Category Archives: Student Spotlight

Meet The A Capella Society: Fermata The Blue


Fermata the Blue’s first EP is now on iTunes and Spotify

by Jacob Carey

Fermata the Blue is an all-male A Capella group on Central Connecticut State University’s campus. They are a group of fun loving guys who enjoy to sing.

They are founded on the belief of brotherhood, as Tevin Jourdain, the group’s Assistant Director said, “we have a sense of comradery.” He further explained how an older brother can make fun of their siblings, but when someone else tries to, the older brother stops it, specifically what is to be expected from this group.

They are a very close group of guys that joke around with one another, while being there for each other as well. This fosters an environment that inspires creativity within the group, as no one feels that they are going to be judged. This allows the group as a whole to push the limits on what they do, and always attempt to try new things that will “wow” their audience.

Even though these guys love to goof off, when it comes time to perform, they know how to put on a show. They frequently start off their concerts with a comedic video created by the members of the group. On top of that, their music is well performed and hits an emotional core. They do an excellent job of picking an array of songs that displays their vast talent, while also taking their audience on a journey. On top of that, they are very particular about who they would like to arrange a piece, as they want to make sure the song gets proper treatment. They often will pick very popular tunes that pulls their audience in. Once they have control of their audience, they sing an incredibly emotional song that brings people to tears. They are not afraid to show their emotional side, which audiences love.

Looking to the future, they are excited to grow as a group by continuing to attend Boston Sings (BOSS), and possibly competing at the ICCA’s again. Additionally, they are looking to compete more in general. They hope to continue to get exposure so they can get feedback as a group, using those critiques and applying it to develop their sound. This is an important technique that they use to make sure that the group keeps a fresh sound, and to make sure that they continue to put on high quality shows.

The “Boys in Blue” recently released their first EP on iTunes and Spotify. They are currently trying to raise the money to record and release another EP in the future. Make sure to check out their EP, as well as follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Their next concert is Monday, Apr. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in Torp Theater. If you cannot make the concert or just want to hear more, you can also check them out on YouTube. If you are interested in auditioning, feel free to contact them, or go to the A Capella Society’s “Welcome Back Concert” in the Fall, and check out all the groups on campus and sign up for auditions.

Meet the A Cappella Society: Divisi

by Jacob Carey

Brotherhood. That is the core of Central Connecticut State University’s oldest all-male a cappella group, Divisi.

No matter what member of the group you talk to, they always bring up the brotherhood and unity of the group. To these men, Divisi is more than a singing group. It is a place to express themselves in a comfortable environment; a family.

This foundation of brotherhood is incredibly important to the group. They pride themselves on being more than just a group of singers, but a family that will never forget one another. This brotherhood is united to spread the joy and love of their mutual passion of music.

When Divisi placed second in the quarterfinals in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, the group was in total shock. They had not thought they were going to make it that far. There was a sense of surrealism for the group while they performed at the ICCA. With having hundreds, perhaps thousands of people watching them, the group was not nervous, but in awe of the experience that they are grateful to have. With their final concert in the books for this year, CCSU has to wait until the fall to see the award-winning Divisi perform again at the A Cappella Society’s Welcome Back concert.

Their spring 2017 concert was a hit. The group gave an incredible performance to a very large and enthusiastic crowd. With a surprise appearance by DANCEntral to close out the night, this concert was truly a production like no other.

Leading up to the concert, the group was excited to get on stage one more time. Their excitement was clear as they left it all on the stage; they held nothing back for the audience. For some of the members, it was the last concert they would perform on stage with Divisi.

This group is steeped in history. With each era, marked by the group’s director, they look to grow and improve. This adaptation is how the group has been able to continue for over ten years. With each passing year, the history of the group only gets richer.

Divisi has learned that, to have a successful group, they need members who are more than just good singers; each member has more to contribute which helps the group grow. For example, when recording an album, Divisi is able to keep the work in house, because they have members who can arrange music, record songs and produce the music. This impressive set-up allows for creative control to stay within the group.

Most importantly, each member fully believes in the brotherhood concept. The main foundation that the group is built on, having a group of guys who share that belief ensures that everyone will get along well — which also contributes to the group’s longevity.

This remarkable group has been around for a while, and shows no signs of leaving anytime soon. The foundation of brotherhood unites these men through the love of singing. If you are interested in auditioning to join Divisi next fall, keep an eye out for the Welcome Back Concert, where you can see them and all the other a cappella groups from CCSU perform, as well as sign up to audition. Divisi is currently in the process of recording their third studio album. Make sure to check them out on Spotify and iTunes.

Nick Landell Get’s a Shot at Summer Baseball

by Nella Lastrina

While sitting in his public relations class, Nick Landell felt his phone vibrate from his pants pocket. Immediately, he stood up and walked to the hallway as everyone including the professor watched. When he answered it was the call he had been waiting for.

“My coach helped me find a collegiate team in Arizona and I was expecting a call back from the general manager,” said Landell. “Even though I knew I was getting the phone call I was still a little nervous, and I would answer my phone to every number that called even if it was a telemarketer.”

That afternoon, Landell got the news he was waiting for; he was one of the 35 men accepted into the Arizona Collegiate Wood Bat League.

“Most college baseball players play in collegiate summer leagues,” said Landell. “It was such a great feeling knowing I was officially in the league”

In the summer, many college baseball players join collegiate summer baseball teams. These programs run throughout the summer beginning early June, and operating until early August. Landell’s league is known for using wooden baseball bats thus the name “Wood Bat League”.

The process of joining is rather effortless for the student athletes. In order to find a collegiate team, Landell was scouted by the general manager for the Gila Monsters. Typically, college coaches speak with potential teams’ general managers to set up a summer league for their players.

Being nearly 3,000 miles away from home, Landell was provided transportation to practice, road games and a place to stay free of cost, but was not given a stipend for food or groceries. Instead, the 22 year-old worked online for an SAT and ACT company to design smart documents.

“I created smart documents that are basically like electronic practice ACT or SAT tests for tutors to use overseas,” said Landell.

In fact, Landell held this job throughout his college career. He made his own schedule that worked for him so he could work around school, practices and games.

“This job was perfect for me because I practice for about 2-3 hours every day, have classes for about 3-5 hours Monday through Thursday, and during the season I have baseball games,” said Landell. “Since there isn’t a set time for baseball games, they can last a long time, and not all employers can work with that kind of schedule.”

Before working for the SAT and ACT company, Landell worked at Baseball City in Hartford training people of all ages in an indoor facility.

Raised in Higganum, Connecticut with his brother Steve, Landell grew up in a sports oriented family.

“My brother and I were always playing sports growing up, and eventually both of us ended up focusing on baseball,” said Landell.

At 5 years-old, Landell began playing t-ball with his brother and quickly found his passion.

“I loved the game and just kept playing it,” said Landell.

Almost every day he would grab his bat and head outside (and sometimes even inside) to play ball. Since Landell’s brother was four years older, he began playing on a team leaving Landell to want to be like his older brother.

“Besides practicing in our backyard and at the playground, my brother and I never got to play together because we were in different age groups,” said Landell.

Growing up, Landell attended Haddam-Killingworth High school, University of Connecticut Avery Point, and now he is currently finishing up his senior year at Central Connecticut State University.

“I wanted to play Division I baseball, and CCSU provided me with a good opportunity to do that,” said Landell when asked why he chose Central.

At Haddam-Killingworth High School, Landell was named All-Conference in his senior year and at UConn of Avery Point, the then sophomore was named Defensive Player of the Year.

With dreams of one day playing profession baseball in the Major League Baseball (MLB), Landell pushes his limits to fulfill his dreams, but he understands that sometimes things do not work out the way people want. He is pursuing a major in communication, with an emphasis in public relations and marketing and a minor in business.

“If I don’t get to play in the MLB, my second best option is working in marketing for a professional sports organization,” said Landell. “That way I will still be working in a field I’m passionate about, and I don’t think I can ever get sick of that.”


CCSU’s Singers Filling Up Founder’s Hall


by Matt Balogh

Many music enthusiasts gathered in Founder’s Hall on Thursday to enjoy the sounds of various singing groups here at Central Connecticut State University. The CCSU Chorale, Blue Notes and the University Singers took the stage for a performance full of wonderful arrangements. The performance was free to all, opening the doors to many students and faculty members.

Beginning strongly, the Chorale performed a composition by Martini, to which conductor Drew Collins jokingly expressed, “It’s always fun to start things off with a Martini.” All went well throughout their set, simultaneously flipping through their music sheets as their sound erupted around the room.

Interestingly enough, the second arrangement in their performance, “Der Tanz” by Schubert, they had performed 3 different times. Considering that the original was around a minute and a half long and arranged for a quartet and piano accompaniment, they included that exact arrangement in the middle of the song, aiding to its original setting.

To close their portion of the show, the group had done a tribute to George Gershwin with a medley of his classics “I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin,” “Summertime” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” The various sections blended well, including a strong bass section that shook the surrounding area. In addition to an angelic Soporano to match the rest, evening out the entire mix.

The next group was the Blue Notes Vocal Jazz group, a fairly new group to the lineup, performing acapella jazz. Featuring many of the members of the Chorale, the 8-piece group did a set consisting of a Greg Jasperse composition. Although it was quick, their style was an interesting piece to the lineup. The group sang in a “scat” style annunciation, featuring no intelligible words, just syllables.

The University Singers then closed the concert with the Chorale members. Singing without the accompaniment of a piano, the group held a strong sound and balanced well together.

Their first arrangement, a working of Bach’s “Ich Lasse Dich Nicht,” featured a ‘call and response’ style vocal arrangement, as the parts switched back and forth between sections. Switching between energetic and loud pieces, soft and mellow, the group filled the remainder of the show with fantastic arrangements.

Senior singer Hunter Bustamante, a member of the Chorale and the Blue Notes, spoke highly of the groups, “the most important aspect of preparation is the amount of practice time and dedication put into each piece.” Each piece was arranged to fit the size of the group and each individual part, a process that each member contributes a large portion to. Bustamante continued that overall “members of the groups join for a variety of reasons, most commonly the love of making music with others in a friendly environment.”
Both the Chorale and the Blue Notes host shows twice a semester, however, the University Singers are much more active in their performances. The groups consist of all CCSU students with an interest in musical arrangement and singing. Accepting all types of students, the various groups welcome anyone to join.

Phi Delta Theta, Creating Future Leaders

by Kaitlin Lyle

In an organization of “leaders leading leaders,” the fraternity Phi Delta Theta at Central Connecticut stands prominently as a brotherhood of strength and integrity among their endeavors on and off campus.

While its original organization was created on Dec. 26, 1848, at Ohio’s Miami University, the fraternity at CCSU was founded by Jason Cartilage on Dec. 13, 2002. Derived from the beliefs of the fraternity’s founding fathers, known as The Immortal Six, Phi Delta Theta is organized around the three cardinal principles of strong learning, moral rectitude and friendship – all of which have been strongly taken to heart by its members.

With regards to the fraternity’s motto “One man is no man,” members of Phi Delta Theta look to their mantra as a representation of their brotherhood standing together as one and leaning on one another as part of a lifelong bond.

“We always feel like we have each others back and we know we’ll always have somebody to rely on,” said Tum Tum Souriyamath, who has been a member since the spring semester of 2014.

“At the end of the day, if you want someone to be there for you, you have to be there for them,” said member-at-large Matt Guilmette.

As is printed inside the CCSU Student Planner, the mission of Phi Delta Theta is to promote the greatest version possible of their members throughout their endeavors within the brotherhood. In the eyes of the Phi Delta Theta brotherhood, the mission is not only to help their members carry out the fraternity name, but to also give them the tools needed to succeed in life.

“Empowering others gives them the potential to grow and to show themselves that they are better than what they may think,” said CJ Wells, the current president of Phi Delta Theta as of December 2015. “A flower doesn’t prosper in the darkness; it doesn’t grow in darkness, it grows in light.”

When it comes to appealing to potential recruits, the fraternity’s closeness as well as their outgoing individuals is frequently demonstrated throughout the campus, whether it can be seen at the bi-annual club fairs or at their tables in the Student Center. From brotherhood outings to team-building exercises, Phi Delta Theta provides open opportunities for its members at CCSU to develop bonds with one another while promoting necessary skills like social etiquette and business procedures.

Along with a majority of brotherhood events, the fraternity is known for co-sponsoring with other organizations in order to get more involved on campus – including the Center for Victim Advocacy, the Student Veterans Organization and Greek Life. Amid their active social calendars, the fraternity members collaborate to generate activities on campus, such a Breakers Takeover and their annual paintball events. Off campus events include nature hikes near Quinnipiac University and planning a Six Flags trip during its Fright Fest season.

Above all, Phi Delta Theta goes beyond the call of righteousness in their community service events. Set for Saturday, April 16 on Vance Lawn, the second-annual ALS Walk has been a large bonding point among the members, particularly in their philanthropic goals for the ALS Association.

In addition to their determination towards the ALS Walk, Phi Delta Theta exhibited pride at their latest community service program. Created last semester by Souriyamath, the fraternity devotes every Sunday to working alongside children with autism with the location split between St. John’s University in West Hartford and the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain.

Among their future community service events, Phi Delta Theta plans to assist the American Red Cross with the upcoming blood drive as well as creating a car wash outside of Elmer’s Place on April 18. President Wells noted that the fraternity would like to generate a Sober Fest in order to promote better well-being on campus.

Meetings for Phi Delta Theta are held on Wednesday evenings at 9:00 p.m. in the Bellin A & B rooms of the Student Center. During that same time, Pledge, or “Phikeia,” Educator Souriyamath conducts his own separate meetings in order to provide new recruits with an education on the basic foundations of the fraternity’s history. In addition, chapter meetings for Phi Delta Theta are generally held at 6:00 p.m. in Bellin A & B. On Sunday evenings, member Guilmette hosts Office Board (“O-Board”) meetings at 6:00 p.m. in the Blue and White Room followed by the Phi Delta Theta E-Board meetings at 7:00 p.m.

In the organization’s entirety, Phi Delta Theta can be highly praised for its promotion of excellent values, dedicated efforts and the long-lasting strength of its brotherhood. When reflecting on his three years of experience, Wells encourages future members to take advantage of the opportunities presented during their time with Phi Delta Theta.

“I honestly just want them to get the most out of it – to truly understand what brotherhood means, to truly understand that one man is no man and to become the best they can possible can be in school, in life and as a man,” said Wells.

Asian Transfers Have an American Experience at CCSU

by Nicholas Leahey

Imagine living in a foreign country, whose way of life and language is completely different from your own. How do you learn about their culture? How do you communicate with them?

For a group of 12 Japanese students studying in the intensive English language program at Central Connecticut, this is the situation they face.

As part of an agreement between CCSU and Kansai Gdynia University located in Osaka, Japan, each academic year students from both universities visit the other, as part of an exchange program run by the Center for International Education (CIE).

The students visiting this year, who range in age from 18 to 21 years old, arrived in late August, and will remain until the end of the semester.

“I have been enjoying the time since I have been here,” said Moeka Sato, a junior, in broken English. She, like many others mentioned how they were surprised by the hospitality they have found many Americans have.

Many of the students who arrived from Kansai Gdynia University knew very little English when they first arrived; thus many of them were placed into the intensive English language program, spread between levels one through three.

“We have five levels of English, starting from the very beginning,” said adjunct Professor Susan Reid. “Some students have zero English when they come, while in level five they are considered quite fluent.” Reid herself teaches levels one through three.

Coincidentally, the placement works to the students’ advantage, most of whom are English majors, with the exception of one who is studying International Relations.

Despite the language barrier faced, most students are actively involved on campus with various clubs including the Japanese-American Cultural Club, Dance Club and Soccer Club. Their experiences helped the students to adjust to life at CCSU while also learning more about American culture outside the classroom.

“Because they are part-time students, they can’t do activities that are only open to full-time students,” said Reid.

Some of the students have said that while they have become accustomed to many changes, some of them took them by surprise when they first arrived in the United States.

“Everything is so much bigger,” said Yuya Ukita, a sophomore, pointing out specifically that things such as cars and food portions tend to be the most noticeable.

Students also mentioned how Japanese food made in the United States is not the same as in Japan, saying American-Japanese food is “spicier,” and that American sushi is not the same. One student mentioned they noticed this when she went with a group of Japanese students to visit Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida during Thanksgiving break.

“The rice here in America is terrible,” said Mai Harada, and explained it as being “too salty.”

Many students from Kansai Gdynia University indicated they would like to return to the United States, but to other places. Cities such as New York and Los Angeles were specifically mentioned by many students.

“I like it here,” said Sato. “The people are so friendly.”

The intensive English language program teaches English for academic purposes, which does not require students to be enrolled full-time in the university or to take university courses. If students already have a proficiency in the language, they can take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam. Undergraduate students need to obtain a score of 500 in order to meet the requirement.

“Students can apply directly to the English language program also without ever applying to a university,” said Reid.

Currently, the CCSU CIE is studying how many foreign students who attend the university take English classes due to a lack in their fluency to speak the language. In addition, CIE is also studying how many students remain at CCSU after they go through the intensive English language program, given that many students enroll in the program with the hopes of applying to a university or college in the United States.

“Many students apply to other universities while they’re here,” said Reid. ‘’But obviously we want them to stay and apply to CCSU.”

Matt Swieton’s Return to his Rhythmic Roots

by Sheridan Cyr

Central Connecticut graduate of 2012, Matt Swieton will be returning to campus as one of the musicians performing in Decaying in Decades’ “Home for the Holidays” show in Semesters Dec. 2nd. He is the only unique one in the setlist, because Swieton is not really a musician.

His true passion is archeology, though music is what led him to the discovery that he was looking for all along.

“Back in high school I would play music sometimes more than 10 hours a day,” said Swieton. “I didn’t want to pursue going to college.” He had hoped that playing music would get him somewhere instead.

In the back of his mind, Swieton knew better. Though the application processes, university tours and all of the additional labor it takes to get into college were not nearly ideal, Swieton knew he had to do something.

He then was accepted at CCSU and began pursuing a career in music. “If I’m gonna go to school, I may as well study something I enjoy.”

During his first year, he was placed in an archeology course amidst his music courses. Swieton said the Music Department had high demands for its students right off the bat, and he found himself quickly taking a liking to, and finding a sort of safe haven in his archeology course.

Now, Swieton is a stone tool specialist who simply plays music for himself as a side hobby. His career brings him to excavation sites all over the world. Swieton’s job is to rebuild tools that members of societies used hundreds of years ago using only resources they had available during their times. “I make them as a methodological tool to answer questions about people in the past,” he said. Through the process of rebuilding, he learns about their world, culture, hobbies, work, struggles and play. He can then teach others about a culture’s history and understand a little of how our world came to be.

Swieton’s love of music is often an underlying factor of his work. He described a rainy, dreary afternoon with some partners at a site. Part out of boredom, part as a mood-lifter, he took out his guitar and began singing a humorous song about the rain, mud and bugs. He became the highlight of the day amongst his colleagues.

While he has written an album and has played a number of shows, his heart remains with archeology. Swieton is pursuing achieving a doctorate in archeology and continues to explore history throughout the world, but his guitar will never be too far out of reach.

Aurelius is Back at it With New Faces

by Sheridan Cyr

Aurelius has been through a great deal in its pursuit to becoming a larger part in the music industry. Founded in 2008 by Marcus Krysiak, the band has seen members come and go frequently, while Krysiak strives to find the perfect sound he envisions.

“It’s kind of difficult to label us into one genre,” Krysiak explained. As the main component of the band and writer of all of the music, he draws much of his influence of sound from Coheed and Cambria. After a moment of struggle, he offered, “We’re definitely a rock band… with a heavy influence, kind of progressive and artsy.”

What initially began as a five-piece group, has dwindled down to a current three-piece. Composed of Krysiak, who writes the music and plays rhythm and lead guitar interchangeably, and friends Angie Scott on bass guitar and Jesse Swieton on drums.

The band has spent more time as an instrumental group than one with a vocalist. While Krysiak hopes to find the right voice to enhance Aurelius, he doesn’t mind being strictly instrumental. “The music can be interesting enough on its own,” Krysiak said. “It takes guts. Most people want a vocalist to take some of the pressure off.”

Krysiak and Swieton came together three months ago, and Scott joined about a month ago. Though still working out the expected beginner’s kinks, “Yes, we’re tight as a group, but we’re not really quite ready to go out and promote ourselves officially,” Krysiak said. He explained, however, that they would do just fine in a show.

Their first show is actually coming up quickly. Aurelius will be playing in “Home for the Holidays” in Semesters on Dec. 2nd, in the Student Center along with a handful of other Central Connecticut-based bands. Including Decaying in Decades, headliners who put the whole event together, Static Charmer, Space Camp, Mandala and solo guitarist Matt Swieton.

“It’s so soon!” Krysiak said nervously, but immediately countered with assurance that the band is ready to take on the challenge.

Scott had never played bass guitar before joining the band, so she is learning it on her own in preparation for the show. Krysiak has been playing guitar since high school, and Swieton even longer.

Krysiak was able to show me “Pieces,” a song he wrote with the help of a friend in Ugly Duck Studios in Boston. His genre placement was accurate and has some heavy parts, but also an uplifting, charming feel to it.

Aurelius comes from the stoic philosopher and Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. “I always thought it had that floaty, dream-sounding feel,” Krysiak said, defining the name’s reasoning. He uses the name in many places of his life, including gamer tags.

Krysiak currently works as a manager at Aspen Dental in Meriden. The job provides the “income to supply my dream,” he said. When asked if he would pursue Aurelius into the big leagues, “One-hundred percent yes. If I had the opportunity to pursue it over dental, I would in a second. I can always get a manager position at any time, but music is a once-in-a-lifetime chance.”

Student Starts Study Website

by Kiley Krzyzek

Junior Eduardo Sebastiao is the creator of, a website that launched this week to help CCSU students set up study sessions with other students in their classes.

“It’s basically an academic network that can help CCSU students create and join study sessions with students taking the same courses,” said Sebastiao.

Sebastiao realized that he had friends in other majors, but had a hard time connecting with students in his classes.

“I came up with the idea for the website about a year ago, last fall. Last year I was attending community college and I was taking large courses with over 20-30 people in it. And I realized I wasn’t making connections with the other students. Same thing happened when I came to Central because most kids commute. I was going to class and going home, so I didn’t have people to study with,” said Sebastiao.

einStudy aims to change that, allowing students to meet people taking the same class, even if it’s at a different time.

“It’s a good way to get to know people and it’s also a good way to study. Meet people with the same academic goals and make friends in school,” said Sebastiao.

“It’s free of charge, you select your school, the sign up process is fairly simple. You select your major, you need your school email. Once you login you have the ability to select your courses, every course availible this year is listed,” explained Sebastiao.

In addition to selecting courses there’s an about me section on profiles.

“We encourage people to write about academic stuff because we don’t want to get too personal,” said Sebastiao.

Once you’ve created your profile and selected your classes, you have the ability to create invites for study sessions, sent via email and notifications to other students taking those courses as well. Then you can get together in the student center or library and go over course work together.

“Because if something happens not on campus, we don’t want to be responsible for that,” said Sebastiao.

The study session invite includes the date, time, location, and course.

“You can message students and say, ‘hey lets study for this class I’m struggling,'” said Sebastiao.

einStudy is kicking off at Central, and hopefully expanding to other schools soon.

“I’m just trying to get as many students involved as possible. I go to Central so it made sense,” said Sebastiao.

In the future, einStudy hopes to generate partnerships with local businesses to place student oriented ads and coupons on their website.

“Hopefully by spring semester, you can come to the deals page and see the coupons. If someone decides to advertise on our website we’re going to ask what you offer to our users,” said Sebastiao.

It’s been a learning process in itself for Sebastiao who has been working on the website since March. He’s been working on the programming, coding, design, and business aspect of things.

“I’ve spend a lot of time on this. Hopefully it pays off and we get a few people on the website. The goal with every startup is to become big. And we’re still working on coding. Our goal was to start at the beginning of the semester. Every day you wake up with a new idea. We’ll launch it, hear feedback, and make changes accordingly,” said Sebastiao.

The Art of Acting

by Nikki A. Sambitsky

Will Matus sits cross-legged, occasionally glancing off to the side; he never holds eye contact for too long. Clothed entirely in black, he smiles candidly and tugs nervously at his goatee as he leans in and crosses his legs.

Matus, a theater major, lives with mild Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder on the high functioning end of the spectrum. Those diagnosed with the condition find it impossible to maintain eye contact, exhibit repetitive behaviors and have difficulty with social interactions.

Matus, 21, a junior at CCSU, sits in a vacant classroom in the Samuel S.T. Chen Art Center, encircled by weathered wooden boxes doubling as makeshift seats. The weird lighting bounces unevenly off of the faded, dingy blue walls, as Matus stands up to pull a “theater red” curtain over the wall of mirrors, possibly to avoid confronting his own reflection during the interview.

“I was drawn to CCSU Theater because I loved the art of acting. I dreamt of using this self-expressive art since I was small. I use it as a way to learn about human behavior and to know about the parts I play,” says Matus.

“Sometimes it is difficult for people with Asperger’s to pick up on social cues. Theater helps me to focus to make eye contact. I make dead eye contact when I am in theater. I look back to acting to try to relate to people, and I am surprised by the results. That’s what I love about the art of acting, I put all of my acting skills to real life,” says Matus.

CCSU senior Anthony Yovina has watched first hand the leaps and bounds of Matus’ growth while in the Theater Program over the past 3 years. Yovina explained that acting gives Matus the ability to overcome his problems through self-development. In a world where people change themselves to fit in, Yovina said that Matus stays true to himself no matter what the circumstance.

“He is unique. He is his own person all of the time. He will be himself no matter what and it’s the greatest thing. Will is a phenomenally hard worker. He is the kind of kid that comes into a first read through (of a play) with it entirely memorized. He is the best. The biggest thing when it comes to acting is the prep work. Will always comes in prepared,” said Yovina.

Ravi Shankar, associate professor in the English Department at CCSU fondly reflected via email on Matus’ poetic creativity. Matus, Shankar wrote, is one of the most sensitive readers and writers of poetry in class this semester.

“He is someone who is engaged and focused, but also keenly aware of his surroundings and helping further our dialogue in the classroom. His bravery in confronting his autism head on in works of art is commendable and based on his performance as a creative thinker and collaborator this semester, I believe the future holds great promise for Will,” Shankar wrote.

“With it comes even greater responsibility, of course, but I think he’s up for it. I see him as an advocate and spokesperson for what can be overcome and believe his example can inspire others. I for one, hope he keeps writing and connecting with the world around him,” said Shankar.

Matus uncrosses and crosses his lanky legs, made exaggerated by his black slacks; he holds his tan, thin arms guarded by his sides. He stares at me intently for a moment and tries to make me understand the connection between acting classes and dealing with Asperger’s Syndrome.

“Life with Asperger’s is eating the same foods every day and doing the same things every day,” he says. “Before CCSU I used to go to Barnes & Noble and read the same Spider Man comic book over and over. There was a scene in which Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson kissed. I found that very touching.”

The interview ends and Matus sits, reflecting on his final thought.