Middle school girls from throughout the region spent a day on USJ’s West Hartford campus entrenched in a variety of interactive workshops designed to promote an interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The University joined forces with the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund to host the Girls in STEM Exhibition on May 11. The workshops, which were facilitated by USJ faculty and students, were interactive and presented concrete applications of scientific methods and technology. In addition, the middle school girls who took part in the event were introduced to role models and potential mentors, fostering a sense of participating in a peer group of future workers in STEM careers. The goal is to inspire young women’s interest in science at an early age allowing them to explore the fields of biology, chemistry, environmental science, and physics in a fun-filled and relaxed environment infused with experimentation and collaboration!
USJ Associate Professor of Nursing Joyce Fontana ’81, Ph.D. delivered the 2012 Nightingale Lecture on April 4, “Commissioned by God: The Birth of American Nursing during the U.S. Civil War.” She spoke about the foundations of nursing, sharing the historical perspective that Florence Nightingale was just one of many nursing heroes who exemplify the high ideals, values, and responsibilities encompassed by the profession.
According to Dr. Fontana, “The inception of Nursing as a profession in America occurred during the Civil War. Women such as Clara Barton, Mary Ann Bickerdyke and Mother Angela Gillespie are heroes who have largely been ignored by historians and are absent from nursing textbooks. There are countless others whose names are not remembered. In spite of the absence of these records, these women of the Civil War made a significant difference in the lives of others; they advanced nursing as a profession through their resourcefulness and strong leadership.”
Dr. Fontana also pointed out that the Sisters of Mercy served in the Civil War; at least 12 died in service to their country. Often in defiance of military protocol, the Sisters were among many ground-breaking women of that era who stepped forward to nurse the sick and wounded soldiers from the battlefields, which ultimately helped to save lives.
In essence, Dr. Fontana remarked, “These original American nurses who rejected convention and became nurses by necessity, under fire and unwelcome in the military, have paved a clear path for us to follow, leaving us with a very personal statement of American Nursing … the lessons from the heroic experiences of these brave women need to be remembered and celebrated.”
The University of Saint Joseph, in partnership with CancerCare, sponsored a free workshop in April for young families living with cancer. CancerCare helps individuals, families, caregivers, and the bereaved to better cope with and manage the emotional and practical challenges that come about following a cancer diagnosis. “The goal of the workshop is to help children to better understand the disease and the consequences that may follow,” said Christina Alevras, M.S., instructor of Biology and coordinator of the event. “This is done in a peaceful environment and includes the crafting of a pillow and a doll.” USJ students, several of whom are social work and counseling majors, participated.