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Saluting the Class of 2020, SCSU student Alexis Zhitomi

As a child, Alexis Zhitomi was a late speaker. She barely talked until she was 3 years old, and even in kindergarten, she could not complete a full sentence. But years of persistence, help from a speech therapist, and encouragement from her parents would eventually pay off.

Fast forward to her college years. Zhitomi has been a representative of her class since her freshman year, and became president of Southern’s Student Government Association in the fall semester of her junior year. She has held that position ever since, essentially becoming the voice of her peers on a variety of issues affecting students.

During the COVID-19 crisis, she even served as the moderator for a recent “virtual town hall-style meeting” in which students, faculty and staff could ask SCSU President Joe Bertolino questions about how Southern was adapting to the coronavirus pandemic.

Zhitomi said that although her background did not single-handedly spark her interest in becoming an advocate for her peers in student government, it may have played some role.

“Innately, all speech language pathologists are advocates because they are speaking up for those who may not have the ability to do so themselves,” she said. “So my speech services when I was younger might not have directly gotten me on the path to student government, but it was certainly an impactful part that helped shape who I am.

“And listening to my parents share their story of how much my speech pathologist helped me definitely got me interested in the field.”

The Shelton High School graduate and communication disorders major will graduate later this month. She was recently selected as one of SCSU’s four recipients of the prestigious Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award, given for outstanding scholarship and community service. She plans to pursue a master’s degree this fall in speech language pathology.

She has conducted research in conjunction with the West Haven Veterans Administration to assess the benefits or negatives of certain routes of care for individuals with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Her focus was on dysphagia (difficult swallowing), a symptom of ALS. She presented her findings last November at a national American Speech-Language Hearing Association convention in Orlando, Fla.

Zhitomi, who compiled a 3.97 GPA, has been a member of the SCSU Honors College and a recipient of several scholarships. She has volunteered with several university initiatives, such as participating in the Adopt-a-Family campaign and the SCSU Day of Service. She also was a Yale-New Haven Neuro-Speech Volunteer. She also has been an orientation coordinator for the university’s Office of New Student and Sophomore Programs.

“She has proven to be a passionate, diligent, and self-motivated student and is most deserving of this type of recognition,” said Heather Warner, SCSU 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.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Tracy Tyree also has been impressed by Zhitomi’s accomplishments.

“Alexis loves Southern and has a passion for making a difference in service to her peers,
Tyree said. “She has grown significantly as a result of these many opportunities and her learning has been reflected in each subsequent experience.”




Southern's information and library science programs will give you solid experience in library science while offering an array of electives in areas like digital libraries, information architecture, network management, and instructional design.

Southern’s online Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program was judged among the best in the nation — coming in at number five on Online Schools Report’s (onlineschoolsreport.com) rating of the top 35 such programs in the U.S. for 2020. Programs were evaluated on numerous factors, including admission rates and student satisfaction.

Southern is the only Connecticut-based institution of higher learning to offer a fully online library science master’s degree. The program was granted candidacy status for accreditation by the American Library Association — and is the only program in the state to have achieved this distinction as of January.

The master’s degree in sport and entertainment management program, which is offered fully online, was also evaluated among the nation’s best, included on Intelligent.com’s guide to the Top 49 graduate programs in the field in 2020.

The organization reviewed 333 educational programs offered through 137 colleges and universities to compile the guide, evaluating curriculum quality, graduation rate, reputation, and post-graduate employment. Southern’s program was specifically lauded for its focus on experiential learning.

The School of Graduate and Professional Studies will be holding a Virtual Spring 2020 Graduate Open House on Thursday, April 2, 2020. Learn about these and Southern’s many other exceptional graduate programs.

The fully online graduate program allows students to choose between a specialization in either sport or entertainment management.