The SCSU President’s Recognition Committee proudly presents our third group of SouthernStrong awardees. These awards shine a light on faculty, staff, and students who are lending a helping hand, with acts of kindness large and small, not only for their fellow Owls, but also for friends, neighbors, and strangers.
We recognize and celebrate Siobhan Carter-David, Zara DeLuca, Tess Marchant-Shapiro, Lisa Siedlarz, and Sabrina St. Juste for their commitment to making a difference and stepping up during the pandemic crisis. Their acts of kindness are making a positive impact during this difficult time.
Do you know an unsung hero who’s been making a difference during the pandemic? Please nominate them so their kindness can be celebrated!
History Professor Siobhan Carter-David was nominated not once, but two times, once by a colleague and once by a former student. Carter-David’s colleague nominated her for the free film discussion series for young people that she has been conducting on Zoom for at least the last six weeks. Her nominator writes that the series addresses “how films ‘reflect various aspects of United States history and how we can use a critical eye to glean more from films outside of their entertainment value.'” Each week, Carter-David covers at least two films, and is including a variety of films that would be accessible to different age groups from An American Tail: Fievel Goes West to Malcolm X to The Great Gatsby.
Carter-David’s colleague wrote that, “In this time when many children and young adults might find themselves having more screen time this discussion series provides them with an educational opportunity in which to learn more about history and engage critically with films.
“Dr. Carter-David could easily have done this for her own children alone, but instead she is using her expertise, skills and talents to provide educational opportunities to members the broader community.”
Carter-David’s second nominator, a former student, praised her for being “a pillar of academic excellence and community builder even in the face of extreme uncertainty.” Since the beginning of the pandemic, her nominator wrote, Carter-David “has continued to build community by offering online film discussions, connecting people through her passion for history, cultivating a intellectually space for people to learn, during troubling times.”
In short, Carter-David’s former student wrote, she “represents all that is wonderful about Southern. Community, inclusion, equity and lifelong support. She is the epitome of Southern excellence.”
Assistant Professor of Communication Disorders Zara DeLuca was nominated by a student “for going above and beyond her teaching duties. When we first transitioned to online learning,” her nominator wrote, “and when our semester got turned upside down, she was the first professor to reach out telling me to not worry about her class right now, but to just focus on myself and emotional well-being. She then gave helpful information for meditation and mindfulness during these crazy times. Additionally, she reached out to us students, saying we could express our concerns, worries and feelings to her. I took her up on this offer. Being able to express my feelings to someone who understands and who provided encouraging words of wisdom, was uplifting. Once classes resumed, she continued to check in on all of us, staying after class times for us to talk to her about how we are doing. It is clear she truly cares about the well-being of each of her students. Her supportive and encouraging efforts proved to help immensely. She is a compassionate and caring professor, and her passion for not only teaching, but her students, is unparalleled.”
Associate Professor of Political Science and Pre-Law Advisor Tess Marchant-Shapiro is “one of the kindest professors Southern has to offer,” wrote her nominator, a student. During this challenging time, her nominator wrote, Marchant-Shapiro “has gone above and beyond for her students, reaching out constantly to check in one-by-one on how we’re doing, and how she can make our experience easier (in her classroom and overall at the university).” Her nominator adds that Marchant-Shapiro schedules weekly Webex meetings to allow students to have classroom interaction with each other, but also as an opportunity for students to feel heard. “She ends every class meeting on a positive note, stressing how proud she is of all her students and how much she loves us!” In addition to what she does in the classroom and at the university, she also makes an impact in the Hamden community, volunteering at her local church and assisting members of the community by helping them apply for unemployment to regain a source of income lost due to the coronavirus pandemic. “To know her is to be truly blessed!” her nominator wrote.
Lisa Siedlarz, student loan coordinator in the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, was nominated by a member of the faculty for starting an online fundraiser to collect money to feed the health care workers on Yale New Haven Hospital’s floor EP9-7, which is a COVID-19 unit. As of April 20, the site had raised $6500, and the funds collected provided meals from New Haven’s Katalina’s Bakery and Christopher Martin’s at a cost of $210 per day to feed 18 front-line workers. “This not only helps New Haven establishments stay in business,” wrote Siedlarz’s nominator, “but provides much needed food for the health care workers who are daily risking their lives for others.” Siedlarz began providing these meals on March 30 and hopes to get enough donations to feed the COVID unit until the crisis is over. The funds she raised as of April 20 paid for meals through April 29, and she plans to make another call for donations so that the fund can feed the workers for a longer period.
Sabrina St. Juste
Sabrina St. Juste, graduate intern in the Violence Prevention, Victim Advocacy & Support Center, has used all her social platforms to reach out to people in the community and students of SCSU, wrote her nominator, adding that she “has opened up her home to students who don’t have WiFi to get school work done. She does daily positive messages on Instagram, she goes on live Instagram to connect with people, talk to them about their mental state, and be that support for them during this pandemic.”