11th Annual Poverty Awareness Marathon Benefits Shawn’s Cupboard

Eastern alumnus Austin Darley '14 returned to campus for the annual event.
Cross country coach Kathy Manizza and Professor Charlie Chatterton finish an early-morning lap.
Student volunteers Lindsay Allard, Sarah Farag, Tristen Kijak and Elisabeth Graves collect donations for Eastern's on-campus food pantry, Shawn's Cupboard.

 

Eastern Connecticut State University held its 11th annual Poverty Awareness Marathon on Oct. 18. More than 100 members of the Eastern community ran and walked to raise awareness of poverty in Windham and across the nation. In recognition of the 38 million people in the United States who live in poverty, the marathon collected more than 200 nonperishable food items for donation to Eastern’s on-campus food pantry, Shawn’s Cupboard, which was created to fight food insecurity of among students.

Professor Charlie Chatterton, the organizer of the event, spoke on why he runs. “The challenge is to think about this issue all year along; this is an issue that exists nationally and locally. I run because I believe in the respect and dignity of all people.”

Marathon participants began in front of the Student Center and ran/walked 1.2-mile loops around campus—22 laps equal 26.4 miles. Most participants—faculty, staff and members of athletics teams and clubs—ran a partial marathon, as permitted by class and work schedules.

In recognition of the 38 million people in the United States who live in poverty, the marathon collected more than 200 nonperishable food items for donation to Eastern’s on-campus food pantry, Shawn’s Cupboard, which was created to fight food insecurity of among students.

Volunteers from the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC), the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) and the Health & Physical Education and Sport & Leisure Management Club (HPE/SLM) helped facilitate the event, collecting donations, directing the runners and providing refreshments between laps.

Organizers of the event also set up signs throughout the running path which included statistics on national poverty rates and poverty rates in Windham. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, for example, 11 percent of the population in Windham lives in poverty and one in six children across the nation do not know where their next meal will come from.

 “We’ve had a great turnout, with a lot of good energy and we are really raising awareness of issues related to poverty in the United States,” said Lindsay Allard ’21, a member of the HPE & SLM Club.

Written by Vania Galicia

Eastern Named to Princeton Review’s 2020 ‘Best Colleges’ Guide

Eastern Connecticut State University has been recognized by in the Princeton Review in its “2020 Best Colleges” guide for the Northeast region. Featured schools were chosen based on survey results from 140,000 students across the country. Eastern was praised for its small class sizes, close-knit campus community and affordability. 

Home to 5,200 students annually, Eastern students come from 160 of Connecticut’s 169 towns, along with 29 other states and 20 other countries. The 16:1 student to faculty ratio encourages group discussions and teamwork. Eastern offers 41 majors and 59 minors, with a liberal arts curriculum that’s rooted deep in the school’s mission to provide students with a well-rounded education. Eastern was also ranked among the top 25 public universities in the North Region by U.S. News and World Report in its 2020 Best College ratings.

Eastern also offers 18 NCAA Division III sports teams, more than 90 registered student organizations and 17 honors societies. Eastern’s athletic mission is to emphasize values such as diversity, sportsmanship, health, wellbeing and equity. Eastern hosted its annual President’s Picnic and Student-Club Fair. In spring of 2019, more than 50 percent of Eastern students participated in at least one club. Clubs with the highest membership last semester were Eastern Outdoors Club, Freedom at Eastern and People Helping People. Eastern is also home to student services such as the Womens Center, LGBT support groups and minority support groups. Eastern was awarded the ‘Green Campus’ Status by Princeton Review for the ninth year in a row in fall 2018.

Written by Molly Boucher

Courant Names Eastern a ‘Top Workplace’

For the eighth time the Hartford Courant has recognized Eastern Connecticut State University in its “Top Workplaces” survey. With almost 1,000 employees, Eastern ranked 10th in the “large” category, and was the only public higher education institution recognized among 60 organizations in Hartford, Middlesex, Tolland, Windham and New London counties. Results were published on Sept. 22 in the Hartford Courant.

“We are honored to be recognized once again as a top workplace in Connecticut,” said Eastern’s President Elsa Núñez. “Even though Eastern was recognized in the large organization category, our university has always prided itself on being a close-knit community and a welcoming, inclusive campus for students, faculty and staff. The Courant’s announcement reminds us that Eastern is a stable, inspiring place for our faculty and staff to come to work each day, and a supportive learning environment for our students. I am very pleased that we were among those recognized.”

Surveys were administered on behalf of the Courant by Energage, LLC, a research and consulting firm that has conducted employee surveys for more than 50,000 organizations. Rankings were based on confidential survey results completed by employees of the participating organizations. This year’s Courant survey surveyed 29,000 employees across the state.

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.

To honor all “Top Workplaces,” The Hartford Courant held its annual awards program on Sept. 19 at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville, CT, where it announced the top workplaces in each category.

Written by Vania Galicia

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

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 www.usnews.com/colleges. 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

Students Return to Campus to a ‘Warrior Welcome’

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Written by Dwight Bachman

 

Eastern’s ‘Puentes al Futuro’ Explores Lambe Lambe Puppetry

The boys who created “The Magic Box” — with their camp counselor Adrian Lopez-Diaz ’20 (right) — perform a Lambe Lambe puppet show.

With headphones pressed over her ears, the one-person audience peers in through a slot in a box and waits for the show to start. Music buzzes through the headset, the curtain rises and a miniature set is revealed. A cast of puppet characters comes to life and takes the audience on a journey. Two minutes later, the curtain closes, the show is over.

This is Lambe Lambe, a form of miniature theatre that took place at Eastern Connecticut State University during the month of July.

Puentes al Futuro (Bridges to the Future) is the Center for Community Engagement’s (CCE) annual summer camp for local middle school kids. In recognition of Willimantic’s Hispanic community, the educational program spotlights Latin American culture. This year’s theme was Lambe Lambe.

NYC-based puppeteer and actor Harrison Greene demonstrated the art form and led the group of 27 middle schoolers through workshops on the Eastern campus. Greene participated in an international festival with the group Payasos con Ropa de Calle (Clowns with Street Clothes), a group of performers based in Puerto Montt, Chile, dedicated to spreading Lambe Lambe storytelling.

The girls of “El Dia De Los Muertos” perform for a family member at the Puentes al Futuro showcase on July 25.

“It’s a style that started 30 years ago in South America,” explained Greene. “The whole show is contained in a small box with a peephole. It’s a very personal, fully intimate experience.”

In Lambe Lambe, the puppeteer — or puppeteers — manipulates the characters from above, out of sight of the audience, whose vision is limited by the peephole. The headset plays prerecorded audio and the puppeteer does not speak. The spectator is left fully focused on the action inside the box.

For this summer’s Puentes program, the children were broken into six groups and tasked with creating original Lambe Lambe performances. Assisted by seven Eastern student volunteers, the groups wrote and recorded scripts, designed boxes (sets and scenery) and characters, and rehearsed for final performances.

CCE Program Coordinator Rose Hernandez explained that dreaming is a theme of Puentes al Futuro. “We want the kids to dream beyond their current circumstance and visualize their futures,” said Hernandez, who helped establish the Puentes program eight years ago at Windham Middle School. “This is why we hold the program every year on Eastern’s campus.”

The middle schoolers were asked to tap into their dreams. The result was a rainbow of colorful boxes and storylines.

CCE volunteers and Puentes al Futuro campers pose for a group photo with their finished boxes alongside Harrison Greene (middle, right).
A camper paints a backdrop for her group's Lambe Lambe box.
Student volunteer Katelyn Root works with campers on scenery.
Communication faculty member John Murphy records the campers' script.
Student volunteer Lexie Mastroianni helps her group of campers record their script in Eastern's radio station.
Student volunteer Forest Rappe works on scenery with a Puentes al Futuro camper.
Puentes al Futuro campers rehearse their Lambe Lambe performance.
Eastern President Elsa Núñez watches a Lambe Lambe performance during the Puentes al Futuro showcase on July 25.

 

In “The Letter,” several girls receive a letter and meet on a boat headed for Hawaii. After overcoming a series of challenges, they find they’ve passed “the test” and are now spies. In “The Magic Box,” Nemo is granted one wish and joins the circus. In “Girl’s Trip,” some friends are headed to see their idol, pop music star Billie Eilish, in concert. The girls meet Billie and are told to follow their dreams.

“Everyone contributed something different to the project,” said CCE volunteer Katelyn Root ’19. “Some kids loved writing stories, others specialized in art. Every talent was used to create the puppet shows.”

Speaking to his group of 11- and 12-year-old boys, Adrian Lopez-Diaz ’20 admitted, “It started out chaotic. Everyone was yelling ideas out, but eventually we narrowed it down. I gave them as much liberty as possible. It was fun to get to know the kids and see who they’re becoming.”

Harrison Greene, John Murphy, Rose Hernandez and CCE Director Kim Silcox pose for a group photo.

Zaira Hernandez’s ’20 group of girls carried a different level of energy. “My girls were very sweet. They were shy at the beginning, but over the month they opened up, asking me a lot of questions about my life, about college. There’s a lot of pressure on them. They’re just figuring out who they are.”

“Every day is a new opportunity to teach an important lesson to the campers,” said Forest Rappe ’20, “and to relate to them my own experiences from middle school. Our campers are going through a difficult transitioning period in their lives, so I want to give them as much support as possible so they’re happier and more successful in school this year.”

After finalizing the scripts, Communication Professor John Murphy helped the middle schoolers record the audio in Eastern’s radio station. “A universal constant was how surprised they were to hear a high-quality recording of their voice — to hear what they sound like to other people.” He added, “I loved seeing their spontaneity, their fearlessness and ability to act and play different parts.”

The month-long camp culminated on July 25 with final performances on campus. Dozens of family and community members gathered into a crowded and unexpectedly silent room in Mead Hall. Careful to not disturb their audiences — six performances happening simultaneously — the children intently worked their puppets as others shifted backdrops in and out of boxes. One two-minute show after the other, family and friends took turns peering into boxes. As the curtains closed, each spectator removed the headphones with a smile.

“I’m blown away,” said Greene with a tear in his eye. “My expectations are exceeded. It’s exciting that Lambe Lambe is being exposed up here, especially in this community.”

Written by Michael Rouleau

SOAR Helps Incoming Students Transition to Eastern

Student orientation counselor (SOC) Tiffany Johnson (middle) guides a group of incoming students through the SOAR program.

SOC Lauryn White works with her SOAR group of incoming students.

Incoming students are getting their first taste of life at Eastern through the Summer Orientation, Advising and Registration (SOAR) program. From June 24–July 12, multiple SOAR sessions have been helping new students transition to college life, informing them of campus services and resources.

During the two-day sessions, students break up into groups and are guided through the SOAR orientation program by student orientation counselors (SOCs). SOCs are student leaders who have served as peer mentors, advisors and resident assistants. They’re well-informed members of the campus community who have the “inside scoop” of life at Eastern.

During SOAR, incoming students tour campus facilities and participate in group sessions. They also attend a presentation by a motivational speaker, stay overnight in a residence hall and dine on campus.

A key part of the SOAR program is informing new students of advising resources and the registration process for classes. SOAR participants meet with academic and student affairs staff and talk about the classes they’d like to take during the semester.

This summer’s SOCs, including head SOCs Kelsey Cunningham and Jaye Mendoza (red shirts), pose for a group photo.

SOAR helps incoming students with the academic as well as social aspects of college life. Past students often attribute many of their friendships and successes to the people they met and the guidance they received during the program.

“I absolutely loved my SOC,” said Kelsey Cunningham, who is serving as a head SOC this summer. “I still talk with her about my future; she continues to provide me guidance.” Jaye Mendoza, another head SOC, added, “My first friends were those I met in my SOAR group. In my new role, I continue to build friendships.” 

Written by Vania Galicia

Eastern Alumna Salutes Inclusive Excellence Award Winners

On May 9, Eastern recognized more than 100 students with a 3.5 cumulative grade point average or higher, and an additional 11 students who have demonstrated exemplary co-curricular engagement at the University’s Seventh Annual Inclusive Excellence Student Awards Ceremony. The ceremony recognized the achievements of African, Latino, Asian and Native American (ALANA) students at Eastern.

Eastern President Elsa Núñez said the ceremony was not just about inclusion, but also spoke to the University’s other core values of academic excellence, integrity, social responsibility, engagement and empowerment. “It is important for each of you to stand tall and be proud of who you are and what you are capable of. Never, ever, ever let anyone attempt to diminish your worth or your talents.

“Today’s honorees join thousands of other successful Eastern alumni who are making their own personal contributions out in the real world, including our guest speaker today, Dr. Kawami Evans. Today, we show respect and celebrate the accomplishments of students who too often have been forgotten in the past.  Thank you for being part of this celebration; to our honorees, congratulations.  We are very proud of you.”

Keynote speaker Evans ’97 serves as associate director at the Center for African Diaspora Student Success at the University of California at Davis. She earned her bachelor’s degree in history and social science at Eastern, her Master of Education in educational policy and research administration from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a doctorate in educational management and leadership from Drexel University.

Evans encouraged the students to use their curiosity and optimism to persevere through unseen psychological struggles that can become their staunchest challenges. She said many high- achieving students fall prey to chasing individual achievements, accolades or material gain as their goal, even confusing their self-worth with what they can accomplish.

“This is dangerous; it can lead to anxiety and depression. Don’t let this be your reality or focus,” said Evans. “Who you are is what we are celebrating today. All the earned accolades you are receiving are but a byproduct of the brilliance within you . . . You are the promise of our ancestors’ prayers and walk with the wisdom and swag of those who have grit, resilience, the social and emotional intelligence, curiosity and hope.”

Evans told the students the most important element they need to resurrect in discussing their future success is their spirituality, ways in which students discover their destiny — answers to the big questions of who they are, what is their life purpose and how do they make difference in the world.

“Much of the world right now is relegated to systems and polices. We have to raise the bar with our vision of what’s possible,” Evans said. “It will take hard work, community, love, bravery, unrelentless effort and celebration.  I sincerely believe that we can create a world that works for all.”

A total of 280 students qualified for an Academic Excellence Award with a 3.5 cumulative GPA or higher, and more than 100 of them were able to attend the May 9 event. During the ceremony, several students received service awards. Adrianna Arocho and Mayra Santos Acosta was presented the Volunteer Service Award; Aiyana Ward, the Athletic Excellence Award; Kimberly Allen and Sommer Bachelor, the Career Development Award; Jenilee Antonetty, the Resident Assistant Diversity Impact Award; Rafael Aragon, the Residential Community Leadership Award; Tristan Perez, the Social Justice Advocacy Award; Emma Costa, the Inspirational Leadership Award; Ishah Azeez, the Resilient Warrior Award; Kimberly Allen and Vishal Jungiwalla, the Advisor’s Choice Award; and the Freedom at Eastern Club, the Building Bridges Award.

By Dwight Bachman

Year-End Student Activity Enriches Campus

Fashion Forward. Photo courtesy of club.
Fashion Forward. Photo courtesy of club.
Fashion Forward. Photo courtesy of club.
Repertory Dance Troupe (RDT). Photo courtesy of club.
Repertory Dance Troupe (RDT). Photo courtesy of club.
Repertory Dance Troupe (RDT). Photo courtesy of club.
Natural Hair Club. Photo courtesy of club.
Natural Hair Club. Photo courtesy of club.
Natural Hair Club. Photo courtesy of club.
Key of She. Photo courtesy of club.

 

The end of the academic year is not only crunch time for final projects and exams, it’s also a busy time when Eastern’s many student organizations host year-end events. April and May have had a plethora of vibrant student activities, ranging from fashion shows to carnivals to Asian festivals. Below are a few of the clubs that are closing spring 2019 with a bang.

Fashion Forward held its annual fashion show on April 13 at Windham High School. The club aims to inform and educate Eastern students about the latest fashion trends.

The Repertory Dance Troupe (RDT) held its spring showcase on April 27 at Windham High School. The showcase featured originally choreographed pieces by club members. The club presented big-group pieces (30 or more people), small group dances (15 people), combos (3–6 people), duets and solos. The styles of dances included lyrical, modern, hip hop, jazz and tap. RDT presents a showcase every semester.

The Natural Hair Club hosted its first hair show on April 28 in the Student Center.  The club empowers and uplifts the natural hair community on campus by organizing events that focus on hair hygiene and maintenance, lifestyle tips, hair styles and hacks, skin care and more. “We recognize the trials and tribulations that come with having natural hair,” writes the club. “We want the Eastern community to take pride in their hair in its natural state. Culturally, everybody’s hair is different. We all should love our hair no matter the roots it comes from.”

The Music Society’s acapella group “Key of She” held its annual concert on April 26 in the Student Center. The club educates students about the different aspects of music and enhances the musical experiences of the Eastern community.

Springfest carnival. Photo courtesy of CAB.
Springfest carnival. Photo courtesy of CAB.
Springfest carnival. Photo courtesy of CAB.
Asian Cultural Society. Photo courtesy of the club.
Asian Cultural Society. Photo courtesy of the club.
Asian Cultural Society. Photo courtesy of the club.
Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz speaks at the College Democrats' "Political Intelligence" event. Photo courtesy of the club.
College Democrats. Photo Courtesy of the club.
College Democrats. Photo Courtesy of the club.
African Club fashion show. Photo courtesy of club.
African Club fashion show. Photo courtesy of club.

 

The Campus Activity Board (CAB) held its annual carnival and fireworks display on May 4. Featuring a Ferris wheel, scrambler and cotton candy, the carnival wrapped up Springfest, a week of festivities that included a dunk tank, virtual-reality roller coasters and other activities.  

The Asian Cultural Society celebrated “Holi,” a popular Hindu festival in India and Nepal that involves throwing colored powders and water in celebration of the start of spring. Hosted on April 29 on the Webb Lawn, this was the fourth year the club has celebrated the festival on campus.

The College Democrats hosted an event titled “Political Intelligence” in collaboration with the Quiet Corner Democrats on April 27. The event featured nine panels concerning topics such as immigration and gun control. Guests included Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, Deputy Secretary of State Scott Bates, Agriculture Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt, Senior Advisor of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection James Albis, State Senator Cathy Osten and State Reps. Susan Johnson, Greg Haddad, Mike Winkler, Pat Boyd and Pat Wilson Pheanious.

The African Club hosted a fashion show on April 27. The club promotes interest in the history, development and cultures of Africa, and organizes related service projects and events for the Eastern community.

Written by Michael Rouleau