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Community Engagement

Five Eastern undergraduates, faculty and staff partnered with 13 students from Windham High School (WHS) on April 4 to coordinate a biodiversity expedition to Eastern's Arboretum, as part of the Eastern/WHS Science Mentoring Program. The purpose of the expedition was to give high school sophomores taking Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses a chance to experience biology in action, reinforce their desire for STEM careers and welcome them to the Eastern campus.

On Nov. 21, 2012, Eastern hosted its sixth annual "Day of Giving Community Celebration," a Thanksgiving dinner for more than 400 local community members who are patrons of local soup kitchens and other social service agencies. Chartwells Dining Services and its vendors donated the food, and staff volunteers prepared and served the meal. Eastern students, faculty, administration and alumni volunteered at the event. The Thanksgiving meal was held in Hurley Hall. This year's event was organized by students Elise Davis '13, Elliott Woolworth, Max Goto '13 and Yollaine Kaja, who were supported by Eastern's Center for Community Engagement (CCE); Jacqui De Cormier, volunteer coordinator and AmeriCorps VISTA with the CCE; the Office of Institutional Advancement; and the ECSU Foundation, Inc.

More than 100 Eastern students volunteered for the 34th Annual Windham Invitational Special Olympics Swim Meet, held on March 9 at Windham High School. According to Eastern Chemistry Professor Charles Wynn, who has been the meet director for 18 years, 180 athletes with disabilities from Connecticut and Massachusetts competed in the meet. Eastern's student partners made sure the athletes got to their registered events; cheered them on; got them involved in activities when they were not swimming; and helped out with sports clinics, food service and water safety.

In April, the Eastern student chapter of Habitat for Humanity collaborated with the Connecticut Special Olympics on the annual Jail N' Bail fundraiser and brought in bonds totaling more than $8,000. The event began with warrants being issued to "arrest" specific students and faculty members. When the participants arrived at the "jail," their bail was set by a "judge." The prisoners were then kept busy contacting friends and family to come and bail them out. All funds raised were donated to Habitat for Humanity and the Special Olympics.

A number of Eastern students participated in Windham's and Willimantic's Town Pride, Town Wide event on April 27. Town Pride, Town Wide brings students and residents together with local nonprofit organizations and town parks to provide a helping hand giving the towns of Windham and Willimantic a face lift. One hundred and seventy Eastern students worked alongside community partners to sweep sidewalks along Main Street, plant trees and flowers in local parks and around town signs; paint the gazebo in Jillson Square; assist the Holy Family Home and Shelter with cleaning its attic; and many more projects. The event culminated with a celebration and lunch provided by local businesses.

On May 21, 22 and 23, more than 1,470 students in grades five through 12 gathered in the Betty R. Tipton Room in the Student Center at Eastern Connecticut State University to participate in "College Knowledge Days." The students came from schools in Bloomfield, Bridgeport, Coventry, Bethel, Danbury, East Hartford, Ellington, Enfield, Vernon, Hartford, Manchester, Meriden, New Britain, New Haven, Norwalk, Sandy Hook, Stamford, West Hartford, Storrs, Pawcatuck, Union, Watertown, Wethersfield, Willimantic and Gales Ferry.

The visiting students participated in a number of lectures and group activities facilitated by Eastern staff. The presentation, "Preparing for the Future," instructed students on how to research and choose the college that is right for them. The presentation, "Financing My Future," focused on paying for a postsecondary education. Group activities such as "When I Grow Up" gave visiting students the opportunity to discuss what they want for a future career and the process that it takes to attain that career.

Three Eastern students; Eastern's intercollegiate athletic teams; the club rugby team; the University's Food and Justice Committee; and Eastern's public relations officer were nominated as finalists for the 2013 Connecticut Higher Education Community Service Awards. The award program is hosted each year by the Connecticut Commission on Community Service, Office of Higher Education. The award ceremony was held on April 23.

Brittany Cava '12, Ashley Lovett '13 and Suzanne Slater '13 were nominated for the individual student awards. Eastern's 17 varsity athletic teams, as well as the Food and Justice Committee and the club rugby team, were nominated in the student group category. Dwight Bachman, Eastern's public relations officer, was nominated in the "Special Person" category.

More than 200 singers and orchestra members from more than 20 ensembles across Connecticut, including Eastern's Concert Chorale and Chamber Singers, combined to present a memorial concert on Jan. 13 in Willimantic in honor of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. The concert was organized by David Belles, professor of music at Eastern, who conducted Faure's "Requiem" and other selections. Eastern Performing Arts Professor Anthony Cornicello also composed work for organ that was dedicated and premiered during the concert.