The Music of Duke Ellington

duke ellingtonThe Eastern Jazz Ensemble performed its fall concert on Nov. 15, showcasing the music of Duke Ellington in many different styles.  Some of the pieces performed, such as “Perdido” and “Mood Indigo” are well-known pieces from Ellington’s repertoire, whereas pieces like “Oclupaca” and “Main Stem” are lesser known, but equally exciting works. Students from the ensemble captured not only the full-band sound of Ellington’s band, but also worked on learning original solos from the band’s members.  The concert was the first full concert performed by the Eastern Jazz Ensemble since its reconfiguring in spring 2015.

 

Key of She Rock it Out!

She of Key's Amazing Performance in the Bettyt R. Tipton Room

Key of She’s Amazing Performance in the Betty R. Tipton Room

Students, faculty, staff, friends, families and area residents packed the Betty R. Tipton Room to hear Eastern’s all-female a cappella group “Key of She” as they performed two concerts during the holiday season. On Dec. 3, the ensemble presented several top-hit songs of today, such as “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon, “Gold Digger” by Kanye West and a collection of Beyoncé’s top hits that included “Love on Top” and “Drunk in Love.”

“We are an all-female group and arrange pieces using nothing but our voices,” said junior Medina Hosaini. “We are all very dedicated and focused. We rehearse three to four times a week. I joined last year after a lot of my friends told me about it, and I’m glad I did. I get to do what I love around some really great and talented people. We are honestly more like a family, and our practices are always so much fun.”

She of Key Rock it Out in the Betty R. Tipton Room

Key of She Rock it Out in the Betty R. Tipton Room

The group of about 20 talented women is student-run and funded by the Music Society. Students of every age can join, as they audition. Upon acceptance, they are split into groups based on their range of singing. Some described their experience like a sisterhood or sorority.

On Nov. 14, more than 400 students, faculty members and family members heard Key of She perform during Eastern’s annual Sing Off competition, which included groups from universities across Connecticut.

Eastern Students Represented at 20th Annual Auxiliary to Windham Hospital

Front row, left to right, are Emily Rodrigue, Adina Bernstein, Alexis Pellecchia, Michael Hutchings and Joshua Palmer. Back row, left to right, are Justin McCabe, Daniel Bell, Austin Musson and Kyle Dennis. Not photographed: Dean Bonney and Hunter Gillen,

Front row, left to right, are Emily Rodrigue, Adina Bernstein, Alexis Pellecchia, Michael Hutchings and Joshua Palmer. Back row, left to right, are Justin McCabe, Daniel Bell, Austin Musson and Kyle Dennis. Not photographed: Dean Bonney and Hunter Gillen.

The Eastern Design Group worked with the Windham Hospital to design hat sculptures for this year’s Auxiliary to Windham Hospital 20th Annual Autumn Gala Fundraiser. The black-tie event, held at the Marriott Hotel in Hartford, was open to families, friends and other affiliates of the hospital who gathered to raise money for hospital programs. Dinner and dancing followed the cocktail hour, when guests saw the artwork of Eastern Design students.

The students’ artwork was designed, printed on a wide-format printer and assembled as large 3-D printed sculptures suspended and able to swivel for the fundraisers theme, “Hats Off.”  “We were to create a well-thought-out design for the Hartford Hospital “Hat’s Off” gathering, which displayed our artwork for the night,” said design student Austin Musson. “I created a snapback styled hat that portrayed the logo of the hospital. “Measurements had to be precise and accurate, which was difficult. All together, the project was time consuming, but was well worth the outcome.” The event recognized several hospital honorees and all proceeds went toward the hospital.

“This was a learning experience that was truly and out-of-the-box project, resulting in amazing work accomplished for everyone. It was challenging but the students had a lot of fun,” said Professor Terry Lennox. Students said the project was challenging, but an enriching experience overall. As the event came closer, specifications for the installation changed, making it stimulating for the students to finish their work. Nevertheless, they overcame the challenge and created extraordinary pieces of art.

Holiday Food

Kim Silcox, director of Eastern’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE), extends a hearty thanks to everyone Food Drivewho contributed to Eastern’s Holiday Food Drive. The drive collected 4,873 items for area food pantries and shelters! “Because of our students, faculty, staff and volunteers, families and individuals will have access to meal items this winter. The drive was a collaborative effort, and I thank everyone for their generosity,” said Silcox.
Some of the highlights of the drive included students contributing 1,115 items at the Campus Police Department’s “Open Rec Night”; Kinesiology and Physical Education Professor Nanette Tummers engaging participants in Friday Yoga, where they donated food and personal care items; Constitution Hall and Mead Hall students donating 532 items; Jay Budahazy, father of Jason Budahazy ’09, who started the Day of Giving, donated 325 items when he came to the Day of Giving celebration; Gelsi-Young Hall staff picked up food items every week; Center for Family and Development Resource Center conducted a food drive with their families and staff and donated more than 110 items to the Covenant Soup Kitchen; and CCE food drives every weekend in November, netted 2,531 items at area grocery stores.

ODK School Supplies Drive

Omicron Delta Kappa’s executive board presents the results of its fundraising efforts for its holiday season school supply drive for Windham Middle School. Left to right are Jessica DeFelice-president; Gabby Wrobel, treasurer; Erin Strickland, public relations; Erin Drouin, secretary and Alexis Apel, vice president.

Omicron Delta Kappa’s executive board presents the results of its fundraising efforts for its holiday season school supply drive for Windham Middle School. Left to right are Jessica DeFelice-president; Gabby Wrobel, treasurer; Erin Strickland, public relations; Erin Drouin, secretary and Alexis Apel, vice president.

Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), Eastern’s leadership honor society, coordinated a school supply drive on campus for teachers in the local Willimantic area, collecting a large quantity of school supplies for teachers at Windham Middle School who are in dire need of classroom resources.

ODK President Jessica DeFelice said, “ODK wanted to make a difference in our local community by helping young students prepare to succeed in school. We were ecstatic to see the incredible feedback and donations we received from the campus community.”

ODK is committed to leadership and service to Eastern’s campus and surrounding community.  With the help of students, faculty and staff, ODK will now be able to offer many useful supplies to area teachers to enhance the learning in their classrooms for children at Windham Middle School.

Blood Drive

blood drive wide shot with most people

On Dec. 7-8, members of the Eastern community donated 126 pints of blood and helped save 378 lives during the Red Cross blood drive at Eastern. More than 140 students, faculty and staff participated, and more than 50 students stuck around to volunteer at the drive.
“Because of these wonderful volunteers, we were not only able to fill all the blood drive slots, we were also able to keep all of our donors fed and entertained,” said Nancy Brennan, coordinator of the event and administrative assistant with the Campus Ministry. Dominos donated pizza on both days, and Eastern’s Campus Ministry and Center for Community Engagement donated the ingredients for chocolate chip pancakes.

The next blood drives are scheduled for Feb. 1–2 and Feb. 9. Schedule your appointment by going to redcrossblood.org (code Eastern) or by contacting Nancy Brennan at (860) 423-0856 or at brennann@easternct.edu. Walk-ins are always welcome.  Your gift of life will make a difference to someone in need.

Wickware Planetarium Presents Last Star Show for Fall Semester

Astronomy Professor Director Russell Sampson presents star show in planetarium.

Astronomy Professor Director Russell Sampson presents star show in planetarium.

The Wickware Planetarium hosted its final show for the fall semester on Dec. 7. “Art and Astronomy” was designed to educate the audience on how artists, such as Hemingway and van Gogh, were inspired and instructed by the sky. “Our last event was the most successful yet, we gave away all the tickets more than a month ago and had to turn interested people away,” said Russell Sampson, professor of astronomy and assistant planetarium director. “Many people stayed after the show to ask questions.”

Sampson used Hemingway’s novel “The Old Man and the Sea” to show the audience a connection between art and astronomy. Hemingway used the star “Rigel” and the constellation “Orion” to connect the sky with his story. Orion is a mighty hunter in mythology, as was the hero of Hemingway’s novel. Sampson also used The Big Dipper in van Gogh’s painting the “Starry Night over the Rhone” to connect electric lighting to the stellar wonders in the heavens.

“A lot of artists find inspiration through the outside and sky; that’s where you see the collision of galaxies,” said sophomore Tyrent Mitchell. “I’ve spent a ton of time over the summer looking at the sky and watching the constellations move, which is fascinating.”

English at Work

Megan Sniffin, Reece D’Angelo, Turquoise McBride and Ashley Kus discuss the value of an English major and a public liberal arts education.

Megan Sniffin, Reece D’Angelo, Turquoise McBride and Ashley Kus discuss the value of an English major and a public liberal arts education.

Eastern’s English Department hosted the panel discussion “English at Work” on Dec. 7 to show current English majors how English degrees can be useful after graduation. The panel featured four former English majors who have since enjoyed success in a variety of fields — Reece D’Angelo, Megan Sniffin, Turquoise McBride and Ashley Kus.

After graduation, D’Angelo went on to get her M.S. in counseling from Central Connecticut State University. She now serves as an applicant advisor at Goodwin College, where she prides herself on helping first-generation and non-traditional students realize their full potential. “Develop relationships first and foremost,” she said.  “If you are genuine and make authentic connections with people, you will be amazed at the results.”

Sniffin received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Hofstra University. She is currently employed as a residence coordinator at the University of Saint Joseph. “Having an English degree helps me at my job every day, especially when I have to hold disciplinary meetings. Analyzing characters in literature and coming up with my own characters reminds me that a person is more than just their actions, and that my students are much more than the mistake that may have got them in trouble,” Sniffin said.

McBride completed her master’s degree in English at Southern Connecticut State University in 2011. She now works for the Connecticut Department of Social Services. “For me, I was passionate about being active in my community,” she said. “There is no way I could have made it to where I am today without the help of others. I want to find people, who like me, just need a little guidance and I want to help them reach their full potential.”

Kus received her master’s degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University. Kus had always been interested in writing but found her passion for journalism when she began writing for the Campus Lantern at Eastern. She has since worked as an associate producer at WFSB-TV/Channel 3, and is now employed as a reporter for the Berlin Citizen. “As students, it’s important to keep in mind that getting your degree is only part of the process,” Kus said. “You’re probably not going to land your dream job right out of the gate. It takes hard work, a willingness to learn and a refusal to give up.”

English Department Hosts “English Night”

Students into the Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society.

Students into the Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society.

At “English Night,” held in the Betty R. Tipton Room on Dec. 10, the English Department presented two scholarships, inducted students into the Sigma Tau Delta honor society and showcased senior seminar presentations.

The department presented the Constance Campo Scholarship to junior Tammy DeGennaro. The scholarship is given to a non-traditional English student who excels in the classroom.

English Professor Lisa Fraustino, left, congratulates Tammy DeGennaro, winner of the Constance Campo Scholarship.

English Professor Lisa Fraustino, left, congratulates Tammy DeGennaro, winner of the Constance Campo Scholarship.

According to English Department Chair Lisa Fraustino, “Tammy’s questions and comments are integral to classroom discussions. She also demonstrated tact and thoughtfulness while dealing with delicate issues of race and gender.”

Senior Megan Velasquez was named the recipient of the David and Janet Philips scholarship, awarded annually to an undergraduate student who excels in the field of English and also participated in theatre, the literary journal “Eastern Exposure” or the “Campus Lantern” student newspaper.  “Megan’s English professors are always impressed by her contributions to discussions. As a double major, she has also had a hand in more than 10 Eastern theater productions,” said Fraustino.

Professor Fraustino with Megan Velasquez, winner of the David and Janet Phillips Scholarship

Professor Fraustino with Megan Velasquez, winner of the David and Janet Phillips Scholarship

Several students were inducted into Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society. Chapter President Meaghan McFall-Gorman and vice president Seth McCullock along with chapter sponsor Allison Speicher, welcomed the members into the group, and presented them with their certificates.

Student presenters in Professor Christopher Torockio’s “Crash Course in the Novel” senior seminar were tasked with writing an entire novel in a semester and a half. Three students — Stephanie Catucci, Kevin McVane and Alison Newhall —read excerpts from their stories.
“I felt that giving students an opportunity to write a novel would be extremely valuable. Writing a novel is difficult and draining and self-doubt can become a constant part of the writer’s life,” Torockio said. “However, by having faith in their stories, their characters and themselves, these students persevered, and turned out an end-product that I can’t be more proud of.”

World AIDS Day

Psychology Professor Carlos Escoto, Social Work Professor Yvonne Patterson and Emma Costas, student ambassador in the Women’s Center.

Psychology Professor Carlos Escoto, Social Work Professor Yvonne Patterson and Emma Costas, student ambassador in the Women’s Center.

In response to World AIDS Day, Eastern hosted a panel discussion in December in the Student Center Theatre to increase awareness, dispel myths and counter the stigmas surrounding HIV and AIDS. The panel, titled “Transforming How We See HIV, AIDS and other STIs,” was part of Eastern’s “University Hour” series, and featured Social Work Professor Yvonne Patterson, Psychology Professor Carlos Escoto and Emma Costas, a student ambassador in the Women’s Center.

More than a million people in the United States are currently living with HIV, yet it is an issue that is commonly swept under the rug, primarily because of the stigmas surrounding HIV and AIDS that trivialize the plight of those infected with the virus. “We skirt away from the issue because it’s difficult to talk about, said Escoto, “but this only promotes misinformation and misunderstanding. We need to recognize that just because there is treatment available, that does not mean that HIV and AIDS aren’t still a problem.”

As a result, public sentiment is that contracting AIDS or HIV is a result of promiscuity or sexual deviance. “Stigmatization results in the vast majority thinking they’re safe or not at risk because they aren’t promiscuous,” Escoto said. “Unless we deal with stigmatization, we won’t be able to alleviate or curb the HIV and AIDs epidemic.” The panel shared that the medical community has made tremendous strides in battling the virus since the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s.

Themed Housing

Housing-Themed-Housing

On-campus housing has changed in recent years on college campuses, from same-sex hallways, buildings and community bathrooms to apartment-style rooms.  Eastern has taken a giant step toward getting students involved on campus through Themed Housing, an advancement that gives Eastern one of the best on-campus residential housing programs in Connecticut. Themed housing allows students who want to live with other students who share similar interests to form housing communities, gaining leadership, academic and social skills in the process.
The motto is, “Work Together, Play Together, Live Together.” Students pick a theme that interests them, and then live with individuals who share that same interest. In 2015-16, 218 students are participating in the 18 themes available. “Themed housing is a positive way for students to get involved because it brings together students with similar interests and ambitions while allowing them to live together,” said LaMar Coleman, director of housing and residential life. Students are required to participate in meetings, and run programs while working with the larger community.

The 18 themes offered at Eastern range from “Fun and Gamers” to themes that have to do with social issues like the “Green Theme.” “Engagement with the campus is directly tied to feelings of belongingness and student satisfaction,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “Themed housing communities bring students together and involve them in fulfilling activities on-and-off campus.”

“The Math and Education Theme Housing community is in its second year, and has 16 active members,” said Anthony Gleason, Laurel Hall director. “The members excel in the classroom and outside of class by being involved in clubs and organizations on campus and participating in community service and outreach in the local community.” Each theme gets a budget that they use for appropriate activities. For example, the “Fun and Gamers” group went to Comic-Con, which is a convention for comic fans.

 

The International Write-In

In December, Eastern’s Writing Center participated in the International Write-In. That week, more than 80 writingwriting graphic centers from across the United States, Canada and abroad opened their doors, where students came in to write with others, share their writing and get feedback from each other and tutors. Coffee, snacks and a raffle were available for students who stopped by Eastern’s Writing Center for writing and feedback. “It was a good way for students to break out of the isolation of near-finals, and work on their writing in a non-stressful environment,” said Writing Center Director Rita Malenczyk.

 

Bone Marrow Drive

Eastern continued its support for people with life-threatening blood diseases in December by hosting its fifth bone

DeCasanova dribbles the ball up the field

DeCasanova dribbles the ball up the field

marrow registry in the past three years. Eastern first got involved with this effort in 2012, when soccer player Jon DeCasanova was diagnosed with aplastic anemia and lymphatic cancer. “There’s no guarantee in the business of cancer,” said DeCasanova, 24, of Glastonbury, who has since made a miraculous recovery. Describing the goals of Eastern’s marrow registry, he said, “What we’re doing here is at least giving someone a chance to fight.”

DeCasanova was given less than a one percent chance of survival by some doctors. However, after receiving years of treatment and a cord stem cell transplant, he returned to Eastern in 2014 to continue his soccer eligibility and finish his degree in sport and leisure management. “It’s hard to describe the support I’ve gotten from Eastern,” said DeCasanova, reflecting on the more than 600 people who lined up at the initial drive. “Compared to where I was, I’m doing amazingly well. I’m still in remission. With cancer you don’t just bounce right back into things, but I’m getting there.”

Eastern soccer players register bone marrow donors

                                                                     Eastern soccer players register bone marrow donors.

At the registry, more than 100 members of the Eastern community had their mouths swabbed and information entered into the “Be the Match” database, the largest marrow registry in the world. Over the course of Eastern’s five registries, 1,122 people have registered — 15 of which have been identified as “matches,” or suitable donors for blood/marrow transplants.

Because of DeCasanova’s remarkable recovery and the support he received from the Eastern community, the University was honored with the 2014 National Marrow Donor Program/Be the Match Awareness Award. Minding his health, DeCasanova hopes to graduate in 2016.

Eastern Will Host 2016 NCAA Division III New England Regional

Eastern's Baseball Field on Mansfield Road

Eastern’s Baseball Field on Mansfield Road

For the ninth time since 1993, Eastern will host the NCAA Division III New England Regional Baseball Tournament. Eastern will serve as host institution of the regional tournament when it hosts the eight-team, double-elimination NCAA Division III New England Regional May 18-22, 2016, at the Eastern Baseball Stadium. The tournament winner advances to the eight-team, double-elimination NCAA Division III national tournament at Appleton, WI, May 27-31.
Built in 1998, the Eastern Baseball Stadium is located one-half mile north of the main campus on Mansfield City Road. The stadium seats 1,500 spectators and includes a new lighting system, dugouts, bullpens, batting cages, practice infield, press box, scoreboard, message board and a new public address system.

Eastern’s baseball team is under the direction of third-year head coach Matt LaBranche, who spent 14 years at Western New England. In two years at Eastern, his teams have won 55 and lost 26, leading the Warriors to the Little East Conference title and into New England Regional at Harwich, MA, in his first year in 2014. The Warriors finished 23-17 a year ago after being eliminated in the Little East championship game.