Eastern’s Mama Authors Miracle Stories

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Raouf Mama, professor of English at Eastern Connecticut State University, has recently authored “It was a Beautiful Day and Other Personal Quiet Miracle Stories,” an e-book published by WestBow Press.

The collection of powerful, inspirational stories captures personal, life-changing moments as it celebrates “the transmutation of sorrow into joy, of fear, despair and grief into a song of thanksgiving,” in the words of the author.  The book transcends Mama’s personal sense of gratitude for unexpected moments of grace in his life as it reaffirms the possibility of miracles in people’s daily lives.

The book taps into the universal appeal of miracles and invites readers to recognize and celebrate their own personal miracles, events that may otherwise pass unnoticed in their daily lives.

“In an era of widespread unbelief and skepticism, this book is an attempt to awaken the reader to a sense of the miraculous and the mysterious in the world and sounds a warning about the insufficiency of our senses as the exclusive basis for our judgment and our conclusions,” Mama adds.

Mama’s viewpoint on the issue of miracles is best expressed by an excerpt from his book:  “Dressed in my Sunday best, my car washed and waxed to a dazzling sheen, I set out to fetch my son. The sky was just as clear as it was two weeks earlier on Father’s Day, the air just as sweet, the day brighter still; but the joy that lifted and brightened my heart on that day, poetry and oratory will labor in vain to capture. One would have to envision the ecstasy the apostles must have felt after the agony of Good Friday, to get the full measure of my felicity.”

Mama is a distinguished professor of English at Eastern Connecticut State University and an award-winning storyteller of international renown, the only one in the world today who tells in English, French, Yoruba and Fon folktales from his native Benin and other parts of the world.

Mama’s style of presentation blends stories with poetry, music and dance, and his publications include his memoir titled “Fortune’s Favored Child”, “Why Goats Smell Bad,” “Tropical Tales,” “Pearls of Wisdom” and “Why Monkeys Live In Trees,” winner of the 2008 National Multicultural Children’s Book Award.

Eastern’s Applied Behavioral Analysis Program Recognized Nationally

Written by Ed Osborn

behavioral analysisEastern Connecticut State University is one of 57 institutions in the United States recognized for its applied behavioral analysis program by Applied Behavior AnalysisEdu.org.  The first Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst program in Connecticut and one of only three in the state, Eastern’s program is a concentration offered within the Psychology major.  The program has been certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) and given the BACB’s Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) credential.

“We are big fans of Eastern Connecticut University because of the many undergraduate research and creative activities available to students,” wrote ABAEdu.org. “In fact, students (at Eastern) enjoy the opportunity to work closely with faculty mentors on an array of projects that contribute to the growing body of research in the field of applied behavior analysis.”

Certification is usually required for employment in the field of applied behavioral analysis, especially when working with children with autism.

“Dr. James Diller continues to do an outstanding job leading this program,” said Carlos Escoto, professor of psychology and chair of the Psychological Sciences Department. “We are grateful to be recognized by a national organization and pleased to be able to offer our students this special professional credentialing opportunity.”

1978 Eastern Graduate Named to Major National Mental Health Post

McCance-KatzElinore McCance-Katz, M.D., Ph.D., a 1978 graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Aug. 3 as the first Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use in the U.S. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, helped create the new position as part of the Mental Health Reform Act that he co-sponsored with U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

“Every one of us has a family member or friend coping with mental illness or addiction. We created this position because after listening to families in Connecticut, I heard loud and clear that the government needs to do a better job addressing these issues for the people who need it. Dr. McCance-Katz has a big job ahead of her,” said Murphy. “She’s experienced and I’m confident she’ll bring much-needed focus and attention to making sure people with mental health needs and addiction get the care they need. I look forward to working her.”

McCance-Katz majored in biology and graduated magna cum laude from Eastern in 1978.  Prior to her new appointment, she was the chief medical officer for the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals. She is also a professor of psychiatry and human behavior and professor of behavioral and social sciences at the Alpert Medical School at Brown University. She previously served as the first chief medical officer for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

After receiving her bachelor’s degree at Eastern, she obtained her Ph.D. from Yale University with a specialty in infectious disease epidemiology. McCance-Katz is also a graduate of the University of Connecticut’s School of Medicine and board certified in general psychiatry and addiction psychiatry. She is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry with more than 25 years of experience as a clinician, teacher and clinical researcher.

Following her graduation from UConn, McCance-Katz did her residency in psychiatry at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living. Her career in academia included a seven-year stint as a professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine. She has conducted substantial research in the area of substance abuse and addiction, specifically opioid addiction.

“For the first time ever, a medical professional who is laser focused on addiction and mental health will be in the top echelon of HHS,” said Murphy. “We created this position to elevate these important issues and improve coordination so that people coping with a mental illness or substance use disorder can access the care and treatment they need.”

McCance-Katz’s confirmation has been applauded by such groups as the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Psychiatric Association.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy to Host Town Hall on August 13

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy will hold a town hall meeting at Eastern Connecticut State University this Sunday, Aug. 13, from 5:15-7 p.m. The event is being held in the Concert Hall of the new Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC).  The FAIC is the second building north of the main entrance on the west side of High Street. Free parking is available in the Cervantes and Shakespeare parking garages.  (Click here for a campus map)  We hope you can join us. Please RSVP to RSVP_Connecticut@Murphy.Senate.Gov; please include your name and town.

 

Mariana Serrano Receives Biomedical Scholarship Through Harvard University

ms 1Mariana Serrano ’18 of Waterbury, CT, received a $7,500 scholarship at the Biomedical Science Careers Program (BSCP) “Evening of Hope” reception at Harvard University on April 27.  The scholarship, funded by Radius Health, a biopharmaceutical company in Waltham, MA, will support Serrano’s education at Eastern Connecticut State University, where she is a health science major and biology minor.

Serrano’s relationship with the BSCP began in summer 2016 with a summer internship at Harvard Medical School’s Summer Clinical and Translational Research Program, a 10-week mentored research program designed to increase the number of students from underrepresented populations who are exposed to clinical research.  Serrano was one of only 10 students selected.

“I have been so fortunate to have this opportunity to be introduced to the bio-medical profession at Harvard Medical School,” said Serrano.  “The experiences I have had range from observing surgeries to hands-on training in biomedical research, from learning to give presentations to networking within a large intellectual community.”

With a concentration in pre-physical therapy, Serrano is interested in the intersectionality of medicine and anthropology and is conducting research with Mary Kenny, professor of anthropology at Eastern. She has also been researching therapeutic regimens related to aortic valve disease at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Roxbury, MA.

Serrano began her college career at Eastern in the Summer Transition at Eastern Program/ Contract Admissions Program (STEP/CAP), a six-week residential program the summer after high school graduation that provides intensive instruction in mathematics, writing and study skills.  Successful STEP/CAP students are then admitted to Eastern each fall. Serrano will serve as a peer assistant in STEP/CAP in summer 2017.

Dining Hall Institutes Programs to Eliminate Food Waste

dining hall shotWith the cooperation of students, faculty and staff, Eastern Connecticut State University’s Hurley Dining Hall has taken steps to help eliminate waste by cutting back on the trash that the dining hall produces each day.

The first step was the elimination of trays. In the past, students grabbed a tray and loaded as much food on as many plates as they wanted. Over the past two years trays have been removed, forcing students to take only the food they can carry. “This was a good move for us,” said Jeffrey Kwolek, senior director of dining services. “Students were wasting full plates of food because they thought they were that hungry. Now not as much food is wasted.”

The second step the dining services took was the “Food Recovery Program,” which repurposes leftover food. “I don’t like to see food thrown away,” said Kwolek. “We have a leftover rack that at the end of the day would just get tossed, so I thought why not let someone else eat it.”

Eastern has a strong partnership with the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic; students, faculty, sports teams and other Eastern community members volunteer their time to help those in need at the kitchen. Now, Hurley Hall has partnered with the Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) to arrange for the leftover food to be repurposed and sent to the soup kitchen twice a week. “More than 400 portions of food are sent every week,” said Kwolek. “This has definitely made a positive impact. Our wasted food isn’t going into the trash anymore; it’s going to people who can use it.”

The last program Hurley is participating in is a “Compositing Program.” This program is used to turn the waste that Hurley generates into energy and fuel. Instead of the trash being sent to waste management systems it is being sent to the Bio Power Plant in Southington CT.

“It’s important we do as much as we can to become a good partner with the community,” said Kwolek. “The programs we are trying are good ways to support that.”

 

Eastern’s Carmen Cid Receives National Recognition

Cid started at Eastern in 1987, working as a professor of ecology for 17 years; she has served as dean of the School of Arts and Sciences for the last 12 years.

Cid started at Eastern in 1987, working as a professor of ecology for 17 years; she has served as dean of the School of Arts and Sciences for the last 12 years.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Pioneering ecologist Carmen Cid, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Eastern Connecticut State University, has been elected a 2017 Fellow of the Ecological Society of America (ESA). The lifetime achievement award honors ESA members who have made outstanding contributions to the field of ecology—the study of how organisms interact with their environments—through research, education and outreach.

“My life’s work has focused on pioneering a multicultural urban ecology curriculum and implementing leadership programs to help recruit and retain undergraduate and graduate women and minorities in ecology,” said Cid. “Being elected by the ESA to its selective fellows community validates my work in ecology over the course of more than 30 years.

“When I started, there were few women in ecology and none from Latin America,” continued Cid. “I have worked to create bridges between cultures and the scientific field of ecology.”

Among Cid’s proudest achievements is the development of the Spanish/English curriculum “The Urban Ecologist,” which is part of the series “Wonderwise: Women in Science.” Used throughout the United States, Canada and the Philippines, the curriculum has become a standard in after-school programs, focused on engaging middle school-aged girls in the study of forest and wetland ecology. The project was funded by the National Science Foundation and Howard Hughes Foundation.

Taken in 1998 for the award-winning “Wonderwise” series, this photo depicts Cid in the pond at Eastern’s on-campus Arboretum, assessing plant biodiversity in the wetland.

Taken in 1998 for the award-winning “Wonderwise” series, this photo depicts Cid in the pond at Eastern’s on-campus Arboretum, assessing plant biodiversity in the wetland.

At Eastern, Cid has also been a champion of experiential learning, engaging students in ecological field work in the Arboretum—Eastern’s on-campus nature preserve—and the nearby Church Farm Center for the Arts and Sciences. As both a professor and dean, she has used the principles of ecology to develop Eastern’s campus into a more sustainable setting, helping it to become nationally recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Green College” for the past seven years.

“I am lucky to have worked for 30 years at a university that promotes the values of ecology and understands its greater effects on society,” she said of Eastern.

Cid has been a member of the ESA for 39 years. Among her contributions, she was the founding chair of the ESA Women and Minorities Committee and developed the first strategic plan to improve the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in ecology. She is currently the committee chair of the ESA Commitment to Human Diversity Award—an award she won in 2012.

With a membership of more than 10,000, the ESA elected Cid as one of only 27 fellows in 2017, and one of only three from New England. The organization elected Cid “For her ESA leadership and contributions enhancing ecology education outreach to diverse audiences, recruitment and retention of women and minorities in ecology, and applying ecological principles to improve undergraduate liberal arts education.”

The ESA fellows program was created in 2012 with the goal of honoring its members and supporting their competitiveness and advancement to leadership positions in the ESA, at their institutions and in the broader society. Past ESA Fellows are listed at http://www.esa.org/esa/about/esa-awards/esa-awards/esa-fellows-program/esa-fellows/.

Eastern Concert Chorale and Friends to Perform Fall Concert

Eastern Concert PosterOn Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 7:30 p.m., the Eastern Concert Chorale will be joined by the Chamber Singers, Men’s and Women’s Choirs and the E.O. Smith Chamber Choir for an evening of choral works in the Concert Hall of the Fine Arts Instructional Center at Eastern Connecticut State University. The ensembles will present a variety of choral works, including selections from Brahms’ “Ein Deutches Requiem.” The Eastern choral ensembles will also collaborate with members of the Percussion Ensemble and the E.O. Smith Chamber Choir for “O Fortuna” by Carl Orff. Music Professors David Belles and Emily Riggs will conduct the performances. Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted at the door.

Eastern Artists Showcase Their Work

On Oct. 22, prior to a musical performance by David Foster and the Mohegan Sun All-Stars, patrons of Eastern Connecticut State University’s Fine Arts Instructional Center will have the opportunity to purchase art created by two Eastern student artists — Nicholas Khan and Jessie Kohn. Seven different pieces will be on display in the Susan Sukman McCray Foyer, and staff will be on hand to take payment or provide additional information on the artists.

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Jessie Kohn

Jessie Kohn ’14 is a digital artist who uses specialized software programs and a computer tablet and stylus to draw, colorize, add effects, and otherwise render visual art in a variety of simulated media—water colors, acrylic, oil, and pen and ink.  Using his knowledge of traditional art forms, Kohn focuses on portraits, as he finds “the human face to be one of the most fascinating subjects to draw,” and enjoys the “challenge of capturing someone’s whole identity in a portrait.”

khan photo

Nick Khan

Nicholas Khan ’17 creates art in the form of graphite, ink, oil, acrylic, watercolors and mixed media. He specializes in landscapes, abstract works, portraits and architectural subjects. Khan’s portraits and landscapes draw attention to natural light, both as a focal point and as a diffused element. In each case, Khan’s art has the power to alter the tonality of an image, creating multiple lenses of color in transparent layers and solid forms.

Eastern Named a 2017 Vet-Friendly College by USNWR

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Eastern Connecticut State University is the 14th highest ranked public institution in the north when it comes to being a “Best College for Veterans,” according to U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 rankings. Eastern’s campus is home to more than 600 faculty, staff, and students who are self-identified veterans, active military or reserves service members.

Veterans who are students have a range of resources available through The Vet Center, which has a study area and lounge and hosts social events and family programs. Because veterans often face additional challenges as students—such as post-traumatic stress disorder or families to support—the center organizes trainings for faculty to teach them about this dynamic student group. Situated in Willimantic, a town with a large veteran population, the Vet Center works as a link to the community, connecting students to the local American Legion and Veterans Affairs offices.

“I visit the Veterans Center here on campus because it provides a sense of community, which is an important part of transitioning to civilian life,” said Shannon Polhemus, a Coast Guard veteran and current Eastern student.

At Eastern’s Center for Internships and Career Development is a representative who helps veterans look for jobs and incorporate military experience into their resumes. Student vets and service members also have access to on-campus mental health services.