Urban League partners with STCC to expose students to STEM

STCC pic 2017
For three days each week this summer and throughout the 2017-2018 academic school year, 20 Springfield area high school students are stepping onto the campus of Springfield Technical Community College and getting a taste of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The students recently toured the STCC Data Center where the college’s servers are housed. They participated in workshops with Brian Candido, professor and chair of STCC’s Computer Information Technologies program, and learned about cyber security. They took part in activities around password hacking, various types of computer viruses and protecting personal identification information.

I enjoy learning about the different topics we’re going to be doing each week,” said Sophia Abril, 16, of Springfield, one of the students participating in the Urban League of Springfield’s program, which is called The Big Three STEM Pipeline Initiative.

The Urban League is working with HSI STEM at STCC, the University of Massachusetts, The Springfield School Department, Smith College, Bay Path University, Becker College, Baystate Medical Center, the MassMutual Financial Group and more on the initiative. The students participating in this program come from schools in both the Springfield, Mass., and Northern Connecticut areas.

As a Hispanic-serving institution (HSI), STCC last year received a federal grant to support Hispanic and low-income students in STEM fields of study. The Big Three STEM Pipeline Initiative received grants from both the MassMutual Financial Group and the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America to fund its program.

The Urban League’s Big Three STEM Pipeline program focuses on raising awareness about STEM academic programs and career paths in computer game science, cyber security and health (the Big Three STEM).

All three of these areas are fast-paced and growing fields that current high school students will be entering upon graduation from college in the upcoming years, so why not begin to start preparing them now?” said Dinah Moore, project director for the Big 3 STEM Pipeline Initiative.

Felicia D. Griffin-Fennell, HSI STEM activity director, praised the program as a fun and interesting way to expose young people to the STEM fields and careers connected to the subjects.

For example, she said the high schoolers will learn about programs such as laser electro-optics technology and biotechnology with STCC faculty and students. They may never have heard about these programs, but might discover these majors could provide them with skills to land good jobs.

It’s an opportunity for us to expand their understanding and to break a few myths that they might have,” she said. “We hope to get them thinking about possible avenues that they might never consider.”



Free of charge to the students, the program is held three days each week through Aug. 16 at STCC, but will continue to run during the 2017-2018 academic school year by offering tutoring, additional field trips and workshop activities in the three targeted STEM fields.

Examples of summer field trips and activities have included patient care workshops where the students took turns working with patient simulators and using stethoscopes and various other pieces of UMass equipment and technology, tours of the ambulances at American Medical Response, CPR workshops, password hacking activities and game board creations to learn the thought process behind computer game animation and design.

Moore said the program not only exposes students to the STEM fields, but helps them start preparing for college and careers.

They will hear about financial aid options for college and take part in mock job interview sessions,” she said.

One element of the program is to help the students understand the importance of “soft skills” – working with others, doing presentations, and learning how to effectively communicate.

While not every student may pursue a STEM career, Moore said, “The goal of the program is to offer them the hands-on and application-based experience and exposure to help them make an informed decision when that time comes.”

The Urban League of Springfield has been sending high school students to STCC during the school year since 2014. This year marks the first summer program.

“Grill and Chill” Barbecue to benefit Dress for Success Western Mass

Dress for success logo

Celebrate the height of summer at the Grill & Chill Business Barbecue, an event that combines great food, fun and casual networking with some of our area’s most influential leaders in business, government, and industry.

Event: “Grill & Chill” Business Barbecue
Date: Friday, August 11, 2017
Location: Sons of Erin, 22 William Street, Westfield MA

$25 for lunch only (11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.)

$50 for lunch and dinner (11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.)

Proceeds from the event will be donated to Dress for Success Western MassachusettsThe event theme is Retain the Talent – engaging young professionals by connecting through networking events and encouraging businesses to hire employees locally.
Can’t Attend the Grill & Chill Business Barbecue?
No problem. There are several ways you can help support this great event.
  • Consider Being an Event Sponsor. There are several tiers from $250-$1,000 that include company promotion and tickets for your employees.
  • Treat Your Employees or Clients to a Long Lunch.
  • Donate a Raffle Item. Products/services from your company, restaurant gift cards, theater tickets, etc.
  • Spread the Word! Forward this email to a friend or colleague who might like to attend.
Thank you for your support! We’re looking forward to a great event.

Christine Maiwald Named Unify Against Bullying Executive Director

Chris Maiwald head shot (2).jpg unify against bullying
Edward Zemba, President of Unify Against Bullying, has announced that Christine Maiwald of Agawam has been named executive director of Unify Against Bullying.

Maiwald, who assumes the position immediately, had been a member of the Unify Board of Directors for the past two years.
“Chris brought a tremendous amount of passion, energy and heart to Unify the first day she became involved. To have her fill the position of Executive Director represents a transformative step forward for our young and ambitious organization. With Chris at the forefront of Unify, our potential to make a difference in the lives of local children and schools is truly unlimited,” said Edward Zemba, president of Unify Against Bullying.

In her previous position as corporate administrator for Renaissance Advisory Services, LLC, of Ludlow, Maiwald was an integral part of the firm and was responsible for the day-to-day operations, accounts payable, event planning and corporate branding.

Maiwald says her passion to fight against bullying and her love for community led her to step away from her responsibilities at Renaissance Advisory Services to pursue the next chapter in her life and career.

“I am passionate about educating children and adults about the devastating effects bullying can have. Bullying is not confined to school or to social media. It exists in the home and workplace, too,” said Maiwald. “In just three short years, Unify Against Bullying has been able to raise enough funds to award grants to 15 individuals and organizations whose mission it is to spread the anti-bullying message through education, acts of kindness, support and awareness.”

Maiwald and her husband, Werner, were chosen by the Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce as the 2017 “Citizens of the Year” for their philanthropic work. She sits on the Board of the East of the River 5 Town Chamber, is a member of the Greater Westfield, Springfield Regional, West of the River and Massachusetts Chambers of Commerce. She was also, until recently, an Ambassador for Dress for Success.

In addition, Maiwald volunteers for Revitalize CDC, The Galaxy Community Council, Wicked in Pink, the Brightside Toy Drive and the Friends of Wilbraham Senior Center Fashion Show.

She previously served as a member of the Sisters of Providence Elder Life program and “Catch the Spirit” committee and Baystate VNA Hospice.

About Unify Against Bullying
The mission of Unify Against Bullying is to bring an end to bullying through the celebration of true diversity. We intend to accomplish this goal through providing grants to those who are in the best position to make a difference; children, parents, teachers and grassroots community organizations.

With the funding and resources the grants provide, we can show the children of the world; the days of ignoring bullying are over. Instead, we are in a new era where we celebrate our differences and come together as one community. That is why in the Unify movement we say; when we stand together, we stand as one.

Art Stop Pop-Up Gallery Walk Returns to Downtown Springfield

Art pop up pic 1 for SCCD article facebook WMWMArt pop up pic 2 for SCCD article facebook WMWMThe Springfield Central Cultural District (SCCD) has announced the return of Art Stop, a pop-up gallery/street festival hybrid on Wednesday, August 2, at 4:30-6 PM.

The District has partnered with venues downtown to open five galleries in unexpected spaces simultaneously. Between the galleries, which will have the typical artist talks, drinks, and appetizers, there will be street performances and other surprises. Art Stop was designed to both activate underutilized community spaces with colorful art and create economic opportunity for artists.

“Guests who attended Art Stop in April or last October will be pleased to see we’ve scaled the program up substantially,” said Director of the SCCD Morgan Drewniany. “In response to the feedback of our audience, we’ve added two new venues to the existing three spaces, to allow for more art and music.”

Galleries will be located at 1550 Main Street, New England Public Radio (NEPR), UMass Center at Springfield, Community Foundation of Western MA, and TD Bank. Each individual gallery opening will have a reception with food and drink, and the artist on site to both sell and talk about their work.

The SCCD, along with organizing the curation of art in all five spaces, has hired unique buskers to encourage attendees to walk from place to place. August’s performers are all focused on jazz, in celebration of the upcoming Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival on August 12. All five locations are accessible by foot or otherwise, located within a block of each other.
On the evening of August 2, White Lion Wednesday, a program of the Springfield Business Improvement District, will be taking place in Tower Square Park, right in the middle of the gallery walk. Drewniany commented, “This is a great example of the work the SCCD does – bringing organizations, resources, and people together in a way that feels genuine to Springfield and its many assets.”

The Springfield Central Cultural District encompasses an area of the metro center of Springfield, and is membership-based, involving many of the arts institutions Downtown. Its mission is to create and sustain a vibrant cultural environment in Springfield, MA.
More details on Art Stop can be found at SpringfieldCulture.Org/Projects. Any questions can be forwarded to Morgan Drewniany at the Cultural District at Morgan@SpringfieldCulture.Org


Now that they are free from school, recent graduates will want to hit the road to their favorite summer spots. Many may be looking for a new set of wheels to take them on their adventures. College grads entering the job market need a reliable car as they start their careers. But what should these young drivers and their parents consider when it comes to buying a used car?

Job Pimentel, General Manager of New Country BMW in Hartford and father of seven children, shares his expert advice on purchasing a car for new graduates as they embark on the newest chapter of their lives.


When it comes to the shopping process, many might be shopping and buying used cars online. But is it a good idea to buy a used car online? Pimentel states, “I recommend after shopping online, go and look over the vehicle, under the hood, listen to the sound of engine, look for possible leaks, test drive the care to make sure the suspension is good, and if possible have it checked out by mechanic.”

To make sure the purchase runs smoothly, Pimentel recommends to “ideally buy from a reputable, well established dealership, definitely get a car history and if not, have a trusted technician look over the vehicle. Most dealerships will gladly perform that service for a nominal fee.

Pimentel shares the top five pitfalls of buying a used car:

1. Buying from a non-established dealership

2. Buying a vehicle with a troubled service history

3. Buying a vehicle with a previous major accident

4. When buying from a private party there’s no recourse if any issues come up immediately after the purchase

  1. Not checking to see if there are title issues and/or liens on the vehicle being purchased
  2. Safety

For the safest travel, Pimentel recommends vehicle features and technology such as blind spot detection, back up camera, traction control and All Wheel Drive for young drivers.

Buying a certified car can also be a smart decision when it comes to purchasing a safe vehicle. Pimentel explains that when it comes to criteria for being “certified.,” “Every manufacturer has a different set of rules , but most make sure all mechanical and safety features are in the best possible condition and the aesthetics must be as close to a brand new vehicle as possible.

So if one is looking for the right new ride for post-graduation, all they need is a few tips and tricks to help them get started. With Pimentel’s advice, many recent graduates can be cruising in style, knowing they have gotten a good deal and a reliable car.


BestColleges.com recently rated Liberty University as a Gold School on its inaugural Schools of Distinction list, which honors institutions that are “leading the way in online education through a diverse offering of accessible and rigorous academic programs.” Liberty was one of only 14 schools, out of the 2,100 nonprofit and not-for-profit schools across the nation that offer online degree programs, that qualified for the top level of recognition.

BestColleges ranks over 900 top-performing online institutions annually and started the Schools of Distinction list to honor about 100 schools that rank frequently across multiple categories. The Gold School rating was reserved for institutions that have “a high-level of investment in online education, but also a commitment to excellence in online learning.”

Liberty has been pioneering distance education since 1985, and today it is one of the nation’s largest private, nonprofit online educators. Liberty offers more than 550 unique programs of study, including more than 250 online programs, from the certificate to doctoral level. Liberty online offers the same quality course offerings as the university’s residential campus. With more than 110,000 students — including almost 90,000 who are studying online — Liberty is the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation, the largest university in Virginia, and the largest Christian university in the world.

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The Arthur S. DeMoss Hall building is photographed on May 26, 2016. (Photo by Jessie Rogers)