Monthly Archives: December 2013

Tiffany Williams – From Tragedy to Triumph Touching One Life, One Heart, One Soul

Goodwin College graduate Tiffany Williams has encountered more than her share of life-altering events and emerged on the other side with a promising college degree, a fulfilling career, and the determination to succeed at all costs. Having recently earned her associate’s degree in Human Services, Williams, the first in her family to attend college, plans to continue her education in the near future.

“Before Goodwin, I was working dead-end jobs. I wasn’t doing anything productive,” she states bluntly.

Following the tragic murder of her long-term boyfriend in 2008, Williams decided to make some necessary changes in order to heal — and to grow. “His death made me realize I needed to do something positive with my life. I wanted to turn my life around, so I enrolled at Goodwin in January of 2009.”

Originally, Williams hoped to become a nurse, but ultimately changed her course of study. Realizing that she wanted to help people in a different way, she decided to enroll in Goodwin’s Human Services program.

The field of Human Services offers a wide variety of opportunities for those with a strong desire to help others by enhancing their quality of life and addressing issues in human growth and development. Just as Williams was able to promote a positive change in her own life after such devastation, she wanted to assist others in doing the same. “Things in my life were starting to align and make sense,” Williams recalled.

Her studies at Goodwin provided a sort of anchor in the coming months, as the birth of her daughter in 2011 was followed by serious health issues for Williams’ mother six months later. During this time, she sought strength through prayer, and her unwavering faith kept her afloat. “It definitely took a toll on me. I wanted to give up so many times, but I didn’t. And I kept my grades up in spite of everything,” Williams said.

The day after she graduated, Williams was offered a full-time position working with women recently released from incarceration. She had three other offers for full-time employment from organizations seeking someone with her expertise, education, and skill set. “I can’t tell you the joy I experienced that all these positions were offered to me. I felt really proud,” Williams stated.

Reaping the benefits of a college degree has made her even more determined. “Hard work pays off. I’ve learned so much from Goodwin that I carry with me now. I’m going to achieve my goals no matter what,” Williams said.

Williams hopes to continue advocating for her clients, sharing her story and personal experiences with them, and making a difference. “If I can touch at least one life, one heart, one soul, it’s all worth it to me.”

By: Hannah Stacy

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Finding the Connections: Bruce Hoffman Brings Needed Health Care Practices to Haiti

With its extreme poverty, lack of reliable resources, and less than sanitary conditions, the Republic of Haiti exists in a state of continual need. One of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, it regularly experiences natural disasters, from heavy rainstorms and earthquakes to hurricanes and severe droughts. But the desire to serve others far outweighed the potential hardships and risks to be faced when Bruce Hoffman, a RN-to-BSN student at Goodwin College, traveled to the Caribbean country in 2013 to add his health care knowledge to the ongoing relief efforts there.

Hoffman showing this beautiful picture of a Haitian sunset during his presentation

Hoffman showing this beautiful picture of a Haitian sunset during his presentation

Hoffman, a registered nurse and licensed paramedic, elected to take a course abroad to help this devastated country, so in need of quality health care. From October 5 to 13, he immersed himself in an unfamiliar culture in hopes of learning, growing, and sharing his knowledge with others.

Only 7.9% of gross domestic profit is spent on health care in Haiti, compared to 65% in other countries. There is only one physician for every 4,000 people and 1.3 available beds for every 1,000 people. Hoffman’s missionary group, traveling to Haiti through Apostolic Christian World Relief, helped set up mobile clinics through Hospital Lumiere, which means “light” in Creole, Haiti’s native language. Seventy percent of people who come to Haiti are serving as missionaries.

With temperatures reaching 103 degrees during the day and personal space being non-existent, Hoffman had to adapt quickly to the change in climate and culture. Knowing only that their time must be as productive as possible, the group was initially unsure of the task they would be given. Eventually, they were assigned with performing cervical cancer screenings on women ranging in age from 13 to 80, some having walked over five hours to receive medical attention. The American students performed these exams with no electricity or running water, using only headlamps for lighting and old mattresses for examination tables. Hoffman also performed IV therapy, ECG education, routine vaginal exams and HIV screenings. Haitian nurses and nursing students observed, learning the procedures.

Hoffman after his presentation with Barbara Morey, Nursing Professor

Hoffman after his presentation with Barbara Morey, Nursing Professor

Exhausted — but inspired and enlightened, Hoffman detailed his life-changing week in a journal. He returned to the United States with a wealth of new knowledge and life lessons, discussing his experiences in a presentation to the Goodwin students and faculty in December. “The biggest lesson I learned is that happiness is not derived from material wealth,” he said. “The people of Haiti have nothing, but they are filled with happiness and positivity regardless.”

Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes wrote that “culture consists of connections, not of separations.” Hoffman now uses this quote to describe his experience in Haiti, noting he “was able to find all the similarities among the differences.”

Having graduated in December, 2013, Hoffman has secured a faculty position in the nursing program at Springfield Technical Community College. It’s been said that in times of great need, Goodwin graduates run toward a crisis rather than away from it. With his experiences in Haiti now part of his working knowledge in health care, Hoffman will bring a level of invaluable expertise to his future work.

By: Hannah Stacy

Beacons of Light: Pinning Ceremony Celebrates 26th Graduating Class

What inspires a person to choose a life of helping others, of inspiring hope to those in despair, of being a shining light in someone’s darkest hour? Why become a nurse? In an evening ceremony on December 19, 2013, in the presence of their families and friends, the 53 members of Goodwin College’s 26th Nursing program graduating class had the opportunity to consider those questions as they prepared for the long-awaited moment when they would receive their nursing pins.

Preceding the entrance of the graduates, the near-capacity audience was treated to a student-produced video set to Bruno Mars’ “You Can Count On Me,” highlighting special moments from Goodwin’s Nursing program. One poignant image captured several students in front of a banner bearing a quote from B.B. King: “The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.” This cued the procession of the graduates down the center aisle amidst the cheers and tears of their loved ones and their teachers. At the podium, Nursing Program Chair and the ceremony’s host Jan Costello, MSN, RN, set the celebratory tone of the evening. College Provost Ann Clark extended her best wishes, noting the number of men among this particular graduating class. Dr. Maria Ellis, who not only helps guide the College as Chair of the Board of Trustees but who also has become an integral part of the Nursing program by allowing students to shadow her in her work in obstetrics and gynecology, added her congratulations.

Costello acknowledged the Goodwin Nursing faculty members for guiding their students with such care, then praised the parents, children, spouses, and significant others of the graduates, thanking them for all the “meals prepared, laundry done” and the countless other tasks that had allowed the nursing students to focus on their studies.

Shavonne Overton, representing the Goodwin College Student Nursing Association, acknowledged three graduates who have provided special leadership in their time at Goodwin: Kimberly Itsou, Carla Simeone, and Sherry-Ann Williams.

For several months this year, Goodwin was graced with the presence of two nursing colleagues from Ghana: Marcelina Kwose and Mary Salaam. As they were called up from the audience for well-deserved recognition, Costello awarded them Goodwin College nursing pins to remind them of their experience in the U.S. and of the friends they leave behind as they return to Ghana.

The awarding of the nursing pins provided particularly warm — and sometimes humorous — moments to the evening. As the graduates crossed the stage to receive their pins from Costello, Nursing faculty member Pam Walker read aloud affirmations that had been prepared in advance by each student.

As the ceremony came to a close, Costello again addressed the graduates: “You are now nurses of Goodwin College. And you care for the whole patient.” The lights were lowered and, beginning with new graduate Jamie Mattos, white taper candles were lit and the entire class recited the International Council of Nurses pledge: “In full knowledge of the obligations I am undertaking, I promise to care for the sick, with all the skills and understanding I possess, without regard to race, creed, color, politics or social status, sparing no effort to conserve life, to alleviate suffering, and to promote health. I will respect at all times, the dignity and religious beliefs of the patients under my care, holding in confidence all personal information entrusted to me, and refraining from any action that might endanger life or health. I will endeavor to keep my professional knowledge and skill at the highest level, and to give loyal support and cooperation, to all members of the health team.”

Costello then sent her newest Nursing alumni out into a sea of congratulations from their families and teachers. The College community takes great pride in knowing that the world of health care will be better for these newest additions: sources of hope, beacons of light… nurses of Goodwin.

Tough but Worthwhile; Goodwin Students Share First-Year Experiences with High School Seniors

As they imparted their experiences to a group of high school seniors, the panel of Goodwin College students didn’t sugarcoat what it takes to succeed.  However, for those up to the challenge, the reward is worthwhile and the experience is tremendous.

Panelists described their experiences in college and the transition from high school to Goodwin College.

Panelists described their experiences in college and the transition from high school to Goodwin College.

On Thursday, December 19, four Goodwin students shared their respective college experience with East Hartford High School and Synergy Alternative High School seniors who were visiting campus. The Goodwin panel – comprised of students Maraya Medeiros, Kayleigh Miller, Janelis Santana, and Travis Samuels – provided tips on how to make a good transition and what to expect from instructors. All four panelists are members of “The Crew,” a student group that promotes school spirit and Goodwin activities.

Medeiros, Miller, and Santana are all first-year students who hope to earn a baccalaureate degree in Nursing. They stressed the importance of time management and good communication with professors.

“College is way more in-depth than high school and you really have to pay attention in class,” said Miller, who graduated from Fermi High School in Enfield in June and enrolled at Goodwin later in the summer. “If you come here with a good attitude, the adjustment will be better.”

Medeiros, of Bristol, explained how she benefited from the Summer Bridge Academy, a program that helps high school  students learn the skills to succeed in college while also earning transferable credits. Through the Academy, she learned about balancing her time and made valuable connections. She is now a member of the Women Invested in Securing an Education (WISE) program.

“Professors here are fun and nice, but they’re not going to hold your hand,” Medeiros said.

Santana is a graduate of East Hartford High School, which earned her some favor among the EHHS seniors attending the panel. She agreed with Medeiros that professors are tough and “won’t baby you,” though they will help students to reach their potential.

“If you really push to show how much you want to be educated, the professors at Goodwin will really help you,” Santana said.

Samuels was able to offer a different perspective. He previously earned his Associate Degree at Goodwin and had a great experience here. After matriculating to Springfield College in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Samuels transferred back to Goodwin, where he is on track to earn a baccalaureate Human Services degree.

“It was a great move for me,” Samuels said. “I still feel like this is home. I feel comfortable here.”

In addition to managing time wisely and studying diligently, Samuels suggested that first-year students get involved. He speaks from experience: in addition to serving on the Crew, Samuels also serves as founder and president of the Goodwin Dance Team, plays club basketball and flag football, and is secretary of the Men of Vision in Education (MOVE) program.

Connecticut River Academy Prepares for Big Move

The wait is almost over for the students, faculty, and staff at the Connecticut River Academy at Goodwin College, which will cut the ribbon on a brand new facility on Tuesday, January 7.

A side view of the new Connecticut River Academy, set to open in January.

A side view of the new Connecticut River Academy, set to open in January.

Goodwin College’s magnet high school is literally rolling out the red carpet in celebration of the $57 million, 105,000-square-feet building, located at 9 Riverside Drive in East Hartford. State and local officials will join the College and the entire high school in celebration of the new building, which has been long anticipated since the Connecticut River Academy opened on campus in 2010.

“Over the last three and a half years we have built a dynamic school culture that is a caring and committed safe haven where kids come to learn and know they are supported,” said Academy Principal Linda Dadona. “This feat has been accomplished using temporary spaces. Now, thanks to the vision of Goodwin College, we have a dynamic new structure to call home.”

While most of the festivities are specifically students and faculty, the Academy will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. in the gymnasium. The press is welcome to attend the ceremony.

On Friday, December 20, the students will spend their last day of class at the incubator space at 167 and 195 Riverside Drive that has served as a temporary location for the Academy. The College’s main building has also provided space, and many Academy students have earned transferable college credits by taking classes at Goodwin.

When the school returns from the winter break, they will have a new building waiting for them with a variety of amenities and special features to enhance the environmental studies curriculum.

The four-story building is the second largest facility on the Goodwin College River Campus and is almost as large as the College’s flagship building farther down Riverside Drive. The Academy features state-of-the-art labs and equipment, a “green roof” where students can grow plants, a habitat room with live animals, and a project center.

Other amenities include a full-size gymnasium and basketball court, a fitness center, and parking garage

Many of the classrooms in the school feature great views of the Connecticut River.

Many of the classrooms in the school feature great views of the Connecticut River.

. In the spring, work will be completed on a floating dock with a research vessel to provide the students with access to the Connecticut River. The College will soon introduce a trolley to provide transportation throughout the various buildings on campus, including the Academy and the main Goodwin building.

The Fletcher Thompson architectural firm designed the building and FIP Construction built it. Ground was broken on the facility in January 2011, with Governor Dan Malloy joining several other officials to commemorate the start of construction.

Progress has been steady and now the Academy stands prominently along the Route 2 corridor in East Hartford. It is one of three magnet schools to be completed on Goodwin’s campus for the 2013-14 academic year, joining the Goodwin College Early Childhood Magnet School and the pending Pathways Academy of Technology and Design. The latter will open this spring, operated by the Hartford Board of Education in partnership with the College.

The gymnasium has capacity for the entire school. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at center court on January 7.

The gymnasium has capacity for the entire school. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at center court on January 7.

Media is invited to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony and there will be opportunities afterward to explore the school. All who are interested should contact Matt Engelhardt, Goodwin College Communications Coordinator, at mengelhardt@goodwin.edu.

The Connecticut River Academy is hosting two upcoming information sessions for future students and their families. The first is on Saturday, January 4 at 11 a.m., and the second is Tuesday, February 11 at 5 p.m. RSVP is required. All interested can register online at http://www.goodwin.edu/CRA/.

More shots of the building are available on our Flickr photo album, which can be accessed here.