Hometown: Danbury, Connecticut
Major: Elementary Education, English concentration
WCSU Degree: Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
Activities: Student Government Association (three years as a senator, one year as Vice President of Internal Affairs), Education Club, Newman Club (two mission trips to Jamaica, one mission to the Dominican Republic), the Kathwari Honors Program, Relay for Life (three years on the Relay Committee, 1 1/2 years as chair of Relay for Life), Orientation Leader for three years, four years working for the Office of Institutional Advancement as a student worker, a year working as an Academic Resource Mentor in Grasso Hall, a semester as a tutor in the Writing Center, a semester working as a student worker in the Center for Student Involvement, and three summers as an Orientation Leader
INTERNSHIPS: Related to major: student-taught in 5th grade at Ellsworth Avenue Elementary School; unrelated to major: a semester-long internship in Disney World (Orlando, Florida) through the Disney College Program
Honors and Awards: Presidential Merit Scholarship (2012-16), Union Savings Bank/Thomas R. Nolan Endowed Scholarship (Aug. - Dec. 2016), W. Jason & Ellen M. Hancock Student Scholarship (2015-16), KBE Building Corp. Endowment Scholarship (Aug. - Dec. 2014), Miss Rumphius Community Service Award (April 2016), Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges (April 2016), Kathwari Honors Program (2012-16), Education Honors Society Induction (2016), Sigma Tau Delta - National English Honors Society Induction (2016), Fulbright Award (2017)
Allison Vas excelled at Danbury High School and had a number of options to consider when looking at colleges. She applied to Western Connecticut State University, and suddenly the other options were less appealing. "I got accepted into the Honors Program and offered a Merit Scholarship," she says. "WestConn wasn't my first choice, but it made sense financially. Looking back, I'm so glad I decided to come here. I definitely would not change a thing."
Vas says that as long as she can remember, she has always wanted to be a teacher. "My dad was a teacher and I had some great teachers as I went through school, so I always wanted to do that for others. I am also the oldest of four siblings (and have many younger cousins), so it is second nature working with children and helping care for those younger than me."
Through her involvement at Western, Vas says, "Many people have given me help and guidance over my years here, to the point where I feel like I have a team of people behind me, supporting me, rather than a single mentor. Dennis Leszko and Bianca Paolello have been such great role models and advisers, when it comes to all my club/orientation experience, but especially beyond that. Working with them closely on SGA and Orientation, you see that they truly want to do everything they can to support student success here at Western. I've also gone on three service trips with Dennis, and it's so nice to know him outside of the confines of an office and to see that he truly does care about students, both on- and off-campus. Lynne LeBarron and the rest of the Institutional Advancement office have been so understanding and supportive of my college experience. It's not always easy balancing classes, extracurriculars and a job, but they worked with me and always allowed me to adjust my schedule to accommodate everything else I had going on. They've been there to listen to me when extracurriculars became stressful and have been great people to go to for advice when I needed a more neutral opinion. Working with them also helped me develop professionally over the last four years. Samantha DiFalco, my resident director my sophomore year, was also a great mentor, especially with some problems I was facing in my personal life at the time. Michele Hossan from the Newman Center welcomed me to the Newman community my freshman year, and has continued to provide an area of campus that always feels like home. Dr. Chris Kukk and Dr. Donald Gagnon have also been very supportive faculty members. As the director of the Honors Program, Dr. Kukk was one of my first professors freshman year and he really showed me how much passion and dedication people bring to this campus community. Since then, he has always celebrated my successes and has offered counsel on a number of occasions, from everything from class scheduling to my Fulbright application, and everything in between. Likewise, Dr. Gagnon was one of my first professors in the English department. As department chair/my adviser, I met with him for advice on classes, potential major changes and my Fulbright. Both Dr. Kukk and Dr. Gagnon always had an open door and have been nothing but encouraging and supportive."
Asked what she will remember most about her Western experience, Vas says, "My living arrangements my senior year. I've made some of my best friends here over the years and, after three years of trying to work it out, the four of us finally had the opportunity to live together in Pinney Hall. No matter how much I've accomplished during my time here at Western, nothing can possibly beat the feeling of coming home at the end of a long day and having your best friends, your support team and personal cheerleaders, waiting there for you with food, stories from their days, and lots of laughter."
Vas currently works as a university assistant in the WCSU Center for Student Involvement and as a substitute teacher in the Danbury Public Schools. "I was selected as a Fulbright finalist, so I will be going to Estonia to teach for the 2017-18 school year. After that, I hope to return to graduate school for a degree somewhere in the field of international education and/or educational policy."
Vas' advice to new students entering WCSU is: "Get involved as much as you can. Your college experience is entirely what you make of it, so step out of your comfort zone and say hello to your classmates, join that club you're interested in, or visit that new country. The friends you'll make along the way will only make your college experience that much more enjoyable and memorable."