume’s experiences of losing their fathers to suicide when they were children. “Children as suicide-loss survivors have not received much attention,” notes Bacholle. “Their mourning is quite different from that of adults.”

She continued: “These accounts not only benefit those who write them – providing them with a venue to articulate their questions, sort through and come to terms with feelings such as guilt and anger and alleviate their pain – they also benefit the suicide-loss survivors who read them and see a reflection of their own affects and questions. I also think that suicide-loss accounts can act as prevention: reading about how the pain suicide-loss survivors feel and how grief persists throughout their lives can give persons with suicidal thoughts a lifeline.”

Bacholle hopes that her book will bring a better understanding of suicide loss and prompt more conversations surrounding the subject, so that those affected by it can receive support instead of avoidance or judgement.

A book launch will be held at Eastern on Feb. 11 at 3 p.m. in the Connecticut Room of Gelsi-Young Hall. Bacholle wants readers to know that for those in need of emotional support, help is available at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.

Written by Jordan Corey

Students Gain Insights Abroad: Ireland and Greece

Mackenzie Seymour ’20 studied abroad in Ireland.

Chelsy Popo ’19 studied abroad in Greece.

Eastern Connecticut State University students Chelsy Popo ’19 and Mackenzie Seymour ’20 recently completed semesters abroad this fall. They studied in Greece and Ireland, respectively.

Popo, who majors in political science, believes that studying abroad is invaluable because it allows students the opportunity to see the world. “My coursework at Hellenic American University in Athens included a class called ‘Athens Across the Ages.’ Each session was held at a different location in Athens, so I was able to visit and learn about many of the ancient sites and museums, in addition to more modern locations in the city.”

The destinations Popo found most memorable were the Acropolis and the Parthenon in Athens, as well as the island of Crete. She also enjoyed visiting Meteora, a rock formation in central Greece that hosts one of the largest, most precipitously built complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries. She took side trips to London, Paris, Budapest and Amsterdam.

Mackenzie Seymour

“I never expected to study in Ireland, but it was the best decision I’ve ever made,” said Seymour, an accounting major. Like Popo, she visited nearby countries, such as Spain, England, the Netherlands and Italy, while exploring Ireland itself. “I had the most fun traveling within Ireland, to Galway, Dublin, Cork and the Ring of Kerry, a scenic route in southwest Ireland. It looked like a breathtaking painting — and has become my favorite place.” Seymour noted her appreciation for learning about unfamiliar cultures along the way.

Popo similarly found herself intrigued by the environment she lived in. “It was interesting to study in Greece as a political science major, since Athens is known as the birthplace of democracy and because of the current political climate.” Popo also enjoyed the Mediterranean climate and the warm, welcoming people she encountered.

Seymour said study abroad programs help students step out of their normal lives. “Many of us are used to a normal routine — it can be hard to change things,” she said. “I believe that it’s important to explore life and experience new things. I became more independent and mature because of my trip. I have returned to America a much stronger person.”

Chelsy Popo

Popo concurred: “Once I made up my mind to step outside my comfort zone, I learned so much about the world and myself. The experiences and connections have helped me become a global citizen.” She plans to study international or criminal law after graduating.

“I have become extremely grateful for my time at Eastern and am excited about returning to continue with my classes,” concluded Seymour, who wants to attend graduate school to become a certified public accountant. “The professors go above and beyond to assist students in understanding the subjects we are studying, and after studying abroad, I can say for sure that my favorite part of Eastern is the academics.”

Written by Jordan Corey

 

For Lynda Petrides, Dreams Really Do Come True

Lynda Petrides now holds an IT position at SPIROL International Corporation.

Lynda Petrides ’17 is living her dream these days. After years of working at part-time jobs, the 59-year-old Eastern graduate is finally working full time in her chosen career field of information technology, recently landing a position as a systems analyst at Danielson, CT-based SPIROL International Corp., a leading manufacturer of engineered fasteners and components used primarily in automotive and aerospace applications.

The position is the culmination of a long journey. Instead of going to college right after high school, Petrides decided to join the workforce. She took a job as a cashier in a grocery store and quickly learned she wanted a better job with better hours, enrolling in Hagerstown (PA) Community College. Her classes in accounting and business administration paid off, as she was promoted to the accounting office with better work hours.

The college experience had another benefit; she met her husband! He was in the Army, and life happened. “We got married, moved to Georgia, then to Germany, back to Georgia, and finally, to eastern Connecticut. We had four children and I became a stay-at-home mom for many years. Eventually, I worked part time at my children’s elementary school as a library aide and later as an assistant computer instructor. This work supported the school and fed my interest in technology.”

Petrides and Professor Kunene at the national EDSIGCON conference in Austin, TX.

In 2010, Petrides found a part-time job as an administrative assistant for Loos & Co. in Pomfret, which manufactures aircraft cable and other stainless-steel products. “This job supported my interests in computer technology and increased my desire to expand my horizons in information systems,” said Petrides. “When my youngest child graduated from high school in 2013, my new dream was to complete my associate degree at Quinebaug Valley Community College.

Petrides graduated summa cum laude from the community college in 2015 and set her sights on her next goal — obtaining her bachelor’s degree. Unsure of what to major in but still interested in technology and business, Petrides learned about Eastern’s business information systems (BIS) major. In summer 2015, she took her first foundation class at Eastern with Sukeshini Grandhi, associate professor of business information systems.

“Life was good! In the spring semester of 2016, I was offered an internship through Cigna’s Technology Early Career Development Program. My role was in project management and I learned valuable skills working with large datasets. This was a great experience for me.”

In her senior year, Petrides worked with Nikki Kunene, assistant professor of business information systems and health information management, on a research project that culminated with Petrides co-presenting at a national conference.

Lynda Petrides on graduation day.

“Our project was on the usability of the Blackboard interface from the instructor’s perspective. Dr. Kunene and I worked on the project throughout 2017 with research, lab testing, data analysis, surveys and write-ups. Our research paper was accepted for inclusion at the EDSIGCON Conference (Information Systems and Computing Education) in Austin, TX.”

“To meaningfully contribute in a research project a student must be able to think, be ready to learn the research skills needed, write well, and quickly learn the technologies we use,” said Kunene. “Lynda had all those qualities. She worked hard, thought critically, and learned new skills readily. She was the ideal student in a STEM major with a liberal arts grounding.”

Crediting her position at SPIROL to her internships, research experiences and BIS classes, Petrides says, “I thank all the great professors at Eastern for providing wonderful learning experiences to students, especially part-time students like myself.”

Petrides’ job at SPIROL challenges her on many levels, “but I’m learning something new every single day. I’m probably the oldest person ever to major in Business Information Systems at Eastern. I hope I broke some gender and age stereotypes along the way! Just know this — dreams really do come true no matter what your age. You just need to take that first step.”

by Dwight Bachman

Eastern Graduates First Dance Student, Charliece Salters

Charliece Salters ’19 is the first Eastern student to graduate with a concentration in the Dance and World Performance.

A week before her final exams, senior Charliece Salters stood alone on stage in the Concert Hall of the Fine Arts Instructional Center. She cued up a mid-tempo R&B song and then performed a series of impressive leaps and dance sequences before sitting down to reflect on her time at Eastern. 

Salters is the first Theatre major to graduate with the relatively new Dance and World Performance concentration. “I thought I would dance on my own time in college, but I never considered it as more than a pastime,” explained Salters, who attended the Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School in New Haven with a focus on dance before enrolling at Eastern. 

Dance started to become a priority during her freshman year when a fellow student encouraged her to join the Fusion Dance Crew student club. In her sophomore year, dance once again took on a central role in Salters’ life. “I was a child psychology major, but I wanted to change majors,” she said. “My advisor asked me what I liked to do, and I said dance.” 

Salters visited Alycia Bright-Holland, assistant professor of theatre, who was launching the Dance and World Performance concentration, and became the concentration’s first major. She worked with Bright-Holland to grow the program, which offers dancers opportunities ranging from choreographing their own dances, to networking and collaborating with other art forms. “I definitely feel like I’ve grown,” said Salters. “My knowledge wasn’t as broad and my love for dance is stronger.”  

Salters was also asked to step out of her comfort zone that same year when she was named captain of the Fusion Dance Crew. “I knew I had leadership qualities, but I had never choreographed hip hop before.” 

Being named captain, a position she maintained through her senior year, gave Salters a new sense of purpose. Choreographing, teaching and helping other dancers grow and push themselves has become her passion. “It’s not just a club. I really care about everyone that’s been on the team. I hope I gave them something.”

A final challenge for Salters came this fall when she took on the role of assistant choreographer for the Theatre Program’s production of “Cabaret” for her senior project. She was tasked with critiquing the dancers and choreographing the comical and raunchy “Two Ladies” dance number.

“Musical theatre is far out of my comfort zone,” she said. “It was challenging but I love the outcome.” Looking forward, Salters plans to return to New Haven and look to local dance studios to get her feet wet. She also intends to continue her dance training in New York City and in a few years dance professionally.

“Now I can play a song and just move and be confident in what I’m doing,” said Salters.  “I’m thankful for whom I’ve met here and the people who helped me get through, especially Alycia, David Pellegrini and my best friend. I appreciate being here.”

Written by Meghan Carden

Eastern Represents at American Historical Association Annual Meeting

Cassaundra Epes ’19 and Dana Meyer ’19

Written by Michael Rouleau

Two students and three professors from Eastern Connecticut State University attended and presented research at the American Historical Association (AHA) annual meeting in Chicago, IL, from Jan. 3–6.

Dana Meyer ’19 of Manchester and Cassaundra Epes ’19 of Baltic were two of 28 students meeting-wide selected for the poster presentation portion of the meeting, which occurred on Jan. 5. Meyer presented “Connecticut Revolutionary War Deserters: An Experiment in Digital History.” Epes presented “A Willing Audience: The Brown Book and the Enduring Power of Conspiracy Theory.”

Students with Professor Balcerski.

History Professors Thomas Balcerski, Anna Kirchmann and Joan Meznar presented papers and spoke on panels at the meeting. Kirchmann chaired a panel titled “Conflicted Loyalties and/or Pragmatism,” and presented her paper “Urban Renewal and the Response of American Ethnic Groups, 1949–74.”

Balcerski organized and participated in a panel titled “Writing Early Queer Lives: Authorial and Biographical Imperatives before 1900.” Meznar attended several panels on teaching the “World History Survey” and one on careers for history PhDs outside of academia.

“The annual meeting for the American Historical Association is the oldest and largest society of historians in the United States,” said Meznar. Speaking to Eastern’s students, she added, “It is quite an honor that two of our students were among the 28 students meeting-wide to be selected for the poster session. With the support of outstanding faculty mentors, our majors are engaged in high-caliber research that is showcased in top-tier professional conferences.”

The American Historical Association is a nonprofit membership organization founded in 1884 and incorporated by Congress in 1889 for the promotion of historical studies. The AHA provides leadership for the discipline, protects academic freedom, develops professional standards, aids in the pursuit and publication of scholarship, generates innovative teaching, and supplies various services to sustain and enhance the work of its members. As the largest organization of professional historians in the world, the AHA represents more than 12,000 members and serves historians representing every historical period and geographical area.

Eastern’s Nanette Tummers Publishes ‘Healthy Choices’ Book

Written by Jordan Corey

WILLIMANTIC, CT (01/10/2019) Nanette Tummers, professor of kinesiology and physical education at Eastern Connecticut State University, recently published “Healthy Choices for Your Health, Wellness, and Overall Happiness.” The textbook introduces students to proactive practices they can apply to positively impact current and long-term health. “Healthy Choices” was published by Cognella Academic Publishing this January.

The book recommends practices such as identifying goals, working with a peer mentor as an accountability coach, meditating and making healthier nutritional choices. Tummers’ book encourages readers to examine key aspects of their personal wellness and make adjustments to enhance their health now rather than later in life.

The text explores broad topics related to health and also addresses social, emotional, spiritual, physical, environmental and intellectual well-being, to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of health and wellness in today’s society.

“Health focuses primarily on physical aspects and on symptoms, while wellness looks at the person’s well-being, including physical but also emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual and environmental factors,” said Tummers. “Wellness see us an integrated whole – that all areas affect and connect with each other. Prevention and enhancement of our lives is the focus: living well every day, not just when you are sick or old.”

“Healthy Choices” explains the difference between health and wellness, teaches ways to improve the quality of immediate environment and proposes methods for determining personal wellness strategies. It serves as a resource for pre-service professionals in health education pedagogy, in addition to acting as an ideal supplementary text for foundational courses in public health and healthcare professions.

Tummers is a certified holistic stress management instructor and yoga teacher. In the past, she was awarded the prestigious professional service award for her years of commitment to health education and fitness by the Connecticut Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

 

Windham Textile & History Museum to Feature Work of Remarkable Dressmaker

Citizen’s Police Academy Exposes Eastern to World of Policing

Christopher Ambrosio, interim director of the Office of Student Conduct, is trained in breaching a door during the program’s “SWAT Week.”

Written by Jordan Corey

WILLIMANTIC, CT (12/13/2018) Eastern Connecticut State University students and staff recently expanded their law enforcement knowledge through an extensive program offered by the Willimantic Police Department (WPD). Eight students as well as Christopher Ambrosio, interim director of the Office of Student Conduct, completed the WPD’s Citizen’s Police Academy this past November.

Student Lucian Afragola is trained in using a Taser during “Use of Force Week.”

The nine-week course covered a variety of topics centered on police officer training. Each week focused on a different component, including traffic stops, the use of force, drug searches and more. Those in the program were able to assess mock crime scenes and practice firing non-lethal weapons. Three-hour classes were facilitated by officers each week.

“It was a pleasure having Eastern students in the class each week,” said WPD Detective Lt. Douglas Glode. “Most were interested in a career in law enforcement, and I hope this influenced them in some way. I think the class opened their eyes to the inner workings of a police department, which, for the most part, not many citizens get to see.”

Citizen’s Police Academy participants train in a WPD tactical space in Willimantic.

Criminology major Lucian Afragola ’20 agreed: “I gained much more insight into what it’s like to be a police officer. The course ranged from working with K-9 Units to riding in the department’s military vehicle. We were told at the beginning of the class it was going to be hands-on, and it did not disappoint.” Afragola hopes to become a police officer.

Ambrosio added: “Since the Office of Student Conduct works closely with law enforcement, the Citizen’s Police Academy was a great opportunity to see how they examine critical incidents that may involve our students.”

“This is such a wonderful accomplishment,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “It really binds Eastern to the law enforcement community in a positive way. These efforts show initiative and motivation.”

“For me, the most important takeaway from this program is that the police really do want to help the community and show people how law enforcement operations run,” concluded Afragola. “I highly recommend applying.”

The Citizen’s Police Academy is free, and applicants must be at least 17 years old when the course begins. Willimantic residents are given precedence. More information can be found at http://www.willimanticpolice.org/citizens-police-academy/.

‘English Night’ Celebrates Student Excellence

Fall 2018’s cohort of Sigma Tau Delta inductees.

Written by Jordan Corey

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. — The English Department held its end-of-semester celebration of student excellence on Dec. 5 in the Betty R. Tipton Room. “English Night” featured an awards ceremony, induction into the Sigma Tau Delta honor society, and student presentations.

“The English Department has been hosting English Night at the end of each semester for decades,” said Barbara Little-Liu, English professor and department chair. “We want to recognize the interesting, innovative and high-quality scholarship and creative work our students are doing in their capstone courses.

Mikayla Fish presents during the poster session of English Night.

“Additionally,” she added, “the various awards, scholarships and other forms of recognition give us a chance to celebrate all of our outstanding students, from freshmen to seniors.”

The Constance Campo Memorial Scholarship was given to Kay Daniels ’19. The scholarship was established in memory of Constance Campo, a long-time member of the English Department staff. The scholarship is for a non-traditional student who has demonstrated excellence in their studies and has shown sensitivity to gender and diversity issues as Campo did.

The Alexander “Sandy” Taylor Memorial Scholarship was given to Keara Berisso ’19. The scholarship was launched by family, friends and colleagues of Sandy Taylor, who was a scholar, Eastern professor and publisher. The award is for an English major, particularly someone who demonstrates a commitment to peace and human rights and who shows an interest in poetry.

Recipients of the First Year Writing Awards were Abby Wilson ’22 and Victoria Bryer ’21. These are given to students in the “College Writing” and “College Writing Plus” courses whose writing is innovative, creative, well-researched or uniquely articulated.

Monica Muriel presents her senior seminar project to a large audience.

Following the awards ceremony, 32 students were inducted into the Sigma Tau Delta international honor society. In order to qualify, English students must have completed a minimum of four 200-level English courses, a minimum average GPA of 3.5 in English courses, and an overall 3.0 GPA. Members are eligible for select scholarships, internship opportunities and other benefits.

English Night closed with senior seminar presentations from the capstone course “The Rhetoric of Crime.” “The students engaged an important issue: the ways that crime is represented in the media and in fiction,” explained Professor Rita Malenczyk of the seminar.

English Department Chair Barbara Little-Liu gives the English Night opening remarks.

Monica Muriel ’19 presented “The Misrepresentation of Crime in the Media and Its Detrimental Effects on the Public,” and Ashlee Shefer ’19 presented “The Safest Place on Earth.” Following presentations, English Night attendees engaged in a poster session, viewing senior projects by Mikayla Fish ’19, Jolee Iannantuoni ’19, Zoe Stephen ’19, Jessica Maloney ’19 and Alec Taylor ’19.

“Over the years, we’ve expanded English Night to include work not just from the capstone seminar classes, but also posters from students completing their capstone in independent directed research,” said Liu. “Eastern’s English Department is blessed with so many talented, intelligent and engaged students. I’m always happy and excited to host this recognition of their accomplishments.”

Eastern Students Design for Access Agency

Eastern and Access Agency personnel peruse the students’ final poster designs at the project’s Nov. 29 unveiling at Access.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Ten graphic design students at Eastern Connecticut State University recently concluded a major project with the Access Community Action Agency in Willimantic. As part of Professor Terry Lennox’s capstone course “Eastern Design Group,” the students created 13 posters that graphically represent the agency’s 13 community programs.

The posters will live in the agency’s conference room as official representations of Access’ services, which include assistance programs for energy, food, housing and employment. The posters will also be used externally for fundraising and outreach events.

“How do we better tell our story?” asked Kathleen Krider, Access’ senior director of community engagement, at the poster unveiling in late November. “By working with Eastern students!” she exclaimed.

Eastern Design Group students and Professor Terry Lennox (middle, back row) stand before several of their final poster designs.

Krider reflected on an email she received this past summer from Eastern’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE), in which local nonprofits and charities were invited to apply for service projects with Eastern students. Krider responded that Access could use assistance in the realm of marketing and branding.

Enter the Eastern Design Group. Each year, a new cohort of graduating seniors takes on a design-related project to serve an area community organization. This was Lennox’s 10th year bringing students into the community for such a project, and her first with Access.

Robert John ’19 stands before one of his two poster designs.

“We work exclusively on real-world projects, following the same protocol students will use as professionals,” she said. That protocol involves ongoing research of the client’s needs and mission, interviewing clients, determining timetables and maintaining communication throughout the design process.

“Working with a client isn’t as easy as one might expect,” said student Robert John ’19. “There’s constant back-and-forth, new ideas, changes and countless drafts. It’s difficult to meet everyone’s expectations, including your own.”

After receiving design input from Access program coordinators, each student designed 13 posters – one for each program – as well as numerous drafts and revisions. In the end, Access selected a poster from each student, with some students receiving multiple selections.

One of the challenges was navigating differences in artistic opinion. “Before this, all the art I’ve done has been what I like,” said Olivia DeForge ’19, who designed the poster for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). “If the client wants something changed, you have to do it even if you might not agree. This experience taught me how to interact with and take input from a client.”

Lennox agreed, “It’s all about meeting the client’s needs by translating your own creativity, skills and training.” She also pointed out the résumé- and portfolio-building aspects of this project.

“We wanted the posters to frame the programs from a wide lens,” said Krider. “That way, as the programs change, the posters remain applicable.”

Oivia DeForge ’19 stands before her poster design.

For instance, income guidelines for energy assistance may change from year to year. “If the content is too specific, it may become dated,” said Krider. “We’d like to keep these posters in circulation for several years.”

“I’m incredibly pleased with the end result of my work, as well as the work of my peers,” said John, who designed posters for the Rapid Re-Housing program and the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) nutrition program. “It’s satisfying knowing that something you created will benefit others for years to come.”

The Eastern Design Group was started by Professor Emeritus June Bisantz. Now, Lennox, as well as Professors Tao Chen and Lora Lee, regularly lead art students through community-related graphic design projects. Past projects from their various courses include designing print materials and exhibitions for the Commercially Licensed Co-operative Kitchen (CLiCK), Windham No-Freeze Project, Generations Family Health Center, Windham Hospital, Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and other Windham-area nonprofits.