Yearly Archives: 2016

Women and computer science

Southern’s efforts to bolster computer science education in the region have caught the attention of the White House.

SCSU is mentioned in a White House fact sheet released Sept. 14 to highlight the efforts of schools and other organizations across the nation that expand access to computer science, particularly at the K-12 level. A summit was held on the same day at the White House to celebrate recent commitments to improve computer science education as part of President Barack Obama’s Computer Science for All initiative.

SCSU had submitted materials to the White House that showcase the university’s push. Lisa Lancor, chairwoman of the SCSU Computer Science Department, and Winnie Yu, a computer science professor coordinating this effort, were notified last Friday that Southern would be recognized.

“It is great to see this national effort to expand computer science offerings at the K-12 level – an initiative that is certainly needed,” said Lisa Lancor, chairwoman of the SCSU Computer Science Department. “We are merely tying in what we’ve been doing, and it is wonderful to see that the White House is recognizing our contributions.

Yu agreed.

“Being selected by the White House for recognition is a boost to the morale of our students and faculty,” Yu said.

The three principal SCSU projects are:

*A commitment to increase the number of women majoring in computer science at SCSU from the current 13.8 percent to 25 percent within two years. It is part of SCSU’s participation in the National Center for Women in Technology’s Pacesetters program.

*A training program for high school teachers on mobile computing so that the teachers can more effectively teach their students. Mobile computing is being taught in more than 200 schools across the country, including some in Connecticut.

*A mentoring program in which at least 10 Southern computer science students will conduct weekly, after-school mini program lessons in computer programming to 20-30 middle school students at Beecher Museum Magnet School of the Arts and Sciences in New Haven. The program began more than a year ago.

Michael Kuszpa, a middle school science teacher at Beecher, said he is excited that the mentoring program is continuing. He said his students have been learning various 21st century computer coding skills, ranging from building smart phone applications to coding simple computer programs.

“The interaction between SCSU’s students and the middle school students of Beecher has helped spark a much needed interest among our students into the field of computer science — a high demand STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) career field,” said Kuszpa, who also is a student in SCSU’s Ed.D. (Doctor of Education) in educational leadership program.

According to the White House, nine out of 10 parents would like computer science to be taught at their child’s school, but by some estimates, only a quarter of K-12 schools offer a computer science course with programming included. The need for such skills across industries continues to grow rapidly, with 51 percent of all STEM jobs projected to be in computer science-related fields by 2018, the White House said.

Furthermore, some estimates show that three-quarters of U.S. schools do not offer a single computer science course with programming, according to the White House, which adds that lack of access is even worse for communities traditionally underrepresented in computer science and other STEM fields. In fact, the White House said that only 22 percent of students who took the Advanced Placement computer science exam in high school were girls, and just 13 percent were African-American or Latino students.

“Today’s job market, research and development is hungry for computer science-related skills,” Yu said. “We are deeply committed to fostering computational thinking and analytical skills in our students, especially among women and underrepresented groups who might otherwise not consider computer science as a potential career path. To meet these needs, our mission is to provide access, as well as to build inclusive excellence.”





My name is Erica Surgeary (yup, just like the operation). I am a senior majoring in Event Management. I am from Long Island, New York so I’m already used to traveling across open waters to go to school (haha). At SCSU I live on campus as a Resident Advisor, I am a Peer Mentor Coordinator, Orientation Ambassador, and a tour guide.

I am studying abroad in Liverpool, England from September 14th – January 6th. I will be an exchange student at Liverpool’s John Moores University. I will be sharing a suite/flat with five other SCSU students in a building called Capital Gate.

Livin n’ Liverpool
You say goodbye, & I say hello!

Wednesday’s occur 53 times a year, it’s the hump day of a long workweek, and it’s commonly known among teens as the day you wear pink. I’ve spent years of dreaming, months of planning, and days of counting down to this Wednesday.

Well, this Wednesday is finally here! On September 14th, I leave the owl’s nest for four months to study abroad in Liverpool, England for the fall semester! But, I’m not just studying abroad… I’m proud to say that I am a pioneer for Southern Connecticut State University’s student exchange program and Liverpool’s John Moores University.

Liverpool JMU

I’ve been waiting on standby for almost two years for this “Atlantic Crossing” program to take off.  Now, you may ask, why did I wait for fall semester of my senior year? (FYI, college really does fly by). Well, my insightful advisors in the Recreation, Sports, and Event Management department were the engineers of this exchange program. They put the pieces together and paved the runway for students like me to be the test pilots for this adventurous flight.

I’m feeling excited but nerves are kicking in. I am ambitious and optimistic. This experience will help challenge me to become more adventurous and live more independently. It still hasn’t settled in yet that I’ll be away for four months, but as my twin sister said, who studied abroad in Prague last semester, it will hit me when I arrive. (BTW Allee, my sister, has been the best resource & guide to me throughout all of this!)

In March 2016 I spent my spring break in Prague visiting Allee. We went to Vienna, Prague, and Budapest in 10 days. My short time in these three European cities gave me new perspectives. I was overly exhausted, my shoes were stuffed with band-aids and tissues from countless blisters on my feet, and we probably got lost twenty times, but it was the best trip I’ve ever had.

Office of International Education

So now I am thrilled to take these lessons learned into my own adventure abroad.  I will be joined by 5 other students from SCSU who are also test- piloting the program.  We really don’t know each well yet and we have different majors, but we decided to share a six-person suite. (Check out Chris’s blog too!).

Did I mention we each get our own room and bathroom??!!?!

In preparation for my flight, I returned home last week to Long Island, New York after spending my entire summer at SCSU working for New Student Orientation and interning with the Office of Student Involvement. I’ve been in the driver’s seat all summer steering the Peer Mentoring program in a new direction.  My summer experiences were challenging and incredibly rewarding (making it a million times harder to say goodbye).

But now, it’s time to say hello to OWL the places I’ll go!

*I’ll apologize in advance for the OWL puns… can you tell I’m in love with Southern?

Oh the Places You'll Go!

So like a hot air balloon, I’m going to hop on and ride across the pond. These next few months are filled with unknowns, but I can’t wait to see how much I’m going to learn and grow. Follow me along the way because this blog is intended for OWL WHOOO want to know what it’s like to liv across the sea and call Liverpool my home!

My adventure is waiting.  I’m on my way.  Bon voyage USA!

Signing off….
AmErica n’ Liverpool

Southern marine science students soon will be able to use the Southwest Ledge Lighthouse — which overlooks New Haven Harbor — as a base to conduct research, thanks to the generosity of a group of donors who bought the facility.

The donors were awarded the lighthouse recently after posting the successful bid of about $180,000. They plan to renovate the lighthouse in preparation for future use of the facility by SCSU’s Werth Center for Coastal and Marine Studies, as well as other education organizations. SCSU intends to use it as a field station that would include classrooms and lab space.

The New Haven Register ran a Sept. 3 story about the purchase and future use of the facility by Southern and other groups.

Southwest Ledge Lighthouse, New Haven, CT
Photo courtesy of Vincent Breslin

It’s finally sinking in that I’m leaving home tomorrow. On Sunday, September 4th, 2016, I, Chris Rowland will be departing from the International Terminal of Boston’s Logan Airport. My destination: Liverpool, England. I am spending the first semester of my senior year away from SCSU studying at John Moore’s University. The past 6 months have been spent preparing myself for this journey: obtaining my passport, working with the OIE, securing funding, finding the best deals on airfare, etc. But until I started packing as much of my life as can fit into one suitcase and one carry-on backpack, it hasn’t felt real.

At this moment, I’d quickly like to thank anyone and everyone who has helped me to realize this dream of mine. My parents, family and friends for supporting my decision; the OIE for being so helpful in sorting out the details; and my friends at the School of Business who helped me to afford it. This blog is dedicated to all of you because without you all I certainly wouldn’t be about to embark on this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Now, I must confess that as excited as I am at all of the prospects which await me overseas, I am equally as nervous. I have never been out of the United Staes before except for a brief foray into Canada, and therefore I honestly don’t know what to expect. I’ve read countless articles online about others’ experiences with study abroad, the culture of Liverpool and the UK, and tips for traveling in general, but until I touch down in a foreign land where I know no one, I am a ball of nerves.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean final exam nervous dread, it’s more of a before the big game excited nervous energy. The chance to trace the Beatles’ footsteps, to feel the buzz of a football (soccer) stadium on matchday, and to study British Literature in its native land all await me, and I can’t wait to experience it and more. I also can’t wait to share it with you all through this blog. By my next entry, I will be in Liverpool, and I look forward to bringing you along with me. Until then, I hope everyone has a safe and productive start to their semester.

Wish me luck,

Southern’s nursing program is ranked among the top 10 percent in the country, according to a prominent online resource for future nursing students. lists SCSU among its ranked programs, a distinction granted to only about one in 10 nursing schools that it assessed throughout the nation. A total of 3,200 such programs were evaluated.

It ranks SCSU 23rd in New England – which places the program among the top 20 percent of schools in this six-state region. lauds SCSU for its 90-percent pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), the test that a nursing student must pass to attain a license.

It also notes that the university’s Accelerated Career Entry (ACE) program students garnered a pass rate of between 93 and 100 percent on the NCLEX since 2010. ACE is geared toward students who are looking to make a career change into nursing.

“In addition, the most recent graduating class of the family nurse practitioner M.S.N. (Master of Science in nursing) program displayed a 100-percent pass rate on the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners exam,” the publication states.

Lisa Rebeschi, chairwoman of the SCSU Nursing Department, said she was pleased to learn about the report and ranking of the program.

“The recognition from an outside organization speaks to the quality of the program at SCSU,” Rebeschi said. “Our student outcomes — including our first-time NCLEX-RN pass rate, program completion, and employment rates, have remained strong over the years.”

In addition to success on the NCLEX exam, criteria used by include an institution’s academic prestige and perceived value, as well as breadth and depth of nursing programs offered.

SCSU’s nursing program began in 1969, when about 20 students were taught by two faculty members. The first 13 graduates of the program got their diplomas in 1973. Since then, the program has grown exponentially. Today, it averages more than 200 students, awarding both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Southern – in partnership with Western Connecticut State University – began offering an Ed.D. in nursing education in 2012. At the undergraduate level, more than 850 students have declared themselves nursing or pre-nursing majors.



Christine Denhup

The death of one’s child to cancer – or due to any reason, for that matter — is one of the most emotionally devastating events that could befall a person.

While suffering intense sadness, each parent handles the grieving process in unique ways. But Christine Denhup, an assistant professor of nursing at Southern Connecticut State University, recently found five common threads among parents who participated in an in-depth study of what their lives have been like since losing their child.

The qualitative study involved lengthy interviews with six parents across the country – five mothers and one father – from six different families who had lost a child to cancer. Their children’s ages ranged from 4 to 12 at the time of death, and their illnesses included leukemia, lymphoma and brain tumors. The interviews were conducted at least 16 months after the loss of their child, but in one case, 41 years had elapsed.

“Surprisingly, there has been very little research on the experiences that parents have undergone when losing one of their kids to cancer,” Denhup said. “It is important for health-care providers and others to better understand what life is like for these parents so that we can help them.”

Denhup, who has been a nurse for more than 25 years, in addition to teaching at SCSU for the last eight years, found the following five common experiences among the parents:

*New State of Being – Participants said they were thrust into a permanent “new normal” after the loss of their child. “They referred to it as the aftermath of a tsunami in their lives,” Denhup said. After the initial grief, many changes persisted.

*Profound Suffering – Each individual had “triggers,” things that sparked an acute bout of increased negative emotions. Those specific triggers differed from person to person, but each experienced them in some way. “For one parent, seeing their child’s friends growing up was a trigger,” Denhup said. “Yet, for another parent, seeing their kid’s friends grow up helped reduce their suffering.” All experienced profound suffering at certain times, triggered by different stimuli.

*Continued Parenting Relationship – In each case, the parent continued to have a relationship with their child even after their death, according to Denhup. This kind of relationship differed from parent to parent. “One mom talked out loud to their child,” she said. “To honor his son, one dad went to a Cub Scout graduation – a ceremony that his son would likely have been part of if he had still been alive.”

*Self-renaissance – Their identity – who are they are a person – changes forever. They developed a “pretend self” to help them cope with day-to-day life. For example, they might be very sensitive to their loss at home, but at work, they take on a different persona that helps them avoid an emotional meltdown.

*Journey Toward Healing – In learning to live with the loss, the parents developed forms of self-care. For one parent, journaling about their feelings and experiences was a way to help them.

Denhup said that family, friends and co-workers often will try to help the parents through the most difficult periods. But she said there are some approaches that can help to mitigate their suffering, while other approaches may provoke increased sadness, unintentionally.

Positive steps that others can take include remembering the children in some way and engaging in a conversation about the children if the parents are willing or eager to do so. But comparing their own losses to a parent’s loss of a child often elicits a negative response because of the perceived disproportionate grief. Similarly, relatively trivial complaints about their own life is bound to engender a similar reaction. Worse, telling a parent that they have other healthy children or that they need to get on with their lives can be very hurtful.

Denhup’s research constituted her dissertation for her Ph.D. in nursing from Seton Hall University. The research was published in the August 2015 online edition of the Omega Journal of Death and Dying. It also served as a basis for a chapter in the book, “A Parent’s Guide to Enhancing Quality of Life in Children with Cancer.”

Last fall, Denhup delivered a presentation, “Advancing Nursing Knowledge of Parental Bereavement Through Phenomenology,” during a joint meeting (via video-conferencing) between nursing faculty at SCSU and Liverpool John Moores University. The two universities entered into a partnership last year.

Among the courses she teaches at SCSU is the “Palliative and End-of-Life Colloquium.”

Graduate reading program, dyslexia

Southern’s graduate degree programs that instruct educators on the teaching of reading have earned a full three-year accreditation from the International Dyslexia Association (IDA).

Southern is one of only about 26 schools in the country – and only the second in Connecticut – to have earned that designation since the organization began offering accreditations in 2012. The accreditation applies to both the Master of Science degree and Sixth-Year Certificate programs in reading. It is awarded to schools that are deemed by IDA to best be able to train teachers to alleviate, prevent or remediate reading difficulties, including dyslexia.

IDA is a non-profit, scientific and educational organization dedicated to the study and treatment of dyslexia, as well as related language-based learning differences.

During the accreditation process, independent reviewers are assigned to each university to evaluate their programs and determine whether they align with IDA Standards. The review examines course syllabi and other course materials and requirements, as well as interviews with program directors and a site visit to the school, according to the IDA website.

“Our reading faculty have always had a sterling reputation in Connecticut and the impact that they have had on reading teachers has been profound. But this designation validates our program even further, based on the science of reading,” said Ruth Eren, chairwoman of the SCSU Special Education and Reading Department.

She noted that the department has long held and continues to hold an accreditation from the International Literacy Association, which is considered the gold standard among higher education reading programs. In addition, 97 percent of students in the program have passed the state reading specialist exam to obtain certification in Connecticut since the test started in early 2015.

“Our goal in pursuing this additional accreditation was to best address the instructional needs of students who may or may not be working to capacity due to dyslexia and other types of reading disability,” said Regine Randall, SCSU graduate reading program coordinator.

The designation also will help students in their search for teaching jobs. Laura Raynolds, SCSU associate professor of special education and reading, pointed out that state Individualized Education Program documents now include a check off box specifically about whether a student has dyslexia. The forms must be filled out by educators regarding the program of instruction for student with disabilities.

Previously, the document required teachers to check off whether a student had a learning disability, but now dyslexia is a sub-category. “School PPT (Planning and Placement Teams) teams want someone who is well-versed on dyslexia, and this accreditation will give students graduating from our program an extra boost,” Raynolds said.

An estimated 3 to 20 percent of the population is considered to have some form of dyslexia. SCSU had 94 students enrolled in its graduate reading programs last fall.

Museum of Amsterdam

By Rebecca Weinberger

You may or may not already know, but Amsterdam is one of the most fascinating places to visit. Why? Amsterdam is rich in culture, historical monuments, and politics.

Today in class we focused a lot on religion and politics in the Netherlands. Our guest speaker, David J. Bos, Ph.D., took us on a journey through the history of Amsterdam. Some interesting aspects I learned were the differences between religions, and how religion plays a major part in today’s votes for office, such as parliament. Pillarization (a separation of society) still takes place even today. In comparison, one might look at the requests catholic, orthodox protestant, socialists, and liberal protestants made when demanding that their religion deserve the most privileges – good education, health care, and media were the aspects each religion had most in common. Throughout the ages, segregation and religious battles continued. Today anyone can vote for parliament, providences, and the European parliament.

Amsterdam has come a long way from hundreds of years ago. After class we winded down and ate a short lunch in the University of Amsterdam’s cafeteria. Later, we visited the Museum of Amsterdam. There were audio recordings, which talked about the history of Amsterdam, as well as rooms that depicted modernized culture and artwork. Spoiler alert! Inside the museum are many artifacts and knowledge about gay heritage, and the effects of Amsterdam’s drug and brothel culture. As the night ended, we came together as a group and chatted in the courtyard of our dormitory, then took a walk to get a “late night” snack near the infamous Red Light district.

First Day in Amsterdam

By Erica DeBlois

We’ve been here since Friday and the weekend gave us all a great opportunity to get the lay of the land and explore different parts of the city.  Settling in and getting comfortable for the month-long classes, we all have been talking about what we’ve seen and how interesting the Dutch people and their culture are.

The most interesting thing to me so far is how many bikes there are and the many different and creative ways I’ve seen people riding them. There have been some bikes with single riders while on other occasions, there have been one bike with three people on it: the person peddling, a small child on the back wheel, and another on the handle bars.

Since getting here, we’ve explored many different restaurants and tried many new foods.

Today marked our first day of actual class and we got to meet Mirjam, the program director here at the University of Amsterdam. She gave us an introduction to Dutch life, told us what to expect from the program, and gave us our welcome packets of information. She talked a little about how that the Dutch built Amsterdam on the sea and we are actually below sea level.

We reconvened after lunch to discuss our overall experience so far here in the Netherlands and specifically what we are going to learn about. We got our first reading assignment and are all set to kick off tomorrow with our first guest speaker!

The Board of Regents for Higher Education has voted to select Dr. Joe Bertolino as the 12th President of Southern Connecticut State University. A Board of Regents search committee recommended Dr. Bertolino among three finalists after a five-month long nationwide search.

“I want to thank everyone who participated in this process, especially the University Advisory Committee for their time and collective input,” said Larry DeNardis, Chair of the Regents Search Committee. “Dr. Bertolino greatly impressed the Committee and I am confident he will be a perfect complement to the great talent we have at Southern.”

Connecticut State Colleges and Universities President Mark E. Ojakian agreed:  “Dr. Bertolino’s commitment to students and their access to high quality higher education is very clear. He is going to be a great advocate for Southern and our system.”

”I am both honored and humbled to serve as Southern’s next president,” shared Dr. Bertolino. “While there are certainly many challenges ahead, the institution’s potential far outweighs those challenges.  I look forward to working closely with the Southern team to ensure that we continue to build strong relationships and that our institutional core rests in our mission and in service to our students.”

Dr. Bertolino is currently the President of Lyndon State College in Vermont and Special Assistant to the Chancellor for System Integration and Related Efforts at the Vermont State Colleges. He replaces Dr. Mary Papazian who resigned as of July 1. He will begin August 22, 2016, at an annual salary of $294,700.

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Dr. Bertolino’s Curriculum Vitae can be found here: