The Eastern Chamber Singers Tour Post-Hurricane Puerto Rico

The Chamber Singers pose for a group photo in San Juan

Written by Michael Rouleau

A group of talented vocalists from Eastern Connecticut State University embarked on a unique tour of post-hurricane Puerto Rico this spring break. From March 9–15, members of the Chamber Singers performed in concerts and worked on service projects in the slowly recovering island.

In addition to three performances in San Juan, the group volunteered in the hurricane-battered neighborhood of La Perla, just beyond the walls of Old San Juan. Divided into three work crews, they cleared away debris from the residential section of the neighborhood while others repaired roofs and restored gardens.

Eastern students repairing roofs
Eastern students sorting through rubble in La Perla

 

“We witnessed the devastation firsthand while sorting through the rubble in La Perla,” said Jenny Lindquist ’20 of Tolland, who sings alto. “Piece after piece, we picked up the left-behind memories and belongings of families.”

Hannah Bythrow ’18 of Bolton, alto, remembers seeing new electricity poles being installed along the roads—flown in by helicopters—a stark reminder that many people are still living without power. “Exploring outside the city was eye opening,” she said. “I realized how long it might take for the island to return to its former glory. It made me realize the privileges we take for granted on the mainland.”

On a lighter note, during a roofing project, Bythrow recalled, “I remember us hammering nails in the heat of the day, singing at the top of our lungs and thinking to myself, ‘This is happiness.’”

The Chamber Singers performed for enthusiastic crowds at Stella Maris Parish and Escuela Libre de Música (Music School in San Juan).

“The high school-ers were shouting and dancing in their seats the entire time, itching to get up and sing with us,” said Halie Poirier ’18 of Putnam, soprano. “I’ll never forget those amazing kids.”

The Chamber Singers perform at Escuela Libre de Musica

David Belles, conductor of the ensemble, said of the demands of the tour: “Seeing our students have to kick it up a notch and adjust immediately to a new environment, new audiences, new spaces—having music be the only language many of us had in common—was a moment when all the work preparing for this endeavor really paid off.”

“Much like the colorful buildings and landscapes of the island,” added Bythrow, “our audiences’ faces lit up when they heard us and it was clear that they were truly thankful be a part of our singing.”

For Poirier, a graduating senior, this was her final tour with the Chamber Singers. “Puerto Rico was the perfect ending to a magnificent run with these truly awesome and talented people. I have laughed and cried with them while singing many wrong notes but still making beautiful music. I’ve toured with them for three years and no matter where we go, we always have a fantastic time.”

The Chamber Singers is Eastern’s premier vocal ensemble, composed of 20-25 auditioned singers from various academic departments. Performance repertoire encompasses chamber music from more than four centuries. The annual spring tour serves to enrich the musical lives of audiences near and far, and enhance the cultural experience of members of the ensemble while studying at Eastern.

Eastern WarriorTHON to benefit Connecticut Children’s Hospital

Written by Michael Rouleau

WILLIMANTIC, CT (03/27/2018) Eastern Connecticut State University will host its first-ever WarriorTHON dance marathon on April 7 from 5-11 p.m. in the Geissler Gymnasium. In affiliation with Miracle Network Dance Marathon, all proceeds will benefit the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Members of the public are invited to the event.

In addition to a night of dancing, WarriorTHON will include food, games, raffles, guest speakers and student performances. Event organizers are expecting several family members of children’s hospital patients to attend to share their stories.

Lauren Landry poses for a photo at another Eastern fundraising event for Be the Match, the nation’s largest marrow registry.

The chief organizer of WarriorTHON is Eastern student Lauren Landry, a sophomore psychology major from Rumford, RI. “I understand firsthand the impact that these donations have on patients of children’s hospitals, as I was a child in that hospital bed may years ago,” said Landry, who has had three open-heart surgeries. “I want to make an impact on every child’s hospital stay, and help them understand that we support them.”

Registration is $5 per person and will occur at 4 p.m. on April 7, or in advance, online at https://events.dancemarathon.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=2910. Participants can register individually or as a team.

Each registrant will have their own online donation portal, to which family members and friends can donate. Those who are interested but cannot attend are encouraged to register at the link above, as all donations will contribute to the WarriorTHON total. More than $7,000 has already been raised-the goal is $10,000 for this inaugural event.

“If we raise more than $10,000, WarriorTHON will be the first first-year Miracle Network Dance Marathon in Connecticut to raise that much money,” said Landry. “We are so close to our goal and any donation will help!”

For more information, contact ecsuWarriorTHON@gmail.com.

Miracle Network Dance Marathon is a movement benefitting Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, a non-profit organization that raises funds and awareness for more than 170 pediatric hospitals across North America (of which Connecticut Children’s Medical Center is a part). Since its inception, Miracle Network Dance Marathon has raised more than $200 million for children across North America who are fighting pediatric illness and injury.

 

Eastern Makes “College Consensus” List of Top Colleges in Connecticut

Written by Ed Osborn

WILLIMANTIC, CT (01/26/2018) College Consensus, a unique new college review aggregator, has recognized Eastern Connecticut State University in its ranking of “Best Colleges in Connecticut for 2017-18.” Eastern was ranked in the top 10 schools in Connecticut, and was one of only two public institutions chosen, the University of Connecticut being the other.

To identify the Best Colleges in Connecticut for 2017-18, College Consensus averaged the latest results from the most respected college ranking systems, including U.S. News and World Report among others, along with thousands of student review scores, to produce a unique rating for each school. Read about the organization’s methodology at https://www.collegeconsensus.com/about.

“Congratulations on making the list of Best Colleges in Connecticut for 2017-18,” said Carrie Sealey-Morris, managing editor of College Consensus. “Your inclusion in our ranking shows that your school has been recognized for excellence by both publishers on the outside and students and alumni on the inside.”

Part of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System, Eastern began its life in 1889 as a public normal school. Today the University is recognized as one of top 25 public universities in the North Region by U.S. News & World Report, and has been named one of the nation’s Green Colleges eight years in a row by the Princeton Review.

Eastern is Connecticut’s public liberal arts college, with a student body of 5,300 students; more than 90 percent of Eastern’s students are from Connecticut. Eastern’s size gives its students an uncommon degree of individualized attention, aided by a 15:1 student/faculty ratio and a strong commitment to student success.

In addition to a strong liberal art foundation, Eastern has many opportunities for students to engage in practical, hands-on learning, ranging from internships to study abroad, community service and undergraduate research. For instance, Eastern has sent more student researchers to the competitive National Conference on Undergraduate Research in the past four years than all the other public universities in Connecticut combined. In 2018, 41 of the 44 students from Connecticut who will present their research at the conference in April are from Eastern.

With its history, Eastern is also one of Connecticut’s foremost educators of teachers, and its professional studies and continuing education programs have made it an important institution for Connecticut’s working adults.

To see Eastern’s College Consensus profile, visit https://www.collegeconsensus.com/school/eastern-connecticut-state-university.

Getting Healthy Naturally at Eastern

‘Our Bodies Naturally Want to be Healthy’

Tonya Pasternak

Tonya Pasternak

Written by Jordan Corey

To discuss naturopathic medicine and its role in the realm of health care, Dr. Tonya Pasternak was featured as part of Eastern Connecticut State University’s “University Hour” series on Sept. 27. Ultimately, the field aims to promote internal and external well-being, its practitioners emphasizing the significance of getting to know a patient in detail. “We fill in the cracks of things that may not be paid attention to otherwise,” said Pasternak, who works for Collaborative Natural Health Services.

Pasternak compared naturopathic medicine to conventional medicine, the training required to become a naturopathic doctor, and closed with a brief look at treating fatigue – one of the most common complaints patients seek medical attention for.

Naturopathic medicine, explained Pasternak, largely focuses on the body’s ability and inherent desire to heal itself. Rather than revolving around the importance of pharmaceuticals, naturopaths approach patient care with more natural substances and therapies. The practice is a type of holistic medicine, which means in order to find the right treatment, doctors examine a patient’s body, mind and spirit functioning together. “We take the whole person into consideration,” she noted.

The doctor gave the audience a rundown of six guidelines that naturopathic doctors follow: to do no harm; to identify and treat the cause; to advocate for the healing power of nature; to not only be a doctor but a teacher; to treat the whole person; and to prioritize prevention. With these principles in mind, naturopaths try to find the least invasive, least toxic means of discovering root causes of health issues and resolving them.

Pasternak pointed out that while naturopathic medicine has many benefits, it does have its limitations and there is only so much that can be done on that level. “Thank God for pharmaceuticals and things like antibiotics and surgery,” she stated, in reference to treating more serious conditions. Pasternak highlighted that the practice is strong in areas where conventional medicine – and its health care system – falls short.

Because of pressure from insurance companies, Pasternak argued, patients are rushed in and out of visits with their primary care doctors, and “people are just left suffering” as a result. “People’s bodies are being subdivided,” she said, raising concerns about the use of multiple specialists to treat one person’s health problems – a stark contrast to the holistic naturopathic approach.

“The medical system doesn’t really allow people to be heard,” said the doctor, touching on her time spent volunteering in Seattle tent cities, one of the first homeless tent communities to be sponsored and accepted by local governments. Seeing and treating those with extremely limited resources, restricted access to food, and no money for health care products pushed Pasternak as a student and made her a better naturopathic doctor. Asking herself early in her career, “What do I possibly have to offer that could make them better?” she now continuously keeps in mind the magnitude of meeting people where they’re at.

Author Malik Champlain Visits Eastern, Speaks on Racial Injustice

Malik Champlain

Malik Champlain

Written by Jordan Corey

Motivational speaker and author Malik Champlain spoke at Eastern Connecticut State University on Sept. 6 during the school’s “University Hour” series. As part of #EasternBlackout Day, Champlain gave a presentation on how to remain proactive in the face of oppression. Attendees were encouraged to dress in all black as tribute to black and African-American people who have died unjustly at the hands of law enforcement.

Before starting, Champlain projected a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that read “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” which set the tone for the following hour. He began his lecture by thanking those who attended the University’s recent rally in support of DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — and introduced himself through poetry.

Students gather for a group photo for "Blackout Day," in a show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement

Students gather for a group photo for “Blackout Day,” in a show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement

The topic of racism has long surrounded discussions of American society, becoming especially prevalent in the past few years. Champlain is one of many who feels a personal responsibility to speak, and more importantly, act out against it. He shared with the audience his own experiences, including marching in Washington, D.C. and co-sponsoring nonprofit organizations such as The Black Man Can Institute.

“Now is going to be in the history books,” he said, urging students to play their own part in joining a movement and emphasizing that sometimes it only takes one person to jumpstart something big.

Champlain provided a list of eight ways to get involved with a social justice movement, including educating oneself on a particular movement and using social media as a platform. Coming full-circle in his speech, Champlain concluded with a rhyme: “When I say Black Lives Matter, I look at you,” he said, “When you hear Black Lives Matter, what will you do?”

Eastern Breaks Into List of Top 25 Public Regional Universities

Written by Ed Osborn

eastern_front_entranceFor the first time, Eastern Connecticut State University made the list of the top 25 regional public universities in the North in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 edition of “Best Colleges.” Eastern was the highest ranked university among the four Connecticut state universities. The annual rankings were released on Sept. 12.

•Theatre students perform Cervantes' "Pedro, The Great Pretender," as the first production in the Proscenium Theatre of Eastern's new Fine Arts Instructional Center

• Theatre students perform Cervantes’ “Pedro, The Great Pretender,” as the first production in the Proscenium Theatre of Eastern’s new Fine Arts Instructional Center

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.

•Biology major Elizabeth DelBuono '17 is in the graduate program in Genetic Counseling at Sarah Lawrence College.

• Biology major Elizabeth DelBuono ’17 is in the graduate program in Genetic Counseling at Sarah Lawrence College.

“I am gratified to see Eastern ranked in the top 25 public institutions in the North in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 Best Colleges report,” said Eastern President Elsa Nunez. “Our commitment to high standards, our focus on providing students with personal attention, and the introduction of new academic programs have resulted in our favorable ranking. 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 1,389 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. 10.

For the past 33 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.

Hundreds of Eastern Students Attend Student Activities Fair

Written by Jolene Potter

Organization of Latin American Students

Organization of Latin American Students

Willimantic, Conn. – More than 500 students attended Eastern Connecticut State University’s annual Fall Student Activities Fair and President’s Picnic on Sept. 11 from 5-7 p.m. on the Library Quad. Student representatives from dozens of Eastern clubs and organizations staffed tables to recruit the hundreds of prospective members who attended the event.

The Fall Student Activities Fair provides new and returning students an opportunity to further explore their interests. Eastern clubs and organizations focus on a variety of student interests such as academic, art and music, club sports, cultural, government, leadership and service, media, recreation, religious and special interests.

Organization for Latin American Students (OLAS) President Freddy Cruz shared the goals of the organization. “OLAS provides a family for students and a support system out of class,” said Cruz. “We want to promote Latin American culture, reach out to our local community and have fun.”

Black Student Union

Black Student Union

Black Student Union President Morgane Russell expressed similar hopes for the current academic year: “Our goal is to provide a safe space for black students and all students of color and to promote unity and diversity on campus.”

 FEMALES (“Females Excelling and Maturing to Achieve Leadership," Excellence and Success”

FEMALES (“Females Excelling and Maturing to Achieve Leadership,” Excellence and Success”

Drama Society student representatives were also present at the event to recruit students. “As an organization we fund shows for the Theatre Department, put on our own independent shows and hold staged readings,” said senior theatre major and Drama Society President Emily John. “Our organization provides a collaborative learning experience for all students regardless of major. Keeping our group open to non-theatre majors is important because it enriches us as a group and enriches our art.”

Student leadership organizations “Men Achieving Leadership, Excellence and Success” (MALES) and “Females Excelling and Maturing to Achieve Leadership, Excellence and Success” (FEMALES) were also present at the fair. “Self-growth is our motto. We want to create a positive circle that uplifts students and helps them to be the best version of themselves,” said senior finance major and MALES President Kendrick Constant. FEMALES shared similar goals and objectives for the current academic year: “Community service and involvement is the cornerstone of FEMALES,” said junior history major and Secretary Kiana Veamon. “We want to get to know students and give them a sense of community and support to help them reach their full potential.”

BioChemistry Club

BioChemistry Club

Several academic organizations were also present at the activities fair, including the Biochemistry Club. “Our goal is to promote scientific collaboration, undergraduate research opportunities, career exploration and help first-year students adjust through study groups for Biology and Chemistry classes,” said sophomore biochemistry major and Vice President Crystal Vicente.

With more than 100 clubs and organizations at the fair, there was something for everyone.

 

Eastern to Host Public Dance Classes

DAD_flyer

Written by Michael Rouleau

WILLIMANTIC, CT (08/23/2017) Dancers of all ages and levels are invited to visit Eastern Connecticut State University on Sept. 9 for a day of dance workshops led by Eastern faculty, alumni and current students. Dance Awareness Day will occur in the Fine Arts Instructional Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Class offerings will include hip-hop, modern, tap and jazz dancing, as well as classes for yoga/Pilates, technique and more.

Space is limited. Initial registration begins at 8:30 a.m., though participants can register up to 10 minutes before individual classes. Participants under the age of 18 must be registered by a parent or guardian. Prices for the general public are $5 per class or $15 for four classes. Dance Awareness Day is sponsored by the Modern Movement student club at Eastern. For more information, contact Modern Movement at modern@my.easternct.edu.

Students Study Health Care in Ghana

Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18
Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18
Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18
Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18
Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18
Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18
Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18
Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18
Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18
Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18
Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18

 

Written by Michael Rouleau

Ten health sciences students from Eastern Connecticut State University returned from a study abroad trip in Ghana this August. The purpose of the two-week trip was to introduce students to the health care system of a developing country.

Trip highlights included two days at Mampong Hospital, a rural facility where the students observed two live births. “Students got to see a cesarean section and hold a five-minute old baby, which is an unparalleled experience,” said trip supervisor Rochelle Gimenez, a health sciences professor at Eastern.

“My goal is to become a labor and delivery nurse,” said Helena Delfino ’18. “We all got the chance to stand in the operating room and watch a cesarean section! A few days later we observed a natural birth; I got to stand next to the table and hold the baby boy immediately after he entered the world. This experience solidified my dream of becoming a labor and delivery nurse.”

The Eastern students also spent time at an orphanage and gained first-hand knowledge of the local infrastructure while touring a water-treatment plant and an environmental health/sanitation center. They also visited local markets, a game reserve, a monkey sanctuary, a cultural center, a rainforest, and learned about the slave trade at Cape Coast Castle.

“After returning home, the impact of my trip has really become apparent,” said Allison Nadeau ’17. “As an American-born citizen, I have never known any other lifestyle. My times of hardship are minuscule in comparison to what Ghanaians may go through daily. Clean water, wash rooms, consistent electricity and drivable roads are things that I have taken for granted in the United States. Ghanaians showed me the simplicity of true happiness.”

Students Write Fiction in Italy

 

Written by Michael Rouleau

Fourteen students from Eastern Connecticut State University spent a month this summer in Florence, Italy, in a global field course called “Creative Writing Abroad.” The region of Tuscany’s rich culture and picturesque landscapes inspired students’ literary senses as they wrote, critiqued and edited original works of fiction.

“While my story had an element of fantasy, other students in the class wrote about realistic scenarios,” explained Victoria Randazzo ’18. “One thing everyone’s story shared was a touch of Florence. Whether characters or places, everyone drew from our daily experiences. I was happy to get more in touch with my creative side; the beauty of Florence was an inspiration.”

“I was able to put a lot of detailed description into my story that I wouldn’t have been able to had I not been there firsthand to see how the city looked, how the people interacted, and the feeling of being away for an extended period of time adapting to another culture,” said McKenzie Fayne ’17. “Being in Italy as a creative writing student gave me the tools I needed to step out of my comfort zone in terms of writing style. I enjoyed writing this piece on my own terms and being able to perfect it while in such a beautiful city.”

Led by English Professor Christopher Torockio, the students gathered for writing workshops at SACI—Studio Arts College International (in Florence)—and immersed themselves in Italian culture as they visited the famed cities of Fiesole, Siena, San Gimignano, Lucca and Pisa.