Eastern’s Inaugural Honor Society Induction for Women’s and Gender Studies

Women Gender Studies Inductees

Eastern Connecticut State University held its inaugural Iota Iota Iota (Triota) induction on April 12, launching the Epsilon Gamma Chapter by recognizing student and alumni members. Triota is a national service-based Women’s and Gender Studies honor society that promotes academic excellence and facilitates activism.

The application process for Triota began in the spring of 2017. Faculty voted on criteria and bylaws to submit to the National Chapter in Denver, CO, which are slightly more demanding than required. Eastern Triota members must have achieved second-semester standing with at least nine credit hours of women’s and gender studies courses, an overall GPA of at least 3.0, a GPA within the program of at least 3.3 and without a history of academic dishonesty or other unfitness. The department is committed to keeping Triota open to suitable alumni.

New Scholarship Winners

The ceremony began with an introduction by Professor Maureen McDonnell, director of Eastern’s women’s and gender studies program. “Our program has consistently been diverse in terms of race, sexuality, gender, ability, age and other identities,” she stated. She credited several contributors who helped bring the event to fruition, including alumna Allison Smith ’17, who initially questioned why the honor society did not exist at Eastern.

McDonnell also thanked “mothers of the Civil Rights Movement” for allowing Triota to prosper, such as Ella Baker, who encouraged paying attention to the courage of young people. “Each person in here has strengths, quirks, commitments, rage, joy and love that informs the work that they do. Our world is better for the work, and for them,” said McDonnell.

Marcia P. McGowan Scholars with

Kim Ward, professor of Mathematics, commemorated past Marcia P. McGowan scholars, who have received the endowed scholarship for excellence in Women’s and Gender Studies. The students were Mae Ehrnfelt ’16, Vivian Nguyen ’16, Lisa Maria Guerra ’16, Emma Costa ’19, Allison Smith, Andrea Slater ’18, Jordan Corey ’19 and Natalie Criniti ’19. The 2019 winner was announced as Makayla Mowel ’19.

Costa also received the Ann Marie Orza endowed scholarship, which is awarded to a student who has a minor in Women’s Studies or who has made a contribution toward human rights. Aubrie Curcio ’20 received the Megan L. Kleczka memorial scholarship, which is awarded to full-time students in good academic standing and committed to women’s social issues.

Michèle Bacholle, professor of World Languages and Cultures, named Brianna Prentice ’19 and Jordan Corey as commencement marshal and alternate commencement marshal, respectively.

When asked about the significance behind starting Triota at Eastern, McDonnell noted, “Having a Triota chapter allows us to celebrate the academic achievements of our students. Triota is distinctive in its ongoing commitment to feminist values of diversity and inclusion, and requests that its members engage in ongoing community service and social justice efforts.”

She concluded: “I look forward to seeing how Triota’s officers and members enact these principles.” In joining Triota, students gain new networking and coalition opportunities. Members are invited to wear honor cords and pins at graduation.

In addition to the Women’s and Gender Studies Advisory Board, the ceremony was made possible by Alumni Affairs, Institutional Advancement, Dean Carmen Cid and English Department Secretary Miranda Lau.

Written by Jordan Corey

Eastern to Present ‘To Damascus’ Immersive Theatre Experience

The Theatre Program at Eastern Connecticut State University will present “To Damascus” from April 23-28. Based on August Strindberg’s seminal trilogy “The Road to Damascus” and adapted/directed by Theatre Professor David Pellegrini, “To Damascus” is an interactive theatre experience that traverses venues throughout the Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC).

The show follows a man on a fascinating and sometimes terrifying spiritual journey. Small groups of viewers will follow the journey and be taken through scenes in multiple settings throughout the FAIC – including the building’s three performance venues, main lobby and select classrooms.

Speaking to the traveling, multi-venue format of the play, Pellegrini explained, “In this adaptation, we attempt not only to actualize the spatial-temporal conditions of the medieval-cycle plays (a medieval format of theatre) – where spectators would visit various ‘stations’ all over town in much the same way as present-day theme parks – but we also extend the palindromic structure to the entire trilogy.”

The “palindromic structure” of the play is such that the protagonist passes through several “stations” on his journey, and then returns to each in reverse order before concluding at his starting point.

The cast and crew of “To Damascus” are students who are enrolled in the capstone course “Experimental Theatre.” The production features theatre majors as actors, designers and technicians, as well as new-media studies students who have created the media content alongside faculty mentor-artists.

“To Damascus” will run at 8 p.m. on April 23, 24, 26 and 27; at 7 p.m. on April 28; and at 11 p.m. for a special late-night performance on April 26. 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 public.

Purchase tickets online at http://easternct.showare.com/todamascus/. Contact the box office at (860) 465-5123 or theatreboxoffice@easternct.edu.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Business Administration Students Recognized at National Conference

Left to right: Alexandra Maistrelis, Emily Vieten, Kaitlyn Hohman, Fatma Pakdil, Jenna Moreira, Megan Cole, and Nicole Silva. Not present: Daniel Huacho and Jacqueline Scanlon.

 Eight Business Administration students at Eastern Connecticut State University were recognized for their research projects at the Northeast Decision Sciences Annual Conference (NEDSI)  in Philadephia on April 4-7.

Emily Vieten, Kaitlyn Hohman, Alexandra Maistrelis, Nicole Silva, Jenna Moreira and Daniel Huacho received honorary mention awards for their research. Led by Fatma Pakdil, associate professor of business administration, the students presented projects reflecting their work and analyzes of several local businesses in fall 2019.

“We collaborated with companies located in our community by focusing on their problems, issues and projects so students could see the real life applications and practices of topics covered in their courses,” said Pakdil.

Megan Cole and Jacqueline Scanlon received a third-place award in the undergraduate student poster competition for their project “Feasibility of Implementing Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) in Eastern Connecticut.”

Despite ECT being a treatment option for decades, little research has focused on the economic feasibility of implementing such a treatment in hospital settings in the United States. Cole and Scanlon analyzed if ECT would be feasible by specifically collaborating with Natchaug Hospital in Mansfield, CT, on the project.

Maistrelis and Silva’s project, “Process Analysis in Radiology Services at a University Hospital,” focused on process mapping of CT Scans and MRIs services provided in the radiology department at the UConn Health Hospital in Farmington, CT.

Moreira and Huacho analyzed an EEG (electroencephalogram) laboratory, also at UConn Health Hospital. The goal of their project was to identify where potential waste might have occurred, and to minimize the amount of time an outpatient would spend in the EEG process.

Vieten and Hohman’s project, “Process Mapping in Radiology Services Using DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) Process,” focused on process mapping of the services provided in the radiology department at UConn Health Hospital.

“In addition to the examples and practice questions analyzed in class, these real-time cases in the workplace were challenging, and showed students what they can expect in the real world after graduation,” said Pakdil.

Written by Dwight Bachman

Eastern to Hold Annual Service Expo and Awards

The Center for Community Engagement (CCE) at Eastern Connecticut State University will hold its 10th annual Service Expo and Awards Ceremony on April 18 from 2–5 p.m. in the Foyer of the Fine Arts Instructional Center. The event will showcase the many service projects Eastern students have participated in throughout the Windham area during this academic year.

Student volunteers will present posters describing their efforts, which include service projects at public schools, soup kitchens, hospitals, addiction recovery centers, senior living facilities and more. The program will begin at 2 p.m. with keynote speaker Ryan Matthews, director of community programs for Nutmeg Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

Guest judges from the community and Eastern faculty/staff will present awards to outstanding programs. The Service Learning Award will go to Terry Lennox, professor of digital art and design at Eastern; the Community Program Award will go to John Schwartz of the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery, Windham Recovery Community Center; and Community Engagement Awards will go to Carolyn Stearns of EASTCONN’s Windham Heights Community Center; Cara Bergstrom-Lynch, sociology professor at Eastern; and Shawn Dousis, student organizer of Shawn’s Cupboard food pantry.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the CCE at (860) 465-0090 or CCE Associate Director Kemesha Wilmot at wilmotk@easternct.edu.

Written by Bobbi Brown

‘Town Pride, Town Wide’ Event Set to Beautify Willimantic

Eastern Connecticut State University will host its 11th annual “Town Pride, Town Wide” community beautification event on April 27. Activities will take place at various project sites across the Windham region from 9 a.m.–noon. with a community gathering on the Hurley Hall patio on the Eastern campus from noon–1 p.m.

Eastern’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE) will deploy more than 200 Eastern student volunteers to more than 18 project sites during Town Pride, Town Wide. 

The Town Pride, Town Wide program started as a way to give Eastern students an opportunity to work closely with local community members and agencies to leave their mark on Willimantic. The event is a collaboration between the CCE and the Town of Windham.

The impact Town Pride, Town Wide has on the community surpasses its overarching goal of beautification. “Every year there will always be more weeds to pull, more flowers to plant, more mulch to spread, but the bonds and relationships that are built throughout the community last a lifetime,” said CCE Director Kim Silcox. “Town Pride, Town Wide offers Eastern students and local community members alike the unique opportunity to take pride and ownership in our community.”

“Town Pride, Town Wide is exceptional in the way that it creates a truly special partnership between Eastern and the Willimantic community through beautifying the area in which we live,” said Sarah Tricarico ’18, special events coordinator for the CCE and a recent Eastern graduate. “It could not be possible without the willingness and enthusiasm of our community partners and students.”

For more information, contact Silcox at silcoxk@easternct.edu or (860) 465-4426 or Tricarico at tricaricos@easternct.edu or (860) 465-5158.

Written by Kim Silcox

Mohegan Tribal Chief Named Eastern’s Commencement Speaker

 Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba, chief of the Mohegan Tribe, will be the Commencement Speaker at Eastern Connecticut State University’s 129th Commencement Exercises on May 21 at the XL Center in Hartford. Malerba will also receive an honorary doctorate degree at the ceremonies.

Malerba has achieved an exemplary career in the health care and tribal governance fields. Not only has she served her community with distinction, she has brought national recognition to the State of Connecticut.

Chief Mutáwi Mutáhash (Many Hearts) Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba became the 18th Chief of the Mohegan Tribe on August 15, 2010, and is the first female chief in the tribe’s modern history. The position is a lifetime appointment made by the tribe’s council of elders. She previously served as chairwoman of the tribal council and was also executive director of health and human services for the tribal government.

Prior to her work for the Mohegan Tribe, Chief Malerba had a distinguished career as a registered nurse and served as director of cardiology and pulmonary services at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital. She earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree at Yale University and was named a Jonas Scholar. She holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Connecticut, and has an honorary doctorate from the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford.

Chief Malerba has achieved a national reputation as an advocate and supporter of health issues and the welfare of Native Peoples. She is chairwoman of the Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee of the Federal Indian Health Services; is a member of the U.S. Justice Department’s Tribal Nations Leadership Council; serves on the Tribal Advisory Committee for the National Institute of Health; is a member of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Tribal Advisory Committee; and serves as a technical expert on the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. She also serves as the United South and Eastern Tribes board of directors secretary, and is a member of the board of directors for the Ms. Foundation for Women.

In Connecticut, Chief Malerba serves as a trustee for Chelsea Groton Bank, as a board member for the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, as an advisory committee member for the Harvard University Native American Program and served on the board of directors for Lawrence Memorial Hospital for 11 years.

More than 1,200 undergraduate and graduate students will receive their diplomas at Eastern’s graduation exercises on May 21, with an audience of more than 10,000 family and friends expected. In addition to Malerba, dignitaries expected to attend include Eastern President Elsa Núñez; Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System; and Merle Harris, vice-chair of the Board of Regents for Higher Education.

Written by Ed Osborn

State Trans* Leaders Speaks to Transgender Rights at Eastern

Left to right, Cassandra Martineau, university assistant in Eastern’s Pride Center; IV Staklo, hotline program director at Trans Lifeline; Ace Ricker, transgender advocate; Diana Lombardi, executive director of Connecticut Transadvocacy Coaltion; Eastern President Elsa Núñez; and CSCU President Ojakian.

Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) President Mark Ojakian visited Eastern Connecticut State University on April 10 to support the transgender community and recognize three statewide leaders of the trans* community who participated in the panel discussion “Building Resiliency in a Time of Backlash.”

Panelists included Diana Lombardi, executive director of the Connecticut Transadvocacy Coalition; IV Staklo, hotline program director at Trans Lifeline and an organizer with the ANSWER Coalition in Connecticut; and Ace Ricker, a transgender advocate since the age of 15. Cassandra Martineau, university assistant in Eastern’s Pride Center, moderated the panel discussion.

“While the past few years have seen incredible gains in rights and visibility for the trans* community, this visibility has come with a certain degree of backlash against these advances,” said Lombardi. Lombardi volunteers at the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective, and has worked for years advocating for the transgender population in Connecticut, especially the homeless trans* community in Hartford.

As a Ruska Roma trans person born in the USSR, Staklo relayed how they provide education on Soviet history and speak frequently about LGBTQ experiences in Eastern Europe. They have provided support to trans people across the United States and Canada and advocated for LGBTQ empowerment, intersex rights work and organizing against police violence and U.S. imperialism.

            Ricker said he has been working with many organizations fighting for equality. He has provided testimony for house bills such as HB 6599 (An Act Concerning Discrimination) and HB 7006 (An Act Concerning Birth Certificate Amendments). He also has spoken at numerous forums at Yale Divinity, Rutgers, UConn, among others, spreading awareness and education about the LGBT community.

            Ojakian said he attended the panel discussion “to support the LGBT community, especially the Trans community.” He pointed to the current attempt by some in our nation to roll back the rights and protections that have been legislated over the years in CT and elsewhere.

Written by Dwight Bachman

‘Opportunity Comes in Weird Ways’: English Alumni Speak on Career Paths

Eastern English alumni, left to right: Ryan Bahan ’15, Angela DiLella ’14, Jennifer Kuhn ’08 and Chris Morris ’18

WILLIMANTIC, CT (04/11/2019) A long-lived question that has followed the English major is, “What will you do with that degree?” In response, the English Department at Eastern Connecticut State University has hosted “English at Work” panels, combatting stereotypes and emphasizing the complexity of the field. Alumni gathered on April 8 to discuss their careers in writing, editing and publishing.

Panelists included Ryan Bahan ’15, Angela DiLella ’14, Jennifer Kuhn ’08 and Christopher Morris ’18. With an impressive turnout for the event, they spoke on establishing themselves professionally and finding the right path after graduation.

Bahan explained that post-undergraduate employment is “a mix of what you want to do and what your first job is going to be.” After graduating from Eastern, he received a fellowship at the Champlain College Emergent Media Center to manage digital projects while obtaining a master’s degree in digital media.

Completing his master’s in 2016, Bahan initially worked as a website designer and podcast producer. He also explored blogging and other side jobs before joining Stagecoach Digital as a content strategist in 2017. Now, he produces content and provides strategic direction for North America’s leading nonprofit organizations.

DiLella and Kuhn echoed sentiments about unexpected placement, landing job roles that they did not necessarily see themselves in as undergraduate students. DiLella went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Writing from the New School, which she feels granted new creative opportunities. In addition to finishing her graphic novel, DiLella is employed by N3rdabl3 (Nerdable), a gaming and pop culture website. She ghostwrites novellas and larger projects as well.

“I had no idea what I wanted to do with my English degree,” said Kuhn, who called her professional journey “a series of lucky breaks and happy accidents.” She received a Master of Professional Studies from George Washington University and has held several leadership positions working on scientific, technical and medical publications.

Kuhn is the editorial director at Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a division of Wolters Kluwer health-information services based in Philadelphia. Further, she owns and operates the world’s only print periodical for childcare workers, Nanny Magazine. “I never knew when I was at Eastern that I was going to love this.”

Morris is the editorial assistant at the award-winning, independent press Elephant Rock Books, where he interned as an Eastern student. His responsibilities involve editorial work on all manuscripts approved for publication, designing and executing marketing campaigns and assisting in organizing events. “I have my hands in most components of what we do,” he said. Morris is in the process of meeting with literary agents about his first novel, “The Kids Who Killed on Church Street,” and plans to pursue a MFA at the University of Mississippi this fall.

Throughout the event, the panelists addressed different ways in which being an English major prepared them for professional endeavors. One significant skill they picked up at Eastern is the ability to recognize audience. Another is learning to not only accept, but constructively utilize criticism. Collectively, they agreed that the mentors they had access to were a great benefit.

“Get involved on campus in whatever capacity makes sense to you,” Kuhn advised to undergraduates. “Always be hungry to learn something more.” As recommended by the group, some on-campus resources for English majors are the Campus Lantern, the Writing Center, the University Relations office and the Creative Writing Club. “Eastern is so flexible in terms of what you can do,” said Bahan.

“Opportunity comes in weird ways,” continued DiLella. “Don’t be afraid to step outside your major.” Morris, who double-majored, commended his experiences with the History Department. Taking history classes required him to increase his attention to detail and ultimately provided useful context for writing and literature. Moreover, he noted the importance of writing regularly, which was guaranteed in his chosen academic realms. “Writing is like an instrument,” he said, regarding the need to put in consistent work in order to master the craft.

Despite advocating for seizing a variety of chances, Bahan suggested, “Don’t work for free. If you don’t value yourself, people never will.” He pointed out the rise in remote employment as a means of entering the paid job force. “It’s easier than ever to work for companies all over the world.” Similarly, panelists highlighted the advantages of networking, building a solid support system and understanding time management. “Find your balance,” said DiLella.

Written by Jordan Corey

Kurt Lucin Explains How Alzheimer’s Disease Might Progress

On April 3, Kurt Lucin, assistant professor of biology, continued the Faculty Scholars Forum with a discussion on Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), a debilitating neurological disease that affects a growing number of elderly people.

A comparison of a normal healthy brain and a brain with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Severe degeneration and neuron loss can be observed in the AD brain, which appears shriveled and smaller in size.

Lucin says AD is characterized by a progressive loss of cells in the brain and a concomitant decline in cognitive function.

Shown are astrocyte cells that have internalized (phagocytosed) 6μm latex beads. Arrows indicate the phagocytosed beads.

“These impairments are associated with the appearance of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles within the brain.”

Shown are two astrocyte cells, one of which has internalized (i.e., phagocytosed) 6μm latex beads. Both astrocyte cells fluoresce green and the beads fluoresce red.

Lucin said previous studies indicate that AD is accompanied by reduced levels of the protein beclin 1 within diseased regions of the brain. Beclin 1 is involved in numerous processes, including a cellular degradation process, called autophagy, and the trafficking of recognition molecules called receptors.

A microscopic view of a human Alzheimer’s disease brain. Shown in brown are amyloid beta plaques, which are characteristic of the disease and accumulate as the disease progresses.

“My research is interested in understanding the consequences of reduced beclin 1 on disease progression,” said Lucin. “We are particularly interested in understanding how reduced beclin 1 may affect the function of astrocytes. Astrocytes are the most numerous cell in the brain, provide neuronal support, and are capable of internalizing and degrading amyloid plaques via a process called phagocytosis.”

By Dwight Bachman

Kulture Magazine founder is guest of New Media Studies Program

Anthony Valentine, founder of Kulture Magazine, spoke to students in New Media Studies 220, a second-year inquiry seminar, and others members of the Eastern community on April 8. A graduate of Central Connecticut State University, Valentine spoke with students about his journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur in Connecticut. Kulture Magazine is aimed toward a Millennial audience, and discusses issues relevant to young people today. Valentine’s visit was co-sponsored by the Office of Equity and Diversity.