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Student Success

Academic scholarship combined with community engagement earned four CCSU students top honors from the Connecticut State University System. They were among 12 students selected for the Henry Barnard Foundation Award for academic and leadership excellence.

Damek Spacek, a biomolecular science major from Berlin, earned several distinguished scholarships and a place in the Golden Key International Honor Society. His DNA research landed him the Student Research Grant for two consecutive years, and his work has been published in two peer-reviewed journals.

Andrew LeFebvre, a music education major from Rocky Hill, was twice selected as the Best Soloist at the prestigious Villanova Jazz Festival. He served as drum major for CCSU’s Marching Band for three years, played sax for the Jazz Combo, and was section leader for the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, and Chamber Players. LeFebvre also worked at several area schools mentoring young musicians.

Joshua Fischer, a management information systems major from Bristol, was inducted into two honor societies and earned several awards including one from the MIS Department for achievement. He organized successful corporate recruiting events and a food drive for the homeless which has become an annual MIS activity.

Elzbieta Sikora, a psychology major who emigrated from Poland six years ago, earned merit scholarships and academic awards from the Psychology, Anthropology, and International Relations programs. She was inducted into two honor societies and maintained active membership in the Eastern Psychological Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Polish Women’s Alliance of America.

Magdalena Slysz was named Miss Polonia USA (Miss Polish American). The award was presented in Greenpoint, NY, and comes on the heels of Slysz’ prior crowning as Miss Polonia Connecticut. She notes that the scholarship pageants have allowed her a networking opportunity, an occasion to represent both her nationality and the Polish community, and a chance to boost her self-confidence.

A month after Laura Rogalski and Michelle DeVoe received master’s degrees in counselor education with specializations in student development in higher education, the pair attended the annual conference of the Association for Managers of Student Unions (AMSU) held in England. The graduates, who served as international delegates for region one of the Association of College Unions International, presented a lecture titled “Having Their Cake and Eating It Too— Understanding the Dynamic Expectations and Needs of College Students Today and Applying Student Development Theory into Practice within the Field of Student Activities/ Student Union Operations in the US.

Jared Taylor was one of 575 students in the US selected for the US Department of State 2010 Critical Language Scholarship. He spent two months undergoing intensive study to learn Arabic.

Jessica Cameron was awarded the Tourism Cares National Tour Association Connecticut Scholarship. The scholarship is given to an undergraduate student studying tourism and hospitality who displays excellence in the field.

The President’s Citation was presented to five outstanding seniors for their leadership, volunteerism, and academic success. The recipients were: Megan Dwyer, history; Samia Hussein, biology; Kelly Fournier, political science; Sharon Kenniston, elementary education/English; and Andrew Froning, psychology.

Competing against 30 teams from Connecticut’s colleges, Joshua Therriault, a junior communication major from Bristol, won the 2010 Public Service Announcement (PSA) Contest and a $2500 prize. The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Connecticut, Inc., sponsored the video contest to combat underage drinking and drunk driving. Therriault earned a second honor earlier in the year when his PSA, urging residents to complete the 2010 Census form, was selected by the state to run on local TV stations.

The Jazz Ensemble hit an all-time high note at the prestigious Villanova Collegiate Jazz Festival to bring home five awards. Directed Associate Professor of Music Carl Knox the group of 19 student musicians, scored first place in performance and second place overall. Group members were: John Anderson, Jennifer Bellizzi, Michael Carabillo, Sarah Coviello, Jesse Engle, Antonio Franco, James Gerrard, Nicholas Kane, Matt Kittson, Jordan Liddell, Alvaro Maldonado, William O'Keefe, Taino Pacheco, Robert Robinson, David Schramm, Gregory Smith, Jeffrey Spitzer, Ryan Vacca, and Weena Walton.

Outstanding Soloist was awarded to trombonist Alvaro Maldonado—the fifth time a CCSU student has won this category. Best Trumpet Section was presented to Ryan Vacca, James Gerrard, Greg Smith, Jordan Liddell, and Matt Kittson. Best Rhythm Section went to Jesse Engle, Rob Robinson, Tai Pacheco, and Nick Kane.

The International Association of Business Communicators, representing more than 15,000 professionals in over 80 countries, selected senior communication major Jana Baseel of Ellington as the 2010 Student Chapter Leader of the Year. The competitive award recognizes Baseel’s dedication, initiative, leadership, and achievements.

Stephanie Wurtzel won the Small Business Category and a $1000 prize in the annual Connecticut Collegiate Business Plan Competition.  With guidance from her faculty advisor, Professor of Management and Organization Drew Harris, Wurtzel developed a plan for Shred & Bed, a company that uses recycled shredded paper to provide affordable and eco-friendly bedding for animals.

The Statewide Business Plan Competition was a piece a cake for Bristol’s Samantha Magri. Her plan for “The Cupcake Parlor,” a retail bakery based on an ice cream parlor model, won in two categories: Small Business and Best Personal Business. Earlier in the year, she’d won the top award at the CCSU Shipman & Goodwin Elevator Pitch Competition. Brian Mitchard of Meriden won the Enterprise Venture category for his entry “Foodlife,” and Eric Francis of Durham won the Personal Venture category for his “Home Garden Assistant.”

Computer Science majors Tommy Carpenter of Plainville and Caleb MacDonald of Madison won first prize in the undergraduate division of the International Student Research Competition organized by the Association for Computing Machinery. They won a $500 prize for their work incorporating iris recognition as a safety feature on mobile devices.

TESOL graduate students Laura Herold, Eloise Barreto, and Elvis Minga presented their research findings at the 31st New York State TESOL Applied Linguistics Conference held at Columbia University. The conference focused on “Strengthening Classroom Practices: The Link Between Research and Application,” and the students presented, respectively, on adult English learners’ vocabulary acquisition, adult ESL article acquisition, and Albanian immigrant attitudes toward their native language and its impact on their children.

Three seniors received top honors at CCSU’s 2010 Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day. History major Laura Elliott of Manchester won the Arts & Humanities Senior Prize for her paper “City Walls as a Political Canvas: Loyalist and Republican Murals in Derry” inspired during her Study Abroad trip to Great Britain. Newtown’s Keenan Golder, a physics and earth sciences major, took his research to Utah where he studied “Oligocene Ichnofossils in the Non-Marine Limestone of the Brian Head Formation” located in Bryce Canyon National Park. Sherri Bednarz, a psychology major from New Britain, reviewed the records of juveniles who had been incarcerated for serious sexual offenses in the southeastern US for her study of “The Predictive Power of Callous Unemotional Traits in Juvenile Sexual Offenders.” They each received $500 and an all-expenses paid trip to the National Conference for Undergraduate Research held at the University of Montana.

The Elihu Burritt Library presented Undergraduate Research Awards to two students for their outstanding work. Laci Corridor of Farmington reviewed current literature focused on anorexia nervosa and Gregory Person of New Britain examined women’s conceptualizations of gender and class during the French Revolution. Each received a $350 prize.

Nearly 120 students—a record number of participants—took part in CCSU’s ninth annual Graduate Research and Creative Presentation. The event was organized by Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies Paulette Lemma, along with her staff, and is designed to inspire collaboration and interaction among faculty and students while advancing knowledge through innovation and research. Three master’s degree students were named Outstanding Scholars: Emily Gifford, History; Krista Perrella, Biomolecular Sciences; and Macdara MacColl, Marriage & Family Therapy.

The Engineering Department is “over the moon” about its 7th place finish in NASA’s 17th annual Great Moonbuggy Race. The team traveled to Huntsville, AL to compete against 70 teams representing engineering schools from 18 states, as well as Canada, Germany, India, Puerto Rico, and Romania. The CCSU students included: Walid Alomari of East Windsor, Emmanuel Figueroa of Hartford, Pawel Abramek of New Britain, Massab Hashmi of Rocky Hill, Jeffrey Cloutier of Mystic, Hitesh Shah of East Hartford, Carly Woodward of West Hartford, Mounier El Rassamni of Waterbury, Jason Williams of Bloomfield, Nicholas Manocchio of Terryville, Joseph Wickham of Colchester, Majidullah Dehlavi of Dubai, UAE, and Arsalan Shamim of Bristol.

For three days in May, the Human Powered Vehicle Club hosted the Eastern Division of the Human Powered Vehicle Challenge, involving 29 teams from 24 universities from the eastern US, Canada, and Venezuela. As host, CCSU received a $1,000 monetary prize and a plaque.

A prestigious award for theater directing was presented to Gabbi Mendelsohn, an English major from Vernon. The honor came from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Washington, DC, along with $1,000 for a full membership in the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and a summer residency at the Eugene O’Neill Theater in Waterford. It’s the second consecutive year that a CCSU student won the award.

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