Monthly Archives: August 2019

Following a national search, Dr. Therese Bennett has been appointed as the associate dean for STEM in the School of Arts and Sciences.

Bennett joined Southern in 1996 as a full-time assistant professor in the Mathematics Department. In 2001, she was tenured and promoted to associate professor. Six years later, Bennett was promoted to professor of mathematics. Between 2010-2016, she served as department chairperson. Bennett has also served as co-director of the LEP with distinction and has worked tirelessly to ensure the seamless transfer of hundreds of students to Southern.

Dr. Therese Bennett

She earned a B.S. at Temple University and an M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh.

Bennett brings a wealth of institutional knowledge to the associate deanship position and will work closely with the associate dean for the liberal arts and the dean of arts and sciences to advance the mission of the School and the University.

Bennett’s first day will be August 30.

✉️ Deliver to:

Dr. Meredith Sinclair
Assistant Professor of English
Department of English


Dear Professor,

Thank you for devoting countless hours to advising your students, formally and informally, and guiding us to the best options, particularly in the teaching field. Your strongly held belief in the transformative effect of good teaching inspires me to seek what’s best for me, and for future generations. You extended your advising through the student group Urban Education Fellows. By helping us develop a mission in urban schools, you make education more than a matter or a career.


About Meredith Sinclair

Favorite Teaching Moment:

I most love when students ask questions I don’t have an immediate answer for. I try in my pedagogy to support students in being curious and being comfortable with discomfort. When they do spring the tough questions and then engage in the intellectual work of sorting through answers—that’s a really great feeling.

Teaching Philosophy:

It’s important for students to understand their purpose for being in an educational space and to be truly invested in the work (instead of being there because they have to be). I’m always looking for new ways to engage students in dialogue—with the work, with classmates, and with their own thinking—to help them find that purpose. I have to model this, too, of course. I’m always rethinking how a course looks, what assignments we do and so on, and try to be transparent with students about that process so that together we learn how to build challenging intellectual spaces. Above all, I think we have to have true care for and interest in our students as human beings.

Favorite Course to Teach:

ENG 492, which is a course focused on reading pedagogy, is my favorite course to teach because that’s my primary area of research and a particular passion. I also love EDU 413 because I get to introduce pre-service teachers from all disciplines to some of the fundamentals of the profession. My Young Adult Literature class (ENG 372) has taught me a lot and has been an exciting course to design. I always love the energy I get from working with our English pre-service teachers during student teaching (ENG 496).

Recent Courses Taught:

  • ENG 372: Young Adult Literature
  • ENG 496: Student Teaching Seminar (English)
  • EDU 413: Secondary Teaching

Karen Reyes Benzi, RN

Described by her mentors as exemplifying Florence Nightingale’s vision of nursing, Karen Reyes Benzi, RN, was named Yale New Haven Hospital’s 2019 Magnet Nurse of the Year on July 3 for her outstanding contributions to the field of nursing. Benzi is a Navy veteran, an infusion nurse at Yale New Haven Hospital’s Smilow Cancer Center, and a student in Southern’s RN to BSN online program. Benzi has helped many patients who are also veterans access services from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and other organizations.

Benzi began the BSN program uncertain if she would have the self-discipline to complete a course load fully online, but she was quick to find her footing. She has gained a new level of courage, she says, as she has submitted a clinical nurse II package this past October. “It was tough writing it all up but I could see how school was helping me see things differently,” Benzi wrote in an email voicing her gratitude to her professors at Southern. She also expresses her desire to mentor others, and she has been succeeding at it. Benzi writes, “Two women I mentor via the Literacy Volunteers of Greater New Haven successfully finished their first semester at Gateway Community College.”

Benzi’s latest accolade is one of many, according to Dr. Kim Lacey, RN-BSN program director. “In May 2019, Karen received the Immaculata Alba Excellence in Nursing Award,” Lacey says, “which was recommended by SCSU nursing faculty for her demonstrated high degree of excellence in nursing, and she was also the recipient of the Nightingale Award for Excellence in Nursing, a prestigious award that recognizes nurses who have demonstrated exceptional nursing practice and strive to advance the profession.”

Lacey recognizes Benzi’s unique, hardworking, and compassionate approach, explaining, “The effort that [Benzi] puts into her work is beyond expectations and not achievable by all students. Her level of commitment to nursing and her advocacy, especially for her patients, is exceptional.” Regarding Benzi’s status as a Navy veteran, Lacey comments, “She is able to bring a perspective to the classroom unlike others in her peer group. Be it her experience in the military, a woman in the VA system, or as a nurse, she offers insight into nursing and healthcare that is eye-opening at times, but at the very least, makes one pause to consider.”

SCSU Nursing Department Chair Cheryl Resha comments, “Karen is a shining example of the benefits of an RN to BSN program. She has not only applied her learning to advance high-quality patient care, but she has shown how furthering her education can advanced her career and leadership potential.”

The RN to BSN program at Southern is dedicated to offering individualized attention to students and considers the rich background of experience of the RN in terms of both clinical and classroom settings. The faculty and staff recognize the unique experiences that these nurses bring to the program and build on these experiences through leadership, informatics, evidence-based practices, and advanced clinical concepts.

English Professor Tim Parrish

New Haven’s Daily Nutmeg website has kicked off its Summer Reading Month series with a profile of English Professor Tim Parrish, a founder of the university’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program who teaches fiction and memoir. Parrish is the author of the short story collection Red Stick Men (2000), the memoir Fear and What Follows: The Violent Education of a Christian Racist (2013), and the novel The Jumper (2013). In the Daily Nutmeg profile, Parrish — who grew up in Baton Rouge, La. — discusses the theme of racism in his works and how he deals with his “upbringing in a racist culture.”

The Daily Nutmeg will publish excerpts from Parrish’s work over the next few days, and this article will be updated with links to those excerpts.

Read the profile of Parrish — “Southern Exposure” by Kathy Leonard Czepiel — in the Daily Nutmeg (August 6, 2019).

Excerpt from Parrish’s short story “Roustabout,” part of his collection Red Stick Men.

Excerpt from Parrish’s novel The Jumper

 

Journalism Professor Frank Harris III

August 1, 2019, marked the month of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in America 400 years ago. Journalism Professor Frank Harris III has created a website to commemorate the first Africans and their descendants in America. Harris writes on the site:

“When it occurred to me several years ago that 2019 would mark the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans brought to America, I began asking Americans how America should observe the 400th, if indeed it should be observed,

“Invariably, every person I spoke with was unaware of the 400th until I informed them, and when I did, they were awestruck.

“​My mission became to utilize my role as a journalism professor, news columnist, filmmaker and public speaker to get the word out about the 400th, to encourage activities to observe it. In the process of doing so, I learned much more about slavery that makes this site relevant beyond 2019.

“This site is designed to commemorate and inform about the first enslaved Africans in America and their descendants. It was important to me that 2019 not pass without some acknowledgment of their presence, some recognition of their existence.”

The site includes a list of events to observe the 400th, as well as multimedia presentations and interviews about slavery and the 400th.

Harris’ 400th project has received considerable media attention:

“Slavery’s legacy: SCSU prof studies tragedy, racism today” by Ed Stannard, New Haven Register

“Remembering Those We’ve ‘Overlooked'” by Carmen Baskauf & Lucy Nalpathanchil, WNPR

“400 years ago, first slaves arrived in American colonies” by Ed Stannard, Litchfield County Times

“What the 400th means” by Frank Harris III, Hartford Courant

 

"I feel so blessed to have had the support of the SCSU community and the U.S. Department of State, who believed in me and my research from day one." -- Fulbright recipient and Southern graduate Alanna Wagher

A young Dutch girl adorns Alanna Wagher with the colors of the U.S. and the Netherlands, her Fulbright host country. Orange is the color of the Dutch royal family and a symbol of national pride in the Netherlands.

Alanna Wagher, ’16, M.S. ’18, is a gifted scholar. She graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in communications disorders — then excelled in Southern’s highly regarded graduate program in the same discipline. Still, she admits to being nervous about applying to the U.S. Fulbright Student Program. “There were people who had tons of opinions about the feasibility of me getting this grant, especially considering the notorious cut-throat competition,” says Wagher.

To be sure, “Fulbrighters” are a uniquely accomplished group. Thirty-seven have served as heads of state or government, 86 received Pulitzer Prizes, and 60 were Nobel Prize winners.

Wagher is now a member of the prestigious Fulbright alumni club, having spent the 2018-19 academic year in the Netherlands as a Fulbright scholar through the English Teaching Assistant Program. In addition to teaching, she collaborated with Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences on her research, which was inspired by her experience as a Southern student. Wagher minored in Spanish at Southern and used techniques from the world of speech-language therapy (her major) to correct her pronunciation. She wondered: would others studying a foreign language benefit from similar techniques?

Alanna Wagher, who holds two Southern degrees, presented her clinical findings at a United Nations educational conference in Amsterdam.

In the Netherlands, Wagher tested her theory, working with Dutch students who were studying English as a second language. The goals included evaluating the effectiveness of speech-language therapy techniques at 1) reducing foreign-accented speech and 2) improving students’ comfort and confidence as English speakers. The Dutch students perceived that speech-language techniques were beneficial in both areas. “The study [also] aimed to establish evidence-based standards for the evaluation and treatment of bilingual children with speech sound disorders,” notes Wagher, who presented her findings at a United Nations-sponsored educational conference in Amsterdam.

“I feel really blessed to have been able to research a topic that I hope will benefit bilingual children and adults,” she says. Of course, the benefits of the experience were highly personal as well. “Overall, I think one of the biggest takeaways of this experience has been the importance of believing in yourself, especially as a young woman,” says Wagher. Her advice to other would-be “Fulbrighters”: “I would definitely encourage more students to apply.”