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

Art Gallery Presents ‘Consistency of the Temporal’ Until Oct. 10

A gallery patron admires a sculpture.

 The Art Gallery at Eastern Connecticut State University hosted New York-based artist Beatrice Modisett on Sept. 5, who spoke on her current exhibition titled “Consistency of the Temporal.” The exhibition runs until Oct.10 and features drawings, paintings and clay sculptures that are inspired by Modisett’s interest in landscapes and environment.

Artist Beatrice Modisett explains her work at the “Consistency of the Temporal” opening reception.

After leaving her office job to pursue art, Modisett spent a month driving to California, visiting national parks along the way. She was struck by the land formations and intrigued by the earthly forces that configured the environment. Modisett felt a deep connection to the national parks and how their vastness made her feel small. She also mentioned how the environment is manipulated by wind, water and erosion: “… the forces are shaping it. Erosion leads to creation.”

Growing up in New England, Modisett has a deep connection to Eastern, as her grandparents were students in 1938 and lived on a farm 10 minutes from the university. She used wood from the farm as fuel to fire the ceramics that are on display in “Consistency of the Temporal.” Among the pieces is an arched clay sculpture inspired by Arches National Park in Utah, as well as the arches of Brescia, Italy, a city that was built upon its own ruins. In her drawings, she used ash from the burnt clay to add shades of gray.

Students discuss Modisett’s drawings.

Speaking to the exhibition at Eastern and her future plans, Modisett said, “This show has launched more ideas. It’s such a gift when that happens, when you can work and it expands things for you.”

“Consistency of the Temporal” is on display until Oct.10 in the Art Gallery of the Fine Arts Instructional Center. Gallery hours are Tuesday and Wednesday 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday 1-7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 2-5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, contact the Art Gallery at 860-465-4659 or visit the website at

Written by Bobbi Brown

‘Andrej 5K’ Fun Run in Honor of Late RHAM High School Teacher

The second annual “Andrej 5K” will occur on Sept. 28 at 10:30 a.m. at Mansfield Hollow State Park. The fun run/walk is in honor of Andrej Cavarkapa, an avid runner and high school teacher who passed away in January 2017 while jogging near his home in West Hartford. The event was created to keep Andrej’s spirit alive, as well as to raise funds for his memorial endowed scholarship at Eastern Connecticut State University.

Cavarkapa was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzcegovina, in 1987, the son of Branko and Aleksandra Cavarkapa. He was four years old when his family moved to the United States. He graduated from Eastern in 2009 with degrees in biology and biochemistry, and also received his master’s degree in secondary education from Eastern in 2012.

Cavarkapa was a science teacher at RHAM High School where he was known as “Mr. C.” He was passionate about his job and worked to make physics and chemistry accessible to all students. His interest included art, music, environmental activism and running.

The Andrej Cavarkapa Memorial Endowed Scholarship honors Andrej’s passion for running and education by assisting biology majors with financial need, with a preference for RHAM graduates.

Last year, 190 people ran or walked in the inaugural Andrej 5K. All are welcome to run or walk the trail – including dogs – although the terrain is not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs.

Those unable to attend are encouraged to run or walk in solidarity. People from as far as Hawaii and Idaho participated in solidarity last year.

Entrants can register for the run online at All proceeds will go to Andrej’s memorial endowed scholarship. You can also be a sponsor of the event and donate directly to the scholarship by filling out the Andrej Cavarkapa Memorial Endowed Scholarship sponsorship form, found at

An after party will follow the run. Follow the event’s social media pages for more details: and

Written by Vania Galicia

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

Eastern a Top 25 Public Regional University in U.S. News and World Report

The class of 2023 gathered for a group photo during the Fall 2019 Warrior Welcome weekend–Eastern draws students from 160 of Connecticut’s 169 towns

 Eastern Connecticut State University is again the highest ranked institution among Connecticut’s four state universities in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s edition of “Best Colleges.” The 2020 rankings were released on Sept. 9.

This is Eastern’s highest ranking ever as it was ranked 21st among public universities in the North Region. Eastern moved up five spots among public institutions over last year’s rankings and moved up 13 spots when both public and private institutions were considered.

Under the mentorship of Biology Professor Vijaykumar Veerappan, Roshani Budhathoki ’19 was selected for an undergraduate fellowship by the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB).

.The North Region includes colleges and universities from New England, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, and is known as the most competitive among the four regions that make up the U.S. News and World Report ranking system.

Regional universities such as Eastern are ranked based on 15 criteria that include peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, class size, faculty resources, admissions selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.

“Given the uncertain times facing the higher education community, I am delighted to see Eastern achieving its highest ranking ever,” said Eastern President Elsa Nunez. “This is a testament to our commitment to high standards and the faculty and staff’s focus on providing students with personal attention. Our improved ranking this year is due to our rising graduation and retention rates as well as the continued quality of our incoming classes.

 Environmental earth science students traveled to the mountains of Wyoming and Idaho this summer for a geology field course led by Eastern faculty.:

“Students and their families turn to the Best Colleges rankings to help decide where to attend college. These newest rankings reaffirm that Eastern is providing a relevant and high-quality education on our beautiful residential campus.”

This year’s U.S. News and World Report rankings included reviews of upwards of 1,400 schools nationwide and are available at They will also be published in the Best Colleges 2020 Guidebook, published by U.S. News & World Report and available on newsstands on Oct. 15.

For the past 35 years, the U.S. News and World Report rankings, which group colleges based on categories created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, have grown to be the most comprehensive research tool for students and parents considering higher education opportunities.

Written by Ed Osborn

Psychology Researchers Publish on Human, Pigeon Suboptimal Choice

James Diller

Eastern Connecticut State University Psychology Professor James Diller and recent graduate Malvina Pietrzykowski ’19 were published in Springer’s “Learning and Behavior Journal” on Aug. 19 for their research titled “Human and Pigeon Suboptimal Choice.” The research looked at the completion of similar tasks by humans and pigeons to determine whether non-human performance can serve as a model for human gambling research.

The project was designed by Diller’s undergraduate mentor, Maggie McDevitt of McDaniel College, who ran the pigeon component of the experiment. Pietrzykowski, a former student of Diller’s, ran the human subject experiment. Students from McDaniel College’s psychology department also assisted with data collection.

To determine whether pigeons could serve as a model to observe the way humans behave when gambling, the researchers carried out two sets of experiments that evaluated both human and pigeon behavior. The task for pigeon subjects involved each pigeon choosing between two different color-lit keys by pecking at them. Each key allowed the pigeons to access food for a certain amount of time depending on the color—blue for 10 seconds; red for 0. Two other colors consistently allowed the pigeons to access food for three seconds.

Eastern graduate Malvina Pietrzykowski ’19 presents the project’s research poster at the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) conference.

The task assigned to the human subjects consisted of humans playing a computer game that awarded points depending on the color they chose. Like the pigeon experiment, each color had a set point value and subjects had to choose a color to earn points.

The results of the experiments showed that the pigeon subjects chose to “gamble,” or test their luck, more often than humans and that humans did share some patterns with pigeons when it came to “gambling.” However, although the results of the experiments suggest that humans and pigeons can behave similarly when assigned tasks that include a suboptimal choice, Diller concluded that more research must be done to truly determine whether pigeons are good subjects to test in comparison to human gambling behavior.

Diller commented on the experience, “It has been a lot of fun working across ‘academic generations’ on this project. I think this type of thing underscores the value of research experience and mentorship for students.” Speaking to his mentor and research colleague, he added, “If it weren’t for Maggie, I know I wouldn’t be at Eastern, and I’m proud to pass that type of experience on to Malvina and my other students.”

To see the full paper, see Springer’s website at 

Written by Vania Galicia

Jonathan Mooney, Author with Dyslexia, to Speak at Eastern

Jonathan Mooney, a dyslexic writer and speaker who did not learn to read until he was 12 years old, will speak at Eastern Connecticut State University on Sept. 11 at 3 p.m. in the Student Center at Eastern.

“Instead of flipping burgers, I ended up writing books, the first of which I wrote in undergraduate school at 23 years of age,” said Mooney, who graduated with honors in English Literature from Brown University. “Growing up, I faced a number of low expectations. I was told that I would be a high school dropout and end up in jail. Instead of becoming an inmate, I became an advocate, creating organizations and initiatives that help people who get the short end of the stick.”

For his work, Mooney has been named the recipient of the Harry S. Truman Fellowship for Public Services and named a finalist for a Rhoades Scholarship. Mooney has been featured on ABC News, HBO, National Public Radio, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and USA Today, to name a few media outlets. 

“What I’m most proud of,” said Mooney, “is not that I proved wrong people who doubted me, but that I proved the many people — my mom, a teacher named Mr. R. my wife Rebecca — to be right, not just about my potential, but about the potential for all of us who live and learn differently.”

Mooney’s presentation is sponsored by the President’s Office, the Office of Equity and Diversity, Accessibility Services, the Division Student Affairs, and the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Criminology and Social Work.

Written by Dwight Bachman

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.”