The SCSU President’s Recognition Committee proudly present our first 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 Suzie Huminski, Michelle Johnston, Joan Kreiger, Renee Villarreal, and Bo Zamfir 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!

Suzie Huminski

Suzie Huminski, the university’s sustainability coordinator, also teaches two Honors courses to freshmen. One of her students nominated her for a SouthernStrong Award, writing that Huminski “is constantly reaching out [to her students], and offering her help during this hard time. When Southern closed she was my first professor to reach out, and reassure us that she would do everything possible to make this a smooth transition, which she has of course delivered on. She has made all due dates flexible based on our personal needs, and made our first few Webex meetings optional so we could check in if we needed anything. However, her most important contribution has been sewing and creating masks in her free time (despite being the sustainability coordinator and moving her teaching of honors courses online during this crazy time!) She has been making these masks to help out local CT hospitals and to students continuing to work in them.”

Suzie Huminski

Michelle Johnston

Michelle Johnston, director of donor relations in the Division of Institutional Advancement, has made and donated over 300 non-medical face masks. She also made a how-to video, demonstrating how she makes a mask, and shared it with the Southern community on social media, so that others could sew masks quickly and easily. Johnston’s nominator wrote that, Johnston “is inventive, energetic, and adaptive — finding alternatives when she runs out of elastic, using her mother’s old drapes as fabric, figuring out ways to make masks more easily, faster, and contacting friends to sew too…the list goes on.”

Her nominator, a colleague, added, “There’s more. I first met Michelle when she started the mobile food pantry at Southern. Yes, she is why that program is here. Michelle is incredibly generous, creative, and compassionate, and chock full of common sense. She is the kind of person who heads toward a problem in order to help, instead of getting caught flat-footed or avoiding involvement. You inspire me, Michelle!”

Michelle Johnston with just a few of the masks she has sewn

Joan Kreiger

In addition to her role as the respiratory care coordinator with the Department of Health and Movement Sciences, Joan Kreiger has been filling a need as a respiratory therapist at Greenwich Hospital, which is part of the Y-NH Health System. In this role she is serving in ICU dealing with some of the most critical COVID-19 patients. Her nominator, a colleague, wrote that Kreiger has reported “the patients in ICU are all in critical condition and require ventilation support as the patients’ lungs are ‘stiff’ and are unable to transfer oxygen and carbon dioxide normally. In her role, she is working with a team of physicians and nurses doing their best to maintain the lives of their patients.”

Joan Kreiger

Renee Villarreal

Renee Villarreal, a student, is homeschooling her toddler and serves in the Army National Guard, while managing to take five online classes. She also works two part-time jobs and is independent. Her nominator wrote that Villarreal “helps herself her daughter and our Southern community by serving the country.”

Renee Villarreal and her child

Bogdan Zamfir

Bogdan Zamfir, director of the Center for Educational and Assistive Technology, has led the academic initiative supporting faculty in their immediate transition to teaching virtually as a result of COVID-19. His nominator wrote that he was quick to convene a response team of online teaching and technology experts who continue to collaborate on online teaching and learning strategies and trainings offered under the brand-new Office of Online Learning. She added, “Bo’s thoughtful and informed approach resulted in the development of several technology-driven mini-trainings, an in-house faculty support system, and a redesigned Teaching Academy focused on technology and pedagogy that will support Southern’s plans for online course delivery as our campus moves from response to recovery. Undoubtedly, Bo has invested considerable hours, working well-beyond the parameters of his position, consulting, researching and coordinating efforts to deliver a quality program to address the training and support needs of faculty and students for online teaching and learning during and after this crisis. Bo’s leadership, diligence and commitment during this pandemic are inspiring and a testament that he is SouthernStrong and worthy of this recognition.”

Bo Zamfir


Asma Rahimyar, the first student in Southern's history to receive a prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship

Asma Rahimyar, a junior at Southern Connecticut State University, has been awarded the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship for her “outstanding potential for leadership, commitment to public service, and academic excellence.”

Awarded by the Washington, D.C.-based foundation named for the 33rd president of the United States, this highly competitive national scholarship was awarded to 62 outstanding students from 773 applicants nationwide and grants recipients up to $30,000 for graduate studies.

The first Truman Scholar in Southern history, and the first among the four Connecticut State Universities,  Rahimyar has worked to promote equity,  social justice, and inclusion both on and off campus. Post-higher education, she plans to take that courageous commitment worldwide, by practicing international human rights law.

The Truman Scholarship is the latest in a line of accolades for Rahimyar, who has excelled both in- and outside of the classroom at Southern. A Dean’s List student, she has received the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Research, a Diversity Scholar Excellence Award, a CSCU Scholarship, the Dr. Hilton C. Buley Scholarship, and the SCSU Top Owl Award for her commitment to social justice. She is also President of SCSU’s Muslim Student Association, a Writing Specialist/First Year Research Tutor at Southern’s Academic Success Center (who also facilitated the first series of bilingual literacy workshops for tutors), and a political science and philosophy major, minoring in English.

The first American-born daughter of parents who emigrated from Afghanistan, Rahimyar was raised in Trumbull and grew up listening to her parents’ stories of Kabul, documenting them in her journal.

“My parents’ stories of the joy and beauty of Kabul were juxtaposed with the reality of air strikes and war,” Rahimyar said. “Kabul has beauty but also tragedy, and it’s one world.”

As she became increasingly aware of the stark contrast between her parents’ idyllic descriptions and the reality of war-torn Afghanistan, she experienced a significant internal shift. She started writing in her journal in the first person, taking ownership of the stories. The more she listened, the more determined she became to understand the truth of her parents’ experience.

“I’ve grown up around stories of war time, and I decided I wanted to research the history and facts behind the stories,” she said. “Beyond the story, I wanted to know what my family had to endure.”

At Southern, Rahimyar’s journey was bolstered by political science and law courses, specifically International Relations, where her interest in the field grew alongside her belief that she could someday “be part of it” by devoting her career to combating “the many iterations of impunity.” Rahimyar’s experiences and courses ultimately informed her decision to pursue graduate studies in transitional justice — measures implemented in order to redress legacies of human rights abuses.

“Impunity corrodes the legitimacy of whichever legal system it permeates,” she said in her Truman Scholarship application. “As an Afghan-American, I have tracked its palpable manifestations post-Saur Revolution with an intrinsic passion (the overthrow of the Afghan government in 1978 led to the Soviet invasion of the country). When a nation’s most powerful are able to readily abuse the most vulnerable, the reverberations are felt in the halls of parliament and wracked households alike.”

Her goal, after she has earned her master’s and doctoral degrees, is to practice pro bono law within refugee and immigrant communities, while serving Afghanistan’s most vulnerable and working to improve the country’s system of legal education.

“Rahimyar is passionate about returning to Afghanistan in order to help build the rule of law she values so much in the United States,” Theresa Marchant-Shapiro, associate professor of political science and pre-law advisor at Southern, said. “Asma has been a leader in the Muslim Student Association, the Multicultural Leadership Council, and the Interfaith Council. Furthermore, she has used her leadership positions for service. She brought the World Hijab Day to Southern to allow all of us to share the experience of wearing a hijab. As a result, an increased number of Muslim women at Southern have felt comfortable expressing their faith by wearing a hijab.”

Rahimyar coordinated a special collaboration in November 2019 with Elena’s Light, a nonprofit organization that has provided at-home tutoring for local refugee and immigrant women since its inception three years ago, and helped bring 100 refugees from the New Haven community onto Southern’s campus to experience the American tradition of Thanksgiving.

Rahimyar’s favorite part of the meal came as she was reading aloud from a speech she had prepared. She realized she couldn’t hear her own voice over the laughter of children.

“Because of the work we had put in,” she said, “these children had five hours to be children. Where there is discordance, I will promote communication; where there is endurance, I seek to cultivate joy.”

“These efforts exemplify Asma’s focus on community inclusion,” Marchant-Shapiro said. “The work she has done at Southern portends a future in which she will make a difference in the world.”

It takes considerable courage to make a difference, especially in a country upended by war. To Rahimyar, “Courage is something I value, and I had to cultivate. My dad says courage looks like courage from the outside, but it’s often survival on the inside. We need to stare at what scares us in the face. If not me who undertakes this, then who?”

As for being awarded the scholarship, Rahimyar is both humble and full of gratitude.

“I’m filled with love for my parents and family,” Rahimyar said. “I wouldn’t be who I am without their support. I also want to express how much Southern means to me. Faculty, staff and students give you their all and invest in you as a human. I’ve been able to go to the United Nations, to explore the nuances of political theory, and to work with students as a tutor. I’m proud to represent Southern and my family, and I’m very grateful.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship was named for President Truman, who wanted to support the next generation of public service leaders. It was created by Congress in 1975. Scholars are required to work in public service for three of seven years following completion of a Foundation- funded graduate degree program as a condition of receiving funding.

Dr. Trudy Milburn

Following a national search, Dr. Trudy Milburn has been offered and has accepted the position of associate vice president for academic affairs.

Milburn will come to Southern from Purchase College, State University of New York, where she serves as assistant dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Science and as director of academic programs.

Previously, Milburn was the founder of the Communication Program at California State University, Channel Island, where she also worked as co-director of the Center for Community Engagement. At Baruch College, CUNY, she was deputy director of the Graduate Studies Program in Corporate Communication. She also served six years as the director of Campus Solutions at Taskstream, where she provided consultations in online assessment software in order to meet the requirements of regional and specialized accreditation agencies.

Milburn holds a B.A. in rhetoric and communication from the University of California, Davis, an M.A. in speech communication from Texas A&M University, and a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

She will officially begin her work at the University on May 26, with about one week of transition overlap with current AVPAA Ilene Crawford. Crawford will be heading to Cornell College in early June 2020, where she will serve as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College.

Left to right: Melissa L. Sanchez, Anna Rivera-Alfaro, Ling Liu, Carol Held, Kacie Velasquez, John Perry, Kiersten Snyder, Justin Paolillo, Paulina Lamot, Sameed Iqbal, Dr. Frank Bevvino

Southern Connecticut State University is hosting its annual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program every Wednesday from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the School of Business Trading Room (SB 005), through April 8, 2020. There will be no program on March 18, due to spring break. The program began on February 26.

The VITA program offers free tax support to people who generally make $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities, and limited-English-speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. For qualified individuals, IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing.

Here at Southern, many of those certified tax preparers are accounting students, making the program mutually beneficial to both qualified individuals in need of tax assistance and the students who are preparing the tax returns.

Dr. Frank Bevvino, the accounting professor on campus who oversees the Southern VITA program, says “The program is beneficial to the students in two ways; it benefits students in the School of Business, especially the Accounting Program, providing the student with not only ‘hands on’ experience in preparing actual tax returns for individuals, but more importantly the experience of interaction with taxpayers directly.”

He added, “In the classroom, when taking a tax course, the tax returns are prepared with facts provided to students and there is not interaction with a person. Additionally, the VITA Program allows the student the opportunity to prepare tax returns on tax software provided by the Internal Revenue Service.”

All of the volunteers who wish to participate in the program are required to take and pass three different exams through the IRS, and the 10 SCSU students who are involved in the program this year are enrolled in a competitive three-credit Income Tax Administration Practicum (ACC 352).

“The exams are given online at the IRS website and includes areas of ethics in handling personal tax information, procedures in conducting an interview with taxpayers, and an understanding of basic individual income tax law,” said Bevvino.

He points out that these are important life skills for everyone to have.

Paulina Lamot, ’20, is going into her third year as a VITA volunteer, saying “I think it is a phenomenal opportunity for students to get an idea of what it is like to prepare real tax returns and work with actual taxpayers, and to apply what we learned in ACC 350 (Federal Income Taxation) in real-life scenarios. I would highly recommend participating in the VITA program to any student interested in Tax. Dr. Frank Bevvino and [SCSU Accounts Payable Coordinator] Anna Rivera-Alfaro are very supportive and work beside you in case you run into any hiccups.”

Since the program is open to anyone who generally earns less than $56,000 per year, students have the benefit of getting their taxes done for free. In 2019 the SCSU VITA volunteers processed 50 tax returns.

For more information about the program or to make an appointment, contact Debby Amendola at or Dr. Frank Bevvino at

Appointments are encouraged, but not required.

Bruce Kalk, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, at the University's graduate commencement ceremony

After an extensive national search, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Robert Prezant has announced that Dr. Bruce Kalk will now officially take the role of dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Kalk has served as interim dean of the College since fall 2017. Prior to his role as interim dean, he served as associate dean of Arts and Sciences and a professor in the University’s History Department.

Bruce Kalk

The search was highly competitive and attracted outstanding candidates, Prezant says, “but there was wide consensus among the many evaluative groups that Bruce was the individual who could best use his insight, attention to detail, and forward thinking to continue to move the College forward. His understanding of and experiences in CAS and his dedication to Southern in concert with his creativity and academic grounding gives him a strong advantage in advancing the College.”

Looking forward, Prezant added, Kalk will continue to help insure an outstanding learning environment for Southern’s students, new outlets and opportunities for faculty and staff, and deepening links to external entities.

Prezant added his thanks for the efforts of the Dean of Arts and Sciences Search Committee: Winnie Yu (Computer Science), Siobhan Carter-David (Women and Gender Studies), Jeffrey Webb (Chemistry), Jim Thorson (Economics and Finance), Barbara Cook (Communication Disorders), Wendy Hardenberg (Research Librarian), Kristine Anthis (Psychology) Elena Schmitt (World Language), Chelsey Cerrato (student), and Cynthia Patterson (Registrar’s Office), and especially Margaret Generali (Counseling/School Psychology) for her service as Committee Chair. Prezant also recognized Norma Valentin and Linda Robinson for their excellent attention to details in the coordination of the search.

The Top Owl Social Justice Award is given to recognize contributions toward helping the university achieve its mission of creating and sustaining an inclusive community that appreciates, celebrates, and advances student and campus diversity.

This award, selected by the President’s Commission on Social Justice, is being awarded this academic year during the months of November, December, January, February, and March to recognize the contributions, leadership, and service of a worthy faculty, staff, part-time student, and full-time student.

For the month of January 2020, the Top Owl Award winners are student Sara Buscetto and Kevin Colwell, professor of psychology.

Sara Buscetto has been a four-year member of the SCSU softball team. She is a two-year captain and will graduate in the spring. Her nominator praised her for working to bring social justice values to the softball program.

Buscetto’s nominator wrote that she “has made strides to leave the softball program better than she found it. She has taken the lead by starting tough conversations, and is working closely with our department as well as the student affairs team to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for our current students, and future Owls.”

Her nominator continued, “Though her goals will not be met during her time as an Owl, she has her eyes on helping the future generations that will call Southern home.”

Kevin Colwell serves as the director of the Office of Psychological Assessment (OPA), where he supervises student trainees in doing assessments that will allow university students to understand their own functioning and access resources such as the Disability Resource Center and accommodations with GRE, Praxis, LSAT, etc. The role of the OPA is to facilitate inclusion.

As a researcher, Colwell is creating an instrument to corroborate claims of adult ADHD, so that those with no previous history of diagnosis will be believed and can receive treatment.

As a practitioner, Colwell is currently working on criminal forensic cases where inappropriate and manipulative behavior occurred during police interrogations. For example, one case currently involves a 17-year-old who was interrogated in a deceptive/manipulative manner for five hours without access to parents or attorney. Another case involves a five-hour interrogation of an illegal immigrant, who was again deceived/manipulated to obtain a confession.

Thus, as Colwell’s nominator writes, he is “teaching assessment to help professionals understand how to help their clients access the resources provided by the American’s With Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, and Section 504 of the Rehab Act. As a member of the SCSU community, he has created and directs the Office of Psychological Assessment to facilitate inclusion and access to the above by our students. As a researcher, he creates techniques to protect people from abuses of power and that helps people who need treatment receive it. As a practitioner of forensic clinical psychology, he works to protect those who are subjected to potentially manipulative and deceptive interrogation techniques. These activities all embody a commitment to social justice.”

Congratulations to January’s Top Owl Award winners!

To nominate someone for a Top Owl Award, visit the university’s Social Justice website.

The awardees of the Faculty Creative Activity Research Grants (FCARG) competition for 2020-21 have been announced, says Robert S. Prezant, provost and vice president for academic affairs. The winning proposals selected are those which establish new research at the university, support faculty in the continuation and completion of meritorious research or encourage the development of projects with potential for external funding. The 24 awardees chosen will receive stipends of $2,500 each to support their winning research proposals.

The FCARG Committee, chaired by Rachel Jeffrey, received a number of outstanding applications this year from faculty, and this made the decisions very difficult. Nevertheless, after careful deliberations, the awardees for the 2020-21 fiscal year are:

Imad Antonios, Computer Science
Meghan Barboza, Biology
Ericka Barnes, Chemistry
Kelly Bordner, Psychology
Adiel Coca, Chemistry
Carmen Coury, History
Zara DeLuca, Communication Disorders
Nicholas Fedorchuk, Earth Science
Robert Gregory, Health and Movement Sciences
Candy Hwang, Chemistry
Mohammad Islam, Computer Science
Dushmantha Jayawickreme, Earth Science
James Kearns, Chemistry
Kalu Ogbaa, English
Yulei Pang, Mathematics
David Pettigrew, Philosophy
Sarah Roe, History
Alaa Sheta, Computer Science
Vivian Shipley, English
Jeff Slomba, Art
Janani Umamaheswar, Sociology
Kenneth Walters, Psychology
Miaowei Weng, World Languages and Literatures
Victoria Zigmont, Public Health

Congratulations to the FCARG award recipients for this year!

Ellen Durnin, dean of Southern Connecticut State University School of Business, is pleased to welcome Lindy Lee Gold and Lakisha Jordan 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.”

Lindy Lee Gold has worked for the State of Connecticut since 1998. She is currently a senior specialist in the Department of Economic and Community Development, where she is responsible for business retention, recruitment, and expansion.

Prior to joining the state office, Gold was director of development and community relations for the Connecticut office of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Her professional background also includes work in the travel and investment industries, as well as devoting efforts to directing and coordinating development and renovation of low-and-middle-income housing.

Gold’s civic accomplishments are expansive and include serving two terms on the New Haven Board of Alderman for the 26th Ward, where she chaired the Legislation Committee and served on the Finance Committee. Her current leadership roles include serving as board chair of the Gateway Community College Foundation since 2009, as a Fellow at Yale’s Pierson College, Vice-President of the Jewish Federation Association of CT, and as a member of the Executive Board of the Shubert Performing Arts center since 1997.

Additionally, she serves on the state board of the Anti-Defamation League; and on the boards of the United Way of Greater New Haven, The Community Action Agency, New Haven Arts Council, Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven, Housatonic Community College Foundation, Southern CT State University Foundation, JobLinks Fairfield County, CT Technical High Schools, New Haven Manufacturers Association, and the Women’s Business Development Center.

In the past, Gold has served on the New Haven Board of Education, where her volunteer work included being vice chair of the Intergroup Relations Taskforce; and the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven, where she was president and chair of community relations. She also was founder and the first female president of Fellowship Inc, and Cornerstone Inc., and is past president of the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven.

Gold is a friend to Southern, where she serves as the chair of the SCSU Development Committee, is a member of the SCSU Governance Committee, and is the generous funder of the SCSU School of Business Women’s Leadership Program.

She resides in New Haven and has one son and one grandson.

LaKisha Jordan serves as the Corporate Responsibility Officer for KeyBank’s Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Hudson Valley markets, where she oversees a broad community engagement strategy, which includes Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) compliance and execution of KeyBank’s $16.5 billion National Community Benefits Plan. In her role, she works in close partnership with local KeyBank leadership and community organizations on critical community issues impacting the respective markets.

Jordan has more than eighteen years of experience in financial services and banking. She joined KeyBank in 2016 as a relationship officer for the Commercial Banking team. Prior to KeyBank, Jordan spent nine years at Bank of America in various roles in Commercial Banking.

An active community volunteer, Jordan has served as a mentor and currently sits on the board of directors for Phenomenal I Am, a nonprofit in New Haven that provides mentorships and empowerment enrichment workshops to at-risk female teens. She also serves as the assistant program coordinator for KeyBank’s mentoring program, a partnership with the New Haven Public Schools that pairs students starting in their freshman year of high school with a mentor at the Bank. Additionally, she serves on the KeyBank Servicing Company Board of Directors, the Community Economic Development Fund Foundation Board of Directors, and Gateway Community College Foundation Board of Directors. She is also a member of the Corporate Leadership Circle of the State of Connecticut’s Council for Women and Girls, the Hartford Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) Advisory Committee, and recently joined Southern Connecticut State University’s Business Advisory Council.

Jordan is a member of several social and professional organizations, volunteering her time to various initiatives including Susan G. Komen Foundation and Sickle Cell Disease Association of America. She was named as one of the “100 Most Influential Blacks in Connecticut” for 2018 by the State Conference of NAACP Branches.

Jordan is a proud Southern alumna, holding a Master’s in Business Administration and a bachelor of science from the university, with concentrations in psychology, sociology, and public health.  Jordan resides in Hamden with her husband and three children.

Fulbright scholar and Southern alumna Daisha Brabham, '17, in London

Southern alumna Daisha Brabham ’17, a Fulbright scholar studying for a Master’s of Public History degree at Royal Holloway University of London, has been awarded the Barzun Prize for Youth Engagement, which grants $10,000 to a Fulbright grantee to develop a program that works with youth.

The award — the brainchild of Former U.S. Ambassador Matthew Barzun and his wife Brooke, with generous funding from them — is awarded annually to fund projects by American Fulbrighters to deliver local community projects while they study in the United Kingdom.

Former Ambassador Barzun said, “The indispensable US-UK bond isn’t a treaty between London to Washington, but is made of millions of caring and committed relationships across the ocean and across generations. Its staying power depends on these ‘sinews of peace’ as Churchill called them, not only on Number 10 or 1600 Pennsylvania.

“Fulbright has for decades helped build and nurture special relationships, one by one, which is why Brooke and I are so proud to support it in any way we can. These award winners take time out of their already busy academic pursuits to make new connections with the next generation, and for that we are so grateful.”

Brabham graduated from Southern in 2017 with a degree in history, and her passion for her discipline, along with her scholarship and creative activity, are taking her far. Her Fulbright project involves a play she wrote for an independent study in the Women’s Studies Program in her senior year. During her senior spring and the summer following, the play — Homegoing: A Herstory of the Black Woman — was performed on campus, and Brabham later reworked the script and produced it on campus again last spring. Homegoing reflects the history of black womanhood in America, beginning with the Yoruba tradition of West Africa and going on to travel with a number of different African American women, such as Venus Hottentot, Billie Holiday, and Mammie.

A scene from Brabham’s play, “Homegoing,” during its spring 2019 production on the SCSU campus

On learning she had received the Barzun Prize, Brabham remarked, “I’m actually speechless. . . . My play has operated on a budget of $200.00, thanks to the amazing community partners of New Haven! Imagine what this play can do with 10,000!”

In London, Brabham is incorporating voices from black Britain into the play as part of her Fulbright project. As a student at Royal Holloway, she has access to the National Archives, the London Records Office, and the Black Cultural Archives.

For her application for the Barzun Prize, Brabham was required to submit a three-minute video along with a written proposal to explain her project, which she calls the Homegoing Internship. The internship will be available to students in the UK during Brabham’s Fulbright year.

As part of this proposed internship, Brabham wrote in her proposal, “Students will embark on a two and a half month journey of developing and producing a two-hour production based on the history of black women. Each student will be assigned a department in which they will complete a total of two workshops run by a local community partner who will serve as an expert during their first month. The second month will involve students producing the play.”

She further explains that the internship’s objectives include: developing leadership skills such as organization, problem solving, communication, and innovation; gaining valuable experience on project management skills such as managing a set budget; gaining an appreciation for historical knowledge, specifically the history of black women; engaging in cross-cultural discussions surrounding the African diaspora and US-UK relations with a historical context; and understanding the importance and value of utilizing local community resources.

Daisha Brabham

Barzun was appointed by President Obama in 2013 as the American Ambassador to the Court of St. James in the United Kingdom. He served in this position for three years and during his time in the UK made it his mission to spend as much time as possible out of London speaking to young people. He engaged actively with the work of the Fulbright Commission, greeting the new American Fulbright Scholars on their arrival in the UK each year. On leaving, he and his wife wanted to give the US-UK Commission a gift that would speak to their time in the UK and create a lasting legacy.

Brabham is grateful not only to be a 2019 Barzun Prize winner but also for all the support she received while a student at Southern, and she credits the university for helping her move forward with her project. She says, “A special thanks to the beautiful, talented and inspiring students who inspired the internship and all the support we have had from The City of New Haven and Southern Connecticut State University!”





The Top Owl Social Justice Award is given to recognize contributions toward helping the university achieve its mission of creating and sustaining an inclusive community that appreciates, celebrates, and advances student and campus diversity.

This award, selected by the President’s Commission on Social Justice, is being awarded this academic year during the months of November, December, January, February, and March to recognize the contributions, leadership, and service of a worthy faculty, staff, part-time student, and full-time student.

For the month of December 2019, the Top Owl Award winners are student Molly Flanagan, staff member Britt Conroy, and Cheryl Green, associate professor of nursing.

Molly Flanagan is a senior Honors student majoring in interdisciplinary studies who conducted two events for Social Justice Month this past November. The first event was an open discussion on diversity, equity, and inclusion within the visual and performing arts communities. Flanagan gathered a panel of professionals from Long Wharf Theatre, Yale School of Drama, Collective Consciousness Theatre, Elm Shakespeare, the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, and other local arts companies to discuss issues and current initiatives around social justice in arts administration and programming. Flanagan also organized a second event, “Voices of Immigration,” where she invited SCSU faculty, students, and members of the Ethnic Heritage Center to address their experiences of immigration to the United States from historical, sociological, political, and personal perspectives. Flanagan’s nominator wrote, “The event was a safe space for open discussion and embraced all with a relationship to or experiences with immigration in the U.S. — a completely important topic right now. I could not get over how one student, probably bombarded with classes and work, put together these two important events all on her own. I believe [Flanagan] should be recognized for her efforts as I don’t know many students that would want to do something like this in their spare time.”

Britt Conroy, who works in the First Year Experience office, is a veteran who leads yoga and meditation sessions for veteran students and also offers these experiences for staff and faculty members of the third floor of Buley Library, where her office is located. Her nominator, who also works on Buley’s third floor, wrote that she observes Conroy “consistently comforting and encouraging a population of students who are academically at risk for many different reasons and obstacles, some of which are out of their control completely. She provides a safe space for students and community members daily in her work. Britt does this additionally to her role in the FYE office. Britt helps to make the third floor of the library a place where each and every individual matters and feels just as important as the next. We are really lucky to have her as part of the Southern family.”

As a licensed clinical social worker, Associate Professor of Nursing Cheryl Green is one of the founding members of the National Association of Social Worker’s first Cultural Diversity Committee in the state of Connecticut. Through this committee, at a legislative level, Green and her social work colleagues have supported legislation on LGBTQ Health and Social Work Title rights, and transfer of licensure from state to state. As a registered nurse, Green is published in the area of incivility and bullying in clinical practice and academic settings. She is also participating in the writing of a white paper on equity with National Education in Nursing Collaborative (NEPIN). Her nominator wrote that “civility and equity are important in the development of healthy environments that do not just talk about social justice, but live it.”

Congratulations to December’s Top Owl Award winners!

To nominate someone for a Top Owl Award, visit the university’s Social Justice website.