Monthly Archives: December 2019

Humans create a staggering amount of data. It happens every time we search online, share a photo on social media, or send a text. It’s estimated that by the New Year, 1.7 megabytes of information will be created every second for every human being on Earth.* As more and more companies recognize opportunities for creating value from data, experts who can make sense of all that data increasingly are in high demand. Southern’s new bachelor’s degree program in data science equips students with the skills they need to thrive in this fast-growing, lucrative field — which LinkedIn called the “most promising in the United States,” with a median base salary of $130,000 and a 56 percent increase in job openings in the last year.

“The data science field is exploding with opportunity,” said Aaron S. Clark, professor and chair, Mathematics Department. “Qualified experts are needed to help industries navigate the sheer amount of data being created, maintained and shared.”

In its simplest terms, data science is the science of everything associated with data: the creation of algorithms, software, and techniques, mathematical/statistical theory and practice of analysis, theory and practice of visualization and presentation, and data engineering.

“Data science is about extracting meaningful information from data,” Imad Antonios, professor of computer science. “It comprises skills and competencies from computer science, statistics, and domain expertise.”

If you’re a quantitatively minded problem solver, communicate effectively to a range of audiences, and have a knack for telling stories with data, Southern’s B.S. in data science helps you hone your skills as you move through your course work. Students begin learning data science their very first semester. Coursework covers a variety of topics, from computer science and mathematics including data mining, machine learning, web and database development, Bayesian analysis, time series analysis, and non-parametric statistics.

“This is a great field for students who are technically-minded and intellectually curious, and who thrive on the challenge of teasing out the truths hidden in massive data sets,” Clark said.

Students also complete a capstone project that incorporates all stages of the data science pipeline.

“The capstone project provides students with an opportunity to apply skills from their earlier coursework to solve a data problem,” Antonios said. “Students learn domain understanding and problem analysis, data acquisition, data cleaning, model building and evaluation, and they communicate the results.”

While the data science field may be technical in nature, its applications are interdisciplinary, from medical care and research, pharmaceuticals, compliance management systems, insurance, marketing, and more.

““There are many sub-fields within data science,” Clark said. “Graduates from the new data science program will be able to find their niche and continually customize their skill set throughout their career.”

Opportunities in the field show no signs of slowing. Currently, between 60 percent and 73 percent of all data within an enterprise goes unused for analytics* so if you’re ready to pursue a career in data science, the possibilities are endless.

Learn more about the B.S. in data science, request information, and apply.

*Sources: Forbes, Forrester

Lisa Tedesco (second from left) at her film's red carpet event, with Communication, Media, and Screen Studies faculty (left to right) Charlene Dellinger-Pate, Wesley O'Brien, and Karen Burke, and Ari Anderson, who plays Celia Beaulieu in "House of La Reine"

Two years ago, Southern student and screenwriter Lisa Tedesco was among the crowds at Cannes, but not as one of the paparazzi or a mere film fan. Tedesco was screening her short film, August in The City, one of about 200 short films chosen from among 10 thousand submissions for the festival’s “Short Film Corner.”

Tedesco wrote the screenplay for the film and was executive producer, teaming up with Los Angeles-based director Christie Conochalla (Once Upon a Zipper, Forever Not Maybe) to produce it. Shot in Brooklyn and Oceanside, N.Y., the film did well at Cannes and spent over a year on the festival circuit, winning several awards. Now that it’s off the circuit, Tedesco recently released it on Vimeo.

Not one to let grass grow under her feet, she now has a new film — House of La Reine — hitting the circuit, and to celebrate she and her team held a red carpet event in October, “a benefactor screening” for donors who helped support the film. “It’s my way of giving back and to have an event to kick off the film,” she says. A media studies major, Tedesco was delighted to welcome Communication, Media, and Screen Studies Department faculty Wes O’Brien, Charlene Dellinger-Pate, and Karen Burke to the event.

Tedesco is a busy person. In addition to attending Southern part time and working on her film career, she works the second shift at Sikorsky as an electrical installer, working on helicopters. She also owns a film production company, Ladyfilm Media, which she started in June 2017.

“’Breaking all barriers’ is one of our mottos,” she says. “We like to project stories with strong female presence, give voice to the LGBTQ community, and support projects with 50/50 male/female crews.” A native of West Haven who now lives in New Haven, Tedesco says, “I’m so incredibly busy with my company and working full time, I’ve only been doing about three classes at Southern a year.” She estimates she has about 10 classes left to finish her degree.

The story told in House of La Reine surrounds a woman who is embarking on the next chapter of her life as she opens an inclusive performance space and bar. She has reservations and frustrations but is visited by someone from her distant past who once reigned the stage in Paris in the 1920s. Tedesco explains that a year ago, she went out to Hollywood to shoot this new short film with a $25,000 budget. “We shot half in color/digital and half in 16mm black and white,” she says. Her plan is for the film to be on the film festival circuit beginning in early 2020, and yes, she is hoping for Cannes once again. She’ll also submit the 13-minute-long film to such festivals as Slamdance, Tribeca, Inside Out Toronto, Frameline, among many others.

Tedesco says she started writing House of La Reine soon after August in the City went on the festival circuit. “I wanted to focus on a female protagonist who owned her own business and was independent and strong,” she says. But she left the project on the back burner for awhile because August was on the circuit. Then, in the summer of 2018, while she was taking a summer class with Dellinger-Pate, she rewrote the script. Filming took place in December 2018, and at this point, “it’s a waiting game,” Tedesco says, as she and her crew wait to see what happens with film festivals.

Meanwhile, Tedesco’s company will be producing a friend’s film – a male coming-out story – and she has sold a script to a company in Los Angeles. This film — called “Dear Emma, Your Charlie” — is now in preproduction, and shooting will happen in the spring.

Back on campus, Tedesco worked on a capstone project this fall with Rosemarie Conforti, associate professor of communication, media, and screen studies. Tedesco explains that the project was a thesis proposal on a media topic of her choosing. Her proposal is called “Finding the Rainbow: How Fantasy/Sci-Fi Television Fandoms Help the Self-Identity Process For LGBTQIA+ Young Adults in the Modernized World.” Tedesco explains, “It’s basically a study on how queer youth can form long-lasting friendships in an online safe space where they are heard, respected and discuss the representations they see from these TV shows. I’m using Hashtags, fan fiction and vidding [the making of fan videos] as a way to showcase the interactions between fans inside the online fandoms.”

Conforti describes Tedesco as a “super-smart . . . creative and earnest student, and always provocative in her thinking. She moves seamlessly between the Cannes Film Festival and EN 117. Unpretentious and authentic, Lisa is the dream package of outstanding student, award-winning writer, producer and director of her production company, Lady Film Media, and Sikorsky employee.”

Watch the House of La Reine trailer.

 

Brianna Lynn Bauch-Gregorio, ’17, is the star of a classic Walt Disney World holiday extravaganza — proving that dreams really do come true.

"You have one life, one chance to LOVE your life, so go full-heartedly toward what will make you most happy," says Bauch-Gregorio, ’17. Photo: Just LA Photography.

It’s a balmy 68-degree December day in Orlando, Fl., and Brianna Lynn Bauch-Gregorio, ’17, is feeling decidedly festive. Decked out in a winter-white coat with matching hat, gloves, and booties, she marches on to the brightly lit stage. “Let’s get this party started!” says Bauch-Gregorio, who is starring as Haley Comet in A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

A native of Newtown, Conn., Bauch-Gregorio was hired by Disney to host the beloved 18-minute holiday show, which runs until Dec. 31. She’ll perform up to five nights a week (five shows a night) — with an additional six daily shows during the peak holiday week of Dec. 23-31.

It’s a dream assignment for Bauch-Gregorio, who first imagined performing at Disney when she was a child visiting the resort.

Bauch-Gregorio, ’17, takes the stage alongside a few Disney favorites. Photo: Mousesteps

“I have the privilege of creating magic for these guests,” says Bauch-Gregorio, an Equity actor who performs under the name Brianna Bauch. “I remember how much it impacted me. I’m sure that there are kids in the audience watching our show and thinking, ‘I’m going to do that one day!’ just the way that I did,” she says.

Bauch-Gregorio came to Southern with plans to double major in theatre and special education. Performing was central to her Southern experience. She joined the cast and crew of 13 shows at the university. She notes that it’s challenging to pick a favorite college performance. But when pressed, says that playing Persephone in Polaroid Stories in her junior year was particularly influential. “This role challenged and pushed me as an actor. It broke down the barriers of what I thought I could do in a performance. It really proved to me that I have so much more inside of me to give and to show the world,” she says.

That same year, she realized she was pursuing education as a backup plan. “I love teaching but I know my real passion is performing, and I just couldn’t see myself in a classroom every day,” says Bauch-Gregorio. She dropped the second major and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in theatre.

Since then she’s never looked back. “When I am on stage, I truly feel like it’s the safest place in the world,” she says. “I am where I’m supposed to be, doing what I was designed to do.”

In the midst of a busy performance schedule, Bauch-Gregorio paused to share her thoughts on theater, Southern and Disney.

It’s a dramatic moment for Bauch-Gregorio, ’17, and the production’s background dancers. Photo: Alvin Chang

That Disney magic: “This experience has been truly incredible, even more amazing than I had anticipated,” says Bauch-Gregorio of performing for guests from around the world. “I get to create happiness for these families. . . . And of course, seeing the kids’ faces when Buzz Lightyear, Mike Wazowski, and Stitch come out on stage is just priceless.”

An early calling: “I knew from a very young age that performing would be my life. There’s this indescribable feeling that I get when I’m on stage. It’s true joy,” she says.

The power of theater: “The arts are so important,” says Bauch-Gregorio. “There is so much educational value, healing, and beauty in this art form. I am truly lucky to get to be a part of that.”

A Southern (Continuing) Love Story: Brianna is married to her high school sweetheart and fellow Owl, Michael A. Gregorio, ’17, a business administration major. The two tied the knot on May 11, 2019 and have been a couple for 8 ½ years. Michael is a program manager for Collins Aerospace, working out of the Danbury, Conn., office on multimillion dollar projects and programs.

Advice to Southern students: “When you love something enough, you need to fight for it. You have one life, one chance to LOVE your life, so go full-heartedly toward what will make you most happy. Know your worth. Know what you have to offer the world. Keep fighting for your future.”

Working at the “Happiest Place on Earth”: “I’m living my dream of being a professional actress, and I am beyond grateful. Walt Disney World has been an incredible place to work,” she says.

The show, which runs about 18 minutes, is performed throughout the day and evening. Photo: Cliff Wang

One of the largest grant awards Southern has ever received will directly benefit students who face educational or economic disadvantages.

The five-year, $2.18 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education, through its Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP), was spearheaded by Kathleen De Oliveira, director of the university’s Academic Success Center.

De Oliveira’s grant submission, “Promoting Educational Retention through Collaborative High-Impact Services,” or PERCHS (an acronym that nods at Southern’s mascot, Otus the owl), proposes one overall goal: to increase the success and retention of promising students who face educational or economic disadvantages and who will thrive with additional support.

“The opportunities this creates for impact on our students is amazing,” Tracy Tyree, vice president for student affairs, said. “We are really focusing on what holds students back, and we recognize that we have to get down to a more granular, student-by-student level. One-on-one points of connection are important and successful ways to help students persist.”

Students who face educational or economic disadvantages — notoriously called at-risk — constitute a growing portion of Southern’s population. Close to 40 percent of Southern’s undergraduate class receive federal Pell Grants, the most popular federal grant given primarily to low-income undergraduate students. And nearly 30 percent of students are food insecure, according to Jules Tetreault, dean of student affairs.

When students balance multiple jobs, or they’re worried about where their next meal will come from, or they are underprepared and don’t understand concepts in class, that prevents them from thriving academically; the PERCHS award aims to support those students in a multi-pronged, multi-faceted, multi-divisional approach.

“Funding started October 2019, and we hit the ground running,” De Oliveira said. “It’s kind of like we’re first responders. Whatever students need, we either help them or refer them to the right place.”

Bolstering the offerings of the Southern Success Center is just one of the PERCHS program’s approaches. Currently, the center encompasses the Academic Success Center, First Year Experience (FYE), New Student and Sophomore Programs, Career Services, and Academic Advising. Students use the center as a centralized hub, minimizing room for error and frustration when seeking university services such as academic or career help.

“The idea is to have a central location for students instead of sending them to multiple stops around campus,” De Oliveira said. “And if you don’t know where to go, come here and we’ll help you.”

The PERCHS program has four distinct goals when it comes to the Success Center: decrease the percentage of students with grades of D, F or W in key gateway courses; increase persistence rates for first-time, full-time freshmen; decrease the percentage of the student body with an overall GPA of 2.5 or lower; and increase student satisfaction with support services.

Within the center, the current Peer Academic Leaders Program (PALS), will be expanded.

“PALS focuses on many gateway/foundational courses, particularly in STEM,” De Oliveira said. “Unlike tutoring, which can be sporadic, PALS helps students understand material on a week-by-week basis, and the grant helps us increase our number of PALS to almost 60. We’ve seen students improve as much as a grade level with consistent help. This takes students on the cusp of success and brings them to solid footing.”

The number of academic success coaches will increase as well.

“For students on academic probation who consistently meet with coaches, their retention rate is 70 percent,” De Oliveira said. “This grant lets us add more coaches and see how to use them most strategically.”

On a broader level, the PERCHS grant allows for the creation of an Opportunity Center, a physical space that will house a food pantry, and a full-time and part-time position to support it. Though the pantry will give students immediate access to food, the center also will connect students to various types of assistance they might need.

“There’s been a lot of talk about the cost of higher education, but it’s mostly been centered on tuition,” Tetreault said. “The reality is the expenses of rent, childcare, food and books is very high, and that aid is shrinking, and it’s left a big population who can’t meet their basic living needs. The idea is to use the Opportunity Center as a hub to support these pieces. Can we help them and refer them? It’s all about connection points. We are a culture of support and care. We want to provide our students with access and success.”

De Oliveira added that the distribution of funds over five years enables the university to explore all of the objectives and analyze the outcomes so key players can hone in on what is sustainable and keep it going.

“It’s about finding the right keys, all with the goal to help students,” she said.

Ultimately, the efforts benefit everyone.

“We’re paying attention to things that higher ed hasn’t usually paid attention to,” Tetreault said. “If a student gets a degree, they’re more likely to give back to their community, to make a million dollars more over their lifetime, and they’re less likely to rely on social services. We’re just providing the right mechanisms of support, so students are equipped to thrive.”

 

Southern's Black Student Union (BSU) has supported students, alumni, and the community-at-large for more than six decades. A newly endowed scholarship forwards that important work — while honoring Barbara Matthews, one of the BSU's first advisers.

Barbara Matthews, SCSU's associate director emeritus of counseling

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who understands college students better than Barbara Matthews, associate director emeritus of counseling. “I’ll tell you one thing about Southern students. They come here determined,” says Matthews, who worked with thousands during her 30 years at Southern — including members of the Black Student Union (BSU), which she advised throughout her tenure.

Originally called the Organization of Afro-American Students, the BSU was formed in 1968 and was still a young organization when Matthews came on board in 1972. Its establishment reflected a national movement. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned discrimination in education on the basis of race, color, and national origin. Still, many black students who enrolled at predominantly white colleges and universities faced hostility. In an effort to support students and promote positive change, in 1966, the first Black Student Union in the nation was established at San Francisco State College [now University].*  Two years later, Southern followed suit. “Black students on campus needed direction and a voice. The Black Student Union made that happen,” says James Barber, ’64, M.S. ’79, Southern’s director of community engagement.

Throughout the years, Matthews remained a mentor. “We were a force to be reckoned with, I’m proud to say,” recounts Michael Jefferson, ’86, who was elected president of the BSU in 1984. “We had to meet certain challenges, and I don’t know if students today appreciate how difficult it was at times. She [Matthews] was a huge influence. She was my confidente,” adds Jefferson, now an attorney based in East Haven.

Like many BSU alumni, he’s remained active with the organization and was instrumental in setting the groundwork for the scholarship. It began with “Martinis and Wings,” a BSU reunion held at Jefferson’s home in 1997. BSU alumni came to reconnect and raise funds to support students. They also celebrated Matthews, who received an award for paving the way for so many.

In 2019, the fund was fully endowed. The Barbara Matthews Endowed Scholarship was awarded for the first time during the 2019-20 academic year and will continue to benefit students who are active members of the BSU in good academic standing.

The scholarship is a fitting tribute to Matthews, who devoted her career to higher education. A 1968 graduate of Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY), she first worked in academia at a city-run residence hall for college students. Urged on by her coworkers, she earned a master’s degree from Hunter College in 1971, and joined the staff at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, which had just opened its doors as the youngest institution in the CUNY system.

Then she heard about a newly created position at Southern. “Students from the BSU came up with the plan,” recalls Matthews. “They were reaching out for someone to work with them. That’s why I felt an immediate connection, and it hasn’t been broken since. This one caught my heart. It’s been a love affair,” she says.

Several alumni of the Black Student Union (BSU) gather to formally establish the Barbara Matthews Endowed Scholarship, named in honor of the longtime adviser of the BSU. [Seated from left] Matthews and Michele Helms, ’92, an ESL teacher. [Standing from left] James Barber, ’64, M.S. ’79, Southern’s director of community engagement; Attorney Michael Jefferson, ’86; President Joe Bertolino; and Kermit Carolina, ’94, M.S. ’03, supervisor of youth development and engagement with New Haven Public Schools.
Several alumni of the Black Student Union (BSU) gather to formally establish the Barbara Matthews Endowed Scholarship, named in honor of the longtime adviser of the BSU. [Seated from left] Matthews and Michele Helms, ’92, an ESL teacher. [Standing from left] James Barber, ’64, M.S. ’79, Southern’s director of community engagement; Attorney Michael Jefferson, ’86; President Joe Bertolino; and Kermit Carolina, ’94, M.S. ’03, supervisor of youth development and engagement with New Haven Public Schools.

Her career has been a calling as well — one that’s enhanced the lives of generations of students. Southern’s campus has become increasingly diverse in recent years: in fall 2019, about 40 percent of the incoming class are students of color and 21 percent of full-time faculty are minorities. But when Matthews arrived in 1972, diversity was not a campus hallmark. As late as fall 1984, fewer than one in 20 full-time undergraduates was black and fewer than one in 100 was Hispanic. Among the 406 professors at Southern in 1984, only five were black — about one percent.

“Most of us were coming from the tri-state area from high schools where the student body looked very different from Southern,” says Jefferson. “Coming to a place like Southern was sometimes difficult. . . . It was important for us to create a supportive organization to deal with some of the challenges,” he says.

Throughout the years, the BSU, guided by Matthews, promoted inclusivity in countless ways. Noting a dearth of black faculty, the BSU sent student ambassadors to talk with academic department heads about the issue. Concerned about the percentage of black student-athletes who weren’t graduating on time, the BSU worked with the administration to dedicate an academic adviser to them. The group also organized cultural events for the entire campus.

Historically, the BSU’s commitment has extended to the New Haven community as well. Members worked on voter registration and advocated for children at New Haven Board of Education meetings. They also strove to enhance local neighborhoods. Michele Helms, ’92, remembers working on a comparative analysis of a nearby neighborhood while she was attending Southern. She recalls finding a high number of liquor stores and a disturbing lack of resources. It was upsetting and a call to action.

“I continue to hold BSU close to my heart because it was a platform that empowered me to make a difference — and she [Matthews] was a big part of that,” says Helms, an English as a second language [ESL] teacher in Stamford, Conn.

Her sentiment is echoed by Kermit Carolina, ’94, M.S. ’03, who, as a student, was president of the BSU. His memories of the organization include Saturday mornings spent with New Haven children who came to campus for mentoring and tutoring. “We had an opportunity to make an impact on the greater New Haven community. Every year, this commitment was passed down from president to president,” says Carolina — now supervisor of youth development and engagement with New Haven Public Schools.

Through each program and initiative, Matthews kept a careful eye on her students. “We’d be sitting in her office, talking about the BSU. And she’d casually swivel around to her desk, and say, ‘So, how are classes going? How are your grades?’” says Jefferson.

“I had access to their academic information!” Matthews says, with a laugh.

“It really was like having a campus mom,” says Jefferson.

“We never wanted to disappoint you,” adds Carolina.

This enduring, almost familial, connection — fostered by Matthews over three decades and beyond — gives the BSU much of its strength. In October 2018, the BSU held several events in conjunction with Southern’s Homecoming. The BSU tailgate alone drew about 400. Among them was Kendall Manderville, a senior majoring in recreation and leisure studies, who is president of the BSU today and the scholarship’s first recipient. He met Matthews there after hearing about her for years — and notes that the scholarship is inspiring and needed.

“Finances aren’t the only reason students of color might have difficulty staying in school, but they’re a primary issue. All of us have friends who didn’t come back because they couldn’t afford it,” says Manderville.

He continues: “I also feel students of color, especially black students, are not always aware of some of the resources available to them. They are not aware of how many scholarships are out there. So having one that’s just for them, right here at the university . . . It makes a difference.”

Southern Alumni Magazine cover, Fall 2019, featuring Peter Marra, '85

Read more stories in the Fall ’19 issue of Southern Alumni Magazine.

Sean Grace (left) and Gabriella DiPreta. Credit Patrick Skahill / Connecticut Public Radio

Radio station WNPR (90.5 FM) aired a story on December 9, 2019, about an ongoing study of the Northern Star Coral conducted by Sean Grace, chair of the Biology Department, and Gabriella DiPreta, an adjunct faculty member in the Biology Department who is a former student of Grace. The coral has “hearty New Englander” qualities in being able to withstand changes in the water temperature and acidity due to global warming better than other corals. The hope is that by researching why these corals are more resistant to such changes, scientists may be able to improve the resiliency of other corals and sea life. The study is a joint effort with the Milford Laboratory of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

Read and listen to the WNPR story, which is by reporter Patrick Skahill.

Ms. Lula Mae White's mugshot, from when she was arrested in 1961 as a Freedom Rider

Lula Mae White, a Freedom Rider who was a longtime resident of Hamden and New Haven, died in September at age 80. Ms. White’s family invites the public to attend a memorial for her on Sunday afternoon, December 15, 2019, from 2-5 p.m. in the Adanti Student Center Ballroom. In addition to other speakers at the memorial, Journalism Professor Frank Harris III will be taking part, showing a short documentary on Ms. White that he made based on an interview he did with her several years ago.

The Freedom Riders were civil rights activists who rode buses into the segregated southern United States in 1961 and subsequent years to challenge non-enforcement of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions that ruled that segregated public buses were unconstitutional. In 1961, as a 22-year-old University of Chicago graduate student, Ms. White became one of 300-400 individuals to risk life and limb to ride the buses in the South to test the law that was supposed to provide for integrated transportation facilities in America. She was arrested and spent time in Mississippi’s notorious Parchman Prison. The efforts of the Freedom Riders led to the integration and removal of the “colored” and “white” signs that used to dominate the landscape in America’s South.

Photo courtesy of New Haven Register

A new Haven native, Ms. White attended Hillhouse High School, class of 1956, and earned a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in history with honors from the University of Chicago. She went on to teach history for over 28 years at the former Lee High School in New Haven. She was recognized by the Quinnipiac University School of Law in 2016, was awarded the Thurgood Marshall Award for her activism and community service, and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from Albertus Magnus College in 2010.

Read a column about Ms. White by Harris, published in the Hartford Courant last September: “Saying goodbye to, but never forgetting, a freedom rider.”

Economics professors Samuel Andoh (left) and James Thorson

Samuel Andoh, MBA program director and professor of economics, and James Thorson, professor and chair of economics, will be presenting their research titled “Female Entrepreneurs in Africa: Ethiopia, Uganda, Ivory Coast, and Ghana” at the 2019 Association of Global South Studies Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 12 – 15, 2019.

Andoh and Thorson’s research seeks to understand whether women are more or less likely to apply for credit compared to men, and what factors explain the disparity, as well as whether women entrepreneurs use less leverage than men, and finally, whether women entrepreneurs are risk-averse. The answers to these questions could provide insights on how policy makers can work to include women in the rapid economic growth which countries such as Ethiopia and Ghana are currently experiencing.

As director of Southern’s MBA program, Andoh hopes not only to conference with colleagues and share his research in Argentina, but also to meet with anyone curious about the MBA opportunities at SCSU.

To highlight the strength of the SCSU School of Business MBA program, and the high quality of the students in the program, Andoh points to two recent graduates.

Teresa Rivera, a mother of three, enrolled in the MBA program while still nursing a baby. She defied the odds to complete the MBA, took the Treasury Management course, which proved to be her ticket to an executive position at Hartford Healthcare, where she works as a senior treasury analyst.

Eliza Tabaka, a mother of two young children, worked as a translator and as a Graduate Assistant in the School of Business while she pursued an intense Accelerated MBA. After passing the Treasury Management course, Tabaka was one of two students selected to join Webster Bank’s competitive internship program, and was subsequently hired by Webster Bank, where she is currently employed.

If you are interested in joining the ranks of successful Southern MBA grads, or hearing more about either the traditional MBA path or the accelerated MBA format, which allows students to complete their MBA degree in just 18 months with combined Saturday and online courses, please contact Dr. Sam Andoh at AndohS1@SouthernCT.edu. He is available to schedule meetings December 12 to 16 at Hotel UOM Buenos Aires.

Social Justice Community Award winners (clockwise from upper left): Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.; staff from SEOP; MaryJo Archambault, assistant professor of recreation, tourism, and sport management; graduate student Vanessa Parker; undergraduate student Jim D'Elia; and University Chaplain James Furlong

The Social Justice Community Awards honor individuals and groups for outstanding achievement in promoting diversity, inclusion, equity, and access at Southern and/or the community at large — and a demonstrated commitment to these goals through programs, projects, or partnerships.

These awards are presented annually in six categories, and the award winners are selected by the President’s Commission on Social Justice in the spring of the academic year, following a call for nominations. Honorees receive a monetary award ($250 value for students; $500 value for faculty, staff, organizations and departments) and a certificate.

For the 2018-2019 academic year, the Social Justice Community Awards were awarded in the spring 2019 semester and included the following honorees:

Undergraduate Student Award

Jim D’Elia was nominated for the Top Owl Award before his graduation from the university in May with a degree in sports marketing. As an undergraduate at Southern, he was an active member in student organizations on campus that focus on disability awareness and advocacy and served in leadership roles within those organizations, which included Outreach Unlimited and the Autism Awareness club.

Known as an advocate for others, D’Elia planned and organized programs for Disability Awareness Month and throughout the year. He also contributed to programs that support populations that are underserved and in need — for example, he helped to organize the campus’ Stuff-a-Shuttle event, which collects donations of basic necessities such as food, clothing, and toiletries and delivers them to Saint Luke’s Church in New Haven. When he needed a summer job, instead of returning home to Wethersfield to find work, D’Elia stayed in New Haven to work with local children in a summer program at a school located near the SCSU campus.

D’Elia’s nominator said that in addition to getting involved in programs that help others, D’Elia also advocates for friends and classmates in social settings by making sure others do not feel left out based on differences.

His nominator wrote, “If one were to gather Jimmy’s friends and acquaintances in a room, you would need a very large room, as he is well liked and well respected by many. What you would also see in that room, is a very diverse group, as Jimmy makes friends with everyone. He has a natural ability to bring people together while encouraging action and social justice among his peers.”

D’Elia made the Dean’s List on several occasions during his years at Southern, according to his nominator.

Graduate Student Award

Vanessa Parker, who goes by “Parker,” graduated from the university in May with a Master of Arts degree in Women’s and Gender Studies, and was nominated for the Top Owl Award prior to her graduation.

While at Southern, Parker demonstrated exceptional leadership in bringing together both graduate and undergraduate students in raising awareness and inspiring action on social justice issues. She accomplished this via culturally focused programming that she conceived and implemented, and also via healing dialogue that she has initiated between student groups that were experiencing conflict.

Parker was elected president of the Kappa Chapter of Iota Iota Iota (Triota), the National Women’s Studies Association Student Honor Society, for the 2018–2019 academic year. In her capacity as president, she led the graduate and undergraduate members in developing an agenda committed to building a sense of a “service community” and leading the students in implementing the activities. For example, Parker organized, produced, and directed a campus presentation of The Vagina Monologues to raise funds for a crisis center. She also organized a campus-wide donation drive for basic care necessities for a local shelter. In her leadership roles in initiating and carrying out these community service activities, she inspired students by raising their moral consciousness on the needs of those who struggle with racial, gender, economic and social discrimination and disadvantages.

Parker was also the principal organizer for a campus presentation of a play written by Southern alumna Daisha Brabham, Homegoing: A Herstory of the Black Woman, which traces the experience of Black women from their African roots to their struggles in white-dominated cultures. Parker organized, advertised, and produced the play and led two post-play dialogues with audiences on racial unity.

One of Parker’s nominators wrote that she “seeks out opportunities to build bridges among different student constituencies on campus” and calls her “a natural healer, a gifted bridge-builder who employs all her education, skills, experiences and talents to bring people together and help them to interact with mutual dignity, respect, compassion, kindness, and civility.”

As a Graduate Assistant for the LGBTQIA Center and Women’s Center at Connecticut College, Parker worked to build community among students of gender and sexual diversity and to advocate for their rights to equal access, respect and equality in society.  Also, for her hometown of New London, Parker organized a donation drive for hair-care products for women of color who are suffering severe economic challenges and seeking help at New London shelters and charities.

As a graduate student in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Parker created a project, “Queering Healing Spaces Occupied by Black Womxn: A Queer Black Feminist Theory Multi-Media Project,” in which she highlighted the the role Black womxn (Black Cis, Queer, and Trans) have played in creating healing spaces in the United States since the 1600s. She did field work at Hearing Youth Voices (HYV), a student-led organization invested in creating systemic change in the education system.

After graduation Parker had planned to open a healing space for Black womxn in New London, Conn., her hometown, which would be the first in her area.

One of Parker’s nominators wrote, “I am very excited to recommend Vanessa Parker for the Social Justice Community Award and wholeheartedly support her candidacy. Her academic and professional pursuits along with her campus leadership indicate her commitment to community and social justice for all especially those of marginalized groups.”

Club Winner

The Omicron Theta chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated, actively engages with students at Southern through various events, personal interactions, and programs hosted. The chapter also reaches out to the New Haven community through volunteering during Thanksgiving food drives, March of Dimes and Breast Cancer Awareness walks, and working with the students of Lincoln-Bassett Community School.

The chapter — whose motto is motto is “Culture for Service, Service for Humanity” — commits to service in everything it does on campus and beyond. Its national philanthropy, March of Dimes, works to improve the health of mothers and babies. In New Haven, members speak to kids of all ages about college and their own experiences, welcome young students on their first days of school, and give various performances and shows at schools and after-school programs.

Phi Beta Sigma stands by the phrase of being the “inclusive we” rather than the “exclusive we” and lives by three principles: Brotherhood, Scholarship, and Service. On the Southern campus, the Omicron Theta chapter makes it a point to exemplify those principles. All current members of the chapter hold various positions on campus, in jobs and other club or organization commitments. With everyone involved in in different areas of the campus, the group’s nominator wrote, the chapter is better able to reach out to build relationships across the university.

Two years ago, Phi Beta Sigma collaborated with Beta Mu Sigma Fraternity for a program called the “Power of Privilege,” a panel discussion with four students and a faculty member. The program was part of Social Justice Month and aimed to raise students’ awareness of what privilege is and the different privileges people have because of their socioeconomic status, race, and gender. The chapter was recognized for this program and won an award with Beta Mu Sigma for best collaboration event of the year.

The chapter’s nominator wrote that “The brothers of the Omicron Theta Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated, have contributed to this campus their principles with the students of Southern. We support Southern’s mission of creating inclusive environments for everyone here, and we will continue to provide that for everyone throughout our civic engagements, events, and interactions with faculty and students. We are happy to be a part of the Southern community and give back where we can, share experiences, and keep the lively, exciting atmosphere of Southern thriving.”

Staff Winner

James Furlong provides a safe, welcoming atmosphere in the Interfaith Office at Southern. His nominator wrote that he shows care for students, demonstrates understanding, and “has a boundless empathy for students, faculty and staff.”

For the last 13 years, Furlong has led the university’s Newman Society (club) to annual alternative break trips to such places as New Orleans and Philadelphia, where he makes sure that students are exposed to social justice issues such as racial inequality, persistent homelessness and drug addiction. He not only exposes students to such issues, but guides them in reaching out to and being present in communities facing such issues.

He has helped organize a “Soup for Souls” event, to benefit food insecure students on campus and demonstrates a commitment to the well being of the Southern community by sponsoring monthly Chinese Luncheons, open to students seeking a meal. He also cares for the community around the university by bringing students to Saint Anne’s Soup Kitchen, a local New Haven soup kitchen, where he serves meals every week.

Furlong has organized an event, “Catholic Social Justice,” which helped students learn about social justice issues in a faith-based context. He has also worked with VPAS on a display about the plight of domestic workers in Connecticut, to encourage students to fight for the rights of these vulnerable workers.

His nominator wrote that Furlong shows a strong sense of openness, respect, and solidarity with the different faith communities on campus, offering a home and friend for all students following their conscience and regularly reaching out to help all the faith organizations on campus. He also is known to, as part of his daily routine, walk around the upper levels of the Adanti Student Center where he works, greeting faculty and staff with a warm smile.

Finally, Furlong’s nominator wrote, Furlong is “a true blue Southern Owl. He has endless pride in Southern, always carrying the school’s values with him and rooting for the school’s sports teams.”

Faculty Winner

MaryJo Archambault was described by her nominator as going “above and beyond in all she does in and out of the classroom, with the utmost fairness, compassion and integrity.” The Social Justice Faculty Community Award recognizes a faculty member who incorporates diverse values in the classroom, curriculum and/ or research; displays a commitment to diverse cultures, religions, abilities, gender identities, sexual orientations, and other areas of inclusion and perspective; makes the classroom accessible for and supportive of diverse learning styles; engages in equity, diversity and inclusion efforts in the campus community; uses innovative teaching methods to support students with special learning needs; and/or mentors underrepresented students or diverse populations of students, faculty and/or staff. The awardee receives $500, which can go to their department or to professional development funds.

Recognizing a gap in service delivery for persons with disabilities, Archambault has been instrumental in the development of the Institute for Adapted Sports and Inclusive Recreation. Reflective of her research and areas of interest, the institute provides programming opportunities, education experiences, and advocacy services for individuals with disabilities, and conducts research and evaluation relating to adaptive sports and inclusive recreation.

Archambault has been active in applying for research- and program-related grants and has been awarded over $45,000 in grant dollars over the course of the past four-plus years. Most noteworthy, she along with a colleague serve as the co-project directors for a $38,000 grant awarded to Southern by the Office of Veteran’s Affairs in Washington, D.C., for the purpose of providing or facilitating the provision of adaptive sport opportunities for disabled veterans.

Archambault also provides exemplary service to the department of Recreation, Tourism and Sport Management; the School of Health and Human Services; and to the University through her active and varied involvement in numerous committees and board memberships. In addition, she engages in numerous student recruitment activities.

Department Winner

SEOP focuses on providing access to diverse groups of students. The program is committed to recruiting and retaining underrepresented populations on Southern’s campus. SEOP promotes equity and diversity as well as opportunity and success. This program also hires students who have successfully completed the program, adding to the diversity of the campus workforce and providing even more opportunity to those students to gain work experience.

Congratulations to all of the awardees!

 

The School of Business inducted the nineteen newest members of Delta Mu Delta honor society on Saturday, November 23, 2019, at Amarante’s Sea Cliff.

The students and their families were joined by Professors Jim Aselta and Dr. Wafeek Abdelsayed, who serve as the faculty advisers to Delta Mu Delta and who organized the ceremony, and Dr. Ellen Durnin, dean of the School of Business.

Each year the Southern School of Business Zeta Nu chapter of Delta Mu Delta recognizes an honorary inductee, someone who represents the ideals of Delta Mu Delta and who is a friend to the School of Business. This year’s honoree is Lindy Lee Gold.

Gold has been an active and invaluable asset to every organization and community in which she involves herself. She is known for her enthusiasm, her dedication, and her willingness to step up to help. She participates not only as a donor, but takes time from her busy professional and civic schedule to get personally involved in causes and organizations that are important to her. The SCSU School of Business, and especially the Women’s Mentoring and Leadership Program, are fortunate to be among them.

Gold, well-known in the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development, serves as a senior development specialist, a position she had held since 1998. Lindy is responsible for business retention, recruitment, development and expansion.

Paulina Lamot, Delta Mu Delta President; Kacie Velasquez, Vice President; Lindy Lee Gold, Honorary Inductee; Kiersten Snyder, Secretary; Kyle Tuttle, Treasurer

Prior to joining the state office, Gold was director of development and community relations for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Connecticut State Office. Her professional background also includes work in the travel and investment industries, as well as devoting efforts to directing and coordinating development and renovation of low- and middle-income housing.

Gold’s civic accomplishments are vast, including service on the Gateway Community College Foundation. She also serves on the state board of the Anti-Defamation League; as an associate fellow at Yale’s Pierson College; and on the boards of the Arts Council, the United Way of Greater New Haven and the Jewish Foundation. Additionally, Lindy serves on the Cultural Affairs Commission City of New Haven; Southern Connecticut State University Foundation Board of Directors; the Housatonic Community College Foundation Board of Directors; and Connecticut Health Investigative Team (C-HIT) board.

Congratulations to the 2019 SCSU Delta Mu Delta inductees: Elise Abu-Sitteh, Christianne M. Accurso, Sage Marie Albino, Katia Dutra Astudillo, Alexandra Grace Bucci, Julie Ann Delucia, Esosa Osaro Enagbare, Rudolfo Hernandez-Velaquez, Andrea Gudino, Satchel Christopher Harrell, Justin Paolillo, Alejandro Jaime Quijada, Gabriela Maria Rodriguez, Eldi Shahini, Kari Ann Swanson, Michaela Hart Tiani, Kyle Raymond Tuttle, Katherine Wojcik, and Alexis Marie Young.