Yearly Archives: 2019

When another college dissuaded Jacob Santos, '19, from following his dreams and majoring in theatre, he transferred to Southern and never looked back.

There are 14 Newman's Own Fellows, including (back row, third from left) Jacob Santos, '19. The foundation recently hosted the Fellows at a retreat.

Jacob Santos, ’19, is one of only 14 Newman’s Own Foundation Fellows for 2019-20 — and one of only three recipients to graduate from a public college or university. The Newman’s Own Foundation, which was founded by the late actor and philanthropist Paul Newman, launched the 12-month fellowship to develop the next generation of leaders in the nonprofit sector.

Santos is serving as the managing director fellow with Westport Country Playhouse in Connecticut, a post he describes as his dream job.

Transferring to Southern: Santos started college at another university, majoring in pre-pharmacy, which he quickly realized was not a good fit. He’d acted in high school and remained drawn to the stage. So he decided to talk to his former adviser at that previous college about changing his major.

“That ended up being a very unfortunate conversation,” says Santos. “They discouraged me from trying to become a theatre major, and the wordage they used made it seem like it was an elite club that took themselves seriously. Due to this, I wouldn’t be a good match. This was upsetting . . . How could they know I wasn’t good enough to be part of a department that valued high-quality work and talent? Looking back, it’s even more disappointing because people of color often have many barriers and lack of access to theatre,” says Santos.

Becoming an Owl: “With that experience I knew I had to go to an institution that would give me a chance and value me,” says Santos, adding that he was drawn to the reputation of Southern’s theatre program. “New Haven was a perfect location for the arts. It is close to many other local theaters and a short train ride away from New York City,” he says.

A Southern mentor: Santos lauds Associate Professor of Theatre Kaia Monroe-Rarick, describing her as his professor, director, adviser, and supervisor. “I credit her with giving me almost every opportunity I’ve had in theatre. . . . She cast me in my first show, helped me get a job in the theatre office [at Southern], and gave me my first chance to go to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in our region,” he says.


A new career goal: Santos dreamed of a career in theater management — and charted his course by pursuing two degrees (business administration and theatre). “I was lucky to have advisers and professors who cared enough to pave that road with me. People like Professor Kaia or Rebecca Goodheart [artistic producer of the Elm Shakespeare Company, Southern’s theatre in residence] who gave me my first theatre management internship,” he says.

An amazing senior experience: Completing an arts administration internship through the ASPIRE leadership program at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival * The internship focuses on engaging people of color, women, and members of other groups that are consistently underrepresented in the field. “[Associate] Professor Michael Skinner knew of my interest in theater management and told me this was something I had to do,” says Santos.

Biggest source of pride: “My work in creating the Crescent Players of Color Coalition was one of the most rewarding, out of class experiences I had at Southern. It was an exercise in advocacy for oneself and for one’s community,” he says.

Supporting inclusivity: “Issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion weren’t unique to Southern’s theatre department,” says Santos. “It is an industry-wide issue with many theatres and institutions-at-large being faced with the question of ‘how are you going to evolve in a world that is become increasingly diverse?’ What was unique to Southern, however, was how they dealt with our questions. Speaking with other young leaders of color, many have faced backlash or apathy when they brought these issues forward to their universities. Our department, on the other hand, was completely game to hold as many conversations as needed to figure out specific actions we could do to change and grow,” says Santos.

Every cloud has a silver lining: “I was able to do all of this — create a degree path that I wanted, be part of theatre, and engage in exciting opportunities — because of Southern. It makes that frustrating experience at my past university a bright one, because it led me to where I am now. I’m a proud Afro-Latino man with two degrees from SCSU, and I’m working professionally in theatre. I couldn’t be more thankful or happier.” says Santos.

Southern Alumni Magazine cover, Fall 2019, featuring Peter Marra, '85

Read more stories in the Fall ’19 issue of Southern Alumni Magazine.

Walter Stutzman with former students in the applied music program

Ten years later, the Stutzman Family Foundation is still transforming lives.

In January 2016 Candace Naude, ‘20, was sitting in the audience of the Broadway musical Spring Awakening when she had an awakening of her own. “I realized that I have to pursue music,” Naude says. “I couldn’t escape it anymore.”

Naude had been passionate about music her entire life but had been discouraged from making a career of it.

“Music wasn’t one of the hiring industries, and everyone told me it would be so hard for me to find a job and make a living,” Naude says. “Unfortunately I listened to them, and decided to join the Army. I enlisted immediately after high school and spent four years in the military. In 2014 I was honorably discharged and moved back home to Trumbull.” Money was tight, but Naude enrolled in the music program at Southern.

“I didn’t care if I couldn’t find a job or make an easy living,” Naude says. “I needed to make music.”

An epiphany that calls one back to music is something Walter Stutzman, adjunct faculty member with Southern’s Department of Music, can relate to. Shaken by 9-11 — he was across the street from the North Tower of the World Trade Center when the attacks occurred  — he retired from 30 years of software consulting and came to Southern shortly afterwards to earn a BA in Music.

“My life was transformed through the music I studied and performed and was further changed when I joined [Southern’s] music faculty in 2009,” Stutzman says. He found the experience so transformative, he sought to help other students fulfill their dreams. As a trustee of the Stutzman Family Foundation, which was established by his parents, Geraldine and Jacob Stutzman, shortly before their deaths in the mid-2000s, Stutzman has helped make the music program at Southern one of the best.

“He has transformed the entire program,” says Craig Hlavac, associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences at Southern. “Music students are studying with professionals in the area, so they’re learning the ropes from these folks and the business aspects as well.”

Mani Mirzaee, ‘14, a composer, educator, pianist, setar and tar performer, experienced that first-hand.

“The care and kindness the music faculty showed gave me the confidence to pursue music as a career, and the Stutzman Foundation truly enabled the faculty to provide the student body with the attention and care they had to give,” Mirzaee says. “The Stutzman Foundation elevated the capacity the faculty had within the music department. Practice rooms, computers, enhanced digital audio work-stations and many other amazing amenities were provided for the students.”

This evolving technology has helped keep the music curriculum relevant — and to attract students interested in the technological side of the field.

“You can have a career in this, and that’s why our degree looks different than most,” Hlavac says. “We have classes in music technology, for example. With other schools, their curriculum may look the same as it did 50 years ago. We’ve adapted. And with Stutzman’s background in IT, he saw this and helped us to build a music studio, which allows us to train students in music technologies. The entire landscape of music has changed, from CDs to YouTube, and we’re right on pace.”

The cutting-edge technology appealed to musicians like Terri Lane, ‘08, who has been in the music business as a professional singer for years. (Similar to Stutzman and Naude, Lane had an epiphany and left a successful 20-year career in the fields of energy efficiency, sales, and marketing to pursue music.)

“When I researched schools, the SCSU professors impressed me school-wide,” says Lane. “The curriculum was so updated. The teachers were performers too and that means they’re continually improving themselves and not stagnant. It was the only school I applied to, and the first day I knew I’d made the right decision. The emphasis on technology gives everyone access to music and music production.”

Access is a crucial component to the Stutzman Family Foundation’s mission. In addition to revamping the program itself, the Stutzman Family Foundation offers the Stutzman Family Foundation Music Scholarship(s) and the Southern Applied Music Program, which provides  free weekly voice or instrument lessons.

Those free lessons immediately stood out to Naude. “Most, if not all, schools charge their students for music lessons,” Naude says. “It was remarkable to me that it wouldn’t cost me a dime. The lessons completely changed my life. I always considered myself as a pretty good singer, but never before have I been pushed so far to discover what I am truly capable of. I have learned to be more confident, have better stage presence, learn more languages (a lot of classical pieces are German and French), and access so many different parts of my voice that I didn’t even know I had. I have essentially become a more improved version of myself.”

International choir trips, available at a discounted price thanks to the Stutzman Foundation and taken with the University Choir, also enable students to improve their skills. This year, the choir is visiting Rome, Tuscany (Florence), and Venice and will sing Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica and the Basilica of St. Anthony.

“For students that have been in the choir consecutively since they’ve attended Southern,” says Naude, “the foundation actually pays for the entire trip, apart from a $500 charge to the student. I was able to travel with the choir to Portugal. I am so appreciative for what [the Stutzmans] have done for the musicians of Southern.”

Mirzaee, too, is quick to express his gratitude.

“What sets Professor Stutzman apart from other human beings is not his philanthropic activities, but his eagerness to partake in the act of enabling others as a teacher and a mentor,” Marzaee says. “Over the years as a student and now a teacher, I have come to the conclusion that we can surpass any hurdle in life if we have someone that enables us to believe in ourselves. Ten years ago, as I was dreaming about my future at Southern, moving forward inch by inch and hoping to get to the next level of my musical career and educational step. I am forever grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to dream and move forward.”

If you are wondering if the music field is right for you, perhaps your epiphany is soon to come. If you’re growing restless, though, perhaps the aphorism Stutzman uses when he begins his Music Survey class may ring true:

“Music in the ears. Listen with open ears and an open mind: There are many musics around the world that are worthy of your careful listening. Music in the head. Knowing what’s inside music (its structures) and how it developed into what we hear today is important. Music in the hands. Practice! One of my teachers at Southern used to say, ‘Music is the only major where you finish your homework and then have to practice.’ Music in the heart. Know your goals, talk to musicians who have achieved those goals, have a plan, and always keep whatever music is important to you in your heart.”

Judit "Judy" and George Paolini earned a combined four degrees at Southern — and found love in the process.

Judit "Judy" and George Paolini met at Southern — and celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary in August 2019.

By Judit “Judy” Paolini, ’73, M.S. ’79, 6th Yr. ’93

I first met George as I was studying at the College Union. He and some friends were engaged in a lively conversation when he caught my eye. He was young, handsome, and loved to state his position on any issue. At the time, Vietnam was the number one issue. Days went by as this group of friends, which included boys and girls, continued talking and debating. I came to discover we were all commuters passing time between classes. I studied as they had fun conversing. I wanted to be part of this great group, but wasn’t quite sure how to enter. Then one day when their conversation was livelier than ever someone looked right at me and asked: “Do you have an opinion? Whose side are you on? Do you even care or do you just like watching us?”

Well, I certainly liked watching George. In fact, as the next few weeks past, I liked watching George so much that I cut my Spanish class in order to spend more time with him. I decided to join him as he headed for art history, which was held in the Engleman Hall amphitheater. Not being there for the history, we chatted in the darkened room as the instructor scrolled through slide after slide. She stopped twice, asking whomever was talking to stop or they world be asked to leave. Suddenly, the lights went on, and she pointed to George and me as she dismissed us from class. How embarrassing was that! I cut a class to spend time with this hunk only to get us both thrown out of his class. The lecture hall had been filled with oh, so many students. They laughed for months every time they spotted us. Actually, when we realized there would be no other repercussions, we laughed, too.

George and I had a delightful freshman year making new friends, attending the freshman prom, writing love notes, etc. I wrote the one below on April 25, 1970.

I look into your eyes and see
a bright blue world before me.
You hold me in your arms and
my fears escape me.
Your strength gives my strength
to Love and be Loved.
I think of you and see — us.
Do you think of me and see us also?

Well, the short answer is that he is still thinking of me and I of him. In fact, this August we celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary.

School of Business Dean Ellen Durnin with Mike Haggerty, Haggerty Financial Partners (left), and Richard Dyce, Director of Operations, Amazon (right)

School of Business Dean Ellen Durnin and the Southern Connecticut State University Business Advisory Council hosted the 2nd annual Business Leadership Breakfast on Wednesday, October 2, 2019, at the New Haven Lawn Club. SCSU President Joe Bertolino was in attendance, along with 150 key members of the Greater New Haven business community.

Sponsored by Haggerty Financial Partners, the event featured a keynote address by Richard Dyce, Director of Operations for Amazon’s North Haven Fulfillment Center on the topic “Regional Economic Development: Investing in the Local Community.”

Dyce, who was introduced by North Haven First Selectman Mike Freda, captivated the audience with a discussion on Amazon’s beginnings and its successful customer-focused business model, and detailed how it manages the incredible feat of getting product to our doorsteps in two days or less.

The popular Business Leadership Breakfast is an important component in building the relationships between industry and education to prepare graduates for both current job opportunities as well as jobs of the future. SCSU School of Business is pleased to bring together all parties for the benefit of the region’s economy.

Dr. Jia Yu, assistant professor of economics, and Alexandra Ball, RN, MBA, '19

Alexandra Ball, ‘19, presented her MBA thesis at the Ninth International Conference on Health, Wellness and Society at Berkeley, CA, on September 19th, 2019. Ball’s research seeks to identify which U.S. region renders the highest quality patient care of total knee arthroplasty as measured by impact on patient discharge disposition, hospital length of stay, and adverse outcomes during a three-year span of 2008-2010.

The results of the study found that lowest lengths of stay are noted in the West and Midwest, and that the West had the highest patient outcomes.  Demographic characteristics of age, race, and marital are associated with shorter lengths of stay, however, discharge status is only significantly impacted by age. These findings are utilized to evaluate cost- efficiency of the surgery in the regions of the United States.

Ball’s advisor, Jia Yu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Economics said that this is a great international conference that brings together many health and medical researchers from different disciplines and countries, giving attendees the opportunity to learn different perspectives on health-related problems from a variety of countries.

She says, “We have also built up some connections with researchers from Hong Kong and Singapore for future collaboration possibilities.” And continues, “It is a wonderful opportunity for Southern students to know the world and let the world know about Southern as well.”

The 2019 Special Focus of the International Conference on Health, Wellness and Society was Inclusive Health and Wellbeing, stating “…the volume of healthcare research and wealth of groundbreaking healthcare technology continues to expand, leading to more advanced health delivery systems and an increased quality of living. Not all people or all groups are benefiting from these advancements equally; significant barriers to accessing these developments still exist across the globe…This conference aims to explore the implications and effects that geographic, socioeconomic, and political barriers pose to health and wellbeing as well as constructing means across these barriers moving forward.”

Ellen Durnin, dean of Southern Connecticut State University School of Business, is pleased to welcome Kevin Burke and Lauren Tagliatela to the Business Advisory Council.

Durnin said about the importance of the BAC, “The Business Advisory Council serves a critical role in connecting the School of Business to the business community. The BAC members provide connections, internships, and employment opportunities for students; they advocate for the School of Business in the community; and they are key partners in fundraising efforts for strategic initiatives.”

Kevin Burke is a senior vice president and Market Executive for the Wells Fargo Commercial Banking in Connecticut and NY Capital Region. He manages commercial banking division that develops and maintains business relationships with companies with annual revenues greater than $5 million. Burke’s team has offices in Albany, N.Y., and Greenwich, Hartford and Shelton, Conn.

Burke started his banking career in 1991 and, before joining Wells Fargo, had a long and impressive career utilizing his talents at Consolidated Asset Recovery Corporation, a subsidiary of Chase Manhattan Bank; Shawmut Bank; and Fleet Bank, a successor to Shawmut.

Burke, a U.S. Army veteran, earned a B.A. from Fordham University in New York; an M.A. in international relations from Boston University in Heidelberg, Germany; and an MBA in finance from the University of Connecticut in Storrs.

Burke is an active member in the community. He is the chairman of the Gateway Community College President’s Council, and immediate past chair and board member of the Shubert Theater in New Haven. In addition, he is a member of the board of overseers of the Bushnell Theater in Hartford.

Burke and his wife have two daughters and reside in Guilford, Conn.

Lauren Tagliatela joined Franklin Construction, a family business founded by her great-grandfather over a century ago, in 2006. She serves as the chief community officer for Canal Crossing at Whitneyville West and Franklin Communities, managing a total of 1,200 apartment homes in the Greater New Haven region. She is responsible for marketing, social media campaigns, online reputation analytics, resident engagement, conflict resolution, budgeting, and creating design concepts for future apartment communities.

Born and raised in Wallingford, Conn., Tagliatela currently resides in North Haven with her wife and twin boys. She graduated from Boston University in 2002 with a B.S. in journalism, a concentration in photography and minor in women’s studies. In 2017, she received her MBA with high honors from Albertus Magnus College, with a concentration in marketing and leadership.

Currently, Tagliatela is serving on the Board of Directors for the Hamden Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Durnin said, “Both Kevin and Lauren bring experience, knowledge, and passion to their roles as new BAC members. I am pleased to welcome them to my advisory council, and I look forward to continuing our progress of building bridges with the business community.”

 

Bonnie Edmondson, graduate coordinator and professor in the School Health Education program, has just finished a stint as head coach of the U.S. women’s track and field team at the World Championships, which ran Sept. 27-Oct. 7 in Doha, Qatar. This was her fifth World Championship, but her first as a head coach.

Read the Hartford Courant article by Lori Riley:

Coventry’s Bonnie Edmondson ready for her role as the U.S. women’s track and field coach at the World Championships

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.

    Graphic for Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in 5 years

    Undergraduate students at Southern now have the ability to complete their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in a combined five years in a variety of majors as part of a package of new accelerated programs.

    Robert Prezant, provost and vice president for academic affairs, has announced that the new pathways are being offered to students pursuing bachelor’s degrees in computer science, history, chemistry, recreation and leisure, sport and entertainment management and psychology.

    The program is available to existing undergraduate students, as well as to students who will begin taking classes at SCSU next year.

    “These new programs will enable students to save time and save money, while continuing to provide the full benefit of a high quality educational experience,” Prezant said.

    A bachelor’s degree traditionally takes four years to complete, while a master’s degree typically takes two years of study for a full-time student. Therefore, the new program will enable students who are interested in pursuing both degrees to shave a full year off the time that it generally takes to finish. That will save students a full year’s tuition and expenses, as well as enable them to become eligible to enter the job market a year sooner.

    The programs will continue to offer the traditional four-year bachelor’s degrees and two-year master’s degree tracks. But those students looking to complete both degrees in a total of five years are generally encouraged to apply for acceptance into an accelerated program during the spring semester of their junior year.

    The programs generally enable students to replace 6 to 12 credits of undergraduate electives with graduate level courses in their major during their senior year.

    Alumna wins the "Oscars of Teaching," becoming the first Milken Educator Award recipient of the 2019-20 season.

    A group of students come in for a group hug to support their award-winning teacher.
    Excited students swarm Sepulveda for a group hug. Photo: Milken Family Foundation

    Social studies teacher Lauren Sepulveda, ’10, entered the gym prepared for an upbeat but typical morning assembly at Clinton Avenue School in New Haven. Instead she received the surprise of a lifetime when her name was announced as the first recipient of the 2019-20 Milken Education Award and its $25,000 prize. Watch Sepulveda receive the award.

    Hailed by Teacher magazine as the “Oscars of Teaching,” the Milken Educator Awards are designed to “celebrate, elevate, and activate the American teaching profession.” It is not a lifetime achievement award. Instead, the recipients are recognized for exceptional mid-career achievements — and the promise of what they might accomplish given the resources provided with the award.

    Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards, made the presentation to a shocked Sepulveda in front of a cheering crowd of students, colleagues, and local and state officials. “Lauren Sepulveda brings history to life by demonstrating how past events have shaped our nation, world, and people today. Students develop a greater understanding of the responsibilities as global citizens and lifelong learners,” said Foley.

    Sepulveda, who earned a B.S. in history 7-12 at Southern is the sole award recipient in Connecticut. Nationwide, no more than 40 educators will be honored during the 2019-20 season.

    Sepulveda, who teaches seventh and eighth grade, was lauded for efforts to help her students become global thinkers and empathetic citizens. In her classroom, students have met guest speakers who share personal stories of their experiences during World War II, the Korean War, and the Rwandan genocide. Another assignment challenged students to review coverage of the Revolutionary War in their text books — and determine whose perspectives were missing. The students next drafted a new chapter that included the stories of significant minorities. Sepulveda then helped the students submit their work to the text book publisher for consideration for the next edition.

    In addition to the cash prize, the award includes networking and mentoring components. Sepulveda will join the other 2019-20 honorees at an all-expenses-paid trip to the Milken Educator Forum in Indianapolis from March 26-28, to connect with other educational trailblazers. In addition, each 2019 recipient will be paired with a veteran Milken Educator mentor.