Kemba Smith to Speak About the U.S. War on Drugs and Her Personal Tragedy

Posted March 2, 2015


On March 10, Western New England University will host a presentation with inspirational speaker Ms. Kemba Smith-Pradia, in Rivers Memorial Hall, at 6:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.

Growing up as an only child in Richmond, VA, Kemba Smith-Pradia graduated high school and continued her education at prestigious Hampton University. In an attempt to “fit in” as a college student, Kemba associated with the wrong crowd and became involved with a drug dealing boyfriend. He was a major figure in a crack cocaine ring and drew Kemba right in the middle of his life with physical, mental, and emotional abuse disguised as “love.” 

Before she knew what was happening, Kemba was convicted on a drug charge and sentenced to 24 years in federal prison. Kemba’s drug dealing boyfriend was later murdered in prison while she gave birth to their son while she was incarcerated. 

Fortunately, Smith regained her freedom after President Clinton granted her clemency in December 2000. Kemba had already served 6 years of her sentence. Her case drew support from across the nation and the world to reverse a disturbing trend in the rise of lengthy sentences for first time non-violent drug offenders.

“We are hoping that Kemba’s traumatic real-life story will help students to recognize that there are consequences to their choices and especially the relationships they develop,” explained Yvonne Bogle, assistant dean of Diversity Programs and Services. “The desire to fit-in and be accepted by peers is a powerful draw for students and they need to understand just where their choices may lead,” Bogle added. 

This event is sponsored by the Western New England University Office of Diversity Programs and Services.


Six Join Engineering Faculty at Western New England University

Posted March 2, 2015

Western New England University President Dr. Anthony S. Caprio announced the appointment of six new members of the faculty at the University’s College of Engineering this academic year.

sm_newfaculty109_mohamed_almekkawyjpgMohamed Almekkawy was named Visiting Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Almekkawy received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1998 from Ain Shams University in Egypt. He received a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering in 2006 from Cairo University.

Almekkawy worked at Siemens and the Ukrainian Space Agency. He also worked at the National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Science and as a consultant at Samsung Research American.

He received his second Master of Science in Electrical Engineering with additional minor in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Minnesota, and received a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering also from University of Minnesota in May 2014.

His dissertation work on optimization of focused ultrasound and image based modeling provides a new insight into the fundamental limits of liver tumor treatment. Dr. Almekkawy has received several academic awards including, the Science and Tuition Fellowship from City University of New York, and the Conference Travel Award from University of Minnesota. He is a member of the technical Committee on Therapeutic Systems of IEEE EMBS.

Dr. Almekkawy’s research interests broadly include signal processing, medical imaging, numerical modeling of acoustic waves and the corresponding heat generation, optimization in biomedical ultrasonic and medical devices applications. He is also a Microsoft Certified Professional.

sm_newfaculty115_behzad_behniajpgBehzad Behnia was named Assistant Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering. Dr. Behnia received his Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2013. Prior to joining Western New England University he worked as postdoctoral research associate at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include Health Monitoring of Infrastructures (Railways, Roads, and Bridges), Sustainable Transportation Infrastructure Systems, Materials Behavior Characterization, Experimental and Computational Mechanics, and Finite Element Modeling.

During the course of his doctorate degree, Dr. Behnia developed an innovative, rapid, and practical health monitoring acoustic emission-based (AE-based) method to evaluate low temperature cracking behavior of asphalt roads. The developed AE-based device is portable and provides a greater depth of information to the point that it helps civil engineers determine the best course of action in terms of timing for preventative maintenance of roads.

Dr. Behnia has been an active member of the academic and social communities. He served on various technical committees, organized several workshops, and served as the reviewer of seven academic journals. He has authored or coauthored several peer reviewed journal papers, conference publications, and technical reports.

yousef_haselijpgYousef Haseli was named Visiting Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Previously, he was a postdoctoral associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands with a dissertation on biomass pyrolysis and combustion. He has conducted research on various subjects in the field of thermofluids and energy sciences for over a decade.

His expertise includes Thermochemical Conversion of Biomass, Energy Conversion Systems (e.g., integrated and combined power cycles), Clean Energy/Fuel Production, and Heat Exchangers.

His research activities have led to 24 journal articles, two book chapters, one book, and numerous conference papers with over 400 citations.

He is a recipient of several awards, the most distinguished one being the Academic Gold Medal Award of the Governor General of Canada. He has authored a book titled Thermodynamic Optimization of Power Plants which provides a fresh look at the thermodynamics of various types of heat engines and power plant models; it has been reviewed and highly regarded by renowned scientists in the field. He serves as a reviewer for over ten international journals.

sm_newfaculty099_seunghee_kimjpgSeunghee Kim was named Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Dr. Kim received his Ph.D. from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA. He then served as an instructor at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He conducted a post-doctoral study at the Bureau of Economic Geology in the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Kim’s areas of interest include hydro-chemo-thermo-mechanically coupled phenomena in many energy/environmental applications, underground utilization, and energy efficiency in geo-material related processes.

sm_newfaculty103_seyed_niknamjpgSeyed A. Niknam was named Visiting Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management. He received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He then completed his Master of Science in Advanced Manufacturing System at Brunel University, UK.

After working in industry, Dr. Niknam joined Wichita State University where taught engineering graphics. He then moved to The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) where he completed his master in Reliability and Maintainability Engineering with specialization in prognostics in 2011.

Niknam received his Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from UTK in 2014. During his graduate study, he was teaching the core courses in the Reliability and Maintainability Program at UTK. He was also involved in a number of industrial and federally funded projects during his time at UTK.

Dr. Niknam’s research interests include reliability and maintainability engineering, prognostics and health management, and life extension of engineering systems. He is a member of Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

sm_newfaculty126_anthony_santamariajpgAnthony D. Santamaria was named Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Santamaria comes to Western New England from Berkeley National Laboratory where he worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD), a Department of Energy funded research center that focuses on the development of next generation energy conversion and storage systems.

He completed his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering in 2012 at the University of California, Davis focusing on nuclear imaging of hydrogen fuel cell and lithium polymer battery systems. During his doctoral studies he was awarded a Daimler Fellowship and worked for a summer in British Columbia, Canada at the Daimler and Ford subsidiary Automotive Fuel Cell Corporation (AFCC). In 2011 he earned a Business Development Fellowship and participated in entrepreneurial courses at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. Dr. Santamaria holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is a local to the area having grown up in Monson, MA.

Dr. Santamaria’s research interests revolve around electrochemical energy systems including fuel cells, batteries and flow batteries. He uses nuclear imaging methods as well as microfluidic techniques to understand fundamental physics within these technologies in hopes of improving their performance and reducing costs. He has authored numerous peer-reviewed international journal articles as well as conference proceedings.


Sport Management Alumni Return to Campus to Discuss Their Careers in Sport

Posted February 26, 2015

On February 21, an all-star cast of former Western New England University sport management majors returned to campus for the Sport Management Department’s annual Careers-in-Sport Symposium, held in conjunction with the University’s Open House for prospective and admitted students. Eight alumni – Tim Arduino, Tim Conrod, Jason Leclerc, Lydia Lefevre, Kyle Lindsay, Laura Madaio, Brad Medeiros, and Nick Starr – reflected on their Western New England education, and the advice and encouragement they received from faculty.

L to R: Nick Starr’13, Tim Conrod’11/MBA ’12, Laura Madaio ’13, Kyle Lindsay’06, Tim Arduino’10, Brad Medeiros ’11, Lydia Lefevre’14, and Jason Leclerc’11

The returning alumni represented a cross section of the sport industry, including ESPN, NBC Sports, New England Revolution, New Balance, CBS Sports Radio, Providence Sports & Entertainment, and 451 Marketing, a public relations and digital marketing company. As is tradition at the annual symposium, the Sport Management Department presented its Distinguished Young Alumnus Award to Tim Arduino, for his selfless contributions to the Sport Management program, both as a student and alumnus. Arduino is a national media sales account executive for the NBC Sports Group, and one of the youngest sales executives in the entire NBCUniversal organization.

The symposium was organized and moderated by Sport Management Professor and Department Chair, Dr. Sharianne Walker, and attended by the entire sport management faculty and the dean of the College of Business, Dr. Julie Siciliano.


University Luxton Speaker Series to Presents Immigrant Story "A Home Away from Home?" 

Posted February 25, 2015


Western New England University will host a presentation called "A Home Away from Home? Surrogate Family between Immigrant Service Workers and Their Native-born Customers" by Dr. Elizabeth Miller, Westchester Community College, on Thursday, March 5 at 4:00 p.m. in room 319 of D’Amour Library. The event is free and open to the public.

Tribeca, a neighborhood in New York City, is home mainly to wealthy, white, and native-born people. Most of the personal service workers, such as nannies, restaurant workers, and parking attendants are immigrants. This talk explores the unexpected relationships that develop between immigrants and natives in Tribeca. 

shoeshineboy_1jpgWhile one might assume their relations to be characterized by neutral, apathetic, or even hostile feelings, local history, culture, and social structure create a sense of community between immigrant workers and residents. This leads many immigrants to feel a sense of belonging in the neighborhood.

The Athenaeum Series is designed to provide a forum for communication, conversation, and discussion of scientific, literary, and other topics. This event is co-sponsored by the Western New England University Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology and D’Amour Library, and is part of the Richard Luxton Series named in honor of the late Richard Luxton, a longtime professor of Sociology at Western New England University.

For more information about this event, contact Vicky Ludwig at 413-796-2265.


Western New England University to Host Springfield's First Poet Laureate

Posted February 25, 2015

The Department of English at Western New England University will host Maria Luisa Arroyo as part of its Spring Author Series on Tuesday, March 3 beginning at 6:00 p.m. in the Center for the Sciences and Pharmacy, Room 406. This event is free and open to the public.


Arroyo, a Springfield North End native, was educated at Colby College, Tufts and Harvard Universities in German language and literature, and is a Puerto Rican poet and educator. She was proclaimed Springfield's first Poet Laureate in 2014. 

For over 20 years, Arroyo has facilitated numerous poetry workshops, including at the Split This Rock Poetry Festival in Washington DC in 2012 and 2014, and the Massachusetts Poetry Festival in 2013 and 2015.

A 2004 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellow in poetry, Arroyo has published many poems in literary journals such as Common Ground Review, WomenArts Quarterly Journal, and The Women's Review of Books. Arroyo's first collection, Gathering Words: Recogiendo Palabras (Bilingual Review/Press, 2008), is reminiscent of folk songs with their narrative storytelling and activist representation of the disenfranchised, disillusioned, and neglected. Most recently, Arroyo co-edited with Magdalena Gomez  the anthology, Bullying: Replies, Rebuttals, Confessions, and Catharsis (Skyhorse Publishing, 2012).

Arroyo’s appearance is sponsored by the Western New England University English and the Creative Writing Program.


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