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Arielle Cooper Coaches Her High School to State Championship

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - This past June, Eastern Connecticut State University alumna Arielle Cooper '13 coached her high school alma mater to a softball state championship. Cooper, 23-years-old and one year out of college, returned to Fitch High School in Groton to fill in as interim head coach this past April. On June 14, the Falcons finished with a 26-1 record and were Class L state champions.
Originally, Cooper was interested in filling in as the junior varsity coach, but instead was offered the varsity coaching position. "It felt great that the players trusted me as a first-year coach. The team chemistry was amazing. I think that aspect helped us get to the championship," she said. "It was really rewarding to go back to my alma mater, where it all started for me. I feel like things have come full circle."

In 2009 -- her senior year at Fitch -- the Falcons won a state championship with Cooper as their starting third baseman. "Not many people get to experience being a state champion player and coach, so I am grateful for that accomplishment," Cooper said. "The moment we won the championship game, I just watched the girls celebrate; I remember that feeling very well. It was great to feel like I led the team back to a state title."

Cooper studied sport and leisure management while at Eastern, and was a star third baseman for the Warriors softball team. "I had an amazing four years at Eastern. I grew through the program; being a Warrior made me a better person and coach," she said. "I learned more than I thought I would. Coach Pepin and Coach Maneggia were great coaches." 

This past successful season has presented a number of opportunities for Cooper. "I have had a few offers at other schools to coach," she said, "but I'm not ready to make a big decision yet. I'm hoping to return to Fitch. I still have a while to figure everything out."

Aside from coaching, Cooper has other career aspirations. "In the near future I'm going to be working towards a master's degree either in school counseling or education," she said. "I also wouldn't mind being an athletic director. That's always a career in the back of my mind."

Education Students Travel to London

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Eastern students on Primrose Hill in Regent's Park, London. Left to right: Matt Mangold, Meagan Salisbury, Sarah Froehlich, Jessica Ristow, Ashley Westman, Molly Gosselin.

Willimantic, Conn. - This past May, six Eastern education students traveled to London, England, on a 10-day "global field course" to learn about the British education system. During their stay, students visited six primary, secondary and special needs schools in the diverse, inner-city areas of East London.
"This trip provided our education students with an additional internship opportunity preparatory to completing their certification programs," said faculty advisor and Education Professor Catherine Tannahill. "These East London schools are very successful in educating diverse populations ranging from second language learners to new immigrants and special needs students."

 During their experience, Eastern students observed and interacted with British students; attended presentations and interviews with school administrators from the British education system; worked with high poverty, second language learners; and met with British teachers and student-teachers, discussing teaching strategies and challenges.

 "This trip was an invaluable learning experience for me. It was interesting to see how England, a country that on the surface seems so similar to our own, handles education," said Molly Gosselin '14, an English major from East Hartford. "I'm grateful I was able to share my own experiences with British educators and, in turn, take new knowledge and experiences back with me."

 Among the schools visited were Bygrove Primary School and Sandringham Primary School, the Phoenix Primary and Secondary School, St Helens Catholic Primary School and Gallions Primary. Some students also visited St. Paul's Secondary School and Morpeth Secondary School.

Students Engage in Global Energy Summit

Written by Laurel Kohl

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Eastern students participating in the North American Student Energy Summit held at Columbia University include, left to right, Trevor Warbin, Business Administration; Ying Chen, Accounting; Stephanie Rogers, Environmental Earth Science; Dustin Munson, Environmental Earth Studies; and Kyle Ellsworth, General Studies. The students were accompanied by Adam St.Denis, university assistant. 

Willimantic, Conn: -- Six students from Eastern Connecticut State University traveled to New York City in late June to spend two days with fellow students and energy experts from across North America.  The North American Student Energy Summit challenged college and university students to question and understand critical regional energy issues and the future of global energy dynamics.  The event was held on June 19-20 at the United Nations and Columbia University, and was linked with four other Regional Student Energy Summits, held simultaneously across the world in Latin America, Africa and Europe.
Eastern's President Elsa Núñez said of the event, "This was a great opportunity for our students to engage with like-minded people, looking to solve our future energy needs, and bringing that knowledge back to Eastern to make an impact on our campus." 

Three hundred undergraduate and graduate students from 75 institutions throughout the United States and Canada participated in the summit.  Twenty-seven experts from industry and government gave presentations, and participated in live interactive sessions with the students, engaging in discussions on the future of fossil fuels, financing alternative energy, technology innovation and carbon management.  The roster of distinguished speakers included Melanie Kenderdine, energy counselor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy; Ray Dempsey, vice president of British Petroleum, America; and Daniel Gross, managing director at Oak Tree Capital.  The Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) at Eastern was an Institutional Partner for the summit.

The Eastern participants, all student interns working at the ISE, gained valuable insight into current global and domestic energy trends, problems and solutions.  Senior Kyle Ellsworth was inspired by the event, saying, "The energy problems of the world seem like a giant jigsaw puzzle, but seeing the level of intelligence, and the commitment to a better future by the students and presenters, it feels good to know we are all working towards a more sustainable future together." 
The International Student Energy Summit, held every other year, will be in Bali, Indonesia, in 2015.  The events are organized by Student Energy, a global not-for-profit focused on creating the next generation of energy leaders committed to transitioning the world to a sustainable future.

Students Study Tropical Rainforests in Costa Rica

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - This past May, 14 students from Eastern Connecticut State University took a 12-day field course in Costa Rica to study tropical biology. The trip focused on the basic aspects of tropical rainforest ecology and the natural history of tropical organisms.

This course is among Eastern's most prominent global field courses, and has been offered by the Biology Department since 1968. "The trip to Costa Rica was an incredible experience," said Jackie Lagasse '14, a biochemistry major from Colchester. "I had the opportunity to conduct research in a completely new ecosystem with guidance from three outstanding professors."

Amid their research, students worked in small groups to complete projects and discussed literature relating to tropical rainforest ecosystems. Other topics observed during the trip included the peculiarities of tropical agriculture, the socioeconomic consequences of development in the tropics, and tropical ecosystem conservation. "The research completed this year was of the highest quality and reflects the academic excellence of participating students," said faculty advisor and Biology Professor Patricia Szcyzs.

The group also enjoyed a tour of Costa Rica, where they hiked on the base of an active volcano, visited a pineapple plantation, an abandon cacao (chocolate) plantation and the premier tropical biology research station in the Western Hemisphere, La Selva Biological Research Station.

"Roughly half the students were seniors, and the experience served as a capstone to their Eastern careers," said Szczys. "We had a great trip!" Lagasse concluded with, "The trip introduced me to new organisms, new research opportunities, and a new sense on what it means to study biology."

Students Take a Global Field Course to Zurich and London

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - From May 17-28, eight students from Eastern Connecticut State University traveled to Zurich, Switzerland, and London, England, on a global field course to learn about the cities' business practices, marketing approaches and cultural history.

"This was my first trip taking students abroad, and I can say with certainty that everyone enjoyed themselves immensely," said faculty advisor Katalin Eibel-Spanyi, professor of marketing. "We visited several organizations, studied the history of the cities, experienced different cultures and toured major attractions."

"The scenic views of the Limmat River, Lake Zurich and the Swiss Alps are something that will stay with me forever," said Carissa Riccio, an accounting major from North Haven. "I enjoyed the walking tour on the first day, learning about the city's history and getting an idea of where everything is."

Along with visiting cultural sites such as the National Museum of Zurich and the Globe Theatre in London, students toured several businesses, including Roche Diagnostics, London Metal Exchange, Chelsea Football Club and the BBC. "Our first company visit in Zurich was Credit Suisse. I felt I learned the most at this visit," said Devin Quinn, a business administration major from New Fairfield. "We learned about their marketing strategies and the reasons why they create certain advertisements."

The course was split into three parts: preliminary classroom sessions prior to the trip; the trip itself; and a series of recapping and reflection exercises. "What I liked most about both countries is that they have modern design elements throughout their cities, but also have kept a lot of their traditional roots and ceremonies," said Matt Kostyk, a business administration major from Tolland.

Todd Henderson, a business administration major from Colchester, said, "The fountains, people and scenery were breath-taking. I remember the cool crisp air made me feel energized and healthy. The Swiss people were relaxed and enjoy the simple things, seemingly without a worry in the world or sense of emergency."

"I am so thankful that I decided to go on this trip," said Kelsey Falcone, a business administration major from Somers. "I think it changed me and it let me see things that I never imagined that I would be able to go see."

Eastern Hosts Health, Life Sciences Summer Research Program

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - From May 27-July 3, Eastern Connecticut State University hosted a six-week research experience called the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP). SURP is a component of the Connecticut Health and Life Sciences Career Initiative, a three-year program of the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education focused on preparing Connecticut's workforce for the growing health and life sciences sector.

The initiative involves Eastern and six other Connecticut state colleges. Norwalk, Gateway, Middlesex, Capital and Manchester community colleges are developing and revising programs that prepare students to meet the workforce needs of the health and life sciences field. Charter Oak State College is providing prior learning assessments to ensure students get credit for military service and other learning, and Eastern is the host of SURP, the hands-on summer research component.

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"This is the first exposure to health and life sciences for many of the students involved," said Lesley Mara, project director of the initiative. "Prior to the program, many of them weren't aware of the study or career opportunities in this field."

The Connecticut Health and Life Sciences Career Initiative is funded by a $12.1 million Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Under the grant, being administered by Norwalk Community College, Eastern will host SURP again next summer.

"SURP has given students hands-on research experience and many opportunities for personal, career and academic development," said Board of Regents President Gregory Gray. "The program will help our students be competitively positioned for health and life science careers in Connecticut."

The initiative enrolls both traditional and nontraditional students, but focuses on veterans and un/underemployed workers. This summer, 20 students ages 18-50, mostly from community colleges, participated in SURP. "This is a once in a lifetime experience. I'm so happy I took advantage of it," said Ze Bayati, a student from Gateway Community College. "By the end of the program, I found my passion for science.  Now I know that biology is the right career path for me."

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Participants took one of two tracks -- biosciences or physical health and epidemiology -- and conducted research alongside Eastern faculty from various health and science departments. "SURP has been designed to allow students to explore a variety of research areas within their track," said Polly Silva, Eastern's curriculum and program coordinator for the initiative. "In addition to being introduced to the topic, they learn how to formulate research questions and what the practical applications are for that field."
Research topics for biosciences included extraction of antimicrobial agents from plants; analyses of molecular stem and progenitor cells; and laser-scanning confocal microscopy. Topics for physical health and epidemiology included exercise testing protocols; the study and impact of nutrition and physical health on chronic disease; and the use of geographic information systems (GIS) to study the health of the community.

Research was conducted in Eastern's state-of-the-art Science Building. "I chose to participate in SURP because I wanted to learn how to use various types of lab equipment," said Precilia Dianzenza, a nursing student from Capital Community College, whose research focused on the antibacterial properties of the Black Iris flower.

SURP participants also took field trips to Connecticut Public Health Labs and the Hartford Hospital Simulation Lab. "My favorite experience was visiting the Simulation Center," said Tim Ziembiec, health and exercise science major from Manchester Community College. "We got to see and test out the same technology that doctors and nurses use -- I don't think I would have ever had an opportunity like that if it wasn't for SURP."

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Many students chose to live on Eastern's campus during the program. "In addition to benefiting from the research experience, community college students had the opportunity to experience what it is like to live in a dorm," said Mary Ann Affleck, dean of academic affairs at Capital Community College.
"Our hope is that this program will inspire students to pursue studies and careers in the health and life sciences field, and judging by their reactions, I think it has!" said Mara. "The access to equipment the students had and the quality and care of the faculty helped make SURP a great success."

The Connecticut Health and Life Sciences Career Initiative also aligns with Eastern's brand new Health Sciences major. Both of these programs are meant to address the rapid growth of the health and life sciences field over the coming years.


CFDRC Achieves Accreditation Renewal

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - On June 24, The Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC) at Eastern Connecticut State University achieved a new, five-year term of accreditation with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The accreditation--recognized as "the mark of quality in early childhood education"--is valid from June 24, 2014 - Oct. 1, 2019.

  "The administration, teaching staff and families of the CFDRC are all to be congratulated for continuing to uphold the mark of quality represented by the NAEYC accreditation," wrote the association in its congratulatory letter.
 Among the tasks of becoming NAEYC-accredited, programs must score at least 80 percent on each of the association's 10 program standards. Scores are based on a site visit, which includes an observation of classroom sessions and an overall environmental assessment, as well as a review of the program's portfolios. The CFDRC scored 100 percent on every standard.

The 10 program standards evaluated include promoting positive relationships and personal health; utilizing relevant curriculum and effective teaching and assessment approaches; employing qualified and committed staff and management; interacting with families, communities and outside agencies; and providing indoor and outdoor environments that foster growth and development.
"The process for NAEYC preparation led to further reflection, team-building and opportunities for growth and development for our staff," said Niloufar Rezai, director of the CFDRC.  "To surpass the expectations of NAEYC accreditation highlights our commitment to providing quality early learning experiences for children and their families, as well as fostering a model environment for future teachers to gain experiences."

The NAEYC is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit focused on improving the well-being of young children, with particular emphasis on the quality of educational and developmental services for children from birth through age eight.


Eastern Wins Intern Hero Award

Written by Dwight Bachman


Left to right, are Mirela Grbesic of Baypath College (Student InternHero); Clifford Marrett of Eastern Connecticut State University (College InternHero); Laura Lepere of MiddleOak (Employer InternHero); and Brett Conery of University of Connecticut (nominator of Employer InterHero).  

Willimantic, Conn: -- Eastern Connecticut State University has been named recipient of the New England's Knowledge Corridor's 2014 Banking Intern Hero Award in the College/University category. The award recognizes organizations that use the Knowledge Corridor's InternHere.Com website; Eastern students used the site the most.

Cliff Marrett, director of Eastern's Center for Internships and Career Development, accepted the award on behalf of the University, presented on June 13 at the New England's Knowledge Corridor's 2014 State of the Region Conference at the Sheraton Hotel at Bradley International Airport. The conference is presented by the New England's Knowledge Corridor Partnership.

" ( is thrilled that Eastern Connecticut State University was our university award-winner this year," said Nancy Scirocco, president of the board of directors for the New England Knowledge Corridor. Scirocco is also vice president and senior relationship manager of Webster Bank's Government and Not-For-Profit Banking.  "Providing our college students the experiential learning they gain through internships is crucial to their future success. Eastern has demonstrated its commitment to our shared goal, and we are grateful for their support." 

 "Eastern is very pleased and honored to receive this award, as it reflects the University's effort to help find students internship opportunities throughout Connecticut and beyond," said Marrett. "Our goal is to ensure that our students secure meaningful, experiential learning opportunities that lead to personal and professional growth that results in permanent positions in the workplace. Through our partnerships with corporations, non-profit organizations and state agencies, combined with the online services, our students are able to land positions in the workplace and become major contributors in the economic development of the state."
For more information on the Intern Hero Award, visit

Eastern Hires New Dean of Education and Professional Studies

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, CT -- Jacob Easley II will join Eastern Connecticut State University on June 27 when he assumes his new job as the Dean of Education and Professional Studies. Easley will be leaving the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown, where he served as chair of the Education Division since 2011.

What does the new dean like about Eastern?  "What stood out was the campus commitment to the University's values, including a commitment to the local community.  I was also impressed with your commitment to sustainability."

Easley received his PhD in Educational Leadership, Curriculum and Supervision from Pennsylvania State University, his MA in Applied Linguistics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and his BA in Spanish from Morehouse College.

"I see the School of Education and Professional Studies as being the University's finger on the pulse of the academic needs of the state and the workforce needs of the business community," said Easley during a phone interview prior to his arrival on campus.

Over the course of the past 20 years, Easley has served in a variety of positions in higher education, holding such positions as professor, teacher and supervisor. Easley has also served on various boards and committees, conducted research, published writings and presented extensively across the United States and abroad.

 Some of Easley's research interests include education policy and politics; contextualized leadership; schools as organizations; understanding the factors that affect urban schools and shape the formal processes of schooling; and 21st Century intercultural and international perspectives in educational leadership.

 When discussing projects he has in mind for his new role at Eastern, Easley said, "In collaboration with the Center for Community Engagement, something we might consider is creating summer institutes for students at the K-12 level that teach kids how the higher education system works. I am also interested in strengthening partnerships with business and industry, as well as enhancing quality internships and providing opportunities for gaining international business perspectives."

 Easley is the author of "The Audacity to Teach!: The Impact of Leadership, School Reform, and the Urban Context on Educational Innovations." His research has also been published in the Journal of Urban Learning, Teaching, and Research; The Educational Forum; Race Ethnicity and Education; The Professional Educator; and Educational Studies.

Eastern Students Take Field Excursion throughout Arizona

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Eastern Connecticut State University EES students with Professor Dickson Cunningham on a cinder cone volcano amongst the San Francisco peaks of northern Arizona. Photo taken by Professor Drew Hyatt.Back row: Chelsea Roston, Kevin McCormick, Samantha Boyle, Kurt Stefancyk, Carly Burgess, Haley Celotti, Sean Kellarson, Professor Dickson Cunningham. Front Row: Michael Doyle, Olivia Spiller, Rachael Dern, Stephanie Rogers, Lindsey Belliveau, Mackenzie Fannon, Michael Manzi, Daniel Grondin, Matt Gonsalves

Willimantic, Conn. - In May 2014, 16 environmental earth science (EES) students of Eastern Connecticut State University took a 12-day field excursion throughout Arizona. The excursion, a three-credit summer course, brought the students to a number of national parks and geological wonders for an up-close look at the region's geology, geomorphology, natural resources, environmental science and Native American heritage.

"The trip was a great experience in which we were able to apply our knowledge from the classroom to further understand and learn about the beautiful geology of Arizona," said Stephanie Rogers, a senior EES major from East Hartford.
Some of the destinations included the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, Salt River Canyon, Saguaro National Park, the Santa Catalina Mountains, Montezuma Castle National Monument and more.

"Despite climbing into the Grand Canyon, no one actually fell in," remarked EES Professor Dickson Cunningham, one of the trip's faculty advisors. "The dormant volcanoes that we scrambled up also remained asleep!" 

The trip's workload involved hands-on learning, student projects, presentations and educational hikes throughout the Grand Canyon State, not to mention the preliminary classroom sessions that occurred on Eastern's campus prior to the trip.

"It was an amazing experience that entailed many fields of study including geology, sustainable energy, desert ecology and anthropology," said Daniel Grondin, a senior from East Hartford. "We learned to approach and understand the topic at hand and to hone our field skills."

Cunningham concluded with, "Our field excursion was action-packed, great fun and an excellent educational experience for all of us!"

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