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University Students Spend Spring Break Earning Credit and Helping Others

Posted 03/20/2014
Posted by Meagan Fazio

While many students went home or vacationed in a warmer climate for spring break, several groups from the University kept right on working, whether it was for credit or to help a town in need. These members of our community will return to campus with new skills and knowledge they can share with their classmates. We are sure this is just a sampling of our students’ journeys. 

Some students chose to spend the break earning academic credit overseas. Nineteen students from the University’s College of Engineering, Science, Technology, and Architecture traveled to Germany to study how that country is using alternative and renewable energy. Associate Professor David Pines, who led the trip with Professor Tom Fillburn and Associate Professor Cy Yavuzturk, says the next step will be for the students to take what they learned in Germany and research how that can be applied in Connecticut and throughout the United States.

Students in Barney's Intro to International Business class enjoy the sunshine in Bermuda.

The University’s Barney School of Business also sent students abroad. Graduate and undergraduate students traveled to Bermuda as part of an annual course on international business. Each year, this class gives students the chance to visit insurance and financial firms. The insurance industry is a major part of Bermuda’s economy.

Cindy Lau and Nicole Coumes, students in the University’s Hartford Art School, got some international experience at the Clinton Global Initiative University’s (CGI U) annual meeting at Arizona State University. Lau and Coumes were among the more than 1,000 student leaders from around the world who worked toward developing solutions to some of their generation’s biggest concerns, including human rights and women’s economic empowerment. The latter topic is familiar to Lau and Coumes, who spent their winter break in Ghana with Assistant Professor of Art History Amanda Carlson conducting research on how the arts and cross-cultural experiences are vital to developing women’s leadership skills. The trips to Ghana and CGI were made possible through grant and scholarship programs sponsored by the University of Hartford's Women's Education and Leadership Fund (WELFund).

Paul Armstrong (l) helps fit a patient with a prosthesis during a trip to Peru.

Three other trips were focused on community service. Prosthetics and Orthotics clinical faculty member Paul Armstrong made his annual trip to Peru to provide prosthetic and other rehabilitative care to poor patients, many of whom are amputees and have spent years in wheelchairs. Mike Liguore, a physical therapy doctoral student in the University’s College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions, traveled with Armstrong. They were accompanied by Steve Charry M’13, and Taber Hammond M’13, who earned their masters in prosthetics and orthotics last year. The group worked with the non-profit organization Dreaming & Working Together, which includes several clinicians from Hartford Hospital, and staff members from Hanger, Inc., a provider of prosthetics and orthotics. Armstrong blogged about their work while in Peru.

Students help rebuild Moore, Okla., which was devastated by a tornado last spring.

The University’s annual Alternative Spring Break trip was to Moore, Okla. More than three dozen students traveled there to help the city recover from last spring’s tornadoes that killed 24 people and caused nearly $2 million in damages. Led by staff advisors Matt Blocker-Glynn, director of the University’s Center for Community Service, and Sandi Smith, the Catholic campus minister, the students did volunteer work throughout the community. They also visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum that honors the victims and survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing.

In addition, 20 members of the campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity and advisor John Mehm, director of the University's Graduate Institute of Professional Psychology, traveled to Monroe, N.C., this year.  They worked on Habitat for Humanity projects in Monroe, as well as in Wadesboro,  N.C., and Pageland, S.C.