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Digest: Volume 2, Issue 3
May 2013
 



 

   

Broadening Our Horizons:
Alternative Spring Break Reflection

By Alyssa Nastri, UMass Dartmouth Freshman, Endeavor Scholar

While sitting on the fast ferry, I looked out the window and caught a glimpse of the island that would be my home for the latter part of Spring Break: Martha's Vineyard. I had always been astounded at the unique culture and feel of the island, despite its close proximity to the mainland. During my alternative break, I had the incomparable opportunity to encounter one of the core communities that define the Vineyard - the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head, Aquinnah. Upon my departure, I had a clearer understanding of exactly what makes the island so exceptional.

The Wampanoag people are extraordinary and ordinary all at once, which is both surprising and humbling. The tribe generously invited our alternative break group to a delicious potluck complete with clam chowder, jag, and seasoned vegetables. During the dinner, we met numerous locals who were able to relate to pop culture references in one breath and impress us with their Ivy League education in another! Everyone was friendly, remarkable, and relatable; I especially enjoyed speaking to the "tribal youth" and finding common interests with them. At the end of the dinner, we had the distinct honor of shaking every tribal member's hand while listening to a traditional honor song. I have never felt so welcomed in a group of strangers, and I am forever grateful to the Wampanoag tribe of Gay Head, Aquinnah for treating us with such kindness.

Our alternative break group cleaned and prepared Christiantown for the summer. We also assisted in the construction of the town's new community center. I loved being able to give back to the tribe, because I cannot think of a more deserving group of people. We were also able to see a number of landmarks, my favorite being the clay cliffs. According to legend, a giant named Moshup is responsible for the division of Martha's Vineyard from the mainland. Our tour guide, Thomas, regaled us with creation stories and traditional songs during the van rides from location to location. He even taught us a few dances involving rattles and callbacks!

I am so pleased to have been able to experience this Alternative Spring Break. Nothing is better than learning about a new culture firsthand - especially when surrounded by a group of people willing and excited to learn with you. I now have a better (and more realistic) understanding of the Wampanoag tribe of Gay Head, Aquinnah. I am looking forward to going back to Martha's Vineyard in the summer to participate in a day or two of the lively Powwow. Many thanks to those who made this alternative break possible - you have certainly broadened my views on the world around me! 

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Fall River Elementary School Students Visit Campus as 
Leduc Center Celebrates Chancellor's Inauguration 

This article originally appeared in The Fall River Herald on
April 5 2013 
Author: Jo C. Goode 
Click here for original article

More than 200 Fall River fourth-graders toured the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth campus on April 5, 2013 and met with Chancellor Divina Grossman and Mayor Will Flanagan as part of a new college-awareness program. The program, College Positive, is being piloted at the William S. Greene and the John J. Doran elementary schools. It's part of a partnership between the Fall River School Department and UMass Dartmouth.  

"It's to give young people a positive idea that college is for them at an early age," said Deirdre Healy, assistant director of the university's Leduc Center for Civic Engagement.

Joel Jocelyn, principal at the William S. Greene Elementary School, who accompanied his 135 fourth-grade students, said the goal of the program that started this year is to foster in the children a mind-set of going to college. "The kids are starting to think like that now," Jocelyn said. As part of the program, all the classrooms at Greene are named after institutions of higher education, like UMass Dartmouth or Harvard University, and decorated with the particular school's banners.

The curriculum requires students to research their assigned college or university as well as different career paths and what institutions offer that area of study.

In June the students will return to UMass Dartmouth with their parents, Jocelyn said. Going forward, all elementary grade levels will participate. By the time they leave sixth grade, each student will have visited five colleges and universities.  

UMass Dartmouth sophomore Dominique Clerverseau led a group of 20 Fall River students into Maple Ridge Hall to give them a chance to see what a dormitory room looks like. "What makes it really cool is you can live here with your best friend," Clerverseau said. The group then headed over to the Campus Center to meet Nancy Wiseman, the director of dining services. Wiseman explained all the food choices they will have when they go to college. "This is great," said Wiseman about the student tour. "This will plant the seed when they're young."

Greene Elementary student Tina Seng said she wants to go to college to study art and said she was impressed with what she'd seen at UMass Dartmouth. "I think this exposes us to what college looks like," Seng said. Even though he's in fourth-grade, Chiron Cabral is sure he wants to go to college to study engineering and follow in his mother's footsteps.

At enrollment services, one of the children told the staff of a plan to get a full scholarship once it was time for college. "A full scholarship? Well you're going to have to get all A's," said administrative assistant Janice Johnson.

After the tour, the students assembled in the Main Auditorium and met Grossman, Flanagan and UMass Dartmouth senior and B.M.C. Durfee High School graduate Andrew Raposa, who plans to be a teacher in the Fall River school system. Grossman told of her passion for books and a love of learning she'd gotten from her mother, who was a teacher in Grossman's native Philippines. Even though her family came from simple means, Grossman said she knew from a very young age she wanted to be a nurse and would have to go to university to get a degree.

"I studied a lot to become a nurse, and I went to school 100 percent of the time because I knew that was the key to achieving my dream," said Grossman, who was officially inducted on Thursday as the eighth UMass Dartmouth chancellor. A UMass Dartmouth alumnus, Flanagan said as young student he enjoyed learning and wanted to be a police officer like his father. He studied criminal justice at the university and changed his mind about his career path and went to law school, later becoming a prosecutor and now a two-term mayor. "No matter what you want to be, you have to go to college," Flanagan said.

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Educators, Community Leaders Attend
5th Annual Civic Engagement Summit 

This article originally appeared in The Standard Times on 
April 26 2013
Author: Matt Camara
Click here for original article 

Marshaling universities' resources to create strong partnerships with local school districts is the key to both college student growth and education reform, the keynote speaker at UMass Dartmouth's regional community partnership summit said Thursday.

And universities need to move toward creating more of those partnerships, said Ira Harkavy, founding director at the Netter Center for Community Partnerships in his address to more than 100 educators, UMass Dartmouth administrators and faculty, and nonprofit organization representatives.

"There can be no successful education reform without radically changing higher education," said Harkavy, whose center is part of the University of Pennsylvania.

The fifth annual Civic Engagement Summit brought together almost every partner of the university's Leduc Center for Civic Engagement for a series of discussions ranging from best practices in community partnerships to a panel discussion featuring the chief executives of UMass Boston, Massachusetts Maritime Academy and Bristol Community College.

UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Divina Grossman was scheduled to attend but was unable, university spokesman Rob Lamontagne said.

For the second year in a row, UMass Dartmouth was recognized as one of the top 15 universities in the country for community engagement and service learning by the President's Higher Education Honor Roll. Last year, UMass Dartmouth students, staff and faculty donated more than 192,000 hours of service to SouthCoast communities, a university news release said.

UMass Dartmouth recently began a reevaluation of its civic engagement programs as it grappled with a $13.3 million deficit.

The universities' campus centers were asked by Grossman earlier this year to evaluate their service-learning programs to ensure that they were more than a one-way flow of resources from the campus to the community. The university has also asked centers to show they can fund themselves without significant financial support from UMass Dartmouth. 

To view a video of the panel and keynote speaker, please click here. To view photos from the event, please click here. Both are courtesy of Dr. David Weed of the Healthy City Fall River Initiative.

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CEDC VITA Celebrates 10-Year Partnership 
with the Leduc Center

With the close of the tax season, the Community Economic Development Center (CEDC) of Southeastern Massachusetts in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, helped prepare 1,100 tax returns as part of the VITA (Volunteers in Tax Assistance) program.  This year marked the 10th year of this collaborative effort, providing free tax preparation for Greater New Bedford working families and seniors. This year, 28 UMass Dartmouth students were recruited, trained, and performed 1,016 hours of service preparing 1,100 families' tax returns.     

The VITA program helped to return $1.9 Million in tax refunds to low-income families in Greater New Bedford, including over $500,000 in Earned Income Credits. These refund dollars help boost income for working families who spend locally and support our local economy. The Earned Income Credit continues to be the leading federal program to lift more children out of poverty than any other government program. 

The average income of families who filed taxes at the CEDC VITA program was $17,319, compared to the New Bedford household income average of $37,493. VITA with the help of UMass Dartmouth students was able to reach these working families who can't afford the high cost of paid tax preparation, which can be up to $200.  In return, the students receive hands-on experience working with taxpayers practicing their customer service skills and learn about personal income tax law. Students helped prepared taxes at the CEDC as well as off-site at New Bedford City Hall, the Immigrants Assistance Center, and on campus at UMass Dartmouth this year. "The VITA program is a win-win for both New Bedford and UMass Dartmouth, by developing student skills and at the same time providing an excellent service for the community." said Brian Pastori, CEDC VITA Site Coordinator and UMass Dartmouth Alumnus.

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Fostering a College Positive Environment:
A Student Reflection

by Allison Semple, UMass Dartmouth Alumna

For many individuals, college seems like a far away goal. It may seem too expensive or time consuming. Education about college happens around high school, if at all. The Kids2College program is taking strides to change that. With the help of elementary schools all across the United States, Kids2College is attempting to bring the college learning process to elementary schools. My internship involved working with the Fall River Public Schools to develop an early college awareness program.

As I assisted with this program, I worked alongside some truly great and inspirational people teaching fourth graders in the Doran and Greene schools about college. In the beginning, I was hesitant that there was even a need for college awareness at such a young age. Now that I am able to look back and reflect on this program, I can see the large difference it has made.

On the first day, the children were not listening or excited about having to learn new material about college. Many children said, "I don't need to go to college" or "College is stupid", so it was a difficult process trying to get them interested in the material. It wasn't until after the visit to the UMass Dartmouth campus that visions in the classroom began to change. College was no longer viewed as "material" they had to learn, for many, it was now viewed as their future.

After that visit, I got to see two hundred fourth grade children have a vision about their future, one that they never thought possible. There are children who want to be veterinarians, doctors, teachers, or politicians, and it was with this program that we taught "No dream is too big".  With this program, parents, teachers, and children all dream of a brighter and bigger future together. This program has changed the minds of these children. When they leave high school the question will not be "Will I go to college?" but rather "Which college will I be going to?"

This program showed me through experience what it is like to be a leader, whereas other classes have taught me through books. It was great to have the knowledge from the introductory course, but the textual knowledge really did little when you are placed in the real life situation. I have learned what it means to be a leader, educator, and a positive member of my community. The memories I have made with these children have reassured me that I am in the correct field, and I hope share my passion for education just as I have with this internship.

Allison Semple graduated from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth this year with a major in Spanish and a minor in Leadership & Civic Engagement.

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