Announcements

The SCSU President’s Recognition Committee proudly presents our eighth group of SouthernStrong awardees. These awards shine a light on faculty, staff, and students who are lending a helping hand, with acts of kindness large and small, not only for their fellow Owls, but also for friends, neighbors, and strangers.

We recognize and celebrate Jennifer Botwick, Alexander Grant, Rebecca Hedreen, Jamie Malaterra, and Deborah Weiss for their commitment to making a difference and stepping up during the pandemic crisis. Their acts of kindness are making a positive impact during this difficult time.

Do you know an unsung hero who’s been making a difference during the pandemic? Please nominate them so their kindness can be celebrated!

Jennifer Botwick
Nominated by a staff member, Jennifer Botwick is an adjunct faculty member who teaches in the Department of Public Health. Her nominator wrote that they initially met when Botwick asked to borrow some yoga mats to teach yoga to her Wellness class. When COVID hit, and Botwick was unable to practice yoga with her students in person, her nominator reached out to ask if Botwick would be able to host a live meditation, and, hr nominator wrote, “she contributed so much more! Not only did Dr. Jenn host several Instagram live meditations and other Q&A sessions focusing on different areas of student health, she also contributed recipes and tips and resources for our Recreation and Fitness team to share with our community to inspire continued well being at home. She made herself available at all times, while seeing her patients via telehealth and still teaching her Southern students online. As an adjunct faculty member, she didn’t have to contribute anything, but as a health practitioner and genuinely caring member of our community, she said ‘yes’ to all of our requests because of her genuine care for health, safety, and well being of our students. Dr. Jenn absolutely went above and beyond and we are so grateful for her talents and positivity to help our community.”

Jennifer Botwick

Alexander Grant
Nominated by a fellow student, Alexander Grant is a sophomore, majoring in political science, from Woodbury, Conn. He is also a Presidential Student Ambassador at Southern. His nominator reports that Grant has worked at his local grocery store, LaBonne’s, since high school and often talks about how great his co-workers are and how he has always enjoyed working there. His intentions to return to work there were only for the duration of spring break. However, due to the sudden shutdown of the campus, he was quick to return to work and start helping his community. “Now that he’s a part of one of the smaller populace of workers still working during this time,” wrote Grant’s nominator, “he’s been doing as much as possible to help those in need all while trying to balance coursework from classes. Alex recently has been making grocery runs for friends and family to help them and ensure that they continue to stay safe and get all the essentials they’ll need to remain at home.”

Grant’s nominator added that Grant is also actively involved with managing and controlling the long lines often seen at the grocery store, yet again ensuring that those coming to shop are staying sanitary and having a smooth experience. His nominator continued, “He underestimates the amount he’s contributing to his community and still is by continuing to work during these tough times.”

Alexander Grant

Rebecca Hedreen
Nominated by a faculty colleague, Rebecca Hedreen has been carrying out a multitude of tasks in Buley library as the Distance Librarian in charge of all of the library’s virtual services during the pandemic. Her nominator wrote that Hedreen “has been an exceptional colleague this time and the go-to person for students and faculty in anything related to library online resources and services. What is most admirable about Rebecca is her willingness to drop everything she is doing to help anyone who approaches her online anytime any day.”

Hedreen created the initial Virtual Library page, which was used as a template for the new Buley Library homepage, and participated actively in the decision making and design of the new page as a member of the Library Technology Committee. She has been a tremendous help to her colleagues in using the SpringShare suite of products library uses for remote services. Hedreen continues to participate actively in the university-wide Online Learning Team’s planning sessions, trainings, and drop-in times including a host of other committees. In addition, she manages the library’s social media presence (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) with over 500 posts. She continues to participate in virtual desk services and online library instruction providing assistance to many students and faculty in her liaison subjects in biology, nursing, and psychology including distance learning assistance in all areas. “She is a remarkable and outstanding librarian and we want to appreciate her expertise and professionalism,” added her nominator.

Rebecca Hedreen

Jamie Malaterra
Nominated by a fellow student, Jamie Malaterra is a communication disorders major from Trumbull, Conn. Her nominator wrote, “I can’t think of a student more worthy of recognition than my good friend, Jamie Malaterra. Throughout this time of crisis, Jamie has been a shining light. There are so many examples of how she has been there for her community.”

In the very beginning of quarantine, her nominator wrote, Malaterra noticed her elderly neighbors were afraid to leave their homes and wanted to do something to brighten up her neighborhood. She wrote and delivered letters challenging all of the neighborhood children to decorate the neighborhood with colorful chalk messages of hope, and even supplied the chalk. That same day, the children filled the street with drawings and hopeful words.

Malaterra is also an essential healthcare worker. At the Kennedy Center, she works one-on-one with several adults with special needs. Her nominator said that one of Malaterra’s clients has been making incredible progress with her. Together they practice communication skills, occupational skills, and exercise. Currently, Malaterra is working with this client on learning to write his name, and he is making great strides.

Also, her nominator wrote, Malaterra is the older sister of a high school senior, and is planning a driveby graduation celebration for her sister, recruiting all of her friends to decorate their cars and drive by their house to celebrate her sister’s graduation. Her nominator added, “I couldn’t be more proud of Jamie. Southern is so lucky to have her as a part of our community.”

Jamie Malaterra

Deborah Weiss
Nominated by a faculty colleague,  Deborah Weiss is a professor in the Department of Communication Disorders, co-director of the Judaic Studies Program, and president of the SCSU Faculty Senate. Her nominator wrote, “Since the moment it was understood that our semester would be disrupted in an unprecedented way, Dr. Deborah Weiss, in her role as President of the Faculty Senate, bounded into action and has been at the center of developing and getting approval for policies that have been vital to enabling
students to succeed. At the same time, she has been instrumental in finding ways to ensure vital processes (e.g., faculty evaluation) would go forward in an orderly way, and has masterfully applied crisis-communication techniques to bring clarity to new options, revised procedures and altered expectations.

Under enormous pressure to “get it right the first time,” her nominator wrote, Weiss has been able to work harmoniously and productively with, and foster consensus among, key faculty, administration and staff leaders. Her accomplishments have served the university well, he writes, adding “in fact, they are awe inspiring, and worthy of a presidential medal of valor, were such a thing to exist. All of this was done at a tremendous personal cost of time and sleep, and in spite of the most difficult of family demands that were happening at the same time — which, of course, attests to Deb’s heroic dedication to Southern Connecticut State University and the members of our campus community. During times of crisis, clear thinking, full engagement with all affected parties, willingness to act, selflessness, compassion and smarts carry the day. Deb Weiss embodies all of those characteristics and has used every available ounce of energy to make Southern shine brightly during a dark period.”

Deborah Weiss

 

The SCSU President’s Recognition Committee proudly presents our seventh group of SouthernStrong awardees. These awards shine a light on faculty, staff, and students who are lending a helping hand, with acts of kindness large and small, not only for their fellow Owls, but also for friends, neighbors, and strangers.

We recognize and celebrate Alan Bensen, Haroon Chaudhry, Diane Morgenthaler, Roland Regos, and Sue Zarnowski for their commitment to making a difference and stepping up during the pandemic crisis. Their acts of kindness are making a positive impact during this difficult time.

Do you know an unsung hero who’s been making a difference during the pandemic? Please nominate them so their kindness can be celebrated!

Alan Bensen
Nominated by a faculty member, Alan Bensen is a biology major who took Physics 201 this spring, a course designed for non-Physics majors. His professor wrote that Bensen was an excellent student and very responsible, but at some point during the semester, he requested some accommodation for an exam time change. At that point, Bensen’s nominator wrote, “I learned from him that he is a first responder, working in the EMS. And he had a very busy new schedule. At some point later, he told me that ten of his patients were confirmed with COVID-19. Even in such a situation, he still got a perfect grade for that exam. I asked him if there was anything I (we) could do to help. He said the best way for people to help was to stay home and practice social distancing. I have been truly touched by his service, his attitude, and his performance, and feel that he should be recognized.”
Alan Bensen

Haroon Chaudhry

Graduate student Haroon Chaudhry was nominated by a faculty member, who wanted to recognize Chaudhry for his offer of free resume and cover letter editing, and practice interviewing to students and recent graduates. “These are services for which he could be paid,” she wrote, “but is giving back to the community by offering these services for free.”

Chaudhry is an undergraduate alumnus (class of 2019) and a graduate student in the accelerated MBA program. He takes time from his own busy work and academic schedule to offer his time and skills to help ungraduated students and recent graduates. In Chaudhry’s Facebook post, where he offers his services, he writes, “This university has given me everything a student can ask for and now I want to give back to the community. I typically charge people for professional services but I’m offering free services to everyone. First, congratulations to the class of 2020.”

Chaudhry continues, “Currently, we are living in a global crisis and many of us are struggling. I know people who have been laid off or had internships cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak and I know this is happening everywhere. I want to help out in any way I can and would love to edit resumes or cover letters, do a practice interview or provide career advice. Please don’t hesitate to reach out!”

Haroon Chaudhry
Diane Morgenthaler
Diane Morgenthaler, director of Student Health Services, was nominated by a student who recently graduated. This student had been hospitalized for three weeks with COVID-19, and when she was finally well enough to go home, she was told she needed to have a nebulizer to give herself breathing treatments. There were no nebulizers available anywhere in the state for her to have at home, and her breathing began to slowly deteriorate again. Roland Regos (see below), a member of President Bertolino’s staff and and an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Recreation, Tourism and Sport Management, asked this student to give him some time to make calls and send emails to try to get a nebulizer machine. Otherwise, she would have gone back to the hospital. “Then,” she wrote, “a miracle happened. I received a phone call from Diane Morgenthaler. She learned from Roland about my plight. Diane left her home in Old Saybrook and drove to the SCSU campus and picked up a nebulizer machine and medicine. She then drove to Waterbury to bring me this life-saving equipment. I couldn’t believe it! Diane stood in the parking lot and was showing me how to properly use the nebulizer. The teamwork that Roland and Diane performed truly saved my life.”
Dr. Diane Morgenthaler
Roland Regos

Roland Regos, nominated by the same recent graduate who nominated Morgenthaler, coordinates the Presidential Student Ambassadors program and served as a mentor to his nominator, who was an Ambassador. But, his nominator wrote, he “was more than a mentor to me . . . He encouraged me to do my best and to have a positive attitude in good and bad times. In March, I was admitted into Waterbury Hospital extremely ill from COVID-19. Every day I struggled to fight this virus. Roland called and allowed me to call him any time of the day. There were many days of pain, fear, and tears. Roland faithfully was there for me as I lost many family and friends to COVID-19. Often, I would tell Roland to just make me laugh. I was so exhausted from the struggle to breathe. Roland always found a way to make me want to fight on! The funny pictures and Snapchat memes of himself made me smile when I wanted to give up.”

His nominator reports that Regos still checks on her just about every day. “His dedication and commitment are priceless,” she wrote. “I will be forever grateful to one of the kindest, caring, and supportive people on earth.”

Roland Regos

Sue Zarnowski

Nominated by a colleague, Sue Zarnowski serves as case manager for the Dean of Student Affairs Office, where she supports students who encounter challenges of all types. Prior to quarantine, Zarnowski helped connect students to countless resources in the community and at Southern, from accessing financial resources to, as an example, working with hair salons to help students access free hair cuts for job interviews. Since the university moved online, Zarnowski has been integral to helping students find and access resources. Her nominator wrote, “She is often the person behind the scenes that is moving pieces into place so that students can be successful or sometimes, just receive some relief from the burdens of the world. She has worked tirelessly to identify ways to provide wifi, financial assistance, shelter, and other basic needs. She connects with countless students individually to help them to build a strategy, learn how to advocate for themselves, and sometimes just to listen. Going well beyond her role at the university, she has an unwavering commitment to Southern, students, and people in need.”
Sue Zarnowski

The SCSU President’s Recognition Committee proudly presents our sixth group of SouthernStrong awardees. These awards shine a light on faculty, staff, and students who are lending a helping hand, with acts of kindness large and small, not only for their fellow Owls, but also for friends, neighbors, and strangers.

We recognize and celebrate Parker Fruehan, Loida Reyes, Cara Richardson, Shuei Kozu, and Andrew Smyth for their commitment to making a difference and stepping up during the pandemic crisis. Their acts of kindness are making a positive impact during this difficult time.

Do you know an unsung hero who’s been making a difference during the pandemic? Please nominate them so their kindness can be celebrated!

Parker Fruehan

Parker Fruehan, systems librarian at Buley Library, was nominated by a colleague, who wrote that he “has been an instrumental part of Buley Library’s transition to being fully online and he’s making a difference beyond the Southern community during this pandemic.”

Fruehan’s nominator explains that as the systems librarian, Fruehan works with the technology needs of the library. When campus closed, he worked tirelessly to ensure all library faculty and staff had laptops and other any other technology needed to continue their services remotely. He worked with library employees to answer their questions and support them in any way needed. In addition to this, he updated the library website and catalog to highlight Buley’s virtual services and resources. These updates allow students, faculty, and the entire Southern community to find digital resources such as articles, e-books, and streaming videos, without sifting through physical items that are current inaccessible due to the building closure. All of this work has allowed the entire library to seamlessly switch to a virtual platform as it continues to provide support to all academic departments, students, faculty and more across the university’s now virtual campus.

Fruehan is also making a difference beyond Southern during the pandemic. His nominator wrote that he is working with UConn Health to print mask exoskeletons using the 3D printers from Buley Library’s Makerspace. The mask exoskeletons, which were highlighted on scsulibrary’s Instagram page on April 9, create a better seal for non-respirator masks. Fruehan and his student worker each brought home a 3D printer and the necessary filament before campus closed and have been printing the mask exoskeletons at home and sending the masks to Uconn Health.

His nominator continued, “I believe all of these reasons make Parker Fruehan an excellent candidate for the SouthernStrong Award. I’m proud to be able to call him my colleague and hope that his hard work can get recognized.”

Parker Fruehan

Shuei Kozu

Shuei Kozu, assistant professor of social work, was nominated by a graduate student, who wrote that she “has made the transition to online learning enjoyable rather than extremely stressful.” According to her nominator, Kozu was able to re-evaluate the course syllabus to adjust assignments and accommodate accordingly and “has reached out to the quiet students individually to address if they needed anything or if she can further support them in any way. She has went as far as to chat with her students on the phone.” Her nominator added that Kozu “has been extremely empathetic and accommodating to all students and had started a support group for social work staff. Her dissertation in crisis management has prepared her to handle situations like this in the most professional and supportive way. As a graduate student, I am extremely grateful and thankful to have had Dr. Shuei as a professor.”

Shuei Kozu

Loida Reyes

Loida Reyes, assistant professor of social work, was nominated by a student, who wrote that Reyes “has done a tremendous job of reminding her students that despite this difficult time, that we will get through this. Along with the rest of the SCSU class of 2020, my SWK 491 class expressed our feelings of sadness in regards to our graduation ceremony getting cancelled. Being the empathetic person that she is, she threw a graduation celebration for our class through Zoom. She played the graduation song, gave us each our own personalized speech about our achievements throughout the Social Work program, and recognized all of our hard work that we have put into this program. She also invited other faculty and their students in the program to join our Zoom session as well. Although this is not the graduation ceremony that we had all planned on having, she completely went out of her way to make sure that her students knew that their work would be recognized. This was the most thoughtful gift that she could have given us, and this act of kindness is something that I will always cherish, and never forget. Dr. Reyes is such a caring, compassionate, and inspiring teacher that deserves this recognition.”

Loida Reyes

Cara Richardson

Student Cara Richardson holds many leadership positions, both on and off campus. On campus, she is a Peer Mentor, a Presidential Student Ambassador, the Panhellenic Delegate of Alpha Sigma Alpha, the co-vice president of Psi Chi, and a Representative at Large for SGA and the class of 2021. Her nominator wrote that Richardson is “constantly reaching out to her peers to make sure they are okay during these trying times,” as well as making service efforts in her hometown. She is a volunteer for a local Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, and she has been collecting food and clothing items to donate to her local shelter during the pandemic to help those who have been affected by this crisis.

Cara Richardson

Andrew Smyth

Andrew Smyth, chairman of the English Department, was nominated by four of his colleagues in the English Department, all of whom expressed deep gratitude for his exceptional leadership, kindness, and sensitivity during the pandemic and move to virtual classes.

One nominator wrote that Smyth has “juggled his many responsibilities with grace, skill, and — when needed — a sense of humor. His care for both students and colleagues is evident. He’s thorough and efficient in providing information, taking care to keep us up to date while also respecting our time. He’s responded to my questions with amazing speed and remarkable patience and thought, providing guidance that has allowed me to better serve my students.” Smyth has held regular office hours on Teams so faculty knew there was a time they could check in with questions, and he even started a weekly department happy hour via Teams to provide his colleagues “with much-needed time to chat and laugh together. He’s helped to lift the spirits of both students and colleagues.”

A second nominator added that Smyth has been “a model of thoughtful, helpful leadership, and our semester would have been much harder without his guidance.”

A third nominator wrote of Smyth, “In addition to answering any student and faculty questions and regularly addressing any concerns, I wanted to draw especial attention to his sincere and consistent efforts to provide resources and a voice of support for our part-time faculty colleagues. Andrew recognized the particularly vulnerable situations that many part-time faculty have found themselves in over the last couple of months, and has been outspoken in seeking to help them navigate this crisis. Somehow, he is able to offer this same level of support to full-time faculty, students, and staff both within and beyond the English department as well — I cannot see how he ever has time to sleep, given all that he does!”

His fourth nominator wrote that most of the many reasons for which she felt Smyth deserved to be recognized with a SouthernStrong Award “fall into two categories: advocating for students by modeling and urging empathy for what is actually happening in their lives right now; and communicating clearly and consistently with faculty and students in order to keep everyone as calm and focused as possible.” He was able to help a student who had become housing insecure and had her hours at work cut, and he supported his faculty even more than he usually does by responding quickly to emails, Teams chats, and phone calls, and doing all of this “with grace and good humor.”

She added, “The English Department is large, with over 60 full- and part-time faculty. What Andrew is doing for me, he is doing for all of us. He is definitely Southern Strong. I hope you will recognize his extraordinary efforts on behalf of our students.”

Andrew Smyth

The SCSU President’s Recognition Committee proudly presents our fifth group of SouthernStrong awardees. These awards shine a light on faculty, staff, and students who are lending a helping hand, with acts of kindness large and small, not only for their fellow Owls, but also for friends, neighbors, and strangers.

We recognize and celebrate Noelle Brideau, Trever (Charles) Brolliar, Derek Faulkner, Lisa Kortfelt, and Jackie Scott for their commitment to making a difference and stepping up during the pandemic crisis. Their acts of kindness are making a positive impact during this difficult time.

Do you know an unsung hero who’s been making a difference during the pandemic? Please nominate them so their kindness can be celebrated!

Noelle Brideau
Noelle Brideau, a student, was nominated by a faculty member. Brideau was enrolled in this professor’s HON 300 course, Introduction to Service Learning, this semester, a course that focuses on food insecurity in the community. Because of COVID-19, the class’s planned community service projects fell through, and students had to develop new projects that could be accomplished while most students were living off campus and social distancing. “Not even a week into quarantine,” Brideau’s nominator wrote, “Noelle reached out to me to see if we could organize donations to send to a fellow SCSU student who spoke to our class earlier in the semester about her struggles with food insecurity. Noelle’s leadership helped us raise money to send to this student.” Her nominator continued, “A few weeks later, while our class was meeting over video chat to discuss service options, Noelle announced that she had already been serving the food insecure during the pandemic, volunteering to grocery shop for individual elderly members of her community. She asked if this work could count for her service requirement in our class. I said: of course!! We all then gave her a round of applause, as she is obviously a leader in more ways than one. I’m very impressed with Noelle’s quick action-minded thinking that has benefitted a number of people during this difficult time.”
Noelle Brideau
Trever (Charles) Brolliar
Trever Brolliar, director of academic technology, was nominated by a faculty member. His nominator wrote that this semester she was chairing a faculty search committee for Curriculum and Learning in the College of Education, and when the university closed, she was charged with conducting virtual campus visits (multiple interviews and presentations) for candidates but had very little idea of where to start. She wrote that she was referred to Brolliar, who “got in touch with me immediately and walked me through setting up WebEx meetings (approximately 15 meetings in all). I was so concerned about getting this right,” she wrote, “especially because it involved so many people — candidates from the outside, SCSU faculty and students, and our Dean and Dept. Chair. At one point, a candidate was having a lot of trouble with her audio and Trever worked with her to fix the issue so she could do her teaching and research presentations. His patient, generous support were key to a successful week of virtual campus visits that presented SCSU and the College of Education in a positive light. We can’t thank him enough!”
Trever Brolliar
Derek Faulkner

Student Derek Faulkner was nominated by a member of the staff, who described him as “an outstanding student leader who goes above and beyond when it comes to the Southern community.” When the University needed to close due to the pandemic, Faulkner worked with Chartwells to recover food off the line and at all of the retail locations across campus. The day after the University closed, he returned to campus to work with Chef Ernie Arroyo to clean out the refrigerators and deliver the food to St. Ann’s Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry.

At the end of March when the residential students moved out of the residence halls, Faulkner returned to assist with the nonperishable food donated during move out. With the help of the Facilities Operations Grounds Crew, he managed to get the food boxed up and stored in the warehouse. Faulkner coordinated with the nonprofit organization Haven’s Harvest to pick it up and deliver it to area food pantries in New Haven, his nominator wrote.

Lisa Kortfelt
Lisa Kortfelt is director of environmental health and safety for the entire SCSU campus. Her nominator, a colleague, wrote that “whenever you have a question or issue she is there ready to help you and will help you. She has bi-weekly safety meetings for us trade guys and training on equipment and other things.” When COVID-19 happened, Kortfelt’s nominator wrote, “she sent out a training booklet about the procedures we should be following on campus while we are still here working. She also handmade about 30 mask for us and dropped them off (she lives over an hour away). I haven’t talked to her about what she has been doing at home for her community and family. But if she is doing stuff for us workers I’m sure she is doing stuff at home too. Great lady, glad to have her on my team!!”
Lisa Kortfelt
Jackie Scott
Jackie Scott, an SCSU alumna who will begin her PhD program at Southern next month, was nominated by a fellow student. Scott happens to supervise her nominator at Recovery Network of Programs, a non-profit substance use treatment agency in the greater Bridgeport area. “Jackie has taken on so many new roles since this pandemic hit,” her nominator wrote. “She has been on the front lines, every day, working with the most vulnerable populations. She has been assisting clients in applying for basic needs, getting them phones to engage in telehealth, volunteering at local food banks, gathering food for the homeless, and helping our clients resolve their anxieties and traumas on a daily basis. All the while, Jackie has remained not only my boss, but my mentor. She calls me every single day just to ‘check in.’ If I start talking about work, she quickly diverts my attention back to “whats really important”, and that is my own personal struggles and progress during this trying time. Jackie has helped me to make important decisions about my college career, and she was one of the biggest reasons I chose Southern! Jackie is a perfect example of #SouthernStrong.”
Jackie Scott

CSU Professor Elliott Horch

He developed a super-powered device for telescopes that enabled astronomers to snap photos of celestial objects many times clearer than had ever been taken. He was tapped by NASA to assist with the Kepler Mission – a project to find potential “new Earths” in the Milky Way Galaxy. He has assembled a stellar teaching record and demonstrated a strong commitment to student success since he began teaching at Southern Connecticut State University in 2007.

And on Thursday, Elliott Horch was recognized for the sum of his professorial achievements by being named a Connecticut State University Professor by the state Board of Regents for Higher Education. The recommendation for this honor came from SCSU President Joe Bertolino.

The designation is one of the most prestigious within the Connecticut State Colleges and University System. Only three faculty members at each of the four CSU campuses can hold the title at any given time.

Horch, a professor of physics, joins Vivian Shipley, professor of English, and David Levine, professor of art history as the Southern contingent of CSU professors. A vacancy was created with the recent retirement of Terrell “Terry” Bynum, who had been a professor of philosophy.

“A full professor since 2013, Elliott has developed a remarkable record of teaching and service excellence and has, with little company in his scholarship stratum, a remarkable record of peer-reviewed publications and grant success,” wrote Robert Prezant, SCSU provost and vice president for academic affairs.

“Dr. Horch represents one of our most successful scholars in any field,” Prezant said. “Roll into the mix his strong teaching credentials, devotion to our students, and his high level of important service, and you have an individual who can easily serve as a model for newer faculty members who have high aspirations. (He) is recognized for high quality work at the international level, and that recognition, in concert with his strong global collaborations, makes him an exceptional representative of Southern across continents.”

The CSU Professorship Advisory Committee reviewed eight applications for the award this year, according to Adiel Coca, chairman of the CSU Professorship Advisory Committee.

“It is the committee’s opinion that Dr. Horch has a documented high level of effectiveness in all three categories of evaluation (creative activity, teaching, and service), including a record of outstanding performance in the area of creative activity,” Coca wrote.

Horch earned a Ph.D. in applied physics from Stanford University in 1994. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University and the Rochester Institute of Technology and held teaching appointments at RIT and at UMass Dartmouth before coming to Southern.

His research interests are in astrophysics, binary stars, exoplanets, high-resolution imaging, and astronomical instrument building. He regularly collaborates with scientists from around the globe. During his time at Southern, Horch has co-authored 82 publications and has been awarded 10 external grants, most of which came from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Defense.

He developed the Differential Speckle Survey Instrument (DSSI) and the SCSU Interferometer and described the DSSI as being like “putting eyeglasses on a telescope.”

Horch earned the CSU System Research Award in 2011 and was the recipient of the 2012 SCSU Faculty Scholar Award. He has taught more than 20 physics courses, including four courses that were new at the time.

“It is clear from his student evaluations that students really enjoy having Dr. Horch as an instructor,” said Coca, who noted that Horch supervised 26 undergraduate and five graduate theses.

Horch was also instrumental in the development of the Master’s in Applied Physics program at Southern, and served on the LEP Committee from 2011 to 2015. He currently serves as chairman of the university’s Research and Scholarship Committee. Horch also chairs the Scientific Organizing Committee for the Gemini Science Meeting scheduled for June.

He thanked Physics Department Chairman Matthew Enjalran for nominating him, and thanked colleagues for their letters of support.

“This designation is a tremendous honor, and something I simply could not expect given the many excellent faculty we have at SCSU,” Horch said.

“I receive this during a very uncertain time,” he added. “But my hope is that as we find our way through the COVID-19 crisis and eventually reach better times, this position would allow me to be a stronger advocate for the value of science in our society and for the positive role that SCSU plays in that regard, both in teaching and research.”

The SCSU President’s Recognition Committee proudly presents our fourth group of SouthernStrong awardees. These awards shine a light on faculty, staff, and students who are lending a helping hand, with acts of kindness large and small, not only for their fellow Owls, but also for friends, neighbors, and strangers.

We recognize and celebrate Angelica Castro, Amanda Cavoto, Meghan Gula, Michael Keating, and Alyssa Laydon for their commitment to making a difference and stepping up during the pandemic crisis. Their acts of kindness are making a positive impact during this difficult time.

Do you know an unsung hero who’s been making a difference during the pandemic? Please nominate them so their kindness can be celebrated!

Angelica Castro

Angelica Castro, a senior nursing student, was nominated by a faculty member. Castro is president of the Multicultural Healthcare Leaders and, says her nominator, throughout the year “she has done an incredible job in her role. Organizing events on and off campus. This is a relatively small group and the work they do under her leadership is incredible.”  As everyone in the university community began preparing work from home, Castro’s nominator wrote, most faculty and students were preoccupied with their own needs and their ability to meet the demands put on them by the pandemic. As a senior, her nominator wrote, Castro has much to manage, including continued preparation in order to finish her classes, the application process for getting a job, and getting ready to take the certification exam. Yet, her nominator wrote, “she has not let that stop her from continuing to lead the MCHLs. She has continued to provide virtual meetings and activities to lift the spirit of the group as well as continue to work on their mission and vision. She recently organized and hosted ‘Games at Noon.’ This activity was such a great event because it brought the students together to have fun and interact with each other. Something they are all missing out on.”

Castro’s nominator added that she is “the epitome of Southern Strong, when the going gets tough the tough get going, and she has done exactly that. Her leadership is invaluable to the group and she will go on to be a leader in the nursing profession.”

Angelica Castro

Amanda Cavoto

Amanda Cavoto, nominated by a fellow student, is a senior majoring in psychology with a minor in journalism. “Amanda is not only a genuine soul who’s made a positive impact on the lives of her peers, professors, and friends,” her nominator wrote, “but she has been a true inspiration for many during this trying time.” As co-editor of Crescent Magazine and arts & entertainment editor for the Southern News, Cavoto has made it her duty to highlight some of the challenges experienced by her peers and fellow students within the SCSU community and beyond. She advocates for those whose voices aren’t heard, and always leaves a lasting impact on those she encounters, wrote her nominator. Cavoto’s hard work and dedication to her academic and professional career have led her to become one of three awardees of the new Crescent Journalist of Year honor. This impressive achievement is just one of the many she has accomplished over the course of her time at Southern, her nominator wrote, adding, “Amanda empowers and encourages others to never give up, and has brought a sense of hope and optimism into our newly founded online community. She is a powerhouse of a woman, and she is a role model for many. I am truly honored to have witnessed the impacts she has made on her community and know she destined for great success.”

Amanda Cavoto

Meghan Gula

Meghan Gula is an MSW student who has been working as a “Food Access Fellow” for the Community Alliance for Research and Alliance (CARE) in the College of Health and Human Services. Nominated by the CARE director, Gula has spent the past two years supporting CARE’s work to promote healthy food options in food pantries in New Haven. “Before the COVID-19 crisis,” her nominator wrote, “Meghan had already proven herself as a competent, organized, independent, compassionate, and dependable staff person. She has been a true asset!”

When the COVID-19 crisis hit, CARE quickly mobilized with its food assistance partners in New Haven through the Coordinated Food Assistance Network (CFAN) to respond to emergency food challenges that quickly emerged. A delivery program was immediately organized to get food from food pantries to home bound, disabled or immunocompromised community members who depend on food pantries for their basic food needs — and who can no longer get out. This program is called the Pantry to Pantry Food Delivery Program (P2P).

Gula was asked to quickly transition her role at CARE to support this work. Her nominator wrote that “she didn’t hesitate for one second and has been integral to implementing the program. Leaning into her Social Work skills, Meghan is the point person for all client intake as the Intake Specialist. She has been a thought leader organizing the now 3-week old pantry deliveries and has led the development of the client intake system. She has worked long hours to launch the program — registering clients, training volunteers on client intake, and generally organizing the efforts to ensure these clients continue to have access to food. She is passionate about her work and caring and compassionate in her approach.”

In the first three weeks, P2P made 464 deliveries, and the number of registered clients has grown each week. Gula’s nominator wrote, “This is a team effort, but Meghan is a critical contributor. Calm, practical and organized, her example inspires us all to work harder. We are so grateful for all she is doing for our community!”

Meghan Gula

Michael Keating

Student Michael Keating was nominated by his brother, who wrote that Keating “is an inspiration to me. During this pandemic, he has donated over 40 full bags of groceries to one of the Waterbury food banks so that they could stay open and be able to just give each family a bag. He has also donated diapers, formula and groceries to some needy families in Waterbury. He is one of the founders of a small organization called Step by Step that collects redeemable bottles and cans and turns the money in to help those less fortunate. He is the rock of the family and is always willing to help others.”

Michael Keating making a delivery

Alyssa Laydon

Student Alyssa Laydon has been working at Yale New Haven Children’s Psychiatric Hospital for two years now. She has been working 12-hour shifts now that COVID-19 has presented and helps teens find comfort and courage during this difficult time. “Anxiety and depression are highly increased with this unpredictable time,” she wrote, “and I have been dedicating myself to improving the lives of the children I see.”

Alyssa Laydon at work

 

The SCSU President’s Recognition Committee proudly presents our third group of SouthernStrong awardees. These awards shine a light on faculty, staff, and students who are lending a helping hand, with acts of kindness large and small, not only for their fellow Owls, but also for friends, neighbors, and strangers.

We recognize and celebrate Siobhan Carter-David, Zara DeLuca, Tess Marchant-Shapiro, Lisa Siedlarz, and Sabrina St. Juste for their commitment to making a difference and stepping up during the pandemic crisis. Their acts of kindness are making a positive impact during this difficult time.

Do you know an unsung hero who’s been making a difference during the pandemic? Please nominate them so their kindness can be celebrated!

Siobhan Carter-David

History Professor Siobhan Carter-David was nominated not once, but two times, once by a colleague and once by a former student. Carter-David’s colleague nominated her for the free film discussion series for young people that she has been conducting on Zoom for at least the last six weeks. Her nominator writes that the series addresses “how films ‘reflect various aspects of United States history and how we can use a critical eye to glean more from films outside of their entertainment value.'” Each week, Carter-David covers at least two films, and is including a variety of films that would be accessible to different age groups from An American Tail: Fievel Goes West to Malcolm X to The Great Gatsby.

Carter-David’s colleague wrote that, “In this time when many children and young adults might find themselves having more screen time this discussion series provides them with an educational opportunity in which to learn more about history and engage critically with films.

“Dr. Carter-David could easily have done this for her own children alone, but instead she is using her expertise, skills and talents to provide educational opportunities to members the broader community.”

Carter-David’s second nominator, a former student, praised her for being “a pillar of academic excellence and community builder even in the face of extreme uncertainty.” Since the beginning of the pandemic, her nominator wrote, Carter-David “has continued to build community by offering online film discussions, connecting people through her passion for history, cultivating a intellectually space for people to learn, during troubling times.”

In short, Carter-David’s former student wrote, she “represents all that is wonderful about Southern. Community, inclusion, equity and lifelong support. She is the epitome of Southern excellence.”

Siobhan Carter-David

Zara DeLuca

Assistant Professor of Communication Disorders Zara DeLuca was nominated by a student “for going above and beyond her teaching duties. When we first transitioned to online learning,” her nominator wrote, “and when our semester got turned upside down, she was the first professor to reach out telling me to not worry about her class right now, but to just focus on myself and emotional well-being. She then gave helpful information for meditation and mindfulness during these crazy times. Additionally, she reached out to us students, saying we could express our concerns, worries and feelings to her. I took her up on this offer. Being able to express my feelings to someone who understands and who provided encouraging words of wisdom, was uplifting. Once classes resumed, she continued to check in on all of us, staying after class times for us to talk to her about how we are doing. It is clear she truly cares about the well-being of each of her students. Her supportive and encouraging efforts proved to help immensely. She is a compassionate and caring professor, and her passion for not only teaching, but her students, is unparalleled.”

Zara DeLuca

 

Tess Marchant-Shapiro

Associate Professor of Political Science and Pre-Law Advisor Tess Marchant-Shapiro is “one of the kindest professors Southern has to offer,” wrote her nominator, a student. During this challenging time, her nominator wrote, Marchant-Shapiro “has gone above and beyond for her students, reaching out constantly to check in one-by-one on how we’re doing, and how she can make our experience easier (in her classroom and overall at the university).” Her nominator adds that Marchant-Shapiro schedules weekly Webex meetings to allow students to have classroom interaction with each other, but also as an opportunity for students to feel heard. “She ends every class meeting on a positive note, stressing how proud she is of all her students and how much she loves us!” In addition to what she does in the classroom and at the university, she also makes an impact in the Hamden community, volunteering at her local church and assisting members of the community by helping them apply for unemployment to regain a source of income lost due to the coronavirus pandemic. “To know her is to be truly blessed!” her nominator wrote.

Tess Marchant-Shapiro

Lisa Siedlarz

Lisa Siedlarz, student loan coordinator in the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, was nominated by a member of the faculty for starting an online fundraiser to collect money to feed the health care workers on Yale New Haven Hospital’s floor EP9-7, which is a COVID-19 unit. As of April 20, the site had raised $6500, and the funds collected provided meals from New Haven’s Katalina’s Bakery and Christopher Martin’s at a cost of $210 per day to feed 18 front-line workers. “This not only helps New Haven establishments stay in business,” wrote Siedlarz’s nominator, “but provides much needed food for the health care workers who are daily risking their lives for others.” Siedlarz began providing these meals on March 30 and hopes to get enough donations to feed the COVID unit until the crisis is over. The funds she raised as of April 20 paid for meals through April 29, and she plans to make another call for donations so that the fund can feed the workers for a longer period.

Lisa Siedlarz

Sabrina St. Juste

Sabrina St. Juste, graduate intern in the Violence Prevention, Victim Advocacy & Support Center, has used all her social platforms to reach out to people in the community and students of SCSU, wrote her nominator, adding that she “has opened up her home to students who don’t have WiFi to get school work done. She does daily positive messages on Instagram, she goes on live Instagram to connect with people, talk to them about their mental state, and be that support for them during this pandemic.”

Sabrina St. Juste

 

 

 

 

The SCSU President’s Recognition Committee proudly presents our second group of SouthernStrong awardees. These awards shine a light on faculty, staff, and students who are lending a helping hand, with acts of kindness large and small, not only for their fellow Owls, but also for friends, neighbors, and strangers.

We recognize and celebrate Maria Diamantis, David Martin, Laura McKay, Amanda Valentin, and Nicole Van Etten for their commitment to making a difference and stepping up during the pandemic crisis. Their acts of kindness are making a positive impact during this difficult time.

Do you know an unsung hero who’s been making a difference during the pandemic? Please nominate them so their kindness can be celebrated!

Maria Diamantis

Maria Diamantis, professor of curriculum and learning, was nominated by a student who wrote that she “has been amazing at not only transitioning our classes to online but providing support to students in this time of need! She keeps an open line of communication and continues to make sure her students are doing well and have everything they need during this time. She emails us frequently even if it is just to check up on us! She even has offered to make her students and their families cloth protective masks and mail them to us if we need them. She has gone above and beyond and cares not only about her students but everyone around her as well!”

Maria Diamantis

David Martin

Graduate student David Martin ran four miles, every four hours, for 48 hours so he could feed people in the state of Connecticut who could not feed themselves. According to Martin’s nominator, a fellow student, Martin saw that the Thomas Merton Center in Bridgeport was having a tough time running its food kitchen. Their donations were down 80 percent and the number of people coming in for meals increased fourfold during the COVID crisis. Martin decided to take part in a charity run and spent a week working with Catholic Charities, designing a donation page, reaching out to members of his community for donations, and then started running at 6 p.m. on April 3. He ran at 6 p.m., 10 p.m., 2 a.m., 6 a.m., 10 a.m., and so forth until his final run on April 5 at 2 p.m. He raised almost $4,000, which paid for the food center to operate for four months. It’s also enough money to feed 160 people for 2 weeks. As Martin’s nominator wrote, “He used his athletic abilities to bring together the community and he inspired others to run for for the poor that same weekend. David ended up running just over 50 miles, he ran for 7 hours and 35 min over the weekend, and ran a total elevation of 2,265 feet.”

David Martin

Laura McKay

Laura McKay, secretary in University Access Programs, has been going above and beyond her schedule for the outreach to prospective SEOP students and families, according to her nominator. McKay makes “available on weekends and after her shift if we have Webex events going on,” her nominator wrote, adding, “She has also cared for our staff by giving new face masks she was able to procure in limited supply, a sign of her generosity and concern for the well-being of our team and not solely looking out for oneself.”

Laura McKay

Amanda Valentin

Senior Amanda Valentin “is a fantastic human being that has done a ton for her friends, peers, and he community! wrote her nominator. Valentin is peer mentor, works with VPAS, and helps her friends while balancing classes and an internship. Her nominator, a fellow student, wrote that “I met her during the overnight stay starting our freshman year and she has made such an impact on me and so many others. I am amazed on how much she cares and advocates for those that are pushed down and hurt in some way. She is not afraid to stand up for those that need someone in their corner. She will constantly post things on social media about staying connected with one another, letting people know they still have assistance and services available to them, and that she is there if someone needs it. She’s always laughing and smiling and is just all around a perfect example of what our university stands for and what others should strive to be.”

Amanda Valentin and Otus

Nicole Van Etten

Nicole Van Etten is a senior, majoring in social work, and is the president of the student-run Social Work Organization (SWO). Her nominator, a faculty member, wrote that Van Etten has exhibited kind and generous leadership throughout the year and during this time of crisis has continued to rise to the occasion. “On and off campus, she has shown herself to be ‘SouthernStrong,'” her nominator wrote. Van Etten is currently employed at Liberty Community Services, a community-based agency in New Haven that provides housing and supportive services to our neighbors. She continues to work remotely with clients providing critical support to the most vulnerable members of our community. “In addition,” her nominator wrote, “she has rallied to keep the spirits of our graduating seniors high as they move through this final semester of college. Nicole manages the SWO Instagram account, sharing news from school and positive messages with our undergraduates. She helped to organize the SWO participation in the SCSU Walking Challenge, and thanks to her steps, we are in the top 10! In addition, Nicole has been collecting ideas and feedback about how to best commemorate the accomplishments of our graduating class, now that we are facing remote year-end ceremonies. Finally, she has also done a wonderful job sharing student feedback with Social Work faculty about the transition to on-line learning. Now more than ever, this honest and clear ommunication is critical. Clearly, she has exhibited leadership and hope on many different levels over the last month. And always with a calm smile and grace that embodies her personality. We are lucky to have her leadership in our SCSU community!”

Nicole Van Etten

 

 

The Northeast 10 Conference has named Southern senior Avery Fornaciari of Plymouth, Mass., the NE 10’s Women’s Swimming & Diving Sports Excellence Award winner. The award was announced on April 22, 2020. Fornaciari is the 11th SCSU student-athlete to win the NE10 Sports Excellence Award, one of the conference’s most prestigious honors.

Read more about Fornaciari and the award.

Read about Fornaciari’s swimming career.

Avery Fornaciari

SCSU students Amber Archambault, Melissa Palma Cuapio, Brooke Mercaldi, and Alexis Zhiomi, 2020 Henry Barnard Scholars
2020 Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award recipients, Amber Archambault, Melissa Palma Cuapio, Brooke Mercaldi, and Alexis Zhitomi

Four Southern students who have displayed outstanding scholarship and a commitment to community service during their collegiate career have been selected as recipients of this year’s Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award.

Each year, 12 seniors are chosen by the four Connecticut State Universities – four each from Southern and Central, and two each from Eastern and Western. It is considered among the university’s most  prestigious student awards. Criteria include a 3.7 GPA or better and having demonstrated significant participation in university and/or community life.

Alexis Zhitomi, a communication disorders major, has a GPA of 3.97. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in speech-language pathology at Southern this fall.

Zhitomi is president of the Student Government Association and a member of the Honors College. She has been the recipient of several scholarships. She has volunteered with the Friends of Rudolph, SCSU Day of Service, Adopt-a-Family, The Big Event, and was a Yale-New Haven Neuro-Speech Volunteer. She also has been an orientation coordinator for the Office of New Student and Sophomore Programs.

During her lifetime, she has traveled to all 50 states, and five continents. Zhitomi presented her undergraduate thesis last fall at a national American Speech-Language Hearing Association convention in Orlando, Fla.

“She has proven to be a passionate, diligent, and self-motivated student and is most deserving of this type of recognition,” said Heather Warner, associate professor of communication disorders. “…Given the depth of her classroom discussions, it was easy to see her passion for people, desire to help, and thirst for knowledge.”

Amber Archambault, a social work major, has a 3.96 GPA. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work at Southern this fall in the advanced standing program.

She is an intern at the East Hartford High School Student Assistance Center, where she evaluates and counsels students’ needs and concerns. On campus, she was a resident advisor for nearly two and a half years, and was named Resident Advisor of the Year in 2019.

Archambault also served as an orientation ambassador, and earned several awards and grants, including a Connecticut State University grant in 2019. She had volunteered at the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain, where she worked with children with physical disabilities.

“Ms. Archambault is a natural leader who is driven by passion to make a positive impact in the community for those who may otherwise be unable to advocate for themselves,” said Kyle O’Brien, assistant professor of social work. “(She) will represent SCSU well as an alum as she enters the social work profession and begins to leave a lasting footprint in the communities she works within.”

Brooke Mercaldi, an environmental systems and sustainability studies major, has a 3.93 GPA. She plans to attend the Elizabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University this fall.

Mercaldi is a member of the Honors College. She is a Werth Center for Coastal Marine Studies Fellow, and served as research coordinator for the center. She is a recipient of several scholarships and is executive vice president of the Student Government Association. She is a member of the Board of Regents for Higher Education Student Advisory Committee, the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Taskforce, and the SCSU Global Education Advisory Council.

She has volunteered with the Friends of Rudolph and Adopt-a-Family programs. Mercaldi served as an intern with the Connecticut General Assembly and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

“Brooke’s work was not only outstanding, but she exhibited an intellectual curiosity and a critical thinking ability that impressed me deeply…After 20 years of teaching, I can think of no student more appropriate for the Henry Barnard Award than Brooke,” said James Tait, professor of the environment, geography and marine sciences.

Melissa Palma Cuapio, a chemistry major, has a GPA of 3.8. She is considering applying to medical school in the future.

Palma is a chemistry tutor and was selected as the American Chemical Society’s Outstanding Senior Organic Chemistry Student in 2019. She was a member of the Math Club, Botany Club, Club Taekwondo and Service Commission Club.

She conducted research in the field of chemistry and presented her findings at the SCSU Research Symposium. Palma Cuapio served as a youth leader in the Junta Youth in Action Program.

“She is very gifted and works very hard…I find Melissa to be very excited about science and research. Melissa has a very strong desire to enter the medical field when she graduates from Southern, and I believe that she has taken the right steps to prepare herself for a career in medicine,” said Adiel Coca, chairman of the Chemistry Department.