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Food Recovery NetworkEver wonder what happens to that sandwich in The Bagel Wagon that has reached the “best by” date on its label? Prior to this past summer, it would be thrown away, but now, foods that Chartwells can no longer sell when they reach that date no longer go to waste, thanks to the efforts of the Sustainability Office, Chartwells, and a dedicated student intern.

This past summer, Southern joined the Food Recovery Network, a national organization that supports college students recovering perishable and non-perishable foods on their campuses that would otherwise go to waste and donating them to people in need.  Heather Stearns, recycling coordinator, says that Chartwells hired a student intern, Ashley Silva, who is focused on sustainability, and has been working with her on a weekly food collection schedule. Each week, Silva makes the rounds to the Bagel Wagon, Davis Outtakes, and the North Campus Kiosk and collects perishable foods — including salads, sandwiches, yogurt, fruit, bagels, and hummus — that have reached their “best by” date. The foods would be thrown away when they reach that date, but they are still safe to eat. So after Silva collects them, they are donated to Connecticut Food Bank, a private, nonprofit organization that works with corporations, community organizations, and individuals to solicit, transport, warehouse and distribute donated food.

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In addition to the food collected from campus Chartwells locations, fruits, vegetables, and herbs from the campus organic garden are harvested and donated to local soup kitchens such as the Community Dining Room in Branford and St. Ann’s Soup Kitchen in Hamden. Pounds of produce such as squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, various greens, corn, peas, potatoes, peppers, and basil, are donated on a regular basis. This fall, Southern donated almost 200 pounds of fresh produce that was grown at the garden, located behind Davis Hall.  Suzanne Huminski, sustainability coordinator, says that throughout the fall semester, between the garden and FRN efforts, over 600 pounds of food have been collected and donated.

To promote community awareness of hunger and food insecurity in Connecticut, students working on FRN at Southern organized a recent campus event called “Hunger 101,” meant to be a conversation about food access and food justice in the state. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines “food security” as “access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.” According to the Sustainability Office’s website, over 14 percent — of New Haven County residents — nearly 123,000 people — are food insecure, and over 19 percent of all hunger-stricken residents are children.

To expand the university’s food donation program, the Sustainability Office is placing permanent food donation boxes in the lobby of the Facilities building, in the Wintergreen building, and on the second floor of Engleman, outside of the FYE Office. Members of the university community are encouraged to donate non-perishable food items year-round. Donations from these collection sites will be brought to the Connecticut Food Bank in Wallingford each week. Stearns also encourages staff and faculty to bring food items to the Sustainability Office during the regular Swap Shop open houses.

Anyone interested in helping with FRN efforts on campus can call Silva in the Sustainability Office at (203) 392-7135.

In spring 2016, the first group of students will cross the Atlantic to study abroad under a new agreement formalized Dec. 3 by Southern and Liverpool John Moores University.

This “Trans-Atlantic Alliance” will offer students the chance to take classes in both New Haven and Liverpool, England, as well as benefit from dual-taught undergraduate and graduate-level programs, delivered by LJMU and SCSU faculty members through video link and guest lectures.

SCSU President Mary Papazian and Edward Harcourt, LJMU’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for External Engagement, formally signed the agreement in the foyer of Southern’s new science building.

“(LJMU) is an institution very much like ours,” Papazian told the New Haven Register. “This allows us to look at problems around sustainability, public health, health care management, business, creative writing from a variety of perspectives.”

Papazian predicted the partnership would be “a robust exchange, so many of our students have that chance to have that global experience.”

“It’s a great place, a safe place for our students to experience the world,” she said of the historic port city, home to the Beatles, the Cunard steamship line and Liverpool F.C., one of the world’s most well-known professional soccer clubs.

LJMU traces its roots back nearly 200 years to 1823 and the opening of the Liverpool Mechanics’ Institute. Over the decades, the institute merged with other institutions to become Liverpool Polytechnic; traditionally providing training, education and research to the maritime industry, before earning university status in 1992. Now ranked among the top 400 universities world-wide, LJMU offers 250 degree courses to 25,000 students drawn from more than 100 countries.

This spring, four SCSU undergraduates with academic interests in business, wellness, geography and global health will be leaving for Liverpool to study abroad for a semester. They include senior Shayne O’Brien (pictured with President Papazian and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Harcourt), who plans a career as a glaciologist. Additionally, Mark McRiley, a graduate student from public health, also will be attending LJMU in 2016 to earn his Ph.D. on full scholarship. Several students from LJMU are also expected to be attending Southern.

Liverpool John Moores University visit

Harcourt told the Register that the Alliance was a “game-changer for both institutions.

“We’re very similar, very connected to our local regions,” he said. “What we looked for is aligning comparable interests and strengths.”

Liverpool also has smaller-scale partnerships with colleges in China and Malaysia, Harcourt said, but with Southern, “the big prize longer-term is, could we get to the point where we’re presenting a joint prospectus of master’s programs,” which would be unique and enticing to students in overseas markets.

On the home front, several academic departments have hosted classes or colleagues from Liverpool via videoconference or in person. In November, the nursing departments from the respective institutions participated in a symposium in which Assistant Professor Christine Denhup presented her research on parental bereavement following the death of a child, an area of mutual interest for both groups.

In late November, John Morrissey, senior lecturer in environmental geography, natural sciences and psychology at LJMU, spoke about “Enabling Sustainability Transitions in the Coastal Zone,” during Southern’s Department of Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences’ Geography Awareness Week.

And in October, the visit of former Major League Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent for the Dr. Joseph Panza Sport Management Lecture was broadcast live to LJMU so that sport management students there could participate and ask questions of the speaker.

More collaborations are forthcoming. During the most recent visit of the LJMU delegation, Tim Nichol, dean of the Liverpool Business School, met with SCSU School of Business colleagues (below) to discuss a wide range of potential initiatives. These include collaborative research and teaching, an MBA program in comparative healthcare offered by both institutions and a shared DBA that could be offered internationally.

Liverpool John Moores University visit

James Tait, professor of science education and environmental studies, is proposing a doctoral research project examining evidence of prehistoric hurricanes in the marshes of Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, Conn., with a goal of plotting how the intensity of these storms have changed over thousands of years.

Tait has done extensive work researching and proposing solutions to beach erosion along Connecticut’s Long Island Sound shoreline in the wake of recent hurricanes. With SCSU geography colleague Elyse Zavar and faculty from LJMU, Tait recently visited Formby Point, home of the United Kingdom’s largest collection of sand dunes, an area that faces similar issues in the wake of violent storms.

 

Latino high school students at SCSU

The university hosted about 300 Latino high school students on campus recently for The National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA) Quest Education Summit 2015, a one-day event for Latino and other minority students run by a consortium of Hispanic professional and educational associations. The goal of Quest is to promote higher education and career development. The Connecticut chapter of NSHMBA organized and ran the summit, which included informational workshops, motivational speakers, a college fair, various networking opportunities, and a campus tour.

The Quest program provides students with a real-world connection between high school and college. Students engage with role models in the community who have overcome similar barriers to success and learn best practices for applying to and financing college; understand how to better market themselves to prospective colleges; build relationships with regional college recruiting representatives; discover the many resources available for educational and professional pursuits; and build confidence and self-sufficiency. This event is free to all attendees and includes a continental breakfast, lunch and transportation.

Latino high school students at SCSU

This year’s Quest at Southern included breakout sessions such as “Snapshot of Life on Campus,” “The Essay and the Recommendation,” “Living Healthy,” and “Balancing Life Skills,” among others. A keynote address, “Education Matters,” was delivered by Carlos Perez, principal and founder of Perez Technology Group, a Hartford-based solution provider delivering cloud and IT infrastructure services to small and midsize businesses, primarily marketing firms and law offices.

Perez, who was born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, and now lives in Wethersfield, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business information technology at the University of Connecticut. He has worked in many different industries, including finance, health insurance, airlines, Microsoft OME Partners, and nonprofits, among others.

Southern is one of the sponsoring partners of the Quest summit. Members of the university staff who serve on the Quest Committee include Anna Rivera-Alfaro, Academic and Career Advising, and James Barber, director of community engagement.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith most school systems prepared to open later this month, students are enjoying their final few weeks of summer vacation. But for those who are about to enter their senior year in high school, thoughts of which college they will be attending a year from now are also sprinkled into their psyche.

Alexis Haakonsen, director of admissions at Southern, says the end of summer is a good time to start planning in earnest for the college search/admissions process. Without the pressure of daily classes, as well as sports and club activities, an effective action plan can more easily be put together.

As a guideline, Haakonsen divides the process into four components:

*Academic preparation. “This is, or at least should be, the number one priority for students,” she says. While the first three years of your high school transcript have been written, an impressive senior year can sometimes make the difference between getting into the college of your choice and having to settle for a school that was not among your first few. It may be a good idea to get a jump on the start of the school year by reviewing last year’s notes if you are taking an advanced-level class this year (such as Spanish 3 or Chemistry 2); doing some reading/practicing in advance, if you know which books and the course material you are going to see this year.

*Researching colleges. Find out important information about colleges that you are considering – everything from where they are located to majors and minors offered to scholarship availability to general admissions requirements. It is a good idea to prioritize the schools you are considering, if you haven’t already done so.

*Visiting colleges. “Students really need to get on the campuses they are seriously considering and see how they fit,” Haakonsen says. This process is much easier if you have narrowed your selections to a manageable number, especially if the schools you are considering are hundreds or thousands of miles away. Ideally, some college visits are done during the summer before your senior year, if not earlier. But if you haven’t visited some schools yet, it is a good idea to start planning to do so.

*Preparing the college application portfolio. In addition to standard paperwork and letters of recommendation, this includes the college essay. The essay can play a key role in determining your future school admissions, so be sure to give it your all. It may take multiple drafts before the essay exemplifies your best writing. But consider that an investment in your future. Don’t be afraid to let someone else – a guidance counselor, teacher, parent or even a friend — read your essay before submission. This doesn’t mean letting them write it for you, but rather providing feedback so that you can improve your own essay.

So, how do admissions offices ultimately decide whether you are accepted, placed on a waiting list, or are politely rejected? Haakonsen says each school proceeds in a distinctive manner, but that generally speaking, a “holistic approach” is used. “At Southern, we look at everything during an application review – high school grades, SAT/ACT test scores, essays, letters of recommendation and more,” she says. “The numbers don’t tell us the whole story – we want to know the whole person to help determine if that student will be successful at our particular institution.

“My main advice to students and parents as they are starting the college search process is to have fun! This is an exciting time in their lives and they should enjoy it,” Haakonsen adds. “There are so many great colleges and universities out there, students have many terrific opportunities to explore.”

She recommends the following link as being helpful to students entering their senior year, as well as for their parents:
http://www.collegebound.net/article/v/18956/college-preparationsenior-year-timeline/

And another link for a broader, multi-year approach in selecting a college:
http://www.petersons.com/college-search/planning-list-students-parents.aspx

January and February can be a stressful time if you’re a high school senior.

The glorious days of fall – when the promise of one’s future is close enough to be exhilarating, but not so close as to be anxiety-inducing – are over. Yet, the inevitable thaw of spring, when  college plans are finalized and “senioritis” can set in, is still a few months away. Instead, the cold, hard realities of weather and life coincide — prompting students to choose from among the colleges to which they would like to apply.blogcollegeessayphoto

And while filling out forms can be both tedious and time consuming, the oft-dreaded essay is often the biggest source of stress for students when applying to schools. After all, except for the interview that some schools require, the essay is the last opportunity to stand out from the crowd — to show the admissions offices that you are a thoughtful student with good writing skills and are worthy of acceptance.

Kimberly Crone, associate vice president for academic student services at Southern, has plenty of suggestions on how to write the application essay. Her experience includes dealing with various aspects of the admissions process, including how to write an attention-grabbing essay. Here are some tips she offers:

  • Respond to the topic. You can be the best writer in the world, but if you don’t address the main point or question of the essay, it may not matter. Creativity is encouraged, but don’t stray too far from the topic.
  • Highlight your distinctiveness. Colleges often look for individuals who bring something unusual (in a good way) to the school. If there is an opportunity to talk about your accomplishments, activities or interests, try to include something that sets you apart from most other students.
  • Remember your audience. It’s a good idea to do a little research about the school in terms of its location, values and mission, as well as its academic and athletic offerings. If there is an opportunity to link what you do to what they offer or value, that’s a plus.
  • Mind your grammar, words and humor. Properly delivered, a good sense of humor can be an effective communication device. But a joke or humorous anecdote may not come across the same way in writing as it does verbally. Remember, you can’t use inflection, pitch or other speaking devices in an essay and that can change the context. Also, if you do attempt to use humor, be sure that the comment is tasteful.
  • Write in your own voice. Don’t try to be someone you’re not, or write in a way that is so bland that your voice ceases to come through.
  • Follow the instructions. This applies to the parameters of the essay – length, format, etc. If the application asks for 800 words, don’t submit an essay of 2,500 words. It not only risks putting the readers to sleep, but it calls into question both your ability to comply with basic rules and to outline your thoughts concisely and coherently.
  • Proofread. Everyone makes mistakes in their initial drafts. Even Thomas Jefferson made revisions to his copy when writing the Declaration of Independence. Some readers are less forgiving of typos and other careless errors. You might get away with one or two minor errors, but a pattern of mistakes indicates sloppy work. Most schools don’t want students who don’t pay attention to essential details.
  • Get feedback. Your essay should reflect your own thoughts, in your own voice. But that doesn’t mean you can’t share your drafts with others to get their suggestions on how to improve them. Accept those suggestions that you think make sense and discard those that you don’t like.

For those who have read college admission essays – administrators, teachers, parents – what advice would you offer students?