Southern Alumni Magazine Summer '23

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Research shows education increases happiness. Here’s to joy!

ALUMNI MAGAZINE | Summer | 23 a publication for alumni and friends of Southern Connecticut State University


14 In the Marvelous Midst of It

Southern is a hub for arts and culture in the state — a position forwarded by academic programs emphasizing experiential learning and partnerships with Elm Shakespeare Company, Long Wharf Theatre, and the New Haven Symphony Orchestra.

18 In Good Spirits

He got his industry start delivering alcohol. Now, he’s at the top of the spirits game. Raise a toast to Nick Doyle, ’90.


Eighty percent of college graduates responding to a nationwide survey feel it’s very important to derive a sense of purpose from their work. Members of the Southern community share thoughts on meaningful employment. How they found it. How others might do the same.


38 Game On

Working full time as a social media content creator, Shawn Gilhuly, ’17, sees sky-high successes (250,000 fans! viral posts!) and maddening lows (online harassment! rent is due!). Fortunately, he has a degree in psychology to draw on to help himself and his followers.

28 Thank You Coach

Tom Lang retired last spring as Southern’s winningest men’s soccer coach. We look back at his 25-year-career with the Owls — and introduce Kevin Anderson, ’94, who’s taking the reins of the team.

2 ■ From the President

3 ■ Campus News

12 ■ True Blue

21 ■ Social Southern

The New York Times thinks you should visit New Haven.

30 ■ Supporting Southern

A major gift establishes the Borajkiewicz Family Endowment for Student Leadership.

34 ■ Owl Update

As an undergrad, Michelle Ritchie, ’15, studied Connecticut coastlines ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. Now, she’s an assistant professor at the Institute for Disaster Management at the University of Georgia. 36 ■ Hidden Campus 40 ■ Alumni News 44 ■ Alumni Notes 48 ■ Seen

Spaces & Places in New Haven
Campus | Summer | 23 Southern ALUMNI MAGAZINE


ecently, I had the great pleasure to be a member of the platform party at the undergraduate commencement ceremony in Bridgeport, Conn.

Witnessing the celebrations of families and friends in the stands and seeing graduates walk across the stage, clearly full of joy, showed me what it means to earn a degree from Southern. The spirit of the ceremony certainly reflected this university’s historic commitment to access, social justice, and creating opportunity through higher education.

Given my own background as a first-generation student raised in poverty, these values have always been important to me in my personal life and my 40-year career in public higher education.

So, as I begin my new role as Southern’s interim president, I am excited to be here! I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to advance the university’s mission, interact with our students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and build on the significant work of President Joe Bertolino during his seven-year tenure.

In my most recent role as CEO of Housatonic Community College (HCC), I emphasized building positive, productive community connections. And I see the same potential in New Haven, both in terms of creating new partnerships for Southern and growing existing ones.

At HCC, I was also deeply engaged in mentoring students, advising them on how to realize their full potential and put their education to the best possible use after graduation. At Southern’s commencement day, it was inspiring to see how many graduates and guests stood to be recognized as first-generation students.

Clearly, the opportunity to transform lives exists here, and I look forward to continuing to champion it.

Having already held a leadership role in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, I understand the fiscal and related challenges that we are facing at Southern. I managed similar obstacles during my tenure as provost and then interim president at Harris-Stowe State University, an historically Black university in St. Louis, Mo. Despite being under-resourced and underfunded, we were able to do some incredible work, and I know that is also the case here.

As I begin my presidency, I want to help spread the word about the great work happening at Southern. For example: the expansive new business and health buildings and their capacity for community engagement; the distinctive academic programs targeting major areas of workforce need; and the initiatives both on and off campus to provide more educational pathways for underrepresented groups.

I look forward to meeting as many of our alumni as possible at Homecoming, athletic events, and other gatherings as I familiarize myself with Southern and “The Owl Way.” You can also connect with me on my social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @DrDTopOwl.

Thank you for your continued support of Southern and our institution-wide commitment to student success! I wish you a relaxing, enjoyable summer with your friends and family.



■ Farewell President Joe

“I am particularly proud of the productive relationships that we have built with our neighbors in New Haven and beyond, the growing recognition of our distinctive excellence in a range of academic disciplines, and how we have extended a commitment to social justice throughout our institution, providing an example for our students to make positive change when they enter society.”

ONJuly 1, 2023, President Joe Bertolino concluded his tenure as the 12th president in Southern’s almost 130-year history to assume leadership of Stockton University in Galloway, N.J. Bertolino, who was affectionately known as President Joe and Southern’s “Top Owl,” joined the university in July 2016. In the ensuing seven years, he worked to forward Southern’s position as a social justice university, with an emphasis on access, opportunity, and student success and engagement.

“While the decision to leave Southern has been difficult to make, in particular as we continue to transition through these post-pandemic years, it is one that Bil [Bertolino’s husband] and I believe is best for our family. We will return to the place where I grew up, and where my father and many of our shared loved ones still reside,” he wrote.

Bertolino’s time at Southern was marked by numerous successes, including:

• Reintroducing Southern to the region and beyond through a major branding campaign.

• Implementing the university’s first comprehensive enrollment-management plan and creating a range of workforce needs-driven programs, including an array of accelerated graduate offerings and the first Doctorate of Social Work program in New England.

• Creating the institution’s first Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and its first DEI strategic plan.

• Establishing partnerships with area community colleges to provide smoother entry to Southern for transfer students.

• Opening the Barack H. Obama University Magnet School on campus, in partnership with the New Haven Public Schools system.

• Establishing and enhancing community partnerships at multiple levels, including those with Yale New Haven Health, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, and Long Wharf Theatre

■ Southern Welcomes Interim President

ONJune 1, the Southern community officially welcomed Dr. Dwayne Smith to campus as interim president, a role that draws on his almost 40 years of leadership experience at both public and private colleges and universities. Since 2020, Smith was the chief executive officer of Housatonic Community College, where he was noted for immersing himself in the Bridgeport community and tirelessly advocating for the campus and its students.

“I am fully confident that Dr. Smith’s immense higher education skills, scholarship, and experience, as well as his infectious enthusiasm will serve Southern well,” says Terrence Cheng, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system.

Smith has deep academic experience at the university level, both as a faculty member and an administrator. Before coming to Housatonic, he served as interim president of Harris-

Stowe State University in St. Louis, Mo., following his successful 13 years as that institution’s provost. Previously, Smith was an assistant vice president of academic affairs at Avila University in Kansas City, Mo. In Missouri, he also held key academic and leadership roles at Park University in Parkville, the University of Missouri Columbia, and Truman State University in Kirksville, where he created the university’s first diversity department.

Throughout his career, he has helped secure more than $16 million in external funding. A sought-after speaker, he has received numerous awards and honors for his service to the community, including being recognized as one of the Connecticut NAACP’s “100 Most Influential Blacks in Connecticut” in 2021.

President Smith shares thoughts on his appointment on page 2.

Summer 2023 | 3
The graduation platform party applauds President Joe Bertolino and presents him with a gift.

■ Presenting Our Graduates

THE CLASS OF 2023 WAS HONORED ON MAY 19 at an undergraduate commencement ceremony at the Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. Juju Chang, the Emmy Awardwinning co-anchor of ABC’s Nightline, delivered the commencement address to some 1,200 graduates and almost 8,000 family and friends: “I know it feels like the world is on fire . . . but what I would ask of you is don’t turn away. The scariest thing in the world to me is apathy. I’m asking you to care,” said Chang.

Toni Nathaniel Harp, a former state legislator who served as mayor of New Haven from 2014 to 2020, was presented with an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during the ceremony. The Class of 1973 also was honored during the event in recognition of its 50th anniversary.

Graduate Commencement Highlights

ONMay 18, Southern held two separate graduate commencement exercises in the John Lyman Center for the Performing Arts for those earning master’s degrees, sixthyear professional diplomas, and doctoral degrees. About 550 graduates participated.

College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Health and Human Services

• Commencement Speaker

Jacqueline Brown, ’14, M.A. ’15, M.S. ’18, director of the Speech-Language Pathology Program at the University of New Haven

• Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

Matt Fleury, president and chief executive officer of the Connecticut Science Center and former chair of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Board of Regents

• President’s Medal of Distinction

Barbara Fair, M.S.W. ’99, a social worker and community activist who has long championed the rights of incarcerated people

School of Business and the College of Education

• Commencement Address and President’s Medal of Distinction

Alexander Clark, founder and chief executive officer of Technolutions


■ School of Business Earns AACSB International Accreditation

THE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS HAS EARNED ACCREDITATION from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

International — a premier mark of quality that is held by only five percent of business schools worldwide. AACSB accreditation is a testament to Southern’s commitment to excellence in all areas of business education, including teaching, research, curriculum development, and student learning. The School of Business successfully completed a rigorous review process conducted by peers in the business education community,

distinctive credential,” says Jess Boronico, dean of the School of Business.

In step with this milestone, the School of Business has moved to a new home. Located on Farnham and Wintergreen avenues, the four-story, 60,000-square-foot building includes classrooms/lecture halls, a marketing

Dr. Dwayne Smith, Interim President

Michael K. Kingan, Vice President for Institutional Advancement

Executive Director, SCSU Foundation, Inc.


Patrick Dilger, Director of Integrated Communications & Marketing

Villia Struyk, Editor

Mary Pat Caputo, Associate Editor

Marylou Conley, ’83, Art Director

Isabel Chenoweth, Photographer

Jason Edwards, ’21, Malcolm Smiley, Contributing Photographers

Mary Verner, ’14, MBA ’18, Alumni Notes


Gregory Bernard, ’04, Director of Alumni Relations (203) 392-6500


Southern Connecticut State University

Office of Integrated Communications & Marketing/Southern Alumni Magazine

501 Crescent Street New Haven, CT 06515-1355

Telephone (203) 392-6591; fax (203) 392-5083

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ensuring that Southern has the resources, credentials, and commitment needed to provide students with a first-rate, futurefocused business education.

“The School of Business is happy to join its academic peers that have demonstrated their commitment to overall high-quality management education and a core conviction to advance their mission by way of attaining this

behavioral lab area with an observation room, a community room that seats about 100 people, a large classroom and administrative suite for the MBA program, and an area designated for financial market and data analytics. It is the first building constructed by the State of Connecticut to have a net-zero carbon footprint with energy provided from geothermal wells and solar panels.

Southern Alumni Magazine is published by the university in cooperation with the SCSU Alumni Association two times a year and distributed free of charge to alumni and friends of the university. Opinions expressed in Southern Alumni Magazine do not necessarily reflect those of the university or the SCSU Alumni Association. Although the editors have made every reasonable effort to be factually accurate, no responsibility is assumed for errors.

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Southern Connecticut State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religious creed, age, gender, gender identity or expression, national origin, marital status, ancestry, present or past history of mental disorder, learning disability or physical disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, genetic information, or criminal record. Inquiries related to nondiscrimination policies and Title IX may be forwarded to Paula Rice, Title IX Coordinator and Director of Diversity and Equity Programs, 501 Crescent Street, BU 240, New Haven, CT, 06515; (203) 392-5568;

Southern ALUMNI
Summer 2023 | 5

■ New $3 Million Grant Targets State’s Social Work and Nursing Shortages

SOUTHERN’S COLLEGE OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES HAS BEEN AWARDED A $3 MILLION GRANT as part of a new threeyear higher education initiative launched by Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont to address an historic shortage of nursing and behavioral health providers.

Through the grant, Southern was awarded $1.4 million for its accelerated nursing program and $1.6 million for its social work program. The funds will be used toward tuition assistance for Connecticut-based students and faculty recruitment and retention, allowing Southern to send more graduates into the healthcare workforce, including an increased number of students of color. Additionally, Southern received innovation grant funding to expand its part-time nursing program that is tailored to working certified nursing assistants as well as grant funding to establish fieldplacement training centers for Master of Social Work students. Southern was the only school in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system to qualify for all components of the grant.

■ Calling All Star Gazers

MORRILL HALL PLANETARIUM IS HOME TO A NEW DIGITAL PROJECTOR , equipping Southern’s two astronomy group leaders, Elliott Horch and Dana Casetti, with a critical educational tool. “The observatory has long been a source of interest to the public because of the domes,” says Eric Anderson, the planetarium’s lead technician. “We have world-class astronomers here on campus doing incredible work. This is a win-win.”

The planetarium is jointly managed by the Physics and Earth Science departments, drawing students across interdisciplinary lines and building awareness around the university’s internationally recognized work in astronomy and astrophysics — much of it supported by grants from outside organizations, including the National Science Foundation. Highlights include:

• Horch’s work with a team of scientists at the Gemini Observatory, which has garnered international attention. Among their discoveries: the sharpest image ever of the universe’s most massive known star.

• Casetti and Terrance Girard, research associate, are co-principal investigators exploring the astrometric reach of the Hubble Space Telescope. Their work is forwarded by a $350,000 grant.

• In the fall semester, Xavier Lesley, a graduate student majoring in applied physics, won the Astronomy Poster Prize at the National Society of Black Physicists annual meeting in Charlottesville, Va.


Loida Reyes, chair of the Department of Social Work, and Maria Krol, chair of the School of Nursing, meet in the new College of Health and Human Services building. (from left) Professors Elliott Horch, Dana Casetti, Eric Anderson, and Dushmantha Jayawickreme collaborated on the reopening of the planetarium inside Morrill Hall.

faculty spotlight


INTERESTS : mammalogy, physiological ecology, thermal biology, and animal behavior


Guided by Dunbar, a team of undergraduate students set up camera traps on campus — stationary cameras that are automatically triggered when an animal moves into a pre-

determined position. The cameras, which are camouflaged and minimally invasive, provide a sustainable method to track wildlife without interfering with the natural environment.


BIOLOGISTS : “The data they collect will address research questions that focus on measuring biodiversity, species

richness and abundance — and how these things are influenced by habitat features, temperature, available light and light pollution, and pedestrian traffic,” says Dunbar.

A LONG - TERM GOAL : Data collected by students in Dunbar’s class may seed other projects elsewhere, leading to endless possible collaborations

with other scientific institutions and publications.

MAGIC MOMENTS : Animal sightings remain a thrill for the professor and students, says Dunbar: “You’ll hear these audible exclamations, ‘Oh, my gosh. Oh, look at that.’ This moment of joy and excitement because somebody captured a coyote.”

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■ An Evening with Spike Lee


LECTURE ON MAY 6 , touching on a broad range of topics — from Black representation in the film industry to pursuing a career in the arts. The talk, entitled “That’s My Story and I’m Sticking to It,” was moderated by Siobhan Carter-David, professor of history, who directed the conversation from the Lyman Center for the Performing Arts. Prior to the lecture, Lee met with students from Southern, the New Haven Boys and Girls Club, the Educational Center for the Arts, and Cooperative High School to answer questions and share words of wisdom.

Widely regarded as a premier African American filmmaker, Lee has directed and produced more than 30 films since his first feature, She’s Gotta Have It, which received the esteemed Prix de la Jeunesse Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1986. His recent projects include Da 5 Bloods (2020) and BlacKkKlansman (2018), for which Lee won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

■ NSF Awards $1.4 Million Grant for STEM Teachers

IKE MUCH OF THE COUNTRY, the State of Connecticut has a shortage of well-qualified STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) teachers. Three students — Amanda Hall, Andrew Mansfield, and Joseph Cortez — are among those preparing to meet the need as Southern’s first Robert Noyce Teacher Scholars. The program, funded through a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation, is designed to strengthen mathematics and science education (especially physics and chemistry) in the state’s highneeds school districts by attracting and preparing talented future teachers.

Students accepted into the Noyce program receive scholarships covering full tuition and fees for their final two years at Southern, plus up to $800 toward books. In exchange, they agree to teach in a high-needs school district for at least four years after graduation. The program is coordinated by Carrie-Anne Sherwood, assistant professor of curriculum and learning and the coordinator of secondary science education.

Southern’s partners include Gateway Community College, New Haven Public Schools, Hamden Public Schools, Meriden Public Schools, and Cooperative Educational Services.

[from left] Seniors Amanda Hall, Andrew Mansfield, and Joseph Cortez are Southern’s Noyce Scholars.

n FastFacts. GREAT NEWS.

• More than $774,000 was raised by 1,698 donors (a new record!) on Southern’s Day of Caring on April 4. The sum includes more than $105,000 for scholarships.

• Southern’s School of Graduate and Professional Studies offers 100+ nationally ranked master’s, sixth-year, doctorate, and post-graduate programs.

• Southern’s Center for Academic Success and Accessibility Services fuels student success: there were 40,000 visits in the 2022-23 academic year.

• The on-campus food pantry located in the Wintergreen Building was used this year by more than 530 students — half of whom are eligible for federal Pell grants for those with the greatest need. When basic needs are met, students are likely to succeed: the average GPA of the students using the pantry is 3.03

• Buley Library is preparing a family-friendly study space equipped with childfriendly furniture, books, and toys alongside standard furnishings for student parents. Buley also includes a lactation space, a gender neutral restroom with a new changing table, and juvenile fiction and nonfiction book collections.

n Students Travel to Egypt for UN Climate Conference

A SOUTHERN CONTINGENT OF FOUR ATTENDED THE UNITED NATIONS CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE in Egypt last November, serving as official observers at the event known as the COP27 (Conference of the Parties) Conference. About 100 heads of state, including President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron, joined the annual meeting of world leaders to discuss plans for tackling climate change. Gregory Rodriguez, ’19, M.S. ’22, and Caitlin McLaughlin, ’22, both then in Southern’s master of science in environmental studies program, traveled with Miriah Kelly, assistant professor of environmental science, and Erin Heidkamp, director of international education.

n Early College Program Gives High School Students a Jump Start

MORE THAN 700 HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS TOOK COLLEGE-LEVEL CLASSES THROUGH SOUTHERN’S EARLY COLLEGE PROGRAM IN 2022-23 — a nearly 350 percent increase over two years. Students can take up to 30 college credits during their junior and senior years in high school, the equivalent of a year of college classes.

Courses are offered at Southern (on-ground, virtual, or hybrid) or by taking equivalent courses offered at participating high schools in partnership with Southern. The cost is $65 per semester; the fee is waived for high schoolers enrolled in the state’s free or reduced-price lunch program.

More information, including a list of participating schools and districts, at

Summer 2023 | 9
[from left] Caitlin McLaughlin, ’22; Miriah Kelly, assistant professor of environmental science; Gregory Rodriguez, ’19, M.S. ’22; and Erin Heidkamp, director of the Office of International Education

n Faculty Honors

• Lisa Haylon, assistant professor of accounting at the School of Business, received the highly competitive Michael J. Barrett Doctoral Dissertation Award from the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). Haylon, who is completing doctoral studies at the University of Scranton, was recognized for her dissertation, “An Investigation of the Tactics Used to Create Collusive Fraud Teams.” The IIA is an international professional association serving more than 230,000 members.

• The National Academies of Practice inducted Joan Kreiger as a Distinguished Fellow in the Respiratory Care Academy on April 1, in Washington, D.C. Kreiger is the coordinator of the Respiratory Care Program in the Department of Health and Movement Sciences at Southern. She is a licensed, registered respiratory therapist with an extensive background in teaching healthcare.

• Elena Schmitt was selected for a prestigious Fulbright English Language Specialist Project sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Schmitt, a professor of applied linguistics and coordinator of the master’s in bilingual education and TESOL program, presented at a virtual workshop for the National Assocation of Teachers of English on world language assessment in Russia.

Service Learning in Peru

Students majoring in nursing and communication disorders participated in a service-learning trip to Cusco, Peru, organized through Southern’s College of Health and Human Services. The trip focused on global health and providing care to underserved populations, with students volunteering in a variety of clinical

n Neil Proto Lecture Addresses Unequal Impact of Climate Change

THOSE MOST AFFECTED BY CLIMATE CHANGE often don’t have a seat at the table when it comes to making and implementing climate policies. Scientist Zoha Shawoo, a policy activist at the Stockholm Environment Institute, addressed the topic in-depth at the fourth Neil Proto Law and Social Justice Lecture and Symposium. The lecture series is presented annually through the generosity of Neil Thomas Proto, ’67, an author, playwright, and retired attorney, who has a long history of forwarding social justice issues.

settings, including a clinic in the remote village of Huancarani, located at 12,630 feet above sea level. Additionally, the travelers brought medical supplies and toiletries from the U.S. to donate to orphanages and clinics. The itinerary also included cultural and historical sites such as the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. The trip was organized by Maria

Krol, chairperson and associate professor of nursing. Guidance was also provided by Joshua Knickerbocker, assistant professor of nursing, and Svenja Gusewski, assistant professor of communication disorders. University photographer Isabel Chenoweth chronicles the trip in photos and words at

Lisa Haylon Joan Kreiger Elena Schmitt n [from left] Prior to graduating with a nursing degree, Felicia Laguerre, ’23, participated in a service-learning trip in Peru.

■ Global Fellowship Goes to Graduate Alumna

JULIE HELLER, M.S. ’22, was named a Global Learning Fellow by the National Education Association — and is one of only 50 educators in the nation and the only one from Connecticut to receive the honor. The year-long, professional-development program forwards teachers’ efforts to build global competency in their schools and help students thrive in an increasingly interconnected world. The fellowship culminates with a 10-day international field study in South Africa in July, during which fellows will investigate the historical and cultural context of the country while learning about its education system.

Heller, who graduated in December with a master’s degree in TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages), is a literacy content coach at Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury, Conn.

■ Celebrated Latino Journalist Visits Campus

■ Graduates Honored for Excellence

THE HENRY BARNARD DISTINGUISHED STUDENT AWARD was presented to four graduating seniors in recognition of academic achievement and contributions to Southern and the community. It is among the highest honors bestowed by the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system.

On April 11, Juan González delivered the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Social Justice

Keynote Lecture — speaking on immigration, human rights, and foreign policy. González, a staff writer with the New York Daily News from 1987 –2016 and frequent co-host of Democracy Now, also met journalism majors and other students. “I always considered myself more as a professional journalist than a historian and activist,” says González, author of the trailblazing book Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America. The annual lecture is presented by the university’s Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program.

Breanna Arce, a media studies major with a minor in film studies, worked as a diversity peer educator for the university’s Multicultural Center and as a community impact intern at the United Way of Greater Waterbury.

Fellow honoree Autumn Church majored in social work and minored in psychology. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, while balancing a full course load, she completed an internship for the emergency mobile psychiatric services team and worked for the Yale Child Study Center as a peer specialist.

Krista Jones graduated with dual majors: political studies (with an honors minor in transdisciplinary concepts and perspectives) and interdisciplinary studies, with concentrations in global studies and English language, literature, and writing. A member of the Honors College, she received the Presidential Merit Scholarship; served as chapter president of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society; and worked on the undergraduate pre-law journal Society, Justice and the Law. She also was president of the Class of 2023.

Samuel Martin majored in special education (K-12) with an honors minor in transdisciplinary concepts and perspectives. Martin was president of Southern’s Future Teachers Organization as well as a member of the Council for Exceptional Children and the Honors College Admissions Leadership Team. He also worked as a peer mentor at Southern and as a student mentor in the university-based Hamden Transition Academy.

Summer 2023 | 11
Julie Heller

■ Cross Country Crowned Regional Champs

The men’s cross country team won the NCAA Division II East Regional Championship, defeating 20 teams to bring home the first regional title in Southern program history. The event was held Nov. 19 in Garden City, N.Y.

The victory follows Southern’s first place finish at the Northeast-10 (NE10) Conference Championship, held in Colchester, Vt., on Nov. 6. Southern sophomore Jonathan Volpe (see sidebar) was crowned the NE10 individual champion, crossing the finish line first with a time of 24:39.8.

In related news, Sean Barkasy was named the NE10 Cross Country Rookie of the Year. Top honors also went to head coach John Wallin, who received both the NE10 and East Regional U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Coach of the Year awards.

■ Two NE10 Championships for Swimming and Diving

Yes, they did it again! The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams won their respective Northeast10 (NE10) Championships in 2023, both defending their conference titles at the event, held Feb. 9-12 in Worcester, Mass. Since joining the NE10 in 2003, the men’s and women’s teams each have won 15 out of 19 championships. (The tournament was canceled in 2021 due to the COVID19 pandemic.)

Building on the honors, the Owls head coach Tim Quill was named the 2022-23 NE10 Conference Men’s and Women’s Coach of the Year. Southern’s McAllistar Milne and Justice Glasgow are the NE10 Conference Swimmers of the Year.

■ Super Sixth NE10 Title for Men’s Track and Field

The men’s track and field team continues its reign in 2023. The Owls won their sixth consecutive Northeast-10 Outdoor Championships on May 6 in New Hampshire, earning 268.5 points to defeat second place Franklin Pierce with 132. Shane Smith was recognized for excellence after winning his second straight decathlon championship. (Smith also won the indoor heptathlon for the second time in a row.) Bernardo Mbaya, who won the shot-put championship, was honored by the NE10 as Outstanding Field Athlete.

Earlier in the season, the men’s team won their sixth straight NE10 Indoor Track and Field Championships — the 17th of all time — in Boston on Feb. 17. The Owls scored 230 points to defeat second place University of New Haven with 117.

Jonathan Volpe (see side bar) received Indoor Track Athlete of the Year honors from the NE10; the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) recognized Volpe for the East Region.

Cameron Belton was crowned the NE10 Indoor Field Athlete of the Year. Belton won the shot-put title at the NE10 tournament for the second consecutive time and is the NE10 record holder in the event (17.68 meters). Head coach John Wallin was named the East Region Coach of the Year.

The women’s track and field team finished second at both the NE10 outdoor and indoor tournaments. Proving one to watch, Anna-Sashia Jones was named the NE10 Conference Women’s Indoor and Outdoor Track Rookie of the Year. On the coaching staff, Adriana Carrasco, ’18, was selected the USTFCCCA East Region Assistant Coach of the Year.

From the pool to the playing field, a look at SOUTHERN ATHLETICS.
ROB RASMUSSEN PHOTO (clockwise from top left) Shane Smith, Bernardo Mbaya, Cameron Belton, Sean Barkasy, and Anna-Sashia Jones

■ Owls Gymnastics Soar in 2023

The gymnastics program set team records in three events in 2023: vault (48.725 on March 5), uneven bars (48.775 on Feb. 12), and floor exercise (49.2 on March 12). In April, the team competed at the 2023 USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Championships, hosted by Texas Woman’s University in Denton. Three Owls — Lexi Bracher, Ciana Rios, and Hannah Stahlbrodt — earned All-American honors at the event.

Leading up to the national competition, the Owls were standouts at the 2023 Gymnastics East Conference (GEC) Championship, hosted by William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., on March 18. Angel Lee won

Meet the Student Athlete

first place in the balance beam (9.875) and Stahlbrodt finished second in the all-around (38.825) at the championship. It was a dramatic comeback for Stahlbrodt, who recently returned to competing in the event after an injury in mid-2022. Southern’s Rios took third on the bars with a score of 9.825.

In addition to Southern, the GEC includes Brown University, Cornell University, the University of Bridgeport, University of Pennsylvania, West Chester University, William & Mary, and Yale.


A few accomplishments: Northeast-10 (NE10) cross country individual champion (2022) • NE10 outdoor 1,500-meter champion (2023) • NE10 indoor 800-meter champion (2023) • New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association indoor 1,000-meter champion (2023) • NE10 indoor 4x800-meter relay champion (2022) • New England outdoor 4x800-meter relay champion (2022)

High praise: 2023 NE10 Indoor Track Athlete of the Year and the East Region Indoor Track Athlete of the Year (U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association — USTFCCCA)

Record smasher: Volpe competed on the four-man team that holds Southern’s all-time indoor track and field record in the distance medley relay (09:42.99 on Feb. 11, 2022). He ran with Owen Gagne, Nigel Green, ’22, and Terrell Patterson.

Started running as a kid: “I was fast, and it was fun,” says Volpe, who first competed in his middle school track program. Prior to Southern, he ran with Naugatuck High School in Connecticut, where he was an All-State selection in cross country and track and field.

Game changer: Volpe, who finished 11th at the NE10 Cross Country Championship on Oct. 24, 2021, knew he was positioned for a strong finish at the fall 2022 tournament. “In the middle of the race, I thought, ‘I’m going to go for it,’” he says of ultimately finishing first.

So, how far is a cross country run? The team starts the season running 8K (4.97 miles), then graduates to 10K (6.2 miles) as the season progresses.

How he relaxes: eating out with friends. Three Brothers Diner in Hamden is a frequent stop.

Lucky charms: Volpe listens to music while stretching and always ties his shoes in a specific way. “I get made fun of,” he says of the process, which takes about eight minutes. “But so far, I haven’t been late for an event — and my shoes stay tied.”

Where to find him when not in class or training: “Probably in my room sleeping.”

Summer 2023 | 13
Sports management major, junior Cross Country • Track and Field Jonathan Volpe

In the Marvelo Marvelo

Southern is a hub for arts and culture — a position forwarded by academic programs emphasizing experiential learning and partnerships with Elm Shakespeare, Long Wharf Theatre, and the New Haven Symphony Orchestra.

SOUTHERN STUDENTS CAN WAX POETIC about the power of arts and cultural organizations — much of it learned through experience. Theatre major Callie Hoyt, ’23, is a telling example. Weeks before graduating, Hoyt completed an internship with the Long Wharf Theatre, a placement that culminated with her working at the organization’s annual benefit. The event, starring six-time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald, was held at the university’s John Lyman Center for the Performing Arts. Other Owls also were represented, among them senior theatre major Nicholas Moran, who assisted the audio and sound crew for McDonald alongside Michael Skinner, associate professor and chair of the Department of Theatre.

“Folks from [the International Festival of] Arts & Ideas, the [Yale] Schwarzman Center, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, and many others were here celebrating too. It felt like a reunion,” says Skinner, of the event that drew acclaimed artists, alumni, and students to Southern’s campus.

As in real estate, location has helped drive the university’s growing prominence in the arts and cultural arena. Southern is located midway between cultural meccas Boston and New York City, and more importantly, claims New Haven as its hometown. In 2023, the city was included on The New York Times annual list of “52 Places to Go,” lauded for its “thriving cultural life.” The city of New Haven’s Cultural Equity Plan, released in 2022, also meshes with Southern’s commitment to social justice.

Indeed, opportunities abound as illustrated by the 2022 Nonprofit Connecticut Cultural Census, conducted by Wilkening Consulting for the CT Humanities: New Haven County is home to 143 nonprofit cultural organizations, including museums (52 percent), performing arts (31 percent), and “other

cultural organizations,” such as schools of the arts, festivals, cinema, etc. (17 percent). Combined they had a total participation of 1.5 million — including educational visits and virtual programs that reached 161,000 students in pre-kindergarten to twelfth grade. And that’s not taking into consideration for-profit organizations.

Formal partnerships with three celebrated cultural organizations provide Southern students with life-changing educational opportunities. In 2016, the Elm Shakespeare Company became a theatre-inresidence at Southern, following two decades of rehearsing and building sets at the Lyman Center. Two others recently joined the fold. In March 2022, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra also began a residency at the Lyman Center. Then, in December 2022, the Long Wharf Theatre formalized a more than 30-year-long relationship with the university — after


ous Midst of It

the theatre left its longtime home on New Haven’s Sargent Drive in February. It’s goal: to start an exciting new chapter of creating theatre in spaces and stages across greater New Haven. Over the next few years, the company will produce in-person and virtual programming in partnership with local civic, cultural, and public institutions — including Southern.

These and similar partnerships bring countless benefits to students: on-campus performances, classroom visits, hands-on learning experiences, discounted and complimentary student tickets, and internships. They also support Southern’s newly launched minor in arts administration and cultural advocacy (AACA). Introduced in fall 2021, the 19-credit minor is particularly suited for students majoring in art, English, history, music, theatre, interdisciplinary studies, and those hoping to add an arts-related focus to another professional discipline.

Skinner and Joel Dodson, associate professor of English, are co-coordinators of the program.

“One of the goals of the new AACA minor is to give our students a hands-on introduction to the wide variety of creative and professional roles individuals play behind the scenes within an arts organization,” says Dodson. “Southern students will have unparalleled access to new kinds of internships, both in theatre management and other career experiences — from development to communication — of interest to students across the arts and humanities.”

The minor has proven popular, expanding from an initial 10 students to 30 students as of May 2023. Many are drawn by the promise of portfolio-building, real-world experiences. The minor includes a fourcredit internship, which can be broken into several shorter placements.

Summer 2023 | 15
Elm Shakespeare Company presents The Tempest at Edgerton Park in New Haven. The production was directed by Rebecca Goodheart.

“MY INTERNSHIP AT NEW HAVEN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA WAS VERY MEANINGFUL ,” says Callie Fusco, a business administration major with an AACA minor, of working with the development staff. “I was able to work on discovering my own style of writing through grants, sponsorships, and solicitation letters.”

There are other opportunities of note, among them: the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, the Connecticut Office of the Arts, Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and Kulturally Lit, focused on the arts within the African diaspora.

an epiphany. “I reached a conclusion,” she says. “No one is guaranteed a tomorrow. I should be living the life I’ve always wanted.”

Flash forward to the 2022-23 academic year: Sekscenski has transferred to Southern; now a senior, she’s majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing — and minoring in AACA. It’s an academic path that fuels her creativity while providing hands-on experience.

In her first year at Southern, Sekscenski researched the Arts Council of Greater New

FOR SENIOR LYDIA SEKSCENSKI, SOUTHERN’S FOCUS ON ARTS AND CULTURE OFFERED AN OPPORTUNITY to explore career paths and potentially find a calling. Sekscenski is a poet and singer-songwriter, who dreamed of studying English as a teen. Instead, in response to others’ urging, she attended Manchester Community College, enrolling in the occupational therapy assistant program. Sekscenski excelled academically but had a nagging feeling she was on the wrong path.

Her soul-searching hit a fever pitch when she was diagnosed with COVID-19 in October 2020. She was ill for 11 days, a period that was both frightening and

Haven; completed a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis of the Long Wharf Theatre; and worked on a cultural preservation project for the New Haven Symphony Orchestra on composer Helen E. Hagan, the first Black woman to graduate from Yale University. Coursework also brought Sekscenski and her peers to the Institute Library, the Beinecke Library, Shubert Theatre, NXTHVN, Possible Futures Bookstore, and Bloom, an artisan market and wellness and community space. And she completed a one-credit internship with Southern’s Department of Integrated Communications & Marketing.


Among her discoveries: she enjoys helping organizations tell their stories. “I now want a career that runs parallel to my creative pursuits, instead of working a job that fully exhausts all that creative, emotional energy,” says Sekscenski.

Opportunities continue to emerge. In May, three Southern students were among 12 selected for the prestigious Arts Workforce Initiative, a competitively appointed apprenticeship program launched by the Connecticut Office of the Arts. Throughout the summer, the students will learn on-the-job at three cultural

organizations: Elisedd McGinley, a studio art major minoring in AACA and English, is with CAST, a children’s theatre in Manchester, Conn.; Tyler Bizier, an art history major and AACA minor, is stationed with the City of New Haven Department of Arts Culture/New Haven Festivals; and Catherine Sigg, a music therapy major with an honors minor, has been placed at the Neighborhood Music School. (Recently launched, the music therapy program is the only one of its kind at any college in Connecticut.)

Meanwhile, the expanded exposure to professional arts and cultural organizations is clearly benefiting Southern’s students. In another achievement, the Department of Theatre was recently invited to present its production of Civil at the 55th Region 1 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Hyannis, Mass. — one of only five student productions to receive the honor. (It’s Southern’s second-consecutive invitation.) In all, the team of 23 students and faculty members earned 11 Certificates of Merit for the region — and

continues on page 46

Summer 2023 | 17
[clockwise from left] The New Haven Symphony Orchestra performs on campus. • Three moments from the award-winning production of Civil performed in the Lyman Center’s Kendall Drama Lab. • Announcing the partnership between Southern and the Long Wharf Theatre are: (from left) Callie Hoyt, ’23, and senior Nicholas Moran; Long Wharf Theatre Artistic Director Jacob Pedron; senior Maya Rose; Theatre Department Chair Michael Skinner; and seniors Callie Fusco and Alexina Cristante. • A scene from Elm Shakespeare Company’s production of The Tempest

YV In GoodSpirits


He got his industry start delivering alcohol. Now, he’s at the top of the spirits game. Raise a toast to Nick Doyle, ’90.

Summer 2023 | 19 _


HEN ROGER NICHOLAS (“NICK”) DOYLE, ’90, WAS DRIVING A BUDWEISER TRUCK as his side gig during his years at Southern, little did he know that he was steering into his future in the alcohol industry. Today, Doyle is the executive vice president and national sales manager of Mahalo Spirits Group, a multimillion-dollar

incubator that develops its own niche brands and seeds regional brands that have some traction in the marketplace.

The company is now the muscle behind Papa’s Pilar Rum, named after the author’s boat, a collaboration with the Ernest Hemingway family; the newly released Hemingway Rye First Edition was ranked the No. 4 rye (and No. 26 overall) on acclaimed whiskey writer Fred Minnick’s annual “Top 100 American Whiskeys” for 2022. Mahalo Spirits’ previous creation, Angel’s Envy bourbon, was sold to Bacardi in 2015, and other brands they have worked with are Suerte Tequila, Treaty Oak Whiskey, and Waterloo Gin.

Florida is home base for the company as well as Doyle, who grew up in Litchfield, Conn., and now lives in Venice. The distillery is located in the heart of Key West, where they see more than 100,000 people annually, and they also have a blending and bottling facility in Lakeland.

The path from truck driver to top executive was long and hard, but Doyle had a good time along the way. “When I was in college driving the Budweiser truck, I thought this would really be a great, fun industry to be in. And it is. It’s an interesting, dynamic consumer-goods business,” he says.

After graduating from Southern with a business administration degree (concentration in marketing), Doyle wasn’t sure of his next step. A recession was in full swing, making it difficult to find jobs. Intrigued by the spirits industry, he moved to Atlanta to look for work. He was the first in his family to move away from his hometown — and he credits Southern for his boldness.

“I arrived on campus a fairly naïve, 18-year-old, not sure what life had in store for me. I learned a lot there about myself, self-discipline, and the need for a plan for life,” says Doyle.

He was eventually hired by the Gallo Winery and moved to Orlando, Fla., as a sales rep in 1991. He worked his way through the Ernest and Julio Gallo management program for 12 years, then moved to a distributor called Breakthru Beverage in Florida for 20 years.

“I always had an affinity for smaller, niche craft brands that, with some attention, really had an opportunity to grow and flourish. That became a passion of mine. And through consolidation within the spirits business, there was an opportunity for me to take over Mahalo Spirits and Papa’s Pilar on the sales side and also become a partner in the company,” Doyle says. His 22year-old son, Chase, also works part time at Mahalo Spirits as a “rum runner,” someone who oversees tastings and charity events, and calls on clients.


Being raised in Litchfield, Conn., where his father, Roger “Dodge” Doyle, was the town police corporal for 46 years, could have been tricky for some, but Doyle kept out of trouble through sports.

page 47

Florida is home base for Nick Doyle, ’90, and the distillery. LAURA LYON PHOTOS continues on

Look Whooooo’s Talking Posts, ’Grams, Tweets, and More

Diploma in hand, future in sight. Commencement done right. #SCSU23

Is there anything more romantic than an Owl wedding?

Southern’s Two-Day Career & Internship Fair Series in March brought opportunities to explore career options and network. Thanks to the Office of Career and Professional Development. #BeMoreConnected

Owls are prepping for game day!

Jess Dow Field gets a major upgrade this summer.



Michele Tierney

Operations Manager in the Office of Instruction at Edmonds College

I found my first job after graduating SCSU in 2001 at the spring career fair! I gave my resume to Bernadette Cioffi when she was at the Yale University Library table, and it changed my life!

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Connect with Dr. Dwayne Smith, interim president: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @DrDTopOwl

Summer 2023 | 21
the Conversation!
Jonathan Dupnik, ’16, MBA ’21, and Devon Wrinn-Dupnik, ’19


THE NEW YORK TIMES RECOGNIZED SOUTHERN’S HOMETOWN OF NEW HAVEN AS ONE OF “52 PLACES TO GO” IN 2023, citing the city on its annual list of stellar travel destinations alongside Madrid, Spain; Taipei, Taiwan; Charleston, South Carolina; Auckland, New Zealand; and other gems. The Times lauded New Haven as a “home to tinkerers and rebels, and a treasure trove of contemporary art and architecture.” Southern students have long capitalized on all the New Haven region has to offer — including its position as an arts hub (page 14) and the second-largest cluster of biotechnology companies in New England. And no New Haven spotlight would be complete without mention of its restaurants: “one of the best food scenes in the country for a city of its size,” says The Times. Plan to visit during Homecoming, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. Details to come at


SOMETIMES A PAYCHECK JUST ISN’T ENOUGH. A whopping nine out of 10 professionals in the U.S. say they’d trade a percentage of their earnings for work that was more meaningful.* Research shows they’re onto something: in fact, college graduates who report a high level of purpose at their jobs are ten times more likely to describe their overall state of well-being as “thriving.”**

percent of college graduates surveyed nationwide say it’s important to derive a sense of purpose from their work.** Members of the Southern community share thoughts on meaningful employment. How they found it. How others can do the same.

So, how does one go about meshing work with a sense of purpose? Southern Alumni Magazine recently talked to members of the university community who have found meaning in their careers — or are in the process of charting that course. (Shout out to Frank Tavarez-Mora, ’16, a medical student planning to address healthcare inequity.)

Their stories are highly unique. Some were drawn to a specific occupation since early childhood, an almost innate knowledge. For others, among them, Thierry Thesatus, the road to career fulfillment came with twists and turns.

“It’s been a very different career path than what I once expected,” says Thesatus, who joined Southern in August 2022 as associate dean for career and student success. It’s an ideal fit, he says, acknowledging it took soul-searching years ago to shift from an early goal of teaching history. He gladly shares his happyending story with students.

From day one, his teams provide a wealth of guidance to students. That’s everything from finding the right course of study (at Southern,those who have not declared a major are known as “exploratory majors,” and there’s a special program just for them) to the search for internships and post-graduate jobs.

The Gallup research suggests this assistance is critical. Consider the two undergraduate experiences found to align most with students ultimately finding purposeful work: 1) having an applied job or internship, and 2) finding someone who encourages their goals and dreams.

Summer 2023 | 23
*Harvard Business Review **Gallup, Inc.

OME CHILDREN ARE OBSESSED WITH HORSES OR TRAINS. For Skyler Puckett, the schoolroom held the magic. “My thirdgrade teacher was such a role model. I even tried to dress like her,” says Puckett, recalling a favorite pair of pink shoes that echoed her mentor’s.

Puckett’s parents created a fantasy classroom in their basement with furnishings provided by her grandfather; a school custodian, he rescued old desks and white boards slated for the trash. As a fifth-grader, Puckett “taught” American Girl dolls and neighborhood friends — even driving them home on her bike/school bus at the end of the pretend school day.

Years of play foretold a real-world passion for education. But it took time to come to fruition. Puckett, a first-generation college student, transferred to Southern as a sophomore. She initially majored in nursing, then switched to psychology with a concentration in mental health. “I knew I wanted a helping profession,” she says.

A further epiphany came senior year during an internship. Puckett was assigned to a school classroom in East Haven

during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I saw the teachers doing so much for their students,” she says. “I thought, wait a minute, this is what I’ve always loved.”

Puckett graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in psychology on May 16, 2021. That fall, she started Southern’s Master of Arts in Teaching program. “At first, I was a bit mad at myself,” she says of the shift in career aspirations. “But looking at the big picture, nothing went to waste. Those psychology courses help so much in the classroom.”

Puckett completed her graduate degree with a perfect 4.0 grade point average on Dec. 18, 2022. The next day she was leading her class of 16 second graders at John Barry Elementary School in Meriden. She was offered the newly created position while student-teaching at another school in the city. “I am so grateful,” she says, of all she learned from supervising teacher Jennifer Deangelo.

Thanks goes to her parents as well. “They helped me set up my classroom, this time in a real school,” she says, smiling at the full-circle moment. “They are so happy for me. I am a teacher, and it’s even better than I’d hoped.”

Skyler Puckett, ’21, M.A.T. ’22

FRANK TAVAREZ-MORA KNOWS A HERO WHEN HE SEES ONE: “There are people who grow up wanting to be firefighters, pilots, and astronauts. I’ve wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember.”

A third-year medical student at Quinnipiac University, Tavarez-Mora was born with sickle cell disease (SCD) — an inherited red blood cell disorder characterized by episodes of pain, lower resistance to infections, organ damage, anemia, joint degeneration, and other health problems. The exact number of people living with SCD in the United States is unknown, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are 100,000 — most of whom are Black. One out of every 365 Black babies are born with SCD in the U.S., having inherited two sickle cell genes, one from each parent. Additionally, about 1 in 13 Black babies are born with the sickle cell trait, which occurs when only one gene is inherited. Tavarez-Mora has never known life without SCD. As an undergraduate, he

focused on following a healthy lifestyle to help control symptoms. “A lot of it was learning my body and my triggers,” he says.

As a first-generation college student, Tavarez-Mora faced additional challenges, including navigating the road to medical school. A biology major at Southern, he worked in the cancer research laboratory run by Sarah Crawford, professor of biology. He also was drawn to philosophy and psychology courses. He notes that one of his recommendation letters for medical school was written by Chelsea Harry, assistant chair of the Department of Philosophy. She’s a life-time mentor, he says.

Tavarez-Mora also found support at Michelle’s House, the Connecticut chapter of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, located in New Haven. He’s a longtime volunteer — now serving on the board of directors — and was the organization’s 2020 scholarship recipient. “Their faith in me

helped me believe in myself,” he says.

His medical training has moved to clinical settings, and he’s exploring different specializations. He says one thing is certain: “I definitely want to work in an urban setting where I am able to serve a minority population.”

He remains committed to educating others about SCD. “It is highly underserved and stigmatized. The disease itself was discovered more than 100 years ago [in the West.] But, before 2017, there was only one FDA-approved medication to treat it,” Tavarez-Mora says.

He believes the cause of the stigma is twofold: SCD primarily affects Black and brown people, and it requires strong pain medications to treat complications. The latter can be misunderstood by the public, in the midst of the opioid epidemic. “So much of it is educating ourselves, and listening to people and their stories,” he says. “I think that is a big part of being a successful physician.”

Summer 2023 | 25
Frank TavarezMora, ’16

OR BRITT CONROY, THE COMPLETION OF MILITARY SERVICE WASN’T MARKED BY A HARD LINE. After serving in the United States Air Force for more than six years, she continues her work on behalf of the military community at Southern, where she was named coordinator of veteran, military, and adult learner support services in July 2022. Her appointment follows the retirement of Jack Mordente, M.S. ’77, 6th Yr.’79, who established the university’s program for veterans more than 47 years ago.

The program remains a beacon. Like many, Conroy applied to Southern after learning about its Veterans Center. “It was such a relief. There are so many things to be aware of when using education benefits,” she says.

Now, Conroy is smoothing the transition for others. It’s a big job: 261 students at Southern were classified as veterans, military, or military dependents, as of fall 2022. Conroy and her staff help with everything from applying for higher education benefits to determining what courses

are covered by the military. The Veterans Center, located on the lower level of Engleman Hall, also fosters a sense of community. It’s a large, comfortable space furnished with couches, desks, computers, and a television.

Conroy’s support extends to adult learners in the redesigned position — including those without a military connection. “Several students have come in and asked, ‘What do you offer for adult learners?’ My response: ‘What do you need?’” she says. “I started at Southern when I was 29. I understand.”

Growing up, Conroy envisioned a military career. But after the 9/11 attacks, her parents begged her to try college. So, she spent a semester at Gateway Community College, then proceeded with her long-held plan to enlist. She was 19.

“I had a great experience,” says Conroy, who served mainly at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. Trained as a diagnostic imaging technologist, she became an instructor and earned the

non-commissioned officer rank of staff sergeant.

After leaving active service, Conroy continued working as an imaging technologist. Then, following several cross-country moves, she returned to her home state of Connecticut with plans to put her higher education benefits to use.

Self-described as a poor high school student, she says she fell in love with learning at Southern, earning two degrees — a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in public health. She also worked in the Veterans Center as a student and was an active member of the Veterans Club, as well as a graduate assistant in the First-Year Experience Program and an academic adviser.

She draws on all in her new position. “Students are here to get their degrees. They shouldn’t have to struggle with what happens in the background,” says Conroy. “That’s my goal: to be that go-between and answer their questions.”

Britt Conroy, ’16, M.P.H. ’20

Thierry Thesatus

THIERRY THESATUS’ CAREER TRAJECTORY PERFECTLY ILLUSTRATES THE POWER OF HARD WORK, NETWORKING, AND PERSEVERANCE — not to mention the willingness to chart a new course. “It’s been a very different career path than what I once expected,” says Thesatus, who, as an undergraduate, envisioned a career teaching history.

Several degrees later, he’s the associate dean for career and student success at Southern. Since August 2022, he’s led the Office of Career and Professional Development and supervised Academic Advising, as well as the Center for Academic Success and Accessibility Services (CASAS).

A first-generation college student, Thesatus majored in history and planned to teach grades 7-12. His commitment was strong, but the economy wasn’t, and there were few jobs for teachers. He was substitute teaching when a fraternity brother — “a great friend and mentor” — recommended him for a position with Good Shepard Services (GSS), a nonprofit serving

youth and families in struggling neighborhoods throughout New York City.

GSS operates more than 90 programs, with services ranging from domestic-violence prevention to housing.

Thesatus joined GSS in 2012 as an advocate counselor with its alternative, evening education program for students 17½ to 21 who needed credits to graduate from high school. In addition to teaching history classes, he provided counseling and case management.

He excelled in the position, and 1½ years later, was asked to transition to working on the internship component of the program. He thought long and hard about the shift he was being asked to make. Once again, mentors offered the best advice: “They told me, ‘Say yes, and trust in your ability to learn,’” says Thesatus.

In the next 12 years, he gained a wealth of experience in the career readiness and employment field. He also moved continues on page 47

Summer 2023 | 27

Thank You Coach

Tom Lang retires as Southern’s winningest men’s soccer coach — a 25-year stop in his lifelong love affair with the beautiful game.

BEFORE SOCCER FOUND ITS FOOTING IN THE UNITED STATES, THE BEAUTIFUL GAME FOUND TOM LANG. Born in Ireland and raised in England, he watched “football on the telly,” attended professional matches, and played every day in the streets. By the time his family moved to the United States in 1969 when he was 12 years old, soccer had become part of who he was. “I grew up in a soccer culture,” he says, “and found my love for the game.”

After an All-American career at Adelphi University in New York and four years playing professionally, Lang carried that love of the game through a 46-year coaching career, the past 25 at Southern, where he experienced extraordinary success. Lang led the Owls to two NCAA Division II National Championships, in 1998 and 1999. They were undefeated throughout the 1999 season. His Owls made 13 NCAA Division II tournament appearances and topped the Northeast-10 regular-season competition five times, winning the championship in 2007.

The National Soccer Coaches Association of America named Lang the Division II Coach of the Year twice, in 1998 and 1999. He retired in May as the alltime winningest coach in Southern’s men’s soccer history, amassing a 307-117-55 win, loss, tie record, which translates to a sparkling winning percentage of .698. What’s more, he is the only person to have won an NCAA Division II title as both a player and a coach.

A four-year star at Adelphi, Lang captained the team for three years. Throughout his collegiate career, the forward scored 41 goals and amassed 105 points. He led his Panthers to four straight NCAA tournaments, and they won the 1974 NCAA Division II championship. Adelphi inducted him into its Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994.

In his first year as a professional, 1977, his teammates on the New York Cosmos included Pelé, Carlos Alberto, Franz Beckenbauer, and Giorgio Chinaglia. They made an impression on him. So did a man with a lower profile, assistant coach Joe Mallett. Lang observed the humble, genuine way Mallett interacted with players and admired his deep knowledge of the game. “That has stayed with me over the years,” Lang says. “I had great respect for him.”

Lang played three seasons total in the North American Soccer League with three different teams and another year in the American Soccer League with the New Jersey Americans. He continued to play nonprofessionally with the Lynbrook Steuben in the Long Island Soccer Football League (LISFL), a senior men’s conference. In the LISFL, he was a gentleman on the pitch, never receiving a single yellow or red card for infractions. In 2016, the league inducted him into its Hall of Fame.

Looking to the day when his professional career ended, Lang had thought he’d teach physical education and coach soccer at a high school. But when his alma mater gave him the chance to be an assistant coach for the team he’d played for, the course of his life changed. “I knew the first day I stepped out on the field for practice I wanted to coach at the college level,” he says. “I know it sounds cliché and corny, but it’s true.”

In 1982, Lang earned his first men’s head coaching job at Hofstra University, then returned to Adelphi to lead the women’s team in 1987. He transferred to

Southern Grad Leading Men’s Soccer

ONMarch 20, Kevin Anderson, ’94, was named head coach of the men’s soccer team — the fourth person to hold the position. Anderson comes to Southern from Columbia University, where he was head coach for 14 years. First hired as an assistant coach at Columbia in 1994, he later returned to Southern as an assistant under then head coach Tom Lang, helping to guide the Owls to back-toback NCAA Div. II national championships in 1998 and 1999.

“To return to the alma mater of both my brother and I, and to build upon the legacy known as Southern Connecticut soccer, is one that I take on with tremendous responsibility and pride,” says Anderson, who played with the Owls for two years after transferring from George Mason University. As a Southern studentathlete, Anderson helped the Owls to the 1992 NCAA Div. II National Championship and was a 1992 First Team All-American.

Following his playing career at Southern, Anderson was with the Long Island Rough Riders of the USL League Two from 1993 to 1997, winning a national championship in 1995. He went on to play on numerous U.S. professional teams, including the Minnesota Thunder, which he captained, as well as the Colorado Rapids, the Tampa Bay Mutiny, and the Charleston Battery, winning the league championship in 2002. He concluded his playing career in 2003 with the Thunder, serving once again as team captain; the team won the league championship and finished as a runnerup to the national champions.

continues on page 47 continues on page 47

Summer 2023 | 29

Leading by Example


Christopher Borajkiewicz, ’98, credits Southern with fueling his development as a leader. Now, he’s helping the next generation of students do the same with a major gift to establish the Borajkiewicz Family Endowment for Student Leadership.

Summer 2023 | 31

URING HIS STUDENT DAYS AT SOUTHERN, CHRISTOPHER BORAJKIEWICZ, ’98 , an Honors College double major in history and political science, held several leadership positions. His three-and-a-half years serving as president of the Student Government Association (SGA) remain the longest of any student in the university’s history. As an alumnus realizing how those roles influenced his development, he wanted to ensure today’s students could benefit as he did, so he made a 10-year commitment to fund the Borajkiewicz Family Endowment for Student Leadership, which will expand leadership opportunities for students.

“Southern gave me the opportunity to build the skill set I needed to be successful and to develop as a person,” Borajkiewicz says. “I was a hell of a lot shyer before that. Ask people today, and they say that’s not possible. But it’s true.”

Borajkiewicz arrived at Southern in the fall of ’93 as a first-generation college student. His parents had emigrated from Poland. His father, trained as a tailor in the old country, worked as a machine operator until his

it wasn’t his passion. Looking for options, Borajkiewicz attended a career fair, where Giacomo “Jack” Mordente Jr., a New Haven dentist and fellow Notre Dame High alumnus, introduced him to Rick Koumo, who was representing American Express (now Ameriprise). “If you’re going to hire one person, hire this kid,” said Mordente. Koumo did. (Mordente Jr.’s son, Giacomo “Jack” Mordente III, continued the family’s legacy of support, retiring in 2022 as Southern’s coordinator emeritus of veteran and military services, after establishing the veterans program at the university 47 years ago.)

Borajkiewicz worked hard and eventually built up his own practice, Root, Borajkiewicz, Lucarelli Wealth Advisors, an Ameriprise franchise. “They say life is 95 percent hard work and 5 percent luck. If you do that 95 percent hard work, amazing things will happen,” says Borajkiewicz, who has been repeatedly named a “Forbes Best-in-State Wealth Advisor,” most recently receiving the honor for 2023.

untimely death when Borajkiewicz was 9 years old. His mother was a seamstress for a shirt maker and later took a job as a machine operator assembling sutures for U.S. Surgical. Money was tight.

As a senior at Notre Dame High School in West Haven, Conn., Borajkiewicz applied to several colleges. He picked Southern because it was closest to his New Haven home, and the university also had awarded him a four-year scholarship through the Honors College. Borajkiewicz worked weekends and summers at a landscaping job to pay for his fifth year.

Those five years, he honed not only his critical thinking but also his interpersonal skills. His various leadership roles — in student government and as a student representative on what is now the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Board of Regents — also taught him about networking. He had planned to become a teacher but after student teaching, he realized

He has remained involved with his alma mater, serving on the SCSU Alumni Association Board of Directors in various roles, including treasurer and president. More recently, he was named to the SCSU Foundation Board of Directors and will begin his term as chairman in July. “I feel a lot of loyalty to Southern, and if I can give back in any way, that’s what I try to do,” Borajkiewicz says. His wife Jennifer is also a Southern graduate, having earned a master’s degree in special education in 1999. They met through mutual friends after graduating, married, and have three sons. Their oldest, Andrew, a high school senior, plans to attend Southern this fall. The campus is not far from their home in Prospect.

During his tenure as SGA president, Borajkiewicz was instrumental in establishing the Anthony V. Pinciaro Scholarship, in memory of the former vice president for academic affairs. As an alumnus, he funded the Christopher Borajkiewicz Endowed Scholarship to support students in the School of Business. But he wanted to do more. So, after about a year of conversations with Southern administration about how to best make an impactful gift, they created the Borajkiewicz Family Endowment for Student Leadership. The endowment will develop programs and experiences to support current student leaders and provide opportunities to create new leaders — potentially funding everything from speakers to student awards to mini-grants for students.

“We are training our own workforce and leaders right here.”

“We are really excited about this gift designing experiences for students to build career competencies and leadership strengths to complement what they’re doing in the classroom,” says Tracy Tyree, vice president for student affairs.

In recognition of the gift, Southern named a wing in the Michael J. Adanti Student Center’s Student Life area, the base of operations for all student leadership, the Borajkiewicz Family Wing for Student Involvement and Leadership.

Borajkiewicz’s support extends beyond his leadership-level contribution. Building on a history of mentorship, he will be directly involved with students, speaking to them in classrooms and panels to pass along his knowledge. “He’s giving his time and his talent as well as his resources to benefit students,” Tyree says.

Borajkiewicz wants not only to help students but to influence other alumni to share their time, talent, and resources as well. “It doesn’t take a lot, but it does take action to help,” he says.

Borajkiewicz sees the impact of the endowment spreading beyond Southern’s campus. “Close to 90 percent of those who graduate from Southern stay in Connecticut,” he says. “We are training our own workforce and leaders right here.” ■


LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IS A GROWING COMPONENT OF THE COLLEGE EXPERIENCE — WITH GOOD REASON. Only about one in 10 people possess the high level of talent needed to be a great manager, according to research conducted by Gallup, a consultancy based in Washington, D.C. The impact on employees and the workplace can be monumental. The same study reported that one in two employees have left a job to get away from their manager.*

At Southern, a wide variety of programs and initiatives are designed to foster leadership development — and many will be enhanced by funds from the Borajkiewicz Family Endowment for Student Leadership. The gift also will help more Southern students participate.

Here’s a look at a few of many leadership programs at the university.

• The Freshman Leadership Experience (FLEX) Program takes place before participants start college. Over three days, students benefit from meaningful leadership experiences while networking with current student leaders, faculty, and staff.

• Continuing on, students are invited to participate in Southern’s Leadership Certificate Program, earning Bronze, Silver, and Gold certification as they enhance their leadership experience and skills.

• Launched in 2017, Southern’s chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honor Society, recognizes and encourages superior leadership.

* State of the American Manager, Analytics and Advice for Leaders by Gallup

Summer 2023 | 33
[below] The Borajkiewicz Family at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new wing includes (from left) Ethan, Luke, Andrew, Jennifer, and Christopher. • [right] Current and future leaders, including Southern students and (standing, fourth from right) Christopher Borajkiewicz and (standing, second from right) former President Joe Bertolino and Interim President Dr. Dwayne Smith

Looking out from the Icelandic shore at a glacial lagoon, Michelle Ritchie, ’15, saw the changes in the landscape. A larger parking lot and more buildings. The icebergs now far off in the distance. “They were taking people out on boats, burning what looked like smoky diesel. It felt almost apocalyptic,” says Ritchie.

for Disaster Management at the University of Georgia. In a full-circle moment, she was supervising two student-researchers. All were interviewing local inhabitants about the impact of climate change — and at this moment, Ritchie’s own thoughts were dire.

“I knew it would be different. But nothing was the same,” she says, of the still stunning site. “Everyone was looking at this beautiful scenery, happily taking pictures. Meanwhile, I was mourning how rapidly it was changing.”

about trade school, then applied to two colleges. One was Southern. After visiting campus with her mom, she knew it was the right fit. “It was a gut feeling,” she says.

She had first visited the spot in summer 2013 as a Southern geography major (environmental studies concentration), participating in a field study led by Patrick Heidkamp, professor of environment, geography, and marine sciences. Nine years later, Ritchie was leading the charge as an assistant professor at the Institute

Ritchie has always been drawn to nature, an only child raised in a house with a small garden and pets “who were almost like siblings.” Her mother worked with dogs (primarily as a dog walker), while her father, who held an associate degree, repaired vacuums. “He has that tinkering, problem-solving trait that translates into science,” says Ritchie. When it came to planning her own future, Ritchie knew she wanted to work outdoors and make a difference. But she didn’t know what that career might look like. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after high school if I’m being totally honest,” says Ritchie, a first-generation college student. She thought a bit

She found her major — and ultimately her professional calling — in the early days of her undergraduate studies. She credits several classes taken to meet Southern’s liberal arts requirements — an environmental course taught by Suzanne Huminski, sustainability coordinator, and a geography course from Heidkamp. “They were these amazing people, talking about everything I was interested in,” says Ritchie, who had found her major. “I just threw myself into it.”

Often, that meant asking for opportunities. “It started with me eavesdropping,” says Ritchie, of overhearing James Tait, former professor of science education and environmental studies, talking with a colleague after class. It was fall 2012, several days after Hurricane Sandy had devasted the Connecticut coast. Tait, then co-director of Southern’s Werth Center for Coastal and Marine Studies, was planning to assess the damage. Ritchie asked if she could come along.

Michelle Ritchie, ’15 Assistant Professor, Institute for Disaster Management at the University of Georgia Ritchie during her undergraduate days

ITwas a life-changing outing.

“I could see a path forward. . . . That’s when I started learning more about disasters, natural hazards, and the environment, and it was absolutely fascinating,” she says.

Working with Tait and studentresearchers, she assessed beach erosion and coastal storm damage. (The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers used the study while working on a coastal resilience project.)

“He was so instrumental,” says Ritchie of Tait, who died in April 2021. “He’d say, ‘Of course, you can do this,’ and you would believe.”

Additional research opportunities and activities further enriched her undergraduate experience. For her capstone, Ritchie assessed the experiences of

“I absolutely love where I am now, but that was probably the coolest job I’ve had,” she says, lauding the mentorship of Huminski and Heather Stearns, recycling coordinator at Southern.

“There are a lot of maledominated spaces in the field of geography and science, in general. It was awesome to see how successful females, with different leadership styles, had forged their way,” she says.

Today, Ritchie is doing the mentoring, armed with a doctorate in geography and climate science from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s from Binghamton University in New York.

Her commitment to research remains ironclad. Iceland — the site of that early undergraduate study

It’s a dream project, says Ritchie, of her slice of the initiative: working with native populations in the Copper River Valley to coproduce knowledge using participatory mapping. The residents, she explains, will help shape the research, including its focus. The story could be about seismic resilience. Or, perhaps, a focus on environmental monitoring.

“In my eyes, it’s the most ethical way to work with native populations,” she says of this firsttime opportunity.

Teaching will also remain a focal point. “There is so much energy that the students bring,” she says. When it comes to research, she is committed to passing the torch: 15 students responded to a research opportunity she posted about

people living in a New Haven “food desert,” a geographical area where affordable, nutritious food is difficult to obtain. She also traveled to Africa on another short-term study abroad program, joined the Geography Club, and honed her creative talents writing for Folio, Southern’s undergraduate art and literary magazine.

An internship with Southern’s Office of Sustainability was particularly transforming. The responsibilities were far-reaching. Ritchie worked in the university’s organic community garden and oncampus Swap Shop (a spot for faculty/staff to donate office supplies and find needed items for free). She even helped establish an on-campus composting program.

abroad program — is an enduring focus. Alaska is another. Ritchie is on a team of scientists from multiple universities, who are studying seismic resilience in Alaska with a grant from the National Science Foundation. Alaska has 11 percent of the world’s recorded earthquakes.* Compounding matters, its infrastructure — roads, pipelines, and buildings — is built over permafrost, which is being rapidly lost due to rising temperatures. “So, now when we think about earthquakes, you no longer have that stable soil,” explains Ritchie. As a result, a magnitude 8 earthquake that hit 50 years ago is likely to have a dramatically different outcome than the same size earthquake 50 years in the future.

transcribing the interviews from Iceland. Ritchie welcomed them all. And then there are the two studentresearchers who accompanied her to Iceland last summer. It was the end of the spring semester, and Ritchie was sharing a bit about her upcoming research trip. “Can we join,” one asked. “They paused for a second when I said, yes. I think they thought I was joking,” says Ritchie. A few hours later, flights were booked.

It’s growing the tribe, explains Ritchie. She mentions a handful of names — Tait, Heidkamp, Huminski, and Stearns. “I think of how they helped me. How could I not say, yes?” she asks. ■


Summer 2023 | 35

OUSED WITHIN SOUTHERN’S EARL HALL IN THE DEPARTMENT OF ART AND DESIGN , the studio art specialization in jewelrymetals program is a rarity in the Northeast, especially in the state. “There are not any other colleges in Connecticut, public or private, that have an academic metals program,” says Terrence Lavin, chair and professor of art and design.

The program at Southern — equal parts art discipline and professional, trade craft — is small but mighty. The jewelrymetals studio houses workbenches for a maximum of 14 students per course. Enrollment is strong. Introductory courses are filled soon after enrollment opens, attracting art majors as well as students in search of a creative outlet.

Once in the studio, students explore fabrication, casting, and metalsmithing techniques, using equipment ranging from the traditional (a full complement of metalsmithing stakes, hammers, and forming tools) to the modern (a soldering station with a new ventilation system, a laser welder, and a 3D printer/MakerBot shared with the sculpture program). Lavin recently spent time exploring the latter. His office table holds several 3D-printed molds he created: “At some point, I’ll cast them in glass,” he says.

Lavin was raised in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., a creative kid who liked to draw and take things apart to see how they worked. But he never took a high school art class. Instead, he studied music, thinking it would be his career. Then, fresh out of a college design course, he walked into the art gallery of Skidmore College, where


he saw the metal sculptures of Professor David Peterson. “I immediately knew that I had found what I was looking for,” Lavin sums in his artist’s statement.

Lavin came to Southern in 2000, after earning a Master of Fine Arts at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and serving as a visiting professor at several colleges in Oregon. For some two-and-a-half decades, he’s been a role model for creatives. In the spring, his work was included in the exhibit 7 Metalsmiths at Work, held in the Schick Gallery at Skidmore College.

Antique equipment and astronomical tools are among his inspirations. A trip to the Galileo Museum in Florence remains a touchstone. “I am really fascinated by that enlightened time when scientists, philosophers, metallurgists, and blacksmiths all came together to fuse their knowledge to create tools that were precise enough to lead to that next level of scientific discovery. Those are the kind of things I like to pretend I’m making,” he says, with a smile.

He says Southern students are inspiring as well, “interesting and resourceful,” and those specializing in the jewelry-metals concentration are a special breed. “It is an artistic discipline but it is also highly technical,” says Lavin of the polishing, measurement, and precision. “It is a unique kind of person who falls in love with the processes and the fine-detailoriented nature of the discipline.” n

Summer 2023 | 37
Core Fragment Cast glass and bronze, silver 7x4x4" DEREK DUDEK PHOTO


Working full time as a social media content creator, Shawn Gilhuly, ’17, sees sky-high successes (250,000 fans! viral posts!) and challenging lows (online harassment! rent is due!). Fortunately, he has a degree in psychology to draw on to help himself and his followers.

Shawn Gilhuly, ’17, was working in higher education in residence life when he lost his job in June 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Colleges were hard hit, and employment opportunities were scarce. So, after a bit of soul-searching, he decided to chase a childhood dream of working as a content creator with a focus on gaming.

“Early YouTube was a huge inspiration for me,” says Gilhuly, who as a teen had witnessed the rise of the online, video-sharing platform launched in 2005.

Today, he’s posted more than 1,100 videos on YouTube. These and more can be accessed through, his popular website with links to his social media accounts on Twitter, Discord, and TikTok.

Often, Gilhuly will be playing a popular online game — Assassin’s Creed, Minecraft, Forspoken, God of War Ragnarök, and Kingdom of Hearts, among others — and typically it will be an interactive process. His audience watches live and on video. Some join the game. But far more sit back and watch the action, enjoying the online banter and learning how to improve their game.

And, yes, for non-gamers out there, this is a job that generates a real (if not always consistent) income. Content creators make a living through ad revenue, creating sponsored content, viewer subscriptions/contributions, and more. Gilhuly earned $14,000 during his most profitable month, to date. He’s a firm believer in full disclosure and readily shares the figure during speaking engagements on content creation.

Gilhuly has worked with numerous power players — Studio Ghibli (“the Disney of Japan,” he says), Xbox, Netflix, Gunnar Optiks, and DoorDash Gaming, among them — and he’s noted for his expertise. In March 2023, he was an invited panelist at PAX East in Boston, a four-day convention focused on gaming and gaming culture.

Ty Schalter, writing in an article for VICE, notes:

“His content is full of guides, tips, and tricks for newbies. That educational approach isn’t a coincidence: Shawn’s got a master’s degree in higher-ed administration, on top of a bachelor’s in psychology. He’s published research on how education improves bisexual acceptance, and he happily educates his audience on both queer issues and getting good at Genshin Impact.”

continues on page 46

Summer 2023 | 39
YouTube asked their verified shorts creators to share their views of summer. Content creator Shawn Gilhuly, ’17, answered the call and was showcased in New York City’s Times Square.

■ Being Dr. King


POSED BY THE MAN ON STAGE: “Now. Can we talk? Because I am a walking dead man.”

It’s February 1 and Southern’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Commemoration is underway in the Michael J. Adanti Student Center. The event features inspiring speakers, a choreographed dance by the SCSU African Students Association, and a stunning a cappella performance of Lift Every Voice and Sing, widely known as the Black national anthem, by student Thamar Kalangala. The program also includes the one-man play From Myth To Man: Martin Luther King, An Interpretation — a complex depiction of the human side of Dr. King, written and directed by Ira Knight and portrayed by John Ivey, ’73, M.S. ’82.

For Ivey, the performance is a homecoming of sorts. Born and raised in Connecticut, he holds several Southern degrees (a bachelor’s in physical education and health science with a concentration in counseling, and a graduate degree in counseling).

“John was a student of mine in the early ’70s — even back then you knew he was someone special,” says James Barber, ’64, M.S. ’79, director emeritus of community engagement. Barber, who introduces the play, recounts that Ivey was always committed to excellence as a

student, a “gentle giant” who was a standout basketball player for the Owls. Ivey also played violin, joining the university orchestra as a junior, a secret kept from friends, he says.

Indeed, few would have predicted that Ivey — who had a long, successful career as a high school guidance counselor — would also become a celebrated performer.

Talking with the audience after the production, Ivey recalls taking only one acting course during his undergraduate days.

Still, the signs were there. Ivey was completing his master’s degree in counseling when a professor asked him to imagine different potential clients. “I did an imitation of an ornery teenager. Then a toddler,” Ivey says. The prophetic professor’s response? “I’m not sure where you’re going to end up but

you should definitely consider community theater.”

Ivey ultimately did just that. He has worked with Knight for more than 15 years. The duo premiered From Myth To Man in 2016 at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro, N.C. (A donor who saw an early performance funded a six-month residency there.) Since then, the two artists have brought Dr. King to the stage at colleges and other venues across the country, including Carnegie Mellon University, Duke University, Central Michigan University, and the University of Pittsburgh.

Ivey sees his portrayal of Dr. King as a responsibility and an honor. “I lived through this period,” he says. “How special it is to represent someone who had such a profound influence on how we live. On how we feel.”

John Ivey, ’73, M.S. ’82, returns to Southern to portray the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King — a role he’s played throughout the country.

■ Educator Awarded National Scholarship

DIVERSITY IS A HALLMARK OF HARTFORD PUBLIC SCHOOLS, which serves 16,757 students (pre-K-12) — 57 percent of whom are Hispanic and Latino. Students speak 88 languages and 21 percent are multilingual learners, underscoring the importance of preparing educators to meet all students’ educational needs.

Daisy Torres, ’02, M.S. ’05, 6th Yr. ’09, continuously champions this cause as the school system’s director of services for multilingual learners, dual and world languages. In recognition of her efforts, the national chapter of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS) named her the sole recipient of the 2022 ALAS Scholarship sponsored by Curriculum Associates. The award provides $10,000 in educational funding, which Torres will use to complete a doctorate at the University of Connecticut.

Under Torres’ leadership, more than 400 students enrolled in Hartford Public Schools earned the “Seal of Biliteracy,” presented in the U.S. to students who have studied and attained proficiency in two or more languages. She also is a driving force behind the district’s Paso a Paso (Step by Step) Teacher Recruitment Program, designed to hire bilingual teachers from Puerto Rico and the Caribbean to fill vacancies.

In addition to serving as president of the Connecticut chapter of ALAS, Torres is the author of a bilingual children’s book. I’ll See You on the Bridge, written in English and Spanish, is a true story about the loss of a beloved pet. Torres holds four degrees from Southern — bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and education (elementary), a master’s in bilingual and multicultural education/teachers of English to speakers of other languages, and a 6th year certificate in educational leadership.




LaShante Kelley-James, ’04, M.S. ’14, President

Aaron Johnson, ’04, Vice President

Karl Stephen Wilson, ’02, Treasurer

Madi Csejka,’19

Shermaine Edmonds, ’04, MBA ’06

Stacey Fields, ’15

Eduardo Foster, ’02

Valencia [McLeain] Goodridge, MBA ’08

Jodi Hill-Lilly, ’88, M.S.W. ’94

Kelly Hope, ’03, M.S. ’10

Laeticia Iboki, ’16

Patricia Miller, ’69, M.S. ’75, 6th Yr. ’81 (Emeritus)

Montrel Morrison, ’18

Grace Mukupa, ’02

Julia Nelson, ’19

Adwoa Ansah Rey, ’05

Teresa Sirico, ’70, M.S. ’73

Anthony Tamburri, ’71

Renee Barnett Terry, ’76

Tafari Turner, ’16, MBA ’18

Carolyn Vanacore, ’52, M.S. ’68, 6th Yr. ’73 (Emeritus)

Brian West, ’80

Southern Connecticut State University

Office of Alumni Relations

Alumni House

501 Crescent Street

New Haven, CT 06515

Gregory Bernard, ’04, Director

Doreen Cammarata-Gilhuly, ’89, Associate Director

Summer 2023 | 41
Four-time Owl Daisy Torres [above and center, sixth from left] was presented with the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents Scholarship.

■ What’s Next for This Owl and Former Mr. Universe?

BULLIED AS A CHILD, MIKE KATZ, ’66, 6TH YR. ’76 , turned to strength training — then rose to the pinnacle of achievement as both an NFL football player and bodybuilder. On April 23, the storied athlete was inducted into the Jewish Sports Heritage Association, a nonprofit organization committed to fighting stereotypes and racism by educating the public about the role Jewish men and women play in the world of sports.

Katz, a star football player at both Hamden High School and Southern, went on to play offensive guard for the NFL’s New York Jets. After a knee injury, he refocused his career on education, working 33 years as a teacher before retiring in 1999.

Along the way, he continued to train and compete in bodybuilding, winning the sport’s most prestigious titles: “Mr. America” in 1970 and “Mr. Universe” and “Mr. World” in 1972. Katz then qualified for the 1976 “Mr. Olympia” competition, placing second in the heavyweight division. His commitment to the sport was captured for posterity in several films, most notably, Pumping Iron, which he starred in alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno.

Katz is a trailblazer in the business world as well. He opened the East Coast’s first World Gym in Hamden, Conn., with friend and business partner Jerry Mastrangelo. The business grew and later was transitioned to the Planet Fitness franchise. Katz’s son Mike Jr. also joined the leadership team.

Katz was inducted into the SCSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004. His commitment to Southern students remains ironclad: he established the Mike Katz Endowed Football Scholarship at the university in addition to making other leadership-level gifts.

■ Teacher Recognized for Innovation

JOEY LOMBARDI, ’20 , is a relatively new teacher, but he already has been recognized for excellence in the classroom — named a “Distinguished Modern Classroom Educator” by the nonprofit initiative The Modern Classrooms Project. Lombardi, who majored in mathematics (7-12) at Southern, teaches pre-calculus at the High School in the Community in New Haven. He was honored for successfully using an educational method centered on

individualized, self-paced learning. Lombardi’s students progress at their own speed, viewing his prerecorded lessons online. The process is decidedly hands-on. He remains in the classroom to work with them individually and in small groups as needed.

“Especially since the pandemic, it helps with gaps in knowledge that students unfortunately have, and it really fosters strong teacher-student relationships,” says Lombardi, in

■ Educator Honored for Excellence

an article on his achievement in the New Haven Register. “They can work on whatever they are comfortable with and it adds a lot more ownership of the assignments.”

Lombardi is among a small group of teachers who are piloting the concept within New Haven Public Schools. The district hopes to provide professional development training in the program to up 200 teachers this year.

BORN TO A FAMILY OF EDUCATORS IN BRAZIL, ARLETTE JOHNSON, ’12, was raised with a deep appreciation for the importance of school. “I am living my professional dream,” says Johnson of serving as assistant principal of Franklin Elementary School in Stratford, Conn. In 2023, she was honored by the Connecticut Assocation of Schools as the “Elementary School Assistant Principal of the Year.”

She is noted for a commitment to community building and lowering students’ absentee rates. Franklin Elementary had the best attendance record in the district last year.

“In my 40-plus years of teaching, I have never seen an administrator more deserving of recognition,” says second grade teacher Joy Massicotte, ’79, M.S. ’86, 6th Yr. ’89. “I witness firsthand each day her ability to mulitask, help students in need, assist teachers, connect with families, and perform her daily responsibilities successfully. I marvel at her endless energy and loving touch.”

Mike Katz, ’66, 6th Yr. ’76 Arlette Johnson, ’12 Joey Lombardi, ’20

■ Artists Come Home to New Haven


SUTHERLAND, JARRYN MERCER, AND SYMONE K. WONG — all members of the Class of 2009 — formed a fast friendship on the Owls track team. Now the three are business partners: co-founders of sk.ArtSpace, an incubator for emerging artists with a focus on creatives of color. The trio — who were featured by Forbes, Essence, and Refinery29 — gave up their physical space in Brooklyn in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but “never gave up the dream” or their commitment to the arts.

In fall 2022, they returned to New Haven in style, showcased by the celebrated Ely Center of Contemporary Art in an exhibit “Full House.” The show featured work from eight artist collectives, including sk.ArtSpace. The new year brought more excitement for the entrepreneurs, including sk.ArtSpace’s establishment of a Baltimore hub with an exhibit featuring city artist Ainsley Burrows.

■ Thankful for Support of Southern and its Students

A CELEBRATION OF PHILANTHROPY was held on March 25, at Cascade in Hamden, Conn. The event united leadership-level donors with the students, faculty, and deans who have benefited from their generosity.

It was a New Haven homecoming for the founders of sk.ArtSpace. The collective was featured in the exhibit Full House at the Ely Center of Contemporary Art.

Summer 2023 | 43

Reunion News

FOR INVITATIONS TO ALUMNI EVENTS AND RELATED NEWS , please update your contact information at Please use the same form to submit Alumni Notes to Southern Alumni Magazine. Thank you!


RAYMOND GAWLAK, ’62, was showcased by Gallery 53, which exhibited a comprehensive collection of his photography. Gawlak taught 6th and 7th grade science before opening his first studio in 1968. He has been awarded prizes for entries in professional organizations and art competitions, including first prize for photography at the Pomperaug Woods — the Art of Experience Juried Art Show in 2015.

TIMOTHY J. O’GRADY, ’67, has retired after a long career in finance. He began his undergraduate studies at Southern in history/education, but switched to the newly formed economics major headed by the late Jere Clark. O’Grady later earned master’s degrees in economics at the University of Rhode Island and the University of New Haven (Executive MBA). His career began at Colonial Bank in Waterbury, Conn., where he was senior vice president and treasurer. He joined Mutual of New York and moved to their subsidiary Evaluation Associates, where he became a partner and the head of fixed income and currency research. O’Grady held other key financial positions at Western Asset Management and FX Concept in New York City. In 2012, he joined his son Ryan’s firm ROW Asset Management as a managing director. The company has offices in California and New York City. He and his wife, LORRAINE PHILLIPS O’GRADY, ’68, M.A. ’72, met in Dr. Bosworth’s botany class at Southern in 1965 and were married in 1968. They have four sons and seven grandchildren. The couple moved to California in 1999.


PATRICIA NICOLARI, ’79, M.S. ’84, 6th Yr. ’86, 6th Yr. ’88, is the founder and executive director of PROUD Academy (Proudly Respecting Our Unique Differences) which plans to open in September 2023. The PROUD Academy is being launched to provide a rigorous curriculum in a

bully-free environment for students who identify as LGBTQ+.


LAURIE ALBANO, ’80, M.S. ’95, has retired from the position of superintendent of recreation for Stamford, Conn., after serving the city for 25 years. Albano was hired as a coordinator of recreation services for the city in 1997. During her tenure, she reorganized staff and grew new programs and adult sports leagues up to the current number of more than 300 programs per year. Albano was named “Outstanding Professional of the Year” by the Connecticut Parks and Recreation Association in 2017 and, upon her retirement, was recognized for her many contributions by Caroline Simmons, mayor of Stamford.

LINDA FOX, M.L.S. ’80, is the director of the New Fairfield Free Public Library and was recently recognized for 50 years of public service.

JAY P. CAHALAN, ’81, announced his retirement, having served as president and chief executive officer of Columbia Memorial Health, in Hudson, N.Y., since 2013.

JOHN P. KANE, ’84, was elected president of the National Medicare Secondary Payer Network, a nonprofit association focusing on compliance and Medicare Set-Asides and their impact on workers’ compensation and liability settlements. Kane is the vice president of strategy at Ametros.

BRIAN W. DAYE, ’85, guest directed the musical Memphis at the Hickory Community Theatre in North Carolina. Daye, a theater professional based in the city of Charlotte, has worked in the industry for more than 35 years.

ANDREW FRIEDLANDER, ’86, was named a territory sales manager with Happy Feet International, a pro-

ducer of luxury vinyl flooring in Chattanooga, Tenn.

JOE MUSANTE, ’86, was appointed the cross country head coach at Derby High School in Connecticut. Musante founded the Derby girls cross country program in 1988.

KIMBERLY SKEHAN, ’86, was promoted to the position of managing director, compliance and regulatory, at SimiTree, which provides services for post-acute and behavioral health organizations. Skehan has more than 30 years of clinical, management, and consulting experience in home health and hospice clinical operations, regulatory compliance, risk management, and survey readiness.

ROBERT MADORE, ’87, was appointed interim chief financial officer of F45 Training Holdings in February 2023. Previously, Madore was chief financial officer of the Cronos Group, a global cannabinoid company, from August 2021 to November 2022. During his 30-year career, he also served as chief financial officer at MacAndrews & Forbes, American Eagle Outfitters, Ralph Lauren Corporation, New York & Company, and FutureBrand.

THERESA FOX, ’89, M.S. ’95, is the elementary and middle school special education program coordinator for Greenwich Public Schools.


JOHN EMRA, ’92, was promoted by AT&T to the position of president of the Atlantic Region, where he will lead the company’s strategy, policy, and corporate affairs activities, as well as guide governmental and community policy decisions. The region includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Emra volunteers his time with a number of organizations, including serving on the boards of the SCSU Foundation, CAPA Connecticut, and the Connecticut Technology Council.

RICHARD RUBINO, ’92, was nominated by Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont to serve as a judge of the Connecticut Superior Court. Rubino obtained his law degree from Ohio Northern University College of Law.

ROBERT MURRAY, ’93, was honored by the Greater Danbury Old Timers Athletics Association. Murray is the longtime head coach of the Danbury High School boys track and cross country teams. As a student, he was All-State in the steeplechase and competed for Southern, serving as team captain.

ANDREA LOBO, M.S. ’94, was named to the inaugural board of directors for the newly established Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center Foundation. Lobo is the chief of human resources and marketing/community relations with the center.


MARCELA GARCIA, ’00, was named the human resources manager for the city of New Haven.

JEFF SOUSA, ’01, M.S. ’07, 6th Yr. ’10, was appointed superintendent of schools in New Hartford, Conn.

VINCENT J. “V.J.” SARULLO, ’02, was named athletic director at Staples High School in Westport, Conn.

AMANDA FORCUCCI, ’03, the head coach of the girls varsity basketball team at Hamden High School, led the Green Hornets to their first ever state championship title this year. The team was undefeated for the season. Forcucci also was named the “Southern Connecticut Conference Coach of the Year.”

MICHAEL TESTANI, 6th Yr. ’03, was appointed superintendent of schools by the Fairfield Board of Education in Connecticut.

JEFFREY NAPLES, ’04, is the acting fire chief of the city of Hamden.

MICHAEL FENTON, ’05, started a new position as managing attorney at BBB Attorneys in West Hartford. He is also commissioned in the Connecticut Army National Guard as a First Lieutenant in the 1-102 Infantry Regiment, and he recently returned from a 10-month deployment in the Horn of Africa in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

JACQUELYNN GAROFANO,’06, received the 2023 “Stand Up for STEM Mentorship Award” from the Million Women Mentors Connecticut chapter. Garofano is the chief technology officer at the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, an applied technology demonstration and training center. She is a member of the SCSU Foundation Board of Trustees.

CHARLES R. CLIFFORD, MBA ’07, was appointed president and chief executive officer of Old Colony YMCA. The organization has eight full-facility branch locations, four summer camps, 40 childcare locations, 1,800 employees, and 48,000 members. In addition to gyms and fitness locations, it provides job training, mental health counseling


■ In Print and On Screen

ROBERTA KASPROSKI, M.L.S. ’80, is the author of Lilly Goes to Paris, a children’s book about a miniature dachshund that stows away in luggage and travels to Paris, having adventures and making new friends. This humorous book, written for children ages 3-8, teaches some French words and introduces children to famous sights of Paris.

Kasproski wrote the book after retiring in 2013 from a career that included positions as a teacher, computer programmer/systems analyst, and library support specialist. She has been to Paris seven times.

ERIK STOCKLIN, ’07, an American actor working in television and film, is known for his recurring roles on television series such as Mistresses, Stalker, and Good Trouble, and for his leading role in the Netflix original series Haters Back Off. He also has appeared in advertisements for major companies, including Apple, McDonald’s, and Mazda.

CORY METZ, ’13, is the author of More Than a Wish: My Life and Stories from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Profits from the book will be donated to the foundation, which previously supported Metz. He went on to volunteer with the organization.

for at-risk youth, and family homeless shelters across a wide swath of southeastern Massachusetts.

MATTHEW EARLS, M.L.S. ’07, was named the director of Southington Pubic Library and the town-operated Barnes Museum in Connecticut.

AMY LEHANEY, M.P.H. ’07, was appointed the health director of the city of Monroe, Conn.

WENDY MENDES, M.P.H. ’07, is the director of student well-being at Fairfield Bellermine, a partnership between Fairfield University and the Diocese of Bridgeport, which will provide academic support to underserved students. Mendes is a nationally board-certified counselor with a certificate in clinical anxiety treatment.


SALOME BROOKS, Ed.D. ’11, has been appointed clinical professor, chair, and program director of the Department of Physical Therapy at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y.

WILLIAM CHAFFIN, ’13, was named the head football coach of Bacon Academy in Colchester, Conn.

BRIAN FEDEROWICZ, ’13 has been promoted to the rank of sergeant with the Trumbull Police Department.

JULIE M. [JONES] ROSE, ’13, M.S. ’14, and Andrew J. Rose were married on Aug. 20, 2022, in Farmington, Conn., where they reside with their English Bulldog, Peanut Butter. The Roses are dedicated members of the NAACP and their respective Divine Nine organizations.

from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 2022.

PHILIP MARTINEZ, Ed.D. ’15, was elected chair of the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education Board of Commissioners, beginning the post in January 2023. He is a clinical assistant professor of nursing at Quinnipiac University and works as an advanced practice registered nurse in the Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Middlesex Hospital in Connecticut.

DOOGIE LISH SANDTIGER, M.F.A. ’15, was spotlighted by the Hartford Courant and other media, for his collection of 2,077 pairs of Crocs — and efforts to one day qualify for the Guinness Book of World Records

VANESSA BAUTISTA, ’16, was named the health director for the town of Wallingford, Conn.

JACOB JABLONSKI, ’16, is the regional business manager for North America for Intelligent Security Systems, a global provider of video intelligence and data-awareness services.

ASHLEY GILBEY, ’17, M.S. ’21, has accepted a position as a first grade teacher at Stepney Elementary School in Monroe, Conn.

LYNANDRO “DJ” SIMMONS, ’18, is the race and equity beat reporter at the Charlotte Observer. Previously, Simmons was a “Report for America” journalist with the Athens BannerHerald, covering marginalized communities.


ERIN DILLMAN, ’20, was named to the faculty of the Yale School of Medicine Child Study Center. She also earned a master’s degree in social work with a concentration in violence prevention from the University of Connecticut, and completed an internship at Yale Children’s Day Hospital intensive outpatient program, working with children and adolescents struggling with anxiety, depression, and trauma.

ALLA KRUGLOV, ’20, an oncology and hospice nurse at West Haven Veterans Affairs Medical Center, is included in Marquis Who’s Who

NICOLE WAIBEL, ’20, has joined the staff of Jockey Hollow Middle School in Monroe, Conn., teaching in a new behavioral program called the Lions Den, which provides students with emotional support in the classroom.


JOHN CIVITILLO, ’55, Jan. 17, 2023

PHYLLIS PEARSON CLARK, ’56, Dec. 16, 2022

ROBERT MANFREDA, ’58, Nov. 29, 2022

JAMES WHELAN, ’61, Dec. 7, 2022

ANN LOUISE TROMBLEY, ’64, Jan. 2, 2023

EDNA O’REILLY CULL, M.S. ’69, 6th Yr. ’74, Dec. 14, 2022

RUSSELL MOWER, M.A. ’71, Feb. 17, 2023

DAVID SPANDOLA, ’76, M.S. ’97, Nov. 22, 2022

CHRISTINE WELLINS, M.S. ’77, Aug. 8, 2022

SUSAN PEAKS, M.S. ’78, Sept. 25, 2022

LAUREN V. [COLLINS] DEMPSEY, ’79, Feb. 16, 2023

COLIN LAVALETTE, ’80, Dec. 13, 2022

ELIZABETH DEANGELIS, ’82, M.S. ’85, April 12, 2020

ROGER CHALMERS, M.S. ’85, July 31, 2022

KRISTIN VOLLERO, M.S. ’01, Dec. 24, 2022

HILARY DIMAURO, M.S. ’03, Dec. 27, 2022

ADRIAN KLUK, ’16, Oct. 29, 2022

JAMES M. BRINE, professor emeritus of counseling and school psychology, Feb. 27, 2023

ELAINE HADDAD, associate professor emeritus of foreign languages, Dec. 15, 2022

ROBERT NOWLAN JR., vice president emeritus for academic affairs, Nov. 19, 2022

LOUISE O’NEAL, former Southern women’s basketball coach, Sept. 17, 2022

Alumni Notes are compiled from submissions as well as announcements in the news media.

LIANA FEINN, ’15, is an associate with the law firm of Pullman & Comley, working in its real estate, land use, and environmental practice. She earned a law degree, with honors,

BEN SODERGREN, M.L.S. ’21, was appointed the library director for the town of Killingworth, Conn.

KYLE MCGINNIS, MAT ’22, is a special education teacher for Masuk High School and STEM in Monroe, Conn.

Summer 2023 | 45

In the Marvelous Midst of It continued from page 17

that is saying something. Region 1 includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, northeast New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, home to many fine colleges and universities with strong performing arts programs.

Of note, the festival presented Civil with the Golden Hammer Award for “excellence in preparation and execution bringing an invited production to festival.” The play was directed by Benjamin Curns, an adjunct faculty member who performs regularly with the Elm Shakespeare Company — an educator exceptionally well suited for showing students how to mount a play in New Haven and then expertly take it on the road. ■

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Game On continued from page 39

Gilhuly did the aforementioned research while earning a psychology degree (along with a minor in mathematics) at Southern. He says he uses that knowledge regularly — from creating healthy boundaries with his followers to drawing out shyer players.

“There are a million and one ways that someone might be feeling negative about themselves: personal image, personal identity, the ways others are treating them. Often, people use content to escape that,” he says.

Inclusion is important to Gilhuly. The first line of his official bio notes he is queer and has disabilities (fibromyalgia and speechlanguage).

“By claiming that narrative up front, I am not allowing people to make assumptions or categorize me as something I am not,” says Gilhuly, who was nominated for the 2022 LGBTQIA+ Twitch Streamer of the Year Award. He’s long partnered with “It Gets Better,” an organization committed to empowering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth.

Similarly, he uses his platform to support those with disabilities. In 2023, Gilhuly was one of only five talented content creators chosen by Microsoft to kick off its Xbox Next Level (XNL) program. The accelerator was designed to help gaming streamers for underrepresented communities supercharge their careers by providing them with tools and guidance. Gilhuly and the other XNL participants, in turn, serve as ambassadors for underrepresented gaming communities.

In sum, Gilhuly remains an educator. Having suffered from clinical depression and anxiety since he was a teenager, he talks about mental health, sexuality (Gilhuly’s Discord community members are 18+), and his speech and language issues.

In a recent livestream sponsored by Xbox, he casually talks about his days as a Southern student and is quick to advise players who want to go to college but don’t think they can afford it. (Live at home, he prompts. Consider 4-plus-1 programs to earn undergraduate and master’s degrees in five years. Check out community college classes, but first be sure courses will transfer to a four-year college.)

“I’ve reached more students working in content creation than I ever would have in a traditional higher-ed job,” he says, “It’s all about having that continuing conversation.” ■

An invited panelist at PAX East, (left) Shawn Gilhuly, ’17, takes time to tour the gaming convention — because there’s always time for The Legend of Zelda

In Good Spirits continued from page 20

He was a two-time All-Berkshire-League baseball player during his time at Litchfield High School, and he played varsity basketball as well. He still manages to get back to the old hometown several times a year to visit remaining family, his father’s grave, and the bridge there that was named in his father’s honor.

Doyle didn’t continue his sports career at Southern. He did, however, manage to get in his workouts through another side gig as a bouncer for many years at the late, lamented New Haven dance club, Boppers. “I once had to tackle a knifewielding purse snatcher who ran by the bar at the corner of College and Crown streets, and hold him for police” he notes dryly.

Currently, he is involved with the Walter Camp Football Foundation, a nonprofit based in New Haven. The foundation oversees the selection of a collegiate All-American football team, honors other exemplary individuals, and supports charities and youth-oriented organizations.

Initially, Doyle was drawn to Southern because of its proximity to Litchfield — “I could be independent but also close enough to get home,” he says — but the college experience helped him grow and mature. “It taught me responsibility, and really showed me that it was up to me how far I could go if I challenged myself. It gave me the sense that I could succeed,” he says.

He lauds his Southern experience. “It was a really comfortable campus. For a school of about 9,000 people, it felt much smaller,” says Doyle. “What I really appreciated were the relationships I was able to make with my fellow students and the faculty, who were so encouraging. I met some of the greatest friends of my life.” In fact, 12 of his buddies recently flew down to Florida to attend a charity fundraiser Doyle ran.

Doyle mentions that he was among the first men to live in Southern’s Farnham Hall, which was an all-women’s residence hall up until spring 1984. The previous year, Southern Connecticut State College was rechristened Southern Connecticut State University. “My time at Southern was a time of growth for the university,” says Doyle. “And looking back on it now, more than 30 years, it’s amazing to see how it has grown even from when I was there. I’m really happy to see Southern continue to evolve and grow its amazing campus.”

Any advice he has for other graduates looking to get into the industry? He responds thoughtfully, “Any job I have ever had, if you work hard, treat people well, and care for what you do, success will find you. You have to believe in yourself. And if you have a dream and can develop a plan, just about anything’s possible in life.” ■

PS: Over 21 and want to sample Papa’s Pilar Rum? Its top account in New Haven is Delaney’s on Whalley Avenue, just off campus.

Life’s Work continued from page 27

into the higher education arena. He worked at Long Island University Brooklyn and the Borough of Manhattan Community College, where most recently, he was associate director of career services and employer relations. (He also earned advanced degrees, including a Doctor of Education from St. John’s University in 2021.)

The decision to come to Southern came naturally. Thesatus was drawn to the scope of the position, which in addition to career services includes academic advising, academic support, and access services. “It is the perfect position in terms of supporting student success,” he says. “We help students from day one.” He also appreciates the diversity of Southern’s student body, which includes many firstgeneration students like himself.

There is a family link as well. Thesatus’ wife and sister-in-law are Southern graduates, who majored respectively in psychology and nursing. “They speak so highly of their experiences and the connections they made at Southern,” he says.

With connecting in mind, Thesatus encourages every Southern student to make the most of university resources. For example, JOBSs, an online career board for students and alumni, shares employment and internship opportunities — and is the registration site for ongoing professional workshops and programs. In March, Career Services launched the Industry Fair Series with four separate events focusing on healthcare and public health; social work and counseling; communications, media, and marketing; and business and STEM. Also introduced in spring 2023: a pilot program that provides comprehensive, online professional development to students working at CASAS. Looking forward, the plan is to expand it to all student workers. Thesatus’ message to alumni: resources, such as career fairs, are open to them. “We plan to connect with them for mentorship of students as well,” says Thesatus. “They are going to be a vital part of us helping students to develop professionally.”

Thank You Coach continued from page 29

Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey for seven years before landing at Southern in 1997. “When the position [at Southern] opened up, I was excited about the opportunity to be part of one of the best programs in the country, at an institution that valued soccer,” he says. Under former coaches Ray Reid, ‘84, M.S. ‘86, M.S. ‘90, and then, Bob Dikranian, Southern had become a Div. II soccer dynasty with men’s team titles in 1987, 1990, 1992, and 1995.

Lang quickly put his mark on the program, enhancing its legacy of excellence with backto-back national championships in his second and third seasons. He’s also turned out 25 AllAmericans, an average of one a year. While the success has been rewarding, it has been equally gratifying, he says, to develop studentathletes as people. “I’ve always been honest with the players and tried to make sure they understood I came from a place where I cared about them as people, not just players,” he says. “The opportunity to see them grow, develop as young men, get their degrees, and move on — that’s been very satisfying.”

The thought of retirement percolated during the pandemic, when Lang worked from home and enjoyed having more time for himself. He’s planning a trip to Europe with his wife, Doreen, and trips to visit his daughters, Kelly in Boston, and Megan, a Southern graduate from the Class of 2010, in Chicago. Megan has two sons, ages 4 and 7, and the older one plays soccer. Lang’s fall coaching duties have prevented him from getting to family games. “I’m excited to see my grandson play,” he says.

After tackling some items on his wife’s honey-do list — “She has a list for me of all those things I’ve ignored over the years,” Lang jokes — he’d like to find a way to stay involved with soccer and give back to the game, though he’s uncertain at this point if it will be as a coach, administrator, or scout.

Wherever he ends up, Lang leaves Southern with a smile on his face. “I’ve been blessed. I’m very fortunate to be someone who’s had the ability to go through life doing something I love and have a great passion for,” he says. “Not everyone gets the chance to do that.” ■

page 29

“Kevin’s success at Columbia in building a competitive program focused on academics, athletics, and social awareness aligns with ‘The Owl Way,’” says Chris Barker, director of athletics and recreation at Southern. “I’m thrilled to welcome him home.” ■

Summer 2023 | 47
Southern Grad Leading Men’s Soccer continued from





ON APRIL 4, 2023, SOUTHERN HELD ITS 8TH ANNUAL DAY OF CARING — the university’s largest fundraising event to enhance scholarships and programming for students. The Southern community responded in force, raising more than $775,000 from a record number of donors!

As a result of the generosity of the Southern community who joined together as ONE, our students will receive vital scholarship funding and the life-changing benefits of an exceptional Southern education.


Peter Werth

Rita Landino, ’64

Wells Fargo Foundation

Mark Tarini

Susan Jennings

Fred Afragola, ’65 AT&T Foundation

Larry Bingaman

Sandy DeCicco

Patrick and Gale Dilger

The Claire C. Bennitt Watershed Fund

For a full list of Southern’s Day of Caring donors, log onto or take a picture of the QR code.

Lou Gianquinto, ’94

Maryann Iadarola, ’67, M.S. ’71

Kevin McNamara

Sharon Misasi, ’83

Northwestern Mutual

Timothy, ’67, and Lorraine O’Grady, ’68, M.S. ’73

Patricia Panichas, ’74 Regional Water Authority

SCSU Alumni Association

Carter Winstanley

Office of Annual Giving (203) 392-6514

Alumni Association

501 Crescent Street New Haven, CT 06515-1355


Commencement 2023


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