Gladys Mercado, a 31-year-old student at Goodwin College, enrolled in the Human Services program to better the lives not only of her three children, but those she will affect in her career as a Human Service professional as well. As a mother, college student, member of multiple honor societies, and full-time district aide for Congressman John B. Larson, Mercado dedicates herself to each facet of her life and has a clear vision for her future.
She sets the bar of achievement high for her sons. “I am teaching them to push past excuses. There will always be hurdles,” she said, “but you need to overcome them.” One obstacle that has proven considerable for Mercado is a lack of personal transportation to school, but that hasn’t stopped her. “I’ve ridden my bike, taken a taxi, hopped on a bus, and even walked from Hartford to get here.”
Out of school for many years before enrolling at Goodwin, Mercado was at first hesitant about coming back, but found the new environment welcoming: “Goodwin made the transition easy for me. It is comforting, warm, and supportive here.”
Having lived on welfare as an inner city child, and had children herself at a young age, she recognizes the struggles and understands the perceptions of others, but refuses to let labels define her: “I am fighting for the people who feel they don’t have a voice.”
Mercado’s return to school helped support her promotion from staff assistant prior to district aide at the Congressman’s office. “Being a district aide allows me to do what I am truly interested in, case work. I’m able to work with populations I’m passionate about helping,” she stated.
Mercado believes in President Scheinberg’s vision for the College. “Goodwin has a wonderful reputation, vast support services, and is constantly growing and expanding. The faculty equips you with the skills and confidence to land a job in your field,” she noted.
In addition to her current course of study, Mercado has plans to pursue her education even further. “Goodwin has been the biggest motivator for me. I’ve learned not to settle. Goodwin fosters a desire to continue on and really be the best you can be. ”
With a belief that everyone has the power to change the world, it is obvious Mercado will make a difference in the lives of many. “There are so many opportunities to change your world and the world of others.”
By: Hannah Stacy
From tempting the palettes of diners to caring for the well being of her patients, Shavonne Overton has gone from culinary school graduate and pastry chef to Goodwin College nursing student. Changing careers, although intimidating to most, has proved seamless for Overton.
Moving in 2009 from New York City to Connecticut, Overton was offered a job at a restaurant, which unfortunately went out of business soon after, leaving her unsure of where to go and what to do next. “I realized it was time to go back to school,” she recalled.
Overton had already persevered through many of life’s challenges. When she was in high school, her mother, a Licensed Practical Nurse, passed away after many years of illness. “She was always in and out of the hospital. I tried to take care of her, but didn’t have the knowledge that I do now.”
Her mother’s work proved to be the inspiration for a new direction in Overton’s life. “Health care has always been a passion of mine,” she stated. “Like my mother, I love nurturing people so it was the perfect fit for me.”
Realizing it would take a leap of faith, confidence, and dedication to put her on the right path, Overton embraced the change.
President of the Goodwin College Student Nursing Association and a tutor in the Academic Success Center, Overton is highly invested in her education and has gone above and beyond expectations. “Goodwin is a great place to be. It’s a competitive atmosphere, which makes me thrive, but everyone is also very nurturing and helpful. It’s a wonderful balance.”
By: Hannah Stacy
On Wednesday, April 9, Goodwin College and Hartford Public Schools held a ceremonial ribbon cutting to mark the opening of the Pathways Academy of Technology and Design in its new, permanent home on the Goodwin campus, following 11 years in a temporary space in Windsor, Connecticut. Students, faculty, parents, local and state dignitaries, and members of the media gathered in the Academy’s brightly colored auditorium and cafeteria for the celebration.
The Academy is operated by Hartford Public Schools in a unique partnership with Goodwin College. The building is now serving more than 320 students and features state-of-the-art learning spaces including science labs, a robotics lab, design studios, a virtual reality simulator, and a recording studio.
At the ceremony, Mark Scheinberg, president of Goodwin College, commented on Pathway’s unique journey. “We have a Hartford public high school, sitting on East Hartford property, on a private college’s campus, where a private employer — Pratt and Whitney — used to have their engine testing facilities. The reason why it all came together is that all the people involved decided that this school is more important than anyone’s individual piece of the pie.”
Scheinberg noted that he is looking forward to integrating the students into the fabric of the Goodwin community. “This is only a small step in what we hope will become a magical place. If there is an example of what regionalization means in Connecticut, it’s right here.”
Alan Kramer, dean of magnet schools for Goodwin, noted that this permanent home for Pathways would never have become a reality without all parties working together. “Everyone involved wants to support the students and their education,” Kramer stated.
Mayor Marcia Leclerc welcomed the Pathways students to East Hartford with open arms, triggering one of the day’s loudest rounds of applause. “This part of East Hartford is changing drastically thanks to the good work of Goodwin College. I am delighted to have such a beautiful building gracing our land. I have no doubt the students will continue to excel in this environment.”
Connecticut state senator Gary LeBeau noted that the collaboration to make Pathways’ new home a reality serves as a message to the students: “The goal of having a school that meets the needs of the future of the state and, more importantly, the students’ personal futures, overrode all barriers and brought us here today.” Connecticut state representative Henry Genga echoed the incredible teamwork between Hartford and Goodwin College, adding, “This school shows that there are no boundaries in education.”
David Goldblum, principal of Pathways Academy, gave thanks to all involved in the process. “I can’t imagine a better partnership than with Goodwin. We owe a great debt of thanks to the College, the city of East Hartford, and Amenta Emma Architects, who designed the school, which was built by FIP Construction. You don’t often get a building that reflects so well the mission of the school.”
Pathways has been recognized in the past for its excellence as a magnet school in and is currently in competition to be named top magnet school in the country — a cite visit scheduled for a few days after the opening. Goldblum noted that the biggest reason for Pathways’ success is its students.
Pathways student Darin Herrera spoke of his school with great pride. “Moving from the old school, which was one story and lacked space, to this new building has been phenomenal.” In thinking of the upcoming competition, he urged his fellow students: “Let’s show them we’re the best!” This kicked off yet another ovation from the students and guests.
Glen Peterson, division director of the Regional School Choice Office, stated that while magnet schools’ main focus is education, their importance to society goes even further. “Magnet schools were created to remove racial, ethnic, and cultural discrimination and to blend students together,” he said, asking everyone to look around the room and appreciate the diverse makeup of the Pathways students.
A building does not define a school or its students, but it is certainly fitting that the Pathways scholars now have a building that reflects their hard work, energy, and creativity. Welcome to the Goodwin family!
By: Hannah Stacy
Senita Pinckney’s journey to Goodwin College was not an easy one. After being involved in a car accident leaving her with permanent damage, she was unable to continue with Goodwin’s nursing program so she forged a new path.
“I was in my senior year of the nursing program at Goodwin when I got into an accident. I couldn’t carry my body weight, which is a requirement of being a nurse,” Pinckney said.
After taking a year off to reassess her goals and identify a new career path, she came back to Goodwin to study Human Services with a newfound focus and determination.
Although Pinckney would no longer be working in a hospital setting, she would still be providing support and assistance to those in need. “I always knew I wanted to help people — now I help people in a different way,” Pinckney commented.
When Pinckney recently had knee surgery, her professors allowed her to listen in on classes through phone conferences so she wouldn’t fall behind. “They made sure I had all my assignments and everyone was so accommodating.”
Although Pinckney has had her share of life challenges, fitting in an education has always been manageable for her. She has been working at MetLife as a disability case manager for the past seven years while attending school. She also volunteers at Crossroads Community Church as a youth leader.
“I have never had a conflict of interest between work, school, and family. Goodwin has always been the perfect fit for me.”
An unexpected accident changed the direction of Pinckney’s future, but she ended up right where she is meant to be.
“The thing I find the most fulfilling about Human Services is knowing that one person really can make a difference.”
By: Hannah Stacy
Marianne Gambardella came to Goodwin College in search of a career change. Having already earned a bachelor’s degree from another school, Gambardella discovered that she possessed a deep passion for caring for others and enrolled in Goodwin’s nursing program.
In 2010, Gambardella’s grandmother was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma, a cancer that develops in the glandular tissues of the body. She passed away after undergoing heavy treatments and numerous attempts to battle the disease. “She always called me her ‘little nurse.’ Although I had been thinking about going into nursing prior to her getting sick, losing her is what really motivated me to make the decision,” Gambardella stated.
With the support of her family and her passion ignited, Gambardella is well on her way to becoming a nurse. “The most fulfilling part about nursing is knowing I’m there to help those in need.”
Gambardella works full time at the Orthopedic Associates of Hartford, but is still able to make time for school. “Goodwin is so flexible with my work schedule. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else at this point in my life,” she said.
Her experiences at Goodwin have provided her with the support, reassurance, and encouragement she needs to succeed. “I’m accomplishing what I set out to do and have made wonderful friends along the way.”
While Gambardella’s nursing career may have begun after an unfortunate loss, she is honoring her grandmother’s memory by creating a future in which she will be helping others.
By: Hannah Stacy
High school guidance counselors from around the state gathered in Goodwin College’s Community Room for a spring-themed, informative session and breakfast on March 28. Goodwin employees and a panel of students led an engaging discussion on the benefits of attending Goodwin College. “Students come to Goodwin for a better life and a positive change,” Nick Lentino, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment, explained. “We are here to serve them.”
Students who have just graduated from high school may feel a little lost in their new setting, but Goodwin is here to support all students in this unfamiliar process. “We understand that it’s challenging for students, especially when they don’t have family support, but we want to take care of them and guide them,” Lentino stated.
Goodwin student Kaleigh Miller is the first person in her extended family to attend college. “I didn’t have the best grades in high school, and my parents weren’t supportive of my going to college, but Goodwin is my second chance. I started a new life here,” Miller said.
Goodwin’s Summer Bridge Program, a free program designed to bridge the gap between high school and college, puts students on the path to success in college and beyond.
“Some students aren’t engaged after they graduate from high school. This is an opportunity to make sure they are checked in and motivated to attend college in the fall,” said Aaron Isaacs, Director of Educational Opportunity Programs.
“Students just need to come with drive, motivation, and the willingness to succeed. All else is covered at no cost. The benefits for 18 to 20 year olds are tremendous at Goodwin,” said Angela Skyers, Assistant Dean of Students.
After attending Summer Bridge, students are eligible for the MOVE (Men of Vision and Education) and WISE (Women Invested in Securing an Education) programs. If accepted into these programs, they will receive scholarships that cover 75% of their tuition at Goodwin plus free books each semester.
The programs come with myriad support systems and one-on-one guidance. “MOVE and WISE are meant to be engaging and supportive. We meet with students weekly and have team meetings where students get to hear from speakers on a variety of topics,” Isaacs stated.
In order to stay in the program, students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.7, engage in 15 hours of community service per semester, and be active with one of the clubs on campus. “We have completed almost 2,000 hours of community service through MOVE and WISE and are eligible for a Connecticut Community Service Award,” Isaacs noted.
Kyle Thompson, a member of the MOVE program, emphasized that he is not just a student for school, but a student for life. “I wasn’t motivated in high school. I didn’t think college was for me, but I enrolled in the MOVE program and gave it one more shot. Goodwin taught me not to give up and not to sit still. I’ve learned to make choices that will be a ‘good win’,” Thompson said.
Lester Castro, business student and veteran, described Goodwin as a family. “They call me by my first name. Big schools can be overwhelming. Expenses and partying can get in the way. There are so many opportunities here and I can always find the help I need,” Castro stated.
Goodwin hopes to expand on the educational programs offered to add more layers to the fabric of the school. The College committed over $7 million in support for students to start or stay in school last year.
For more information on the Summer Bridge Program, click here. For more information on the MOVE and WISE programs, click here. For questions on enrollment, please contact Sue Hogan, Academic Community Liaison, at 727-6739 or SHogan@goodwin.edu.
By: Hannah Stacy
On March 20, students in Goodwin College’s Women Invested in Securing an Education (WISE) and Men of Vision in Education (MOVE) programs participated in a formal dining and theatre experience guided by Goodwin’s Vice President of Advancement, Brooke Penders, and Pratt and Whitney’s Community Relations Director, Heather Summerer. With the help of the facilities team and catering by the Spicy Green Bean, staff members transformed the College’s community room into an exquisite setting for practicing business and dinner etiquette.
Students were greeted at the door by the speakers and evaluated on their handshake, eye contact, and introductions. Throughout the dinner, they were guided by tips on appropriate table manners, the function of the place setting, and how to carry on a conversation while eating. The goal was to make sure that students are comfortable in unfamiliar social situations. At the conclusion of dinner, students had a quick tutorial on theater etiquette and were treated to a performance of the national tour of The Book of Mormon at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. The experience provided a unique opportunity for the staff to expose students to different cultural venues.
Our goal was to provide students with a chance to practice conversational skills and recognize connecting points when networking. We found it important to make their first performing arts experience fun and entertaining. The whole evening proved memorable for the students and plans are already in motion to attend future performances.
We acknowledge and thank our grant funders, the Harford Foundation for Public Giving, the Aurora Women and Girls Foundation, and the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, for making this event possible.
Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) students prior to the start of the fall semester were given an academic behavioral assessment called Engage©. The intent of the assessment is to look at the psychosocial factors that contribute to success in college. The results are the grouped into three major themes: Motivation and Skill, Social Connectivity, and Self-Regulation and Persistence. During the spring 2014 semester, our focus is on Motivation and Skill. Throughout students’ academic journeys, they will have a multitude of opportunities to enhance their reading, writing, and career skills through the classroom. While this is extremely critical to student academic success, students also need opportunities for experiential learning to enhance their “soft skills” in order to remain competitive in meeting the demands of a highly diverse and skilled work force. Employers no longer base their hiring decisions on immaculate resumes and cover letters; they seek articulate, well-rounded individuals who can represent their companies. Soft skills like travel, dinner etiquette, engaging in meaningful conversation, and access to the performing arts can give students an edge in securing a career.
This entry was written by guest blogger Aaron Isaacs, Goodwin College’s Director of Educational Opportunity Programs.
When most people complete their work day and head home, Emmanuel “Manny” Sanchez is usually just getting started.
During business hours, Sanchez serves as Goodwin College’s Employer Relations Coordinator, working with students and companies to provide mutually beneficial internships. Upon returning home to New Britain, Sanchez assumes his role as the youngest minority alderman to ever serve on the City Council. As if that weren’t enough, he dons another important hat as a head coach of the Connecticut Roughriders, a traveling basketball team.
“When I was a kid, my grandfather always told me that hard work and dedication pay off in the long run,” says Sanchez. “I do my best to balance everything.”
While that balancing act may be difficult, Sanchez’s work ethic, service, and commitment to helping others have made him a successful member of all of the communities with which he is involved. His accomplishments in the professional, civil, and athletic worlds have landed him on two prestigious lists. Sanchez has been selected as one of Connecticut Magazine’s “40 Under 40” of 2014, and CT Latino News has named him one of the eight top Latino leaders in the state.
A Legacy of Service
Now 25, Sanchez was 13 when he was first introduced to the competitive nature of New Britain city politics. He would canvas the neighborhood in support of local Democrats, working consistently with his uncle Robert to build community support. Years later, Manny Sanchez would be seated on the City Council as a representative to New Britain’s 3rd Ward. Robert Sanchez has gone on to become State Representative to the 25th District, serving the Hardware City in the Capitol.
Raised by a single mother, Manny understands the barriers faced by many people in his ward. While New Britain in general has been hard hit by recession, the 3rd Ward, with a high population of non-English speakers and widespread poverty, has an unemployment rate of over 30 percent, according to Sanchez.
“There is a strong Latino base in my community that has hit a wall because of communication barriers,” says Sanchez.
Determined to help, Sanchez was appointed to the City Council when he was 22 years old. A year later, he ran his first successful election campaign, retaining his seat by running a platform based on job creation and training, education, and economic vibrancy.
He is a strong believer that education and hard work are the paths to success. He strives to help members of the community as a whole, and he does not shy away from political positions unpopular with his colleagues on either side of the political aisle.
“I’m not afraid of losing my seat, so long as I can look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day and know that I’ve done the right thing,” Sanchez says.
He sees a need for New Britain to reestablish an identity, as it had in the past as the “Hardware City.” He looks to examples like West Hartford developing Blue Black Square as a means of realizing future development while also holding true to roots. Additionally, Sanchez is active in recognizing the contributions of Hispanic Americans, as evidenced by his spearheading the effort for a national monument in New Britain dedicated to the 65th infantry of the US Army. The 65th, known as the Borinqueneers, was a segregated unit that nonetheless served with distinction during both World Wars and the Korean War.
Melding of Missions
Since beginning his career at Goodwin College in 2011, Sanchez has found his employer to be the ideal place to help many people in his community earn an education and learn the skills they need in the job market.
“I see the importance behind places like Goodwin, specifically in what they do for people who might not think college is for them,” he says.
He takes pride in his service to the College, which brings him into contact with businesses and organizations interested in creating opportunities for Goodwin students. A big part of that responsibility is helping employers understand what sets Goodwin apart.
“We’ve branded ourselves very well,” Sanchez says. “We have high expectations for our students, and employers share those expectations. My job is to keep up with employers, making sure that students are meeting their needs. It’s not hard to sell them on Goodwin.”
A Coach and a Mentor
Work and politics aren’t the full extent of Sanchez’s life. A scholar athlete during his high school days, Sanchez remains active in basketball as coach of the Roughriders, a traveling team comprised of talented players from across the state.
The team competes against some of the nation’s best college basketball prospects. The schedule is packed for Sanchez, who acts as a mentor in addition to being a head coach. All players are required to maintain high levels of academic success and conduct themselves appropriately.
While high schools require student athletes to maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA or “C” average, Sanchez requires students to keep a 2.5 GPA or better. He meets with his players one-on-one to discuss their academics, and at times has made tough decisions to bench some of his star players as the result of falling grades. The students gain valuable experience, traveling throughout the region and the entire country.
“For some of these kids, the first time they travel with us on an airplane is the first time they leave the state,” Sanchez says.
His ideals, both on the court and in the classroom, have yielded great results. Not only do the Roughriders field an excellent team, but many of the players are being recruited to play college basketball.
He practices what he preaches to his players. Between his time as a councilman, Goodwin employee, and coach, Sanchez is himself a student at UConn at the West Hartford campus.
“I was blessed with people and family who put themselves into my life and did their very best to lead me down a better path,” says Sanchez, on why he takes on so much. “I’m paying it forward. I know that I can’t change the world, but I can try. As long as I can help people, as long as I can impact a few lives for the better, my mission is accomplished. Everything that I am today is due to the people who helped in building a bridge a bridge for me to cross– and I fully intend to help others build theirs for as long as I can.“
A group of 40 Goodwin employees celebrated at Wallingford’s Oakdale Theater on March 19 as the College was officially named to The Hartford Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work in Connecticut” list for 2014.
The Goodwin delegation — the largest at the event — represented the College at the awards dinner, which featured the 35 companies and organizations selected for the prestigious HBJ list.
The HBJ publishes a list annually after surveying companies and their employees on a number of criteria. The first part of the survey evaluates company policies, practices, philosophy, systems, and demographics, while the second surveys employees on the working experience and environment. The survey, conducted anonymously, accounts for 75 percent of a company’s overall score.
Organizers said that this year’s list was the most competitive in the initiative’s nine-year history. A common factor that set the top companies apart from the rest was employees who feel engaged and connected with their employers.
“Being one of the best places to work in Connecticut gives your brand a boost and you will certainly reap the benefits of it,” said Peter Burke, CEO of the Best Companies Group, which coordinates the contest for The Journal.
Goodwin College was the only educational institution to make the list.
While the entire Goodwin leadership team and a number of trustees attended the dinner, it was Piotr Krzemien of the Information Technology Department who was selected to accept the award. Krzemien donned his now trademark green sunglasses, which became a familiar site to his coworkers during this year’s Employee Giving campaign. Krzemien played a big part in helping raise over $53,000 for the Goodwin College Foundation.
The companies who made the list, representing a diverse cross-section of Connecticut’s economy, were grouped according to size. With more than 400 employees, Goodwin joining the other large-sized companies that made the list. Additionally, 10 small and 15 medium companies made the overall list.
All the companies were introduced during the award ceremony, which also featured a trivia contest and photo montages of each honoree.
Goodwin College President Mark Scheinberg said he was very pleased with Goodwin’s inclusion on the list and offered his congratulations to all the companies who qualified.
See online version of the Hartford Business Journal. Write-up on Goodwin College on page 13.
During an East Hartford Chamber of Commerce breakfast held at Goodwin College on Wednesday, March 19, Governor Dannel P. Malloy touted the government’s continuing investment in Connecticut businesses.
Malloy offered insights about the government’s relationship with Connecticut businesses and the return the state is seeing in economic growth. His visit came on the heels of improving employment figures in the state, as well as significant progress slated for East Hartford in the coming years.
“Let’s build on our strengths and address our weaknesses,” said Malloy, speaking before a packed room of business owners, state and town leaders, and Goodwin College administrators and staff. “If we do those two things, we’re going to make a lot of progress in the state of Connecticut.”
East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc thanked the governor for the recently announced initiatives that will favorably impact her town’s future, including state plans to partner with United Technologies to expand Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, as well as other UTC subsidiaries throughout Connecticut. The state legislature needs to approve the incentives, but it has the full backing of the state’s executive branch.
Also, developers have recently unveiled plans to develop a massive retail outlet mall at Rentschler Field, which is already home to UConn’s football stadium and Cabela’s. Along with Goodwin College’s continued expansion in East Hartford, the plans for Pratt & Whitney and Rentschler Field stand to strengthen East Hartford’s local economy considerably.
UTC and other Connecticut companies were highlighted during Malloy’s speech, as were institutions like Goodwin College who are producing a qualified workforce.
“The product we produce that is superior to any other state is our human capital, and we are getting even better at that,” said the governor.
Malloy also addressed the role of small businesses and the state’s investment in helping them to succeed. He quoted a statistic that between 2002 and 2009, Connecticut’s government invested in 116 businesses. Since 2010, during Malloy’s administration, the government has invested in 1,600 businesses and companies.
While Malloy said the function of job creation largely rests with the businesses, the state has invested in those businesses and suppliers because they will drive the future of the state’s economy.