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Fall 2018 Grant Recipients

In fall of 2018, the Alumni Association Grants Committee awarded 14 grants totaling $20,930.00. Congratulations to the recipients: 

Center for International Sport Business
Through this grant, the Alumni Association proudly supports the Center for International Sport Business (CISB). The CISB provides programming through two prominent speaker series – “For the Love of the Games” and “People Who Inspire.” Over 40 speakers, including Mike Reiss and Buster Olney of ESPN, as well as Angela Parrish, signer songwriter and solo vocalist in the Academy Award winning film, La La Land, have been featured on campus.

The CISB also provides courses abroad in conjunction with the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup. To date, more than 75 students, alumni, and faculty have traveled thanks to the CISB. The CISB believes that their programs bring “heightened attention, visibility and credibility to Western New England University” as an institution that provides exceptional experiences for students and alumni.

Success First
With this grant, the Academic Success Center will be able to continue its Success First program with lunch and outing incentives for students. Success First is aimed at first generation college students, not only as they transition into college life, but long after, as they work towards life beyond college. Through one-on-one student-faculty meetings, biweekly workshops, outings and an end-of-year celebration that recognizes students for their hard work, Success First helps keep first generation college students on the path to graduation.

With the support of the Alumni Association, Success First will continue with the resources it needs to provide first generation students with the resources and support to succeed in college and beyond.

Golden Bear Pharmacy Summer Camps
This grant provided from the Alumni Association will allow the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences to continue the successful Golden Bear Pharmacy Summer Camps, free for students to enjoy, regardless of their ability to pay. The Summer Camp program allows high school students interested in healthcare professions to learn and engage on campus, with the hope of piquing their interest in attending Western New England University. While on campus, students will see what kind of impact they may have as professionals in the field, through activities such as DNA extraction and purification, and learning clinical skills such as taking blood pressure.

The program is committed to creating a diverse pipeline of students passionate about benefitting the local community as citizens, students and healthcare professionals.

Improv on the Rocks
The Alumni Association proudly supports Improv on the Rocks, a student led improvisational comedy group committed to expanding the influence of the arts on campus. Improv on the Rocks attended the ImprovBoston conference. Unlike most traditional classroom settings, this conference allows students to learn by doing, enhancing their skills in teamwork, communication, leadership, and spontaneity. At ImprovBoston, these student participants get their foot in the door at an organization that will allow them the opportunity to continue their work in improv after college.

In putting on shows throughout the year, including an annual show featuring alumni, Improv on the Rocks employs the arts to serve as an “emotional, spiritual, and social” outlet that allows students to grow.

Stageless Players
Stageless Players continues to grow and thrive as a student organization on campus. They received funding from the Alumni Association to support their spring musical, Hello Dolly!  Stageless Players is committed to the expression and performance of theatrical arts, through an annual fall play and spring musical. Their work helps build the reputation of the Theater Minor at Western New England, foster connections between students and alumni, and allows students to have hands on experience in an artistic environment. In recent years, the club has seen expanded membership on both the acting and technical side of production. Each show has drawn larger crowds, as seen with last fall’s Murdered to Death, which became the club’s first ever sellout show.

Funding from the Alumni Association allowed Stageless to purchase new black matte pipe, for the pipe and drape required for elaborate scenic design. This, combined with the already enhanced lighting, costume design and student talent, will allow Stageless to bring Hello Dolly! from Broadway to Springfield.

Title IX Education
Funding from the Alumni Association will help support Title IX Education’s signature annual Denim Day and Take Back the Night events. This programming is organized in an effort to provide awareness on Title IX and all matters involving domestic violence, stalking, rape, and dating violence.

Denim Day is an international event where members of the campus community are asked to wear denim and show support for sexual assault survivors who are the targets of victim blaming. During the event, the organization shares giveaway prizes and trivia as they answer questions. They also promote the RAVE app, supporting the Campus Police initiative which enhances the safety of students on campus.

Take Back the Night is an event which gives a “voice to those affected by violence and provides awareness to community members regarding each individuals’ right to live free from sexual violence.” During the event, students, faculty, staff and invited guests are allowed to freely share their stories.

Empowering programming provided by Title IX Education allows Western New England to continue its commitment to ensuring the safety of all students.

The Cupola Yearbook
This grant supports The Cupola Yearbook as they attend the College Media Association Conference (CMA) in New York City. The Cupola works hard throughout the year, putting together the annual yearbook which encapsulates the academic year at Western New England. The yearbook allows students to cherish the memories they’ve made on campus, long after they’ve left. It serves as a record for the continued growth of the University, preserving the history for future generations of Golden Bears to look back on. The Cupola will showcase the year’s best moments in a “satisfying and aesthetically pleasing way,” thanks to what they’ve learned at the conference.

In supporting The Cupola’s trip to CMA, the Alumni Association is helping them make sure that when students pick up a copy of their yearbook, it is the very best that it can be.

Alternative Breaks Program
The Alternative Breaks Program has received support from the Alumni Association for their Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip. The ASB program allows students to dedicate their spring break to community service in “communities they are unfamiliar with, to do work they have never done before.” This year’s trip to New Orleans saw ASB working with NOLA Tree Project to do home building, help with flood and natural disaster recovery, and provide environmental education. While in New Orleans, students make good friends in a shared cultural, personal, and educational experience.

The Alumni Association proudly supports ASB, as their work embraces the University’s core values: a commitment to community service and student-centered learning.

FIRST Robotics Club
The Alumni Association has awarded funding to the FIRST Robotics Club, directly benefitting their FIRST Lego League Competition. FIRST’s mission is to remain a hub for recruitment, knowledge sharing and resource management for the diverse and underrepresented K-12 students in the Springfield area, by providing programs related to STEM and robotics. In December, FIRST Robotics held the FIRST Lego League Competition in the Alumni Healthful Living Center, which allowed students from Springfield schools to participate in a competition which, when previously held at other schools, they had never been able to afford the travel costs to attend.

FIRST Robotics is hoping to increase the quality of future competitions, by purchasing new building equipment. Funding will also allow FIRST Robotics to buy t-shirts for volunteers and trophies for competition participants. Over 600 participants and spectators are expected at the next event, which will allow the program to grow and its mission to continue.

WNE International Student and Scholar Services
This grant supported the International Student and Scholar Services’ (ISSS) Commencement dinner, held for international students who graduated in December. ISSS advises over 200 students from over 30 countries on matters ranging from immigration to academics, finances and daily life in the United States. They are committed to heightening cultural awareness and promoting diversity at Western New England University.

The purpose of the dinner is to provide international students with a positive experience as they conclude their time at Western New England University, a home away from home for many during their time in the United States. Many of the December graduates are unable to return for the May Commencement, so this dinner allows the University and Alumni Association to celebrate their accomplishments with them before they leave campus.

With events like these by ISSS, the University and Alumni Association maintains positive relations with a new crop of alumni as they become global ambassadors of Western New England. 

Baja SAE
Golden Bear Racing is a program vital to advancing the name of Western New England University, and the Alumni Association has awarded funding for it again this year. The Baja SAE organization at Western New England built an off-road single-passenger car that “put to the test the rigors of proper engineering practice.” This year, their Golden Bear Racing team will be traveling to Cookeville, TN and Rochester, NY for two competitions - a first in the organization’s history. At past competitions, students have been able to land internships, compete with students from around the world, and rub elbows with companies like Ford, General Motors and SpaceX.

The vehicle is designed, fabricated, tested and reengineered 100% by students, applying what they learn in the classroom. High placement in several past competitions has proven Western New England engineers are capable of achieving results in a real world setting. As a result, Baja SAE is featured frequently in promoting the University, recruiting and improving student retention.

Social Work Research Presentation
Funding from this grant will support the Social Work Program and the efforts of Vanessa Vaccarino, Western New England alumna. Research from Vaccarino’s senior project in the Social Work program found that a percentage of Western New England students interviewed met the USDA food insecurity criteria. Having shared this information with the administration, Vaccarino’s research has sparked a conversation on campus about how to address this problem.

Vaccarino and faculty advisor, Paul Nieman, attended the annual Baccalaureate Program Directors conference in Jacksonville, FL to share their findings. Their hope is to spread awareness of food insecurity on college campuses and encourage undergraduates to continue their research after graduation. This effort will highlight Western New England’s commitment to supporting and assisting all members of the community.

American Institute of the History of Pharmacy Student – Alpha Chapter
This Alumni Association grant will benefit the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy Student Association (AIHPSA) – Alpha Chapter in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. The group’s mission is to document, preserve and advocate for the education of pharmacy history. They currently provide access to literature and databases for students past and present, but also maintain cabinet displays of historical artifacts in the Center for Sciences and Pharmacy (CSP) building.

With this grant, the AIHPSA plans to purchase additional cabinets for the display of these artifacts. In doing so, they will be able to attract more students, faculty, alumni, and visitors to the CSP, and continue their mission of advancing pharmacy history.

Model UN
Model UN will again benefit from the support of the Alumni Association with a grant intended to help fund their trip to the Harvard National Model UN Conference (HNMUN). Most of the club’s time throughout the year is spent preparing for this conference which boasts over 3,000 students from over 80 different countries. In representing Western New England University at the conference, these students are putting heads together with some of the brightest young minds from around the world. Last year, for the first time in University history, two students from Western New England were recognized for their efforts with awards from Harvard.

The conference stresses cooperation and diplomacy, as students hone their skills in public speaking, writing and critical thinking. In doing so, the students become more active, educated and productive members of society.

Written by Kenneth Stratton '19