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Bentley Magazine

Many Happy Returns

Kristen Walsh

In-person teaching and learning was back at Bentley this fall. We caught up with six Falcons as they arrived on campus — some for the first time.

 

Banmai Huynh ’24

Open to Opportunity

Banmai Huynh ’24 (near left)
Corporate Finance and Accounting Major
Orientation Leader

In fall 2020, I was a first-year student and fully remote. When the spring semester started, I wasn’t in the best place mentally. Though I’m an extrovert, I was hesitant to live on campus. My mom pushed me to move in. She saw me struggling and knew I needed a change.

When I got here, one of the biggest challenges was feeling like everyone had already made their friends in the first semester. I had made friends during online classes, but these were people I only saw on a structured Zoom call twice a week.

After a couple weeks, I realized that classmates I’d met virtually were happy to see me on campus. I reached out to people I knew from class and asked if they wanted to grab lunch. A lot of people, even if they had been on campus in the fall, still felt a little disconnected because of COVID.

Something that helped was my virtual participation in the Women’s Leadership Program and the Asian Students Association; it was the best feeling to meet everyone in person. During the spring semester, when the country experienced a rise in Asian hate crimes, it was good to be together. We worked to raise awareness. We had a lot of heartfelt conversations and became closer.

Having classes in person is so much more engaging for me. I’m huge on class participation — to the point where classmates probably get annoyed! But honestly, I believe in getting the most out of my education and connecting with my professors helps me do that.

As an orientation leader, I was excited to tell first-year students that this is my first fall semester on campus, too. I’m really glad that things are getting back to normal, but I learned that self-discipline goes a long way and that I’m more capable than I thought.

Team Player

Ethan Roswell ’22
Economics-Finance Major
Captain, Men’s Hockey

The biggest impact of COVID was the uncertainty — how to plan and get ready for a hockey season we weren’t sure we would have. That’s a hard mindset for an athlete.

What I learned is to always be prepared, because you never know when an opportunity will come your way. If you’re able to step on the ice, you have to give 110%, because the next day you might be quarantining in your room for two weeks. Don’t take anything for granted.

This season the team is really excited. We were able to get nearly everyone here in August to start training before our first game, against Northeastern. We skated just about every day. Now, I’m grateful to be able to spend senior year in the rink lacing up my skates. I know seniors who graduated during COVID and never got the chance to have that closure.

I couldn’t wait to play in front of a sold-out crowd during our first home game, against Ohio State on October 8. Having fans in the arena is always electric.

Athletics is such a great way to bring the Bentley community together. We’ve all gone through so much, as a university and as a student body, so it’s really something special to be together in the arena.

One of my main goals as captain is to help us stay positive and focused on opportunities throughout the year. We have 10 new players this season, so it’s going to be competitive. That will really help propel us to become a championship team.

Ethan Roswell ’22
Pon Souvannaseng

Teaching Empathy

Pon Souvannaseng
Assistant Professor of Global Studies

Like some of my students, this fall is my first time on the Bentley campus. I was in lockdown in the U.K. when my contract at Bentley started in July 2020. When I arrived in the U.S., I went to Los Angeles to quarantine with family. I could really empathize with students who were navigating different zones. To teach an 8:00 a.m. EST class, I was up by 4:00 a.m.

Setting up my office was exciting because many boxes had been packed up since I was in the U.K. I was surprised when I pulled out a manual typewriter, which I had purchased while completing my doctoral thesis. I would take breaks from the computer by spending time at a local park to do less-serious writing on the typewriter. It represents a particular project, at a particular time in my life.

When it comes to teaching, I try to keep the same spirit of engagement regardless of the medium. Being on campus brings both excitement and anxiety for people. Health and well-being are priorities, so I offer a hybrid class model. If students prefer to take class from their dorm room to focus and learn, that’s OK, because they will be better engaged. Each of us is navigating our own struggles. I respect that students are managing in the best way they can in their own circumstances.

Ace Ambassador

Rashmi Rajesh ’22
Computer Information Systems Major
Student Ambassador

I always sit on the bench near the falcon statue to study or grab a bite to eat between classes. The clocktower bells add to the calming ambiance. That is my favorite spot on campus and I missed it while being remote.

Something else I really missed was meeting with professors in person. This semester I get together every couple of weeks with Dorothy Polatin [director, Gender and Sexuality Student Programs] to discuss my independent research on the 21st century definition of inclusive beauty. Plus, she’s a great sounding board for chatting about everything from my dog, Zeus, to cooking — which I’m really bad at — to life after college. I’m also able to meet in person with [Professor of Computer Information Systems] David Yates, who’s coaching me through an honors research project to identify sociocultural factors that influence the global digital divide.

As an admission ambassador, I love the impromptu conversations that happen with prospective students. Last year, giving virtual tours, I could show many photos of the campus, but it was difficult connecting with students who might be shy on Zoom; some families didn’t even turn on their cameras. In person, I can better understand a prospective student and what their interests are, and then tweak the campus tour.

Bentley was my first college tour and I really connected with my tour guide. Her family dynamic was similar to mine in that she’s very close to her mom. My parents immigrated from India in 1998, and the concept of having a child go away to college was foreign to them. In India, students go to college in the city where they live. Bentley is close enough that my parents have had lots of opportunities to visit from Connecticut. Bentley’s been the home-away-from-home I was looking for.

Rashmi Rajesh ’22
Marcus Stewart ’92, MBA ’95

Epiphanies & Inspiration

Marcus Stewart ’92, MBA ’95
Associate Professor of Management
Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

For nearly a decade I’ve taught First-Year Seminar [FYS] for the incoming class. Having that experience on campus this semester puts me back in my element — in front of students. That’s the reason I became a professor.

What’s really stimulating and rewarding for me are the hallway conversations with students, faculty and staff about anything from current events to content-specific topics like leadership and diversity. Those kinds of interactions are where epiphanies and inspiration happen.

So much of communication is body language and non-verbal cues, which means the richness of exchange is more complete in person. We can more effectively support each other. We can more readily laugh and cry together. That may be possible virtually, but there’s a learning curve to doing it well — for students and professors.

Coming back to campus this fall felt like coming back to my roots. I remember how impactful my first year at Bentley was.The experience and the relationships I formed then are still among the most important I’ve ever had.

Taking a Deep Dive

Betsy Stoner
Assistant Professor of Natural and Applied Sciences

During the COVID shutdown, I was teaching oceanography and environmental science courses while quarantining at my parents’ home on the east coast of Florida. A lot of the concepts we were discussing in class, like manatees and seagrass, were right outside my door. So, I’d put on my wetsuit, mask and snorkel, and explore estuaries while my husband videotaped live for my remote classes.

Students reacted very positively to these “virtual field trips,” but it’s exciting to hold labs on campus again. I love seeing students put on a pair of chest waders and walk into the Bentley pond to collect samples. They discover critters and explore ways that humans impact the pond ecosystem. Those kinds of interactions are hard to replicate virtually.

I’ll continue to show my videos in the classroom to supplement lectures and labs. Media content is a great way for students to absorb information; they already get a lot of their information on YouTube or Instagram. My hope is to create a dedicated Vimeo account to use in much the same way as listening to a podcast or reading an article — freely accessible to Bentley students and anyone else who is interested in the content.

I’m thrilled to have students explore science through hands-on learning, especially during outdoor labs, which allow for discovering the natural world. I believe these experiences help them gain a deeper understanding of the ways that business leaders can tackle global environmental problems.

Betsy Stoner

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