Friday, November 30, 2012

Protection Whenever Needed

By Rebekka Slate

Fire Chief Rick Lasky of Lewisville, Texas begins by welcoming students to their first day of the fire academy. Lasky is a graduate of Columbia Southern University. He has been in the fire service for over 30 years. Lasky began following his father’s footsteps as a firefighter at a young age. He always knew that this is what he wanted to do. Lasky was originally a fire chief in Idaho but was offered a position in Lewisville, Texas, which was closer to his family. Later on he established mentoring programs involving ‘Pride, Ownership, and Saving Our Own,’ for firefighters in training.

Fire Chief (ret.) Rick Lasky
In 1996 Lasky received the International Society of Fire Services of Instructor Innovator of the Year award. Once a person becomes a firefighter it is their duty to protect citizens their entire life, he maintains: “Unless you do something that violates our principles, you are one of us forever.” Lasky uses his experiences to train the next generation of firefighters.

In a video on, Lasky, who retired as fire chief in 2011, begins by discussing the three key elements of what it means to be an effective firefighter: pride, honor, and integrity. Integrity involves the person’s overall character. He describes it as how you act even when nobody is watching, to “treat people with respect and care for them like your own.”

The second element is honor, to honor your own profession as a firefighter as well as your company. It is also important to honor those who are being protected. “You’ve got to understand a person who takes all walks of life.” He uses the analogy of helping everyone from a homeless man getting his life back together to a millionaire’s daughter committing suicide.

Firefighters train to help people "with just about every problem"

The last element of the three is pride, doing the best that you can every single day. A firefighter should have pride in themselves as well as their company. Even when they are not physically at the job site they are still a firefighter looking out for those around you. A person must always be willing to learn even more than what they already know. Not everyone has what it takes to be a firefighter. Lasky explains, “Do whatever you can to help someone in need and it’s not always just for the emergency. The fire services are so much more than that. We are a full service. That means we help people with just about every problem that they have.”

A firefighter is a person that people trust, in the case of an emergency someone will hand over their child, no questions asked. Firefighters must have this trusting quality about them. Firefighters need to put their all into whatever it is that they are doing. Lasky explains, “We need people who are fired up about being firefighters.” They need to learn how to remove danger and make situations safer to begin with. Lasky illustrates how a firefighter is never finished training, every day they learn something new. Students train for all different types of scenarios that may occur. “We need people who truly understand what it takes to be a firefighter. This is not a part time, once in awhile thing. It is a every time, everyday, every minute thing.”

Lasky tells the students how there are certain aspects to be on the right track of being a firefighter. He explains how it is best to be the first in line to get involved. Be the person who always wants to help right away and not just stand on the sidelines observing. Another important detail is wearing the uniform in the correct manner. By wearing the protective clothing improperly a person is putting themselves and others in danger. It matters how seriously a firefighter handles his job. There is a focus on whether or not the student is studying to learn the correct information to remain safe. How well students perform at skill stations and practicals judges their abilities as firefighters as well. Lasky states how the most important thing to do is, “When you see a retired firefighter, I want you to show him or her the respect that they deserve.” Firefighters would not be where they are now if it was not for the past generation.

This opportunity may be one of the best career choices that could be made in life. Lasky firmly states that as a firefighter, “Your best day is someone else’s worst day.” Lasky has worked very hard to protect fellow firefighters by providing them with various programs to take part in. One specific program is “Saving Our Own.” This involves methods of avoiding harmful situations in the first place so that firefighters may be more protected due to knowledge that they learned. There were also investigations to find causes of fatalities in the line of duty, which helped to develop the program further. Lasky’s goal is to keep firefighters as safe as possible, including protecting one another. Fire Chief Rick Lasky concludes with an interesting thought, “When people need help they dial 911. We can’t turn around and dial 912.”

The video of Fire Chief Lasky may be viewed at:

President Bush’s Address a Year after 9/11 Tragedies

By Gabriella Delgado

On September 11, 2002, a year since the tragic terrorist attack on the United States of America, President George W. Bush addressed the nation. One could feel, in listening to this speech, as though the event occurred just yesterday.

President Bush began by addressing the tragedies that occurred on September 11th and how we will always remember those horrific sights. He speaks about how the last year has been a year of recuperation for those families affected, a year of soldiers being away from their homes due to their service for their country and it has been a year of remembering for all Americans.

Some of the topics President Bush mentions were that although many people had to deal with these difficulties in the last year we must also remember the courage of those who made sacrifices to help and save others, just as those police officers and firemen and women who ran into a burning building to save the lives of others. We have to remember the sacrifices of those civilians who fought hijackers to save the lives of others.

President Bush goes on to say that “We resolved a year ago to honor every last person lost. We owe them remembrance and we owe them more.” He explains how we owe it to them to live our lives in honor of them though our lives and the lives of their families and children.

President Bush goes on to remind us that our lives are precious and to value our lives and the lives of others unlike our enemies. He ends his address by reminding us what our cause is and how it is a greater one than that of our enemies: “Ours is the cause of human dignity; freedom guided by conscience and guarded by peace… That hope still lights our way.” President Bush was able to leave Americans feeling accomplished through reminding us that we still have much to do to honor those we have lost and to continue strengthening our country.

Senator Chuck Schumer: Same Message, Still Inspires

By Kathryn Baumgartner

I have been to many graduations over the years--my brother and sister’s high school and college graduations, my mom’s college graduation, my own high school graduation--and at each one, Senator Chuck Schumer was present to give a speech. And he gave the same one. At all six of the commencement ceremonies I have been to in my relatively short 19 years of life.

Despite the repetitiveness of Schumer’s speech, and the fact that I and most of my family could probably recite it by heart at this point, his message still remains one of inspiration and passion.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer

He begins by emphasizing that the graduates are the most important part of the day’s ceremonies, rather than the families, faculty members, politicians, etc. who may also be present. He then goes on to relate himself to the parents in the audience. He reminisces on his own daughter’s graduation, and how he and his wife thought back to the time of her childhood.

Schumer also brings up the fact that the group in front of him is the first generation brought up in the new technological world. One line that remains funny no matter how many times I hear it is, “You’re sort of like a fish swimming in technological water, you’re used to it.”

Before jumping into the main point of his speech, Schumer likes to give the graduates a “class gift.” In 2009 he put a law on the books that would help the middle class. He saw that help was being given to the poor, which is good, and the rich do not need financial assistance, but no help was being given to middle class families.

The law allows those whose family income is less than $200,000 per year to take $2,500 as a tax credit on their federal taxes each year for college or graduate school, to help ease the cost of paying for an education. This announcement is always followed by much applause and cheering from the audience.

Next comes the really good part. Many high school and college graduates in today’s economy are simply looking for work. They often do not care what sort of work it is, as long as it provides enough money to pay the bills and keep them relatively stable financially.

Schumer adamantly warns against this. Having had to work in a tiny, window-less room over the summer when he was 14 years old in order to help support his family, he knows what it is like to hate the job you have.

“Try to find a job, a profession, that you really like, that you love--even if you have to take a few different tries at it,” he advises.

And he is speaking from experience. After receiving his undergraduate degree in Chemistry, Schumer realized Science was not the field for him. He liked people and did not get to interact with them enough in a laboratory setting. So, he decided to attend law school. He worked for a summer at a big law firm, earning more money than his family had ever seen before.

Therefore, it is not hard to imagine how disappointed and upset his parents were to learn he did not intend to go into law after graduation. Instead, he was taking a huge risk by running for New York State Assembly at the young age of 23. Politics is something he is passionate about, and he did not want to be like his father, pacing the house at 2 a.m. because he is unhappy with his job.

Miraculously, he won the election and has been an elected official since then. He passes what he calls the “Monday and Friday tests.” If you wake up Monday morning, with a feeling deep down that you cannot wait to go to work, and you leave work on Friday thrilled at the thought of going home to your family, then you should be counting your blessings.

Senator Schumer’s message might be the same every commencement ceremony, but it is still just as poignant. Follow your dreams, do what you love, and you will be happy.

Christmas Concert at STAC

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kaitlyn Kozinski
Dr. Evan Matthews
Office Phone- (845) 398-4141
Office Location- Sullivan Theater 1

Get Into the Christmas Spirit at STAC

The STAC Singers and the House Band are putting together a Christmas concert to help the students, faculty, and parents of St. Thomas Aquinas College get into the holiday spirit. It will take place Thursday December 6th, 2012 at 7:30 pm in The Sullivan Theater.

For the entire semester, the STAC Singers and the House Band have been preparing a set of everyone’s favorite holiday tunes to perform at their annual Christmas concert. Some of these tunes include: “Sleigh Ride”, “Dashing Through the Snow”, “All I Want for Christmas is You" and many more. There will also be performances of new songs no one has every heard of as well as different arrangements of classics. Certain members of each club will also take turns singing solos they have prepared.

The STAC Singers and House Band are some of the only clubs on campus that let students perform and put on shows for their fellow classmates and teachers. It is an artistic outlet that lets them show off their creativity and talent. They are run by Dr. Evan Matthews and Professor Craig Martin, respectively. The singers meet Thursdays at 2:35 pm in The Sullivan Theater and the House Band meets Wednesdays at 8 pm in Maguire 133.

For students on a budget, it is the perfect event because the concert is free and open to the public. It is a nice way to break up studying and cramming for finals; take an hour or two to see a show with fun holiday music and relieve the stress.

The concert is free, but they are asking, if able, to give donations at the door. All of the proceeds will go to People to People of Rockland. It is a great cause and the perfect way to help someone for the holidays.

Come down and support of the arts of St. Thomas Aquinas College and have a great time doing it. This event is perfect for everyone so bring the family!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Black Friday Shopping Safety Tips

For Immediate Release

Contact: Melissa Place

Black Friday Madness- Shopping and Safety Tips

Only hours after celebrating the joys of Thanksgiving with family and consuming massive amounts of food, people who were once filled with humility turn into shopping monsters, willing to tear down anything or anyone just to get the best deal. Many people wanting to venture out, get some good deals while not putting their lives in danger may ask, “How can I survive Black Friday?” After doing some research, there are some simple tips to follow in order to have a successful and safe Black Friday experience:

  • First, do not venture out on Black Friday alone. Not only is it nice to have company throughout the long night, it is also a safety precaution; there is safety in numbers. Rather than walking to your car while handling too many packages for your hands to carry, you should bring a few friends along to help out.

  • Second, study the ads of the stores you want to go to and make a schedule. Rather than running around like a chicken without a head through the mall, have a plan. Make a list of the things you want in their respective stores. By using this method, you will maximize the amount of products you can buy.

  • Third, to avoid the mass chaos, perhaps you would rather shop online! Many stores are offering the same Black Friday deals online as they are in the actual store. Shopping online is a fast and easy way to get all the gifts you need while avoiding Black Friday chaos.

  • Lastly, shoppers are advised to not carry large amounts of cash on their person and should not count out their money in public. Shoppers are also advised to not carry around numerous shopping bags; if you have to make frequent visits to the car to conceal your purchases, you should do so.

While Black Friday is one of the most popular shopping days of the year, it can be dangerous. Follow the above tips to ensure your Black Friday is fun, safe and successful. Happy shopping!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Coming to America

By Ali Arduini

Deciding to come to America from her hometown in “Beautiful Horizon,” Brazil was a surprisingly easy decision for college junior Marina Paiva to make. She knew this experience to study for a semester in a different country would be a very good resume builder, as well a great opportunity to perfect her English—a second language that is very important to have in Brazil. Her preparations for coming to this country were simple: pick a school in a desirable location, book her flights, and pack everything she could that would fit in her two large suitcases for an entire semester. The school she chose to spend her three months at turned out to be St. Thomas Aquinas College, because of its close proximity to New York City.

Marina had to say good-bye to her very large and close family before leaving, as well as her boyfriend of three years; saying bye to him turned out to be the hardest thing for her to do. However, she was able to get through it, board the plane, and make her way over to this foreign country where she had only been once before. Flying into John F. Kennedy Airport, Marina had to make her way from the airport to Port Authority in Manhattan by herself. After taking a shuttle to the bus station, she had to take the bus to Sparkill, where she managed to find the right direction to campus. Seeing her with two large suitcases, a young man offered to drive her to the campus after claiming he had gone to school there. Marina accepted, and finally found herself at her home for the next semester.

It was not until a few days later when Marina met the two girls she would be living with-- Ali Arduini and Ruthie Pluviose. “At first I thought they were like the girls from Beverly Hills,” she says with a laugh. “You know, like that movie Clueless? Ruthie was all fancy with her outfit and lipstick, and they kept saying ‘oh my god!’” Although this does not sound like the best first impression, she added that the girls were very welcoming and nice to her, and they soon formed a close bond. She said that meeting her roommates was one of the best things about coming to this country.

As the weeks went by, Marina found that she was soon getting used to some of these new differences in this country. The biggest thing she says is the food, in that it is not as tasty as it is in her country; however, this could be due to the fact that most of her meals are eaten in the STAC cafeteria. She also says that the music and dancing is very different in this country. In Brazil, she’ll attend samba clubs that play this type of Brazilian music. Here, most of the clubs play hip-hop, house, and today’s radio hits; it is rare for her to hear any Brazilian music in a public place. Another aspect of this country that she had to get used to was the weather; In her city in Brazil, the coldest it will get to be is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, although most of the time it is much warmer than that. Even now in October she still is not used to this weather and complains about the cold, when she has not even seen the worst of it.

Although she is not happy about the weather, it still is not the hardest thing about being away from her home country. She finds it very difficult to be away from her family and not be able to spend time with them like she used to. Although she talks to them almost every day through phone calls and video messaging, it still isn’t the same as when she was back home with them. Marina also faces the challenges of going to all of her classes in English. Although she knows most of the language, it is still sometimes difficult for her to understand everything in her lectures and write down the important things in a timely manner. There is also an overwhelmingly greater amount of homework here than in Brazil. Being an “A” student there, it is important for Marina to do well in her classes and learn as much she can so she can exercise her hard-earned knowledge when she goes back.

Although she has a couple more months here, Marina looks forward to going back to her life as a student and intern. However, she still is excited for some of the upcoming plans she has before her return to Brazil. She would like to spend more time in New York City, and also explore other neighboring cities and destinations. Marina also wants to learn more about our country and experience real American culture as a young person. She still has a lot to do here, but so far her experiences have been more than memorable.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Memories Evoke

By Philip Catalanotto

Memories evoke some of the strongest emotions a human being can experience. When retold, one can be transported into that life, time, and space. This is the memory of Victoria Catalanotto and her thirty-year journey towards college graduation, her success and a peek at her future aspirations.

Victoria was the second of four children born to Philip and Carol Pollina. They lived In Tucson, Arizona. Having four children in such close proximity meant that all the children would either attend the state university or community college to help manage the cost of education. Victoria set her sights on the University of Arizona nursing program.

College was a difficult adjustment. She recalls being socially awkward and feeling that she did not really “click” initially anywhere. The first semester her efforts were spent on work and studying and the yield was great. Her grades were promising and she was surviving financially. Juggling a full time job and school was no easy task. Her parents paid tuition but day-to-day life expenses were her responsibility. She recalls that she felt she could relax a bit the second semester and remembers what a huge mistake that was as she floundered in organic chemistry and physics. What was she thinking, trying to fit a social life in too?

One fateful semester and a failed vision exam lead to her eventual arrival in Flushing Hospital and Medical Center School of Nursing in Flushing, Queens, NY. It was through her parents' prior work contacts that she learned of this diploma type, hands on training school for registered nurses. She applied and was accepted. It required her to move away from everything she knew and was comfortable with. In pursuit of her dreams, she launched into her adventure that would change the course of her life.

In July of 1983, Victoria landed in NYC with a suitcase and guitar. She remembers feeling afraid and alone, never having traveled anywhere away from home with her parents. A colleague of her parents who assisted her in getting settled met her.

The residence for the students abutted the hospital. The classrooms were in the lower floors. The uniforms had not changed much from when the school opened in the late 1800’s. The caps remained unchanged. The students wore blue pinstriped dresses that buttoned from the neck to below the knee with heavily starched white aprons, white hose and white tie shoes. They were groomed and well disciplined from the very start. And what seemed like a monumental task became second nature. Nursing was a vocation. In June of 1986, Victoria graduated valedictorian with her diploma in nursing.

Three years flew by in a heartbeat. In that span of time, Victoria met her life mate, Gerald. They married shortly after Victoria’s graduation. It was her desire to return to school and a few years afterwards she began to take classes at the City University of New York. She soon put the hope of completing her degree on hold as her first child was born. Prioritizing, and choosing to raise a family, her energies and finances were routed into their two children rather than education. She has no regrets.

Returning to College, Two Children and Two Decades Later

In 2006, Victoria decided it was time to go back to school and finally complete her degree. It would be interrupted twice more to bury both her parents but she would persevere. She chose an online program at University of Phoenix so that she could balance her fulltime job as nurse manager, school, and responsibilities as a wife and mother.

“It presented many challenges, cognitively it was stimulating,” Victoria said. It was a spectacular way to network with peers from across the globe. She recalls staying awake some nights until the wee hours of the morning drafting papers or creating power point presentations. Victoria is still amazed at the positive effect it has had on her life. 

Victoria decided that after the thirty-year journey from start to completion of degree she would attend commencement. On July 21, 2011, surrounded by family, including her brother, sister, husband, and two sons, Victoria received her BSN with honors amidst a crowd of thousands.  It was one of the proudest days of her life.

As for the future, Victoria does not plan on ceasing in her educational pursuits. She is seeking both her masters and PhD. She believes that life is about the journey and making the most of the learning along the way.

A Life of Service

By Kathryn Baumgartner

For Joseph Baumgartner, a husband, father, and Vietnam veteran, doing good for others is almost second nature.

He served in the United States Army for 21 years, ten of which were spent overseas. He did four tours (about four years) in Vietnam and two tours in Germany. In Vietnam he was a supply sergeant for divisions of about 20,000 men and in Germany he worked in an infantry division and supplied repair parts for those who needed them.

While in Vietnam, Joe experienced the worst moment of his life. He was caught right in the middle of the Tet Offensive in 1968. The Tet Offensive was a surprise attack by the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army during what was supposed to be a two-day cease fire agreed upon by both the North and South. The reason for the cease fire was the Tet Lunar New Year. The U.S. and South Vietnamese armies were caught completely off-guard by the attack.

Joe said of the experience, “I’ve never been more scared in my life before or since being caught in the middle of the Tet Offensive.”

The other 11 years Joe served in the Army were spent in the continental United States. For three of those years he was assigned to a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) unit at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He had various tasks there, from teaching the ROTC students to serving as supply sergeant. During his last two years in Philadelphia, Joe began attending law school.

After working with the ROTC unit in Pennsylvania, Joe was assigned to a readiness group at Stewart Air Force Base in Newburgh, N.Y. While working with that group, Joe attended St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y. to complete his final two years of law school. Upon completion of law school, he took and passed the New York State Bar Exam.

Joe retired from the Army at the rank of master sergeant and began work as an employment lawyer. He specializes in representing unions, specifically police and corrections officer unions. He devotes much of his time to the cases he is working on, making sure he gets the best deal for those who have devoted their lives to serving their communities.

In addition to serving his country and his local officers, Joe also takes care of his family. He has four daughters and one son, who he loves and has always worked hard to provide for. He also has a wife of twenty-seven years.

The desire to serve and protect others runs in the Baumgartner family. Joe’s father also served in the Army as an electrical engineer, and his son completed four years of ROTC and has already served one year on active duty.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Taking Strides To Find a Cure

By Melissa Place

On June 22, 2012, Albertus Magnus High School in Bardonia, New York hosted its third annual Cystic Fibrosis Walk-A-Thon.  This walk, however, was unlike that of any other– Jimmy Place, who would have been a sophomore at Albertus, had passed away from Cystic Fibrosis on July 23, 2011.

Despite the tragedy of Jimmy’s passing, the Albertus community along with Jimmy’s family, friends and locals came together to raise as much money as possible in an effort to help find a cure for this deadly disease.

Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease that ultimately ranges in forms and severity.  In Jimmy’s case, he unfortunately had one of the worse types of Cystic Fibrosis gene– the Delta 508 gene.  This gene affects mainly the respiratory and digestive systems.  All humans produce a healthy amount of mucus in their lungs; however, an individual with Cystic Fibrosis produces an excessive amount of mucus that builds up in the lungs, leaving the individual susceptible to various infections.  Cystic Fibrosis also affects the digestive system– an individual with Cystic Fibrosis has a pancreas that does not emit enzymes; when the body struggles to digest food, the body is unable to absorb nutrients and gaining weight is extremely difficult.

Registration for the walk, which was free of charge, began at 9 a.m.  While the line for registration was tended to, registered members were able to enjoy bagels with cream cheese or butter, sponsored by David’s Bagels, along with fruits and water.  At approximately 10 a.m. registered walkers stepped out onto the Albertus track field and listened to Jimmy’s sister–myself–speak about his legacy:

“Jimmy woke up everyday, put a smile on his face and impacted people’s lives in ways I wish I knew how.  His strength, courage, optimism, hope, outlook on life, personality, determination, will power, and his reluctance to ever let Cystic Fibrosis stop him from living his life to the fullest were the most inspirational characteristics.  To possess one of those qualities would be a blessing; Jimmy had them all.  It is these qualities that have given my family and I, and all of you here who knew Jimmy, the strength and courage to be here today, to continue to finish Jimmy’s fight against Cystic Fibrosis and ensure there will be a cure found for all of those in the world that have it.  I cannot formulate the words to describe how much my family, all of you, and myself love and miss Jimmy, but I can tell all of you that Jimmy would be so proud of all of us today.”

When I finished, Jimmy’s mom, Alison, said: “I don’t think there was one person at the walk who did not have tears in their eyes.”

After the speech, the walkers began their journey of walking four times around the Albertus track for Jimmy and for all of those affected by Cystic Fibrosis.  The radio station 92.3 NOW provided music throughout the walk’s entirety.  “I just wish he was here with us,” Jimmy’s dad, David, said sadly.

At the conclusion of the walk, the money was counted and it turns out the June 2012 walk-a-thon was the most successful Cystic Fibrosis walk hosted in Rockland yet.  A total of $90,000 was raised.  “Rockland County is a relatively small county.  There are thousands of large walks that take place in areas like New York City, and for a small county walk to raise this much money, we could not have asked for more,” Alison said.

Albertus Magnus will continue to host annual Cystic Fibrosis walk-a-thons in Jimmy’s memory.