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.
Want to know more about the Common Read? Information can be found here.
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
Work-Study Job Fair
Keating Quad (weather permitting)
11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Starbucks Cafe, College Center
Catholic Social Teaching/Catholic Intellectual Tradition
Alumnae Library Theater
Meet Your Advisor Week
Voices From Inside (presented by
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 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 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.
Derek Fecke is currently the assistant registrar at Elms College. He has enjoyed a lifetime of learning, and holds bachelor of science and bachelor of arts degrees from Western New England University, as well as a master’s degree of arts in applied theology from Elms College. He enjoys bringing his experience working with local and worldwide charities, his education, and his many years of work experience in service fields into the classroom.
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 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 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.
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 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.