WCSU News

WCSU hosts sixth Western Day of Service

Image from Day of Service

Image from Day of Service

DANBURY, CONN. — Western Connecticut State University will host the sixth Western Day of Service as it encourages students, faculty, staff and alumni to commit to some form of volunteer work on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019.

WCSU President Dr. John Clark and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton are scheduled to welcome participants before they move to their assigned volunteer sites.

More than 600 volunteers are expected to support organizations and venues like Ability Beyond, City Center Danbury, Danbury Museum & Historical Society, Family and Children’s Aid, Green Chimneys, Rising Starr Horse Rescue, Tarrywile Park and several elementary schools for a total of more than 45 sites. Volunteers will be visible across town as work teams wearing brightly colored T-shirts.

Image from Day of Service

Image from Day of Service

Volunteer activities include everything from reading to elementary school students, painting stairwells, sorting through donated clothes, cleaning and pulling weeds to washing fire trucks and ambulances.

A photo gallery of images from the previous Day of Service events can be found at www.wcsu.edu/community-service/western-day-of-service/gallery/.

For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.

To volunteer or request volunteers at your venue, please contact the Dean of Students office at (203) 837-9700.

 

 

 

 

 

Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals, and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.

 

 

‘Sip & Sketch’ evening at WCSU pairs art with wine and refreshments

Guests of all artistic levels invited to participate in Sept. 13 event

image of Sip & SketchDANBURY, CONN. — An entertaining and creative evening that pairs the experience of drawing from a live model with wine and refreshments will be offered in the “Sip and Sketch” series event to be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019, at Western Connecticut State University.

Guided by an experienced artist, the event will offer guests of all artistic skill levels an opportunity to create original drawings as they enjoy wine and assorted snacks during the “Sip and Sketch” evening in the Drawing Studio, Room 241 of the WCSU Visual and Performing Arts Center on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. The admission fee includes refreshments as well as basic art supplies including charcoal and paper. Attendees are also encouraged to bring their own drawing supplies if they wish.

The ticket fee is $25 for general admission, or $20 for WCSU alumni who may obtain the discount code by email correspondence to robeaul@wcsu.edu or coladarcie@wcsu.edu.

Admission to the event is open to adults 21 years of age and older. Tickets may be purchased online at www.wcsuvpac.eventbrite.com. The “Sip and Sketch” series is sponsored by the Department of Art, the WCSU Alumni Association and the Danbury Cultural Commission.

For more information, contact the Department of Art at (203) 837-8403 or the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.

 

 

Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.

 

 

WCSU summer orientation reveals father, son will be incoming students

Students move in to residence halls on Aug. 23; classes begin Aug. 27

image of Doug and Brandon Muckerman pose with Colonial Chuck at Orientation.

Doug and Brandon Muckerman pose with Colonial Chuck at Orientation.

DANBURY, CONN. — New Milford residents Doug and Brandon Muckerman were among the nearly 1,300 people who attended a summer orientation session at Western Connecticut State University in July 2019. Summer orientation is a rite-of-passage for new college students everywhere, but what makes their situation unique is that Doug and Brandon are father and son — and both attended as incoming students. Approximately 11% of WCSU’s incoming undergraduates are nontraditional students like Doug.

Doug, 48, works at Cartus (a division of Realogy) in Danbury. He recently completed an associate degree at Naugatuck Valley Community College and transferred his credits to WCSU to pursue a CPA designation in accounting.

“I like numbers, and accountants deal with a lot of numbers; not to mention that they are among the first people in a company to know if it’s doing well or not,” Doug said.

Brandon, 18, was a third baseman on New Milford High School’s baseball team and is involved with the Old Time Baseball Club.

“I am interested in studying Criminal Justice while attending WCSU, and want a future career in law enforcement,” Brandon said.

As to who committed to WCSU first, dad led the way.

“That was me,” Doug said. “That was the plan all along: start at NVCC and transfer to WCSU for cost reasons.”

Brandon agreed.

“I decided to attend WCSU because it is the most affordable option,” he said. “I don’t want to exit college with a lot of debt. I looked at a couple of other universities before selecting WCSU. What made up my mind was the overall cost.”

Now that father and son both will be students in a week, does either see a possibility for competition?

“Competitive? Yes, checking on GPAs,” Doug said. “I think more me on him — I want to make sure he passes all his classes. Not so much of who’s doing better, but if I am, I’ll be sure to let him know,” Doug said, smiling.

Brandon wasn’t too concerned about it.

“I’m sure my dad will want to see my GPA, but not to see if it’s better than his,” Brandon said. “I don’t think we will have classes together since we have different majors, anyway.”

Asked about whether they expect to run into one another on campus and how they will respond, son and father chimed in.

“If I see my dad, I’ll say ‘hi’ and keep going to my next class,” Brandon said.

“Brandon and I do not have any courses together this semester, but one never knows,” Doug said. “My classes are restricted to night because of work so we probably won’t see each other; but if it works out — yes, we will probably eat together — only if I pay for it.”

 

 

Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.

 

 

Newtown Savings Bank enhances sponsorship of Ives Concert Park events

DANBURY, CONN. — Ives Concert Park in Danbury announced recently an enhanced sponsorship partnership with Newtown Savings Bank, a longtime sponsor of the Fine Arts & Family Series at the venue located on the Westside campus of Western Connecticut State University. “Events at the Ives” will now be “Powered by Newtown Savings Bank,” and will be indicated as such by a new combin

NSB Vice President/Public Relations Director Tanya Wulff Truax said, “The bank has had a long- standing relationship with the Ives as the Fine Arts & Family Series sponsor, and we are excited for this new opportunity to show support for such a great venue and local treasure.”

Phyllis Cortese, executive director of the Charles Ives Authority for the Performing Arts and Ives Concert Park, said, “Our Board of Directors is so very thankful for the extraordinary support from Newtown Savings Bank. Their investment contributes to exceptional arts and cultural experiences, which are an essential component of our community’s quality of life.”

Upcoming 2019 events at Ives Concert Park will include:

Aug. 3 – Big Blocks and BBQ Car Show

Aug. 7 – Java Jam

Aug. 9 – Free the Children

Aug. 11 – Ecuadorian Festival

Aug. 14 – Yoga at Sunset

Aug. 16-18 – “Much Ado About Nothing”

Aug. 21 – Java Jam

Aug. 23 – Amy Lynn and the Honey Men celebrate Janis Joplin

Aug. 24 – Treehouse Comedy Series

Aug. 25 – Chicha Fest

Aug. 28 – Yoga at Sunset

Sept. 13 – An Evening with Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams (NSB Signature Event)

Sept. 14 – Rock to Adopt, featuring Jefferson Starship, Hollywood U2, Tramps Like Us and

The Doug Wahlberg Band

Sept. 21 – Treehouse Comedy Series

Sept. 22 – Messages from Above, featuring Psychic Vanessa

Sept. 28 – Fore ‘n’ Aft Reunion Concert

For more information about these events, visit www.ivesconcertpark.com.

 

 

Newtown Savings Bank is a community bank headquartered in Newtown, Connecticut, with over $1.2 billion in assets. Since 1855, the bank has been deeply invested in the customers and communities that it serves. The bank has 14 branches in Newtown, Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, Monroe, Oxford, Shelton, Southbury, Trumbull and Woodbury, along with the New Haven Regional Lending Center in Hamden. For more information and location details, visit NSBonline.com or call (800) 461-0672.

 

Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.

WCSU/SCSU initiative trains new generation of biodiversity defenders

Master’s program prepares students to take local actions to address global crisis; graduate fellows sought

image of :  WCSU Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences Dr. Theodora Pinou (pink shirt) observes a terrapin tracking team “train the trainer” session where Biology graduate student (l-r) Adam Geriak shares his sampling expertise with undergraduate Biology students James Hannon and Christopher Schrull. Bridget Cerevero, Education Manager of Citizen Science at the Maritime Aquarium (dark blue shirt), helps coach students on how to work with volunteers.

WCSU Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences Dr. Theodora Pinou (pink shirt) observes a terrapin tracking team “train the trainer” session where Biology graduate student (l-r) Adam Geriak shares his sampling expertise with undergraduate Biology students James Hannon and Christopher Schrull. Bridget Cerevero, Education Manager of Citizen Science at the Maritime Aquarium (dark blue shirt), helps coach students on how to work with volunteers.

DANBURY, CONN. — The sobering warning from a United Nations-backed panel that up to one million plant and animal species face imminent extinction because of human activities has focused attention on the global threat to biodiversity — a challenge that Western Connecticut State University is tackling head-on through science-based training to address the crisis at the grassroots level.

In a collaborative graduate studies program offered through the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, WCSU and Southern Connecticut State University recently introduced the Master of Science in Integrative Biological Diversity degree. The program seeks to educate students about research methods used to measure the health and diversity of organisms and their environments. Students will learn to apply ecological, molecular and spatial tools to examine, quantify and describe biodiversity. “The Master of Science in Integrative Biological Diversity requires that all students engage in biodiversity monitoring as a component of stewardship, and learn to communicate the importance of diversity to human health and the conservation of resources,” the mission statement said.

Coordinated by WCSU Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences Dr. Theodora Pinou, the new M.S. program offers a 30-credit curriculum. Faculty from the WCSU Biological and Environmental Sciences Department and the SCSU Biology and Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences departments participate as course instructors and research mentors. The program has accepted 14 students since its launch in January, and applications received through Thursday, Aug. 15, will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis for enrollment this fall. Accepted students also will have the opportunity to apply for two graduate fellowships affiliated with the degree program. More information about the fellowships can be found at http://wcsu.edu/biology-msbiodiversity/opportunities/.

image of : The terrapin tracking team tests field equipment techniques and recording protocols on pond turtles and birds at a local cemetery.

The terrapin tracking team tests field equipment techniques and recording protocols on pond turtles and birds at a local cemetery.

Pinou explained that the recently released report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has raised public awareness of a crisis in rapidly diminishing species diversity that researchers in the field have recognized as a serious and growing global problem for decades. From the accelerating loss of open land to agricultural and commercial development to the impact of climate change and water scarcity on species survival, the UN-sponsored study has highlighted the many ways in which a growing world population threatens to destroy the fragile natural habitats and ecological balance that sustain global biodiversity.

At the local level, Pinou observed that the biodiversity crisis also has grown more acute as land development isolates remaining open space areas necessary to support the region’s many species of animal and plant life. Land use policies that ignore the importance of preserving natural corridors for pollinators to reach flowering plants and for wildlife to move freely across habitats pose a real threat to the survival of many species now found in Connecticut, she said. “Very few people even know what the level of local biodiversity should be,” she observed, and the environmental impact of diminished diversity “easily escapes us until we realize we have a water and food security problem.”

An important aspect of the biodiversity master’s degree program is to provide the opportunity for M.S. candidates to collaborate with a wide range of corporations, educational institutions, conservation and wildlife organizations and other partners where students can apply their skills and knowledge to real-world experiences in the exploration and monitoring of biodiversity.

“Our program has a required component of stewardship where our students go out to investigate biodiversity problems in the field and learn how the professionals are tackling these issues,” she said. “For example, we have a project in collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Norwalk Aquarium looking at diamond back terrapin crossings and road mortality.” The study offers an opportunity to explore how the public need for transportation can be balanced with actions to monitor and preserve this turtle species, she noted.

“We study the global dimensions of the biodiversity problem, and then explore what we can do locally to make policy decisions, rooted in science, that produce measurable changes to improve the situation,” she said.

Pinou remarked that through hands-on research in monitoring species diversity, habitat conservation, environmental threats to organisms and other issues, students will gain valuable experience for future careers that contribute to advancing resilience and sustainability. The program mission statement sets the goal of preparing students for careers in ecosystem management and reclamation, policy and environmental consulting, sustainable business, education and non-government organizations. The program is also appropriate for secondary education teachers interested in obtaining an advanced degree focusing on the ecological, physiological and natural history of biological organisms.

Pinou noted that graduates of the program will gain a deeper scientific understanding of the many factors contributing to biodiversity while also being challenged to apply these lessons cooperatively in the public policy arena. “There is a great need to be trained to understand the scientific data, consider all the stakeholders, listen to everyone’s interests, and address the most important problems collaboratively by building consensus,” she said. “For instance, if we need to develop more land to grow food, how can we do the plantings wisely so that we keep a corridor for animals and insects to move between open habitats?”

Application inquiries should be directed to Pinou at pinout@wcsu.edu. Application requirements and additional details about the program curriculum may be obtained at http://wcsu.edu/biology-msbiodiversity/ and at

http://catalogs.wcsu.edu/grad1819/master-of-science-in-integrative-biological-diversity/.

For more information, contact Pinou at pinout@wcsu.edu or the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.

 

 

Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.

 

 

WCSU exhibition ‘American Subtitles’ explores nation’s diversity

Chaparro and Hudson show interprets American experience of people of color

DANBURY, CONN. — “American Subtitles,” an exhibition of works in many media by acclaimed Connecticut artists Andres Chaparro and Robert Charles Hudson, will be presented from Monday, Aug. 26, through Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in the Gallery at the Visual and Performing Arts Center at Western Connecticut State University.

An opening reception for the artists will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 29, in the VPAC Gallery on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. The exhibition will be open for viewing from noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission for the opening reception and general viewing will be free and open to the public; reservations to attend the reception should be made online on the VPAC events web page at www.wcsuvpac.eventbrite.com. The exhibition program is sponsored by the WCSU Department of Art with support from patrons of the Gallery; donations to sustain the program will be accepted.

Chaparro will present an artist talk at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19, in the Gallery. Admission will be free and the public is invited; visit www.wcsuvpac.eventbrite.com to RSVP. The talk is sponsored by the WCSU Office of Diversity and Equity.

The exhibition will feature a richly varied range of paintings, sculptures, collages and mixed-media works that interpret the American experience of people of color. Chaparro and Hudson share a common passion in their artistic work to invite and challenge viewers to re-examine social crises from a fresh perspective and to explore the individual’s contributions to humanity, while embracing visions of both unity and diversity.

image of Rise and Kneel by Andrews Chaparro

Rise and Kneel by Andres Chaparro

Chaparro, a Hartford native who pursues his creative work at his Windsor studio, has gained international recognition for mixed-media paintings and collages featuring bold color contrasts and expressive visual representations of legendary jazz artists and their music. Inspired since his youth by the dynamic interplay between art and music, he incorporates oil pastel, marker, crayon, pencil, acrylic, spray paint, found objects and collage in interpretive works that evoke spontaneous and powerful emotions.

“I work without premeditation, simply following the path that each painting sets forth for me,” Chaparro explained. “Through my artwork, I strive to create an example of ideas that reflect my desire to raise social consciousness and cultural awareness. Jazz music is the catalyst of all my work, and plays a major influence in each piece of work.”

An aficionado of the jazz scene during his studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Chaparro has found subjects for his interpretive works in John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Christian McBride, Albert Ayler, Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk and other jazz greats. His images of Ralph Peterson and Aggregate Prime were featured at the 2017 WCSU Jazz Fest and he has held artist residencies at the Montclair and New Haven jazz festivals. He has participated in more than 60 solo and group exhibitions across the Northeast, and his works are held in many public and private collections. He received the SBNO Greater Hartford Arts Leadership Award and the Maria C. Sanchez Arts and Culture Award, and earned nomination for the Latino de Oro prize in arts and culture. His works appeared in the Crooks Press book, “Making the Cut: The World’s Best Collage Artists.”

Chaparro said that his work continues to reflect his spiritual, emotional and intellectual growth as a person and as an artist. “My connection with jazz has fostered the sense of improvisation and freedom in my work,” he observed. “I sometimes feel that I relate more to a jazz musician’s process of composing or performing than I do to an artist creating a piece of art.”

image of Knowing by Robert Charles Hudson

Knowing by Robert Charles Hudson

Hudson, a Bristol resident and recipient of a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Connecticut, draws inspiration from his family traditions and his African American heritage in his multi-faceted work as a sculptor, painter, collagist and quilter. He has exhibited in more than 20 solo and group shows across Connecticut and in Massachusetts, New York and Washington, D.C.

Among his solo shows have been presentations at the Hartford Public Library, the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury and the New Britain Museum of American Art. His NBMAA exhibition, “Above the Underground,” explored through quilts and paintings the ways in which slaves communicated with each other on their perilous quest for freedom along the Underground Railroad. His Hartford Public Library show, “The Door of No Return,” evoked through sculpted busts, a canvas tunnel, collages and paintings the journey of kidnapped Africans walking to slave ships bound for the Americas.

Hudson’s sculpture works have included representations in terracotta, stone and marble of the human head. “These are the result of my inner visions and my desire to express the human spirit and the American experience,” he said. “For the ‘American Subtitles’ exhibition, I will be creating metal sculptured work to enhance the message and give another perspective.”

Hudson received a sculpture grant from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts and was commissioned to create a series of paintings for the UConn African American Center. His works are held in the collections of the New Britain Museum, the UConn Health Center and the City of Hartford Division of Cultural Affairs, as well as many corporate and foundation collections. He also is a longtime educator, serving as an art instructor at UConn and public schools in Hartford and New Britain. He remarked after conducting a painting class at the Hartford Library that what inspires him most when working with aspiring artists “is when the students break through their resistance and come to a new place where they realize that creating art is a gift.”

For more information, contact the Department of Art at (203) 837-8403 or the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.

 

 

Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.

 

WCSU Writing Center coordinator earns statewide honors for teaching

Dr. Kelli Custer receives CSCU Board of Regents Teaching Award for state universities

image of WCSU Writing Center Coordinator Dr. Kelli Custer

WCSU Writing Center Coordinator Dr. Kelli Custer

DANBURY, CONN. — Western Connecticut State University Writing Center Coordinator Dr. Kelli Custer has heard the timeworn lament, “Students just can’t write these days,” throughout her teaching career — and together with a team of students as passionate about writing as herself, she continues to prove the pessimists wrong.

Custer, an associate professor of Writing, Linguistics and Creative Process now entering her sixth year as coordinator of the Writing Center, fields a core of 10 to 12 student consultants at the center who demonstrate both the writing and personal skills to serve as peer mentors for their fellow students. During the past academic year, the Writing Center received approximately 1,200 visits from WCSU students seeking help ranging from understanding and brainstorming assignments and developing a thesis to organizing drafts, documenting sources and improving writing mechanics.

In recognition of her dedication to writing education for students across academic disciplines and at every skill level, Custer recently received the 2018-19 Board of Regents System-Wide Teaching Award for Connecticut State Universities. The prize is awarded annually by the Board of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system to one faculty member at Western, Southern, Central or Eastern Connecticut state universities who demonstrates exemplary excellence and innovation in instruction.

Custer, a New Milford resident who earned her Ph.D. in Composition and TESOL at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, directed the Writing Center at Western Colorado University and was a lecturer in the writing program at the University of Denver prior to joining the WCSU faculty in 2012. In addition to leading the WCSU Writing Center since 2014, she also has served as a coordinator of the university’s First Year Experience program and as a member of the steering committee of the Northeast Writing Center Association.

Custer observed that the WCSU Writing Center offers the opportunity for every student to gain confidence in their communication skills and receive feedback that will help them to become better writers. “When students come to the center, we meet them where they are and try to help them to get to where they need to be,” she said.

“Teaching writing is a way of helping students to find the ‘author’ in their authority, to discover their self-advocacy, their voice, their sense of self,” she remarked. “We take such satisfaction when students who didn’t think that they could communicate through writing discover that they have the ability to write about something important to them. The challenge for the writing teacher is to help make this happen.”

Writing Center consultants meet with students in 45-minute sessions held in the bright and airy suite of computer-equipped work stations on the third floor of the Haas Library on the university’s Midtown campus. Most students schedule visits voluntarily to work on class assignments at various stages of preparation, often after learning about the center’s services from their professors. “This university and its faculty are very good at emphasizing writing in every academic discipline,” Custer said.

While sessions at times may address topics such as source citations and grammar usage, Custer explained that consultants engage students in conversation to take a wider view of their assignment tasks and the preparation of their written work. “Our role is not to fix wording and write papers for students, but through conversation to serve as a reader responding to their work,” she said. “We serve writers at all skill levels, because every writer is going to benefit from having someone review their work and respond to it.”

Custer remarked that one of the greatest sources of pride in her tenure as Writing Center coordinator has been to witness the impact on consultants from their collaborative mentoring work with fellow students. “It can be a transformative experience as they learn leadership skills, compassion and a strong sense of who they are,” she said. “I’ve seen such growth in the students who work here. Learning to teach the complexities of writing is the hardest and the best job you could have.”

Students who qualify to join the center’s team of 10 to 12 consultants have completed at least two years of undergraduate studies and must meet rigorous GPA, coursework and writing standards as well as demonstrate the personal skills to work effectively with their peers. All staff members commit to taking the Writing Center Theory and Practice course with Custer and keeping a regular schedule of tutoring meetings as well as participating in weekly meetings with the coordinator and fellow consultants. Four staff members will accompany Custer this fall to present at the annual International Writing Centers Association conference in Columbus, Ohio, where participants share best practices and innovative strategies for writing education.

“I can teach grammar, but I can’t teach kindness and friendliness,” Custer said. “I have been very fortunate to find students who are earnest, hard working and smart, students who work well with their peers and with each other. It’s an ethic that most writing centers across the country seek.”

The 10 students who served as Writing Center consultants during the 2018-19 academic year submitted a reference letter as a team to the Board of Regents describing Custer’s unique ability to educate and communicate in ways uniquely suited to each individual. “Her ability to gauge specific students’ situations and meet their individual needs is always done with an attention to detail, creativity and, above all, a serious passion for education,” they wrote. “She revels in the triumphs and discoveries, however small, in the realm of finding new approaches, ways of using language, techniques for teaching methods or concepts.”

The student consultants lauded Custer’s conviction that “true learning comes from the interaction and relationship between two people, each with unique knowledge and each dedicated to obtaining more.” They observed the Writing Center has become a place where students “who may have slipped through the cracks otherwise” can “feel comfortable asking questions and answering them.”

“The Writing Center is a sought-out space for the courage to ask for help,” they wrote. “And the center of this place, the point around which learning and bravery revolve, is Dr. Kelli Custer.”

While Custer finds that most students who seek help at the Writing Center understand the importance of effective communication skills in their college work, Custer and her staff strive to impress upon students that writing is a lifelong learning process. She described the achievement of good writing as a “continually moving target” that is never fully attained. “We’re always going to be developing to become better writers,” she observed.

“In a sense, writing is like magic: You take a handful of letters and punctuation marks, and it gives you a power that you can use intentionally for any purpose,” she said. “Our job is to help students who didn’t think they were writers to understand that they really are.”

For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.

 

 

Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.

 

WCSU partnership with NOAA yields research, results, awards

Middle schoolers from Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Haven and Wilton honored at ceremony

image of 2019 Finding our Way award winners

2019 Finding our Way award winners

DANBURY, CONN. — Dr. Theodora Pinou, professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences and faculty curator of the H. G. Dowling Herpetological Collection at Western Connecticut State University, runs Finding Our Way: An Experiential Watershed Learning Program for Middle School Children and Their Families, an environmental science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills education program.

With a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Pinou brings students from regional middle schools to WCSU to provide a wide-ranging educational experience focusing on water resources and ecosystem biodiversity as part of the NOAA Office of Education’s Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) Program.

WCSU, Danbury Family Learning Center and Danbury Public Schools collaborate on the program, which offers 30 seventh-grade middle school students and their families a yearlong integrated environmental community stewardship experience focused on New England watersheds.

The Finding Our Way program recently held an awards ceremony, the WCSU NOAA B-WET Stewardship Awards, to recognize the outstanding work done by the program’s participants. The program hopes to make this an annual event.

Award winners

1st place – Joshua Maruffi, Westside Middle School Academy. His stewardship focused on learning about and helping several kinds of wildlife – birds, bats and pollinators. Maruffi built and installed several habitats at his house, recorded frog calls and tracked bird development. He involved younger students by leading a Cub Scout troop on a trail cleanup.

2nd place – Esther Ribeiro, Bethel Middle School. Ribeiro engaged the public with a well-designed website that educates on several environmental themes, particularly on waste reduction. She also built a compost bin to reduce food waste, fed ducks, planned a method of protecting sea turtle eggs and created an engaging baby activity book using recycled materials.

3rd place (tie) – Sabrina Serpa Smith and Marisol Tapia Rodriguez, Westside Middle School Academy. Their project is continuing, but they have already planned and executed important steps to improve pollinator diversity at their school. Smith and Rodriguez planted native plants and built benches for their school’s outdoor classroom in coordination with school officials. They also established a school “Green Team” in which they lead younger students in restoring and developing the wildlife habitat.

 3rd place (tie) – Juliet Dahlstrom, Westside Middle School Academy. Dahlstrom learned about composting and built a bin in her yard. She also cleaned an extensive local trail adjacent to a stream, collecting 26 pounds of garbage.

3rd place (tie) – Sereen Amezzane, from New Haven. Amezzane is home-schooled. She researched the problem of pollution from straws and gave a presentation on sustainable straw options. She engaged other students by having them sign a pledge not to use plastic straws.

Honorable mention – Joshua Hatter, Westside Middle School Academy. Hatter cleaned up a park and worked to improve his school’s recycling system. He worked over a long period creating flyers and speaking to classmates to encourage compliance in using school recycling bins.

Honorable mention – Matthew Waldron, Rogers Park Middle School. His project, to encourage lunchroom recycling, is in planning stages and will be implemented during the 2019-20 school year. With his school’s environmental club, Waldron will create a recycling bin for single-use plastic utensils and work with custodians on proper disposal. Additionally, he will create an incentive program using raffle tickets to reward students for bringing in their own utensils.

Participation Awards

Participation Award – Megan Iolova, New Fairfield Middle School. Iolova’s awareness of the widespread use of plastic straws has inspired her to meet with her school principal to reduce usage.

Participation Award – Jake Ledan, Bethel Middle School. Ledan approached his town’s First Selectman to install a town moss garden to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, improving the air quality of Bethel. He has monitored moss growth factors at his home and is expanding the moss environment there.

Participation Award – Diego Soto, Broadview Middle School. Soto’s project explored the pollution mitigating properties of moss and possible ways to use it to reduce car exhaust contaminants.

Participation Award – Tyler Tang, Middlebrook School, Wilton. Tang conducted a garbage clean up along the Norwalk River Valley Trail. He also put up posters at school water fountains to encourage refilling and reusing water bottles.

Teacher Awards

2019 WCSU NOAA B-WET Stewardship Classroom Award – Carrie Rowe, Teacher and Environmental Club Leader, Rogers Park Middle School. Rowe was recognized for encouraging environmental stewardship in the school community through leading the environmental club and fostering Matthew Waldron’s lunchroom recycling initiative, a program that will continue throughout the 2019-20 school year.

2019 WCSU NOAA B-WET Stewardship Classroom Award – Jonathan Neuhausel, Magnet School Coach, Westside Middle School Academy. He was recognized for fostering hands-on science learning for students through a renewal project of the Outdoor Habitat area. Neuhausel encourages all students to make stewardship a part of their daily lives.

Finding Our Way partners with WCSU’s Weather Center, the Candlewood Lake Authority and the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society to study the life cycle and behavior of organisms that rely on the watershed for resources. It also works with the NOAA Fisheries Lab in Milford and FirstLight Power Resources to learn about sustainable clean energy such as biofuel and hydroelectric power, and to examine the cost and benefit of such resources in terms of impact on local fish populations and associated habitats.

With the help of Praxair, the yearlong family program was able to include a 12-day summer enrichment experience, two family science summer events and four family “Science Saturdays” during the academic year. The program is housed at WCSU and uses facilities at the university’s two campuses in Danbury, including the computer science and library facilities and Weather Center on the university’s Midtown campus, and the Nature Preserve on the Westside campus. Family science meetings during the academic year provide support for parents to complete online content training and certification, habitat use analysis experiments, participation in a Tri-State Weather conference, and Skywarn Weather Monitoring training.

The 12-day summer enrichment program hosts a variety of science and math experiments and field trips, providing students with a head start in STEM fields, as well as building a foundation of environmental stewardship and literacy. The program integrates writing, skills building, recreation, reading, data analysis and teamwork. By the end of the summer, teams of families led by their students develop bilingual public service announcements in the language of their choice.

Selected middle school science teachers receive 28 hours of professional development during the fall and spring to develop, implement and refine their fresh water-related classroom. They also are hired to work the summer experiences, which adds another 60 hours to their STEM training.

Additionally, science teachers are trained to integrate NOAA Ocean Literacy program with Next Generation Science Standards in their classrooms.

Reaching out to disadvantaged, minority and female students, the participating schools include Broadview Middle School, Rogers Park Middle School and Westside Middle School Academy. Ten additional students were selected by lottery from Bethel, New Fairfield, New Haven, Ridgefield and Wilton.

For more information, contact Carol Ball, Finding Our Way Science Education Outreach Coordinator, at (203) 837-8753, or the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.

 

 

Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.

 

WCSU exhibition ‘American Subtitles’ explores nation’s diversity

Chaparro and Hudson show interprets American experience of people of color

DANBURY, CONN. — “American Subtitles,” an exhibition of works in many media by acclaimed Connecticut artists Andres Chaparro and Robert Charles Hudson, will be presented from Monday, Aug. 26, through Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in the Gallery at the Visual and Performing Arts Center at Western Connecticut State University.

An opening reception for the artists will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 29, in the VPAC Gallery on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. The exhibition will be open for viewing from noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission for the opening reception and general viewing will be free and open to the public; reservations to attend the reception should be made online on the VPAC events web page at www.wcsuvpac.eventbrite.com. The exhibition program is sponsored by the WCSU Department of Art with support from patrons of the Gallery; donations to sustain the program will be accepted.

Chaparro also will present an artist talk at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, at a location to be determined. Admission will be free and the public is invited.

The exhibition will feature a richly varied range of paintings, sculptures, collages and mixed-media works that interpret the American experience of people of color. Chaparro and Hudson share a common passion in their artistic work to invite and challenge viewers to re-examine social crises from a fresh perspective and to explore the individual’s contributions to humanity, while embracing visions of both unity and diversity.

image of Rise and Kneel by Andrews Chaparro

Rise and Kneel by Andres Chaparro

Chaparro, a Hartford native who pursues his creative work at his Windsor studio, has gained international recognition for mixed-media paintings and collages featuring bold color contrasts and expressive visual representations of legendary jazz artists and their music. Inspired since his youth by the dynamic interplay between art and music, he incorporates oil pastel, marker, crayon, pencil, acrylic, spray paint, found objects and collage in interpretive works that evoke spontaneous and powerful emotions.

“I work without premeditation, simply following the path that each painting sets forth for me,” Chaparro explained. “Through my artwork, I strive to create an example of ideas that reflect my desire to raise social consciousness and cultural awareness. Jazz music is the catalyst of all my work, and plays a major influence in each piece of work.”

An aficionado of the jazz scene during his studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Chaparro has found subjects for his interpretive works in John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Christian McBride, Albert Ayler, Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk and other jazz greats. His images of Ralph Peterson and Aggregate Prime were featured at the 2017 WCSU Jazz Fest and he has held artist residencies at the Montclair and New Haven jazz festivals. He has participated in more than 60 solo and group exhibitions across the Northeast, and his works are held in many public and private collections. He received the SBNO Greater Hartford Arts Leadership Award and the Maria C. Sanchez Arts and Culture Award, and earned nomination for the Latino de Oro prize in arts and culture. His works appeared in the Crooks Press book, “Making the Cut: The World’s Best Collage Artists.”

Chaparro said that his work continues to reflect his spiritual, emotional and intellectual growth as a person and as an artist. “My connection with jazz has fostered the sense of improvisation and freedom in my work,” he observed. “I sometimes feel that I relate more to a jazz musician’s process of composing or performing than I do to an artist creating a piece of art.”

image of Knowing by Robert Charles Hudson

Knowing by Robert Charles Hudson

Hudson, a Bristol resident and recipient of a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Connecticut, draws inspiration from his family traditions and his African American heritage in his multi-faceted work as a sculptor, painter, collagist and quilter. He has exhibited in more than 20 solo and group shows across Connecticut and in Massachusetts, New York and Washington, D.C.

Among his solo shows have been presentations at the Hartford Public Library, the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury and the New Britain Museum of American Art. His NBMAA exhibition, “Above the Underground,” explored through quilts and paintings the ways in which slaves communicated with each other on their perilous quest for freedom along the Underground Railroad. His Hartford Public Library show, “The Door of No Return,” evoked through sculpted busts, a canvas tunnel, collages and paintings the journey of kidnapped Africans walking to slave ships bound for the Americas.

Hudson’s sculpture works have included representations in terracotta, stone and marble of the human head. “These are the result of my inner visions and my desire to express the human spirit and the American experience,” he said. “For the ‘American Subtitles’ exhibition, I will be creating metal sculptured work to enhance the message and give another perspective.”

 Hudson received a sculpture grant from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts and was commissioned to create a series of paintings for the UConn African American Center. His works are held in the collections of the New Britain Museum, the UConn Health Center and the City of Hartford Division of Cultural Affairs, as well as many corporate and foundation collections. He also is a longtime educator, serving as an art instructor at UConn and public schools in Hartford and New Britain. He remarked after conducting a painting class at the Hartford Library that what inspires him most when working with aspiring artists “is when the students break through their resistance and come to a new place where they realize that creating art is a gift.”

For more information, contact the Department of Art at (203) 837-8403 or the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.

 

 

Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.

 

 

WCSU student, alumnus to attend International Diplomacy Forum in Thailand

image of Bakhtawar Izzat and Victor Namer

Bakhtawar Izzat and Victor Namer

DANBURY, CONN. — When the International Diplomacy Forum convenes at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand, in July 2019, emerging young professionals from more than 50 countries will assemble for practical sessions, interactive workshops, solution-based discussions, negotiation exercises, career advice and networking relating to opportunities in global diplomacy.

They will hear from speakers like Kishore Mahbubani, former president of the U.N. Security Council and a senior adviser in University & Global Relations. One of Prospect Magazine’s “Top 50 World Thinkers,” Mahbubani is a professor in the Practice of Public Policy. Also addressing attendees will be Felipe Quiepo, communications officer, Civil Society & Advocacy Section, Department of Global Communications, at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

In addition to some of the top names in global diplomacy, two of the invited attendees will have Western Connecticut State University ties: 2019 graduate Victor Namer, of Danbury, and Bakhtawar Izzat, of Bethel, who will be entering her junior year at WCSU in the fall.

Namer received dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Psychology and Political Science with a minor in Conflict Resolution in May. He was named one of two 2019 Henry Barnard Distinguished Students from WCSU, was a Kathwari Honors student, and received a number of scholarships and awards while obtaining his degrees. Namer graduated with a 3.91 GPA and was on the Dean’s List every semester.

Izzat is a current Kathwari Honors student pursuing a degree in Political Science with a minor in Business Administration. She is a certified NASPA peer educator, a peer leader for First Year students/the Career Success Center and social media manager for the WCSU Rotaract Club. She has been on the Dean’s List every semester, and was awarded an Alumni Association scholarship in the spring.

Izzat said an email was sent to political science students and alumni with a description of the International Diplomacy Forum and information about how to be considered.

“I absolutely love being involved, and responded to the email by tagging my adviser, Professor of Social Sciences Dr. Averell Manes,” she said. “I asked if she would be interested in nominating me, and she responded to me by requesting my resume. From there, the adventure to finesse my resume began. It was with her constant encouragement that I felt confident in the process.”

Manes said that while she made sure all social sciences students were aware of the opportunity, “I specifically invited Baki and Victor because I thought they would be so perfect for it. In addition, I wrote a strong nomination letter with their resumes, which I was told by the secretariat was instrumental, as I believed that they would both be very well-suited to it because of their backgrounds.” Manes also assisted with the funding aspect from behind the scenes.

When notified of her acceptance to the forum, Izzat ran to her mother with the news.

“She is the backbone of everything I do and my biggest supporter,” Izzat said. “I am a first-generation college student, so hearing this brought tears to her eyes. I told her that I am extremely honored to represent our university and the United States. Knowing that I can make some sort of difference globally, and learn while I am at it, is a privilege that I am greatly honored to have.”

Namer also was enthusiastic about his nomination.

“I realized that I was one of 200 students worldwide who would be participating in this forum, but also that I would be representing the United States and WCSU,” he said. “Not only was I nominated by the community that raised me, but now I am able to represent WCSU and the U.S. on an international level, and I couldn’t be more honored.”

Izzat said one reason she wants to attend is that she wants to learn about the experiences people have had in different parts of the globe.

“I know the conference will be hosting a lot of ambassadors, government officials and activists, so learning about their roles and lives is something I look forward to doing,” she said. “Additionally, my main goal that I hope to accomplish at this conference is to make long-lasting relationships with individuals who are different than I am. I hope to engage in conversation with almost all 200 students there, and to understand what their lives are like. I am humbled that I have earned the chance to be in the presence of such wonderful people, and interacting with them is a goal I look forward to accomplishing.”

Namer shared similar aspirations.

“During this conference, I want to learn ways to practically apply the skills of diplomacy, peacemaking and social justice into my career. Having just graduated from WCSU, I want to work in either the nonprofit world, or go into the political realm. Having these skills under my belt of how to tangibly impact local, state and national communities is something that I am greatly looking forward to learning through these seminars and workshops.”

Izzat added, “My ultimate goal in life is to be an influential female, and being able to understand who/what is around me becomes a key factor in trying to foster growth and societal change. I want to initiate the positive change in the world that people so often talk about, and I think this conference will allow me to tap into how that change exactly looks like on a larger scale.”

While at WCSU, Namer studied abroad in Thailand and Spain through the International Student Exchange Program. He also took advantage of every travel opportunity presented to him. “As of now, I have visited 17 countries,” he said.

Izzat has traveled to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Ireland and England. “Although these were not trips for the purpose of studying abroad,” she explained, “I have gained immense knowledge about the various cultures and traditions of these areas.”

In addition to being well versed in international travel, both Namer and Izzat said their studies at WCSU have prepared them for the forum.

“First and foremost, my two study-abroad experiences have molded me into a global citizen, laying the framework for my interest in these respective fields of peacemaking,” Namer said. “My political science major has offered course work in global and interpersonal conflict resolution/international relations, where I got to study under my two amazing mentors at WCSU: Dr. Averell Manes and Dr. Christopher Kukk. This education provided me with groundwork that I can now mold into more concrete and tangible applications. Finally, taking everything into perspective, I am incredibly excited for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Working at the United Nations was something I never thought would happen in this lifetime for myself, but this was something made possible thanks to WCSU. I am truly grateful and ecstatic to be a part of such a dynamic group whose mission is simply the spread of peace to the world.”

Izzat said she also feels prepared for what the forum will offer.

“My political science major has encouraged me to dive deeper into the historical understandings of our past and to not only answer questions about our present, but to question our answers for the present too. My professors, whether in the political science field or not, have all planted some sort of seed in me that helped me grow into the individual I am today. WCSU allowed me to become a certified peer educator and has paved a pathway for me to gain multiple levels of leadership experience. My time here has effectively made me aware of the necessities of the community, and has put me in the position of being able to help those around me.

“The Kathwari Honors Program has played an immense role in being an establishment that fosters confidence in young individuals like me,” Izzat continued. “Individuals like Dr. Manes; Professor of Communication and Media Arts Dr. Maryann Murtha; Associate Professor of Writing, Linguistics and Creative Process Dr. Kelli Custer; Honors Program Director Dr. Chris Kukk; Honors Program Assistant Director Jessica Lin; Career Success Center Director Kathleen Lindenmayer; Career Success Center Administrative Assistant Christine Hoy; and my own peers like Victor Namer, are all enthusiasts for being kind and fostering change throughout the community. And that, I believe, is what this conference is attempting to establish as well.”

 

 

Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.