College Town: ‘With Dad’ documentary by Clark University pair wins RI

WORCESTER – A documentary by a couple of Clark University faculty members, detailing the family struggle of one of the filmmakers with Alzheimer’s disease, recently premiered at the Rhode Island International Film Festival.

“With Dad,” which chronicles Stephen DiRado’s father’s two-decade battle with the degenerative disease, took home a youth jury’s first prize for Best Documentary Short at the festival.

The film was made by DiRado, a professor of practice at Clark, and Soren Sorensen, a lecturer in screen studies at the school.

“It’s a huge honor that the film was even selected,” said Sorensen, who had a previous documentary, “My Father’s Vietnam,” premier at the same festival five years ago. “To even hold a film festival under these circumstances required a herculean effort, on the part of a diligent team of virtual organizers, interns, and volunteers all over the country. I’m beyond grateful that the film got to have its premiere in my home state.”

“Hearing the great news that a deeply personal film about my family’s way of coping with Alzheimer’s disease is resonating with a diverse audience simply brings tears to my eyes,” DiRado said. “It is a documentary, delicately compiled through Sorensen’s vision, that can help so many others in similar situations in a multitude of empathetic ways.”

“With Dad” will be streamed free at through this Sunday. It also will be screened in October at the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival, in November at FilmFest52, and at the New Haven International Film Festival next year.

Anna Maria gets funding

Anna Maria College this week announced it had received three awards totaling nearly $80,000 from organizations in the state.

The Blanche M. Walsh Charitable Trust of Lowell gave the college $4,000 to provide scholarships to students with unexpected financial need.

The Highland Street Foundation of Newton provided $37,500 for Anna Maria’s First-Year Student Persistence Through Peer Mentoring program, which provides upperclassmen and faculty mentors to freshmen students.

Finally, the Fairlawn Foundation Fund of the Greater Worcester Community Foundation awarded the college $37,500 for its Fairlawn Psychology Pipeline Expansion program, which is working to increase the number of mental health care workers in the region. 

Genetic engineering research funded

A Worcester Polytechnic Institute chemical engineer recently received four grants worth a total of more than $2 million to support his genetic engineering research, the university recently announced.

Eric Young, the Leonard P. Kinnicutt Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at WPI, is pioneering research into using yeast and fungi to find new, easier ways to develop products like medicines, biofuels and plastics.

“I am thrilled,” he said. “These grants mean we can really push the boundaries of genetic design….

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