Southern’s Unsung Hero: Cindy Stretch
Melissa Nunez – General Assignment Reporter
A year after grad school Cindy Stretch, Ph.D., English professor, said she found a job teaching K-12 students in Southern Indiana, but after moving to Iowa she found that teaching positions were scarce and decided to continue her education.
Stretch said she never anticipated being a professor, yet 17 years ago she was offered a position with the university and over time she has witnessed Southern flourish in its efficiency and effectiveness.
“More students get the full University experience here than they did 17 years ago,” said Stretch. “It is not that there were not always opportunities for students to do all kinds of amazing things here, it is that they sort of had to go looking for them in a different way. Now the university is more intentional about making sure students know what opportunities [there] are. Clubs and organizations seem to be more vibrant and the academics have improved, I think, in a lot of ways. We have faculty doing a lot of really exciting things.”
Stretch added, Southern students’ perseverance despite their unique struggles is another aspect of the campus she appreciates.
“I am constantly amazed at how real all the students are here. I have had students whose parents died during the semester, I have had students who have been homeless during the semester,” said Stretch. “I do not mean it is all that kind of hardship, you cannot help but sometimes be in awe of what students do in order to get here and stay here: the amount of time that they work in order to be here, the responsibilities they have at home.”
Stretch is a “hands-off” advisor for Bookmarks, chapter president of the Faculty Union, Southern Rising member, and is also a part of the English Majors Committee: which was established to cultivate a more social department, along with more career development opportunities for students.
“[The English Majors Committee] is primarily responsible for paying attention to trying to create opportunities for students,” said Stretch. “Our push right now is to keep the social, cultural vibrancy going and make sure we are doing at least a couple events every semester where we are talking about scholarships and the academic part. I think the next wave initiative will be to add some really intentional career development stuff for our majors.”
Stretch was also awarded the Javier Coy Biennial Research Award for the Best edited collection for “Innocence and Loss: Representations of War and National Identity in the United States,” in which she co-edited along with Cristina Alsina Rísquez.
Stretch said, together, students, faculty, and staff make this campus an “unsung hero,” and she has always been honored to be a part of this community.
“I have always been proud to work here. I think that Southern is an Unsung Hero of the state of Connecticut, as far as I’m concerned,” said Stretch. “What students are able to do here is transformative for many of them. I think a lot of people here, faculty and staff, who have worked really hard to imagine what is possible and then to work hard to make sure those things happen. To the extent that I’ve been a part of that, I’m proud to have been a part of that.”
Photo Credit: Melissa Nunez – General Assignment Reporter