first year sem


Welcome to life as a college student! Right from the first day, First Year Seminar helps you meet other students, connect with the faculty and become part of the Elms community.

In First Year Seminar (FYS), we help you start on the path to discovery about yourself, Elms College and important topics. Your instructor becomes your guide and mentor. Together, along with other first year students, you explore a topic, and search for questions and resolutions. Your instructor encourages you to become an active member of the Elms College community as you develop your academic program and path.

First Year Seminar courses are connected by a theme taken from Catholic Social Teaching. This year’s theme is Life and Dignity of the Human Person; the program also will incorporate the Jubilee of Mercy declared by the Pope for December 2015 through November 2016. All first year students are required to read the Common Read book, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, during the semester. You will discuss and write about the book in your First Year Seminar class, highlighting how the themes are interwoven with the theme of Solidarity. Books may be purchased in the Elms College bookstore. This year’s seminar sections will explore the subject while preparing you for life as a college student.

Common Read

Want to know more about the Common Read? Information can be found here.

Just Mercy cover


FYS Events

Each year, we offer a variety of events that focus on the themes in the Common Read selection. Here are some of this year’s FYS events (please note that these events are subject to change).

FYS Common Events 2015-2016 Calendar

Elms Essentials

Veritas Auditorium


9:30 a.m.

Work-Study and Volunteer/Internship
Job Fair

Alumnae Library,
First Floor,
Learning Commons


12:15-1:15 p.m.

Involvement Fair

Keating Quad (weather permitting)


11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

Catholic Social Teaching/Catholic Intellectual Tradition

Alumnae Library Theater

9/12: Sections 6-9

9/14: Sections 1-5

1:25-2:40 p.m.

Agape Latte:
Br. Michael Duffy will speak on "Healthcare: Who Has Access?"

Starbucks Cafe,
College Center


7 p.m.

Academic Convocation:
Daniel Ponsetto, M.Div.,
Welles R. Crowther Director for Volunteer & Service Learning
at Boston College


Veritas Auditorium



4 p.m.

Meet Your Advisor Week


10/3 -


Springfield Public Forum:
Nancy Lublin
will speak on
"How Tech and Big Data Can Save Lives"

Symphony Hall,
34 Court Street,
Springfield, MA


Buses leave the Elms
front gate on Springfield Street
at 5 p.m. and will return at approximately 8:30 p.m.

Special Presentation by Richard Rosario
and Atty. Jodi Miller

Veritas Auditorium


1:25 p.m.

Center for
Law & Justice
with FYS "Just Mercy":
Hon. Michael A. Ponsor will speak on his experience in presiding over the Kristen Gilbert case.

Alumnae Library Theater


7 p.m.

Voices From Inside (presented by 
The Blue House)

Alumnae Library Theater


7 p.m.

FYS Presentations
Summative Event




2016-2017 First Year Seminar Instructors

Sr. Carol Allan, SSJ, M.A.T.

Sister Carol Allan has had a ministerial career ranging from the classroom to the courtroom. She holds a master’s degree in human development, and in theology of justice and peace. After 13 years in education, Carol joined the legal field, working at Legal Services and the district attorney’s office. She was instrumental in establishing restorative justice programs and was the program director of residential programs for women in recovery from drugs and alcohol. Sr. Carol is committed to being active in her community, and serves on numerous boards and committees, both in the civic community as well as in her religious community. Sr. Carol is a known advocate and is currently the director of Campus Ministry at Elms.

Cheryl Condon, M.Ed.

Cheryl R. Condon, the head softball coach at Elms, has been coaching our Blazers since the inception of the softball program in 1986. Coach Condon has achieved the most wins in the history of the Blazers athletic program, and reached a milestone by winning her 400th game in 2015. Coach Condon is also a member of our faculty, as she teaches in our coaching minor, which helps to prepare interested students for coaching as career in all levels of interscholastic and intercollegiate levels. Coach Condon is a member of both the Elms College and the Rockland High School Athletic Halls of Fame. She earned her bachelor’s degree in physical education from Westfield State University and her master’s degree in education from Elms College.

William Dziura, M.A.

William Dziura is the director of student activities at Elms College. He holds a master of arts degree in English from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He is also a 2011 Elms College graduate. Mr. Dziura has extensive experience as a volunteer coordinator and community advocate, and has taken part in numerous community development and sustainability initiatives. In addition to an interest in mindful, strategic activism, Mr. Dziura also believes in the transformative power of a liberal arts education.

Beryl Hoffman, Ph.D.

Dr. Beryl Hoffman is an associate professor of computer information technology at Elms College and the co-director of the NSF ElmSTEMs scholars program. She has a B.A. in computer science and cognitive science from Wellesley College, and an M.S.E. and Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Pennsylvania, with a focus on artificial intelligence and computational linguistics. She teaches the STEM section of First Year Seminar.

Melanie Joy-Cooper, M.S.

Melanie Joy-Cooper is a laboratory safety coordinator and chemistry lecturer. She has over two years of advanced graduate studies in environmental health and a master’s degree in forensic science. She has multiple certifications in hazardous waste operations and emergency response, confined space, and hazard communication. Her research interests are in environmental chemistry and toxicology.

Cheryl Sheils, Ed.D., R.N.

Cheryl A. Sheils is associate professor of nursing at Elms College and co-director of First Year Seminar. Dr. Sheils received her B.S. in nursing from American International College, her M.S. in nursing from the University of Connecticut; and her doctorate in education policy, research and administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She teaches a wide variety of courses across all levels of the undergraduate and graduate nursing curricula, and is project director for the Elms Latino Nurse Scholars Initiative, funded by a federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration. Her research and scholarship have focused on teaching-learning strategies, student learning outcomes, and nursing workforce diversity. Her dissertation research focused on challenges and supports for Latina students in baccalaureate nursing education.

Fr. Mark Stelzer, Ph.D.

Father Mark Stelzer serves as college chaplain and associate professor of humanities. He regularly teaches undergraduate and graduate-level courses in religious studies and philosophy. Father Mark also facilitates the humanities capstone course for students about to graduate from Elms College. In the classroom, Father Mark is committed to creating a learning environment in which every student can succeed. In addition to his work at Elms College, Father Mark serves as an on- call chaplain at the Women’s Correctional Center in Chicopee and Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.

Jon Todd, M.A.

Jon Todd is the director of new student and transition programs at Elms College. He oversees orientation and Welcome Week, and advises the Commuter Board. Previously, he was the director of residence life at Elms College, and worked in residence life at UMass Amherst prior to joining the Elms Staff in 2012. He earned his B.A. in journalism from Texas A&M University and earned his M.A. in higher education administration from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He enjoys talking with students about building inclusive communities, developing their strengths, and coping with change.

Dominick Uguccioni, M.Ed.

Dominick Uguccioni is the director of residence life at Elms College. He is a graduate of Springfield College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in applied exercise science and his master of education degree in higher education administration. While at Springfield, Dominick was a two-sport athlete, competing in football and track and field, attaining NCAA Division III All-American status in the hammer throw. As an educator, Dominick strives to emulate the Springfield philosophy of educating the whole student in spirit, mind, and body.