Athletes Become Role Models For 16th Annual Girls and Women in Sports Day

Posted February 12, 2016

by junior Natasha Mercado-Santana


Saturday, February 6, was Western New England University’s 16th year celebrating Girls and Women in Sports Day. The event was hosted in the AHLC, and over 200 student athletes volunteered their time for over 150 girls who came to participate. Girls and Women in Sports Day is celebrated across the country with the goal to improve the lives of women through sports and physical activity.

baseball_2pngAt Western New England the program is designed to bring girls ages 7-12 from the Massachusetts area onto the Western New England campus to learn to play various sports, and what it’s like to be a college student athlete. “Our athletes talk to them about character development, staying in school, working hard, staying dedicated, and staying motivated to do what they do,” explained Jen Kolins, the Men’s and Women’s Tennis Coach at Western New England, and the Community Outreach Coordinator, “The program shows girls that they can do anything they want to do and be anything they want to be, and the transferrable skills that go along with sports make athletics a great vehicle to get there.”

Dean Hart-Steffes, the Vice President Dean of Students, said she participates in the event because it’s a really important day for our campus, for our student athletes, and for the girls and women who participate. “Because we’re on a college campus, the girls start thinking about their goals, whether they want to go to college, and how Western New England University can be a part of that next step,” she explained, “It’s an incredible opportunity for young girls to come and bring their families onto the campus.”

pool_3pngThe program is free, and girls signed up through their Brownie Troops, churches, and schools. “The purpose of this event is to get younger children in the area involved in different types of athletics,” said Allison Ryan, a senior at Western New England University and co-captain of the Women’s Swim Team, “We show them that college athletics is a lot of fun.” The girls rotated around to different stations throughout the day that included basketball, dance, lacrosse, hockey, and swimming. At the pool, “We organize them and lay down the ground rules of safety and having fun, then we ask them if they would prefer to play games or just want to have free time,” Ryan explained, “They can do whatever they want to, we just facilitate safety and fun.”


Golden Bear Men's Basketball Team Adds Two Young Rookies to their Bench

Posted February 12, 2016

by junior Natasha Mercado-Santana


After the Women and Girls in Sports Day event on Saturday, February 6, the Men’s Basketball team welcomed two 8th grade boys from Granite Valley Middle School in Monson, MA, to sit on the bench and watch the game against Nichols College. Sean Murphy and Joe Podworski plan to use the opportunity to their advantage. “I think this will make us better students and athletes when we go to college,” said Joe. “After watching this game, we can go back to our basketball team at Monson, talk with our coach, and show them what we’ve learned,” Sean said.

Granite Valley Middle School has partnered with Western New England University as part of their College and Career Readiness Program. They work with the University to provide opportunities for kids to get involved outside of the classroom, and see the benefits of going to college. A process that they want to start in middle school rather than wait until the students are in high school.


The boys said their math teacher Jill Carneglia nominated them for this opportunity because of their love of basketball and hard work in school. “We’re always talking about basketball and about coming to this school,” explained 14 year old Joe Podworski. (left)  “We work hard in school and keep our grades up,” added 13-year-old Sean Murphy (right).

Jill Carneglia, a Western New England University alumna of 2014, agreed. “I nominated them because Sean and Joe work so hard in school,” she explained, “and you can see, both inside and outside of school, they have such a passion for basketball that they’d be perfect candidates for an opportunity like this.”

The boys’ families also came to support them. Sean’s mother Sarah Royal thinks this was a wonderful opportunity. “This is excellent,” she said, “I really appreciate the opportunity Sean is having.” Lisa Podworski, Joe’s mother, is very proud of her son. “Joe has ADHD and struggles in school, but his teachers know that he puts all the effort he can into school, so they chose him for this opportunity,” she explained, “It’s a great opportunity for him to see what it’s like to be an athlete in college. Basketball is his dream, and he wants to be an NBA player.”


Students and Faculty Gather for International Welcome Reception

Posted February 11, 2016

By freshman Jeremy Morris

L-R: Abhijith Thiyata, Gokul Maturu, Katie Ahlman, Vijay Kumar Rupani, Poorna Chandu Mokkapati, Mounika Gudipati, Zubair Zubbi Mohammad 

International students recently gathered for a welcome reception sponsored by the University’s office for International Students and Scholar Services. The 2016 spring semester has more that 120 returning International students and an additional 40 new students. In addition to formally welcoming the new international students to campus, the event afforded them an opportunity to meet the returning international students, along with the deans, faculty, and staff. 

Among the new students, 18 are engineering graduate students from India, and 15 undergraduate students from Saudi Arabia. Other students are arriving from Afghanistan, France, Italy, Nigeria, Russia, and China. In all, the International students hail from 31 different countries.

When asked about his selection process for choosing Western New England University as the school for him, Hussain Al Nimer said, “Picking a school for me was difficult, but my brother previously graduated for here and that played a role in my decision.” 

welcome_photo_2jpgL-R: Sateesh Sudireddy, Ananth Pasnoor, Dean Yvonne Bogle, Parth Mandalaywala, Jinesh Shah, Praneeeth Obilineni

Western New England is known for its small class sizes, and international student Muhannad Abdul Alahmad feels that is an advantage. “I enjoy the small classes the most. I used to have fifty or more students in class at a time, at my old school, and I feel I’m better set up for success with smaller classes,” Alahmad explained. 

For more information about International Students and Scholar Services at Western New England University, click here.


School of Law Alumna Nominated for Springfield District Court Judge 

Posted February 11, 2016

2014micheleouimetrookejpg961dada08f60c1bdjpgWestern New England University School of Law alumna Michele Ouimet-Rooke has been nominated to fill a judicial vacancy in Springfield District Court.   

Governor Charlie Baker announced Michele Ouimet-Rooke of Springfield as his choice for the district court judgeship. "I'm pleased to recommend an individual with such broad experience to the Governor's Council for their consideration," Baker said. 

Rooke served as victim/witness advocate and assistant district attorney in the Hampden District Attorney's office before joining the Springfield law firm of Doherty, Wallace, Pillsbury and Murphy in 2002. 

Ouimet-Rooke is a city native and graduate of Springfield College and Western New England University School of Law.


The 2016 Teaching Excellence Award

Posted February 10, 2016

2016_teaching_excellencepngEach year, Western New England University recognizes the highest quality teaching by bestowing the Teaching Excellence Award to exceptional faculty who best demonstrates excellence in teaching and campus leadership.

Do you know a current member of the undergraduate faculty who best fits this description? Nominations are welcomed from students, faculty, alumni or staff.  

Submit a Nomination! Nomination deadline: February 24, 2016

The 2016 Teaching Excellence Committee invites you to nominate a current member of the full-time undergraduate faculty who best exemplifies excellence in teaching and campus leadership. The nominee must have made a distinct difference in the teaching climate of the University through:
• Model classroom teaching
• Pioneering teaching methods
• Campus leadership
• Creative course development or instructional support

Your personal experiences as to why this full-time faculty member deserves the Teaching Excellence Award is also requested.

Submit your nomination online, or email your nomination by February 24, 2016, to: Jackie Scalzo.


Alexandra Lyman ’12 and Christina (Pizzella) Polaski ’11 named  Distinguished Alumni in Communications

Posted February 10, 2016


Alexandra Lyman, copywriter for Western New England University’s office of Marketing and External Affairs, and Christina (Pizzella) Polaski, content and social media manager at Carbonite were recognized with the distinguished Western New England Communication Alumni of the Year Award. Lyman, a 2012 graduate in Communication with a concentration in Media Theory and Production, and Polaski, a 2011 graduate in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations, are the first alumni to receive this inaugural award.

Lyman has worked in media, both behind the scenes and in front of the camera. She has worked in television, print journalism, at a media advertising agency, and even worked for an independent film crew, but Alex chose to return to her alma mater to work in the Marketing and External Affairs Office.

“I was so honored to be one of the recipients of the Alumni of the Year award,” said Lyman. “We have many distinguished and accomplished alumni, and to be singled out from such outstanding communication professionals meant the world to me.”

In her role as Content and Social Media Manager at Carbonite, Polaski manages content strategy and creation, as well as social media. She formerly worked in public relations and social media for a worldwide software company.

"I am thrilled to be a recipient of Western New England University’s very first Outstanding Communication Alumni of the Year Award, and owe much of my professional success to the outstanding quality of the program and professors who led the way."

"We consider ourselves tremendously lucky and honored to have such accomplished, bright, and generous people represent our program," said Doug Battema, Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication. "Christina and Alex were model students and are model alumnae. Both are tremendous ambassadors for our university and our department, showing in every aspect of their personal and professional lives how essential communication skills are."


International Aquatics Federation VP Dale Neuburger to Visit February 17

Posted February 8, 2016

daleneuburgercopygifWestern New England University will host Dale Neuburger, vice president of FINA, (Fédération Internationale de Natation), the worldwide governing body for aquatic sports, including the Olympic disciplines of swimming, diving, water polo, and synchronized swimming. Neuburger will be the next guest speaker in the “For the Love of the Games” speaker series on Wednesday, February 17 at 7:00 p.m. in Wood Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Neuburger’s talk, entitled “Spanning the Globe in Sport and Business,” is sponsored by the University’s Center for International Sport Business (CISB) and is made possible by a grant from the Alumni Association. Can’t make it to campus? Watch live streaming video at

In 1993, Neuburger became president of the Indiana Sports Corporation, the first-in-the-nation “sports commission,” created to promote civic pride and economic development through sport. He has served as president of USA Swimming and chair of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and in 2015 was elected president of UANA, the hemispheric aquatics organization for North, Central, and South America, and the Caribbean Islands.

finapngNeuburger is currently serving his fourth term as Vice President of FINA. He is also a director and partner of TSE Consulting, an international sport partnership that provides strategic advice to global clients from international sport federations to national governing bodies, and from national Olympic committees to cities with designs on winning bids for mega sporting events.

Established in 2007, the CISB is a forum for the study of the business of sport with an international emphasis. In addition to the distinguished speaker programs that bring prominent personalities from sport and business to the University community, the CISB organizes a summer Seminar Abroad program that takes students to the Olympic Games, and FIFA World Cup. For more information, contact CISB Director Curt Hamakawa L’84 at 413-782-1786 or


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