Student-Involvement Fair Fosters Engaged Student Body

 

More than 800 students converged on Webb Lawn on Sept. 5 for the President’s Picnic & Student Involvement Fair. Hosted by the Student Activities Office, the annual event brought together more than 90 student-run clubs and organizations vying for new members.

Music filled the quad as students browsed tables staffed by club representatives. The festive afternoon also featured an array of picnic and barbecue food.

Approximately 30 percent of Eastern’s student body participates in clubs annually. In spring 2019, more than 1,600 students overall—and more than 50 percent of on-campus residents—participated in at least one club. Traditionally, students involved with clubs have higher GPAs. In spring 2019, the average GPA for such engaged students was 3.11, while the GPA for those not in clubs was 2.96.

Student organizations span a range of interests, and the lineup changes every year as membership fluctuates and new organizations are started. Categories range from club sports to art and media, academics to culture, leadership to recreation.

Some of last semester’s highest-membership organizations include the Eastern Outdoors Club, Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP), Education Club, Freedom at Eastern, People Helping People, Ski-N’-Board Club, Repertory Dance Troupe (RDT) and Latinx Sensation.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Goddard, Shafer Halls Reopen to New Look and Purpose

Shafer exterior
Shafer cafe
Shafer residence
Shafer lounge
Shafer kitchen lounge
Goddard KPE lab
Goddard KPE lab
Goddard psychology lab

 

Two fabled buildings on the Eastern campus reopened their doors this fall semester after undergoing extensive renovations for more than a year. Shafer Hall, formerly home to the university’s fine arts programs, has been transformed into a loft-style residence hall. Goddard Hall, the university’s first facility devoted to science, has been outfitted with fresh labs and technology and finished with a contemporary interior.

Constructed in 1946, Shafer Hall remains one of Eastern’s most historic buildings. While major renovations have converted it into a residence hall, the building retains its original glazed block arches, wooden benches lining the hallway and other classic touches. The original lobby’s raised paneling was restored and continues to serve as an entrance to the newly remodeled auditorium and café.

The building has capacity for 91 residents. The residential suites include single apartments with kitchenettes, sitting areas, breakfast bars and lofts for bedroom furniture. Three- and four-person suites feature private bedrooms, kitchens and separate bath and toilet facilities.

The former Harry Hope Theatre will soon be reopened as a gym for students campus wide. Other building highlights include a game room, a kitchen lounge where students can gather to cook group dinners, as well as computer, study and meeting rooms.

All new mechanical systems, electrical, plumbing, sprinklers, data connectivity, windows, floors and roofing meet the university’s high standards for safety, technology and minimal environmental impact. The renovation was designed in accordance with Connecticut High Performance Building Regulations, which closely align with the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification standards.

The project was funded by bonds from the Connecticut Health & Educational Facilities Funds Authority (CHEFA) at a cost of $24.6 million. Construction began in August 2018. The architect was Stantec and the contractor was O&G Industries Inc.

The newly reopened Goddard Hall marks the completion of the Goddard/Communication Renovation Project—the Communication Building reopened in fall 2018. The adjoining buildings now represent a modernized academic complex home to several departments.

Completely gutted and rehabbed, Goddard includes fresh labs, classrooms and offices. There’s a suite of six labs for the Psychology Department as well as a lab for the Kinesiology and Physical Education Department, outfitted with an interactive wall and workout equipment for research.

The building also has new HVAC, plumbing, sprinkler and heating systems. New windows and improvements to the exterior make the building more energy efficient, also aligning it with Connecticut High Performance Building Regulations.

The two-phased Goddard/Communication project was funded by state-appropriated bond funds at a cost of $21.7 million. Goddard construction began in May 2017. The architect was MDS National Inc. and the contractor was PDS Engineering & Construction Inc.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Dymond Smith Participates in Yale Summer Research Experience

Dymond Smith (beside Yong Zhu, program co-director at Yale and professor of epidemiology) completed a summer research experience at Yale School of Public Health.

Health sciences major Dymond Smith ’22 participated in an eight-week research experience at Yale University this summer. The National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Summer Research Experience in Environmental Health (SREEH) is open to students enrolled in Connecticut universities who are interested in pursuing careers in environmental health sciences.

One of 10 students admitted to the program, Smith’s research project was titled “Glutathione in ethanol metabolism.” Glutathione is an antibiotic-defense system that plays a role in the metabolism of alcohol after it is consumed.  

She said of the experience, “The Yale School of Public Health summer research experience is one I will never forget. I was able to conduct experiments, expand my knowledge of the field of public health and grow as a future researcher with the help of faculty and doctoral students.”

Smith’s advisor at Eastern, Health Sciences Professor Anita Lee, commented, “Our department encourages students to explore all possibilities to sharpen their knowledge, skills and abilities—including having a productive summer learning experience related to their career goals. We are not only preparing students in allied health and public health professions, but also have students with great passion for research in the fields of health sciences and public health—Dymond is one of them.”

The SREEH program focuses on five major and emerging topics in environmental health sciences: climate and energy; developmental origin of disease; green chemistry; novel approaches to assessing environmental exposures; and health disparities. Participants received a stipend and worked closely with Yale faculty mentors on Ph.D.-level research in Yale’s laboratory facilities.

Written by Michael Rouleau

State of the University: Eastern to be ‘Market Smart, Mission Driven’

The fall University Meeting opened the 2019-20 academic year on August 26 as President Elsa Núñez described the new reality of the higher education marketplace and laid out her vision for Eastern’s future. More than 300 faculty and staff converged on the Betty R. Tipton Room for the meeting, which also welcomed more than 30 new hires and honored 17 longstanding colleagues who are retiring or were receiving service awards.

The theme of the president’s State of the University Address was “Market Smart; Mission Driven”—a strategy of responding to the changing higher education marketplace while remaining true to Eastern’s public liberal arts mission.

“The higher education marketplace is changing,” said Núñez, “as are the demographics of the people we serve, creating a new reality that knocks loudly at our door.”

Núñez described a reality that includes fewer students graduating from high school, declining state funding, and a new generation of young adults with different interests and expectations.

Speaking to declining state funding, she said that in 1990, more than 60 percent of Eastern’s operating budget was funded by the State of Connecticut. Now the university gets less than 40 percent.

Staff and faculty who were honored for years of service and retirement. Front row, left to right: Drew Hyatt (20 years), Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault (10 years), Jutta Ares (retirement), Denise Bierly (25 years), Weiping Liu (retirement). Back row: Walter Diaz (20 years), Mohd Rujoub (20 years), Jeffrey Danforth (retirement), Angela Bazin (20 years), Rita Malenczyk (25 years), David Pellgrini (20 years), Kim Dugan (20 years), Theresa Severance (20 years), Michelle Bacholle (20 years).

As enrollments are down nationwide for public universities, Núñez added, “For the next five years, we can expect an additional two to three percent annual decline in the number of high school graduates, which is an additional 10–15 percent on top of the downward national trend we’ve already seen.”

Despite these fiscal and demographic challenges, Núñez assured the audience that Eastern is on solid footing, as the university has managed its budget frugally in recent years by cautiously filling vacancies—hiring only the most essential student- and safety-focused positions. Eastern has also saved money through green-energy practices, cutting costs across campus and other initiatives of the Ad Hoc Budget Committee.

The past decade of fiscal restraint has resulted in a reserves fund of $28 million—the third largest in the state university system, albeit being the smallest school.

“Until now we have been able to grow our reserves without having to reach into our savings to balance the budget,” said Núñez. “This is not by choice, but this is exactly why we worked hard to build a healthy reserve. Without your past sacrifices, we would not be in position to do so.”

Causes for turning to the reserves fund this year include lower enrollment; a reduction in state funding for fringe benefits; pay raises as negotiated by bargaining units; the hiring of essential new staff; and increased utilities costs due to the reopening of two new buildings. 

Núñez also listed ways the university can be “market smart.” She said Eastern can continue to offer new majors — citing recent additions such as health sciences, criminology and finance — as well as modernize existing programs to ensure they meet workplace needs.

She also described increased recruitment efforts toward adult learners as well as tapping into new markets, such as New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico.

Núñez particularly focused on the importance of retaining current students, outlining retention efforts that include a new advising model that engages all students—particularly transfer students and undeclared majors—and using data analytics to track student progress.

In challenging times, Núñez emphasized the importance of staying “mission driven”—offering a public liberal arts education with a focus on applied learning.

“We believe that the liberal arts offer the best intellectual tools we can provide students, skills highly sought by U.S. employers,” she said. Priorities moving forward include ensuring that all students experience hands-on learning — such as internships and research — and know how to articulate their education when applying for jobs.

Speaking to the “public” aspect of a state university, Núñez said, “Our responsibility to the citizens of Connecticut and to serving students from all walks of life is the bedrock of our mission.”

The president said that Eastern will maintain its high admission standards. “We can be elite without being elitist,” she said, pointing out that 30 percent of the student body are people of color and 88 percent of students receive financial aid.

“This moment in our history will define our future,” said Núñez in closing. “We have an opportunity to forge a new identity, focused on improving the quality of every aspect of our educational enterprise, while staying true to the public, liberal arts and experiential learning elements of our mission.”

Written by Michael Rouleau

Students Glimpse Careers Via Summer Internships

Samantha Honeywell interned at NBC Boston.
Dontae Christian interned at Doc Wayne Services.
Zi Yi Huang interned at the Yale Art Gallery.
Shannon Fagan interned at Hi-Way Campers.

 

From law enforcement to TV broadcast to art galleries, many Eastern students recently glimpsed their potential careers through summer internships.    

Communication major Samantha Honeywell ’21 worked as an operations intern at NBC Boston. She was responsible for several duties on the set, including editing voice-overs, sound-on tape and news stories. She also worked in the media operations center, where live videos are recorded, regular programs are held and photos are processed. “I have a passion for editing,” said Honeywell. “Because my internship was hands-on, I gained experience with the technology that television news companies are using today.”

Business administration major Dontae Christian ’20 interned at Doc Wayne Services, a Boston-based organization that fuses sport with therapy to heal and strengthen at-risk youth. He was connected to Doc Wayne through the Forest Foundation, a fellowship that is committed to fostering the next generation of public service leaders through paid summer non-profit internships.

“My internship is meaningful to me because I was once in the shoes of the children that we work with,” said Christian, who grew up in the Bronx. “I’ve dealt with similar things that most of the kids that we work with go through, such as tough family situations and limited money and resources. I was able to relate with the kids.”

Business administration major Jenna Swanson ’20 worked as a human resources intern at Maples Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Wrentham, MA. Her responsibilities included assisting with payroll, interviewing, hiring, training and assessing employee benefits and newly passed laws such as the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act.

“I’ve gained better communication skills and learned how to interact with others in a professional manner. And I learned payroll and hiring functions that I’ll be able to use in the future.”

Jenna Swanson interned at Maples Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.
Samantha Honeywell.
Dontae Christian playing soccer with the youth.

 

Finance major Bethel Teshome ’20 interned at the Edison Electric Institute headquarters in Washington, D.C. She interned in EEI’s accounting and finance department, working with company software and assisting with consultations and financial reports. “Working in the Edison Electric Institute gave me insight into the operations of a trade association as well as energy industry infrastructure.”

Recent graduate and psychology major Shawn Kutschker ’18 interned with the Connecticut State Police in the Major Crimes unit for Troop E in Montville. He went on ride-alongs with troopers, joined detectives on cases and wrote reports for the department. “There are challenges that require the ability to adapt at any point,” said Kutschker. “The things that are seen on the job are not for everyone.”

Art major Zi Yi Huang ’20 interned at the Yale University Art Gallery as an installation intern, setting up and breaking down exhibitions. She found handling the pieces of art to be challenging and physical work. “We have to use tools such as drills and hammers,” she said. “It’s very hands-on work.”

One of her favorite parts of the internship was being able to see the artwork up close. Huang aspires for a career as an art curator and was grateful to gain insights from Yale’s gallery coordinator.

Business administration major Kaitlyn Rade ’19 interned as a management trainee at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Her responsibilities included picking up and dropping off customers, renting out cars, billing and tracking vehicle maintenance.

“This internship has taught me the value of customer service and helped me to become a better salesperson,” she said. Rade hopes to continue interning at Enterprise this fall and land a job with the company when she graduates next spring.

Business administration major Shannon Fagan ’20 worked as an operations management intern at Hi-Way Campers, a family-owned RV retailer located in Plainfield. Her responsibilities included managing the company’s payroll, tracking inventory and creating job descriptions for future positions.

She also worked on the company’s website and social media channels, and reported using information from her consumer behavior and advertising courses to drive marketing campaigns. Speaking to other classroom learning she applied to the internship, she said, “Accounting courses helped me to find efficient ways to catalog inventory, understand debit and credit accounts, as well as taxes associated with sales and payroll.”

Argentina to Italy, Students Spend Summer Abroad

Photo provided by Brooke Shannon, in Ireland.
Brooke Shannon studied in Ireland.
Jaran Smith studied and interned in Argentina.
Amanda Mitchell studied in France.

 

From Argentina to Italy, a number of adventurous Eastern students studied abroad this summer, honing second languages and immersing themselves in new cultures.  

Psychology major Amanda Mitchell ’19 traveled to Provence, France, to study French at Aix-Marseille University. Speaking to her progress with the French language, she said, “I was able to communicate with and make friends from all over the world. I began to really learn a new language and use that language every day.” She added, “This trip put into perspective how many people there are whom I would never get the chance to meet otherwise.”

Business administration major Lucinda Davis ’20 traveled to Sorrento, Italy, to study global business at the Sant’Anna Institute where she attended a five-week course called “Competing in the Global Environment: Business in the European Union.” Highlights of her trip included traveling outside of her studies and visiting Mount Vesuvius, Capri, Pompeii, Pisa, Milan and Venice.

Spanish major Jaran Smith ’19 traveled to Argentina for an internship with Buenos Aires International Students, a non-governmental organization based in Buenos Aires that facilities study abroad trips. “The internship combined both of my main focuses at Eastern — Spanish and economics,” said Smith. His role dealt with collecting data and helping to organize travel packages to different areas across Latin America.

“Of everything I did during my time abroad, going to Calafate was the most exciting,” he said of the southern Argentina locale. “We traveled to the Patagonian glacial region and witnessed breathtaking views of the Perito Moreno Glacier and the Andes Mountains. The memories I made during my stay in Argentina are ones I’ll keep with me for the rest of my life!”

Lucinda Davis studied in Italy.
Photo provided by Lucinda Davis, in Italy.
Ashley Smith studied in Spain.
Brooke Shannon studied in Ireland.

 

Elementary education major Brooke Shannon ’19 studied abroad in Ireland, learning about Irish society and culture. Speaking of a course she took on Irish film and literature, she said, “I learned how Ireland is portrayed in movies and literature, and which portrayals were accurate and which were stereotypical.”

Noting the differences in culture between Ireland and the United States, she said, “I loved being in a culture that’s different from that of America. It’s a culture that doesn’t have such an emphasis on being successful and making money. They’re not worried about having the nicest cars or houses; they just want to have fun, no matter what age they are.”

Elementary education and Spanish double-major Ashley Smith ’20 traveled to Barcelona, Spain, to practice her Spanish and study art and culture. “This trip definitely helped me to feel more confident and comfortable speaking Spanish,” she said, “as well as gave me an inside look of life in a Spanish-speaking country. This experience made me more independent and broadened my perspective of the world and other cultures.”

Students Return to Campus to a ‘Warrior Welcome’

Nearly 2,400 new and returning students arrived on campus on Aug. 25 and 26 for Warrior Welcome, a busy weekend of moving into  residence halls and campus festivities before the start of classes on Aug. 27.

As a predominantly residential campus for undergraduate students, Eastern was able to accommodate all first-year and transfer students, as well as other students who desired on-campus housing. Eastern also now offers on-campus housing for any part-time or graduate students who wish to be a part of the residential experience.

“With the help of a welcome crew of more than 250 student volunteers, the move-in process went extremely well,” said LaMar Coleman, director of housing and residential life. “Administrators, faculty, staff and alumni were also on hand to help roll out the welcome mat for new and returning students and their families.”

Warrior Welcome
Move-In Day
Warrior Welcome
Move-In Day
Warrior Welcome
Move-In Day
Warrior Welcome
Move-In Day

 

This was a special year for move-in due to the opening of the newly renovated Shafer Hall, which was converted to a state-of-the-art residence hall for 91 students. In addition to suites and apartments, the new residence hall boasts a renovated auditorium, a food service café, a gymnasium, several meeting rooms, a computer lab, a game lounge and a community kitchen. “Most of the students who reside in Shafer live in single studio apartments with their own kitchens and private bathrooms,” said Coleman. “This new residence hall truly complements residential living and the overall Eastern experience.”

Eastern students come from 16 other countries, 20 states, and 158 municipalities throughout Connecticut. As such, the Eastern residential population is a diverse community of scholars who benefit from the inclusive campus community, applied learning opportunities and life skills development that Eastern’s residential campus provides.

With efforts to provide one of the best residential life experiences throughout the state and region, Eastern’s residential students will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of programs and initiatives throughout the academic year. Some of the planned initiatives being offered to residential students are the Six-Week Educational Enhancement Program (S.W.E.E.P.); the Workshops On Wednesdays (W.O.W.) campus resource series; the Friday After Dark (F.A.D.) weekend programming; the Warrior Cup residence hall competition; an Individualized Developmental Experiences And Learning (I.D.E.A.L) Portfolio Initiative; the Making Adjustments To College Helped by Upperclassman Peers (Project M.A.T.C.H.U.P.) mentoring program; Theme Housing; and a host of other initiatives, programs, activities and events.   

Written by Dwight Bachman

 

Student-Professor Duo Presents at Symbolic Interaction Conference

Sociology Professor Nicolas Simon and student Tara Nguyen presented at the annual Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction Conference this past August.

Eastern Connecticut State University Sociology Professor Nicolas Simon and student Tara Nguyen ’21 presented and organized a session at the 2019 annual Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (SSSI) Conference on August 9–11 in New York City.

They organized a session titled “‘The Next Generation’: Outstanding Symbolic Interactionist Undergraduate Papers,” which highlighted undergraduate research on the topic of symbolic interactionism — a theory that examines how humans impose their subjective meanings on objects, events and behaviors. To organize the session, Simon and Nguyen reached out to faculty members and students from colleges and universities in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. They also reviewed student applications and abstracts to determine who to invite to the session. The SSSI primarily features research by Ph.D. students and professors, so Simon and Nguyen’s session was a rare opportunity for undergraduate students to participate in the conference.

Nguyen, a sociology major, was among the undergraduate presenters. Her presentation was titled “Communities Unite: An Autoethnography of the Resistance to Gentrification in Chinatown, Boston.” Gentrification is a topic that Nguyen has been studying with Simon, her faculty mentor.

Nguyen’s research focused on social inequalities within the Asian American community through the lens of intersectionality and critical race theory—which consider how various social identities overlap in the context of race, law and power. She addressed the issue of gentrification in Boston’s Chinatown and discussed what activists are doing to fight it.

Professor Simon also presented at the conference during a session titled “Self and Object.” His presentation was titled “What are you wearing? The Symbolic Value of a School Logo.” His research focused on the concept of “symbolic value” and the relationships that individuals, groups and societies have with symbols.

Simon has been a member of the SSSI since 2011 and has organized other sessions for undergraduate students in the past. He noted that he wants to continue to promote the next generation of symbolic interactionist researchers and help other students as professors have done for him in the past.

“I think it is important to encourage students who want to go to graduate school to present their work at a professional conference,” he said. “The first time I went to the SSSI annual conference in 2011, I was invited by my professor, Dr. Clint Sanders at the University of Connecticut. I was his teaching assistant and took a course with him in the fall of 2010. He invited all of us to present our work at the SSSI annual conference. It was a terrific experience!”

Nguyen commented on her own experience at the conference. “The experience was intense, but very rewarding. I was glad to help give other undergraduate students the opportunity to present their research at a conference filled with Ph.D. students and professors.”

 She plans on continuing to research other topics related to social inequalities in the Asian American community and pursue a Ph.D. program in either education or social policy.

Written by Vania Galicia

Adella Dzitko-Carlson Completes Music Fellowship

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

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

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

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

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

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

Professor Chris Howard and Adella Dzitko-Carlson.

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

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

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

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

Written by Vania Galicia

Young Writers Inspired by Month Abroad in Italy

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Michael Rouleau