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The SCSU President’s Commission on Social Justice Recognition Committee proudly presents our fifteenth and final group of SouthernStrong awardees. During the months that the university has been operating virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic, these awards have shined a light on faculty, staff, and students who have been 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 now recognize and celebrate the staff of the Information Technology Department for their commitment to making a difference and stepping up during the pandemic crisis. Their acts of kindness have been making a positive impact during this difficult time.

A staff member nominated the entire IT Support Services Department, writing, “Since mid-March they have worked above and beyond at accommodating all of us with the ability to work remotely and providing us online training and guidance on how to navigate technological platforms many of us were unfamiliar with. This was not an easy feat as they were transitioning all members of the campus community at the same time and troubleshooting hardware, software, authorization approvals and other unique situations. To this day, many of us have had the occasional hiccup that something technology related has happened and we have to reach out to the IT Help Desk/Support Services Department. Sometimes we are in a panic or frustrated at our own inability and ineptness to understand what they are all so tech-savvy and understanding of. All IT responders — from student workers to professional staff members — each has responded with patience, kindness, respect, encouragement and help. And if one person doesn’t have the answer they work as a team to help the person in need until the issue is resolved. I feel IT needs to be nominated because without them none of us would’ve been able to continue to work from home and they are unrecognized examples of always displaying a Southern Strong can do attitude of support, community and care! Thank you.”

The members of the Information Technology staff are:

  • John Bergevin – Technical Support Engineer
  • Nicholas Brenckle – Director, Edge Computing
  • Charles (Trever) Brolliar – Director, Academic Technologies
  • Phil Bryant – Coordinator, High-Tech Classrooms
  • Ralph Buonocore – Telecom Manager
  • Robert Carpentier – Technical Support Engineer
  • Steve Collison – Enterprise Infrastructure Specialist
  • Kenneth Cook – Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure Manager
  • Robert (Bob) Cuddihee – Media Instructional Services Specialist
  • Jon Garbutt – Enterprise Infrastructure Manager Network
  • Adam Gerstein – Technical Support Engineer
  • Ciara Houghton – ERP/Academic Applications Manager
  • Kurt Jagielow – Voice and Video Network Manager
  • John Jaser – Director, Systems and Applications
  • Raymond Kellogg – Director, Computing Infrastructure
  • John (Ivan) Kozin – Technical Support Engineer
  • Jisong Li – Programmer Specialist
  • Edward (Rusty) May, Jr. – Director, Technology Administration
  • Ali Mohseni – Programmer Specialist
  • Amanda Mojica – Director, Strategic Initiatives and Special Projects
  • William Moroz – Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure Manager
  • Andrew Mortensen – Programmer Specialist
  • Karen Musmanno – System Manager
  • Jeffrey Otis – Director – Cloud Computing
  • Jill Pelletier – Secretary 2
  • Chris Perugini – Web Application Development Specialist
  • Dennis Reiman – VP, Technology and CIO
  • Chamis Reinhart – Instructional Support Specialist
  • Mary Robinson – Lead Telephone Operator
  • Charlene Rocanelli Leichter – Data Base Manager
  • Vinnie Rubano – Network Administrator
  • Chester Sample – Customer Support Center Manager
  • Marvin Thomas – Director, Systems Integration
  • Vu Trieu – Director – User Services
  • Lindsay Wargo – Customer Support Center Lead

 

 

 

In recent days, the senseless, brutal killing of George Floyd and its ripple effects have placed the issues of racial inequality and injustice under an intense spotlight across the state, the nation, and around the world. To promote campus-wide dialogue, Southern is hosting a virtual panel discussion with Southern faculty, students and community members. Please join us.

Wednesday, June 17 (12 – 1:30 p.m.)

A community online forum streaming live on Southern’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SouthernCT/

A community online forum moderated by Jonathan L. Wharton, associate professor of political science and urban affairs, Southern Connecticut State University.

This event is open to the public, and a Facebook account is not required to attend.

Submit questions for the panelists here.

Panelists:

Shanté Hanks, ’97, M.S. ’99, 6th Yr. ’05, is the deputy commissioner of the State of Connecticut Department of Housing, with professional experience spanning government affairs, public policy, affordable housing development and education. She holds two Southern degrees and an advanced certificate.

Solomon James, ’22, a rising junior at Southern, is a community activist and the co-organizer of a recent racial justice march held in Danbury, Conn., in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Julian Madison is an associate professor of history at Southern with a scholarly focus on race and ethnicity, civil rights, culture and the Jazz Age. His books and manuscripts cover a wide range of topics, including desegregation of sports and the fight to end school segregation.

Cassi Meyerhoffer is an associate professor of sociology at Southern. Her research and teaching interests focus on systemic racism, racial residential segregation, and the role of race in American policing. She is working on a book proposal: From the Old Jim Crow to the New: Tracing the Roots of Reconstruction to Residential Segregation, Police Brutality, and the Mass Incarceration of Black Bodies.

Orisha Ala Nzambi Ochumare is one of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter New Haven. She is an anti-racism organizer and has done work with youth in local schools. She is currently the LGBTQ+ youth program officer at the New Haven Pride Center.

Timothy Parrish is a professor of English at Southern, an award-winning writer, and one of the architects of the university’s MFA program. He is the author of three books, including Fear and What Follows: The Violent Education of a Christian Racist, a Memoir (U Press of Mississippi).

 

The coronavirus pandemic may have halted some of our Owls’ plans to travel abroad, but the SCSU community remains more globally connected than ever. Throughout the summer, the Office of International Education (OIE) has invited students to travel the globe from the comfort of their homes.

In a series of recorded conversations, SCSU students will connect with their peers at university partner institutions in Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, and beyond to discuss life as a university student in the pandemic.

The OIE staff members have experienced firsthand the dramatic impact the pandemic has had on student mobility and education abroad. In planning how to proceed for the upcoming year, OIE Director Erin Heidkamp met with Jana Brady, an adjunct faculty member from the Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences Department, about an idea for virtual collaboration.

Brady, having led a group of SCSU students to Malaysia, where she worked with three SCSU partner institutions on a volunteerism program, approached the OIE with an idea for online collaboration between the partner institutions to discuss how the students were affected by the campus closures relating to the pandemic. Along with Ina Marshall, the Programs Abroad Coordinator, the OIE began reaching out to the university partners and developing a framework for what would be a virtual student exchange.

Heidkamp said, “Study abroad is such an essential part of the college experience, as travel was restricted, we wanted to ensure that our students who were planning to go abroad this summer on some of our signature faculty-led programs had the opportunity to take part in a global exchange.”

These conversations, starting with a discussion on student life during the pandemic, will give students unique insight in to the student experience in other countries. As well, it makes available one of the most important elements of study abroad: the social exchange. Heidkamp says, “Giving students the opportunity to see each other, face-to-face via Skype, gives students an introduction to living abroad and removes some of the fears about joining a new community.”

The office hopes to expand these conversations after travel resumes with the hope of creating some co-curricular opportunities for shared classes and an orientation program where students will have the ability to meet some of the students who will be welcoming them abroad.

Heidkamp says, “These are challenging times, but all of our partners are excited to create new connections with SCSU and develop new forms of student mobility.”

Please visit the Office of International Education and keep an eye on the SCSU social media for the June launch.

Andrew Toce, ’14, LPC, ADS, works in his own private counseling practice, with a focus on sports psychology. Read our interview with him and learn how he is continuing his work amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

SCSU: Can you briefly describe your current employment?

AT: I am the owner and operator of my own private practice named Deep Breaths Counseling, LLC which is based out of South Windsor, Conn. Here I focus my work on sport psychology and co-occurring disorders. I have had the privilege of working with athletes of all ages and levels, from professional to youth athletes pursuing their dreams of playing at the next level.

SCSU: How has your job changed in the past few weeks with the COVID-19 outbreak?

AT: My job has changed drastically in the past few weeks. I normally am open 3 days a week and see all clients face-to-face. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, things have changed from shaking hands to keeping 6 feet from my clients at all times and spraying everything down with disinfectant in between clients.

SCSU: Have you had to move any services or parts of your job online to support social distancing? How has this been?

AT: In the last week, I have had to move my entire practice to an online platform. This has been a challenge and very new. In our field, you need to be very particular as HIPAA rights for clients need to be followed at all times. I had to create special consent forms and documents that could be electronically filled out. I needed to find ways to send secure HIPAA-compliant emails. I also needed to find a platform that was HIPAA-compliant to do video and audio sessions, as everyday software like Facetime, Skype and Zoom do not have the correct level of security to qualify. On top of that, getting insurance companies to cover online services, named telehealth in my field, was a challenge and barrier up until the second week of March. Thankfully, as I write this, most major insurance companies have enacted special circumstances to meet the needs of their customers and the providers that give these services.

SCSU: From your professional perspective, what is the local impact COVID-19, so far?

AT: From my perspective, the impact has been vast and unwavering. Companies are closing, there are more layoffs happening every day, families are struggling, and small businesses are desperate for anything to keep them afloat. It is a reminder to me of how fast everyday life can change and how we take things for granted without even realizing it. People are scared of COVID-19, as am I, but I truly believe in the phrase, “Educate to Regulate.” I started using this phrase when giving talks on substance use to local high schools, but it works in this context as well. We need to educate ourselves on COVID-19 and the facts about it. Only then will we regulate the way we do things and make it possible to flatten the curve. I have the utmost respect for doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, lab technicians, paramedics, and so many others who don’t have the option to work from home and are daily putting their own well-being on the line to help those struggling from COVID-19 and all other situations.

SCSU: What are your suggestions, personally/professionally, for getting through this pandemic?

AT: I think we are unprepared for the vast amount of ICU beds and ventilators that we will need, and I believe the answer is that companies who supply these need to recognize this is bigger than economics. In order to save lives, we need to come together as a human species and forget about any future profits and focus on the here and now. I think we need to listen to those that are on the front lines, we need to follow the advice given and recognize that if we all think, “This won’t affect me,” then it will affect all of us. Social distancing and self-isolation are the answer. We need to learn from China’s experience and also Italy’s struggles. Their government asked that everyone self-isolate and many didn’t. They now find themselves ill-prepared to handle the vast amount of cases.

SCSU: What is the impact of moving to telehealth for patients and your practice?

AT: My goal is to make this transition as low impact as possible on my clients. We are all scared and the unknown is anxiety-provoking. The last thing I want to do is add to that and create more barriers for them. I did a lot of research and found a system that is user-friendly and compatible with any device. My client simply has to go to a specific URL and enter their name at the time of their session; once that happens I see them in my virtual waiting room and I initiate the session. All copays are collected through an online processing format and the rest is normal.

One by one, members of the men’s basketball team ran towards the Vertec vertical jump tester trying to see how high they could go. With teammates cheering on, each athlete jumped as high as they could. After recording all of the scores, Lonnie Blackwell began explaining how he would incorporate strength and conditioning to see these values rise during the off-season. Blackwell is a graduate student obtaining his Master of Science degree in Exercise Science with a concentration in Human Performance. Blackwell also works for Jim Ronai’s Competitive Edge Sports Performance, a company based out of Orange, Conn., as a strength and conditioning coach. He also has certifications such as the NASM CPT and NSCA CSCS. Blackwell acts as the graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach for men’s basketball, men’s soccer, and women’s field hockey, with head strength and conditioning coach, Dave Hashemi.

The Department of Health and Movement Science’s Human Performance Laboratory, offers numerous fitness, performance, and functionality assessments to members of the SCSU community. Men’s basketball started the preseason by utilizing the lab with Blackwell to test their physical performance. These tests included: vertical jump, change of direction using the 5-10-5 test, and acceleration with the 10-yard dash. Blackwell used the lab’s zybek lasers in order to precisely measure the 10-yard dash. The team tested strength with a 1-repetition maximum weight for the squat and bench press.

Men’s soccer testing included the yo-yo intermittent beep test to evaluate aerobic fitness levels and to predict VO2max, and performed 1-repetition maximum for the squat and bench press to measure strength.

During the regular season, the girls’ field hockey team comes into the weight room two times a week. The strength and conditioning system in place utilized six different lift options. Depending on each athlete’s fatigue level and general fitness, they can choose a lift option that compliments them.

The soccer team and field hockey team is also utilizing GPS. The GPS technology operated by the human performance laboratory gives a researcher data such as distance covered, top-end speed, and work rate. The field hockey team uses this technology every Friday for practice, in order to estimate the training load. Men’s soccer utilizes the GPS to grab data from their games, such as training load. It also allows them to monitor their performance throughout the season.

Blackwell is well versed in GPS technology, as he is using GPS for his master’s thesis. His research will be utilizing data from various sports teams, to gain further understanding of how to prescribe programming to teams during the year and summer months.

In September, four SCSU Accounting students, led by Accounting Professor Robert Kirsch, traveled to England to participate in an Intensive Study Program at Bournemouth University. The objective of the program, Designing Innovative Pedagogy for Complex Accountancy Topics (DIPCAT), is to address a gap in higher education by creating an internationally-oriented learning platform in accountancy that facilitates current essential hard and soft skill development for early career professionals.

Students Kiersten Snyder, ‘20; Eldi Shahini, ‘20; Basenty Mousa, ‘19; and Alyssa Weisberger, ‘19 — the only students from an American university invited to the conference — spent five days using different methodologies to solve four challenging and intensive case studies.

Eldi Shahini said, “The DIPCAT Conference was by far the most enjoyable and challenging trip I’ve been a part of. I had the pleasure to work with many great individuals through Europe to solve cases, and go beyond our collaborative work and create great friendships. I (learned) more about other European countries and the way they operate than I would have in a classroom experience. I would like to thank everyone who made this experience an enjoyable one, and especially the individuals from Bournemouth University, who did an amazing job organizing this event.”

Alyssa Weisberger said, “(DIPCAT) was an amazing opportunity, and I encourage all future accounting majors to try to take part in this.”

Weisberger continues, “Some topics we learned about during DIPCAT were Classification of Financial Instruments, International Tax and Permanent Establishments, Corporate Social Responsibility and Business effects on stakeholders, and the Rapid Digitization of Audit. Another thing that was amazing about this trip was the people that we worked with during the conference. It was very interesting how everyone there communicated in English. Not only did we learn so much about these complex accounting topics, but we also learned about other European countries’ cultures and laws, etc. We all, also, left with quite a few new friends for life.”

Kiersten Snyder said, “DIPCAT meshed an educational experience with a social experience.” She said it’s a great way to get involved, especially for students looking for more experience with international accounting.

Kirsch, who has participated in 15 of the last 17 conferences, has had 50 students accompany him over the years. He says the friendships the students make during the conferences can last years and that the experience has a lasting impact on them, both personally and professionally.

This year’s topic of discussion led by Kirsch was “Modern History of European Accounting,” with a corresponding book in the works, of which Kirsch is the editor-in-chief. Kirsch points out that it is quite an honor for an American to lead a book on European accounting.

On the importance of facilitating this unique experience for students, Kirsch said, “As an undergraduate at Duquesne University, I had the opportunity to study in Israel for 14 months and I’ve wanted to make possible a similar opportunity for my students here at Southern. That’s why I’ve been instrumental in having 50 of them have the chance to go to various points in Europe to participate in various international conferences.”

Weisberger said, “SCSU has presented me with countless opportunities as an accounting major, and I’m really lucky. We also want to say a huge thank you to Dr. Kirsch for making this trip possible and selecting us to be a part of it.”

To hear more about the group’s DIPCAT experience, you can attend the Accounting Society’s DIPCAT Informational Session on Tuesday, September 24 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Buley 204. Pizza and drinks will be provided.

 

As of August 2019, Public Health Professor Michele Vancour has accepted a two-year position as interim associate dean for the School of Health and Human Services.

Vancour earned her B.A. in English from CCSU, an MPH from Southern, and her Ph.D. in health education from NYU. In 1998 she began her career at Southern as an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health and Founding Director of the SCSU Wellness Center. During her tenure at Southern, Vancour has established herself as an outstanding teacher, scholar, mentor, and leader. She has served in several major leadership roles, including 8 years as the undergraduate program coordinator for Public Health and most recently as the director of Faculty Development. Her list of service activities is extensive, and includes founder of the Childcare committee, Work-Life Advisory Committee, Southern’s Chapter of the CT ACE Women’s Network, and membership or chair positions with more than 30 different groups on our campus.

Headshot Photo of Michele VancourVancour earned tenure and promotion to professor in the Department of Public Health, received the Outstanding Academic Advisor Award, Robert E. Jirsa Award for Service, and the Distinguished Academic Woman in Higher Education Leadership Award from the CT ACE Women’s Network.

She has an extensive list of professional presentations and publications in her areas of expertise, which include: motherhood, maternal health, breastfeeding support, women’s health, and work-life balance. She is highly respected in her profession having served as president and board member for the College and University Work/Family/Life Association, chair and board member for the Connecticut Breastfeeding Coalition, and board member and committee chair for the CT ACE Women’s Network.

Adding Vancour’s talents to the HHS Dean’s office will allow the School to expand its support for students, department chairs, and coordinators. Vancour will take the lead to support chairs with course schedules and administrative processes related to student enrollment. She will also design and facilitate professional development for HHS faculty and staff, coordinate furniture decisions for offices and collaboration spaces in the new building, monitor implementation of marketing and recruitment efforts for HHS programs, and serve as a resource for program accreditation and new program development.

 

Christine Stackhouse, '19

Christine Stackhouse, ’19, didn’t know the career path she wanted for herself when she transferred to Southern in the middle of her freshman year. But less than four years later – and after two trips abroad – she discovered her passion for the business world, specifically in the field of marketing.

And today, Stackhouse is a marketing assistant for the New Haven-based law firm of Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey, LLP.

The Terryville resident said she transferred to Southern in the spring of 2016 because Southern was closer to home, and because she was selected for the university’s Honors College. She initially did not declare a major.

“I was a motivated and determined student,” she said. “Neither of my parents went to college, but they were very supportive of me. Things were going okay here. I was doing well and made some friends. I wanted to pursue a people-oriented job and kind of leaned toward marketing.”

Stackhouse was eventually invited to join the School of Business’s Student Ambassador Program, in which she helped conduct workshops for other students on topics such as writing a resume, dressing for success and interviewing for jobs.

“Through that program, we were invited to apply for a business trip during spring break to Japan sponsored by Austin Auger, a Southern alumnus. I was one of three students selected for the trip. It was exciting, but I was also nervous because I had never been out of the country.

“Austin showed us around Tokyo, especially to various businesses. And suddenly, I realized I was on a business trip meeting high-level executives. Who gets to do that? I felt valued and realized I was accomplishing what I wanted to do.”

Stackhouse decided she wanted to try another trip outside the country, and opted to study abroad for a semester (fall 2018) in France at the prestigious EDHEC Business School, located in Nice.

“I didn’t know a word of French, but there were students and professors there from all over the world. The classes were very hard, but I learned a lot. Our education system is quite different, and so are our approaches to developing a marketing plan.

“I came back to the United States having learned so much about myself. But I also started freaking out because I only had one more semester before graduating, and had no idea what I was going to do.”

But she said that the School of Business was instrumental in landing her the job opportunity at Carmody. In particular, she pointed to Patty Conte, School of Business internship coordinator; Sue Rapini, the school’s director of external relations; and Tony Rescigno, former executive director of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce.

Stackhouse said she performs various duties as a marketing assistant with the firm, including social media, coordinating sponsorships and some budgeting. “I also want to be a resource for students and try to connect the company with Southern students,” she said.

“Before I went there, I underestimated Southern because it’s a state university,” Stackhouse said. “But my experience was different from what I originally expected. There are so many opportunities at Southern. You just have to take advantage of them. The school helped me develop both professionally and personally.”

She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing. She compiled a 3.84 GPA and earned departmental honors in marketing, as well as award for performance and leadership in marketing.

Stackhouse said she plans to continue in the marketing field for the foreseeable future, and would eventually like to engage in data analysis and campaign planning. “I like turning numbers into results,” she said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Haven High's Liam Leapley is an incredibly inspiring teacher, says recent college grad Alice Obas -- which is why she successfully nominated him for a highly prestigious teaching award.

West Haven High School teacher Liam Leapley, '00, was nominated for the award by Alice Obas. "Mr. Leapley has not only upheld the values of equity and inclusion during his teaching career but has also instilled those values in his hundreds of students, and in me," says Obas, who recently graduated from Williams College.

With graduation fast approaching, Alice Obas, then a senior at Williams College, was considering an important question in addition to planning her next phase of life: who, among her former teachers at West Haven High School, had the most influence on her education?

Such contemplation is a rite of passage for seniors at Williams, who, each year, are invited to nominate their former teachers for the George Olmsted Jr. Class of 1924 Prize for Excellence in Secondary Education.

For Obas, the choice was obvious: Southern alumnus Liam Leapley, ’00, a special education teacher at West Haven High who also leads the Program for Accelerated Credit Recovery in Education (PACE) at the school. Leapley designed and implemented PACE and, years ago, worked closely with Obas when she was a talented high school student serving as a teaching assistant with the program.

“While the Olmsted Prize is for nominating former teachers, and I was not a part of the PACE program, I feel that I learned and was taught more from Mr. Leapley than my AP [advanced placement] and Honors classes taught me out of a book,” says Obas. The judging committee was inspired as well, selecting Leapley as one of only four recipients of the Olmsted Award. In recognition, he received $3,000, and an additional $5,000 was presented to West Haven High. The award is particularly prestigious in light of the college’s standing: it’s been cited repeatedly as the top liberal arts college in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and Forbes, including this year.

PACE — an intervention program for at-risk youth in grades 8 through 12 — incorporates outside the box approaches to education, including a community-based work experience component, to reignite students’ interest in learning, “Every child can move forward, but you must be willing to work with them no matter where they begin and at which pace they move,” says Leapley, who’s been a special education teacher since 2000 and led the PACE program since 2009.

Award recipient Liam Leapley, ’00, receives an award for exceptional teaching at the high school level at Williams College’s Ivy Exercises.

His influence, notes Obas, has been profound and far-reaching. “Mr. Leapley has not only upheld the values of equity and inclusion during his teaching career but has also instilled those values in his hundreds of students, and in me,” she says.

Southern has historically been a leader in the field of education, with graduates of the School of Education earning many top awards at the state level and beyond. Among the honorees is Jahana Hayes,’05, who was named the National Teacher of the Year in 2016 and went on to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Morocco

During the spring semester, 13 Southern students spent a week in Marrakech, Morocco, learning about sustainable development and how they could apply the concept in their home communities and Greater New Haven.

The program was hosted by World Merit Morocco, part of a worldwide, apolitical organization that seeks to empower young adults to create a better future  “by building confidence, raising aspiration and connecting diverse people of merit.”

World Merit, founded in 2012 by Liverpool, England-based entrepreneur Chris Arnold, has engaged 120,000+ youth worldwide in more than 1,000 projects advancing the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The U.N. goals address global challenges including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice, with a view to resolving them by 2030.

The 13 Southern participants, led by Erin Heidkamp and Michael Schindel from SCSU’s Office of International Education, were nominated and selected by department chairs from the various schools and included five from the School of Business, six from Arts and Sciences, and two from Health and Human Services.  Airfare, airport transportation, and required student/staff international insurance policy were paid for using funds from the SCSU Alumni Foundation LJMU/Better Futures Network initiative along with a contribution from the SCSU School of Business Alumni Foundation account. In-country expenses (accommodation and meals) were provided by World Merit Morocco. Students were responsible for paying in country transportation, excursion costs, and individual meals/snacks.

The itinerary prepared by World Merit Morocco was designed to provide the students with an overview of the World Merit organization and a cultural introduction to Marrakech.

Morocco

Following an unfortunate flight cancellation, the group departed a day late and arrived in Marrakech on March 25. The students were met at Marrakech Menara Airport and transferred to the lodging at Cadi Ayyad University Club before being invited to the Marrakech Medina for a traditional Moroccan mint tea on a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Medina.

The following day, attended sessions that provided an introduction to the mission of World Merit and an overview of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Morocco

Discussion focused on how  World Merit Morocco has focused on shaping its mission and ethos around SDGs that are particularly important within the context and culture of Morocco, and the group was shown videos of projects engaged in by student participants from all over the world during the 2018 World Merit Council Summit. In the afternoon, small focus groups were formed to develop  models for projects and programs that could help participants’ own communities achieve SDGs on a local scale. The students then presented these models to their peers, sparking conversations about how World Merit could contribute to the Greater New Haven area.

The next day,  students were invited to take in the rich and variegated history and culture of Marrakech. Students participated in a tour of the Jardin Marjorelle, the El Basi Palace, the Medina, and the historic Souks. This unforgettable day was capped off with a field trip to a local female-owned Argan oil collective, where students had the opportunity to watch how Argan oil and other Argan products are processed, and to learn how collectives such as this are critically important economic pillars, particularly in the country’s rural regions.

On the second-to-last day, the group visited Mohammed VI Polytechnic University. There they were treated to a campus tour, led by Monia Fdail, Research Officer in the Office of the President General Manager for OCP Group. With its headquarters in Morocco, OCP group is one of the leading exporters of phosphate in the region and provides substantial funding for the university and its innovation lab.  This Leed-Certified campus is part of a national initiative, championed by the King of Morocco, to create a fully sustainable community.

Throughout the university’s expansive campus, solar panels provide all electricity and the water for irrigation is recycled and reused. The campus is 100 percent paperless and its labs are industry standard.

The university’s innovation lab is part of a collaborative partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to create new cluster degree programs preparing students for a modern workforce that requires hard and soft transdisciplinary skill sets.

On the final day of the World Merit Morocco program, March 29, the students attended English class at the Centre Mohammed VI des Handicapés. The Centre, staffed entirely by volunteers (many of whom belong to the Marrakech World Merit council), offers English training to children with intellectual disabilities. Southern students had the opportunity to work with these youngsters one-on-one, as well as dance and play. In the late afternoon, as a final treat, they traveled to the foothills of the Atlas Mountains where they sampled traditional Berber cuisine and went on a ropes course and zip line.

On March 31, the group said its goodbyes and returned to the U.S. The students returned with a clear desire to bring the message of World Merit and the U.N. SDGs to SCSU, hoping to start a chapter or a World Merit council on campus.