Public Invited to College Goal Sunday at Eastern

Written by Dwight Bachman

campus quad nice wide shotWillimantic, CT.— Eastern Connecticut State University will host the second leg of the 2016 College Goal Sunday (CGS) Connecticut on Oct. 23. The information session takes place from 1–4 p.m. in Room 401 of Webb Hall and will focus on changes in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and process. The program will be staffed by volunteers from Eastern’s Financial Aid Office. The public is invited and admission is free.

The purpose of CGS is to assist students, especially first-generation students, in completing their FAFSA in a timely manner, so that they can apply for financial aid at their college of choice and increase their ability to receive maximum financial aid. The first leg of CGS was held at Eastern in January, for the 2016-17 FAFSA award year.

fine arts center at Eastern (002)
In September 2015, President Barack Obama allowed the use of Prior-Prior Year (PPY) on the FAFSA. This action created a change in how and when students complete the FAFSA and was implemented so that the financial aid application process aligned more closely with the admission application process. To accommodate this earlier filing schedule of Oct. 1, the FAFSA will collect income information from a family’s two tax returns prior to the academic year for which the aid is intended, rather than just from the previous year.

Science Building“We are now able to use two years of prior tax information on the FAFSA, as opposed to one-year of information,” said Neville Brown, associate director of financial aid at Eastern and Eastern’s CGS site coordinator. “This change will also increase the accuracy of the FAFSA and give families an earlier and more accurate idea of their anticipated financial aid and college costs, and will certainly help us in our continuing effort to help students realize their college dreams. “We encourage all Eastern students to participate in this CGS activity, thus ensuring that their 2017-18 FAFSA is filed on time.”

For more information about CGS, visit http://www.collegegoalsundayct.org.

The Courant Names Eastern a 2016 Top Workplace

Written by Michael Rouleau

Top Places LogoWillimantic, CT — For the fifth time in the past six years, the Hartford Courant has recognized Eastern Connecticut State University in its “Top Workplaces” survey. With 961 employees, Eastern ranked fourth in the “large” category, and was the only higher education institution to be recognized among 61 organizations in Hartford, Middlesex, Tolland, Windham and New London counties. Results were published on Sept. 18 in the Hartford Courant.

Surveys were administered on behalf of the Courant by WorkplaceDynamics LLP, a research and consulting firm that has compiled top employer lists for some of the nation’s largest media outlets. Rankings were based on confidential survey results completed by employees of the participating organizations.
The survey included 24 statements, with employees asked to assess each one on a scale from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.” Topics included organizational direction, workplace conditions, effectiveness, managers and compensation. Each company was assigned a score based on a formula.
Survey statements included: “This company operates by strong values and ethics”; “I have confidence in the leader of this company”; “I have the flexibility I need to balance my work and personal life”; for example.

“We are honored to be recognized as a top workplace in Connecticut,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “While Eastern was recognized in the large organization category, our campus has always prided itself on its sense of community and for being a welcoming, inclusive environment for students, their families and the community-at-large. This announcement is a wonderful reminder that Eastern is a great workplace for our faculty and staff and I am delighted that we were among those recognized.”

Eastern Jumps Seven Places in U.S. News and World Report Rankings

Written by Ed Osborn
US News and World Report-FlagsEastern Connecticut State University moved up seven places among regional universities in the North in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 edition of “Best Colleges” to 85th overall; Eastern was also tied for 26th place among public universities on the list. The annual rankings were released on Sept. 13.

Eastern was the highest ranked university among the four Connecticut state universities, and this year’s ranking was Eastern’s best ever.

Regional universities such as Eastern are ranked on the basis of 16 criteria that include peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, admissions selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving. The North Region includes colleges and universities from New England, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.

US News and World Report-Campus Scene“I am gratified to see Eastern achieve its highest ranking ever in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 Best Colleges report,” said Eastern President Elsa Nunez. “Our commitment to academic excellence, our focus on student engagement and the introduction of new majors have resulted in strong scores for such criteria as academic reputation, student selectivity, faculty resources and alumni giving. Students and their families turn to the Best Colleges rankings to help decide where to attend college.  These new rankings reaffirm that Eastern is providing a quality, affordable liberal arts education on our beautiful residential campus.”
US News and World Report- Residential Halls ExteriorThis year’s U.S. News and World Report rankings included reviews of 1,374 schools nationwide and are available at www.usnews.com/colleges. They will also be published in the Best Colleges 2017 Guidebook, published by U.S. News & World Report and available on newsstands on Oct. 4.

Public Invited to College Goal Sunday at Eastern

Written by Dwight Bachman

clock tower (2)Willimantic, CT.— Eastern Connecticut State University will host the second leg of the 2016 College Goal Sunday (CGS) Connecticut on Oct. 23. The information session takes place from 1–4 p.m. in Room 401 of Webb Hall and will focus on changes in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and process. The program will be staffed by volunteers from Eastern’s Financial Aid Office. The public is invited and admission is free.

The purpose of CGS is to assist students, especially first-generation students, in completing their FAFSA in a timely manner, so that they can apply for financial aid at their college of choice and increase their ability to receive maximum financial aid. The first leg of CGS was held at Eastern in January, for the 2016-17 FAFSA award year.

In September 2015, President Barack Obama allowed the use of Prior-Prior Year (PPY) on the FAFSA. This action created a change in how and when students complete the FAFSA and was implemented so that the financial aid application process aligned more closely with the admission application process. To accommodate this earlier filing schedule of Oct. 1, the FAFSA will collect income information from a family’s two tax returns prior to the academic year for which the aid is intended, rather than just from the previous year.

“We are now able to use two years of prior tax information on the FAFSA, as opposed to one-year of information,” said Neville Brown, associate director of financial aid at Eastern and Eastern’s CGS site coordinator. “This change will also increase the accuracy of the FAFSA and give families an earlier and more accurate idea of their anticipated financial aid and college costs, and will certainly help us in our continuing effort to help students realize their college dreams. “We encourage all Eastern students to participate in this CGS activity, thus ensuring that their 2017-18 FAFSA is filed on time.”

For more information about CGS, visit http://www.collegegoalsundayct.org.

“College Knowledge Day” Inspires Young Students

Written by Christina Rossomando

Willimantic, CT. – On May 24, 25 and 26, Eastern Connecticut State University invited 26 schools to participate in the annual “College Knowledge Day” event. 950 students in grades 5-9 gathered in the Betty R. Tipton Room in the Student Center to attend workshops and sessions over the three-day program. “We only invited inner-city schools, as we wanted to target students who didn’t easily have access to this type of information,” said Dmitry Satsuk, associate director of admissions. The students came from Bridgeport, Hartford, Norwich, New Britain, New Haven, Willimantic and other school districts.

The students participated in a number of lectures and group activities organized by various Eastern departments. The different sessions were designed to educate students on how to prepare for college, and stressed the importance of completing high school. “It is important to generate awareness about the importance of doing well and staying involved,” said Satsuk.

The admissions office coordinated the event with the help of various departments across Eastern’s campus. The Financial Aid Office hosted the session “Finance Future,” which was directed toward loans, grants, scholarships and budgeting throughout college. The Center for Internships and Career Development hosted the presentation, “When I grow up,” where students were able to find out what they needed to study in order to get the job they desire to pursue as an adult. The Advising Center put on the information session, “Building Success,” which instructed students about interpersonal communication, as well as ways to network in the business world.

Eastern started this program in 2009 and was the first four-year college in Connecticut to host such a program. Now other colleges and universities host this type of program in hopes of educating inner-city school students. “75 percent of the students invited will be first-generation college students upon attendance,” said Satsuk. “Our goal was to generate a basic understanding on how to succeed in college and the career world.”

Governor Malloy and TheDream.US Announces Unprecedented ‘Opportunity Scholarship’ for Undocumented Students to Attend Eastern Connecticut State University

Written by Ed Osborn   

Scholarship will give DREAMers who live in ‘locked out’ states the chance to earn a college degree

Governor Malloy

Governor Malloy

Willimantic, CT– Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and representatives of TheDream.US, the nation’s largest scholarship program for DREAMers — immigrant youth who came to the United States without documentation — today announced a new groundbreaking scholarship program at Eastern Connecticut State University for DREAMers who are “locked out” of access to a college education in their home states. Eastern and Delaware State University are the only two partner colleges in the country selected by TheDream.US organization and their respective governors to participate in the program. “We’re pleased to take part in this program and do what we can to give hardworking students the change to succeed,” said Gov. Malloy. “Our state stands to benefit from welcoming them — along with their talents and potential — to our communities and to our schools.”

TheDream.US Opportunity Scholarship will provide a pathway to higherOPPORTUNITY LOGO education for highly-motivated immigrant students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or Temporary Protective Status (TPS) who live in states where they are “locked out” of access to a college education because they are required to pay out-of-state tuition or prohibited from enrolling in the state’s colleges and universities all together. Not only will no state funds be spent on this program, the scholarship program has the potential to generate substantial revenue for Eastern.

“For hundreds of thousands of kids, the door to higher education is closed just because of where they were born.

Gaby Pacheco

Gaby Pacheco

These are the DREAMers,” said Maria Pacheco, program director of TheDream.US. “It doesn’t matter how hard they’ve worked; these students just can’t get access to higher education. You will find them to be modest, hardworking and extremely motivated students. Some have been waiting years for this opportunity; others are right out of high school.”

Both Eastern and Delaware State University have the capacity to admit DREAMer Scholars without depriving Connecticut or Delaware state students of the opportunity to attend these colleges. TheDream.US Opportunity Scholarship — which is privately funded — will pay up to $80,000 to help fund the costs of tuition, fees, on-campus housing and meals for each DREAMer to earn a bachelor’s degree. As many as 50 students from locked-out states will enroll at Eastern this fall to begin their college education.

“Education is an American value; we should help every student who has worked hard,” said Donald E. Graham, co-founder of The.Dream.US. “TheDream.US Opportunity Scholarship will help immigrant students fulfill their dreams of obtaining a college education so they can better the lives of their families, communities and our nation. We are proud to partner with Eastern Connecticut State University and Delaware State University, with the incredible leadership of Governor Malloy and Governor Markell, to give deserving students the opportunity for an affordable college education.”

Opportunity - Press Coverage

Mark Ojakian

Mark Ojakian

In addition to funding more than 500 out-of-state DREAMers over the next few years, TheDream.US will provide 100 scholarships of up to $7,250 each to in-state DREAMers attending Eastern Connecticut State University or Delaware State University. TheDream.US founders are also working with local philanthropists to raise additional funds for scholarships for Connecticut and Delaware state students who also struggle to pay for a college education.

“I am extremely proud TheDream.US chose Eastern,” said Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System. “I would like to congratulate Eastern and President Elsa Núñez for fostering a climate of diversity and inclusion. These undocumented young people are untapped talent, and we can’t afford to leave them behind.” Ojakian assured the audience, “This is not a handout. To obtain a scholarship, students must meet standards for academic merit and satisfy enrollment requirements.”

Eastern student Robert Diaz ’16, who has DACA status, also offered

Robert Diaz

Robert Diaz

comments. Born in the Dominican Republic, Diaz moved to the New London area when he was 11 years old, eventually graduating from Grasso Technical High School in Groton. After attending Three Rivers Community College, Diaz enrolled at Eastern as an Environmental Earth Science major, and will attend Rhode Island School of Design this fall to learn how to design sustainable buildings.

“If it wasn’t for Eastern, I wouldn’t be here talking with you today. The faculty and the staff have been wonderful. Everyone has been there for me every step of the way.  I know that in the future, other students like me will be able to fulfill their dreams with the DREAM.US Opportunity Scholarship. I am proud of Eastern, and I am happy to see this scholarship program put into place.”

The Opportunity Scholarship is available to DREAMers in 16 targeted locked-out states, including Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The deadline for applications is June 9, and scholarship recipients will be announced at the end of June. For a full list of eligibility requirements and for information about how to apply, please visit: http://www.thedream.us/opportunityscholarship/.
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About TheDream.US

TheDream.US is a national college access and success program for immigrant youths who have received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or Temporary Protective Status (TPS) and want to obtain a college education to give back to their communities. TheDream.US currently provides scholarships to more than 900 DREAMers – immigrant students who came to the U.S. as children without documentation – at 70 partner colleges in states that offer in-state tuition to DREAMers, and is a project of New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3).

About Eastern Connecticut State University

Eastern Connecticut State University is the state of Connecticut’s public liberal arts university, serving more than 5,300 students annually at its Willimantic campus and satellite locations.  In addition to attracting students from 158 of Connecticut’s 169 towns, Eastern also draws students from 20 other states and 63 other countries.  A residential campus offering 38 majors and 55 minors, Eastern offers students a strong liberal art foundation grounded in an array of applied learning opportunities. Ranked the 27th top public university in the North Region, by U.S. News and World Report in its 2016 Best College ratings, Eastern has also been awarded “Green Campus” status by the U.S. Green Building Council six years in a row.  For more information, visit www.easternct.edu.

Hartford Promise Establishes Scholarships for Eastern Students

Written by Ed Osborn

Eligible students from Hartford who attend Eastern Connecticut State University can now receive $5,000 scholarships through the generosity of the Hartford Promise Foundation. The scholarships are renewable for four years based on the students maintaining full-time status and satisfactory academic progress. Students must also live on campus.

The $5,000 scholarships from Hartford Promise will be augmented by Eastern, with the University making up the difference between the direct cost of attendance and all other financial aid, including any family contributions, Pell Grants, Stafford loans and other aid.

Recipients of the scholarships are known as “Promise Scholars.” To be eligible, they must have continuously attended a high school in Hartford since ninth grade, been a Hartford resident throughout that time, have a 3.0 GPA or better and have a 93 percent or better high school attendance record. “We are grateful to the Hartford Promise Foundation for their leadership in supporting Hartford students who are attending our university,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “These are students who most likely would not be able to afford to attend college on their own, yet they have the same potential to succeed and the desire to achieve the American Dream. This level of support will change the lives of these young people. I cannot thank the Hartford Promise Foundation enough for their generosity, and for their commitment to educating our young people in Connecticut.”

“I love what I see happening at Eastern for Hartford students,” said Richard Sugarman, executive director of Hartford Promise. “Through Eastern’s initiatives in Hartford, we are seeing first-generation and underrepresented students transition to college and be successful in their studies. The work that Dr. Núñez and her team are doing is a model for Connecticut and beyond.”

Several Eastern programs have been created over the past decade under Núñez’s leadership to support student success and increase student retention and graduation rates. In 2008, with funding from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education, Eastern set about enhancing its academic support services. A one-stop-shop “Academic Services Center” was established, with tutoring services, advising, and supplementary math and writing instruction. Additional advisors were hired, an early warning system was implemented to identify and support students who were at risk academically, and other services were improved.

In addition to the need for effective support services, national data also shows that minority students are retained at higher levels when institutions support diversity among their faculty. Eastern has worked diligently to recruit more minority faculty members, and now has the highest percentage of minority faculty of any college or university in Connecticut.

As a result of these various efforts and programs, minority retention and graduation rates have improved dramatically at Eastern.  For instance, a 2012 report by the Education Trust in Washington, D.C., found that the six-year graduation rate of Hispanic students at Eastern showed the largest rate of improvement from 2004 to 2010 in the nation. While the six-year graduation rate of Hispanic students at Eastern was only 20 percent in 2004, it tripled to 57.8 percent in 2010. This 37.8 percent rate of improvement was 10-fold that of all institutions included in the study, which averaged only a 3.5 percent rate of improvement over the six-year period.

Sugarman points to the progress that Eastern has made and says he hopes to help the University build on this success. “Our goal is to make sure all these students are successful in college and in the rest of their lives,” he said. “Hartford Promise is thrilled to partner with Eastern on this project; the Promise Scholars there will be in very good hands.”

Eastern Student Wins Prestigious Scholarship to Intern in Africa

Written by Michael Rouleau

Sierra Colon

Sierra Colon

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. — Sierra Colon ’17, a political science major at Eastern Connecticut State University from Wethersfield, is one of 250 undergraduate students from across the United States selected to receive the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Colon will use the scholarship this summer to intern with the Surplus People Project (SPP), a nonprofit organization in Cape Town, South Africa.

According to Colon, communities in South Africa are reforming their land and food management systems. “SPP is a leading nonprofit organization that helps organize these movements,” she said. “I will be working with their team along with their new Youth Movement, made up of local college students fighting to decrease the price of food.” Colon will intern from June 8 to Aug. 8 alongside two other international students — one from Michigan State University and one from Sweden.

“I am excited to step out my comfort zone and meet new people on this trip,” said Colon, who is from Wethersfield. “It’s such a privilege to be able to experience another culture and interact with people with different backgrounds. No one in my family has done something like this, so I am excited to share with them my experiences and be a role model for my younger brother.”

Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply towards their study abroad or internship program costs. The program aims to diversify the students who study and intern abroad and the countries and regions where they go. Students receiving a Federal Pell Grant from two- and four-year institutions who will be studying abroad or participating in a career-oriented international internship for academic credit are eligible to apply. Scholarship recipients have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages and economies — making them better prepared to assume leadership roles within the government and the private sector.

The scholarship is named after Congressman Benjamin Gilman, who retired in 2002 after serving in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chairing the House Foreign Relations Committee. “Study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates,” said Gilman. “Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience.  It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator, in the international community.”

The Gilman Scholarship is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE). According to Allan Goodman, president and CEO of IIE, “International education is one of the best tools for developing mutual understanding and building connections between people from different countries. It is critical to the success of American diplomacy and business, and the lasting ties that Americans make during their international studies are important to our country in times of conflict as well as times of peace.”

Prestigious Scholarships Enable Student’s Dream of Studying in Japan

Written by Michael Rouleau

Brandan Sumeersarnauth ’17, an environmental earth science (EES) major at Eastern Connecticut State University from Stafford Springs, CT, is the recipient of two prestigious scholarships that will enable him to study in Japan this coming spring. He is one of only 25 undergraduate students nationwide to receive the $2,500 Bridging Scholarship for Study Abroad in Japan, as well as one of 800 American undergraduates to receive the $5,000 Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.

Japan has intrigued Sumeersarnauth for years. From the underlying messages of anime (Japanese cartoons), to the lyrical content of the music, to the food and language, he said, “I made the connection that the things I hold important morality-wise are also important in Japanese culture.”

Eastern EES students Brandan Sumeersarnauth ’17 (left) and Mike Manzi ’15 presenting their research on the eroding bluffs of Block Island at the Geological Society of America’s (GSA) Northeastern Section Meeting in New Hampshire in March 2015.

Sumeersarnauth believes, for example, in “wabi-sabi,” a Japanese philosophy that recognizes the beauty of imperfection and impermanence. It’s a concept that seems to be contrary to mainstream consumerist society. “Think of an old musical instrument, or an old truck with a bunch of dents,” he said. “Most people would throw it away, but each dent is a memory or story, and gives it more value.”

Sumeersarnauth is also drawn to Japan for academic reasons. Throughout his schooling at Eastern, he has studied coastal geology, particularly in the Northeast. “Japan is a big island nation with a 360-degree coastline,” he said. “It is affected by all the things Rhode Island and Connecticut are affected by, but on a grander scale. With its location in the Ring of Fire—affected by earthquakes, subduction zones and volcanoes—it is also a great place to study tectonic processes and seismicity.”

While enrolled at Musashi University in Tokyo, Sumeersarnauth will not study science. His spring 2016 semester will focus on humanities, foreign policy and language—a curriculum that will work well for him, despite his other interests. “With my career I want to be on the international scale of things,” he said, “so I figure by learning a different perspective on global issues from my own, it will give me that necessary foundation to work on that scale.”

To satisfy his science-related interests, Sumeersarnauth plans to visit the National Science Foundation, the Geological Survey of Japan and different mines in the region to observe mineral collections.

The goal of the Bridging Scholarship is to promote study abroad in Japan by larger numbers of American students, thus increasing understanding between the two countries. The Gilman Scholarship has a broader aim; to make study abroad accessible to lower income students as well as diversify the countries in which students study. For both scholarships, the hope is for students to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages and economies—making them better prepared to assume leadership roles within government and the private sector.

 

Eastern Graduates 1,200 Students at XL Center

Written by Ed Osborn

Hartford, CT — More than 13,000 family members and friends filled the XL Center in Hartford on Tuesday, May 12, to cheer on their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, as 1,130 undergraduates and 70 graduate students received their diplomas at Eastern Connecticut State University’s 125th Commencement exercises.

Award-winning author and distinguished Eastern alumna Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ’01 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa during the Commencement Exercises, and offered remarks following presentation of her honorary degree. Adichie graduated summa cum laude from Eastern in 2001 with a degree in Communication. She was also awarded Eastern’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2004.

Adichie is the author of a collection of short stories, “The Thing around Your Neck,” and three novels. Her latest novel, “Americanah,” was published in 2013, earning recognition as one of The New York Times Ten Best Books of the Year. Last month, Ms. Adichie was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

In her remarks, she told the graduates that she cherished the bachelor’s degree she received at Eastern. “You are very fortunate to have received your education at Connecticut’s public liberal arts university, where professors are keen to see you succeed.”

Adichie recalled that when she graduated 14 years ago, “I had doubts and worries. ‘What next?’ was the question on my mind. You are worried today just as I was. You should be worried, because it shows that you care.  It is okay not to have all the answers.”
In concluding her remarks, Adichie encouraged the graduates to “make an effort and speak the truth.  It is okay to say, “‘I am wrong’ or ‘I don’t know.’  Life on Earth is short.  Each moment that we are not truthful to ourselves, we are wasting our time on Earth.”

Other speakers at the Commencement Exercises included Eastern President Elsa Nunez; attorney David Jimenez, who represented the Board of Regents for Higher Education; Senior Class President Dane Paracuelles; and Matthew Hicks ’15, who delivered the Senior Class Address. Other members of the platform party included Willimantic Mayor Ernie Eldridge; Justin Murphy ‘’98, president of the ECSU Foundation; Ellen Lang ‘’81, president of the ECSU Alumni Association; Father Larry LaPointe; and other Eastern officials.
Nunez told the audience that this year’s event was Eastern’s 125th Commencement Exercises. “Our campus has grown from four rooms to more than 50 buildings on 82 acres and a campus footprint of almost two million square feet.  In 1891, we graduated 22 students; today we have almost 1,200 graduates, and we are closing in on 30,000 alumni.”

Turning to the graduates, Nunez told them, “Our nation and the global society we live in are looking to you for leadership.  As you embark on your career, take care of yourself, take care of your families, but make sure that you take time to help others when you can. You will find that supporting and helping others strengthens you.  As the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu wrote, “‘From caring comes courage.’”

“Amidst your joy and celebration, I ask you to spend some time today in reflection—please step back for a moment to think about your past four years, what you have learned, and what you are taking from Eastern as you continue your journey.”

Senior Class President Dane Paracuelles presented the Senior Class Gift to President Nunez—an annual Class of 2015 scholarship—and said the Commencement ceremony “symbolizes more than just earning a degree. It exemplifies the goals we have accomplished through personal growth, strength and ambition.”

David Jimenez spoke on behalf of the Board of Regents for Higher Education.  “Today is a significant milestone in your life,” he said, “for which you should be incredibly proud. Whatever path you have chosen, you can make a difference. Pursue your goals with the same dedication that brought you to this day.”

In his Senior Class Address, Matthew Hicks said, “To be here is no small feat, each of us has sacrificed a great deal of time and energy to walk across this stage.” Noting that he and his classmates had endured a challenging four years at Eastern and “have come out critical thinkers, determined activists, and dedicated leaders,” Hicks concluded his remarks by saying, “Let us enter this new (challenge) with our heads held high, ready to take what we have learned here and change the world, and most of all, let us never forget the amazing people and memories we have made while discovering who we are.”

Other graduates were reflective in describing their Eastern experiences.  English major Kathryn Shpak, a native of Oxford, CT, said her time interning for the English Department, as well as her student employment job in the Office of University Relations, helped develop her writing and editing skills, which she hopes to use in the fitness/nutrition industry.

Jonah Sanchez, from Newington, majored in business administration minored in accounting and business information systems. For the past three years, Sanchez served as a Benefits Finance intern with United Technologies. Sanchez says Eastern has helped him grow in many ways. “Being a part of and serving as president of the Organization of Latin American Students has opened up many doors for leadership and networking opportunities. Also, on campus job opportunities have been plentiful. I have worked as a resident assistant and a program assistant in the Intercultural Center. I like the fact that Eastern allows it’s students to be active and involved around the campus.” After graduation, Sanchez will begin full-time with United Technologies as an associate in the Financial Leadership Program at United Technologies.

Aaron Daley, from Bloomfield, majored in political science and minored in business information systems and pre-law. “My liberal education helped me to enhance my critical thinking skills, and built up my confidence; I now know that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to achieve.”