Eastern a 2017 College of Distinction

COD_Program Badge Business 2017-2018 COD_Program Badge Education 2017-2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Michael Rouleau

Eastern Connecticut State University was recognized as a 2017-18 College of Distinction by the college-guide/ranking organization Colleges of Distinction. New this year, Colleges of Distinction is further recognizing colleges that have distinctive fields of study—first-rate programs with professional accreditations. This year Eastern received badges for programs of distinction in education and business.

“Eastern Connecticut State University is one of the teaching-centered colleges that makes up the fabric of the American educational system,” said Wes Creel, founder of Colleges of Distinction. “It’s a school that delivers well our four overarching distinctions—Engagement, Teaching, Community and Outcomes—the fundamental elements of an effective undergraduate education. It is the mission of Colleges of Distinction to honor and recognize those institutions that are so essential to educating the next generation of young adults.”

To be designated a “college of distinction” a school’s curriculum must emphasize such core competencies as critical thinking, writing, oral skills, research and global perspectives. They must also offer dynamic out-of-classroom learning and study abroad programs.

“The Colleges of Distinction evaluation process goes beyond traditional ranking models that assess colleges based on things like historic prestige, selectivity, athletic prowess and the size of its endowment,” said Creel. “Such ranking systems tend to focus on the perceived ‘top’ schools, despite the fact that the vast majority of students do not attend the small, exclusive selection of ‘big-name’ schools.”

Once a school is deemed qualified to be among Colleges of Distinction, an in-depth profile of the school is published on their website and in their guidebook, which is then made available to high school students nationwide.

Former Washington Post Publisher Addresses Eastern Graduates

Written by Ed Osborn

                                                     Eastern Graduates 1,238 at XL Center

David Graham

David Graham

Hartford, CT — Former Washington Post Publisher Donald Graham told the graduates at Eastern Connecticut State University’s 127th Commencement exercises to “treasure this college. Eastern has given you a wonderful education . . . once you are making a living, give something back so that you can help Eastern continue to be great in the future.”

The annual graduation ceremony was held at the XL Center in Hartford on May 17, with more than 12,000 family members and friends cheering on their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, as 1,180 undergraduates and 58 graduate students received their diplomas.

Graham also told the graduates, “Throughout our history, American leaders have stood up in times of peril — during the American Revolution, during the Civil War, confronting Hitler, standing up to Communism, and advancing civil and women’s rights.  At some time in your life, you will be asked to stand up for what is right, and I know you will answer the call.” Noting that the American political system has worked very well for more than 200 years, Graham said, “Future politicians will say, ‘I will fight for you.’  That’s fine. But ask them, ‘What will you do when you are done fighting?’”

Commencement 2017 Crowd_7167The commencement speaker also received an honorary degree from Eastern in a special hooding ceremony during the graduation exercises. Graham is chairman of Graham Holdings Co., formerly the Washington Post Co. A graduate of Harvard College, he is a veteran of the Vietnam War, serving as an information specialist with the First Cavalry Division from 1967-68.  He later served as a patrolman on the Washington, D.C., police force before joining the staff at the Washington Post in 1971 as a reporter.  Graham assumed the position of publisher of the Washington Post in 1979, following in the footsteps of his mother, Katherine Graham, who led the newspaper following her husband Philip Graham’s passing in 1963. In 1991, Donald Graham took over leadership as chief executive officer of the Washington Post Co.

Commencement 2017 Nunez and BabyIn 2013, Graham and his wife, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Amanda Bennett, joined Carlos Gutierrez, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, and Henry R. Munoz III, chairman of Munoz & Company, to co-found TheDream.US, a national scholarship fund that helps undocumented immigrant youth get access to a college education. Since its founding, TheDream.US has raised $91 million in scholarship funds, providing financial support to 1,700 college students nationwide. Graham also co-founded and served as chairman of the District of Columbia College Access Program; he remains a member of the board.  The program has helped double the number of District of Columbia public high school students going on to college and has helped triple the number graduating from college.

Commencement 2017 Nunez Shakes HandOther speakers at the Commencement Exercises included Eastern President Elsa Nunez; Matt Fleury, chair of the Board of Regents for Higher Education; Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and University System; and Senior Class President Abigail Caselli, 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.

Commencement 2017 BEST BalloonNunez told the graduates she was confident they would impact the world in three ways,  first as professionals in the workforce, equipped with “. . . a highly desired set of skills” sought by the majority of American employers — “analytical thinking, teamwork and communication skills, the broad intellectual and social competencies available through a liberal arts education.” Nunez also urged the graduates to give back to their communities, quoting Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, who once said, “Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.”

Waving BESTLastly, Nunez encouraged the Eastern seniors to “. . . exercise your duties and rights as American citizens. Our nation remains a beacon of freedom and a guiding light for other nations to follow, not because of our military might or our economic power, but because of the political, religious and personal freedoms we enjoy.”

Commencement 2017 Four LadiesNoting those freedoms must be protected, Eastern’s president went on to say, “Being a citizen of this great nation is clearly an investment of time, but it is the only way we can protect the freedoms we hold dear. Never abdicate your responsibilities as a citizen to someone else.  Be willing to question the status quo.  And stand up for the values you believe in.”

Commencement 2017 FamiliesMore than 40 percent of the graduates were the first in their families to earn a bachelor’s degree. As Connecticut’s only public liberal arts university, Eastern draws students from 163 of the state’s 169 towns. Approximately 85 percent of graduates stay in Connecticut to launch their careers, contribute to their communities and raise their families.

Commencement 2017 Student PresidentSenior Class President Abigail Caselli presented the Senior Class Gift to President Nunez — an annual Class of 2017 scholarship — and thanked her classmates’ families, friends and faculty for supporting the senior class in its journey. “To a room filled with the next great doctors, nurses, actors and actresses, genetic counselors, presidents of universities, human resource managers and professors, just to name a few of the success stories to be written about my fellow graduates, I encourage you to use the opportunities that Eastern has given you and make the world around you better.  As someone once said, ‘Service is the highest form of leadership.’ May each of you find and share that leadership within you.”

Matt Fleury, president and CEO of the Connecticut Science Center, spoke on behalf of the Board of Regents for Higher Education. “Today is a significant milestone for you,” he said. “We are proud of your accomplishments and applaud the many sacrifices you have made to get here. Your journey to this point was not easy, but for that reason, it is so much more satisfying. Whatever path you have chosen, you can make a difference.”Commencement 2017 SelfiesMark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System, also spoke to the graduates. “You have come a very long way since the first day you arrived at Eastern,” said Ojakian. “Life will take you in many different directions after you leave here tonight. The road in front of you is undefined. But I am hopeful that our state and our nation will be in a better place — as you become your future.”Commencement 2017 Christina

Commencement 2017 Foot GuardFrom the Governor’s Foot Guard Color Guard in attendance, to the plaintive sound of the bagpipes of the St. Patrick’s Pipe Band and the pre-event music of the Thread City Brass Quintet, this year’s graduation ceremonies again reflected Eastern’s Commencement traditions.

Commencemetn 2017 SingersUniversity Senate President Maryanne Clifford presided over the commencement exercises; seniors Abigail Perreira and Kristin Uschkureit sang “America the Beautiful”; Senior Leigha Grushkin gave the invocation; and Environmental Earth Science Professor Peter Drzewiecki was recognized as the 2017 Distinguished Professor Award recipient.

Veterans are “a Rather Elite Group”

Written by Dwight Bachman

Colonel Frederick Miclon Jr.

Colonel Frederick Miclon Jr.

Colonel Frederick Miclon Jr., director of staff at the Joint Force Headquarters for the Connecticut National Guard, delivered the keynote address on Nov. 11, Veteran’s Day, during Eastern Connecticut State University’s special tribute to the men and women who serve in the nation’s military. 600 veterans and active service personnel teach and work at Eastern, and 300 students are veterans.

Miclon, an Iraq War veteran, said that since the American Revolution, more than 42 million Americans have served during times of war, not including the three to four million currently fighting in the global War on Terror since 2001. “42 million sounds like a very large number, but when you put it in perspective, less than one half of one percent of all Americans are currently serving in the military, making it a rather elite group.”
VETS-Honor GuardMiclon said many Americans take their freedoms for granted, forgetting the oath veterans take and the blood they shed to support and defend the Constitution, which preserves the freedoms Americans cherish. “This is not something we take lightly. You are pledging to give your all, up to and including laying down your life if necessary. That very oath is something that binds us together, a brotherhood of shared experiences and commitment unlike that required in almost any other job in our great land. Most Americans however cannot truly appreciate the significance that the impact of service in the military can have on a veteran. As we know, many suffer in silence bearing the burdens of their service alone.”

Miclon concluded by saying, “Whether it is in life or in death, not just on Veterans Day, it is important for us to not only recognize our veterans, but to educate our children and young adults of the many sacrifices made since the days of the revolution by men and women who answered the call.  Without that knowledge, it is difficult to understand and appreciate the cost of freedom and the price paid for the rights we enjoy as Americans.”

Eastern President Elsa Nunez

Eastern President Elsa Nunez

Eastern President Elsa Nunez agreed: “Not only do our veterans represent us as they defend our freedoms, they are the finest example — the most fitting proof — that ‘all men (and women) are created equal.’  In the trenches, all of the amenities of modern life are set aside and all the trappings of class and position are forgotten when our military forces place their lives on the line to protect our freedoms. There is not a more pure example of human beings existing for each other and for the common good than on the battlefield. That is where ‘democracy’ has its finest hour.”

Nunez noted that her grandfather served in World War I; her father in World War II; and her brother in the Vietnam War, and that seven and a half years after opening its Veteran’s Center, Eastern is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the 15 most veteran-friendly campuses in the North.

Other Veteran’s Day ceremony speakers included Kenneth Bedini, Eastern’s vice president for student affairs; Father Laurence LaPointe, director of Eastern’s Campus Ministry; and Sergeant First Class (Retired) CTARNG Rebekah Avery, coordinator of Eastern’s Veteran’s Center.

Eastern Named a 2017 Vet-Friendly College by USNWR

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

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

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

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

 

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.

Eastern Named Connecticut’s 2016 “Hidden Gem” College

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College Raptor, a free college matching platform, has named Eastern Connecticut State University the best hidden gem institution in Connecticut in an announcement published on May 12.

This marks the second year of the Hidden Gem program, which highlights colleges and universities around the country that may be overlooked by students weighing their college options. Hidden Gems colleges are determined based on the number of applicants, the number of enrolled students, and the institution’s national ranking, according to data obtained by College Raptor through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

“There are many great colleges across the country,” said Tyler Hakes, director of marketing at College Raptor. “In some cases, you have colleges ranked in the top 150 or 200 schools in the nation, but they receive relatively few applicants simply because they don’t have the brand name of other institutions.

In order to qualify, institutions must have received fewer than 5,000 applications in the previous application cycle for which data is available and enroll at least 1,000 undergraduate students. From this set, the top-ranked college was selected from each state.

The national ranking or “Overall Ranking” is determined based on academic and outcome data, including graduation rate, selectivity, student-to-faculty ratio and other factors.

Eastern was one of 49 institutions recognized across the country. One college was named from each state, with the exception of Alaska, which did not have an institution meeting the criteria for recognition. The announcement is meant to call attention to institutions which may be overlooked by many students but stand out in terms of academic rigor and student success.

View the full list of Hidden Gems colleges here: http://bit.ly/HiddenGems2016

 

 

Eastern Pays Homage on Veterans Day

Written by Michael Rouleau

Sean M. Connolly, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Veterans’ Affairs, addressing the crowd at Eastern Connecticut State University.

Willimantic, Conn. – Sean M. Connolly, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Veterans’ Affairs was the keynote speaker at Eastern Connecticut State University’s annual Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 11. “Today we pay homage to the patriots of all our wars,” said Connolly, “including peace- time veterans, Cold War veterans and those of all our conflicts.”

Connolly also mentioned that 2015 is the 70-year anniversary of the conclusion of World War II, in which Connecticut lost more than 4,000 of its citizens; and the 40-year anniversary of the Vietnam War, in which Connecticut lost more than 600 of its citizens.

“While we should not glorify the work that our brave men and women in the armed forces perform in battle, we need to hold up their bravery and sacrifice as a symbol of America’s strength,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez.

While Connolly is not an Eastern graduate, he did take summer classes at Eastern years ago, and last week returned to campus to visit the VETS Center (Veterans Education and Transition Services). “You can see the fine talent and deep potential our veterans bring to the table,” he said, commenting on veterans’ work ethic and success in the college setting.

Vice President Kenneth Bedini, Father Larry LaPointe, Commissioner Sean Connolly, President Elsa Núñez, VETS Center Coordinator Toni Martucci and student Kevin Lacy.There are more than 600 students, faculty and staff who are veterans, active duty or military reserve members at Eastern. With a veterans center committed to serving this population, U.S. News and World Report has ranked Eastern as the ninth best public institution in the North for veterans.

As commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Connolly is tasked with “serving those who have served.” While Connecticut’s more than 200,000 veterans are experiencing a surge in support services compared to years and generations passed, they still face many mental, physical, fiscal and employment challenges, according to Connolly. He urged the crowd to thank a veteran, “not just today, but every day,” as they are the reason the United States is the longest enduring democracy in the world.

The ceremony also featured remarks from Eastern’s Kenneth Bedini, vice president for Student Affairs; student Kevin Lacy, a machinist in the Navy; Toni M. Martucci, Air Force veteran and coordinator of the VETS Center; and Father Larry Laurence LaPointe.

Eastern Ranked a “Best College for Veterans”

Written by Michael Rouleau

Willimantic, Conn. – Eastern Connecticut State University is the ninth highest ranked public institution in the north when it comes to being a “Best College for Veterans,” according to U.S. News and World Report’s 2015 rankings. With more than 600 students who are self-identified veterans, active military or reserves servicemembers, Eastern provides an inviting culture and range of resources for this population of students.

Veterans Coordinator Larry Schmitz, a 20-year Navy veteran, and three students who are veterans reflecting on their military service near Eastern’s Vet Center.

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

“There’s a real strong camaraderie at Eastern that I haven’t seen anywhere else since being out of service,” said Kevin Lacey, an environmental earth science major who concluded his service in 2013. A student worker, Lacey occasionally gives tours of campus. “A lot of students say Eastern’s accommodations for vets is the deal maker.” A transfer student himself, he said, “In addition to the EES major, the vet center here won me over.”

At Eastern’s Center for Internships and Career Development is a representative who helps veterans job hunt and incorporate military experience into resumes. Student vets and servicemembers also have access to on-campus mental health services. Eastern is also a member of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges (SOC) consortium and certified to receive the GI Bill.

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.”