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T h e M AGA Z I N E fo r A LU M N I & F R I E N DS o f W E ST F I E L D STAT E

spring 2014


Graduating Our First Nurses and Marking 30 Years in Regional Planning Training Exceptional Caregivers Standing Behind Boston Strong

FOCUS SPRING 2014 EDITOR Janice Beetle ’85 Beetle Press


Proud of My Alma Mater

DESIGN EDITOR Janet Garcia ’83, M. Ed ’04 Director of Marketing ART DIRECTOR Todd M. LeMieux ’89 PHOTOGRAPHER David Fried Enrollment Management EDITORIAL BOARD Kandyce Aust Director of Special Gifts Mickey Curtis Athletics Janet Garcia ’83, M.Ed ‘04 Director of Marketing Marsha Marotta Dean of Undergraduate Studies Kathi Bradford, Director Alumni Relations CLASS NOTES Kelly A. Galanis Alumni Relations CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Janice Beetle ’85 Evan Cirioni ’13 Mickey Curtis Kelly Galanis Amanda Hebson ’13 Billi MacTighe ’14 Peter Miller ’84 Claudia Moore-O’Brien M.Ed ’00 Meghan (Canning) Musante ’02 Laura Phelon ’11 Elizabeth Preston, Ph.D ISSN 1520-7641


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By Janice Beetle ’85


am a journalist, and that means two things: I’m a news junky who is easily sucked into live television coverage, and I can be difficult to impress. Last year, I was glued to the television after the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Watching the live manhunt in Watertown, I could not pull myself away from the unfolding drama. I felt shock, disbelief, compassion—and the desire to interview. While working on this issue of Focus magazine, I learned that two of the police officers at the very

sophomore, and we had several classes together throughout our tenure, including the History of Journalism. Peter’s story on Tim is the most recent of many stories he has written for the magazine; we share an ongoing journalism bond. Peter writes that Tim was stationed at the start of last year’s marathon, and that he was headed home to East Longmeadow when he got the call that something had gone terribly wrong. Peter well conveys Tim’s even, pragmatic response to the tragedy.

Westfield State is a leader. It is resilient. It impresses me over and over.

center of that action are Westfield State University alumni, and certainly, yes, that impresses me. Way to go, Westfield State, and way to go, Ed Deveau ’78, the chief of police in Watertown, who led the manhunt for and subsequent capture of suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev; and Col. Timothy Alben ’84, who commanded the Massachusetts State Police response to the initial finish-line bombings as its superintendent. Westfield State has a strong reputation as a university that educates professionals in the criminal justice realm, and the service of Ed and Tim underscores that specialty. This University breeds leaders. I was disappointed, reading the stories about them, that I wasn’t the one on the questioning end of the reports, which begin on Page 8. I wished I had interviewed Ed and Tim, rather than editing their accounts, so that I could have made a direct connection with them on my own. But I was impressed with the work of Peter Miller ’84 and Evan Cirioni ’14, and it pleases me that I have a connection with them, and that all five of us alumni are involved with the University through storytelling, even though we come from different eras. I met Peter in a French class while I was a

Evan, who graduated this winter from the University, was excited to interview Ed. Evan completed a writing internship with me over the fall, and the Focus assignment was one of his last duties. Like Peter, Evan tells another tale of a University man who thrived under pressure. Evan also interviewed three other alumni— Ashley Zolenksi ’05, Erica Mellone ’02 and Julie Arrison ’01—for a separate story on their marathon plans this year. All three women were stopped on the marathon course last year, after the bombs exploded. They are running again this year to show their support for the city of Boston and for the marathon as a Boston icon; likewise, Ed is also running for the first time in many years. Julie’s friend’s husband and child were both injured last year, but that does not stop her. She will run with the same friend again this year, and she says, “We hope that training and running will continue to add to both of our healing processes.” Westfield State is a leader. It is resilient. It impresses me over and over. I imagine I will be glued to this year’s marathon on the television, trying to spot my fellow alums doing well. And I imagine they will indeed impress me, yet again. n

spring 2014

Table of Contents












Th e

LD o f W E ST F I E & F R I E N DS fo r A LU M N I M AGA Z I N E


14 spring 20

ns: ebrattio Cel Nurses and duating Our Firs

Gra nning rs in Regional Pla Marking 30 Yea rs ional Caregive Training Except Boston Strong Standing Behind

Westfield State University is proud to graduate its first class of nurses this spring. Securing accreditation for the program in October 2013 was critical for students.

We’d love to hear from you! Want to get involved? Join our Alumni Fan page or group on Facebook and LinkedIn; follow us on Twitter @WestfieldState and @WestfieldAlumni; call (413) 572-5404, (413) 572-5228; or email kbradford@ or

Our URL has changed to, and with it, all email addresses have changed to For instance, the email address for John Doe would be Focus magazine is published for Westfield State University two times a year. The mission of the magazine is to highlight the work of the administration, faculty, staff, students and alumni at the University and to share with the wider community the stories of excellence on campus. Focus magazine welcomes story ideas and story submissions. Ideas and stories can be offered to editor Janice Beetle ’85 at (413) 374-6239 or via email at Stories must be of interest to the general readership and should be no longer than 600 words. Class Notes, highlighting alums’ personal or vocational views, are also welcome and can be sent to Deadline for the Fall 2014 issue is June 1. FO C U S MAG FO CAUZI S NE MAG • AFA ZILNE NLE 2•011 S SP P RIN G 201 2 014 2



Highlighting History and Excellence in a Smooth Transition By Elizabeth Preston, Ph.D.


s yo u may k now, I have

recently been appointed interim president upon the retirement of former president Evan Dobelle. In my past roles as vice president of Academic Affairs and as a professor in the Communication Department, I have been inspired by the spirit of our students, faculty and staff. Their generosity and dedication to the tasks at hand have encouraged me during my first months as president. I send a sincere thank you to everyone who has helped make this a smooth transition. As I think of the changes that have happened in the last months, I am heartened by something historian Henry Steele Commager said long ago: “Change does not necessarily assure progress, but progress implacably requires change.” Despite challenging times, Westfield State has moved forward, learning from

Every new bit of knowledge and every new skill that we learn through the Westfield State experience can be used to enhance the quality of life, both on Western Avenue and beyond our campus borders.

its past, changing and moving onward with the determination to do the next right thing that ensures a positive future. This is why it makes sense, as we continue our celebration of the University’s 175th anniversary, to throw the spotlight on our Urban Education Program, which is in its 40th year. This prestigious program has provided access and opportunity for more than 2,000 individuals from the commonwealth and beyond. The Urban Education program accepts first year students from varied back-


grounds on a conditional basis. Students must successfully complete a five-week bridge residential program in order to gain full matriculation. The bridge experience includes intensive academic support and leadership development with the significant involvement of peer and alumni mentors. The program currently includes 256 undergraduates, 86 percent of whom are students of color (making up 30 percent of the students of color in our day division). Recent increases in Urban Education enrollment contribute to our ongoing efforts to diversify our student population. Westfield State’s enrollment of ethnic minorities has nearly doubled since 2008, increasing from 9 percent to 17 percent for incoming first year students. Targeting college awareness and participation for under-represented students, our early awareness programs welcome

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500 middle and high school students to the campus annually. In 2013, 30 percent of the students who attended Discover Westfield Day enrolled at the University. Half of these participated in the Urban Education Bridge Program and subsequently matriculated. Students who would not have received offers of acceptance due to admission standards, but who were admitted through the Urban Education Program, have been retained at a rate of 76 percent since 2010, compared with our 80 percent overall retention.

Indeed, Westfield State is proud to acknowledge little or no difference in retention and graduation rates for lowincome students. In 2011 and 2012, the six-year graduate rate of federal Pell Grant versus non-Pell-eligible students was nearly identical.  The first-year retention rate for students who were Pell-eligible differed only four percent from non-Pell-eligible students.  Based in community outreach and providing access and support for many, Urban Education represents just one of the University’s many programs and initiatives, the success of which has lifted our spirits and inspired our ongoing commitment to excellence. Such initiatives reflect our historic mission to foster an informed, compassionate and active student body. As we celebrate our rich history and implement present goals and objectives, academic achievement and civic engagement remain the touchstones through which we measure our success and the filter through which we respond to current and future needs. Every new bit of knowledge and every new skill that we learn through the Westfield State experience can be used to enhance the quality of life, both on Western Avenue and beyond our campus borders. As we face the days ahead, I hope that all in our learning community, including our valued alumni, will help us to reaffirm and reinvest in Westfield State’s legacy of scholarship and service.  Support is needed now, more than ever. I encourage all of us to take full advantage of every opportunity – even difficult times and transitions that come along – to learn, grow, work together, give back to our community and move forward in response to our ever-changing world. n


Expanding Horizons

Accredited webinars enhance the experience for Education students By Meghan (Canning) Musante ’02


ec h n o lo gy i s b r i n g i n g m o r e d i v e r s i t y to the

University’s classrooms by allowing it to partner with universities in large cities across the country in creating interactive webinars. These sessions not only count as credit toward the diversity requirement, but they also open up a dialogue and offer students more comprehensive points of view.

Graduate students in the Education Department experienced the first series of webinars in the fall of 2012, studying with students and professors from Howard University, a historically black college in Washington, D.C., and Columbia University, an Ivy League school in Upper Manhattan. Literacy experts Kenneth Anderson, Ph.D., from Howard and Ernest Morrell, Ph.D., from Columbia focused the three monthly webinars on reader identity, academic achievement and at-risk learners. “It was truly an innovative collaboration and unique learning experience for all involved, including the professors,” says Cheryl Stanley, Ed.D., dean of education at Westfield State. One of those graduate students was Tiara Ghedi ’10, currently in her fourth year teaching fifth grade in West Springfield. Ghedi returned to Westfield State in 2011 to pursue her master’s degree as a reading specialist. In one of the webinars, she recalls, Dr. Morrell described how teachers can help close the achievement gap among black and Latino males by building on asset-focused factors that all children bring to the classroom. “It was interesting to learn about how their engagement has affective, behavioral and

cognitive factors,” she says. Dr. Stanley was quick to acknowledge the efforts of Elizabeth Preston, Ph.D., the vice president of Academic Affairs and the University’s interim president; Kimberly Tobin, Ph.D., dean of Graduate and Continuing Education; James Martin-Rehrmann, Ph.D., former dean of Education and the program coordinator for Reading Specialist Licensure; Sandy Berkowitz, Ph.D., Chair of the Education Department; and members of the IT staff for their work on the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) Diversity Standard Initiative. Adjunct Professor Renay Hill and Dr. Berkowitz worked together with Drs.

Morrell and Anderson to plan, map and organize the webinar series for EDUC: 0662 Innovative Practice in Reading. The course is part of the Reading Specialist Licensure Program, a graduate program offered through the Division of Graduate and Continuing Education. The professors are looking forward to offering the webinars again in the fall of 2014. Dr. Stanley is planning to expand this effort to undergraduate students in the spring of 2014 with Spelman College. Robin DiAngelo, Ph.D., and Professor Nitza Hidalgo are teaming up with Andrea Lewis, Ph.D., and Christine King Farris at Spelman College, a historically black women’s college in Atlanta, Ga., to present books written by Drs. DiAngelo and Farris. Students at Westfield State will follow Dr. Farris’ presentation on “Through It All: Reflections on My Life, My Family and My Faith,” a book about growing up in the ’50s and ’60s in the South and how it influenced her and her family. Farris is the sister of the late Dr. Martin Luther CONTINUED ON PAGE 35

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Nursing Program Graduates First Class By Claudia Moore-O’Brien M.Ed. ’00


n a given afternoon, high school students taking part in the University’s allied health program could find themselves practicing their running stitch on a raw chicken or working on a “patient” in the simulation lab at Noble Hospital in Westfield. In this seven-day offering, future doctors, nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists, phlebotomists and EMTs interact with Noble’s allied health professionals and have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the health care industry. They hear what pneumonia sounds like, take blood pressure readings and listen to heart rhythms. “Students have a real hands-on experience,” says Professor Karen Manning, Chair of the Nursing Program, noting this is just one of the new offerings in the University’s Nursing Program, which is scheduled to graduate its first class in May. “So many things have happened this year,” Manning says. In October 2013, the program received full accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The three-day survey examined and evaluated the Westfield State curriculum, faculty, administration, practice partners and feedback from students and faculty, among many other factors. Securing the accreditation was critical to the first graduating class. “It is very important that nursing students graduate from an accredited program. It is not only necessary for their career, but also needed to continue their education,” says Manning. Other accomplishments in the program include the first international trip to Guatemala in March, which allowed students important clinical experience. Partnering with a church, students set up a tent to reach out to the community, including the homeless population. They distributed toothbrushes and hand-sanitizing products while also instructing the public about health issues, from diabetes to stress management. “We are going global,” says Manning. A new mentoring program has also been initiated, pairing a senior nursing student with an incoming nursing student. “The pair begins communicating before the freshman even arrives on campus,” says Manning.


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The mentoring is part of the seniors’ Nursing Leadership course, which enhances the experience for both freshmen and seniors, because freshmen get a full, enriching orientation while seniors have the chance to review their experiences by discussing them. Manning explains, “They meet face to face within the first month of school, and the seniors are required to write a paper on their mentorship.” “We now have a nursing club that is very active,” adds Manning. “They have done a lot of fundraising for the Boston Marathon survivors as well as for their first pinning ceremony.” Manning says the close-knit group of nursing students enjoys getting together. As graduation approaches, the students will be launched with a broad knowledge spectrum, so they can choose whatever specialty they prefer. “A lot of the first cohort transferred into the program, so they have been in college five to six years. They are ready to graduate,” says Manning emphatically. By the time the first class of 21 students graduates, they will have completed a 200hour internship during their last semester. Manning adds, “We try to place them in their medical area of interest whenever possible.” The students will graduate with plenty of clinical experience. “Our strong relationship with Noble Hospital in Westfield has been wonderful,” says Manning. The simulation lab is located between their medical and cardiac unit, so the students are couched in an actual medical environment. “Because we are there every day, the students have such a great rapport with the Noble staff.” Looking ahead, the Nursing Program plans to offer opportunities for registered nurses to earn bachelor of science in nursing degrees and licensed practical nurses to study to become registered nurses. These initiatives are slated to be part-time studies, with completion within two years. While females still outnumber males, Westfield State has a higher percentage of male students than other similar programs. “The special thing for me is how close the students are to each other,” says Manning. “Whether they are in the simulation lab, at a clinical or in class, they are always helping each other.” n

The first class

The following are snapshots of two students in the Nursing Program’s first graduating class. ERIC TUVELL ’14 Eric Tuvell ’14, started at Westfield State as a biology major in the fall of 2009 and transferred into the then “new” nursing program a year later because he had an EMT license and was interested in pursuing a career as a paramedic. “I’m glad I made the switch,” says Tuvell, a 2012 recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence in Leadership. “The professors in the program are awesome.” As a nursing student, Tuvell led the Nursing Club. “Pretty much all the nursing students are involved in the club—even students who are not officially in the club often participate in club fundraising and other activities,” he says. Tuvell says of his future, “I’m hoping to work in the intensive care unit at a teaching hospital. After gaining some experience, I’d like to get involved in either critical care transports or helicopter/flight nursing. At some point, I might be going for my master’s degree.” Working collaboratively with other students was Tuvell’s favorite aspect of the program. “I also really enjoyed helping instruct students in the EMT class,” he adds. JOSEPHINE LANNON ’14 “My older brother, John Lannon ’12, told me about the nursing program. My grandmother, for whom I’m named but whom I never met, was an Air Force nurse. So, in a way, I felt like it was my destiny,” says Josephine Lannon ’14. She says this fate was also reinforced in 2009, when her brother was hospitalized after a serious car accident. “He is still alive today because of the nursing care he received, and that was extremely influential in my decision to become a nurse,” she says. Lannon says, “The professors and staff who have built this program have put their whole hearts into it. They are smart, caring and compassionate teachers who push us, guide us and value our input as the program grows.” Eventually, Lannon, a 2013 recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence in Leadership would like to earn a master’s degree in nursing and “move up the clinical ladder.” For now, following graduation, she looks forward to working in a hospital setting. She says, “I feel fortunate to be a part of the Westfield State University’s Nursing Class of 2014.” n

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On a Voyage Giving students the tools they will need as leaders By Billi MacTighe ’14


h a r l e s “ C h a s ” H o d g d o n ’ 1 5 didn’t want to

attend the weekend-long Leadership Voyage when it was offered last fall.

A 21-year-old transfer student, he was disinterested in participating in activities and had no desire to associate with the other students in the program. But, after the first exercise—where students yelled into balloons all of their frustrations before releasing them into the air—Hodgdon felt relieved. Throughout the weekend, he found himself settling into the workshops and really taking something away from each one. Hodgdon was one of 58 students to attend the second annual Leadership Voyage held at Camp Becket last October. The program is brought to students by the Student Activities office, Residential Life, Student Government Association and the Campus Activities Board. Jessi Hufnagle, one of the event coordinators, says, “The weekend used to be a Hall Council training session for first-year stu-




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dents, and sometimes we would invite members of the Student Government Association. But we realized that there are a lot of different student leaders around campus.” Despite being in its second year, the Leadership Voyage increased its number of applicants nearly tenfold from 2012’s retreat. The event coordinators, Jessika Murphy and Hufnagle, found it hard to narrow down the applications to fill the available 60 slots. Transformation The Leadership Voyage is an opportunity for emerging and established leaders to build their skill sets, challenge themselves and create relationships with other leaders on campus through workshops and hands-on activities. Students must attend the program to learn more about it, as its offerings are a well-kept secret. Students who attended last year were encouraged to reapply, as there is always room to grow and learn, and students like Hodgdon were encouraged to investigate, even against their intuition. Hodgdon was glad he took the chance. By Sunday afternoon, when participants gathered in a circle to share their favorite aspects of the program, he had a beautiful story of transformation, telling the group he had discovered his inner leader. Previously, Hodgdon said he was like a sunken ship, with only part of his true self visible to the world; the leadership experience made him feel renewed and open—ready to take hold of all of the opportunities he could. His

speech received a standing ovation, and it now stands as an inspiration for all future student leaders. Bridget McNay ’16 attended the Leadership Voyage for her second year last fall and says she not only made new friends, but also learned a lot about herself, the skills she needs to improve on, and who she can turn to for help on campus. The team that led The professional facilitators for the weekend, Steve Ositpow and Lonnie Scott, organized events to build community among the students. Activities such as the low-ropes course allowed students to navigate as a team, whereas the high-ropes course focused in on harnessing individual power. Students also attended a series of sessions presented by Ostipow and Scott. The weekend’s activities are meant to teach personal leadership skills, team building, organizational leadership, goal setting and ethical decision making. To sustain the successful effects of the weekend, however, the activities performed at the camp are held in confidence by the staff and students. How to take part Leadership Voyage is free to all students who wish to participate, but, due to the size of the facility, the retreat is limited to only 60 people each year. Members of the Student Government Association and Hall Council are encouraged to apply to further their leadership skills. To attend the Leadership Voyage Weekend in the fall 2014 semester, students can contact Jessika Murphy (jmurphy@westfield. or Jessi Hufnagle at (413) 572-8053 from Westfield State Student Activities. Applications are sent out in September. n

University Hall Dedicated


University Hall was dedicated in September 2013 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Led by Ken Lemanski, vice president of Government Relations, the day’s events included remarks from Daniel Knapik, mayor of Westfield; State Rep. Brian Ashe ’87; John F. Flynn, chair of the Board of Trustees; Taylor Fote, president of Student Government Association; Edward Adelman, executive director of the Massachusetts State College Building Authority; Richard Walsh, president of Walsh Brothers Construction Inc.; and Brian Corridan, Western Massachusetts representative of the Massachusetts State College Building Authority. The name “University Hall” reflects the dorm’s historic place as the first building dedicated since Westfield State became a university. The new 135,000-square-foot hall is home to 409 students in four to six student suites, comprises living rooms, study areas, one and a half to two bathrooms per unit and a mix of single and double occupancy bedrooms. The building includes a game room, laundry room, multipurpose room with kitchen, security desk, offices, meeting rooms and the residence director’s two-bedroom apartment. FO C U S MAG A ZI N E • SP RIN G 2 014



Col. Alben ’84 put his experience behind the Boston Marathon crisis By Peter Miller ’84

Leaders in a Crisis 8

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Experience is the best teacher. Col. Timothy Alben ’84, superintendent with the Massachusetts State Police, had the opportunity to test this theory when terrorists turned the finish line of the Boston Marathon into a crime scene on April 15, 2013. Alben, who lives in East Longmeadow, is a 30-year member of the State Police and has worked every marathon since 2004. His duty at last year’s marathon was manning the starting line in Hopkinton; shortly after noon, after all runners had departed, he headed back toward Western Massachusetts. “I first learned of the gravity of the situation in a call I received right after the bombing occurred from Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis,” Alben says. “I could tell immediately from his voice. He said, ‘Tim, we have several explosions at the finish line. I need your SWAT teams.’ “I directed a host of resources to Boston at that point and began to head east to the city,” he adds. “Upon arrival at the Westin Copley Hotel, I immediately joined Davis and FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers in establishing a joint command to begin sorting through how we would collectively approach the massive investigation that was at hand.” Despite the devastation at the finish line, Alben was able to stay focused on the investigation. His training, experience and education were put to the test. “I’ve experienced natural disasters such as the tornado that struck Springfield several years ago, but not a terrorist event such as this. We participate in training scenarios on a regular basis…but this was the real deal, and we knew it,” Alben says. The fact that many collaborating law enforcement agencies worked so well together in Boston didn’t surprise Alben. “I believe the history we have of joint operations paid enormous dividends,” he says. “Going back to 2003-2004, there have been many events in Massachusetts, and in Boston in particular, that frequently bring us together. Remember, after 9/11, nothing was ever routine again.”

Col. Timothy Alben ’84

What Alben took away from Marathon Monday was a sense that citizens need to begin to be more self-protective. “I feel our nation moving away from a passive feeling of safety and complacency to a new awareness of our surroundings,” he says. “We are going to have to be more and more vigilant and aware of our surroundings. We’re all going to have to pay closer attention to what’s occurring on our streets, in our neighborhoods and most certainly at these large public gatherings. The expression, ‘If you see something, say something,’ has to become more than a catchy phrase. It has to become an accepted state of awareness and responsibility. The alternative is more events like Marathon Monday.”

Ed Deveau ’78 oversaw the capture of the marathon bombing suspect By Evan Cirioni ’14 Ed Deveau ’78 was at the center of the manhunt for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev last year. As the chief of police in Watertown, Deveau got heavily involved in the postmarathon chaos, after an MIT police officer was killed in Cambridge and Tsarnaev and his brother stole a car and fled into Deveau’s jurisdiction.

“Everything came to Watertown,” Deveau says. The brothers initiated a gunfight with police officers and wielded improvised explosive devices and homemade grenades. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was shot by police, and in a desperate attempt to flee, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev ran over his wounded brother. In the subsequent manhunt through Watertown, Deveau helped to coordinate police efforts and shut down the city and surrounding areas. “Our department was challenged,” Deveau says. “Police officers were confronted with everything from a gunfight to bombs being thrown at them.” The all-day operation led to the capture of suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who had

hidden in a boat parked behind a house on Franklin Street in Watertown. Deveau says it was the proudest day of his 30-year career in law enforcement. After the chaos had ended, one immediate thought that occurred to Deveau was that he wanted to run in the marathon this year. He previously ran the Boston Marathon in 1999, 2000 and 2007. “A number of police officers are going to run it,” he says. “We want to be able to do that. The best thing anybody can do would be to come to the marathon and to show that no city as strong as Boston can be intimidated by terrorists. “This can be the best marathon that has ever been held in Boston, and everyone should be a part of it,” Deveau adds. n

Loyalty Over Fear By Evan Cirioni ’13 Westfield State University will be well represented at the 2014 Boston Marathon. After last year’s tragedy, the Owls have come back strong, proving that pride for the capital city trumps fear. Ashley Zolenksi ’05 Ashley Zolenksi ’05 has run the Boston Marathon in each of the past six years; this coming April will mark her seventh. Zolenski says that, for a moment, the idea of not running again this year entered her mind, but only briefly. “The evening of the bombings, when I got home, I did not want to even leave my apartment, let alone run the Boston Marathon again,” she says. “That quickly changed after I was able to let my emotions settle.” Now, she says she’s excited to run again. “The amount of support from everyone has been incredible, and I know that I will be in good hands with the security at the marathon,” Zolenski says. Last year, Zolenksi was a half-mile from the finish line when the bombs went off. “They stopped the race,” she says. “I was so confused. Why would they do that? I was waiting around with other runners, but we didn’t get any information.” They waited for about an hour before they were informed that everything was clear, and then they walked down the deserted street to get their belongings. Zolenski, who has lived in Boston for the past eight years, said it was eerie walking toward the finish line when the city was empty. “All you could see were police officers and police barricades,” she says. Zolenksi says that strangers came around with trash bags to help keep the runners warm, and that people from local restaurants came out with water. “It was a reminder that there was still good in the world,” she said. Zolenski, 30, works as a strategic development officer at Suffolk University and will CONTINUED ON PAGE 29

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Caring Hearts Westfield State University trains every student in caring and compassion, and with this foundation, many alumni thrive in caregiving careers, such as the four alumni featured here. Stories by Claudia Moore-O’Brien M.Ed ’00.

Taking social service across the world Elizabeth Burgos ’07 discovered her love for global caring in 2011. On behalf of an organization called Global Vision International, which places volunteer social workers in countries in need of services, she traveled to South Africa to create workshops that promoted basic hygiene and first aid. Burgos also worked at a child care center in a poverty-stricken area and taught the young children, ages 3 to 5 years old, basic practices in personal hygiene and first aid. “I also helped them improve and practice using English,” she says, noting she was in Fish Hoek, about 40 minutes outside Cape Town. “It was an amazing experience, though only two weeks long. It made me crave more travel and service.” She returned to her job as a hospice social worker at New England Hospice with a surging passion: she had to experience more of the world. Burgos holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from Westfield


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State and a minor in psychology. After graduation, the Milford native worked as a home care case manager for Greater Springfield Senior Services and started her work with hospice in 2010. She assists elders and their family members with end-of-life eduElizabeth Burgos ’07


cation and bereavement counseling. Her passion for caregiving and her desire to travel came together with that first trip with Global Vision in 2011. She saw it as a “baby step,” a simple two-week exploration, and it taught her she was ready to leap. New England Hospice is supportive of Burgos’ desire to serve in countries where the need is great, and from May to July 2013, granted her a three-month leave of absence to travel to Fiji. There, Burgos worked on community development projects in rural areas. “I was a teacher’s assistant for two months in a second-grade class,” she says. “I taught them English, math, art, phonics and spelling. It was amazing. The children were so eager to learn.” In her final month in Fiji, Burgos worked with the school to develop a vegetable garden. The diet of rural Fijian communities is often basic and, in some instances, lacks nutrition, contributing to health problems. “We wanted a garden that would help sustain a healthy food supply for the boarding students,” she says. Through this type of agricultural initiative, Burgos and her fellow volunteers were helping the community to grow their own healthy variety of vegetables. Burgos is back at New England Hospice and getting re-oriented to life in the United States. When asked about her future travel plans, she says, “I know I have to do more traveling. Even three months wasn’t long enough.”

“I met people from England, Australia, all over Europe, Canada and a few from the United States. We still keep in touch.” — ELIZABETH BURGOS ’07

She plans to do more international work with Global Vision, because she “liked the safe and organized structure of their programs.” In addition, she got to know other social workers from all over the world. “I met people from England, Australia, all over Europe, Canada and a few from the United States. We still keep in touch,” she says. Her next journey is likely to be to Nepal, where she will spend one month teaching English and then do a two-week trek to the base of Mount Everest.

Following in her mother’s footsteps Renee LeBlanc ’08 remembers going to work with her mother as a small child and playing under her mother’s desk at the Greater

Renee LeBlanc ’08

Springfield Senior Services in the State Home Care Department. “My mom spent her career in that very organization as a social worker,” LeBlanc says. “I have very good memories of my days there with her,” she says. “I liked the environment.” LeBlanc liked it so much, in fact, that she began work at the same organization the week after she graduated from Westfield State in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in social work. “I was following in my mother’s footsteps,” she says. Currently, as the geriatric support service coordinator, LeBlanc is charged with making sure that senior-aged clients in need of social and medical services are accommodated. “I visit the homes of elderly clients with a team of experts,” she says, explaining that the team consists of a nurse and an insurance representative, and together they are able to attend to all clients’ need. The nurse evaluates the medical needs, for instance, and the insurance representative provides clients with a list of local resources covered by their insurance. “I usually start and end my day at the office, but am on the road visiting clients the rest of the time,” LeBlanc says. Meeting wonderful people is one of the things LeBlanc loves about her job; they inspire her. “I do get attached to certain clients,” she says, noting that, because of their ages, she must also say goodbyes. LeBlanc also helps clients move to assisted living facilities, and she loves to hear from them, as some do tend to keep in touch. “I really love hearing from former clients and knowing they are doing well,” she says. LeBlanc is also responsible for authorizing personal care assistants (PCAs) for clients. PCAs provide help with the activities of daily living, such as dressing, eating and going to appointments. The Springfield Senior Services organization offers a program that teaches clients who are capable to care for themselves. If that is not possible, a family member may be trained to be the client’s PCA. This is an especially successful program. FO C U S MAG A ZI N E • SP RIN G 2 014



“One of my responsibilities is to determine and ensure that clients are receiving the correct amount and type of PCA time to meet their needs,” LeBlanc explains. When LeBlanc reflects on her experiences at Westfield State, she says, “I met some of my best friends there, who helped shape me to be the person I am today. It helped me learn to be more involved in the community and give back.”

The distinct touch of ‘Miss Francis’


drienne Francis ’10 is living her dream. As an adjustment counselor in a Springfield elementary school, she follows in her mother’s footsteps as an educator with heart and intuition. She is known for developing innovative programs that help reach her young students—primarily kindergartners and first and second graders—such as the favorite “Dining with Miss Francis” program. With this program, a handful of students are invited to a noonday meal with Miss Francis in her office. When the children are gathered, Francis guides the lunchtime conversation, suggesting topics such as “What is Friendship?” or “Politely Interrupting,” for example. The children tell her what they want to talk about. After eating and chatting, there is a little outside “stretching” time and then back inside so the youngsters can complete a Adrienne Francis ’10


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“feelings” worksheet. Francis believes that kind of exercise helps students recognize and identify their emotions. “It is so important to be aware of children’s perception of themselves and their world,” she says. Francis was born and raised in Springfield, where she still lives. “I gained a rich educational experience with the Springfield Public School District and was inspired to give back to my beloved community,” she says. She came to Westfield State University to earn a bachelor of social work degree with minors in psychology and ethnic studies, graduating magna cum laude in 2010. Following graduation, Francis worked in human services positions, including working with homeless families. She was accepted into the Springfield College School of Social Work Advanced Standing Program, and in nine months, completed a master’s degree with a concentration in school social work in May 2012.

“I feel fortunate to have had such a rewarding undergraduate experience at Westfield State and to be a product of its success.” — ADRIENNE FRANCIS ’10

Francis was then hired as a school adjustment counselor at the Homer Street Elementary School in Springfield. “My calling came… to be a school adjustment counselor, which I have always aspired to be,” she says. Joining one other adjustment counselor, Francis primarily works with children in kindergarten through second grade, but she is active with all the children at the K-grade five school. She loves her work and especially appreciates her principal, who encourages and supports the goals of the counselors. Francis has devoted herself to teaching, in the same way her mother did. For over 38 years, her mother was a teacher, and Francis spent many years volunteering in her mom’s classroom. “I just knew that I wanted to do the same thing. My mother has been such an inspiration and support,” she says. Her co-workers joke that ‘the torch has been passed,’ as the younger Miss Francis becomes as innovative and dedicated as was the older Mrs. Francis. Francis’ dedication to her students goes beyond the grounds of the school. When a bus monitor was needed, for instance, Francis volunteered her services. For months, she rode the bus and used that time to engage the students in fun and sharing moments. “I step up wherever they need me,” she says. “I truly am pas-


sionate about making a valuable contribution to the education and well-being of Springfield’s children. I was encouraged by my family and supported in that school system, and now I can give back. It is an honor.” Francis has nothing but fond memories of her time as an undergrad at Westfield State. She was the winner of several academic awards and an active volunteer in the community. Currently, she still keeps a busy schedule, which includes being invited as the Alumna Guest Speaker at the Westfield State University TRIO Student Support Services Fourth Annual Recognition Dinner, held in April 2013. “It was a distinct pleasure to be in attendance honoring students’ outstanding achievements and recognizing students’ civic engagement, leadership and scholarly accomplishments,” says Francis, who intends to continue a close connection with Westfield State. “I feel fortunate to have had such a rewarding undergraduate experience at Westfield State and to be a product of its success,” she says. “I am passionate about remaining connected to and invested in the University that prepared me well for future success.”

Alum pairs love for theater with social justice efforts


igher education. Social justice. Theater. What do they have in common? Tom Amos ’05 and Westfield State University. Receiving a bachelor of arts in liberal studies in 2005 set a trajectory for Amos that has him focused on producing social justice theater. A Revere native, Amos’ passion was realized while directing theater productions such as The Laramie Project, Quilt and Bent while he was an undergraduate. “I am interested in giving people a voice that otherwise may not be heard,” he says. Moreover, the profits from those performances were given to Westfield State to establish a scholarship fund that would support social justice. Named the Amos/Franco Scholarship, the fund provides dollars for an annual scholarship to a student who furthers awareness of or education about LGBT issues, whether the student is gay or straight. Created with the help of Kathi Bradford, director of Alumni Relations, the scholarship is in memory of James Franco, a former cast member of Bent, and in honor of Amos. Tom “Theater has always been a passion of mine,” Amos says. Amos ’05 Following graduation, Amos joined the North Shore Music Theatre and was soon promoted to assistant company manager.

Tom Amos ’05

After a stint there, Amos worked at the New England Institute of Art and Tufts, and he is now at Boston University. At BU, he is employed as well as enrolled in the Arts Administration graduate program and will earn a master’s degree in May. As an alumnus, Amos has presented cabaret-style fundraising events for Westfield State, to continue to fund the Franco/ Amos Scholarship. Amos brought stars from Broadway—like Dashaun Young, who played Simba in the Lion King—to a Boston venue, where Westfield State students could perform with the professionals. As a BU graduate student, Amos is currently enrolled in a course about cultural entrepreneurship. His project is focused on developing a sustainable social justice theater program for Westfield State to adopt, in order to continue to fund the scholarship. Amos says, “My time at Westfield State was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I grew academically, personally and professionally and have made some of the best friends I could have ever asked for. I also gained role models, mentors and colleagues who, to this day, continue to support me and share in my passion for higher education, social justice and theater.” Amos says his first directing class with Jack Shea made him realize that he truly loved theater, and Vanessa Diana’s “Women’s Ghost Stories” helped him focus on giving under-represented women a voice. Amos says these two classes reinforced his desire to concentrate on producing social justice theater. n

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Remembering an Alum with Heart, Soul By Amanda Hebson ’12


f i r st m e t E m i l e e Gagnon ’13 two

years ago in Arabic class. Most of the time, we wore similar masks of confusion. I had seen Emilee around campus before I officially met her. Working, smiling and hula hooping, she was a walking piece of art. She was never afraid to be herself, and it showed through her fashion, hair and infectious smile. Emilee had many passions in life and chose to give of herself to support others. It was in living out one of these passions that her life ended Sept. 23, 2013. While riding her bicycle from her hometown of Holliston to San Francisco, Calif., in hopes of raising money for multiple sclerosis, she was hit by an SUV in Ohio. Only 21, a recent graduate of Westfield State and former employee of the school library, she was working at a jewelry store, practicing and selling her artwork. She decided to ride across the country not only to inspire and express herself, but to meet people and experience other cultures. A cancer survivor, you might have expected her to ride for a nonprofit that supports cancer research, but instead she chose to ride to raise money for multiple sclerosis, the disease that afflicts her grandfather. Emilee graduated in the spring of 2013, earning a bachelor’s degree in art, along with minors in French and ethnic and gender studies. She pushed herself—hard. She was named a Commonwealth Honors Scholar, which is the highest honor one can receive in public higher education. And she created her own senior honors project—a combination of her passion for art history and feminist theory. She looked at five different contemporary women artists whose vision challenges traditional representations of women in art. She aptly titled this, “Revolutionary Beauty: Five Twentieth-Century Women Artists’ Challenges to the Western Art Canon.” A piece of her artwork is on display in the Honors Center in Mod Hall. It is all of these things—her passion to help others, her willingness to be the best she could be and her joy—that we will miss. n


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Memorial Art Event Scheduled The Art department will hold a special show at the end of this year to raise awareness of Multiple Sclerosis and celebrate the life of Emilee Gagnon ’13. New England-based artists are invited to submit art for consideration. If you would like to be notified as more information becomes available, please email Callie Hutchinson at


At the Top ’93 alum is the city of Springfield’s three-term mayor By Laura Phelon ’11


o m e n i c S a r n o ’ s r e s u m e has leadership written all

over it. The ’93 alum has been the mayor of the city of Springfield since 2007, and he’s the former executive director of the South End Community Center, a former aide to Hampden County District Attorney William Bennett and former aide to Springfield Mayor Mary Hurley. The son of two Italian immigrants, Sarno heard continual reminders of the value of education from his parents. After working in the flooring industry early on in his career, he knew it was important to go back to school and obtain his bachelor’s degree. Taking classes at night, he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Westfield State, and it’s taken him to the top. “It’s helped me have a better understanding of peoples’ needs and wants and a better understanding of adverse situations,” Sarno says. “By utilizing psychology aspects, you’re able to establish a plausible compromise. “My time at Westfield State has been helpful in shaping decisions that I’ve had to make, in good times and bad,” he adds. Sarno said his father’s blue collar background—and the time he spent in his father’s barber shop—are what inspired him to pursue a career in politics. He saw customers from all walks of life treated with the same amount of respect. Sarno is currently serving his third term as mayor, and this term is especially unique. In 2009, Springfield voters approved a change to the city’s charter, allowing mayors to serve four-year terms instead of two. “I campaign or work every day,” Sarno

These alumnae work under Springfield’s Mayor Sarno ’93: Jennifer Winkler ’01, Budget Director Yolanda Johnson M ’87 Director of Student Support Services, Springfield School Department Rhonda Jacobs ’87 Principal, Springfield Alternative Schools Susan Kacoyannakis ’86 City Council Administrative Aide

says. “That’s how you continue to garner the confidence and support of the city. You work on your ‘off’ time.” Sarno said his most difficult experience as mayor was managing the 2011 tornado that devastated the city, but it also proved to be rewarding. “Due to the resiliency of the people, we were able to weather the storm and able to come back, bigger, better and stronger,” he says. Sarno said his team was together nearly 24/7 for the three months that followed the disaster, handling the situation—from search and rescue to stabilization and rebuilding. In addition to the tornado, Sarno says he’s proud that he’s helped the city improve its financial standing in various ways. He also relishes his efforts in education, including rehabilitating local schools as well as establishing satellite programs in the city with area colleges. In his current term, Sarno continues to focus on education, hoping to improve student test scores and the graduation rate, as well as on preventative programs and public safety. One hot topic Sarno has faced is the siting of the MGM Grand casino. At press time, it was unclear whether the casino would be developed in the city and what effect it could have on the local economy. Sarno says, in politics, it’s important to be empathetic; to surround yourself with knowledgeable, trusting individuals; and most importantly, to refrain from being financially motivated. “If you’re coming into this looking to make a million, you’re in the wrong field,” Sarno says. “But the legacy you leave can be priceless.” n

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Azanda (Howard) Seymour ’92

Urban Education Called Her Home By Claudia Moore-O’Brien M.Ed. ’00 We’ve heard the saying, “All roads lead home.” For Azanda (Howard) Seymour ’92, that road home has led back to Westfield State University. This alumna earned a bachelor of arts in communication and was an extremely active undergraduate. Summers found Seymour working as a dedicated urban education program peer counselor. She helped students adjust as they crossed the bridge from an urban high school to the suburban Westfield State. “I really enjoyed assisting incoming students with their transition from high school,” Seymour says. “I spent a lot of my undergraduate time hanging out in the Urban Education office, where I made


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friendships that have lasted a lifetime.” That’s for sure. Seymour’s husband, Larry ’92, is also an Urban Education alumnus; he graduated with a degree in geography and regional planning. Following graduation, Seymour earned a master’s of education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Professionally, she remained in academic environments in advising positions at UMass, Mount Holyoke College and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Hartford in its Educational Leadership Program. And, she is back at Westfield State. In 2008, the road led Seymour to the Academic Advising Center and home to

Westfield State University. “It was great to return to my alma mater. I have had the opportunity to watch as our programs have expanded and our campus has become more diverse,” she says. Once again, Seymour is hanging out in the Urban Education office. This time around, she is the assistant director of the Urban Education Program. Reflecting on her Westfield State experiences as an undergraduate, she says, “I do not know if I could have made it without the support of Carlton Pickron (now vice president of Student Affairs), Joan Fuller (director of Urban Education) and many, many others who supported and encouraged me to reach high and to give back,” says Seymour. n


Homecoming 2013 Last October, alumni returned for a Mardi Gras Homecoming celebration. At a tailgate party in the Horace Mann Center parking lot, highlights included a tasty barbeque, live music by Billy G and the Blue Zone and a Second Line/Parade led by the Big Fun Brass Band in true New Orleans style.

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Building Momentum Planning department celebrates 30 successful years By Laura Phelon ’11


s t h e y c e l e b r at e the 30th anniversary of their

Geography and Regional Planning (GARP) Department, professors are basking in the glory of longevity. For William Bennett, Ph.D., professor of geography and regional planning, the victory is especially sweet because he and others fought hard for the department’s creation. When Dr. Bennett started teaching at Westfield State in 1979, Geography was its own department, but the subject area was not a major. Knowing the state would not approve a geography major because it was available elsewhere, he worked with fellow professors Karl Leiker, Ph.D., and Peter Bulkley, Ph.D., a political science and history professor, to create a proposal for the Regional Planning major. The proposal was approved by then-Academic Dean John Nevins, Ph.D., who saw it approved by the Board of Higher Education. “We were delighted to have created a unique new program and a new major,” Dr. Bennett says. “I recall being personally happy because we structured the planning program’s coursework to include so many of the courses that we each wanted to teach. It was like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write your own job description.” The department has much to celebrate. Regional planning is still the only major of its kind at a public institution in New England, and GARP faculty and students alike have been recognized for their research and dedication in the field. Professors Marijoan Bull, Ph.D., Carsten Braun, Ph.D. and Brian Conz, Ph.D., are all recipients of the Westfield State Semester Time Award for Research and Scholarship (STARS). And Professor Emeritus Stephanie


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Kelly, Ed.D.,was the 2011 recipient of the Faye Seigfriedt Award, an honor given once a year by the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Planning Association to a planner who has significantly contributed to the advancement of women in the field of planning. Regional planning students conduct and present their own research at conferences, such as the annual UMass Undergraduate Conference, and their research has been

published in The Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium and other journals. Chair of Geography and Regional Planning Robert Bristow, Ph.D., says the most important trait in GARP majors is determination. “Our typical regional planning student is one who is naturally inquisitive and wants to do something about it,” Dr. Bristow says. “It

might be making our cities a better place to live, or it might be trying to protect our natural environment for future generations. So our students become informed citizens who can help in the decision-making process.” One of those students, Alexandra “Ola” Smialek ’15, says the work experience she got through her Land Use and Regional Planning course helped her develop tactics useful to the field. “I believe the fieldwork we did gave us skills in research, socializing, time management and teamwork,” Smialek says. “I really found it enjoyable and worthwhile.” The department sets its students up with in-depth internships that allow them to work hands-on in the planning field. Smialek participated in an internship with the Westfield Planning Department and Conservation Commission, for which she created an updated open space inventory of Westfield, focusing on privately owned land. “I had my own desk and worked beside my site supervisors,” Smialek says. “The lessons I learned through that internship could not be taught in a classroom.” The department has blossomed to nine full-time faculty members with a half-dozen adjunct professors and 60 majors, most of which Dr. Bristow says transferred into regional planning. “Most students don’t come to Westfield State to be a planner,” he notes. “We are not well-known in high schools. But after they take one of our core classes, some ‘find’ us.” Dr. Bristow’s advice to students considering becoming regional planning majors is simple: Test the major out. “Take one of our core classes,” Dr. Bristow says. “If you want to be part of the solution, consider a planning career.” n


Married to Education A passion for learning drew this pair of professors from Jamaica By Laura Phelon ’11


ov i n g to M a s s ac h u s e t t s and then choosing to put

down roots here was all about education for Drs. Carol and Erold Bailey. Born and raised in Jamaica, the Baileys moved to Massachusetts in 2002 to pursue doctoral degrees, having been drawn here by the state’s superior reputation for academics. They were familiar with the region, since they both earned master’s degrees at Clark University in the ’90s. Erold says their decision to return was based on the belief that Massachusetts residents were among the most progressive in their thinking and attitude toward immigrants and diversity. They received their doctorates from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2007—a Ph.D. in English for Carol and an Ed.D. for Erold in education. The Baileys considered moving back to their home country, in small part because they so missed the cuisine. They decided to stay in Massachusetts, this time for the sake of their young daughters’ education. So the Baileys, who were school teachers in Jamaica, started job searches, and both landed at Westfield State in the fall of 2012. Carol is assistant professor of English, and Erold is assistant professor of education. Their focus continues to be on quality education, but in their new roles, they are the educators. “My commitment to education is to mold young people into becoming better individuals than the generation before them,” Erold says. “My desire is to influence young people to be more thoughtful,

caring and productive individuals. After teaching at the K-12 level for many years, I have decided that this mission can be more expansive if I could influence other educators to pursue the same agenda.” Carol says she enjoys the opportunities that come with teaching at a university level. “Teaching allows me to be a lifetime learner,” Carol says. “Teaching in higher education provides

many opportunities—conferences, seminars and other activities that involve significant formal learning. I also like the flexibility that teaching at the college level affords me. I enjoy designing my own courses or shaping department courses around my areas of interest and expertise.” While the Baileys love Massachusetts, they continue to struggle to comprehend the diverse culture of their new country. “Understanding the racial dynamics of the United States—which is hugely different from that of the Caribbean—has been, and continues to be, a significant learning curve for my family and me,” Carol says. Erold has long-term plans to connect Westfield State to a university back home. “With Westfield State’s focus on international education, I am hoping that in the future, I can play a role in bringing Westfield State and Micro University College in Jamaica together.” n

Carol and Erold Bailey

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Running Against Cancer

Honoring determination, faculty member works to stay healthy, support her caregivers By Laura Phelon ’11 and Billi MacTighe ’14


c h y m u s c l e s a n d s o r e j o i n t s are enough to

stop most runners from their training, but nothing is stopping Professor Teresa Fitts, D.P.E., of the Movement Science Department from her Boston Marathon training. Not even a Stage IV Thymic Carcinoma diagnosis.

Dr. Teresa Fitts, front right, with a group of students at the National Convention for the American College of Sports Medicine in Indianapolis last May. “As an exercise science professional, I know that there is clear evidence that exercise is linked to survivorship and greater quality of life when undergoing cancer treatments,” Dr. Fitts says. She had just reached a pivotal point in her training for this year’s Boston Marathon (see related stories Pages 8, 9), completing a 16-mile run the week before she learned of her diagnosis. Now a patient at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Dr. Fitts still plans to participate in the 2014 Boston Marathon


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as part of the Dana Farber Boston Marathon Team in April after completing her fourth round of chemotherapy and 30 treatments of radiation. She is one of many faculty members who run to stay healthy and to support causes they believe in. Dr. Fitts has completed a dozen half marathons and many 10Ks, but this will be her first marathon. Her goal had been to raise $10,000 for the cancer institute, but at press time, she had already surpassed that

goal by nearly $1,500. Inspired by Dr. Fitts’ dedication, two of her students decided to organize a local 5K run in April to honor her. Brittni Peck ’14 and Sean Vanzant ’14 organized T’s Village 5K Run/2 Mile Walk to Conquer Cancer as part of their internship at STRIDES, a fitness facility specializing in youth fitness programs in Northampton. The proceeds will benefit the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Peck and Vanzant say they organized the event around Dr. Fitts to honor her for all that she has done for them and for other students in the department. “As a person, one word to describe her is passionate,” Vanzant says. “It is not hard to see how much she loves her job, as well as each one of her students. She is always willing to go the extra mile for anyone.” “Dr. Fitts is a strong, kind woman who is inspiring to all,” Peck says. She has done so much for us that we decided to honor this race after her, and we will do whatever it takes to make it the best event for Dr. Fitts.” Dr. Fitts plans to participate in the walk and is grateful for the support she has received both on and off campus. “I have been blown away by the number of people who have reached out to me and my family during this time,” Dr. Fitts says. “I am also very grateful to be able to take one day at a time, as there are so many things out of my control.” Here’s a look at a handful of other faculty members who run to support the community, and in so doing, support each other. Many of them have been inspired by Dr. Fitts – before her diagnosis, and since.



Rainforest Reforestation

Professor shows students how to make a difference By Elizabeth LaFond Coppez, ’03, M’07


im Parshall, Ph.D., professor of Biology and Environmental Science, is teaching students how to make a mark on history. Dr. Parshall spent his sabbatical in spring 2012 in Monteverde, Costa Rica, working on tropical forest restoration in collaboration with colleague Debra Hamilton of the Costa Rican Conservation Association. As a forest ecologist, Dr. Parshall visited four sites where Hamilton planted thousands of trees over the past 10 years. A plan was developed to assess the plantings’ success by having University students tag and measure over 1,500 tree seedlings. “We are in the process of evaluating the data to determine the survival and growth rates of these seedlings, which is new information to science,” Dr. Parshall says. According to Dr. Parshall, over the past 50 years, the size of the human population has been growing rapidly, thus impacting ecosystems in substantial ways. Over the next several decades, he says, society will be faced with important decisions about major environmental issues such as climate change,

loss of biodiversity and food production. “I’d like to be able to inspire my students to make a contribution at this particularly important time in our human history,” Dr. Parshall says. “If I could do one thing in my position at Westfield State, this is what I’d like it to be.” How it began Dr. Parshall is a native of Wheeling, W.Va. “My backyard blended in with miles of unbroken forest, where I spent a lot of my childhood hiking and exploring.” Studying biology at Purdue University, Dr. Parshall enjoyed his first taste of professorhood as an undergraduate teaching assistant in biology. He then taught biology and ecology courses in graduate school at the University of Minnesota. “By that time, I was hooked [on teaching],” he says. Dr. Parshall’s research focused on studying entire forest ecosystems and how they change over long periods of time in response to the climate and human impact. After graduate school, he took a postdoctoral research position at the Harvard Forest, where he studied forest ecology, focusing on how forests in New England have changed. Dr. Parshall missed teaching and eventually found his current position at Westfield State in 2004, and he says, “I’m still here, and I love what I’m doing.”

Research in the rainforest Traveling often to Mexico and Belize gave Dr. Parshall the idea to teach an environmental science course outside of the classroom. Way outside. In 2009, he traveled with 18 students to Belize. “It was an amazing trip that had a major impact on the lives of the students, and my life, too,” he says. Dr. Parshall later joined the Education Department for a course in Costa Rica and was so impressed that he developed a new course for Costa Rica. That course ran again in January. According to Dr. Parshall, Costa Rica is amazing because you can drive 30 minutes and be in a new ecosystem. “Large blocks of forests still remain, and there is so much to show students. “It’s is a very easy place to travel to as a tourist,” Dr. Parshall adds. “It is the best example of how ‘ecotourism’ can influence conservation, the economy and jobs.” Not only is Dr. Parshall bringing his lectures to life by bringing students to a location for hands-on learning, he’s helping to make significant reforestation efforts. “For me, this is a once-in-a-lifetime research opportunity. I can put my background as a forest ecologist to good use and work on a project that makes a clear impact on habitats and natural ecosystems,” he says. n FO C U S MAG A ZI N E • SP RIN G 2 014



Creating the Safe Zone

Program aimed at campus’ LGBTQQ populations By Claudia Moore-O’Brien M.Ed.’00


o r k i n g to k e e p t h e c a m p u s community safe

for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer and questioning community (LGBTQQ) is the Safe Zone program. Its goal is to improve visibility and support for LGBTQQ students and employees by identifying and training a network of sensitive and affirmative allies.

Jessika Murphy, assistant director of Student Activities and the chair of the Safe Zone Committee, says, “The Safe Zone program offers a training session that is essentially a crash course about LGBTQQ issues. Training is primarily mixed groups of students, faculty and staff. We try to keep it a 50/50 mix of students and staff, so that information is shared with all members of the campus community.” The three-hour training session is

Jessika Murphy


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packed full of information, from a section on “coming out” to work on being an ally. Because the group is mixed, there is the opportunity for staff to become aware of students’ concerns. For instance, at a

heterosexist or homophobic. “This process helps them identify the messages they got about the meaning of being male and female as they were growing up,” says Murphy. “We also do a section on gender and what that means.” The Safe Zone is working on expanding. “First, we want the training to stand on its own,” says Murphy. As it currently operates, members of the Safe Zone committee are the only trainers. “The plan is to offer a ‘Train the Trainers’ program, where folks learn to be a facilitator for the program.” Other initiatives include bringing speakers to campus, using the campus ‘First Year Read’ by introducing gay literature, organizing a dinner for the trainers and asking par-

“We want to become more of a community builder than just a training program.” — JESSIKA MURPHY Safe Zone training, the subject of campus safety was brought up by a student who was aware of bullying incidents around gender expression in the male and female bathrooms. “Because we had Dr. Carlton Pickron [vice president of Student Affairs] in that training session, he is working on establishing gender-neutral bathrooms on campus,” says Murphy. That is exactly the type of information sharing and action that the Safe Zone training promotes. The training consists of discussions and exercises about diversity. “For instance, we cover vocabulary and its influence on how we perceive each other,” says Murphy. She explains an exercise in which participants write down a personal experience that was

ticipants to speak about what the training meant to them. “We want to become more of a community builder than just a training program,” says Murphy. Allison Davis ’15, a political science major, says of the training she attended, “Everyone came from a different background, and it was really interesting. “It opened my eyes to how prevalent the LGBTQQ community is on campus,” she adds. Davis was particularly struck by the different experiences people had coming out. “My family was incredibly supportive, so I was only familiar with that,” she says. When she heard a woman say she CONTINUED ON PAGE 29


Queer/Straight Alliance Comes Out From Underground By Claudia Moore-O’Brien M.Ed.’00


n the spring of 1993, during the campus “Celebrate Unity” gathering, undergraduate Christopher Tarvit ’94 took to the stage and publicly came out to the campus as a gay man. It was an act of enormous courage, given the social climate of the times. Since then, Westfield State has become recognized as a campus that embraces diversity and supports its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQQ) students. As with many social movements, one person’s courage empowers others to join the cause. Following Tarvit’s declaration, newly hired counseling center staff member Brian Cahillane remembers thinking, “This is the perfect opportunity to start a club.” Cahillane, along with Tarvit and Katheryn Bradford, who then worked in Residential Life, started organizing. Bradford recalls the early days of the Gay/Straight Alliance, as it was called then, as “undercover and underground,” as many students did not feel safe identifying themselves as queer. To ensure members’ safety, new students had to call Cahillane or Bradford; they would explain the group’s mission and reveal the meeting location for those interested in attending. The first event, a holiday dance, was literally underground—in the basement of Scanlon Hall. Campus security was posted at each end of the building to ensure safety. The widely advertised dance brought LGBTQQ students from as far as Maine. But the real turning point of empowerment for the students was in 2000, when they attended the Millennium March for LGBTQQ rights in Washington, D.C.

Bradford recalls, “The moment we came off the subway and saw all the thousands of LGBT people, we knew we made the right choice. I still get goose bumps.” The students marched in the parade with a Westfield State College banner with pride and honor. Lisa Edwards ’01 says the

bers,” says Gonsalves. Using strategies from signage on the jumbo campus video screens, bake sales, movie nights and other marketing strategies, the club increased from about eight to 25 students by the following semester. Along the way, the name was changed to the Queer/Straight Alliance, so that “we could take back the word,” as Gonsalves says. The Queer/Straight Alliance is imaginative and active at keeping the queer community visible and socially conscious. Members celebrated Transgender Day Remembrance, for instance, by displaying silhouettes on campus with the names of the over 100 transgendered people killed worldwide in one year. “It was our way of bringing attention to the humanity of each individual,” she says. Other recent initiatives have included a Pride Prom for queer students who didn’t

“The moment we came off the subway and saw all the thousands of LGBT people, we knew we made the right choice. I still get goose bumps.” — KATHI BRADFORD

Millennium March “changed my life.” The club continued through the years, with participation ebbing and flowing. Then, in 2009, Keegan Gonsalves ’11, M.Ed. ’13, a member since her freshman year, became president. She brought an energy and determination that invigorated and grew the club. “The group had become small, so I wanted to focus on increasing our num-

attend their high school proms, celebrations in October for National Coming Out Day, social justice theatre productions, scholarships and tours of the campus tailored to the LGBTQQ community. Gonsalves says, “Overall, my sense is there is a good relationship between straight and gay students. Adverse reactions are in the minority. I was just lucky to be born in a generation where acceptance has grown.” n FO C U S MAG A ZI N E • SP RIN G 2 014



Five Inducted into 2013 Athletics Hall of Fame By Mickey Curtis, Sports Information Director


i v e f o r m e r g r e at s were inducted into the Westfield

State University Athletics Hall of Fame to kick off the 2013 Alumni Weekend. The Class of 2013 includes Robert Bogan ’87, football; Diana Cares ’00, cross country/track; David Kaczenski ’83, track and field; Nanci (Mahoney) Salvidio ’73, field hockey/ softball/basketball; and Josue Zamora ’02, football. Robert Bogan ’87 Robert Bogan ’87 was an outstanding wide receiver and kick returner during the early years of the Westfield State football program in the 1980s. Bogan held 21 school records at the time of his graduation. A big-time playmaker with excellent speed, size and hands, he still holds school records for most yards per reception in a game, season and career. His name is also in the school records for kickoffs returned for touchdowns in a season (two) and longest kickoff return (96 yards). Bogan was a two-time all-conference selection and a three-time Westfield State offensive MVP. His talents were noticed by professional scouts, as he was invited to tryouts by the New York Giants, New England Patriots and Toronto Argonauts. A team captain and business management major, Bogan continues to possess leadership skills as president of the Borden & Remington Corporation and property manager of the Iron Works Complex, a 30-acre industrial park, both in Fall River. An alumnus of Bridgton (Maine) Academy, Bogan has been a Bridgton trustee since 2007 and the board’s chairman for the past two years.


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honors her senior year. She has continued her passion for cross country and track and field. The Northborough resident coaches the Whitcomb Middle School cross country and track and field teams in the Marlborough public schools, where she is employed full time as a paraeducator for moderate and severe special needs students. She has officiated high school and college cross country and track meets in central Massachusetts for the past four years.

Diana Cares ’00 Diana Cares ’00 led the pack as the number one distance runner for the Westfield State David Kaczenski ’83 David Kaczenski ’83 was an All-American championship cross country and track and javelin thrower and a three-time national field teams. Cares was a three-time Massachusetts State qualifier for the Westfield State track and field teams in the early 1980s. Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Kaczenski earned All-America honors champion in leading the Owls to four conwhen he placed fifth during his senior year secutive cross country championships from at the 1983 NCAA Division III national 1996 to 1999. She also claimed eight conchampionships. He narrowly missed earning ference distance titles as the Owls captured All-America honors by placing ninth at the three consecutive MASCAC outdoor track 1982 national championships. championships. She was selected outstand Kaczenzki was a two-time MASCAC ing meet performer at the 1999 MASCAC champion and earned All-New England championships. Cares won the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) New England Division III 5,000 meter run championship in 2000, and earned AllNew England honors twice, finishing second in the 10,000 meter run in 1999 and 2000. Cares capped her outJosue Zamora ’02 visits with football coaches standing collegiate cross Pete Kowalski, middle, and Steve Marino country career by earnduring the 2013 Hall of Fame banquet. ing All-New England


honors in each of his three years at Westfield State, including runner-up finishes in 1981 and 1982. He holds the school record with a throw of 224 feet, 11 inches and previously held the MASCAC championship meet record. Kaczenski has been the executive director for seven years of the Massachusetts Rural Water Association in Northfield, a federally funded nonprofit that assists water and wastewater systems in Massachusetts towns of 10,000 or fewer residents. He was a wastewater specialist for 20 years prior to being named the executive director. Nanci (Mahoney) Salvidio ’73 Nanci (Mahoney) Salvidio ’73 has been a trailblazer in the emergence and popularity of women’s sports at Westfield State and in Western Massachusetts as a player, coach and official. Salvidio was an outstanding multi-sport athlete during the formative years of the Westfield State women’s intercollegiate sports program more than 40 years ago, a few years prior to the passage of the landmark Title IX legislation in 1972. The three-sport standout was the field hockey team’s most valuable player and leading scorer, an aggressive power forward in basketball and pitched and played first base in softball. Her field hockey talents were renowned, as she played for an elite club team at Smith College on weekends. Skills honed on the playing fields translated to leadership roles upon graduation from Westfield State and have sustained her throughout a long career in athletics and education. As a coach and an official, Salvidio started the first indoor and outdoor soccer leagues for women in Westfield and coached youth and adult soccer and softball teams. She refereed softball, basketball and field hockey games in Western Massachusetts, helping to break the male dominated officiating in girls’

and women’s sports. Salvidio has an accomplished professional career as well. Her tenure at Westfield State began in 1980 as a counselor/advisor in the Urban Education/Special Services Program, where she was instrumental in recruiting many outstanding student athletes who came through the program. From 1990 to 2005, she was the associate director of the Academic Achievement Center, helping to

The Westfield State University Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2013 includes: first row, left to right: Diana Cares ’00, cross country/track; Nanci (Mahoney) Salvidio ’73, field hockey/softball/basketball, and David Kaczenski ’83, track and field. Second row: Robert Bogan ’87, football; and Josue Zamora ’02, football. develop a campus-wide plan modeled after the Urban Education Program. The energetic alumna maintains a commitment to service as an active volunteer and as a community member. She has coordinated numerous charity golf tournaments, including the Kristen D. Nolan golf classic that honored her niece and alumna Kristen Nolan ’95, who

succumbed to cancer shortly after graduation. The event raised more than $400,000 for the Carole Fund to benefit other young people with cancer. In addition, Salvidio was recently selected as a director and second vice chair with the Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce. Josue Zamora ’02 Josue Zamora ’02 was a three-time AllAmerican and New England player of the year in leading the dominating defenses of the 2001 and 2002 Westfield State championship football teams. In his first of two football seasons, Zamora’s impact was remarkable. He was a Hewlett Packard first team All-American, a d3football. com third team All-American, the New England Writers Gold Helmet player of the year, the Gridiron Club of Boston defensive player of the year and the New England Football Conference (NEFC) unanimous selection as defensive player of the year. Spearheaded by Zamora’s All-America efforts as linebacker, the Owls led the nation in total defense during their storybook 2001 season, when they posted the only undefeated regular season in school history and captured their first and only NEFC championship and NCAA Tournament berth. The defense was even more dominating during Zamora’s senior season in 2002, when the Owls set many of the team defensive school records and again led the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III in total defense. Zamora was a third team All-American, an All-New England first team all-star and a unanimous repeat selection as the NEFC defensive player of the year. Zamora has been a police officer for the past eight years at the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services in Middletown. n FO C U S MAG A ZI N E • SP RIN G 2 014



Standing Out

University athletes rose to the top in w the fall 2013 season By Mickey Curtis, Sports Information Director


he men’s and women’s cross country teams and the women’s volleyball squad captured conference championships to highlight the 2013 fall semester for the varsity athletics program. The women’s volleyball team of veteran head coach Fred Glanville earned a berth in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament for the fourth time in five years by defeating favored Framingham State for the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) championship. Leading the Owls was the duo of Julia Warner ’14 and Lindsay Rescott ’14, both first-team all-conference selections. Warner, the MASCAC player of the year, is the first player in school history to record more than 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs. Setter Carolyn Cote ’15 was a second-team all-conference selection. Warner also excelled in the classroom, as she was named to the 2013 Capital One Academic All-District women’s volleyball team. The prestigious scholar athlete team is selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America. Thirteen student athletes earned Academic All-District honors in the past five years, including two members of the 2013 Westfield football squad—linebacker Troy Cutter ’15 and defensive back Greg Sheridan ’16. Women’s cross country The women’s cross country team continued its dynasty, capturing its 10th straight conference crown by out-running rival Bridgewater State. Strong pack running paced the Owls, who placed seven runners


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The women’s cross country team captured the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference championship for the 10th straight year. All-conference runners, left to right, are: Olivia Marshall, Taylor Surrette, Andrea Domings, Jenn Asci and Jenn Holley.

in the top 12. Olivia Marshall ’15 was Westfield State’s top runner, placing third, and Jenn Asci ’17 finished fourth to earn Conference Rookie of the Year honors. They were followed by Taylor Surrette ’17, Jenn Holley ’15, Andrea Domings ’14, Michelle Kelleher ’16 and Caitlin Ryan ’14. Men’s cross country The men’s cross country squad was even more dominating as it regained the MASCAC crown after being edged by Bridgewater in 2012; the men have won seven of the past 10 MASCAC championships and 24 overall. Westfield State placed five runners in the top six, and 11 in the top 14, in compiling 18 points, the second lowest total in MASCAC meet history. Veteran head coach Bill Devine is excited about the team’s future, as six of his top seven runners in the MASCAC meet were underclassman. Tim Shea ’16 crossed the finish line first to claim the MASCAC individual title. Earning MASCAC Rookie of the Year honors by placing second was Ben Parzich ’17. Other Owls earning all-conference honors by placing in the top 10 were Chris Williams ’17, Mike Skelly ’16, Cam Fairbanks ’14, Steve Connolly ’15 and Zak Gross ’15. Women’s soccer The women’s soccer team came up short in the quest for its fifth NCAA bid in six years, as it dropped a 3-2 double overtime decision to conference champion Bridgewater State in the MASCAC CONTINUED ON PAGE 29

Westfield State University freshman Jenn Asci was the women’s cross country rookie of the year in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference.

The Westfield State University women’s volleyball team celebrates capturing the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference championship for the fourth time in the past five years.

Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference Commissioner Angela Baumann presents the volleyball championship trophy to senior captains Lindsay Rescott, Julia Warner and Kayleigh Shea.


Steve Marino is congratulated by Westfield State football alumni following his final home game as the Owls’ head coach. (Below) Coach Steve Marino ’71 shares a moment with his wife, Betsy (Gilrein) Marino ’71, during his final home football game.

An Icon Retires By Mickey Curtis, Sports Information Director


he 2013 football season marked the end of an era as longtime head coach Steve Marino ’71 announced his retirement. “Steve Marino has been synonymous with Westfield State football for 24 years,” says Athletics Director Richard Lenfest. “He’s a class act who put in an enormous amount of time and effort to make Westfield State football a successful program, and you don’t see a lot of coaches stay at one institution for 24 years.” “He has set the standards for our program and has recruited and coached players who have written and re-written our record books,” Lenfest adds. “It’s been a real pleasure to work with Steve for the nine years I have been at Westfield State, and I want to wish Steve, his wife, Betsy (Gilrein) ’71, and his family the best going forward.” “I can’t believe it’s been 24 years; the time flew by,” says Marino. “It was a hard decision, and I am going to miss coaching, especially on Saturdays, but it’s the right

time for me to do it. I am looking forward to spending more time with my family and grandkids.” Marino, 64, had the third longest tenure among active coaches in New England Division III football, trailing only Springfield College’s Mike DeLong (31 years) and Worcester State’s Brien Cullen (28 years). The Owl mentor roamed the sidelines for 24 of the 32 years that Westfield State has fielded a varsity football team. He coached 235 games with a record of 119-115-1, highlighted by three consecutive New England Football Conference championship game appearances in 2001, 2002 and 2003. In total, Marino’s coaching career spans 41 years. The 1967 graduate of Springfield Classical High School coached football at Ludlow High School for 16 years, including an eight-year stint as the head coach from 1979 to 1986. He served as defensive coordinator at Western New England University in 1987 before returning to Ludlow as an assistant in 1988. He was named Westfield

“Some of my fondest memories of Westfield State were playing football for Coach Steve Marino.” — RICK VITTUM ’94

State’s head coach, a part-time position, in the spring of 1990. Tim Brillo ’92, a reserve quarterback during Marino’s early years at Westfield State and an assistant football coach for the Owls from 2000 to 2006, says, “Coach Marino was the face of Westfield State football. “He took a struggling program and built it into one of the most respected programs in New England,” Brillo adds. “Westfield State football is successful because Coach Marino was a teacher of the game and its life lessons, but more importantly, he genuinely cared about his players.” Rick Vittum ’94, a standout offensive tackle who was inducted into the Westfield State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010, also had high praise for his college coach and mentor. “Some of my fondest memories of Westfield State were playing football for Coach Steve Marino,” says Vittum. “He did not tolerate or accept anything but the best in players and staff. And what I will remember most was he wanted us to build on the CONTINUED ON PAGE 28 FO C U S MAG A ZI N E • SP RIN G 2 014


small successes, never to dwell on the mistakes but to continue to make strides and focus on the positives. I continue to practice these values in my profession as a teacher today.” Marino guided the 2001 Westfield squad to its first and only perfect regular season, a 10-0 record. The Owls won the New England Football Conference championship and qualified for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament. During the special 2001 season, Marino was selected the American Football Coaches Association Northeast Region Coach of the Year, the New England Division II/III Coach of the Year and the Gridiron Club of Greater

Boston Division II/III Coach of the Year. Matt Yvon ’04, a record-setting wide receiver during Westfield State’s championship seasons, says, “Coach Marino was not just a great football coach but a great teacher. He taught me lessons both on and off the field, lessons that have shaped me into the person I am today.” Yvon remembers Coach Marino correcting him when he declared that “practice makes perfect.” “He said ‘it’s not practice that makes perfect, Matt. It’s perfect practice that makes perfect,’” Yvon says. “He believed that with the right preparation and game plan, we could win, no matter who our opponent

was. There was no one more committed to making the Westfield State football program successful than Coach Marino.” Marino received his bachelor’s degree in 1971 and master’s degree in 1978 from Westfield State. He taught English at Ludlow High School for 29 years before taking an administrative post as dean of students at Ludlow for six years. He retired from his full-time job in the Ludlow school system in June 2006. “I loved coaching at Westfield State,” says Marino. “I am going to miss the kids, and I am going to miss the coaches.” n

‘Doc’ Leiker Earns Hagan Award By Mickey Curtis, Sports Information Director Karl Leiker, Ph.D., a long-time faculty member, was the recipient of the 2013 James C. Hagan Award for outstanding service and support to University athletics. The prestigious award was presented at the 18th annual Westfield State Athletics Hall of Fame banquet during the 2013 Homecoming weekend.   “Doc” Leiker has been a fixture in the stands, on the sidelines, in the press box and in the forecast center, supporting athletics since he arrived at Westfield State in the fall of 1976 to teach in the Geography and Regional Planning department. He first got involved with the nascent track and field program as an announcer for the home meets, “and Coach [Jerry] Gravel had a lot of home meets in those days,” he says. Dr. Leiker was a faculty advisor to Student Senate when its vote to add football in 1980 passed by one vote—and he recalled


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Dr. Karl Leiker, right, is presented the James C. Hagan for sustained excellent service in support of the Westfield State athletics program from Dr. Carlton Pickron, vice president of student affairs. Father John Dean’s impassioned speech to the student senators, encouraging the addition of football to the campus intercollegiate athletics program. Dr. Leiker’s own football experience, playing at Fort Hays State in Kansas, was called into service as an assistant coach when Westfield State achieved varsity status in the early 1980s. As his path toward tenure as a faculty member required more time, he eventually stepped away from a coaching role and served as a member of the chain gang for football home games for many years. Today, he continues applying his craft as a meteorologist to provide the most accurate forecast for campus athletic events. During all-day sporting events, Dr. Leiker regularly sets up shop in the Woodward Center to track threatening weather. Through it all, his classes have proved to be favorites among many students and particularly among student athletes, with whom he’ll take a few minutes of class time to talk about the weekend’s games. n

ATHLETES Continued from page 26

Tournament. The Owls ended the season with a 10-8 overall record and placed second in the conference with a 5-2 record. Four members of the women’s soccer squad were selected allconference. Midfielders Sarah Sypek ’15 and Ashleigh Chretien ’15 and back Katy Knight ’16 were first-team selections for the second consecutive year. Back Melissa Kulik ’16 was a second-team selection. Sypek emerged as a scoring threat to lead the Owls in goals (12) and points (26). Chretien was the team’s third leading scorer with 18 points, including a team-high seven assists. Football The football team provided many exciting moments despite finishing with a 5-5 record, as four of the losses were by a total of 12 points. Eight Owls were accorded all-conference honors. Defensive back Gregg Jackson ’14, a first-team selection, also was named to the New England Football Writers All-New England squad. Jackson tied for MASCAC-high honors with six interceptions. Defensive lineman Jonathan Lytle ’15 and kick return specialist Kane Terilli ’14 were the University’s other first-team picks. Lytle emerged as a force on the defensive front with 63 tackles, including 14 for losses and five quarterback sacks. Terilli also was a secondteam all-conference selection at wide receiver with 42 catches for 574 yards and six touchdowns. Other second-team selections were linebacker Troy Cutter ’15; center Wayne McGillicuddy ’15; offensive guard Joe Kreinsen ’14; tight end Jeff Winchell ’14; and placekicker Michael Orellana ’17. Cutter posted a team-high 75 tackles and Winchell had 12 catches for 233 yards and a team-high 19.4 average. Orellana, a former soccer player, booted nine of 16 field goal attempts and set a school record for longest field goal made (42 yards). McGillicuddy and Kreinsen anchored the offensive line that protected Owl quarterbacks, who only threw three interceptions the entire season; all three picks were in the final game. n SAFE ZONE Continued from page 22

didn’t come out until she was getting married, Davis says, “It made me think how everyone’s experience of the same process can be so different.” Following Safe Zone training, student Thomas Durkee ’14 felt as though he had a better understanding of the gay culture in relation to the culture at large. “As a staff development assistant for the Residential Life Department, I act as a mentor to the residential assistants and the students in University Hall,” he says. “I wanted to learn how to support the LGBTQQ community and understand the struggles they face.” Durkee is planning to study higher education administration in graduate school next year. “Since my career choice is a college campus environment, the Safe Zone training is also preparing me for my future. I am getting ready for ‘Train the Trainer’ so that I can facilitate trainings,” he says. As Murphy says, “Safe Zone is still growing. It’s truly a full campus collaborative effort, with many departments pitching in for the costs of the training. It’s not part of anyone’s job description; it is underwritten with passion.” n

MARATHON Continued from page 9

be running for the Boston Medical Center. Erica Mellone ’02 Erica Mellone ’02 is gearing up for her second consecutive run in the Boston Marathon, but this coming year will offer only her first chance to finish. Last year, she was stopped around mile marker 21 because of the bombings. “We didn’t really know what was going on,” Mellone says. “We were kept in a church for three or four hours. Most of us didn’t have cell phones, and those who did, didn’t have service. We couldn’t tell our families how we were.” This year, Mellone feels determined to step out again. “I don’t know what to expect to feel yet, other than it will be pretty incredible when I finish,” she says. Yet, even after last year’s tragedy, Mellone says she isn’t nervous about running this year. “There is going to be so much extra security, and I don’t think we can let ourselves get nervous—then the bombers win,” she says. “We need to show up and run the best marathon of our lives.” Last year, Mellone went back to finish the course on her own, when the final mile was re-opened in May, but this year she’s looking forward to finishing officially. “Hopefully with a five-hour pace,” she says. “What’s really important is to finish and to come around that corner and run down Boylston Street. I want that experience, to be a part of the Boston Marathon.” Mellone, 32, works as a financial planner in Needham. She will be running for the Alzheimer’s Association, and her goal is a record-breaking year for her charity. Donations can be made at Julie Arrison ’01 Julie Arrison ’01 will be running the Boston Marathon for the third consecutive year. She was stopped at mile marker 24 in last year’s race. “I ran with a friend whose husband and son were injured in the bombings. We hope that training and running will continue to add to both of our healing processes,” Arrison says. Arrison says that she is not nervous about safety on the course after seeing new security precautions that were taken at the Chicago Marathon, which she ran in October 2013. It was her seventh completed marathon. She says her goal for the day is to run with her friend from 2013 and to help her enjoy the day as much as possible. “It’s a great gift to be able to train and run and enjoy family, friends and the joy of strangers for 26.2 miles,” Arrison says. “I want to be able to recapture some of that magic and help her to do the same in Boston.” Arrison, 34, is currently a resident of Salem, where she works as a site manager for Historic New England. She will be running for the Franklin Park Coalition.

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Last Call for Reunion Weekend 2014 Reunion weekend 2014 is June 21-22. Register today to spend an exciting weekend on campus celebrating Westfield State, friendship and reconnection. This year’s key groups include the classes of 1964, 1984 and 1989, and orientation leaders, resident assistants and graduates from Urban Education. Whether you are joining a full class reunion or just have an apartment full of friends who want to return to campus, we would love to have you. The Westfield State Reunion program has grown significantly over the past four years, and alumni who have attended have shared incredibly positive feedback about their return to campus. The reunion program costs $125 per person, including three delicious meals, a reception and entertainment (band, DJ and photo booth). Spend the night in our newest residence hall for just $35 per person. University Hall is a gorgeous, air-conditioned building with apartment-style living for you and your friends. Add music, a barbeque on the green, a fabulous evening of dining and dancing, and you have a great recipe for re-connecting with your friends and the campus. Questions? Please contact Kathi Bradford at To register online, visit Hope we see you in June.

Commencement 2014 and the Golden Owls Celebration Westfield State University celebrates Commencement 2014 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield on Saturday, May 17 at 4 p.m. Joining in the celebration of the Class of 2014 will be our Golden Owls, including our newest inductees from the class of 1964.

place to do it than the Big Apple. Tickets are $35 per person and may be purchased online at For more information, please contact the Alumni office at (413) 572-8356.

Elections 2014 We elect new council members annually to the governing body of the Alumni Association. All alumni are welcome to run for a position on the council or to serve as a volunteer on a committee. Interested alumni may nominate themselves for consideration. All nominations are due on July 1 each year. You can find the nomination and election information on the alumni website at If you are interested in serving on a committee, you can find volunteer information on the website at For more information, please contact the Alumni Office at alumni@westfield.

Stay Connected NYC December Bus Trip Westfield State alumni and friends will take on New York City on Saturday, Dec. 13. A motorcoach will leave Westfield State from the Horace Mann Parking Lot, 333 Western Ave., at 6:30 a.m. and will return to campus at approximately 10 p.m. In Manhattan, our visitors will have the day to explore on their own, taking in the sights, enjoying the holiday lights, shopping or catching a show on Broadway. No matter what they choose to do, there’s no better


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Be sure to keep in touch so you’re in the know about all things Westfield State. Visit our website at for news, events, happenings and more. While you are there, why not log in and update your information? For first time logins, your username and password are the same—your first initial, last name and four-digit graduation year (e.g., Joe Smith ’99 would be jsmith1999). If you need assistance logging in or have questions about the site, please contact Kelly Galanis at kgalanis@westfield. or (413) 572-5228.

accomplishments? Have you served with an alumnus who volunteers “above and beyond” for the community? We are also pleased to announce the addition of two new awards for 2014: The GOLD Alumnus Award, for someone who has graduated in the last 10 years; and the Alumnus Award for Outstanding Service in the Academic Field. Please consider nominating one of these people for consideration. The nomination form can be found on the alumni website at Deadline for submissions is March 15 each year. Please help us honor our alumni who have impacted the world.

Westfield State Alumni Store Be sure to stop by and check out all the offerings in our online store. We offer stylish hoodies and crewnecks, camping chairs, diploma frames and more. All items are reasonably priced and include a partial donation to the Alumni Association Scholarship Fund. Items can be picked up at the Alumni Relations office at no cost, or we will gladly ship your items to you for a reasonable fee. Place your order today.

The Universe According to Josh Simpson A city-wide celebration of internationally-noted glass artist Josh Simpson JUNE 28 – SEPTEMBER 28

Westfield State University Downtown Art Gallery 105 Elm Street, Westfield, MA Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm Thursday, 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm Saturday 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Distinguished Alumnus for 2013 The Westfield State University Alumni Association honored Ann Zucco Favreau ’58, M’84, with its third Distinguished Alumnus Award. The honor is a service award designed for an alumnus who has made an outstanding contribution to the community. Favreau accepted the award during the annual Alumni Homecoming weekend at Westfield State. “On behalf of the Westfield State Alumni Association, we are pleased to recognize Ann Zucco Favreau as our 2013 distinguished alumna,” says Kathi Bradford, director of alumni relations. “Ann’s commitment to education, her service to the domestic and global communities and passionate nature truly exemplify the spirit of this award.” We are entering our fourth cycle of the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Do you know a Westfield State alumnus who should be recognized for the work he or she has done to support the campus, community or others? Is there someone you work with who brings recognition to the campus because of his or her professional

Owl Club Golf Tournament AUGUST 4

Ranch Golf Club, Southwick To benefit Athletics Contact Dave Caspole at (413) 485-7358

Foundation Golf Classic SEPTEMBER

To benefit scholarships, internships and books Contact Lisa McMahon at (413) 485-7360

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CL ASS NOTES For more detailed information on these stories, please visit our Focus magazine online at

Waterbury, Conn. Jonathan is an account manager at All-Comm Technologies, Inc. The couple lives in Quincy.



(bride), Jonathan Imperial ’10 (groom).


News 1980

1974 Clifford Junkins, Jr. married Barbara Ferrero Avanzato on June 15, 2013, in Pittsfield. They live in Holyoke.

2003 Tara Labucki married James Vermette on Aug. 17, 2013. Tara is the owner of Tru Blu Grafix and Print + Web Design. The couple lives in Chicopee.

Kaitlin Gallagher married Jeremy Casey ’07 on July 14, 2012, in Simsbury, Conn. Several Westfield State alumni joined in their celebration.



Chrissy Lalli married E.J. Abbe on June 29, 2013, in Springfield. Their celebration included Owl alumni, including Vanessa Morton ’06, Kristin (Clark) Kauffman ’07, Chris Kauffman ’07, Sean Bresnahan ’07 (best man), Robbie Crossman ’07, Rachel Webb ’07, Brendan Menard ’07, Lissa Piscopo ’07, Swimming and Diving Head Coach Dave Laing, Michelle O’Brien ’08, Jeff Wyse ’10, Kim Abbe ’11, Megan Marshall ’11, Athletic Hall of Famer Russ Boshbach ’80, and their wedding photographer Kathy Bunnell ’99 of Bunnell Photography. Jonathan Bulman married Veronica Colomb in January in


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Rachael Oleson married Jonathan Imperial ’10 on June 1, 2013, in New Hampshire. Rachael is a special education assistant teacher and Jonathan is a police officer. Several Westfield State alumni joined the couple on their special day. Pictured are (top, left to right): Dave Malone ’10, Aaron Burns ’10, Chrissy Gallo Ferreira ’12 and Mark Ferreira ’10 (groomsmen), Bill Bartlett ’08 (best man), Ryan Nix ’10, Kurt Hawes ’10, Sarah Mackey ’10; (bottom, left to right): Matt Burzdak ’09, Shannon Allen ’09 (bridesmaid), Meghan Wallace ’10 (bridesmaid), Nicole Nalepa ’10, Kristen Pierce ’10 (bridesmaid), Jacqui Brown Ferguson ’10 (bridesmaid); (front center): Rachael Oleson Imperial ’09

The Westfield State Alumni Jimmy Fund Walk team has done it again. They raised over $15,000 for the 2013 walk, with a five-year total of over $80,000. Special thanks goes to the dedicated fundraiser for the event, Kathy Hickey Moore ’80. The rest of the team included Bobby Mayo, Jack Mosko, Jacqueline Mosko, Joe Seckler, Danny Lunden, Chad Lesage, Diana Lesage, Jessica Lesage, Marc Lesage, Frankie DiSalvio, Deana DiSalvio, Peter DiSalvio, Tom Convery, Peter DiSalvio (there are two!), Jill Tutty, Gina Benn and Jillian Benn.

1981 Bill Blackburn of Portsmouth, R.I., has been selected as a winner of the 2013 National Defense Industrial Association Bronze Medal Award. The NDIA Bronze Medal is an annual award that recognizes outstanding individual achievements in science or engineering in the field of undersea warfare.

Laura Tryon Jennings (Landry) will exhibit at Westfield State University’s Downtown Gallery from May 6-June 14 with a reception on May 15 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Laura is one of three alumni artists to be honored with an exhibition in conjunction with the celebration of the 175th anniversary of the University and its alumni. The title of her solo exhibit, “Through the Bedroom Window,” is a new series of provocative paintings that explores allusions of vulnerability and expectation, with a particular focus on the power of letting go and the inner authenticity that encompasses being vulnerable, and her ever-present theme of tension between chaos and tranquility. Laura credits the professors in the Westfield State Art Department for giving her a solid foundation to make it as a professional artist. In addition to being an exhibiting artist, Laura is also an oil painting instructor and an expressive arts facilitator. As an expressive arts facilitator, she works with anyone who’s searching for self-discovery and specializes with a variety of populations (e.g., at-risk teens, bereavement groups, palliativecare children and their families, women in transition, etc.). She lives in Marshfield. Visit her website at

1986 Lori Perez has been named instructor of conservation law enforcement at Unity College in Maine. Lori will teach and mentor future conservation law enforcement professionals, addressing theory while also incorporating personal experience as a field practitioner. She holds a master of science degree in criminal law from Central Connecticut State University.

1987 William Fuller was the recipient of the Middleboro Rotary Club’s 26th annual Vocational Excellence and Community Service award. The award is given to a business owner or professional in recognition for vocational excellence, the practice of high ethical standards and active community involvement.

1990 Joanne Moore and her husband, Douglas, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on July 6, 2013. The couple cruised to the Inside Passage of Alaska with the friends who introduced them to each other.

1992 Michelle Melick has been named principal of Cameron Middle School in Framingham. She has served as assistant principal at the Sherwood Middle School in Shrewsbury for the past seven years. FieldEddy has appointed Lori Slezek as its chief of operations. In this position, she is responsible for overseeing

the company’s daily operations, finances, sales and budgetary controls.

Michael Graham has been named police officer for the city of Northampton.

1994 Kim Lynch has joined Hampden Zimmerman as marketing coordinator. She brings over 18 years of experience in developing, implementing and coordinating marketing initiatives. Nicholas D. Young, Ph.D., has co-authored and published a book entitled Collapsing Educational Boundaries from Preschool to PhD: Building Bridges Across the Educational Spectrum. Young has worked in diverse educational roles for more than 20 years, including superintendent of schools, principal, director of student services, graduate professor and higher education administrator. He was the former president of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents and was named the Massachusetts Superintendent of the Year in 2010.

2000 Lori Szepelak has released her second book, Floors of the Forest. Szepelak shares the revelations she received from angels one winter morning in February 2013, on her way to work. She is also the author of An Angel on My Shoulder, which debuted in 2010.

2001 Geoffrey Croteau has been named as one of BusinessWest magazine’s Forty Under 40 for

2008 2013. He is a financial advisor and managing associate sales manager for the MassMutual Charter Oak Insurance & Financial Services Agency. Kyle Robidoux recently placed third in the United States Association of Blind Athletes National Marathon Championships, held at the California International Marathon in Sacramento, Calif. Robidoux, who has retinitis pigmentosa, took home a bronze medal for the Class B3 division. In addition to his third-place finish, Robidoux also set a personal record at the championships with a time of 3:50:18. The California International Marathon was Robidoux’s third full marathon. He also plans to run the Boston Marathon for the first time in April 2014, as a member of Team with a Vision.

Lisa Mangini has been hard at work with her writing. Her chapbook, Slouching Towards Entropy, was published by Finishing Line Press, and her fiction chapbook, Perfect Objects in Motion, was produced by Red Bird Chapbooks. In addition, she is slated to publish her full-length collection of poems, Bird Watching at the End of the World, in October 2014. In addition to her writing, Mangini works part time at Aetna and is an adjunct professor at Southern Connecticut State University and Asnuntuck Community College. Moriarty & Primack Certified Public Accountants have promoted Melissa English to supervisor. She started with the firm in 2001 and holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Westfield State.


2006 Amy Koenig has been sworn in as the new chief probation officer of Berkshire County Probate and Family Court in Pittsfield.

2007 Attorney Gerard Campbell has been promoted to Fallon Community Health Plan’s privacy officer and compliance director. He has been with the company since 2006.

Bernard G. McMahon, emeritus professor of Fine Arts, passed away on July 9, 2013. Dr. McMahon joined the faculty at Westfield State in 1965. In addition to his leadership in the Art Department, he played a significant role in campus and MSCA governance over several decades before retiring in 1999. He was awarded Fulbright research fellowships to India and to Egypt, and he traveled widely around the globe to support study abroad programs for Westfield State. His charitable

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work included years of service as treasurer of the St. Vincent DePaul Society of Westfield. Since his retirement, he volunteered with the Falmouth Service Center on Cape Cod and with the WGCU public television station in Estero, Fla. Bette Roberts, 71, emerita professor of English, passed away on June 17, 2013, after a brief illness while on vacation with her husband, Jeffrey. Dr. Roberts began her career in the English Department at Westfield State in 1967 as an instructor, left in 1972 to complete her doctoral degree in English at the University of Massachusetts and returned as a full-time tenuretrack assistant professor in 1976. She retired in 2001. During her many decades at Westfield State, she played a key role in shaping the English Department through her dedicated teaching and her service as department Chair. She also served on major college governance committees, coordinated the department’s internship program and led an active life as a scholar, publishing books and articles on the Gothic tradition. Robert “Dr. Bob” Saisi, 82, faculty member for the Education Department, passed away on Aug. 12, 2013, in Rumford, Maine. Saisi held an Ed.D. from Boston University, a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Vienna, Austria, and joined the faculty of Westfield State in 1967. He is a veteran of the Korean War, served as a special agent with the U.S. Counter Intelligence Corps and earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, among several other citations.


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Ellen Wetherell, secretary for Residential Life and the “Voice of Westfield State” for over 34 years, waged a brave and, characteristically for Ellen, positive battle against cancer for the past year and a half. On Saturday, Aug. 18, 2013, Wetherell lost the battle, but her incredible spirit, generosity and legacy will live on through the thousands of people she touched in her time here. Usha Zacharias, 51, associate professor of Communication and affiliate faculty with the Ethnic and Gender Studies Department, passed away on Sept. 30, 2013, in Thiruvananthapuram, India, after a lengthy battle with cancer. Dr. Zacharias held a doctoral degree in communication from Ohio University and joined the Westfield State faculty in 2000. She was a prolific scholar and quickly earned an international reputation, serving on the editorial board of some of the most prominent journals in the discipline. She recently completed work on the documentary film “On the Trail of a Rainsong,” about environmental issues in Kerala, India, based on research she conducted for the International Development Research Centre in Canada. CORRECTION: Bob Young ’85 was inadvertently listed as deceased in our Fall 2013 issue. His father, Robert Young ’59, passed away in December 2012.

In Memoriam 1929 Lorraine M. (Ross) Brinson Olga (Snyder) Tillema

1941 Margaret Fitzgerald

1944 Anne MacKay Janet Sanborn

1976 Bettirose Eisner Rinaldo Santamaria

1979 Nancy Bevan

1980 Jane Szczepanek

1988 1945

Daniel Doherty, Jr.

Madeline Raison

1989 1948

Horst Fei

Dorothy LaBerge


1991 Brian Cornine

Phyllis Oleksak


1993 Matthew Herrick

Lori Troiano



George Rivers

Andrew Morrissette Sandra Richards



Michael Fioretti

1964 Frank Marshall

1967 Richard Bray Raymond Chelte Thomas Waldron

1972 Glenn Larivee

1973 Helen Snow

Emilee Gagnon

ROAD RACES Continued from page 20

Claudia Ciano-Boyce, Psychology Josh Billings Runaground Triathlon Claudia Ciano-Boyce of the Psychology Department has competed in the Josh Billings Runaground Triathlon in the Berkshires for eight years; she ran for four years in the 1980s before rallying her fellow Westfield State colleagues to participate. The “Josh” is a triathlon of biking, kayaking and running held in the Berkshires every year. Dr. Ciano-Boyce has participated in all of the elements of the race, though not in the same year. This year, Dr. Ciano-Boyce’s team for the September 2013 race was dismantled last minute due to a series of unfortunate events, but she had no cause to complain. She had already participated in two triathlons over the summer: the “Oh My Goddard” Sprint Triathlon in Rhode Island in June and the Westborough Sprint Triathlon in August. The Josh motto, “to finish is to win,” has been adopted by the various teams who have taken part in it over the years, often with hilarious stories attached. Dr. Ciano-Boyce says, “It makes for a stronger community at Westfield State, and these faculty and staff often populate their teams with family and friends so the Westfield State community extends out. Now, the Josh stories are recalled throughout the year with threats from team to team to ‘just wait until next year!’” Faculty who run in the Josh include: Buzz Hoagland, Biology; Phil Hotchkiss, Mathematics; Ted Welsh, Mathematics; Joey Reyes, Psychology; Michael Vorwerk, Environmental Science; Karen Vorwerk, Mathematics; Goopeel Chung, Computer and Information Science; Karen Works, Computer and Information Science; Michael Foyle, Public Safety; Vanessa Diana, English; Larry Griffith, Computer and Information Science; Janet Gebelt, Psychology; Joe Camilleri, Psychology; Roger Tudor, Psychology; Stan Jackson, Psychology; Rebecca Burwell, Psychology; Julian Fleron, Mathematics; Summer Williams, Psychology; Eric Bressler, Psychology; Sandra Berkowitz, Education; Dr. Fitts, Movement Science; and Bob Hayes, Psychology. Vanessa Diana, English Run Stanley Vanessa Diana of the English Department crafted the idea of the Run/ Walk Stanley 5K, promoting awareness of damages to the wilderness areas in Stanley Park over the past year from extreme weather. Dr. Diana has been an active participant in road races – including the Boston Marathon – but this cause struck a little closer to home. Literally. Dr. Diana lives next door to the park, often using its trails for her daily exercise. She decided something needed to be done after noticing that one of the bridges deep in the woods was lopsided, nearly impossible to cross. Janet Garcia, Director of Marketing Hot Chocolate Run Janet Garcia, director of the Marketing Department, has participated in the Hot Chocolate Run for Northampton’s Safe Passage for

the past two years. Roughly 30 University faculty, staff and students take part and are rewarded with team hats. Unfortunately, Garcia was unable to run in the race this past December, as she was already signed up for another race that day in Cambridge—the Winter Classic 5K to benefit Cambridge Family and Children’s Services. Garcia races to stay fit, starting several years ago after volunteering in Dr. Fitts’ movement science class. “Through the class, I learned about a triathlon sprint that was taking place that spring. I signed up and began training and have not stopped exercising since,”she says. n WEBINARS Continued from page 3

King, Jr. Planning for the multicultural education course, which is offered every semester, began in the fall of 2013 for Dr. DiAngelo and Professor Hidalgo. Dr. DiAngelo, an associate professor of education, has completed research in U.S. race relations, in what’s called “critical whiteness students” and anti-racist education. Hidalgo, who teaches in the areas of multicultural education, the philosophy of education and Latino studies, is also writing a memoir about her childhood in East Harlem, N.Y., also known as El Barrio or Spanish Harlem. Their commitment and enthusiasm toward the subject matter is obvious. Students will also discuss chapters from Dr. DiAngelo’s book, What Does it Mean to be White? Developing White Racial Literacy, based on her research and perspective of the Latino

“It was truly an innovative collaboration and unique learning experience for all involved.” — CHERYL STANLEY, Ed.D. experience in the United States. The professors hope the class will help students bring history into the present and explore how race relations have evolved since the landmark U.S. Supreme Court verdict in Brown versus the Board of Education, which declared separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. Teacher candidates from Morehouse College attending education classes at Spelman will also participate. Dr. Stanley says these conference-style webinars will ensure that the University’s pre-service and in-service teachers have some interaction with other diverse candidates and faculty from another NCATE higher education institution. “We must assure that Westfield State candidates have educational experiences with diverse peers and faculty,” explains Dr. Stanley. “Because Westfield State is a predominantly white higher education institution, it has been difficult to provide experiences for our candidates to interact with other diverse candidates and faculty. We’ve been very fortunate to establish innovative partnerships.” n FO C U S MAG A ZI N E • SP RIN G 2 014



Advancing the University Former state senator takes over The Westfield State Foundation, Inc. By Claudia Moore-O’Brien M.Ed. ’00


ichael Knapik is the new head of University Advancement. He is also a hometown guy with a rich career in public service. Born in Westfield, Knapik was a member of the Westfield School Committee, served as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives for four years and as a State Senator for 18 years. As the recently appointed executive director for University Advancement, Knapik will direct University fundraising, working closely with community leaders, alumni, employees, donors and students from various and diverse backgrounds. “I am here to support the University by growing fundraising and reaching out to new constituencies in a variety of areas,” he says. He is invigorated by the challenge.

New initiatives Responsible for two wings of fundraising, Knapik is heading both the University’s Advancement Division and The Westfield State Foundation, Inc. “We have assembled a new advancement team to maximize our ability to be broadly engaged and active in fundraising,” says Knapik. “Westfield State is such a wonderful school. I know we will be able to share the good works of the students and faculty to a broad array of folks, especially as we celebrate the 175th anniversary of our founding by Horace Mann.” Knapik spoke about an initiative of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Department of Higher Education through which state universities have been challenged to raise funds for student internships;


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nation,” Knapik says. Other initiatives include growing student scholarship funds, partnering with academic departments to address their needs and engaging in a capital fundraising plan for the new STEM academic building.

Michael Knapik this will be a key focus of the Advancement Division and the Foundation in the spring semester, he says. Knapik explains that the University has been asked to raise $124,000 for the internship program, and this amount will be matched dollar for dollar for a total of $248,000. “This is only the second year the legislature has made this particular matching program available,” he says. Currently, many internships at the University are paid for by employers; others are solely offered for academic credit. These monies will help support the students as they work in the community. Internships in this incentive program will focus on careers in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and financial services and health. The initiative addresses the need for Massachusetts to have and retain the “best educated workforce and citizenry in the

Overseeing the Foundation Knapik also manages the Westfield State University Foundation, Inc., with a board of directors made up of respected community professionals. Knapik says, “The Foundation develops, fosters and cultivates relationships with external constituencies, including alumni, friends, business leaders, private foundations and residents of the Westfield and Springfield areas and beyond.” Working closely with Board President Ed Marth, Knapik says, “We are working to create a long-term strategic plan, better engage with alumni, connect with our historic base and raise needed funds.” The Foundation also sponsored a luncheon for Katherine Dower-Gold, Ph.D., in October 2013. “Dr. Dower-Gold has created a scholarship for music students, and we invited former and current students and faculty to join us in an appreciation luncheon during Homecoming,” says Knapik. Knapik is engaged with the campus administration as well, working with the Financial Aid office to fund scholarships. Knapik wants to enhance Foundation giving to enable Westfield State to offer more scholarships, book scholarships and identify other way to lessen the financial burden on students. “The need is very large, and I believe we can be a powerful partner,” says Knapik. n


Rounding out the Team Three new staff members bolster the Westfield State Foundation, Inc. By Evan Cirioni ’13

Amy Carignan Amy Carignan is also excited to be on the Foundation team. In her new position as staff assistant, Carignan is reaching out to faculty and learning how they can best partner on future fundraising initiatives and scholarship opportunities. She says, “I am excited to make a difference within the Foundation and to work hard for the students to ensure that they have as many opportunities as possible.” Carignan has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Merrimack College and has previously worked in fundraising for Bay Path College, where she also earned certification in strategic fundraising.

Bo Sullivan   For the past 17 years, Bo Sullivan has worked for NewsRadio 560 WHYN as a producer, sports director and morning show co-host.  He also serves as the president of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Westfield. “We just completed a $2.6 million capital campaign that added a new gymnasium and many new classrooms, which will let the educational programs in the club thrive,” Sullivan says. In his new position as development officer for the Foundation, Sullivan will be working extensively with the Athletic Department, seeking new corporate sponsors to make sure that the department continues to grow.  He’s looking forward to helping student athletes. “It’s important to help them enjoy college and make sure they have the time of their lives—both in the classroom and on the athletic field,” Sullivan says.

Lisa McMahon Lisa McMahon serves as the manager of advancement and stewardship, and she has over 20 years of experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, program development and community engagement. A graduate of the College of Our Lady of the Elms in Chicopee, McMahon was the first executive director of the Westfield Business Improvement District, and she spent the last two years away from the nonprofit arena, focusing on financial planning at Merrill Lynch. She looks forward to working with Knapik to build a strong team in advancement, one that can work with scholarship donors, faculty and staff to increase the opportunities available to students. “Our students are our niche,” she says. “I am excited to identify new ways to connect our donor’s passions with exciting initiatives here at Westfield State – initiatives that provide opportunities that have a positive impact on the lives of our students, our donors and overall community.” n FO C U S MAG A ZI N E • SP RIN G 2 014


Alumni and University Relations Westfield State University Westfield, MA 01086-1630

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Focus Spring 2014  

Focus Spring 2014