Out and About

Left to right: Nicole Fry, ‘16; Eliza Tobaka, ‘17; School of Business Dean Ellen Durnin; Larry Selnick; Deepta Ramesh, ‘15; Tom Dzierlatka, ‘15; and Brandon Lyn, ‘19

Nearly six years ago Webster bank hired its first Southern Connecticut State University School of Business intern and kicked off an exclusive relationship that has seen 100 percent placement of each of the five interns who have gone through the Corporate Treasury Management Program.

Larry Selnick, CTP, SVP, Director of Treasury and Payment Solutions Sales Webster Bank, and SCSU School of Business Advisory Council member, proposed the paid intern program through SCSU because of its treasury management course work. “The Essentials of Treasury Management course is offered in partnership with the Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) to provide the same body of knowledge used by AFP to deliver the Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) designation training and certification testing,” Selnick said at the inception of the internship program.

The program prepares students to sit for the Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) examination to earn the Certified Treasury Professional Associate (CTPA) credential. Students with their CTPA credential are eligible to earn the CTP designation after two years of full-time finance-related work experience.

The School of Business partnership with Webster Bank provides students with financial assistance for course materials and the CTP exam, and gives students the unparalleled experience of working in the financial sector as a paid intern.

The strength of the Webster and Southern relationship can be seen in the successes of the interns, all of whom have been offered full-time jobs upon graduation and have continued to be key players in the Webster Bank organization.

Selnick says, “The Webster SCSU Internship program has been very successful for Webster. Webster has hired each intern to-date after a successful rotation in the Treasury and Payment Solutions team program. The selection process was very deliberate, and with great support from the School of Business team. The candidates presented were prepared, not just with updated resumes and practiced interview skills but also a sense of the importance to understand an organization’s Mission and Vision and how Webster supports the communities we serve. These interns have found roles in Finance, Audit, Credit, MIS and, of course, Treasury Management.”

He continues, “This speaks to the capability and preparedness of the students who graduate from the SCSU School of Business, which focuses on developing students within the ‘Change for Good’ mission statement and its emphasis on Impact, Engagement and Innovation. On a personal note, I have the pleasure to relate to each SCSU Webster intern alumni via LinkedIn and at the office. I learn from them every day!”

Dr. Ellen Durnin, dean of the SCSU School of Business, sums up the relationship by saying, “Our mission is to prepare students for the world of work and to meet the employment needs of regional organizations. Our partnership with Webster Bank provides our students with valuable professional experience, and we have been able to deliver high-quality permanent employees to Webster at the end of the internship periods. This continues to be a win-win collaboration.”

To hear more about SCSU School of Business internship opportunities, contact Patty Conte at the Business Success Center at ConteP2@SouthernCT.edu.

 

Sean Grace (left) and Gabriella DiPreta. Credit Patrick Skahill / Connecticut Public Radio

Radio station WNPR (90.5 FM) aired a story on December 9, 2019, about an ongoing study of the Northern Star Coral conducted by Sean Grace, chair of the Biology Department, and Gabriella DiPreta, an adjunct faculty member in the Biology Department who is a former student of Grace. The coral has “hearty New Englander” qualities in being able to withstand changes in the water temperature and acidity due to global warming better than other corals. The hope is that by researching why these corals are more resistant to such changes, scientists may be able to improve the resiliency of other corals and sea life. The study is a joint effort with the Milford Laboratory of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

Read and listen to the WNPR story, which is by reporter Patrick Skahill.

School of Business Dean Ellen Durnin, far right, participates in the Women’s Power Panel at The Big Connect, New Haven

Dr. Ellen Durnin, dean of Southern’s School of Business, joined three other powerhouse women and moderator Stephanie Simoni of WTNH-TV in a discussion on “Navigating Strategic Partnerships,” part of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce’s annual Big Connect business exposition on November 21 at the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale.

The panel discussion, modeled after the daytime talk show The View, tackled overcoming personal and professional setbacks, carving out paths that are both rewarding and well-paying, and managing societal expectations that predominantly impact women.

When Durnin first went to college, she said, she chose the traditionally female career path of elementary education. She pointed out that everyone gets a wake-up call in life at some point, and she is grateful hers came early in her career, when, after spending time in an elementary school, she realized that was not the right choice for her. She went back to school and earned her master’s degree in labor relations and later her Ph.D. in business. She started her career in union organizing, and there she learned valuable lessons about conflict resolution and negotiations.

Another panelist, Nancy Butler’s, career was jump-started when she was newly divorced with small children and no high school diploma. She built an asset management and financial planning business with not much more than grit, a willingness to learn, and the knowledge that networking was key. Butler had $200 million in assets under management before she sold her business 12 years ago.

Panelists Alice Turner and Simone Morris were both comfortable in corporate careers until they were downsized. Turner, finding herself unemployed in midlife, was terrified, but found a way to leverage what she’d learned in her corporate life to create URISE, an award-winning nonprofit with an innovative approach to education and economic development, preparing minority youth for careers in STEM fields as leaders, employees, and entrepreneurs. She is focused on bettering the educational experience for Connecticut’s urban youth, and finds immense fulfillment in her pursuits. She’s even talking about going back to school herself, embracing the fact that we are all lifelong learners.

Morris had to overcome her introverted nature to find success in her entrepreneurial career after losing her corporate IT job. She utilizes LinkedIn as a key component in her networking strategy, but admits she is most successful when she gets out from behind her computer. Morris’ current business, Simone Morris Enterprises, is her third LLC and specializes in corporate diversity and inclusion training, career workshops, and success coaching.

Butler and Morris both stress the importance of building name recognition when growing a business. Butler sent out mailings offering her services as a public speaker, and reached out to other local professionals with an offer to buy them lunch. But she cautioned, “You can’t build a business quickly by seeing one person at a time. You need to get in front of a lot of people.” Their seats on the Women’s Power Panel show these successful women are still practicing what they preach by getting in front of a crowd.

Durnin, in her role as the SCSU School of Business dean, is used to interacting with strong personalities, including faculty members and her Business Advisory Council, two groups who are valued for their strong opinions. She admits it can be difficult managing a group of people with differing priorities and opinions, but knows that by digging deeply, connections can be made. Durnin also touched on the importance of not only managing down, but managing up. She mentioned two supervisors from her past, one who wanted a high level overview of a topic, and the other who needed every detail. She says it’s critical to know what your boss needs and how they need it delivered for both your success and theirs, adding, “Managing your boss is a critical skill for navigating strategic relationships.”

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.

Art Professor Mia Brownell and her husband, Martin Kruck, a professor and Art Department chair at New Jersey City University, were both awarded sabbaticals last year. Their joint interest in Roman art and architecture lead them to both being awarded Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome during the month of October 2019. Their research took them to additional locations in Sicily and Malta. Artwork created during sabbatical by Brownell and Kruck is on display in a two-person exhibitionSkeptical Realism — at the Hunterdon Art Museum in Clinton, N.J., through January 2020. The exhibition opened this month.

According to the museum’s description of the exhibit, “Brownell’s series Plate to Platelet simultaneously draws on scientific images of platelets (tiny blood cells shaped like plates) and the history of the painted food still life. She explores the realism of eating by recognizing the entanglement between the consumerist idealization of food with its biological engineering and the molecular strains that then interact with our bodies. The space she paints attempts to capture this paradoxical perspective, one that is equally rational and fantastical, material and in constant flux, Brownell said. She encourages viewers to consider this question: If we are what we eat, what are we becoming?”

A sabbatical leave, CSU Research Grant, and Faculty Creative Activity Research Grant supported Brownell’s creative activity research during the 2018-2019 academic year.

In addition, Brownell’s painting Pear and Grape, oil on canvas, 2008, is featured in the group exhibit Foodie Fever at NYC’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice Shiva Gallery. This painting was also on display at the USA Department of State Embassy in Hong Kong during the Obama administration.

Her painting Passing Fruit, oil on canvas, 2008, was also featured in the exhibit Foodie Fever at NYC’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice Shiva Gallery.

Brownell’s painting Bird and Bees, oil on canvas, 2014, is featured on the cover of SCSU’s English professor Margot Schilpp’s new book of poetry Afterswarm.

Bird and Bees

The paintings below, as well as the painting featured at the top of this story, are all from Brownell’s sabbatical and are on display with many others at the Hunterdon Art Museum.

Left to right: Charlotte McMillan; Justin Paolillo; Patty Conte, Internship Coordinator, SCSU School of Business; Sarah Thompson; Dean Ellen Durnin, SCSU School of Business; Michael Agyeman; Kyle Ballou, Vice President, YNHH; Amber Schultz; Taylor Chisholm; and Kevin Inahuazo (In absentia: intern Alan Duran)

For the first time, Yale New Haven Health has hired eight SCSU School of Business students as summer interns: Charlotte McMillan, Justin Paolillo, Sarah Thompson, Michael Agyeman, Amber Schultz, Taylor Chisholm, Kevin Inahuazo, and Alan Duran.

At Yale New Haven Health, an internship on the business side of the healthcare industry presents opportunities to explore the multifaceted nature of business, finance and information technology in this dynamic field. Interns enjoy exposure to financial reporting, budgeting, systems analysis processes, and billing in one of the leading healthcare systems in the Northeast.

Patty Conte, internship coordinator for the School of Business, says, “We are thrilled that our students have had the opportunity this summer to partner with Yale New Haven Health, a rapidly expanding group of hospitals, specialty groups, and physician networks with a reputation for professionalism and excellence. During their time at YNHHS, our students will be gaining experience in HR, accounting, IT, finance, training and development, and patient experience.

“According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers reported converting an average of 51.7 percent of their eligible interns into full-time hires. Knowing that statistic, we are hopeful that not only will our students have the chance to learn a great deal about the business side of health care through their internships, but they also might be fortunate enough to someday become a full-time employee of YNHH, one of the most sought-out employers in Connecticut.”

 

 

When Southern student Cameron Hotchkiss, a graduate student in social work, interned with Cheshire’s Human Services Department — whose targeted clients are elementary, middle school, and high school students — this past year, it was exactly what he was looking for: clinical experience in a school setting. As someone who likes helping people, Hotchkiss’ internship enabled him to work directly with children who were struggling with emotional issues, in particular those students who had missed enough school to be labeled truant. Now an MSW graduate, Hotchkiss’ unique perspective on those students may help shape school policy.

Until recently, truancy had been handled by the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Due to an influx in cases, the cases were delegated to the Department of Human Services for each individual school district, therefore eliminating the need for a DCF referral. A high number of those cases ended up with Hotchkiss.

“DCF let cases filter through us before they had to get involved,” Hotchkiss says. “At my internship, it was the first year they were doing that.”

Since it was the first time the Department of Human Services was in charge of overseeing all of the school truancy cases, there wasn’t a protocol to follow. Hotchkiss’ professor, Lorrie Gardella, associate professor and MSW program coordinator, thought that if Hotchkiss focused his capstone project on the reasons behind the truancy and was able to recommend policy, it would be a win-win.

“The goal of MSW capstone special projects is to assess and respond to a community need,” Gardella says.

Hotchkiss agreed. After conducting months of research, his capstone project, “School Refusal Protocol,” identified the main contributing factors for school avoidance: bullying, separation anxiety, and social anxiety and recommended finding an assessment tool that would allow a professional to identify the contributing factor to their client’s school avoidance issues.

“Once that factor was established,” his capstone states, “the worker will then follow the created protocol on how to help the client, whether it be helping them use specific therapeutic interventions, or getting outside support from an intensive in-home care provider.”

As Hotchkiss moved along with the project, his internship supervisor Ann-Marie Bishop, youth and family counselor for Cheshire’s Department of Human Services, helped with need assessment: how to move forward with treatment and a time frame for treatments.

“As an agency, we typically work with issues like substance abuse, but more and more we see anxiety-related issues, and oftentimes with anxiety comes truancy,” Bishop says. “Cameron’s proposal was a nice marriage of Southern’s social work program and help to us as an agency. It really filled a gap on our end.”

According to Bishop, Hotchkiss’ proposal could be piloted as early as next year.

“We have a set protocol for how we handle school issues related to substance abuse, and we wanted to have one for chronic truancy, too, so we deliver consistent guidelines,” Bishop says. “They [Cheshire schools] want assistance, and we need assistance, so it meets many needs at once.”

Ultimately, the experience met Hotchkiss’ needs as well.

“I got to work with school avoidance kids,” Hotchkiss says. “The capstone actually focuses on the research, but the kids themselves helped point me in the direction to work for. I would love to try to implement [this protocol] in other school systems. My experience at Southern was great— I wanted a combination of clinical work and school work. Southern covered all aspects of social work and reaffirmed that it’s exactly what I want to do.”

Jacob Santos, ’19, one of 14 in the nation awarded prestigious fellowship

Jacob Santos, ’19, graduated in May with dual degrees — business administration with a concentration in accounting and theatre. Today, his education continues in both subjects thanks a prestigious fellowship from the Newman’s Own Foundation, designed to provide young emerging leaders with experience in the nonprofit sector.

Santos, one of only 14 to receive the award for 2019-20, has been placed at Westport Country Playhouse, where he is a managing director fellow — a post he calls his “dream job.” “My career goal is to become a theater manager with a focus on diversity and inclusion,” says Santos. “I’m excited that my first steps into the industry are with the Playhouse, which shares my creative values and is growing from an already impressive 88-year legacy. I look forward to learning as much as I can from its excellent staff and creative team.”

The Newman’s Own Foundation Fellowship is designed to help future leaders gain critical experience and a better understanding of the importance of philanthropy and giving back. About 150 apply for the fellowship each year, and the foundation annually selects a cohort of no more than 20. Each fellow receives a $38,000 stipend and health benefits from their host organization during the 12-month fellowship. The program also includes five, four-day in-person workshops focused on personal and professional development.

Santos, 24, graduated cum laude from Southern where he was very involved with the campus theater program. He is the founder of the Crescent Players of Color, a coalition of current students and alumni of color dedicated to promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion. He also was a managing intern/casting associate with the Elm Shakespeare Company — Southern’s theater in residence. As a student, he won several awards, including the 2019 Arts Impact Award at the national Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

Michael Barker, managing director at the Westport Country Playhouse, notes the fellowship is a win-win: “Jacob brings a new perspective to the Playhouse’s managerial work,” says Barker. “His judgement and knowledge are beyond his years, and as a recent college graduate his fresh perspective has already made us question assumptions and will lead to thoughtful analysis of our current practices.”

The Newman’s Own Foundation, an independent foundation created by the late actor and philanthropist Paul Newman, has been offering the fellowship since 2015.

As a high schooler, Haroon Chaudhry saw college like this: You go to class, you graduate, and you are done.

“That’s all I expected,” he says, “to just do it.”

Four years ago, Chaudhry was accepted to the track team at Southern Connecticut State University and enrolled on a full academic scholarship. Before starting his freshman year, he attended the Southern Educational Opportunity Program (SEOP) Summer Academy, which helps students ease their transition to Southern. The program helped — he got to know several people and the campus — but the first day of classes he didn’t see any of those people.

“I was nervous,” he says. “I was shy.”

Fate stepped in when Chaudhry bumped into Dian Brown-Albert, coordinator of Multicultural Affairs.

“She told me about the Muslim Students Association, and I thought that would be a great way for me to get to know other Muslims on campus,” he says. (The Muslim Students Association, or MSA, is an organization for Muslims and non-Muslim students at Southern and provides a welcoming atmosphere for students of different cultures and backgrounds.)

Chaudhry always had been passionate about his Muslim heritage. Born in Pakistan, he was 13 when he and his family moved to America in 2009. He steadily had been conducting research on what it means to be Muslim in America and had even won a scholarship in high school for his research.

“That’s [joining MSA] where the transition happened for me,” he says. “I went from shy to most extroverted.”

At first, Chaudhry was just a member, but then, in his sophomore year he became president.

“Jumping in was completely unfamiliar,” he says. “I had to learn how to run an organization that at the time was a group of 30 to 40 people. I was just a sophomore and some of the members were juniors and seniors. I was nervous. But I had to learn.”

This is the point when Chaudhry amended his original philosophy of college, of thinking that it meant just going to class, graduating, and being done. This is when he realized that what he put into the experience greatly mattered — and that the experience could alter his destiny.

“I started doing speeches on campus about who Muslims are, what we do,” Chaudhry said. “People started seeing me, recognizing me, and I started becoming more extroverted, and speaking more in public. I was educating people of other faiths about what it means to be Muslim, and I started inviting other groups to collaborate.”

The momentum Chaudhry gained further spurred him on.

“Southern provided me everything,” he says. “My passion increased for the college, and I wanted to give something back, so I started to attend everything. I utilized everything that was available, and slowly, slowly, I started to get more recognition. It felt like, ‘Muslim people are stepping up.’ I started getting invitations to go to various classes and teach about Islam and how we celebrate various events.”

Chaudhry indeed was getting recognition. He was invited to become an orientation ambassador, welcoming incoming students to campus just as he himself had been welcomed. He was awarded the Social Justice Top Owl Award, recognized at National Student Athlete Day for cross country and track, and for the first time in history, the SCSU Muslim Student Association took part in the 12th annual IRIS 5k run for refugees.

Even with all his on-campus success, Chaudhry knew he had to challenge himself academically as well. As a major in Business Administration and Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in International Business, Communication, and Leadership Development, Chaudhry decided to test his newfound determination and to study abroad, choosing the EDHEC Business School in France.

“I felt it would put me apart from other students,” he says. “Everything changed when I studied abroad. I met so many people, and I went there with an open mind. I wanted to represent Southern to the best of my ability.” He did: While in France, Chaudhry ran a half-marathon in Marseilles, proudly wearing his Southern jersey.

When he came back to campus, he decided to “really” put himself out there, in a business sense. He created a LinkedIn profile and started touting his accomplishments.

“People started noticing me,” he says. “Someone from Amazon contacted me through LinkedIn. They’d seen all the articles written about me at Southern. They asked if I wanted to be a Brand Ambassador. I had to interview for it, and it was intense.”

Again, Chaudhry would need his Southern gear.

“Amazon wanted me to go to Seattle for training, and they asked me to put a Southern t-shirt on. I said, ‘Yes, I’d love to.’”

Now an Amazon Brand Ambassador, Chaudhry’s popularity knows no limits. He receives free products from Amazon to give away throughout the campus, plus coupons for 20 percent off on books. He’s also a Student Ambassador for the School of Business, and a Brand Ambassador for GMR Marketing and Dyson companies.

This May, Chaudhry graduated with a 3.7 GPA — earned while working six jobs, simultaneously. He is the first in his family to receive dual degrees, both a bachelor of science and a bachelor of arts within four years. He is the 2018-19 recipient for the Student Affairs University Leadership Award. He was recognized by the University Access Program for his excellent GPA and was honored by Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honor Society, for excellence in leadership and academics. Under his presidency, the Muslim Students Association received the 2018-19 Impact Award.

When Chaudhry speaks about Southern, it’s easy to see how much his outlook has changed from his arrival four years ago, when college seemed like nothing more than a simple checklist.

“I fell in love with Southern, and my goal was to make connections. All over campus.”

And, it seems, the world.

Read about 2019 Commencement.

 

West Haven High's Liam Leapley is an incredibly inspiring teacher, says recent college grad Alice Obas -- which is why she successfully nominated him for a highly prestigious teaching award.

West Haven High School teacher Liam Leapley, '00, was nominated for the award by Alice Obas. "Mr. Leapley has not only upheld the values of equity and inclusion during his teaching career but has also instilled those values in his hundreds of students, and in me," says Obas, who recently graduated from Williams College.

With graduation fast approaching, Alice Obas, then a senior at Williams College, was considering an important question in addition to planning her next phase of life: who, among her former teachers at West Haven High School, had the most influence on her education?

Such contemplation is a rite of passage for seniors at Williams, who, each year, are invited to nominate their former teachers for the George Olmsted Jr. Class of 1924 Prize for Excellence in Secondary Education.

For Obas, the choice was obvious: Southern alumnus Liam Leapley, ’00, a special education teacher at West Haven High who also leads the Program for Accelerated Credit Recovery in Education (PACE) at the school. Leapley designed and implemented PACE and, years ago, worked closely with Obas when she was a talented high school student serving as a teaching assistant with the program.

“While the Olmsted Prize is for nominating former teachers, and I was not a part of the PACE program, I feel that I learned and was taught more from Mr. Leapley than my AP [advanced placement] and Honors classes taught me out of a book,” says Obas. The judging committee was inspired as well, selecting Leapley as one of only four recipients of the Olmsted Award. In recognition, he received $3,000, and an additional $5,000 was presented to West Haven High. The award is particularly prestigious in light of the college’s standing: it’s been cited repeatedly as the top liberal arts college in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and Forbes, including this year.

PACE — an intervention program for at-risk youth in grades 8 through 12 — incorporates outside the box approaches to education, including a community-based work experience component, to reignite students’ interest in learning, “Every child can move forward, but you must be willing to work with them no matter where they begin and at which pace they move,” says Leapley, who’s been a special education teacher since 2000 and led the PACE program since 2009.

Award recipient Liam Leapley, ’00, receives an award for exceptional teaching at the high school level at Williams College’s Ivy Exercises.

His influence, notes Obas, has been profound and far-reaching. “Mr. Leapley has not only upheld the values of equity and inclusion during his teaching career but has also instilled those values in his hundreds of students, and in me,” she says.

Southern has historically been a leader in the field of education, with graduates of the School of Education earning many top awards at the state level and beyond. Among the honorees is Jahana Hayes,’05, who was named the National Teacher of the Year in 2016 and went on to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.