Professor Jonas Zdanys’ “St. Brigid’s Well”

Professor Zdanys speaking at his book launch. Photo by Brendan Capuano/Spectrum.

Professor Zdanys speaking at his book launch. Photo by Brendan Capuano/Spectrum.

By Cindy Sanawong 

Staff Reporter

On Wednesday, Feb. 1 Sacred Heart University hosted a book launch and reception in the Arts & Design Gallery for english professor and Poet in Residence Jonas Zdanys’ latest poetry book, “St. Brigid’s Well.”

Professor Zdanys has been writing poetry for most of his life.

“I began writing poetry when I was 13 and had my first poem published in a national journal when I was 16. My first book of poetry, titled ‘Voice on an Anthill,’ was published in 1981. It was a collection of poems I had written mostly when I was in my late teens and early twenties, including some poems I had written when I was in college,” said Zdanys. “I have been publishing volumes of poetry ever since.”

Zdanys introduced his book to students and faculty members and said how the book came about and why he wrote it.

The inspiration started when Dean of College of Arts and Sciences Robin Cautin and Professor Gerald Reid offered Zdanys to teach a creative writing course for Sacred Heart’s study abroad program in Dingle, Ireland.

“In that seminar, we considered the three different ways a sense of place might help shape a poem. I decided that if I was asking my students to write such poetry, then I should too,” said Zdanys. “So teaching that class in Dingle resulted in this book.”

The book is a combination of mystical legends and folktales of the tradition of Brigid’s Cross. The Brigid Cross is a symbol of protection from all things evil.

“I was intrigued that he views Ireland not through the European mythology, but how he has a worldview of Ireland, which I could tell in the greater depths of his poetry,” said sophomore Tyler Lascola.

Zdanys also said that geography plays a significant role in his poetic writing process and in the creation of mythical characters like the Irish Goddess of Dawn.

“The book focuses on the West Coast of Ireland, particularly the Dingle Peninsula, the Ring of Kerry, and the literal as well as metaphorical pilgrimages eastward to St. Brigid’s Well in Kildare. Pilgrimages are about leaving one place and getting to another, usually for a purpose and often for spiritual reasons. The movement across physical boundaries of both kinds of places parallels interior movements, an evolution of the self during the search for meaning, secular enlightenment, or moral significance.  So the book is a consideration of such journey,” said Zdanys. “In it, I have tried to maintain a focus on a place, as it moves through time, and have relied on the figure of Brigid to serve as a touchstone in that exploration.”

Students highly praised Zdanys’ poems and book, and were able to get an idea of how Dingle is without even being there.

“I loved the poem and kind of get the idea of what the Dingle Coast is like,” said junior Dayne Kepler.

Other students plan on getting their own copy of “St. Brigid’s Well.”

“I like the idea of the Ireland Coast. I’m really excited to get the book and read it,” said freshman Ashley Penczynzyn.

Zdanys wants his readers to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.

“The world is a wonderful place and we should experience its beauties, not just through poems that write about the world, but with all of our own senses. We should be aware of everything around us and not simply walk past the particulars of our day-to-day lives caught up in the images on our smart phones,” said Zdanys. “We share human experience because we live in a shared world, and we should do everything we can, each day, to understand the world in which we live and all of those others, all around us, who are equally part of it.”

“This Is Us” Warms Viewers’ Hearts

This image released by NBC shows Milo Ventimiglia in a scene from the series, "This Is Us."  Photo by Ron Batzdorff/AP.

This image released by NBC shows Milo Ventimiglia in a scene from the series, “This Is Us.” Photo by Ron Batzdorff/AP.

By Lauren Finan

Staff Reporter

NBC network’s new series “This Is Us” airs Tuesday evenings at 9 p.m. With only four episodes left, many Sacred Heart University students are anticipating how the first season will end.

In a series of flashbacks, “This Is Us” follows a married couple who experiences fertility issues and then fast-forwards to the present day, adult lives of their three children.

“I always feel so good after watching an episode. They really encourage the importance of family, which is not shown through any other show today,” said junior Katie Russo.

The show developed a massive fan base and was nominated for Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards.

The show captures the importance of family values and hits home for many viewers.

“I like it a lot because it is a very touching show that showcases the importance of family values,” said junior Allison Lagassie.

Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore star as Jack and Rebecca Pearson. Apart from their fertility issues, each of their three children have their own battles.

Kate and Kevin, played by Chrissy Metz and Justin Hartley, are twins. Kate struggles with obesity and Kevin is a successful actor who is in search of finding happiness. Because of Kate’s low self-esteem, she is living in Kevin’s shadow, but begins to transform and become her own person throughout the season.

Sterling K. Brown plays Randall, who was adopted and is on a personal journey to discover his biological parents. With success, he and his father develop a relationship over the course of the season.

“I think so many people like this show because it is so incredibly relatable. All of the characters have certain qualities that are so true to real people’s lives, and I think that is very appealing,” said junior Bethany Halliwell.

Every family has their issues, and the show deals with real life problems that allow viewers to connect and relate to the characters.

“‘This Is Us’ does not shy away from controversial topics in today’s time. It also addresses many social issues in our society such as obesity, racism, and living with illnesses such as cancer,” said Halliwell.

Students share who their favorite character on the show is.

“My favorite character is probably Kevin. I feel like he is most people’s least favorite, but I see something different in him. He was mean to Randall when they were young because Randall was treated differently because he is black and adopted,” said Halliwell.

NBC already renewed the show for two more seasons. The show has gained a solid following and many fans were ecstatic with the news.

“I will definitely continue watching the show,” said Russo. “‘This Is Us’ is such a wholesome and heartwarming show. [It is] something that is hard to find in this day and age.”

The 59th Annual Grammy Awards

James Corden is hosting the 59th annual Grammy Awards. Photo by Jordan Strauss/AP.

James Corden is hosting the 59th annual Grammy Awards. Photo by Jordan Strauss/AP.


By Stephanie Pettway

Staff Reporter

On Sunday, Feb. 12 the 59th Annual Grammy Awards will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Grammy Awards is a ceremony where the best recordings, compositions and artists are recognized.

Top names in the music industry will be in attendance. Appearances range from Rihanna and Ariana Grande, to Twenty One Pilots and The Chainsmokers.

“I’m just excited in general about the Grammys, it is my favorite awards show and I expect great performances,” said sophomore Deanna Scalzo.

The host this year is comedian and “The Late Late Show” host on CBS, James Corden. This will be Corden’s first time hosting the Grammys, though he is no stranger to hosting. Corden has hosted the Tony Awards and England’s BRIT Awards.

Many students believe that Corden will do well and that he will be funny.

“I love James Corden, he’s so funny and will definitely get the crowd laughing. He’s also super talented, so I’m interested to see if he does some type of musical opening,” said sophomore Stephanie Doheny.

Beyoncé is nominated for a total of nine awards, making her the top nominated artist this year. Beyoncé’s album “Lemonade” is nominated for “Album of the Year,” with songs “Hold Up” being nominated for “Best Pop Solo Performance” and “Formation” being nominated for “Song of the Year.”

“Formation” is also nominated for “Record of The Year,” alongside Twenty One Pilots’ “Stressed Out,” Lukas Graham’s “7 Years,” Rihanna’s “Work,” and Adele’s “Hello.”

“I am most excited for the “Record of The Year” category and I think Adele will win” said Scalzo. “‘Hello’ was one of Adele’s first songs back after taking a break after four years and everyone fell in love with it.”

In the rap categories, rapper Kanye West and Drake are each nominated for eight awards. West is nominated twice in the same category for “Best Rap Song” and “Best Rap/Sung Performance.”

“I really am interested in seeing the ‘Best Rap Song’ results. I mean, I want Drake to win, but I feel like Kanye will; he’s nominated twice in that category. It only makes sense for him to win,” said sophomore Julliana Tapia.

In addition to the giving out awards, there will be performances from Carrie Underwood, Chance the Rapper, John Legend, Bruno Mars, and many more.

“I’m so excited to see Bruno Mars perform. He is one of my favorite artists and I love his music. A lot of it is so upbeat and it just makes you want to dance,” said Doheny. “I’m also excited to see Adele perform. Her music is amazing and she is just a beautiful human being.”

With all the performers at this year’s ceremony, students wonder if there will be any acceptance speeches about political issues or any stand-out performances like Kendrick Lamar’s at last year’s Grammy Awards, where there was controversy over his racially charged performance.

“I’m not really sure if anything surprising will happen,” says Scalzo. “But we will have to wait and see.”

The Grammys air live on CBS on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m.

The Best Pizza is…?

Student enjoying a slice of pizza from Mario the Baker. Photo by Alessandra Setaro/Spectrum.

Student enjoying a slice of pizza from Mario the Baker. Photo by Alessandra Setaro/Spectrum.

By Kelsey Hor

Staff Reporter

Do you know where the best pizzerias are in Connecticut? Well the Nutmeg state is actually ranked to have one of the best pizza pies around.

According to CBS New York, the big apple state is normally known for its pizza all over the country. However, sources like NBC Connecticut claim that the best pizza in the country is right in the state that is home to the Sacred Heart University community.

For some Sacred Heart students, Conn. has some of the best pizza places compared to any other states.

“I am from New Haven and I think it has the best pizza in the world,” said junior James Taubl. “I’ve had pizza in Chicago, Long Island and New York City and none of them are as good as New Haven pizza. My favorite place is York Side Pizza in New Haven. It is thin pizza with a very crispy crust. They cook it so that the outer rim is crusty but the inside is soft and manageable.”

In a recent article by NBC Connecticut, they stated that Conn. has five out of the 101 best pizza hotspots in the country. It was also mentioned that three out of the five were in New Haven. Alforno Pizza, Modern Apizza, Sally’s Apizza and Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria are only a few names that made it on the best 101 pizzerias in the country from Conn.

Other students and faculty seem to also like the style of thin crust pizza as opposed to thick crust.

“I personally like Colony Pizza because of their thin crust,” said junior Mackenzie Page. “Colony also has different types of pizza for certain people. Their hot oil pizza is awesome for people who like spice, while vegetarians can enjoy their very own salad pizza.”

However, getting good pizza does not need to be a thirty minute drive. Some students believe pizza is just fine right in Fairfield.

“One place that I used to go to before I went dairy-free about a year ago is Sally’s Apizza in New Haven, “ said junior Laurel Mason. “I used to go there as a kid all the time. Many times when I went to that particular place it would remind me of such things like my family and childhood.”

Although many different sources in the media recall Conn. as the state for having the best pizza, certain students still believe that other surrounding states have much tastier pizza options.

“I’m from Fairfield, Conn. and I still think that New York has the best pizza,” said junior Danielle Perez. “There is a place I especially love to go to called Villa Barone in the Bronx. Just one slice alone will satisfy you.”

Overall a number of Sacred Heart students can agree that one’s favorite pizza place is based on those individuals tastes.

“I feel like every state is going to say their pizza is the best because pizza is such a popular food,” said Page. “I feel like as long as it is fresh and to the individuals personal preferred taste, it should be ready to be eat and enjoy.”

The Future of the Center for Healthcare Education

By Alessandra Setaro

Staff Reporter

In the fall of 2017, the College of Health Professions and the College of Nursing will have a new building to call home.

The new building will feature state-of-the-art simulation laboratories and classrooms to better students’ educational experiences in the healthcare world.

The Dean of the College of Nursing, Dr. Mary Alice Donius, says the new labs will be available for use in the undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as for the nurse practitioner program and even for online students.

“The technology is so sophisticated that we’ll be able to hold synchronized classes,” said Donius.

The new labs are set up in the likeness of real health care offices, which allows students to practice in realistic settings.

“The purpose of this is to enhance the education that they get so they can learn and practice in simulated settings,” said Donius. “I think it is one of the most beautiful, physical plants of learning that I have ever seen.”

Dr. Beth Boyd, Director of Nursing Simulation and Skills Labs, said students can expect a larger learning facility, expansion of labs and an integration of students in the health care professions as well.

“The utilization of the laboratories provides students with increased technology for space and skills,” said Boyd.

Unlike other majors, students in the College of Health Professions have a classroom component for their graduation requirements as well as a clinical component.

The new labs provide students with the ability to practice their skills for these clinical rotations.

The new labs are equipped with lifelike mannequins that perform human functions, such as breathing, having a pulse and giving birth. These very real human traits allow students to participate with active learning.

“I’m really happy about the new building because it seems like it’s going to be a really nice building to work and learn in,” said Kaitlyn Stinton, a freshman student in the nursing program.

Students will also have access to hands-on simulation dolls that will represent real-life patients.

“I’m excited that we’ll be ahead of competing schools and get hands-on experience. I feel like we’ll be up to date on what nurses are using in hospitals now,” said freshman nursing student Emily Durvin. “It’s a good way to practice hands-on services and interact with patients before we get to the real situations.”

The advanced technology and more realistic learning enviroment will increase healthcare students’ chances of being more comfortable in the working world, because experience is the key to confidence and professionalism.

“In health care today, because it is so complex and sophisticated, there is a need for students to have the ability to clinically think and reason to decrease their anxiety and increase their self confidence,” said Boyd.

2015-2016 Crime & Fire Safety Report

By Kelly Gilbert

Staff Reporter

Sacred Heart University’s Public Safety Department recently released the Federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure Act of Campus Crime and Fire Statistics, through email and in print to students, faculty and staff.

Less formally known as the campus crime report, it is released annually and documents the previous three years in regards to reported crimes and fires on campus, certain off campus buildings, as well as safety procedures and institutional policies.

From this most recent report, it is evident that liquor law violations steadily increased each year from 2013 to the present. With 441 liquor law violations in 2013, 11 more took place the following year in 2014, followed by the highest number of the three years in 2015, 679. Each of these documented violations took place within the Fairfield campus.

“I have seen with my own eyes many different alcohol violations over the past couple of years,” said senior and Residential Advisor Nick Zorbo. “I think the real scary issue is that students are binge drinking and that’s where we have noticed it gets dangerous. At Sacred Heart University we have a zero tolerance for drinking.”

A similar pattern is demonstrated within the report regarding drug law violations. Over the past three years there has been a noticeable increase, beginning in 2013 with 26 violations, followed by 38 in 2014 and finally 42 in 2015. Again, each of these violations had taken place within  the Fairfield grounds.

“Public Safety and Residential Life staff take immediate and direct action to remove any prohibited items from university property,” said Paul Healy, Executive Director of Public Safety. “These positive efforts can show an increase in incidents reported, but are not reflective of the positive good works being promoted to stop students from violating code of conduct regulations.”

According to the crime report, burglaries on campus and on off-campus properties have continued to decrease over the past three years. With seven taking place in 2013, there were two less the following year, and by 2015, there was only a single burglary that was reported.

“The decrease in the number of campus residential burglaries can be attributed to the efforts of public safety to continually emphasize the importance of always keeping a residence door closed and not leaving the door propped open,” said Healy. “Additionally, public safety has deployed improved locking mechanisms with card swipe access, cameras in elevators and at entrances and exits for enhanced security.”

Also, there were a total of 52 documented fire drills occurring at various on campus residential dormitories from 2013-2015.

“In my experience as an RSA last year, on campus fire drills occur a lot. Students try to cook in the residence hall kitchens and it doesn’t always go as planned, or someone leaves a curling iron or hair straightener plugged in for too long, or someone is trying to learn how to do their laundry for the first time,” said junior Sarah Shirkey. “I never experienced a situation where there was anything more serious that caused the alarm to be sounded. Everyone was very cooperative with the RSA’s and thankfully there were no serious problems that resulted from any fire drill.”

There were a total of six campus fires that also occurred during that time period. Of the six fires there was never any injuries or deaths reported, however two of the cases resulted in less than $1,000 worth of damage being caused.

To assist in the continuous combat of criminal actions on campus, and further protect students, public safety promotes the use of the SHUSafe and Wear Safe mobile applications.

“We promote the use of the SHUSafe App or Wear Safe App that provide enhanced communication functions for personal safety or in the event of an emergency,” said Healy. “We encourage all university members to use these applications. All students should recognize their social responsibility to the university community to report any suspicious activity to public safety immediately.”

New Department of Catholic Studies

By Alexa Binkowitz

Co-News Editor

At the end of last year, Sacred Heart University announced the formation of the new Department of Catholic Studies.

This department will work to instill the Catholic Intellectual Tradition more deeply into the university’s core curriculum, while also offering a 15-credit minor in Catholic Studies.

“The central responsibility of the Catholic Studies department is to teach the new two semester ‘Human Journey Seminars: Great Books in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition’ (CIT 201 & 202), which forms a central component of the new core curriculum at Sacred Heart,” said Professor Brent Little, one of the two new full-time professors hired to teach in the Department of Catholic Studies.

The Department of Catholic Studies also attempts to give students a chance to engage with professors and other students in a seminar-style classroom setting, and hopes to stimulate conversation about the great books of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.

“We are fortunate that Sacred Heart University has joined the ranks of other prominent universities in the United States in establishing a Catholic Studies Department,” said Father Anthony Ciorra, the Associate Vice President for Mission and Catholic Identity. “A Catholic Studies department enriches the entire University community in that it assures that the mission of the university is carried out not only in the curriculum, but in all areas of the University.”

This department will work in collaboration with other departments, such as Campus Ministry and Volunteer Service Learning, in order to give students opportunities to volunteer alongside their peers as well as apply lessons from the CIT seminars in the real world.

“It will embed the university’s mission in the students’ minds and hearts,” said Father Ciorra. “The gift to the students is that they will be exposed to the treasures of a two thousand year tradition and will be given the opportunity to reflect and engage with these great works in such a way that it will make a difference in their lives.”

Students are also getting to experience the CIT seminars for themselves, and are adapting to the conversation-based teaching style.

“I love the fact that in the CIT seminars you learn about so much more than Catholicism. You learn about the lives and opinions of others through personal stories shared by those who wish to participate,” said junior Shannon Guerin. “The CIT provides a comfortable atmosphere to learn how to deeply explore a text and find a way to relate to it when you never thought you could.”

Through the seminar-style teaching, professors are more able to connect with students and allow them to understand texts in their own way.

“I do not expect all of the students to walk out of the seminars agreeing with one another, or with me. Students bring a spiritual depth and possess spiritual insights and questions, but sometimes have not had the space to explore their spirituality,” said Little. “I hope the seminars allow them to develop their spirituality in dialogue with others, their values, their personal beliefs about the purpose of life, and the problem of evil, regardless of their personal religious or philosophical beliefs.”

The department has also established a film series and a new annual lecture series, which will hopefully tie the texts discussed in the CIT seminars, specific films and guest speakers together.

“The CIT is definitely a vital part of the university. The beauty of the class is that it gets you out of your specified major, allowing you to make friends that you probably would not have otherwise made,” said Guerin. “The class also provides you with experiences and opinions that you might not have otherwise explored.”

The first screening of the film series occured on Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. in the Schine Theatre, and showed “The Mission,” an award-winning film about martyrs, heroes, innocence, guilt and redemption.

Bishop Frank Caggiano will also speak on behalf of the department on March 21 at 7 p.m., starting a conversation about the Catholic Intellectual Tradition in contemporary culture for the annual Bergoglio Lecture in honor of Pope Francis.

“Sacred Heart’s mission, as a Catholic educational institution, is to educate the whole person,” said Professor Little. “This includes not only the skills necessary to prepare a person for the job market, but also includes an education during which a person can grow spiritually and has space to reflect on their values, such as what it means to live a good, meaningful life, and the importance of service to others.”

The New School of Computing: Establishing the Latest Technological Beginning

Students discuss new projects in the making under the new and improved school of computing. Photo courtesy of the Sacred Heart University official website.

Students discuss new projects in the making under the new and improved school of computing. Photo courtesy of the Sacred Heart University official website.

By Marguerite Girandola

Staff Reporter

This past week, Sacred Heart University announced the launch of the new School of Computing. The new addition to the university will include two graduate programs and four undergraduate programs. This establishment comes as the whole university is continuing to expand.

According to the recent press release, the school will offer a master’s in computer science and information technology and a master’s in cyber security.

Computer science, information technology, game design and development and computer engineering are the undergraduate programs offered.

 “I am so proud and ecstatic to be a computer science major at this moment. Campus has been expanding in so many wonderful ways these past few years and now, my own area of study is following suit,” said junior Alaina Silveri. “I can’t wait to see all this new program has in store for not only Sacred Heart’s future, but also my own.”

 Silveri is not the only one who is enthusiastic about the new school that has climbed its way to being one of the most populated programs at the university.

 “We’re most excited about expanding our curricular footprint in this way, leveraging current strengths of our existing programs while being able to offer programs that were heretofore unavailable at Sacred Heart University,” said Robin Cautin, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The curriculum will stress certain areas of study as well as provide cutting edge technology resources to students in the program.

“The emphasis will be on software engineering, cyber security, game design and state of the art programming including scripting languages like Python,” said Dominick Pinto, Director of The School of Computing.

Python is a high-level scripting language that is widely used and allows users to express concepts in fewer lines of code than other scripting languages.

“I think that gaining knowledge especially on cyber security and software engineering is very important in this day in age because today’s society is extremely dependent on technology,” said Silveri. “That being said, I think that this program will open many doors in the future for a lot of its students taking advantage of the new school’s offerings.”

The new school will be directed by Pinto who has been with the university for 40 years and a department chair for computer science for 29 years. He has received multiple teaching awards over the course of his teaching career.

   “I have seen the program grow tenfold since 1987 and expand our offerings exponentially,” said Pinto. “I love to advise and mentor students and try to get to know as many of the students as possible. We now have almost 300 international graduate students which is a tribute to the faculty and administration of the school.”

Pinto tries to meet with every student of the program at least once a year.

“The establishment of a School of Computing is the result of steady enrollment growth in computer science-related fields, as well the unyielding dedication and talent of our faculty and staff,” said Cautin. “It’s more precise to say that it’s a beginning of an exciting new chapter in the evolution of The College of Arts and Sciences and of Sacred Heart University more generally.”

President John Petillo is also excited for the growth of the new school.

“This is the logical next step for these rapidly growing programs that are now housed in the Computer Science & Information Technology department,” said Petillo in a press release.

The School of Computing is effective immediately and the new undergraduate computer-engineering program will begin in the fall of 2017.

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