By Erica Broman, Ed.D.
Most people might think of Westfield State as an educational community. It is that indeed, but as this issue of Focus will show, it is a great deal more. It is also a caring community that reaches far beyond the campus boundaries to embrace and connect with others
Nowhere is that more evident than in our story of a student in an ethics course who used his class project to bring the Westfield State Dining Commons together with a local food organization to redistribute prepared food, helping alleviate food insecurity in the Pioneer Valley.
If we want to go even farther afield, we need only read the equally compelling story of students from Professor Lynn Shelley’s service learning course, who brought both their hearts and their minds to Guatemala, transforming a small community with their outreach, hard work, and empathy.
That spirit of giving also lives in our alumna Carolyn “Lee” Blair ’57, a retired teacher who has continued to reach others with her engagement on campus. She has participated in activities at the Albert and Amelia Ferst Interfaith Center and, most recently, with a contemplative writing course. We should all find so many ways to be engaged!
As our students and alumni spread their wings, they expand their impact as well. Right here on campus, you will learn about the terrific trajectory of our new student trustee Thalita Neves ’21. She involved herself in the life of the University from the moment she arrived and hasn’t stopped since. I can only imagine the impact she might have in the world.
Speaking of impact, ever thought about the people behind the technology of mapping? Peter Vancini ’14 continues his connection to Westfield State through one of his former professors, Tim LeDoux, Ph.D. Peter’s love of all things geospatial, as well as the certificate earned in geographic information systems, has led him to Google, where he works as a geospatial specialist, helping the rest of us find our way in the world.
Another story that is dear to my heart is a look back at the nearly 60-year history of As Schools Match Wits, one of the longest-running high school quiz programs in the country. It traces its origins to Westfield State and two professors, Leonard Collamore and Phil Shepardson. Their combined efforts built an engaging and enduring program, highlighting the academic prowess of area high school students broadcast on WGBY, the local public television station.
Along the way, our students have gained real-world experience in the University’s television studio. The Westfield State Foundation also plays an integral role in seeking the corporate support necessary to produce this invaluable program.
Each of these stories, and the many others, highlight how Westfield State graduates are gaining vital life skills while improving the lives of others, whether that be in the backyard or a world away.