Monthly Archives: April 2013

Brendan Walsh, a student in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, has been selected for a Fulbright U.S. Student Award for 2013-2014 to Laos, where he will teach English at Ventiane University, assisting an English professor. Walsh, who will graduate from the M.F.A. program this month, is also an administrative assistant in the Office of International Education. He had previously taught ESL (English As a Second Language) for one year in Korea, as well as at Hartwick College, where he received his undergraduate degree, graduating magna cum laude and with departmental distinction in English.

Walsh has received a number of accolades for his writing, including the Anna Sonder Poetry Prize of the Academy of American Poets and the Leslie Leeds Poetry Prize for the Connecticut State University System, and was a featured reader at the New American Writing Festival in Oneonta, N.Y. A poet with several of his poems published in literary journals, Walsh has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and since 2011 has been poetry editor of Noctua Review, Southern’s graduate art and literary magazine.

Michael Schindel, associate coordinator and risk management liaison in the Office of International Education, is the Fulbright Program Advisor for SCSU. He helps students with Fulbright applications, coordinates the campus Fulbright committee review — which in this case was performed by Schindel, Erin Heidkamp, Elena Schmitt, Ilene Crawford and Gregory Paveza — and handles outreach efforts relating to Fulbright. Schindel says of Walsh, “It was a real pleasure working with Brendan on his Fulbright application. He is someone who believes wholeheartedly in the benefits of travel and is truly excited when helping our SCSU students begin their own adventures. Brendan is someone who devotes himself completely to achieving whatever goal he sets out to accomplish. When he had the idea of pursing a Fulbright award after completing his M.F.A., he began researching potential placements and realized this would be his opportunity to live in Laos. Once he had that in mind, there was really no stopping him. He was quick and thorough in his application responses. He worked extensively on draft after draft of his personal statement. He also began thinking of ways to work in Laos during his non-teaching hours, finding orphanages and schools where he could volunteer his time.”

In his proposal for the Fulbright award, Walsh wrote that he applied “to Laos specifically because it preserves the East Asian culture that many have come to romanticize but not truly experience, and though romanticizing a people and culture can result in misunderstanding and disappointment, my time in Korea taught me to separate individuals from cultural preconceptions. Rather than limit myself to the standard backpacker’s experience of Laos, the ETA grants me the opportunity to form solid, trusting relationships with fellow instructors, students, and citizens. Through these relationships, I hope to create a cross-cultural dialogue between two cultures which have been at odds in recent history.”

Walsh says he is particularly interested in Laos because it is “sort of the last bastion of Asia, unexplained by Westerners.” He found Southeast Asia captivating when he traveled there previously, he says, but “Laos gave this possibility of new discovery” he finds compelling.

Walsh says he will use journaling and poetry writing with his students in Laos as ways to improve their communication skills. In addition to teaching, Walsh plans to continue his study of Theravada Buddhism, work on a new collection of poetry inspired by his experiences in Laos, and volunteer at a local orphanage.

According to the Fulbright Award program Web site, the English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) is one of five types of awards for which students are eligible. An ETA, says the Web site, “places a Fulbrighter in a classroom abroad to provide assistance to teachers of English to non-native English-speakers. English Teaching Assistants help teach English language while serving as a cultural ambassador for U.S. culture. The age and academic level of classroom students varies by country, ranging from kindergarten to university level.”

Schindel says that Walsh “will be a great representative for SCSU in Laos and we are all very proud of him.”

*Kelly Mabry, assistant professor of communication disorders, was the focus of an article in the April 28 edition of the New Haven Register. Kelly is active in helping children get treated for cleft lips and cleft palates. She traveled two years ago as a medical volunteer to the Democratic Republic of the Congo as kids were screened for an operation to repair their cleft lips and palates. She recently started a campus chapter of Operation Smile, an organization dedicated to helping kids with clefts.

A link to the Register article (and photo) follows:

*The New Haven Register ran an article in its April 28 edition that previews Alan Alda’s visit to Southern for the Mary and Louis Fusco Distinguished Lecture. Best known for his role as Hawkeye Pierce on the hit series M*A*S*H, he later hosted the show “Scientific American Frontiers.” The title of his talk Friday is “Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself,” the same as a book he wrote that was published in 2007.

*Jon Bloch, chairman of the Sociology Department, was quoted in an April 28 article in theNew Haven Register about claims of excessive force used by police in various area communities.

The following is a link to the Register story:

*An April 26 post in the “Java” blog in the Hartford Courant inclues a question-and-answer with Alan Alda, who will speak at the upcoming Mary and Louis Fusco Distinguished Lecture. The piece included a reference to the lecture.

The following is a link to the Courant’s Java blog:

*Armen Marsoobian, professor of philosophy, was interviewed recently in the Turkish media about his forthcoming book on the plight of his ancestors during the Armenian genocide.

The following are links to the media interviews (newspaper and radio):

*Joy Fopiano, associate professor of elementary education, was quoted in an April 25 story in the Hartford Courant about the work of the Educational Care Collaborative, a pilot program she co-founded and which is intended to improve behavioral health services.

The following is a link to the Courant story:

*An April 24 blog post written by Dan Haar, a columnist with the Hartford Courant, focuses on research by Paul Stepanovich, chairman of the Management and Management Information Systems Department. Paul recently had an article published in the Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management about the use of performance evaluations and the effect they tend to have on organizations.

The following is a link to Dan Haar’s blog in the Courant:

*Art Paulson, chairman of the Political Science Department, was interviewed April 23 on theChannel 8 evening news about the mayoral race in New Haven this year.

The following is a link to the segment on Channel 8:

*A column by Ellen Durnin, dean of the School of Business, was published April 22 in theHartford Business Journal. The column offers suggestions on how people can safely navigate business meals through the use of proper etiquette. She also recommends the best course of action if despite your best efforts, you make the faux pas of spilling food or drink on a tablemate’s clothes.

The following is a link to the Business Journal column:

*An April 22 news segment on Channel 61 during its 4 p.m. newscast focused on the“Welcome to College Day” program hosted by Southern. The event was designed to encourage grade 7 students from New Haven’s Public Schools to go to college someday.

The following is a link to the Channel 61 segment:

The event also was covered April 22 by Channel 3, and with a photo in the New Haven Register on April 23.

*The Middletown Press ran an April 22 article that previewed the upcoming oratorio, “Letters from Italy 1944,” in which Sheila Hickey Garvey, professor of theatre, is serving as the production’s director-in-residence.”

The following is a link to the Press article:

*Michelle Lawler, a counselor in the University Counseling Office, was quoted extensively in a front page story April 21 in the New Haven Register. The article focuses on how the public can cope with large-scale tragedies, such as the bombs that were set off at the Boston Marathon. Michelle was one of three experts consulted in the piece.

The following is a link to the Register story:

*The New Haven Register ran an article in its April 21 edition about an upcoming oratorio, “Letters from Italy 1944,” in which Sheila Hickey Garvey is serving as the production’s director in residence. The oratorio, which will be held in the Middletown High School Performing Arts Center, is set during World War II.

The following is a link to the Register story:

*An April 20 article in the “my towns” section of the Hartford Courant announced that Phillip Bryant, director of high-tech classrooms, recently received the Outstanding Young Professional Award from UConn’s Neag School of Education Alumni Society.

The following is a link to the Courant article:,0,2502945.story

*Carlos Torre, professor of elementary education, was interviewed April 19 on Cafe CNN Espanol about the recent series of tragedies, such as Newtown, Boston and in Waco, Texas.

*Two students were quoted in an April 18 article that appeared in the New Haven Register pertaining to the concern among Connecticut Muslims about being profiled after the recent Boston bombing incident. Marwa Mansour, president of the university’s Muslim Student Association, and Inam Chater, also a member of the organization, shared their thoughts in the story.

The following is a link to the Register story:

*An article about the newly revamped M.S. in computer science program was included in theNew Haven Register’s “Education Connection” supplement that was published April 14.

*Ruth Eren, director of the Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders, was quoted in an April 14 story in the Connecticut Post about the increase in the number of children diagnosed with a form of autism and how Bridgeport schools are addressing it.

The following is a link to the Post article:

*The Hartford Business Journal ran an article April 10 about Southern earning the Power of Energy Innovation Award organized by three Connecticut foundations — the Common Sense Fund, the Hampshire Foundation and the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation. The award was based on the university’s sucess in reducing its use of electricity in the residence halls.

The following is a link to the Journal article:

*Frank Harris, chairman of the Journalism Department, was quoted in a Middletown Pressstory that ran April 10 about the annual state Freedom of Information Conference. Frank was the keynote speaker for the event.

The following is a link to the Press story:

*Joe Manzella, professor of anthropology, was featured on the front page of the New Haven Register on April 7 for his research on alternative spiritual communities around the world, particularly in the West. He has visited various communities in the United States and Europe in preparation for a book on the recent trend in the West away from traditional, mainstream religious identification.

The following is a link to the Register story:

*The revamped M.S. degree in computer science program was the focus of an article that appeared April 7 in the Connecticut Post. The article was part of a special education section in the Post.

*President Mary Papazian was interviewed April 1 on the Fox 61 Morning Show, speaking about Southern and issues facing public higher education in Connecticut. The segment ran for more than 4 minutes.

The following is a link to the Channel 61 interview:

*Troy Paddock, chairman of the History Department, was quoted in an April 1 Hartford Courant story about the state of the rivalry between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. The article also referred to a “blog debate” between Troy and Art Paulson, chairman of the Political Science Department, about which team would finish higher in the American League East standings this year. Troy is a diehard Red Sox fan and Art is a dyed-in-the-wool Yankees devotee.

The blog debate refers to a post in “Wise Words,” where Troy and Art offered their views of this year’s battle for the AL East.

The story also included comments from ESPN baseball analysts Aaron Boone, a former Yankee, and Nomar Garciaparra, a former Red Sox.

The following is a link to the Courant story:,0,3683628.story

Those of you who watched David Ferrer come agonizingly close to pulling off an upset against Andy Murray in the recent Sony Open couldn’t help but wonder what was going through his mind in those last few games of the tennis match.

Ferrer, arguably the 5th best player in the world, is a model of consistency on the tennis court. His speed, accuracy and heart make him a force to be reckoned with against any opponent – his inability to beat the Big Four (Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray) in title matches notwithstanding.

In the finals of the Sony Open, Ferrer crushed a lackluster Murray in the 1st set, 6-2. Murray found his stride in time to win the 2nd set, 6-4. Ferrer took a 6-5 lead in the 3rd set and had a golden opportunity to win it all. In fact, he had a break and match point, only to falter. Finally, in the tiebreaker, Murray decisively put him away.

blogchokingphoto3Many would call it a case of a classic “choke.” It was almost as if the reality suddenly sank in of being on the doorstep of beating one of the Big Four. We’ll never know, of course, what he really was thinking and feeling at those moments. But a subconscious fear of success could have been at work.

We’ve seen similar scenarios play out in so many close games and contests. One athlete or team thrives under pressure, while another wilts. Many of you might remember the New York Yankees leading the Boston Red Sox 3-0 in the 2004 AL Championship Series. Given that no Major League Baseball team has ever fallen to an opponent after leading 3-0 in a best-of-seven series, the Yankees were all but crowned as the AL champion. But Boston rallied in the final four games to win the series.

When a pattern of faltering in pressure situations occurs, the person or team develops a reputation of being a “choker.” The Buffalo Bills are a classic case, losing in four straight Super Bowl appearances (1991 to 1994). The most agonizing of those defeats came in 1991, when kicker Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal attempt in the final seconds to save the Giants’ tenuous 20-19 lead.

So, what exactly happens physically and psychologically when someone chokes?
Sharon Misasi and David Kemler, both professors of exercise science at Southern, say it has to do with psychological pressure (stress) causing feelings of insecurity, muscle tension or autonomic arousal to occur. “When a performer perceives these affects occurring, it often leads to debilitating cognitive and/or motor outcomes,” they say.

“The performer’s scope of thinking diminishes due to the brain’s defenses that push the body into fight, flight and/or play dead mode. Worry and pressure cause the performer to forget or not access the motor programs that he or she has to solve the problem.”
Interestingly, it’s not just fear of failure that can lead to choking. Fear of success is a frequent culprit, as well.

“A performer may be worried (anxiety) about what will happen if they succeed at this level. They may be thinking, ‘What if I am successful? What will be expected of me the next time? Why do I deserve to be successful?’ This form of thinking and feeling can lead to our attention being directed to non-relevant cues, such as noises in the crowd, waving of the pompoms and trash talking. In the case of tennis, the individual performer focuses on the opposing player and not the tennis ball, or in football, the kicker focuses on the linemen or the football and not the uprights.”

What can be done to overcome a choking tendency?

Misasi and Kemler offer a few suggestions:

Practice game-like situations to prepare for the increased stress level that accompanies game day. These types of drills also help increase one’s self-confidence, which is an important step toward overcoming choking.
Keep expectations realistic and put the event in perspective. While predicting knockouts and the rounds that they would occur might have worked for Muhammad Ali, it could wreak havoc with the psychology of someone prone to choking.
In the days before the event, visualize yourself performing well. Visualization has proven to be effective psychological technique for many athletes.
Work with a sports psychologist. Coaches and athletes have varying degrees of knowledge and awareness of the phenomenon of choking. But a good sports psychologist is trained in the subject and can help an athlete overcome this obstacle.

Does anyone have any other tips to prevent choking?

    Southern’s academic advisers typically provide students with the benefit of their knowledge and experience when guiding them into and through a degree program. But soon, they will be able to “look into the future” and offer them statistical-based evidence as to whether they will likely succeed in a specific major.

    The university will use a predictive analytics system, developed by the Education Advisory Board in Washington, to help students weigh their options when considering a degree program. The system uses data, particularly student grades, to predict whether someone is likely to succeed in various majors and courses. The university is using the model as part of an effort to boost its graduation rate, as well as the various retention rates.

    “This model has a good track record in terms of projecting whether a student will do well or have a difficult time in a specific class or degree program,” says Richard Riccardi, director of Southern’s Office of Management Information and Research.

    “That’s not to say the results will be perfect, or that a student cannot make up his or her own mind whether to pursue a particular degree program. But the analysis has proven to be accurate a very high percentage of the time.”

    As an example, if a student has gotten C’s in his or her math classes, the chances for success as a business management major are slim, Riccardi says. “The new program will enable an adviser – who might already be skeptical that a student would succeed in a business management program – to point out the hard data to the student, as well as offer some alternative majors in which they are likely to be more successful.

    The hope is that students will learn at an earlier stage in their academic careers whether a particular program is a good choice for them, Riccardi says: ” If it is not, switching to another major could very well make the difference between completing a program and graduating, or not. Or, it can make the difference in whether someone graduates within six years.”

    Kimberly Crone, associate vice president for academic student affairs, says she is optimistic that the tool can begin to be used for the 2014-15 academic year. “We have to submit 10 years of data before the system will be operational,” she says. “But once that information is plugged in, this program will be a real benefit to our students.”

    The system also can be used to determine the level of difficulty a student is likely to have in a course. Riccardi notes that sometimes an adviser might not be aware that poor grades in some courses predict a lack of success in an entirely different area. He said this program takes much of the guess work out of the equation.

    “In some ways, this system is like ‘Netflix on steroids,'” Riccardi says. “After data is obtained, Netflix can pretty accurately predict whether you might like a particular movie based on what you have watched previously. It’s somewhat similar with this program in terms of predicting success in courses and majors.”

    Riccardi adds that the “human element” remains important, noting that there might be a legitimate reason why a student didn’t do well in certain courses that doesn’t reflect on their aptitude.

    The new School of Business facility has received LEED Gold certification, only the second building in the state to receive this recognition of “green” construction.

    LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a program providing third-party verification of green buildings. Its rating system offers four certification levels for new construction — Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum — that correspond to the number of credits accrued in five green design categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality.

    Buildings in the LEED rating system earn points toward levels of certification depending on how many green features are included in the building’s design and construction. Buildings must be rated by an independent rater certified by the U. S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

    “Achieving Gold certification for this new building is a significant achievement,” says Robert Sheeley, associate vice president for capital budgeting and facilities operations. “To be only the second building in the state to attain this status is great, but even better is what it means for Southern’s efforts at becoming a greener campus.”

    Sheeley, along with Executive Vice President James Blake, serves as co-chairman of the university’s Sustainability Committee, which works toward the goal of making the university carbon-neutral by 2050, as dictated by its participation in the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

    Since January 2009, all construction projects in Connecticut, both public and private, in excess of $5 million have been required to meet green building standards. All renovation projects costing more than $2 million have had to meet the standards since 2010.

    The School of Business project involved the complete renovation of the former Student Center. The university chose Nosal Builders as the general contractor and Tecton Architects as the project architect, combined with CES Engineers at the initiation of the project.

    The 22,000-square-foot structure was revamped to address the programmatic needs of the School of Business while incorporating sustainable practices and materials and using alternative energy solutions. A target project budget of $7 million was established, with an overall project schedule of three years from design to occupancy.

    The existing three-story building was built in 1959 and originally contained dormitory rooms, bathrooms, common areas and a student activity center. The building’s exterior and interior were renovated and all new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems installed.

    Southern has received the Power of Change Top Building Award — a statewide recognition — for its team-based effort to reduce electricity use in nine residence halls.

    The university took First Honors in the Innovation Award category for its team-based effort to reduce electricity use in nine residence halls during the College Conservation Nationals (CCN), the largest nationwide electricity and water reduction competition on college and university campuses, now in its third year.

    A total of seven state energy efficiency projects were celebrated as models at the first-ever Power of Change Award ceremony, which was sponsored by the Common Sense Fund, the Hampshire Foundation, and the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation. The awards were presented during a ceremony held April 9 at the State Capitol.

    “These seven Power of Change Award winners demonstrate the innovative ways Connecticut is meeting aggressive energy efficiency goals and are a promising example of how our state is taking an active role in driving a clean energy economy forward,” said Stewart Hudson of the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, one of the three organizations funding and supporting the initiative.

    “We created the Power of Change Award as an opportunity to provide recognition and also encourage even more state and municipal leaders to make an important investment in their future. We believe it’s important to celebrate success where it occurs — in this case good government practices that protect human health, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and in the process help the Connecticut economy and save taxpayer dollars.”

    State agencies, facility managers and stakeholders entered projects in three award categories: the Innovation Award, designed to recognize new and effective ideas and approaches to achieve energy reduction through efficiency; the Fast Track Award, recognizing the agencies that got out front by aiming for higher levels of efficiency; and Most Energy-Efficient Building Awards for buildings associated with Connecticut-owned educational institutions and courthouses.

    “The award is based on SCSU’s success in developing our collaborative network for sustainability engagement and our success in coordinating efforts in many departments — Facilities, Res Life, Science Ed and Environmental Studies, Public Affairs, FYE —  to develop more sustainable practices, ” said Suzanne Huminski, acting coordinator of the university’s Office of Sustainability. “The energy conservation contest was the case study for the award, but our application made it clear that CCN is one of many projects we work on together.”

    It’s the stuff from which comedy skits are made.

    You’re at a business dinner and you order something that has the potential to be especially messy. Nevertheless, you say to yourself, “What are the odds that I would actually be klutzy enough to spill the food?”

    But sure enough, you end up being another victim of Murphy’s Law – the sauce spills on your dress or you dip your tie into the soup. Or even worse, you mishandle a dish or glass and the contents are suddenly all over your potential new boss, client, or someone else you are trying to impress.

    blogbusinessetiquettephotoYou apologize profusely. And while the other person may be gracious (best-case scenario), the fizz for the business dinner suddenly is gone. No matter what you say or do for the rest of the evening, you know that the spilled food will be what is remembered most clearly.

    That’s not to say that you can’t turn things around and create a generally favorable impression. But it sure is going to be much harder.

    So, what can you do to minimize the chances of this kind of thing from happening?

    Ellen Durnin, dean of the School of Business at Southern, says following proper etiquette can act as somewhat of an insurance policy toward those types of disasters. That’s not to say they still can’t happen, but it’s smart to play the odds in these settings.

    “You want to create a positive impression during a business meal – whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner,” Durnin says. “While eating is certainly part of a business meal, your primary objective is usually business-related. It is better to leave the encounter with a half empty stomach than create a half-baked impression.”

    She recommends eating before the meeting so that your focus can be on the business at hand.

    “If you suddenly feel famished during the business meal, remember that you can always eat until your heart’s content after the meeting, either at home or at another restaurant, Durnin says.

    The dean points to several suggestions offered by many business and etiquette experts to make a good impression. They include:

    • Arrive on time.
    • Be prepared for the meeting or discussion.
    • Demonstrate good table manners.
    • If you did the inviting, be sure to offer to pay the bill.
    • Don’t get distracted by your meal.
    • Remember B-M-W for identifying your place setting: from left to right – bread, meal, water. (This avoids the inevitable, “is that my bread plate or yours?”)
    • Avoid ordering difficult-to-eat, messy or sticky foods.
    • Select a meal from the menu that is in the middle price range of options.

    So, what do you do if despite your best efforts, food or drink gets splashed the way of your dinner partner?

    “Your response should be quick and sincere,” Durnin says. “Do NOT attempt to wipe the offending substance from their clothes. Instead, say, ‘I apologize. Please send your dry cleaning bill to me.’”

    Durnin suggests moving on with the conversation at the table. “The other person does not want to focus on their stained clothing for the rest of the meeting, but will appreciate you returning to the conversation at hand.”

    She also suggests following up with a message to their office the next business day to request the bill. This shows that the offer from the previous day was not an empty gesture.

    Bon appetit!

      When you think of rugby, you probably envision a full-contact sport with competing teams engaging in a ferocious sense of competition. And often it is. But for two Southern alumni, the sport serendipitously helped unite them with a Yale graduate to develop a company specializing in SAT/ACT preparation. The company – known as Bulldog Tutors – is reaching out to students at Hillhouse High School and offering free prep classes for those college-bound exams.

      Andrew Marullo and Dan Rosa, who were classmates at Greenwich High School, would later become co-captains of Southern’s rugby team while both attended the university several years ago. They graduated in 2010, both with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. Rosa returned to Southern and received his master’s degree in special education in 2012. Currently, Marullo is pursuing a master’s degree in physical education.

      “Rugby has taught us intrinsic values: dedication, teamwork, leadership and respect,” Rosa says.

      The duo continued their passion for rugby after graduation by joining the New Haven Old Black Rugby team. In turn, this led to them meeting Mike Newcomer, a Yale graduate and founder of Bulldog Tutors, through connections on the team.

      Rosa was invited by Newcomer to serve as the manager of Bulldog Tutors and to use his experience as a special education teacher to create the reading and writing curriculum. Later, Marullo was hired as the business developer. Now they work together for the company that was launched last June.

      Marullo and Rosa grew up in a community renowned for its affluence and where students routinely had the opportunity to engage in SAT prep courses. But during their years at Southern, which included community service and tutoring volunteer work, they learned that many New Haven students could not afford such preparatory classes.

      As a way to help close that education opportunity gap, Bulldog Tutors began last month offering free SAT/ACT prep tutoring to Hillhouse students.

      Marullo says some tutoring companies can become so focused on profit that they forget about the people who really need the services their company offers.

      “We wanted to engage with our local community,” Rosa adds. “We wanted to give something back.”

      “New Haven has become my home,” Marullo says. “I want to live here and do everything that I can to help my community.”

      Bulldog Tutors brought on a group of five college student volunteers to work with 20 Hillhouse students who opted for the SAT/ACT prep. The six-week course spends half of its time devoted to the SATs and half to the ACTs.

      “We found that the students had no idea of the grading criteria…their eyes were wide open,” Rosa says. “After the first session, five students continued to ask questions after that day’s session was over.”

      Rosa and Marullo credit James Rauschenbach, assistant professor of exercise science, with kindling their love of teaching.


        While volunteering in the Congo for a week two years ago, Kelly Mabry saw no NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), nor any specialized feeding equipment for infants with craniofacial disorders. In fact, there was not even a shared language between herself and the family of Dekebele — a two-week-old infant dying from malnutrition because he was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. But with some help from Mabry – an expert on craniofacial disorders who screened patients before and after surgery – Dekebele successfully underwent a life-changing surgical procedure.

        Mabry, who began teaching at Southern last fall as an assistant professor of communication disorders, served as a medical volunteer in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for a week in June 2011 as part of Operation Smile. That is where she met Dekebele and others like him who badly need medical attention for their communication disorders.

        Operation Smile is an international children’s medical charity that provides reconstructive surgery on kids who have facial deformities, such as cleft lip and palate, in developing countries. The organization’s website describes a cleft as an opening in the lip, the roof of the mouth or the soft tissue in the back of the mouth. It also states that a cleft palate occurs when the two sides of a palate do not join together, resulting in an opening in the roof of the mouth. A child can suffer from a cleft lip or cleft palate, or both. If left untreated, it can cause serious medical complications, such as malnutrition, as a result of the difficulty in feeding that the birth defect causes.

        In the Congo, Mabry was devastated when she saw that about 40 percent of the children were turned away from surgery because of malnourishment, a condition that greatly increases the risk of surgical complications. Babies with cleft palates cannot breastfeed properly, Mabry says, which relegates them to diets of sugar water and insufficient nutritional supplements.

        As a result, Mabry says she felt called to teach mothers how to feed their babies and decided to create a workshop on these feeding techniques. Throughout her week-long mission, she led nearly three dozen workshop sessions.

        Now, she wants to share with the Southern campus community that same sense of fulfillment she gained from helping others. She has created an Operation Smile Club on campus that seeks to help others in the Third World with similar health problems.

        “I want students to be able to say: We made a difference! We changed the lives of 30 kids,” she says. “I believe that Southern’s Operation Smile Club can create a snowball effect of service, global awareness and a growing appreciation of other cultures.”

        The goal of Operation Smile is three-fold – to increase awareness of the cleft lip and palate problem in the Third World, to raise money for the surgeries, and to educate our K-12 students about the importance of tolerance toward those with craniofacial disorders. Each cleft surgery costs about $240. “It’s a small price to pay to change someone’s life,” she says.

        Mabry notes that in the Congo, there is a stigma against facial and bodily deformities due to cultural or a religious ideology. As a result, a cleft lip – which is clearly visible – is often repaired. But the palate – which is not seen by others – is left unrepaired. The lip surgery prevents the children from living in virtual isolation because of the stigma. Nevertheless, a cleft palate is a medical condition that should also be treated.

        Mabry says she believes Southern is only the second school in Connecticut to have an Operation Smile club on campus.

        Mabry’s passion for craniofacial disorders sparked her to pursue a Ph.D in communication disorders, which she earned in 2002 from the University of Connecticut. She has served on craniofacial teams as a speech pathologist since 1988 and is currently a member of the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Craniofacial team in Hartford.

        NEWS NOTE: The New Haven Register ran a story about Kelly Mabry’s efforts to help children with cleft lips and palates, as well as the creation of a campus chapter of Operation Smile, in its April 29 edition. The following is a link to that article:


        Two are academically perfect, while all four of Southern’s recipients of this year’s Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award plan to enter the “helping professions” after an impressive collegiate career.

        A total of 12 students are chosen for the award each year from the four Connecticut State University campuses, including a quartet from Southern. It is considered among the university’s most prestigious awards. Criteria include a 3.7 GPA and having demonstrated significant participation in university and/or community life.

        Nicole Cassidy, who is majoring in elementary education/special education and Spanish, has a GPA of 3.83. She plans to pursue a career in either elementary or special education.

        Cassidy has served as a representative-at-large of the Student Government Association (SGA) and a member of Colleges Against Cancer – both for four years. She currently is the SGA secretary. She was a senior orientation ambassador for two years and currently is a First-Year Experience program peer mentor.

        She is a four-year recipient of the Presidential Merit Scholarship and a member of the Honors College. She also was selected to “Who’s Who Among American College and University Students” in 2010 and 2011.

        “Nicole represents the very best that SCSU has to offer,” says Michael Alfano, chairman of the Special Education and Reading Department. “She is an exceptionally bright and motivated individual who has made a significant contribution to SCSU and the greater community while in attendance. Her well-rounded academic and civic accomplishments should serve as a role model for other SCSU undergraduate students.”

        Cody McClave, who is majoring in mathematics, has a GPA of 3.83. He plans to pursue a master’s degree in special education and seek a teaching job as a high school math teacher.

        McClave has served as a member of Colleges Against Cancer and the Future Teachers Organization for the last three years – including a stint as treasurer of both organizations. He also has been a tutor at the math help center for the last year.

        He is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success and Zeta Delta Epsilon, a service honor society. He also has been awarded the Colebrook Associates Scholarship for four consecutive years.

        “Cody has always been a leader in class, while also receptive to other viewpoints,” says Richard DeCesare, certification coordinator for the Math Department. “He looks professional and acts professionally in every sense of the word, from the way he addresses his classmates and instructors, to the way he conducts himself in and out of class. He will make an excellent teacher.”

        Angela Read, who is majoring in nursing, has a GPA of 4.0. She plans to become an oncology nurse and eventually return to school to become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN).

        Read is a member of the Student Nurses Association, Zeta Delta Epsilon and the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. She is also a member of the American Cancer Society and created an annual family fundraiser in honor of her deceased mother to raise money for organizations that support people who have cancer.

        She has been awarded a variety of scholarships, including Southern’s AAUP Memorial Scholarship and the Alumni Association 75th Anniversary Endowed Scholarship.

        “She is one of the most intellectually gifted, mature, organized students I have had the opportunity to teach and mentor,” says Bernadette Madara, professor of nursing. “Angela stands out as an exceptional student who is conscientious and who consistently displays an enthusiasm for learning and a quest for knowledge. Rather than calling attention to herself or being self-focused, Angela quietly devotes her free time to helping the less fortunate.”

        Anna Walters, who is majoring in social work, has a GPA of 4.0. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work and would like someday to work with veterans and their families.

        Walters is a member of the League of Extraordinary Veterans Club, which assists with fundraising for the Wounded Warrior Project. She has interned at Continuum of Care, a New Haven-based, non-profit organization that operates group homes and supported living programs. She has been a member of the Beta Rho, Southern’s chapter of the National Social Work Honor Society.

        She served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army from 1998 to 2005, where she earned several awards, including the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and National Defense Service Medal. Walters served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 2005 to 2008.

        “Anna is one of the most talented and proficient students we have had in the Social Work program,” says Todd Rufuth, chairman of the Social Work Department. “She possesses the unusual ability to effectively work on multiple levels of any project: from individual and group work, to program implementation and research. She leads with a strong presence and energy that engages clients and other students in their own change efforts.”