In the News

Digital Content Editor Jeff Nowak working at computer in the New Orleans Advocate newsroom as Investigations Editor Gordon Russell walks behind. Russell was a leader in the reporting effort for the non-unanimous juries project that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for local reporting. Photo credit: The Advocate (Side note: Mural behind Jeff he says is one of the coolest features of our newsroom. It's a collage of front pages from New Orleans-area newspapers through the years. Picture taken in September 2017 amid the long news-gathering process for the series that debuted in April 2018).

April 2019 was a great month for journalism at Southern. Student journalists won six awards at the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Region 1 Conference in Boston and a recent alumnus was part of a New Orleans-based newspaper team that won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting.

As part of The Advocate team that won the nation’s most prestigious journalism award, Jeffrey Nowak, a 2012 journalism graduate, prepared the digital presentation, compiled a massive splash page, created an interactive timeline, and led social promotion for a series that helped change Louisiana’s controversial split-jury law.

Nowak, a native of Windham, Conn., and graduate of Windham High School, joined The Advocate digital content staff in April 2106. He leads many efforts in New Orleans while also working remotely with Baton Rouge and Lafayette, La., newsrooms. His team consists of four digital content editors and a digital general manager.

Before relocating to New Orleans, Nowak worked as a digital editor, production desk chief and sports producer at The Sun in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Previously he had been a reporter at The Daily Voice in Westborough, Mass., and a freelance sports writer for the Hartford Courant. While a student at Southern, Nowak was editor-in-chief of the Southern News. And in 2102 he received the Outstanding Journalist of the Year award from the Journalism Department.

Meanwhile, at the regional SPJ conference, journalists from Southern’s new student-published Crescent magazine won four awards, including the Finalist Award for Best Student Magazine for its fall 2018 edition, the second publication in its young start.

Alumna and journalism minor Jefferine Jean-Jacques was the winner in the Feature Photography category for her series of photos, “Through the lens,” published in Crescent’s inaugural edition in spring 2018. Jean-Jacques’ photo package was culled from various trips she took with her three children to countries including Haiti, India, Ghana and Ethiopia. Her photos will move on to the national SPJ college competition.

Other regional winners for Crescent included managing editor Jacob Waring, who won a Finalist award for the non-fiction magazine article, “A lot to juggle,” about SCSU students who are also parents in the fall 2018 edition. Photo editor Meghan Olson, a Studio Art-Photography major, won a Finalist award for Feature Photography, for “Funky hair,” the fall 2018 cover package.

Southern News Editor-in-chief Kevin Crompton won a finalist award in the Sports Writing category for a profile on Owls linebacker Jhaaron Wallace, “Wallace joins elite company in record books.” The story highlights the journey from high school to college for one of the top defensive players to come through the Owls football program.

The student newspaper’s second award went to former Managing Editor Joshua LaBella, alumnus, and former Op Ed/Features editor August Pelliccio: a finalist award for Breaking News Reporting.

Each category included one winner and one finalist. SPJ Region 1 encompasses universities from Maine through New England to New York, New Jersey to Philadelphia.

Photo credit for home page image: The Advocate (Digital Content Editor Jeff Nowak working at computer in the New Orleans Advocate newsroom as Investigations Editor Gordon Russell walks behind. Russell was a leader in the reporting effort for the non-unanimous juries project that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for local reporting.)

Alumna's debut young adult novel is among the most eagerly anticipated.

Erin Jones, ’10, majored in journalism at Southern -- and has made her mark in the red-hot young adult book market with her debut novel, Tinfoil Crowns.

Barnes & Noble (B&N) stocks more than 1 million titles for immediate delivery — so it’s a particular thrill for authors to find their work among the mega-retailer’s most eagerly awaited. So it was for author Erin Jones, ’10, whose debut young-adult novel, Tinfoil Crowns, (Flux Books) was included on B&N’s “10 Most Anticipated Indie YA Books for 2019.”

“This of-the-minute narrative is accessible and authentic, layered with diverse, flawed, and immensely likable characters.” -Kirkus Reviews

Coming to readers on May 7, Tinfoil Crowns is about a 17-year-old YouTube star named Fit and her mission to become famous. But there’s one thing her fans don’t know: when Fit was 3 years old, her mother, who was suffering from postpartum psychosis, tried to kill her and her sibling. The book is also noted as a rainbow read (LGBTQ) and for including an adult point of view. It’s a portrayal Kirkus Reviews calls “an empathetic glimpse into the rise of tomorrow’s celebrity du jour.”

Jones graduated magna cum laude from Southern with a degree in journalism and went on to earn a graduate degree from Emerson College, where she’s now an affiliated faculty member. She’s also editor-in-chief of the Platform Review, a literary journal focused on publishing quality literature from emerging and established writers. The former head of marketing at Ploughshares, Jones regularly contributes to the Ploughshares Blog.

Front row — Karen DuBois-Walton, Executive Director of the Elm City Communities; Dr. Carol Birks, Superintendent, New Haven Public Schools; Dr. Joe Bertolino, President, Southern Connecticut State University; and back row — Ciara Ortiz, junior at The Sound School; Daniela Flores, junior at Wilbur Cross High School; Hannah Providence, a senior at Wilbur Cross High School; Dayana Lituma, 2017 Wilbur Cross High School graduate and current SCSU student

A greater number of outstanding New Haven high school students will have access to college-level classes, thanks to an agreement announced today between Southern and the New Haven Public Schools.

The university already offers tuition-free college classes to a small group of excellent high school students willing to come to the SCSU campus. Most of the 60 or so such students are from New Haven and the immediate surrounding communities.

But for the first time, Southern is offering the option of taking those college classes at the city’s various high school campuses. Those classes will be taught by SCSU faculty or high school teachers who meet specific criteria and are hired as SCSU adjunct faculty members.

“Part of our mission is to improve access to a college education,” said SCSU President Joe Bertolino at a recent signing ceremony with New Haven Schools Superintendent Carol Birks. “By expanding this program, we will provide greater access to local students. It is an example of what we mean when we say Southern is not only in the community, but of the community.”

Terricita Sass, SCSU associate vice president for enrollment management, agreed.

“Some students are well-prepared to take college classes, but may be reluctant or unable to travel to a college campus,” Sass said. “We want to remove the transportation barrier if we can. This will give some students an option to take classes at their own school.”

Birks said she is excited about the potential academic and financial benefits to students.

“This program obviously offers our students an immediate financial benefit with tuition-free classes,” Birks said. “But the college credits also can either lessen the time it will take them to earn a degree, which reduces student debt, or provide them with more academic flexibility in college to take additional courses of their choice. Either way, it’s a win-win for the students.”

SCSU student Dayana Lituma, who graduated from Wilbur Cross High School in 2017, said taking college courses in high school helped her tremendously. She took five such courses, including three at Southern. As a result of the credits earned, she plans to graduate after the fall semester of 2020, a semester earlier than the traditional four-year college experience.

“Not only will I be able to save money on tuition, but the college classes helped me figure out early on what direction I wanted to pursue,” she said. She plans to seek a master’s degree in speech-language pathology, and eventually become a bilingual speech-language pathologist.

Bertolino said the tuition-free college classes comprise just one of several joint SCSU-New Haven programs being created, continued or expanded to benefit students and their families. He also announced:

*Southern has created a Residential Leadership Scholarship that provides a small group of students with free on-campus housing. The students must meet the criteria for the New Haven Promise Scholarship program, as well as write an additional essay and provide a letter of recommendation to be eligible. If selected, the students must complete activities in leadership development, community contribution/campus involvement, academic enhancement, mentoring and activism/civic engagement. Last fall, seven students were chosen for the one-year scholarship. Next fall, five of those seven students will be offered a continuation of the scholarship, while five additional New Haven graduates will receive the scholarship.

*Southern will set aside $100,000 in merit-based aid, and $100,000 in need-based aid, to incoming freshmen next fall who graduate from New Haven schools. The allocation is expected to continue each year.

*SCSU social work students will work with the New Haven Housing Authority (Elm City Communities) to assist students and their families with truancy, financial literacy, online applications and other matters. The housing authority has allocated $25,000 for the program, which calls for six students to collaborate with resident managers in the West Rock community. The program is scheduled to begin next fall.

*The university plans to increase its presence at local middle and high schools, particularly in the Newhallville section of the city. This will include workshops, participation in field days and other similar types of events. It is part of a community collaborative effort that also involves local businesses, clergy and other neighborhood leaders.

*Southern launched a Visiting Scholars program last semester, in which SCSU faculty members teach academic lessons to area K-12 students. Many of these visits are to New Haven schools. The program offers hands-on learning experiences, giving them deeper insight into various disciplines. The lessons are designed to align with the classroom curriculum.

*SCSU plans to host a career exposure day in May for Common Ground High School. The university will organize panel discussions on public health and recreation, tourism and sports management. In addition, CARE (Community Alliance for Research and Engagement), a program co-housed at SCSU, has been helping Common Ground redesign its 10th grade health curriculum.

 

Siobhan Carter-David, associate professor of history, and Frank Harris III, professor of journalism

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans’ arrival in the American colonies, and several Southern professors are marking the anniversary with discussion and commentary. In a recent article in the New Haven Register, Journalism Professor Frank Harris III and Associate History Professor Siobhan Carter-David shared their ideas about the beginnings of slavery in America and set the record straight on some commonly-held beliefs about this period in American history. The full article can be found here:

https://www.nhregister.com/news/article/400-years-ago-first-slaves-arrived-in-American-13635406.php?fbclid=IwAR0HyjJ638UfDEJMtK3bJfq6vOW-NUXvvixeGN7EKpzrEp_OcFEJn7EKUEE

On campus, Carter-David, along with Brandon Hutchinson, associate professor of English, has coordinated a lecture series, The 1619 Lecture Series, which features four distinguished SCSU faculty members presenting scholarship related to African American history, culture, and politics. Harris delivered the inaugural lecture in the series in early February; upcoming speakers will be Audrey Kerr, professor of English; Jonathan Wharton, assistant professor of political science, and Marian Evans, assistant professor of public health. Sponsored by the Minority Recruitment and Retention Committee, the lectures are free and open to the public.

 

Dr. Bill Lunn (Image courtesy of WTNH-News 8)

It’s that time of year again, when many folks make New Year’s resolutions about losing weight, eating more healthily, and getting into better shape.

Dr. Bill Lunn, associate director of exercise science and director of Southern’s Human Performance Laboratory, recently discussed several popular diets in an interview with WTNH-News 8. He offered pros and cons to four of the most popular diets in America today.

Watch the interview here.

 

Congresswoman-elect Jahana Hayes, '05, visited with School of Education students and faculty on a 2016 campus visit, following her selection as National Teacher of the Year.

Southern alumna Jahana Hayes, ’05, became the first Southern graduate to be elected to national office on November 6, 2018, when she won an election to the U.S. House of Representatives for Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District. The historic nature of Hayes’ win extends beyond Southern, as she is the first African American woman to be elected to represent Connecticut in Congress.

A former history teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, Conn., Hayes first received national attention in 2016 when she was selected as National Teacher of the Year. After receiving that honor, she  embarked on a yearlong campaign representing teachers and advocating on behalf of students, and sharing her inspirational life story in forums ranging from “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” to U.S. News and World Report.

That story begins in Waterbury, where Hayes was raised and ultimately would return to teach. “Like every teacher, I started as a student and like many students I know what it feels like to have a dream and exist in an environment where nothing is expected to thrive,” she has said, describing her early life in the projects “surrounded by abject poverty, drugs, and violence.”

Education provided an alternative future. Hayes remembers caring teachers who lent her books, provided guidance, and shared stories of their own college experiences. As a teenager, Hayes became pregnant and was transferred to an alternative education program. It would be years after graduating from high school before she enrolled at Naugatuck Community College, initially telling no one out of a fear of failure. But the determined young woman was successful, and after earning an associate degree, she transferred to Southern where she graduated magna cum laude.

Hayes launched her career in New Haven, then returned to Waterbury, where in addition to teaching history, she was the chairperson of the School of Academic Renown program for gifted students at Kennedy High. The community-minded educator also served as co-advisor of the Helping out People Everywhere (HOPE) club, and considers “giving back” to be a vital component of the educational experience.

 

Photo: Peter Hvizdak / Hearst Connecticut Media

Dana Casetti, an adjunct faculty member in the Physics Department, was featured on the front page of the New Haven Register (July 15, 2018) for her participation in two global projects in astrophysics. Casetti taught last month in the summer school program at the Vatican Observatory, one of only a handful of astronomy experts selected to teach Ph.D. students, post-doctoral researchers and other outstanding astrophysics students from around the world. She also recently had been part of a team of experts who used NASA’s Hubble Telescope to help provide an answer to an astronomical mystery pertaining to two satellite dwarf galaxies. Astronomers believe that project is providing additional insight into how stars are “born.”

The following is a link to the Register story:

https://www.nhregister.com/news/article/SCSU-adjunct-Yale-researcher-looks-to-the-stars-13076625.php 

Four Southern students were honored recently as the recipients of the Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award.

Each year, 12 students are selected for the award from the four universities in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system. Four of the 12 students come from Southern. All 12 students were feted to a dinner at the Aqua Turf in Southington.

Criteria include a GPA of 3.7 or better, and having demonstrated significant participation in university and/or community life.

The four students are:

*Jessica Holman, an English major with a GPA of 3.79. She is an Honors College student and a member of Omicron Delta Kappa. Holman earned SCSU’s Top Owl Social Justice Award, the Multicultural Legacy Award and the Outstanding Women’s Studies Student Award. She received the Gail Burns-Smith Dare to Dream Scholarship from the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

She is a resident assistant and president of the Peer Educators Advocating for Campus Empowerment (PEACE). She is a peer educator at the Violence Prevention, Victim Advocacy and Support Center, and the Support and Resource Team for survivors of sexual misconduct. Her thesis project, “Empowering a Community of Active Bystanders: The Expansion of Bystander Intervention Training at SCSU,” involved helping to train students to safely intervene in problematic situations.

“Social justice has been a core part of Jessie’s experience,” said Julia Irwin, professor of psychology. “She has volunteered with Amelia’s Light, an organization that helps survivors of human trafficking develop their own businesses. Most importantly, her honors thesis was the development of a Bystander Intervention Program to prevent sexual misconduct on campus.”

*Rebecca Harmon, an elementary and special education major with a GPA of 3.75. She graduated in December as an Honors College Student, and was a recipient of many scholarships. She is a member of Zeta Delta Epsilon, as well as the Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society, the Golden Key International Honour Society and the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success.

She plans to continue presenting research related to LGBTQ and other social justice issues in educational practice. Rebecca was a student teacher, and is a long-term substitute at an elementary school in New Haven.

“She embodies all that we stand for here at Southern: scholarship that deepens knowledge; service to our community; and as Mahatma Gandhi famously said, ‘a commitment to being the change we want to see in the world,’” said Jessica Powell, assistant professor of curriculum and learning. “Rebecca’s work here at Southern and in the larger New Haven community captures these qualities.”

*Kanita Mote, a French and political science major with a GPA of 3.86. She is an Honors College student and a recipient of the Tarini Foundation Scholarship and Roberta Willis Scholarship. She is a member of the Pi Delta Phi French Honors Society.

Mote, whose family was granted political asylum to the United States in 1999 from Indonesia, is an organizing committee member from New Haven Rising, and established the International Socialist Organization as an official SCSU club. She was a French tutor at the SCSU Academic Success Center and spent a semester in France, tutoring students in both English and French.

“Few students exemplify Southern’s commitment to social justice in the same way that Katina does,” said Luke Eilderts, assistant professor of world languages and literatures. “Not only does she demonstrate a real commitment to Southern’s home city of New Haven, fighting for those who often do not have the resources to fight for themselves, but also to Southern itself, as well as the CSU system, going to the capitol to educate our state legislators on the importance of higher education in Connecticut.”

*Kevin Redline, an interdisciplinary studies major with a 3.79 GPA. He is an Honors College student, peer mentor and resident assistant. He is circle president of the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society and president of the SCSU Pre-Law Society.

Kevin earned the Crescent Players Scholarship and was costume crew manager for the Crescent Players. He performed at the Kennedy Center College Theater Festival (KCACTF), and presented at KCACTF for original costume design for a SCSU’s production of “35mm: A Musical Experience.”

“Kevin has been an exemplary member of the SCSU community through the meaningful participation in clubs and organizations,” said Sobeira Latorre, director of the interdisciplinary studies program. “He has done so while maintaining an impressive academic record and achieving academic honors regularly…I cannot think of a more deserving student for the award.”

 

 

 

 

Michele Vancour, President Joe Bertolino, and Chandra Kelsey

Over 50 members of the campus community were honored at a recent campus celebration to mark Southern’s official designation as a Breastfeeding-Friendly Campus by the Connecticut Breastfeeding Coalition (CBC) — the first college or university to receive this designation in the state and in the nation. These community members, who have volunteered to serve as “Breastfeeding Champions,” are a critical component of the breastfeeding-friendly initiative. At the celebration, Public Health Professor and Director of Faculty Development Michele Vancour and President Joe Bertolino were presented with a certificate by Chandra M. Kelsey, Vancour’s CBC co-chair — an award, the CBC says, that “distinguishes SCSU for their work of making the campus accessible and providing lactation space to students, faculty, and visitors. Their unique approach to recruiting breastfeeding champions and alternate spaces alongside information and on-site professional lactation support set a new standard for providing necessary support on campus.”

This step is important for Southern because it is building an awareness that mothers who breastfeed their babies need access to safe, clean, and private spaces to express milk, says Kelsey. “Mothers who return to work or to school should be encouraged and supported both in their pursuits as well as their desire to provide food for their baby. A majority of students are not mothers, but bringing awareness to the need and the space changes social norms. Personally, I see it as a way to empower women.”

State law protects the rights of women who wish to breastfeed or express breast milk at their place of employment, during breaks and in private spaces designated for these purposes. But students are not protected by the workplace law, Vancour points out. “The culture is different for students from employees,” she says. “As a result of unequal access to supports, students are forced to leave school, miss classes, or pump milk in unsafe environments like bathrooms and cars.” The Breastfeeding-Friendly Campus initiative broadens support to include students and even visitors to campus who may wish to breastfeed or express breast milk.

The designation certainly “sends a signal about what kind of campus we are,” says Terricita Sass, associate vice president for enrollment management, who is a volunteer Breastfeeding Champion.

Kelsey agrees, adding, “Southern is off to a great start towards being a family-friendly environment for students and faculty by going a step beyond offering a basic lactation space. What they have done is to create a culture of support with faculty volunteering to be breastfeeding champions. These champions serve to bridge the gap when accessing the space is too far from their next class or next meeting. They work within their departments to identify a space that can be used on a temporary basis as well as be a point person if a mother needed more resources. This is not only an important piece, community support, for breastfeeding moms, it also benefits the university as a work place (reduced absenteeism, health care savings, employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity).”

A celebratory group of Southern’s Breastfeeding Champions

Vancour believes that Southern can serve as a model for other campuses around the country and in fact has been contacted by individuals at other universities who are working towards attaining the Breastfeeding-Friendly designation.

The Connecticut Breastfeeding Coalition (CBC) is organized around the six sectors identified in the 2011 Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding (SGCTA). Each Sector has a committee that is led by a board member-liaison and is responsible for implementing actions in response to the SGCTA. Each committee is tasked with contributing to the discussion and advancement of breastfeeding goals within the state. The CBC’s overall mission is to “improve Connecticut’s health by working collaboratively to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.”

Read an article in the Washington Post about Southern’s designation as a Breastfeeding-Friendly Campus.