WCSU students learn from area professionals to become tomorrow’s leaders

DANBURY, CONN. — From learning fiscal and civic responsibility to mentoring and tutoring peers, students at Western Connecticut State University are preparing to become leaders of tomorrow through the Hancock Student Leadership Program.

This year the program includes a new opportunity for students to make the most of the skills and knowledge they learned in class. From September through December, seven selected students are shadowing area professionals, an experience that places them at an advantage in the workplace after graduation.

“These students are gaining real-world experience shadowing leaders in their chosen fields,” said
Dr. R. Averell Manes, WCSU professor of political science and conflict studies. “They are learning about the realities of leadership. They report being changed forever by what they are learning. These students are serving as ambassadors for WCSU in the surrounding communities, and we are proud of them.”

The Leadership Shadowing Field Experience and Leadership Project incorporates mission and vision articulation, leadership styles and philosophies, management skills, accountability and organizational change.

The following WCSU students are shadowing area professionals:

Joshua Alphonso, a political science major from Danbury, is working with the Commandant of Cadets, Detachment 009 AFROTC Yale as a Cadet Wing Commander helping to lead and coordinate operations.

Michelle Bishop, a political science major from Milford, is an editorial assistant at Lambda Legal, the nation’s oldest and largest legal organization working for the civil rights of lesbians, gay men and people with HIV/AIDS. She will be contributing to educational activities and publications.

Political science major Jeffrey John of Trumbull is assisting at the Danbury law offices of Hon. Dianne Yamin and Bob Yamin and will be observing meetings and proceedings held by the Chamber of Commerce, Common Council and local courthouse.

Political science major Caitlin Kelly of North Stonington is working with the executive director of the International Institute of Connecticut as an administrative intern to help develop a cultural education curriculum to assist immigrants, refugees and their families.

Musical theatre and theatre arts major Casey Miko of Stratford is the assistant to the associate artistic director of the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven.

Education major Noel Rodriquez of Stratford is working under the supervision of Dr. Bill Glass, deputy superintendent of the Danbury public schools, shadowing leaders from a number of schools and in a variety of capacities, including principals and department heads.

Under the guidance of the director of community engagement of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, Newtown resident and English major Zacary Richter will help found a WCSU/Fairfield County chapter of ASAN.

The HSLP is a joint program offered by the divisions of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs at WCSU and is partially funded by the Hancock Scholarship Fund. Ellen Mooney Hancock and W. Jason Hancock donated $1 million to Western in 2001 to establish the Jason and Ellen Hancock Student Endowment Fund. The fund’s annual income provides need-based student scholarships, student leadership initiatives and initiatives to integrate the creative arts with technology.

For more information, contact Manes at (203) 837-8452.


Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.

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