School of Arts and Sciences

Christine Caragianis Broadbridge, Ph.D., professor of physics and executive director of research and innovation at Southern Connecticut State University, has been appointed vice president of the Connecticut Academy of Science & Engineering. Broadbridge will serve as vice president through June 30, 2020, with the Council’s recommendation that her name be submitted for election by the membership for President (2020 – 2022) and Past President (2022 – 2024).

Broadbridge began her faculty career at Trinity College. In 1998, she was appointed Visiting Fellow in Electrical Engineering at Yale University and in 2000 joined the Physics Department at Southern. She has been a principal investigator or co-principal investigator on ten National Science Foundation projects and a researcher on many others, including grants from NASA, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the U.S. Department of Energy. Broadbridge participated in the establishment and is a researcher and education director for the Center for Research on Interface Structures and Phenomena (CRISP) at Yale/SCSU and is the director for the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Center for Nanotechnology. Throughout her career she has implemented numerous industry workforce initiatives, most recently BioScience Academic and Career Pathway Initiative (BioPath) and the New Haven Manufacturer’s Association Summer Teachers’ Institute.

An active member of the Academy since her election in 2008, she chairs the Membership Committee, serves on the Development and Advocacy Committee, and was elected to the Council in 2016.

“I am honored to continue working with such a distinguished and dedicated group of scientists and engineers from Connecticut’s academic, industrial, and public sector communities,” said Broadbridge. “The work that the Academy does adds value to the state of Connecticut from promoting science education for K-12 students and the citizens of Connecticut to providing expert advice on issues of science and technology.”

Broadbridge has a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Rhode Island, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in engineering from Brown University. At Brown, she conducted research in the fields of materials science, physics and nanotechnology. Selected awards include the 2006 Connecticut Technology Council’s Woman of Innovation Award for Academic Leadership and the 2014 Connecticut Materials and Manufacturing Professional of the Year Award. Broadbridge was a Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame Honoree in 2008 for Outstanding Women of Science in Academia and was a Connecticut Science Center STEM Achievement Award nominee in 2016. She is a member of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of Sigma Pi Sigma and Tau Beta Pi (national honor societies for physics and engineering respectively).

The Connecticut Academy of Science & Engineering is a nonprofit, 501(c)3 institution patterned after the National Academy of Sciences to provide expert guidance on science and technology to the people and to the state of Connecticut, and to promote the application of science and technology to social and economic well being. The Academy’s 400+ members include leading scientists, physicians, engineers, and mathematics who are experts in a wide range of science and technology-related fields.

David Pettigrew in front of the “White House” at Omarska concentration camp where prisoners were tortured and killed. The flowers that were laid at the white house were in memory of the approximately 700 who were murdered there. The plaque on the left has details about the camp, the 3,000 detainees, and the 700 murdered. The plaque on the right is from a group of friends from Serbia, which reads Omarska, “Never Again.”

For more than a decade, Philosophy Professor David Pettigrew has been advocating for the victims of atrocities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia on March 1, 1992, triggering a secessionist bid by the country’s Serbs backed by the Yugoslavian capital, Belgrade, and a war that left about 100,000 dead, including the mass slaughter of many Bosnian Muslims by Serb forces. In addition, the crimes committed at the town of Srebrenica have been ruled to be genocide.

While all his efforts are part of a personal commitment to human rights and social justice, Pettigrew’s work on Bosnia also has an academic dimension, expressed through his lectures, publications, film screenings, and other work. He also teaches a holocaust and genocide studies course at Southern.

This summer, Pettigrew again visited the Balkans, and was interviewed Aug. 22 by the Radio Sarajevo’s Benjamin Redžić on topics including the issues of genocide denial; the prospects for reconciliation in the region, and the rise of the far right and neo-fascism in Europe and the potential for further genocidal actions. The English transcript appears below:

1. Last month, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands ruled that the state was partly responsible for the deaths of 350 residents in the town of Srebrenica. How do you comment on this judgment?

I find the Judgment of the Supreme Court of the Netherlands in this case to be woefully inadequate. The judgment seems to rest on a very narrow conception of “liability”. The Judgment, in the end, concerned only those 350 men who were forcibly expelled–by Dutchbat (a Dutch battalion that was part of a United Nations peacekeeping force in the region) — from the refuge of the battery factory. After being expelled, the men were separated from the women and children, and were eventually executed. This liability for 350 men can be seen as inappropriately limited because the Dutchbat unit was, according to its assignment, responsible for the Srebrenica “safe area” that had been so designated by United Nations Resolution 819. If the Dutchbat unit was responsible for the safe area then the Dutch government should be responsible for all of the victims of the Srebrenica genocide, and not only 350 victims as this Judgment concludes.

However, the Judgment would only find the State liable for those actions of Dutchbat for which the State had “effective control.” The Judgment determined that the Dutch government’s “effective control” was limited to the time following the fall of Srebrenica when civilians sought refuge on the Dutchbat base. For example, the Dutch State was not held liable for the failure to insure that convoys with humanitarian aid would reach the safe area, for the fall of Srebrenica, for the Dutchbat abandonment of their “blocking positions” or for surrendering their weapons.

The liability of the Dutch government is further limited by what I consider to be a perverse calculus. The judgments (of the District Court, the Appeals Court, and the Supreme Court) found that Dutchbat unit acted wrongfully in expelling the men from the base, negatively affecting the men’s chance of survival. The Courts found moreover that the Dutch government should be held responsible for this wrongful act. However, the final judgment of the degree of liability is based on an assumption that the men would have had only had a 10% chance of survival even if they had remained inside the battery factory. The Court of Appeal had judged the State’s liability to be 30%, but now it has been reduced to 10%, by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands.

However my position is that the Dutchbat unit, and thus the Dutch government, should have been assessed to be fully liable for the 350 men as well as any women and children who were subsequently murdered following their expulsion from the base. Further, given the fact that they failed to protect the Srebrenica enclave, I believe the Dutchbat unit and the Dutch government should be liable, to some degree, for failing to protect the 8,372 victims who were murdered by the Bosnian Serb and Serbian forces. The Judgments in 2014, 2017, and 2019, have seemed to be primarily concerned with limiting and avoiding responsibility rather than holding Dutchbat and the Dutch government accountable. Frankly, I believe that approach is shameful. The only redeeming virtue of the judgment is that it found that Dutchbat acted wrongfully in expelling the men from the base, and that the government was financially liable for that wrongful act. This fact seemed to provide some consolation to the Mothers of Srebrenica whose loved ones were murdered.

But perhaps such a limited conception of liability is not entirely unexpected given the constraints on other legal processes related to the genocide and other war crimes. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), for example, achieved a very small number of genocide convictions, and only a handful of life sentences. In general, the ICTY handed down relatively lenient sentences, and allowed early release for many of the convicted.

These limits introduced as part of the formal legal process, whether at the ICTY or the Dutch court system, show the need for alternative approaches to support the survivors through restorative or reparative justice. Serbia and Republika Srpska should be held responsible for the Srebrenica genocide. Their leaders should recognize the genocide and provide compensation for the survivors.

2. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, there are those who believe that denying genocide must be sanctioned by law. Recently, High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina Valentin Inzko said that this may happen soon. Are you a proponent of this idea?

I have been recommending for years that genocide denial should be criminalized and prosecuted in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a concrete step toward state-building and toward regional stabilization. This would require the creation of a national law prohibiting genocide denial. So it was indeed encouraging to hear the High Representative state, on July 11, that he was working to implement a law on genocide denial and that he hoped it would be in place by July 11, 2020, coinciding with the 25th anniversary commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide. It is not clear how he would do so since he has avoided using his wide-ranging “BONN” powers until now, except in certain cases when he lifted bans on politicians. Further, as soon as news of the High Representative’s comment was publicized, Milorad Dodik suggested that a law against genocide denial would bring new efforts for the secession of Republika Srpska.

Nonetheless, this is a profoundly important goal and I am definitely a proponent of criminalizing Srebrenica genocide denial in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Such a law against genocide denial would recognize and respect the legal rulings of the international courts that have judged the crimes committed at Srebrenica to be genocide. In addition, as in the case of laws against Holocaust denial, such a law would respect the memory of the victims. One hopes that such a law would prevent the kind of casual and routine denial of the genocide that occurs in Republika Srpska and Serbia, denial that is intended to cause psychological harm to the victims, prevent refugee return, and destabilize Bosnia and the region. Such a law would also presumably delegitimize the Commission on the Srebrenica genocide that has been formed by Republika Srpska.

But what complicates this discussion is that Bosnian Serbs have been convicted of war crimes other than genocide. So I believe there should be a more comprehensive law against the denial of those other crimes, such crimes against humanity, or violations of the laws and customs of war. Republika Srpska also formed a commission last year to study “the truth” about the siege of Sarajevo, which is a form of revisionist history and denial. But with respect to the siege of Sarajevo, Radovan Karadžić, for example, was convicted of the crimes of murder, unlawful attacks on civilians, and terror, as violations of the laws or customs of war, and of murder as a crime against humanity.

In addition to the law against genocide denial I believe there should be a national law against the glorification of convicted war criminals.

David Pettigrew in the private Muslim cemetery (Stražište cemetery) in Višegrad, where the Bosnian Serb authorities had ground/removed the word “genocida” from the memorial, and Pettigrew was restoring the term in a protest in March 2014. Photograph by Marketá Slavková.

3. The last few days have been the focus of regional publicity for the anniversary of Operation ‘Storm’. For Croatia, this was a key fight in defense against the aggressor. For Serbia, it was ethnic cleansing. What was Operation ‘Storm’?

“Operation Storm” seems to have a complicated place in the history of military offensives. I still remember reading the news reports of Operation Storm when I was in Italy at that time. Essentially it was a counter offensive launched in August 1995 with the aim of regaining territory lost in the Krajina and elsewhere. Further, there is a certain extent to which Operation Storm allowed Bosnian forces to regain momentum in a push to the east toward Banja Luka. I think the analysis is difficult today because there is an unfortunate extent to which the recent commemoration of Operation Storm comes during a time of the resurgence of ultra-nationalism within Croatia. One should also recall that prior to the joint efforts surrounding and following Operation Storm, the Croatian forces committed atrocities against Bosniaks and their culture in Western Bosnia as part of their goal to establish a kind of “greater Croatia” in Western Bosnia; a “Herzeg-Bosnia”. The accused in the Prlić case were convicted of war crimes as part of a joint criminal enterprise aimed at the creation and operation of Herzeg-Bosnia within Bosnia. Whatever its virtues might have been for reversing Serb aggression both in Croatia and Bosnia, the commemoration of Operation Storm in Croatia and the ensuing discussion obscures the fact that there were two main international aggressors against Bosnia from 1992-1995: Croatia and Serbia, a bilateral aggression whose legacy continues to destabilize the region and to delay Bosnia’s access to the EU and NATO.

4. Will true reconciliation between the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina or the Balkans occur when everyone acknowledges that someone has committed crimes on their behalf?

I still remember Munira Subašić stating at a conference in Sarajevo, in 2005, that there would be no reconciliation without justice. And part of achieving a sense of justice would be for the political leaders of Republika Srpska and Serbia to disassociate themselves from their ultranationalist predecessors who organized and committed war crimes. Further–as you suggest–the achievement of justice would require that they recognize the crimes that were committed in the most public way possible, and also empathize with the suffering of the victims and the survivors. Given the rising tensions in the region, this is a time when we need genuine leaders to emerge — statesmen and stateswomen — who would take responsibility for what occurred, express remorse, and work to foster the reconciliation that is so sorely needed. The destabilizing situation in Bosnia stems precisely from the outright denial, by political leaders in Republika Srpska and in Serbia, that genocide and other war crimes were committed. Milorad Dodik has said that the Srebrenica genocide and the siege of Sarajevo will not be taught in schools in Republika Srpska because they did not happen. The Prime Minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabić, refuses to acknowledge the Srebrenica genocide.

I believe that the High Representative should condemn the discriminatory prohibition against memorials for the victims in Republika Srpska. Memorials for the victims are prohibited but memorials for the perpetrators permeate the landscape in Republika Srpska. The High Representative has not seemed to be very effective but he nonetheless has the responsibility for overseeing the peace. He should take initiatives to encourage reconciliation by facilitating the installation of memorials for the victims in locations where they have been prohibited in Republika Srpska, such as in the Prijedor area. There is a memorial to the perpetrators, for example, at the site of Trnopolje concentration camp, and a Bosnian Serb Veterans Association has occupied one of the camp buildings and established a memorial room there. At the same time, survivors are not permitted to install a memorial at Omarska. This year, in an act of resistance, the organizers displayed a temporary plaque and set up a temporary memorial in the White House where prisoners were tortured and murdered. But they should be allowed to install a permanent plaque and a permanent museum in memory of the victims. This is a human rights violation and a violation of Annex 7 that needs to be addressed by the High Representative.

It was an honor for me to participate in the commemoration at Omarska this year on August 6. I gave a speech at the commemoration in which I pledged my continued efforts to insuring that a permanent plaque and a permanent memorial museum will be installed in memory of the victims and the survivors. This is a matter of basic human decency that must be resolved. Providing for memorials for the victims would be acts of justice that would provide the possibility of reconciliation. Giving up in this effort is not an option.

Pettigrew speaking at the commemoration program at Omarska in August 2019. Photo credit: Satko Mujagić.

5. As we await reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the rest of the region, far-right or neo-fascist policies are strengthening in the Western world. What is the cause? Should we be afraid? How to combat this?

The continuing rise of far-right and neo-fascist political parties across Europe is a matter of great concern. From “Alternative for Deutschland” in Germany (AfD) and “Freedom Party of Austria,” to the “Movement for a Better Hungary,” to the “National Front” in France, to the “Golden Dawn” in Greece, these parties are white supremacist, anti- immigrant and anti-Muslim in their core beliefs. Similar parties and movements have emerged from the south in Italy to the Scandinavian countries in the north. We have learned that human beings are highly susceptible to political propaganda. From Hitler to Pol Pot, from Slobodan Milosevic to Hutu Power leaders in Rwanda, propaganda and hate speech have been effective tools to turn a population against a perceived threat. The consequences have been catastrophic. The perceived threat in Europe today–the one that is created and manipulated by the far-right–seems to be the arrival of immigrants from the Middle East and Africa. In the past decade there have been anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim terrorist attacks, for example, in Norway and in New Zealand, in which the terrorists were inspired, in part, by Serbian ultra-nationalism and specifically by Radovan Karadžić. It was disturbing and tragic when in the days following the Ravnogorski movement marching in Višegrad March 10, 2019, there was a terrorist attack on the Mosques in New Zealand. While the Ravnogorski movement may not have the influence of the other far right parties mentioned earlier, Serbian ultra-nationalism has had a clear influence on anti-immigrant movements and violence in Europe.

Yes we should be concerned. We need to respond to the “far right” and to the “neo Fascists” by clearly articulating and defending our own core values regarding the crucial importance of human rights, of religious and cultural diversity, of democracy, and of the rule of law, for a peaceful and humane future. In some cases, especially in Bosnia, extremist groups, such as Ravnogorski Pokret, should not be permitted to gather and march in places such as Višegrad where their uniforms, chants, and songs are psychologically harmful to survivors and threaten further violence.

6. After the Holocaust, it was said: it will never happen again. After the genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the same was said. So it happened again. By when will it be repeated?

Genocide does not occur in a vacuum. The preparation for genocide takes time, and requires ultranationalist propaganda and dehumanizing hate speech that develop over time, provoking fear and hatred of a targeted group within a society. Propaganda and hate speech are usually wielded by opportunistic, ultranationalist politicians, who gain followers and influence through such tactics.

In the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, such propaganda and hate speech has been referred to as the rhetoric, politics, or discourse “of the 90s.” However, it is a matter of grave concern that due to the inaction of the Office of the High Representative, ultranationalist rhetoric has emerged once again. Today we see genocide denial, and the glorification of war criminals in Republika Srpska, practices that condone and even celebrate the war crimes that were committed. Hariz Halilović has written that such a celebration of genocide is a new stage of genocide that he refers to as “triumphalism.”

This “triumphalism” in Republika Srpska that celebrates the genocide condones the violence and suggests that the crimes could be repeated. This is a threat to the peace to which the High Representative needs to respond decisively.

Although women comprise more than half of all bachelor’s degree recipients and represent a majority of those holding professional occupation positions, they continue to trail their male counterparts in computing jobs and degrees, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology.

But Southern is working hard to help spark a greater gender balance in computer science – both in the classroom and in the workplace.

The NCWIT is a non-profit community chartered by the National Science Foundation that seeks to help increase the participation of girls and women in computing. The organization reports that in 2016, women made up 57 percent of bachelor’s degree recipients, but only 19 percent of all recipients of computer and information sciences bachelor’s degrees. Similarly, women hold about 57 percent of professional occupation positions, but only 26 percent of professional computing posts, according to NCWIT.

During the last four years, SCSU has been one of NCWIT’s Pacesetters, organizations that are helping lead the way toward building greater opportunities for girls and women in computing. In fact, NCWIT recently awarded SCSU a $10,000 grant to assist with those efforts.

Efforts by SCSU to spark greater interest in computing by female students also include:

*Coordination of various events and programs for pre-college students, such as a two-week coding camp for girls aged 14 to 19.

*Sponsorship and preparation of a grade 6 team at Dunbar Hill School in Hamden that competed in the Technovation Challenge. The Hamden team made it to the semi-finals, one of 134 teams worldwide to do so among nearly 2,000 teams of girls that compete to solve real-world problems using technology. The team came to the SCSU campus once a week for three months to develop their idea, code their app and pitch it.

Lisa Lancor, chairwoman of the SCSU Computer Science Department who is coordinating the university’s efforts in these projects, said SCSU is making significant strides toward increasing the percentage of women enrolled in computing at Southern.

In the fall of 2013, only 10 percent of the university’s computer science majors were women. That has increased to 16 percent as of last fall with a goal of rising to 25 percent by 2022.

“The ratio would be even higher except for the fact that we are also seeing a major increase in the number of men majoring in computer science at Southern,” Lancor said. “But we have seen the actual number of female computer science majors increase by 91 percent since 2013, and 25 percent just in the last year alone.”

Lancor recalled that it was just two years ago when out of the 70 or so incoming freshmen who declared computer science as a major, zero were women.

“Women were only coming to the major as transfer students or students who were already here and decided to change their majors – not from incoming freshmen,” she said.  “As a result, we started reaching out to local high schools and middle schools, and their school counselors, and told them about all of the opportunities in technology. This is certainly beginning to help.  We were shocked to learn that many high school teachers and counselors were not aware of computer science as a career. Many thought it was just about gaming.”

Lancor said that by bringing more women to the table, the design and development of computer software will truly be inclusive. She said the first car airbag system is a good example of failure due to lack of inclusivity. “Airbag systems were designed to protect tall, heavy passengers — mirroring the majority of manufacturers and designers at the time, who were men. Apparently, it didn’t occur to them they should be designing for people unlike themselves,” she said.

“The more diversity there is in the process of developing technology, the better technology will serve its users – all users,” she said.

 

 

Following a national search, Dr. Therese Bennett has been appointed as the associate dean for STEM in the School of Arts and Sciences.

Bennett joined Southern in 1996 as a full-time assistant professor in the Mathematics Department. In 2001, she was tenured and promoted to associate professor. Six years later, Bennett was promoted to professor of mathematics. Between 2010-2016, she served as department chairperson. Bennett has also served as co-director of the LEP with distinction and has worked tirelessly to ensure the seamless transfer of hundreds of students to Southern.

Dr. Therese Bennett

She earned a B.S. at Temple University and an M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh.

Bennett brings a wealth of institutional knowledge to the associate deanship position and will work closely with the associate dean for the liberal arts and the dean of arts and sciences to advance the mission of the School and the University.

Bennett’s first day will be August 30.

✉️ Deliver to:

Dr. Meredith Sinclair
Assistant Professor of English
Department of English


Dear Professor,

Thank you for devoting countless hours to advising your students, formally and informally, and guiding us to the best options, particularly in the teaching field. Your strongly held belief in the transformative effect of good teaching inspires me to seek what’s best for me, and for future generations. You extended your advising through the student group Urban Education Fellows. By helping us develop a mission in urban schools, you make education more than a matter or a career.


About Meredith Sinclair

Favorite Teaching Moment:

I most love when students ask questions I don’t have an immediate answer for. I try in my pedagogy to support students in being curious and being comfortable with discomfort. When they do spring the tough questions and then engage in the intellectual work of sorting through answers—that’s a really great feeling.

Teaching Philosophy:

It’s important for students to understand their purpose for being in an educational space and to be truly invested in the work (instead of being there because they have to be). I’m always looking for new ways to engage students in dialogue—with the work, with classmates, and with their own thinking—to help them find that purpose. I have to model this, too, of course. I’m always rethinking how a course looks, what assignments we do and so on, and try to be transparent with students about that process so that together we learn how to build challenging intellectual spaces. Above all, I think we have to have true care for and interest in our students as human beings.

Favorite Course to Teach:

ENG 492, which is a course focused on reading pedagogy, is my favorite course to teach because that’s my primary area of research and a particular passion. I also love EDU 413 because I get to introduce pre-service teachers from all disciplines to some of the fundamentals of the profession. My Young Adult Literature class (ENG 372) has taught me a lot and has been an exciting course to design. I always love the energy I get from working with our English pre-service teachers during student teaching (ENG 496).

Recent Courses Taught:

  • ENG 372: Young Adult Literature
  • ENG 496: Student Teaching Seminar (English)
  • EDU 413: Secondary Teaching

English Professor Tim Parrish

New Haven’s Daily Nutmeg website has kicked off its Summer Reading Month series with a profile of English Professor Tim Parrish, a founder of the university’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program who teaches fiction and memoir. Parrish is the author of the short story collection Red Stick Men (2000), the memoir Fear and What Follows: The Violent Education of a Christian Racist (2013), and the novel The Jumper (2013). In the Daily Nutmeg profile, Parrish — who grew up in Baton Rouge, La. — discusses the theme of racism in his works and how he deals with his “upbringing in a racist culture.”

The Daily Nutmeg will publish excerpts from Parrish’s work over the next few days, and this article will be updated with links to those excerpts.

Read the profile of Parrish — “Southern Exposure” by Kathy Leonard Czepiel — in the Daily Nutmeg (August 6, 2019).

Excerpt from Parrish’s short story “Roustabout,” part of his collection Red Stick Men.

Excerpt from Parrish’s novel The Jumper

 

Journalism Professor Frank Harris III

August 1, 2019, marked the month of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in America 400 years ago. Journalism Professor Frank Harris III has created a website to commemorate the first Africans and their descendants in America. Harris writes on the site:

“When it occurred to me several years ago that 2019 would mark the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans brought to America, I began asking Americans how America should observe the 400th, if indeed it should be observed,

“Invariably, every person I spoke with was unaware of the 400th until I informed them, and when I did, they were awestruck.

“​My mission became to utilize my role as a journalism professor, news columnist, filmmaker and public speaker to get the word out about the 400th, to encourage activities to observe it. In the process of doing so, I learned much more about slavery that makes this site relevant beyond 2019.

“This site is designed to commemorate and inform about the first enslaved Africans in America and their descendants. It was important to me that 2019 not pass without some acknowledgment of their presence, some recognition of their existence.”

The site includes a list of events to observe the 400th, as well as multimedia presentations and interviews about slavery and the 400th.

Harris’ 400th project has received considerable media attention:

“Slavery’s legacy: SCSU prof studies tragedy, racism today” by Ed Stannard, New Haven Register

“Remembering Those We’ve ‘Overlooked'” by Carmen Baskauf & Lucy Nalpathanchil, WNPR

“400 years ago, first slaves arrived in American colonies” by Ed Stannard, Litchfield County Times

“What the 400th means” by Frank Harris III, Hartford Courant

 

"I feel so blessed to have had the support of the SCSU community and the U.S. Department of State, who believed in me and my research from day one." -- Fulbright recipient and Southern graduate Alanna Wagher

A young Dutch girl adorns Alanna Wagher with the colors of the U.S. and the Netherlands, her Fulbright host country. Orange is the color of the Dutch royal family and a symbol of national pride in the Netherlands.

Alanna Wagher, ’16, M.S. ’18, is a gifted scholar. She graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in communications disorders — then excelled in Southern’s highly regarded graduate program in the same discipline. Still, she admits to being nervous about applying to the U.S. Fulbright Student Program. “There were people who had tons of opinions about the feasibility of me getting this grant, especially considering the notorious cut-throat competition,” says Wagher.

To be sure, “Fulbrighters” are a uniquely accomplished group. Thirty-seven have served as heads of state or government, 86 received Pulitzer Prizes, and 60 were Nobel Prize winners.

Wagher is now a member of the prestigious Fulbright alumni club, having spent the 2018-19 academic year in the Netherlands as a Fulbright scholar through the English Teaching Assistant Program. In addition to teaching, she collaborated with Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences on her research, which was inspired by her experience as a Southern student. Wagher minored in Spanish at Southern and used techniques from the world of speech-language therapy (her major) to correct her pronunciation. She wondered: would others studying a foreign language benefit from similar techniques?

Alanna Wagher, who holds two Southern degrees, presented her clinical findings at a United Nations educational conference in Amsterdam.

In the Netherlands, Wagher tested her theory, working with Dutch students who were studying English as a second language. The goals included evaluating the effectiveness of speech-language therapy techniques at 1) reducing foreign-accented speech and 2) improving students’ comfort and confidence as English speakers. The Dutch students perceived that speech-language techniques were beneficial in both areas. “The study [also] aimed to establish evidence-based standards for the evaluation and treatment of bilingual children with speech sound disorders,” notes Wagher, who presented her findings at a United Nations-sponsored educational conference in Amsterdam.

“I feel really blessed to have been able to research a topic that I hope will benefit bilingual children and adults,” she says. Of course, the benefits of the experience were highly personal as well. “Overall, I think one of the biggest takeaways of this experience has been the importance of believing in yourself, especially as a young woman,” says Wagher. Her advice to other would-be “Fulbrighters”: “I would definitely encourage more students to apply.”

man holding math object

✉️ Deliver to:

Dr. Braxton Carrigan
Associate Professor
Department of Mathematics


Dear Professor,

You have been my inexhaustibly patient informal advisor. You entertain my half-baked math questions. You offer direction on my independent research. With your recommendation, I was invited to visit a graduate school recruitment program in October. We recently published a result on a problem that I learned about from your math colloquium series last year. I learned LaTeX as a direct consequence of our co-authorship. With your help, I have learned math subtopics and been allowed opportunities that otherwise would have been inaccessible to me. If I am admitted to graduate school next year, it will be impossible to overstate your influence. On top of all that, you are fun and energetic about math. Southern is represented well by you, Dr. Carrigan, and I feel lucky to have worked with you.”

Thank you,
David Diaz, ’19 🦉


About Braxton Carrigan

Favorite Teaching Moment:

My favorite “memory” is a bit more general. When a student comes into a course claiming to “hate math” and then at some point says, “you know, this is really fun” or “that’s cool,” it’s incredibly rewarding. One of the funnier instances of this happened during a summer course. The student was taking the only required math course for roughly the 4th time. About halfway through the course, she came up to me and said, “I think if I had you sooner, I may have wanted to learn all this crap! It really isn’t that bad and you do seem to enjoy it.”

Teaching Philosophy:

Students have to be active participants in the learning process. Mathematics is not a spectator sport! Getting students engaged helps them develop problem-solving skills, activates inquiry, and gives them ownership of their knowledge. Most importantly, it trains them to be life long learners, which I believe is the key for success as the world changes so much throughout our lifetime.

Favorite Course to Teach:

MAT 250 – Foundations of Mathematics: This course serves as the gateway to most upper-level mathematics courses. Majors encounter the foundations of mathematical abstraction and develop the inquiry needed for a career in mathematics. I love to be a part of students’ growth and development as abstract thinkers!

Recent Courses Taught:

  • MAT 150: Calculus 1
  • MAT 178: Elementary Discrete Mathematics
  • MAT 260: Geometry in the Arts

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.