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Danbury WCSU Student Recognized with Prestigious Barnard Award

Two WCSU Students receive 2014 Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award.

Danbury's Jessica Coraizaca recognized with 2014 Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award. Contributed Photo
Danbury's Jessica Coraizaca recognized with 2014 Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award. Contributed Photo
Western Connecticut State University senior Jessica Coraizaca came to the United States when she was just 12 years old. She spoke not a word of English and in a short time, she not only became fluent in the language, she earned outstanding grades and grabbed every opportunity to become a better student in the Danbury schools. Because of those experiences, she decided that being a teacher is how she wanted to spend her life. She came to Western to do just that.

WCSU graduate Nicole Chalk, of Monroe, said her passion to become a teacher was sparked as a young girl – a personal calling, she said. With the opportunity to intern in the local school system, Chalk became inspired by engaging and effective educators, and the students who were eager to learn.

Although their experiences have been different, their goals are the same and they both have a drive to learn as much as they can so they can quickly pass it on to students in their classrooms. Coraizaca is a secondary education major with a minor in Spanish; Chalk earned her degree in elementary education.

Recognized for the dedication and determination behind their academic success, both women were chosen as winners of this year’s Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award. The award was established in 1983 as the private development foundation of the Connecticut State University system. There are 12 given annually to distinguished students from Western, Central, Eastern and Southern Connecticut State universities.

“My interactions with students and educators within our local school districts have inspired me, as a teacher, to find effective and engaging classroom methods to encourage children to embrace diversity while also sparking a passion within students for understanding and experiencing different ways of life,” Chalk said.

Named on the dean’s list every semester, Coraizaca received numerous scholarships, including from the Macricostas Family Scholarship Endowment and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

Coraizaca decided to attend Western because she wanted to attend a small university that offered what she needed, but didn’t make her feel overwhelmed. “It was a good school for my career,” she said.

Coraizaca also said the opportunities available at Western exposed her to many areas. She became involved in the campus Rotaract Club, she served as president of LETRA and was involved in the Education Club.

“WCSU gave me opportunities,” she said.

Chalk, who graduated in December 2013 summa cum laude, also received numerous scholarships and awards as a student, including the Stephen K. Lovett Education Award and the Education Honor Society Recognition Award. She was also involved on campus with activities organized by the university’s Education Club.

“I also partook in many off-campus activities through WCSU’s education program,” Chalk said. “Throughout my professional semester at WCSU, I participated in many career-developing experiences such as the Read Across America event at one of Danbury’s elementary schools, volunteer work at the alternative high school, Science and Technology workshops in Newtown, and a class-organized trip to the Columbia University Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project in Manhattan.”

Chalk is currently working full-time as a long-term substitute fourth-grade teacher in the Danbury Public Schools.

“It has been an amazing experience to be giving back to the Danbury community after receiving so many wonderful opportunities throughout my education at WCSU,” she said.

Based off a release from WCSU.

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