Sunday, March 30, 2014

Job and Internship Fair on Thursday

For Immediate Release

STAC Office of Career Development
Maureen Mulhern,

Job and Internship Fair Spring 2014

A Job and Internship Fair will be held for all undergraduate and graduate students at St. Thomas Aquinas College on Thursday, April 3, in the Aquinas Hall Gymnasium. It will promptly start at 1 pm and end at 4 pm. This will be a great opportunity to network with possible future employers. Dress to impress and don’t forget those resumes!  This event is open to all STAC students.

For more information, log onto Staclink or contact the Office of Career Development or call 845-398-4065.

--Em Maffei

Career Development Instagram Contest

For Immediate Release

St. Thomas Aquinas College                
Office of Career Development
Contact:  Maureen Mulhern,


Attend any of the upcoming events hosted by the St. Thomas Aquinas College Office of Career Development for a chance to win great prizes. Start by following @StacCareerDev on Instagram. Simply snap a shot at any of the events, and share it on your Instagram account. All you have to do is tag #SpartanCareer and @StacCareerDev. You can also share your photograph on other social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

A winner will be chosen from two different categories; quality and quantity. Whoever posts the most photos by attending the greatest number of events will win the quantity category. A winner will also be selected from all of the entries by posting the best quality photo, as chosen by the Career Development staff.

Various events will take place throughout the months of March and April. Be sure to pick up a flier detailing all of the information for each of the upcoming events. These events include: “Mock Interview Program,” April 2, 1-4 pm, Maguire 133; “Job and Internship Fair,” April 3, 1-4 pm, Aquinas Hall Gymnasium; and “Speed Networking,” April 11, 9:30-10:30 am, McNelis Commons.

For more information, contact: Maureen Mulhern,

--Meagan Jaskot

Career Advice: The Importance of Social Media

By Nikki Zaidan

“Position yourself…learn the [social media] tools,” advised Mark Durney, a speaker in the “More than Fun & Games: How Industry is Using Social Media” panel discussion presented by St. Thomas Aquinas College’s Advanced Public Relations class on March 20. Durney, a graduate of Trinity College and son of STAC Provost John Durney, spoke to students about the importance of using social media in their careers.

Durney, Director of Social Media at Havas Worldwide Strat Farm, joined STAC alumni Michael Fasano, Ryan Finch, Elizabeth Kaminski, and Sophia Salis in providing valuable advice on how vital certain social media applications are becoming in one’s career.

Asked about the single most important impact social media has on the corporate world, “[People are] embracing the quickness of information flow,” said Salis, the Employee Communications Manager of Orange & Rockland Utilities. With easy access to the Internet and Social Media platforms, people are now able to “define ourselves,” she added.

Today, millions of people use the Internet as a tool for communication in their daily lives, and many companies rely on the Internet in order to contact their customers and gain new attention. “[Social Media] is a great way to reach someone. Social media is, by definition, user driven content. It is the best way for our company to reach out quickly and easily,” said Fasano, Director of Investments at Oppenheimer & Co Inc. and owner of an online magazine called Golfcity.

The social media tools focused on and often used in many careers today, the speakers noted, include Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Google Analytics, and LinkedIn.

Finch stresses the importance of Google Analytics, which helps him and his company “tell where people came from,” in terms of online traffic to his company’s website; he also included that “[knowing how to use Google Analytics] will put you light-years ahead of people going into business.”

Salis discussed how one can use social media, like LinkedIn, to his or her advantage in order to create an identity. In her work as an Employee Communications Manager, Salis said, “The platforms allow us to define ourselves as employees.”

An internet networking tool that many students at STAC already use, LinkedIn, allows people to “connect in a new way” and is becoming “a huge [way] we build new business,” according to Finch.

Finch, who works for Wild Frog Studio as a Client Services and Content Marketing Associate, stressed how companies have to put forth a “constant effort” through their social media outlets in order to get more business. He also noted how important it is to “understand the business and audience, as well as what they are looking for [in a business].”

As a Publicist Assistant who works at Wunderkind PR, Kaminski focuses on “maintaining a relationship with users, so they can share information with others,” which would ultimately bring more attention to the business she works for. Interaction with customers is very important as it can mean the difference between selling a book or not, explained Kaminski.

Another main piece of advice from the panelists included the importance of “[having] a separation between ‘for fun’ social media and ‘for work’ social media,” Kaminski added.

Although this panel focused on using the Internet and social media in business, Salis brought up the idea that “social media isn’t everything.” Ultimately, businesses want their audience to pay attention to them and buy their products, but it is important to understand that “[Social Media] is engagement, it’s a story [that] has to have substance.” So, Salis advises, “Say something when you have something to say and not just to say it.”

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Business World Embraces Social Media

By Lauren Higgins

St. Thomas Aquinas College held its annual Communication Arts lecture panel Thursday, March 20 in the Romano Alumni Center. Entitled “More Than Fun and Games: How Industry Is Using Social Media,” the lecture included five panelists who spoke to the audience about how social media is playing a vital role in the business world.

Each panelist informed the crowd of students and faculty members how they use social media as a way to get their company’s message across to the public. They explained why social media seems to have taken over the business industry and gave examples about the specific social media sites they use to attract their audiences.

Ryan Finch and Liz Kaminski, recent STAC graduates, explained how they use social media at their jobs routinely. Like many people, both Ryan and Liz enjoy using Facebook and Twitter; they also feel that LinkedIn is a great tool in networking and finding careers. Many people believe this website is simply just a way to put our résumés on display; however, there is much more it has to offer. They stressed that we should use LinkedIn to our advantage as a way to get corporation managers interested in our skills and what we as individuals can contribute to the industry.       

Panelist Michael Fasano earned his MBA in Finance at STAC. As the owner and co-founder of Golfcity, the fastest growing online golf magazine, Michael uses social media as a way to advertise the magazine. It gives him the opportunity to truly understand what the customers are looking for by offering numerous products to choose from. Michael said he had the chance to meet Tiger Woods and several other golfers after the success of this website. He stated that online magazines are increasing more and more and fewer people are buying magazines in stores. Michael says he still subscribes to a few magazines and will flip through them occasionally, but will likely turn to the Internet to find most of his information.

The lecture panelists showed just how rapid social media is growing in the business industry. By hearing their stories about how they use social media on a day-to-day basis, it is certain that social media has changed the way we communicate and shows the overall effects it has on companies. The panelists helped us understand how different forms of social media can be useful in the real world by giving us examples on how we can “brand” ourselves using these websites to our best advantage.               

Monday, March 24, 2014

One Game at a Time

By: Samantha Burden

The Carle Place Girls Basketball team, located on Long Island, had never made it to a county championship game in the entire history of their program. Always seeming to fall short in the past, the players on the 2013-2014 team decided that would not be the case this year.

Buildng a 14-5 record, the girls worked hard to obtain the number one seed going into the playoffs, defeating tough teams such as Friends Academy, Seaford, and Oyster Bay, to name few. “We took every game one by one, not looking ahead and just focusing on the task at hand,” said four-year coach Mike Bello, who added, “this has been one of the most talented teams I have coached in several years at this school.”

With a total population of 400 students, Carle Place High School is limited in their selection of athletes and are often at a disadvantage compared to larger schools with bigger “pools” of athletes.

“When you have to ask girls to play, that’s when you know you’re at a small school,” said Bello, “…at times, it can be a frustrating aspect of sports here at this school but Carle Place is a town that places a huge importance on athletics; I think we are luckier than we think. I always have a great group of girls to work with.”

So, despite what may be seen as a setback, the girls’ basketball team had worked hard to obtain the first seed in Class B league and make it into the playoffs.

Playoff games had not been strangers to players on the team; with six upperclassmen, the girls had experienced that kind of atmosphere in their earlier years of play, but unfortunately for Carle Place, always ending in heartbreak.

“Well, we’ve definitely been here before,” said junior point guard and leading scorer Sarah Pisani. “Most of us know what this is like, what the pressure is like…but we knew we were not going to let it get to us this year. This was our year to overcome it.” 

And that they did.

The Carle Place women’s basketball team defeated the Malvern Mules in a convincing 45-30 win in order to make it to the county championship game, something no team in Carle Place women’s basketball history had done before. When asked “How were you guys able to finally accomplish this goal?” Coach Bello answered, “Hard-work and focus. Taking it one play at a time and playing smart. This is a huge accomplishment for our program.”

Although Carle Place lost to rival Oyster Bay in the County Championship game, 65-49, the girls ended the season with their heads held high. Despite the loss of five key seniors next season, returning sophomore Kacey Burden said, “We will take away this loss and use it to get better next year, so when we find ourselves in this game again, we will be able to pull off the win.”

This year second place, what will come next year? When asked, Coach Bello said, “I’m not going to get ahead of myself, it took a lot to get here and we have to remember that. It’s all about starting over from here.” A coach sticking to his philosophy: one game at a time.

"Diamonds" Sparkled in Brooklyn

By Nicolette Danzy

The Barclays Center was packed on May 5, 2013. As Rihanna, the princess of pop, made her way to the center a few hours late, fans and I trooped into the Brooklyn arena from the LIRR in our cutest outfits to watch the Grammy award-winning singer on her Diamonds World Tour.

“It was one of the best concerts that I have been to by far,” said Briana Moore, my cousin, who accompanied me. “She looked stunning even though she was late. ASAP Rocky was great too.”

Rapper ASAP Rocky was the opening act. He came out in his long braids and sat on the white throne that was on stage as he proceeded to rap. He played his songs “PMW”, “Fashion Killa”, “F** Problems” and many more. The atmosphere as he was rapping was amazing. Groups of people from ages 10 to 30 were reciting the lines of the rapper, who also goes by Lord Flacko.

“The best part of the concert was definitely Rihanna’s opening and closing. When she sang 'Diamonds' and 'Mother Mary,' I wanted to faint,” said Moore.

Rihanna performed songs from all her albums. The 26-year-old singer opened the show singing one her songs from her newest album “Unapologetic” and continued to sing songs from “Good Girl Gone Bad”, “Loud”, and “Talk That Talk.” She closed the show singing her current number one song “Diamonds,” which she also performed on the late night comedy show Saturday Night Live.

Local fans from the New York and New Jersey area were not the only people attending her concert. Jeremy Scott, the designer for Addidas Sneakers, also came. He joined her in singing her hit song from her Loud Album “S&M.”

“I think that was the funniest part of the concert. He sounded so horrible even she couldn’t help but laugh a little,” said Moore.

Overall, one of my most memorable experiences and my cousin’s most memorable experience was being able to attend a pop icon’s concert.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Health Benefits of Chocolate

By Meagan Jaskot 

The average American consumes about 12 pounds of chocolate each year, but recent studies have suggested that chocolate may actually be good for you. Yes, you read it right,  chocolate can benefit your health in more ways than one. Studies show that regular chocolate consumption can actually make you lose weight and live longer. Here is a closer look at the advantages:

1) Increased Heart Health
Cocoa contains flavanols that relaxes blood vessels  which  results in lower blood pressure and lowers the likelihood for heart attacks. For women, chocolate consumption  could also reduce the risk for stroke.

2) It's Good for your Skin
Contrary to popular belief, daily chocolate intake results in smoother, younger looking skin. Dark chocolate is proven to hydrate the skin, while also making your skin more resistant to the sun's harmful rays.

3) Faster Blood Flow
Chocolate increases blood flow to the brain, which means better focus. It also speeds blood flow to the retinas which is good news for anyone concerned about vision. With blood reaching the retinas at a quicker pace, vision is slower to deteriorate. It also acts as a blood thinner, which thereby reduces clotting.

4) Increased Life Expectancy
A Harvard study concluded that those who indulge in chocolate enjoy longer life spans than those who do not.  In fact, Jeanne Calment, who holds the record for longest human lifespan, lived to see 122 years. Her secret? She consumed a whopping  2.2 pounds of chocolate every week.

5) Reduced Stress
Chocolate is an effective stress reliever. After eating chocolate, your brain releases endorphin and increased serotonin levels. People who eat chocolate are recognized for having less stress and  better overall moods.

6) Fewer Cavities
Unlike any other sweet, dark chocolate hardens tooth enamel.  Stronger enamel is associated with fewer cavities so long as you continue taking care of your teeth.

7) Weight Loss
Minimal amounts of chocolate will fill you up quicker than other sweets.  By avoiding chocolate, you might actually consume more calories throughout the course of the day.  Moderate chocolate eating can reduce your appetite and actually help you lose weight.

8) Lower Blood Pressure
In a study, chocolate consumption lowered blood pressure by an average of 2millimeters of mercury. For example, a blood pressure of 120/80 would lessen to 118/80 as an effect of chocolate.

9) Lower Cholesterol
Yet another heart healthy benefit, chocolate lowers LDL, or "bad" cholesterol levels. On the contrary, chocolate raises HDL, or "good" cholesterol.

10) Lower Risk for Diabetes
Chocolate heightens the body's sensitivity to insulin, which not only reduces diabetic symptoms, but also lessens the risk for diabetes on the whole.

Chocolate lovers shouldn't rejoice too quickly. As the saying goes, all things are good in moderation. Just one ounce of chocolate per day will suffice.  Excessive chocolate eating won't do you any good.  A "less is more" philosophy is best when it comes to sweets.

Additionally, dark chocolate is proven to be significantly healthier than any other flavor.  Darker chocolate is typically more of an acquired taste, as most people prefer milk chocolate. Commercially available chocolate should be avoided for best results. Health conscious consumers should keep in mind the rule of thumb that the darker the chocolate, the better.

If eaten modestly, chocolate proves to have a startling amount of health benefits. So, next time your sweet tooth kicks in, don't be afraid to indulge a little!

For more information on why chocolate is a healthy snack, visit:

Funny Thing Happened: A Look at the Spartan Comedy Club

By Nikki Zaidan

“In the stressed environment of college, people need a place to relax and laugh with friends, and the Spartan Comedy Club provides students with this opportunity,” says club Founder Sean Feeley. An improv acting group at St. Thomas Aquinas College, the comedy group is made of students who come together to practice every Tuesday at six on the second floor of Costello Hall.

Feeley said there is usually one show a month, with the next shows being on March 24th at 8 pm and April 23rd at 7 pm in the Romano Center. Among the benefits of the Spartan Comedy Club, Feeley said, “[the club] tries to invite outside comedians and improv-specific clubs,” which ultimately “exposes students to different kinds of improv comedy that they may not know about. We are actually partnered with Levity Live, which is a professional comedy club venue certified by Comedy Central, and they help us with promotions and publicity.”

Discussing rehearsals for the group, Spartan Comedy Club member Rohan Lawrence said, “We just work on different skits and scenarios. Sometimes the scenario requires a pre-decided scene, and another includes a random place where we come up with the details on our own. It’s a lot of fun…it’s ‘thinking on your feet’ comedy, and that’s why I really like improv. Anybody can do it, and even though we go to practice, there is no real practice or preparation required to do it, and anyone can participate, which is nice.”

Feeley added, “I love being able to try out our own type of comedy to make people laugh…I started a group like this in high school, but there weren’t enough members so it had to be disbanded… but I wanted to start a club like this in college because I felt there would be more people to participate.” Feeley explains how one of the problems the club faces is finding audience members and people who want to perform. The club is relatively small and Feeley often acts alongside the other 10 members of the group.

Feeley recalled one of his favorite moments with the Spartan Comedy Club last semester  at the McNelis Commons Open Mic Night. He explained how he and some of the other members from the club came together, brought supplies, and put on a “great” show in under 15 minutes. To Feeley, this was a “perfect example of improv” – with little to no preparation, the show was “all improv – exactly as it should be.”

Spartan Comedy Club member Sarah Jo Montello said, “The club is a good outlet for our students. In addition to having a creative and relaxing atmosphere, it allows a way for students to de-stress, which is an overall benefit for the student body.”

For the future, Feeley said that he would like to have more comedians and comedy groups come to STAC to perform. “It will take work, but I hope for the club to continue after I graduate; we need to grow it, and I fully encourage more students to participate,” he said.

As a final note, Lawrence adds, “The Spartan Comedy Club is a great outlet for creativity…doing this improv forces you to think in a different way and gives you freedom. Plus, it’s important to know that anyone can participate, which is what I appreciate about improv.”

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Changing Colleges: The Transfer Student Experience

By Devan Lau

Before graduating from high school, most young adults must have a plan on the decisions or choices of colleges they would attend and study. Most would start attending four year institutions after graduating from high school. However, many other students including myself would consider starting small by attending a community college for two years. After attending a community college, the student can transfer to a four year college of their choice for the remaining two or more years, depending on the amount of credits transferred and accepted.
After I graduated from high school, I had chosen my educational path by starting small. I started to attend Bergen Community College in September 2010 majoring in Broadcasting. Unfortunately, I was not able to graduate within the expected two years because I did not pass their placement exams, which resulted in taking remedial math and English courses and graduating a year beyond the expected original date.

The experience of attending a community college was memorable. This helped me to break the ice of becoming independent and taking responsibilities and making personal decisions as a young adult. It was very convenient for me to attend because I commuted from my home to Bergen, which takes 15 to 20 minutes to travel there. I was also able to create a flexible schedule, in case I would work part-time it would not conflict with classes. I was able to make a few new friends and saw some familiar classmates from high school.

The campus seemed huge, which in the beginning was difficult for me to navigate through. However, I eventually was able to find my way around the campus, which includes separate buildings that are not directly connected to each other. Bergen was notoriously known for difficult parking, which I personally would recommend leaving earlier in order to find the perfect parking of your choice. However, there were many other students who do not own or drive a car, so they use the public transportation system to commute to the campus.

The courses I took were on the easy to almost difficult setting. Some of the classes were small while others had about 25 students maximum. My most favorite class was television production, which gave me the experience of how to operate the cameras and record a live show. Before my graduation, I worked part-time at Bergen’s media technologies department. My tasks were usually to handle and transport media equipment such as a speaker, computer, and projector for the school’s faculty when they do seminars with guest speakers. I also occasionally filmed with a camcorder for live concerts and guest speakers.

Before I graduated from Bergen, I was trying to decide which four year college I would transfer to. I applied to two colleges, Ramapo and St. Thomas Aquinas. I filled out both of the applications and wrote an essay for them through the site: I attended a couple of college fairs and received information from both colleges about their campuses and degree programs. I also spent my spring break taking a tour of both colleges to get acquainted with their campuses.

I finally decided that St. Thomas Aquinas College was the best choice because they offered the program and courses that I wanted to take. I declared my major in Communication Arts through their Bachelor of Arts program. Therefore, I submitted the school entry deposit and my transcript from Bergen and got scheduled to meet with a transfer counselor to begin my transfer process to STAC.

After graduating Bergen, I received my Associates degree and began my journey to transfer to STAC. I attended their orientation and received my ID and parking permit. Attending my first semester at STAC was a big difference compared to Bergen. The campus is smaller and easier to navigate and the classes, which have the same amount of students like Bergen, were slightly more advanced depending on the course chosen.

Like Bergen, commuting to STAC takes about 15 to 20 minutes from my home. Parking is easier even though getting to campus earlier is still highly recommended. It has been a wonderful experience to get acquainted with new professors, classmates, and courses. I am looking forward to continue to enjoy my time as a STAC student and to receive my Bachelor’s degree in less than two years from now.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Work to Love

By Lauren Higgins

“There is never a day when I don’t have a smile on my face,” says Joan Higgins, a teaching assistant at a nearby elementary school. Originally born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Joan had worked at IBM in Manhattan for eight years as a compensation analyst and benefits advisor. Several years after her daughter was born, she and her husband decided to leave the city and move to the suburbs, where Joan became a stay-at-home mom for a year. As someone who has always loved kids, Joan decided to pursue a career in education and now she cannot imagine doing anything else.

“When we moved in 1999, I began my career as a teaching assistant in the Pearl River School District.” Fourteen years later, Joan expresses what she loves most about teaching children each day. “I have always garnered satisfaction throughout my life offering guidance, providing information and educating others.” She is assigned to assist different grades where she teaches them reading and math each year. Although she likes teaching all students ranging from kindergarten to fourth grade, she especially enjoys teaching the younger students.    

“The innocence never ceases to amaze me. The anecdotes from the students always provide great conversation at dinnertime,” she said. Joan is currently assisting students with math and reading remediation in the first, second and fourth grade. “This is the first year we are introducing the NY Common Core standards in ELA and Math. The younger students are very receptive to this new way of teaching.”

She never gets tired of the expression on the student’s faces when they understand something, because she knows she played a role in their learning experience. Joan recalls a student whom she was working one-on-one with say to her, “If only you could help me at home!” Joan is never impatient; however, it can sometimes be overwhelming when five kids come up to her at once seeking help.

The four words she loves hearing most are “Can you help me?” because she gets gratification in knowing that she helped the students in accomplishing their assignments.                               

Working at an elementary school makes Joan look forward to going to work each day. Over the years she has met several friends along with the numerous students she has the pleasure of teaching. She states, “You have to find a job that you will love. I am fortunate to have a job that I find rewarding every day.”

Ed Randall: Master of Interviews

By Deven Del Piore

Recently I went to see an interview at STAC between Ed Randall, who does radio and TV shows on baseball, and Rob Manfred. Manfred is a part of the Major League Baseball drug system. He was one of three men who gave Alex Rodriguez his suspension for enhancing his play by taking steroids.

I noticed Ed Randall writing things down after almost everything that Manfred said. Every fact, good quote, or important number was taken down in order to set up another question. This led to something else that was noticeable. Randall would ask the right questions at the right time. He would say one after the other like he was having a normal conversation with the man, but he was thinking of those questions on the spot, which I found astounding.

The flow that Randall had in his interview was impeccable. Without a solid flow in an interview, it can go in all sorts of different directions. You ask one wrong question at the wrong time, and next thing you know you’re completely off topic and are digging yourself a ditch. I learned that having good flow and asking the right questions will make your interview that much better, maybe even better than Ed Randall’s.

Writers at Work: News and Feature Styles

By Nicolette Danzy

Reading about Lillian Ross (of The New Yorker) and Ross Markman (of the Havre Daily News), I can see two different approaches to journalistic style writing. The writing style tips that Markman gives compared to Lillian Ross are also completely different. What matters most to him is getting many different stories done in a short period time, while Lillian Ross feels having a good story that you really connect with is most important.

While Ross works for a big magazine and is a more noticed and experienced writer, Markman works for a smaller circulation newspaper. The stories he gets compared to Lillian Ross are smaller and have no connection to him. They are mostly on city government type of issues. He is more of an informational writer, while Ross is more a feature story writer. Her stories are more narrative in a way.  One clear difference between the two writers is that Ross has more passion for what she is writing about and Markman has more passion for writing several stories. Lillian Ross cares about quality and Markman cares about quantity.

Markman’s tips are mostly for learning how to get your work done in a timely matter. He doesn’t really speak on his quality of work. He believes that research and a first draft are part of the necessary steps to being a successful writer. While Markman has good tips on how to write on deadline, I like Lillian Ross’s approach to writing more than his. He doesn’t seem like he writes for the enjoyment of the subject that he is writing about. Lillian Ross’ passion for what she writes about is what makes her guidelines more useful. She believes in the connection between the writer, the topic, and the person being interviewed. You can’t see that in Ross Markman’s approach.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Local Track Star Captures State Title

Jaskot's photo finish (photo: Kyle Brazeil /

By Meagan Jaskot

It was the morning of the New York State track and field championships and just about everything was going wrong for Tappan Zee senior Erin Jaskot. Despite a chaotic morning, the high school standout was crowned New York state and federation champion in the 1000 meter race.

After missing her shuttle bus from the hotel to the track at Cornell University, Jaskot nearly missed her race. She arrived with just enough time to warm up and get to the starting line.

She remarked that her morning seemed like it was a scene out of a movie. "From when I woke up I was feeling overwhelmed, everything was just so hectic," Jaskot said, "I missed my alarm, so I was running behind schedule. I didn't really eat anything for breakfast.  When I ran to the lobby I saw the bus pulling away."

In addition to the morning mishaps, Jaskot was learning to deal with the target on her back, as she entered the race as the highest ranked athlete. "There was definitely some pressure going into the race as the top seed. I was never in that position before, but I tried not to let it get to me."  Ultimately, Jaskot wasn't able to contain her nerves."I felt like I was about to break down before my race. I don't usually get like that," she recalled.

Jaskot toed the line without a plan. "Since the morning was so hectic, I didn't even really have time to think strategy. Before I knew it, the gun went off." She found herself leading the race for the first four laps of the five lap race. At the bell lap, Jasmine Fray of Kellenberg Memorial High School in Long Island made her move and surged into the lead. For the first time that day, Jaskot somehow managed to keep calm. "It didn't make me panic because I knew I could get her back. With about 50 meters to go, the memories of nationals crept into my head and that gave me the final push that I needed in order to win."

It was a photo finish between Jaskot and Fray. The circumstances were all too familiar to Jaskot, who is no stranger to narrow losses. Fray, the rising junior, earned All-American Honors last March after placing sixth at the New Balance Indoor Nationals. Her performance pushed Jaskot into 7th place, missing All-American status by one spot. This time around, it was Jaskot who reigned supreme, defeating Fray by  a nose, clocking  2:54.62 over Fray's 2:54.69.

"I just kept thinking, '.2.' Finding out that I missed All-American by such a small margin was hard to accept. That was something that  I wanted so  badly," said Jaskot, referencing her disappointing finish at  the national championships last winter.  Determined to retaliate, Jaskot made use of her signature kick as she charged down the final straightaway and cruised to victory.

Standing atop the podium was a "dream come true" for Jaskot, who competed at the state championships all four years of high school.

Jaskot will finish off her season competing in the 800 meters at New Balance Nationals on March 16th. She hopes to accomplish the goals that escaped her a year ago. "This year I hope that I can finally achieve All- American status. It's my senior year, I'm just going to go for it and see what happens."

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Trippy Band and Smokin' Singers on the Road

The Black Angels in Philadelphia   (photo/Em Maffei)

By Em Maffei

The Black Angels, a psychedelic rock band from Austin, Texas, took the stage recently at Union Transfer in Philadelphia, PA. With trippy visuals to back them up, Alex Maas (vocals/keyboard), Christian Bland (guitar/vocals), Stephanie Bailey (drummer), Kyle Hunt (keyboard/bass), and Jake Garcia (guitar/bass/vocals) put on an outrageous show.

The band started off playing songs from their newest album “Indigo Meadow,” then switched it up with some throwbacks from their older albums “Phosphene Dream,” “Directions to See a Ghost” and “Passover.” The psychedelic visuals added great entertainment to the kaleidoscopic music and the strobe light show.

Alex Maas ended the show with a solo present-day avant-garde musical piece of art. Just him, his keyboard, and his vocals. The end of the concert left everyone walking out of the venue speechless, including myself.

The Black Angels will continue to tour across America for the rest of 2014. Living life on the road, one trip at a time.

Also playing Philly was a one-man band out of Austin, Texas, Shakey Graves. Also known as Alejandro Rose-Garcia, he finger picks the guitar while playing percussion on a makeshift suitcase drum kit and tells stories with his smoky vocals. Each song is like a short story told in the art of music.

Shakey Graves is an up-and-coming artist on the road to tour and play music wherever he goes. In this video he talks a bit about how he came up with his name and how it immediately stuck with him:

Shakey Graves - Late July  

His tour this year started in hometown Austin and will end at the Newport Folk Festival in late July, where he will share the stage with many amazingly talented folk artists.

Meanwhile, singer/songwriter Alynda Lee Segarra leads Hurray For The Riff Raff down the open road. This New Orleans-based band started their tour in hometown at a local bar called One Eyed Jacks. To kick off the new album “Small Town Heroes,” Segerra teamed up with Small Batch America and decided to throw parties around the country. Major record shops across America hosted album release parties for the wonderful Hurray for The Riff Raff.

I was lucky enough to attend the album release party February 11th in Brooklyn at a record company called Rough Trade NYC. And only a month previous I was fortunate to see them live in Manhattan at the Highline Ballroom.

To promote their new album, Hurray for The Riff Raff took the show on the road! The 2014 tour started in New Orleans and will finish at the Newport Folk Festival in late July. This American folk band is putting life into perspective for New Orleans residents. “St. Roch Blues,” a song off their new album, is a simple yet beautiful piece of music about problems with violence in the St. Roch area.

Hurray for The Riff Raff - St. Roch Blues

Hurray for the Riff Raff is keeping music simple and impacting their audience with truthful words. In a generation of electronic music, it’s good to listen to a band like Hurray to remember the roots of music. What better city to appreciate the start of folk music, but New Orleans.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

First Day Back at College after 20 Years

By Vincent Walker

At the age of 40 Elisa Walker, wife and mother of two, decided to return to college and get a degree in early childhood education.  She was criticized for her decision by friends and family who didn’t understand her motivation. Elisa Walker was eventually successful in completing her education and acquiring a career.

Although she admitted to feeling silly at her graduation, she brought tears to her family’s eyes as she walked up to get her diploma, making her the first person in her immediate family to get a college education.  To be successful, Elisa Walker had to sacrifice time, money and lifestyle practices in order to reach her goal.  At the end of her college experience, it all payed off.

What was the first day of college like after nearly a twenty year gap? This was the memorable experience I set out to explore.

I asked Elisa, who had attended college after high school, why she had made the decision to quit when she did. She replied that at the time she didn’t want a career.  She was attending college because she thought it was the right thing to do. She wanted to get married, have children and be a stay-at-home mother. At the age of 21 she got married and due to her husband’s steady income, there was no financial reason for her to continue attending classes and eventually have a career. She had her first child at 24 and another child at 28. She was a stay-at-home mother until age 40.

My follow-up question was, “Why did you go back to school?” She replied that many years ago she had promised her grandmother and great aunt, now deceased, that she would finish school.  Also, she herself reached the conclusion that her children were older and would soon be out on their own, leaving her with nothing to do. She had early knowledge of the void-to-be and she wanted a career to give her future more purpose. She also added that the extra money sounded nice.

Now that I found out more about why Elisa had chosen to go back to school, I wanted to find out more about her first day back. I asked what the first day back was like. The reply I got back was “Scary.”  She stated that she was scared for many reasons. Possibly, she would be the oldest student and make no friends. She feared a heavy work load. I then asked about her thoughts on the situation after class. “Better” was her answer. She was not the oldest and was able to immediately make friends. However, the workload was very difficult. But in the end, she said, it was all worth it.

This interview was a successful and interesting experience. I learned a lot about someone I love very much and about a memorable moment that many people, especially at age 40, might not dare to take.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Umbria Experience

By Devan Lau

Everyone always has stories to share to each other. Whether it is from your friends, relatives, and classmates, their memories always create stories. My mother Betty had an unforgettable experience in her painting workshop in Umbria, Italy which took place in October of 2013.

D: Why is it a dream for you to paint and visit Umbria?

B: “My aunt gave me an oil painting kit for Christmas when I was ten and since then I wanted to learn how to paint. Growing up I was always busy working in a family business, and later, my career didn’t allow me to take the time. Finally after so many years, my dream was realized and I was to learn plein air painting in the most beautiful landscapes of Umbria. Another wish fulfilled was my desire to visit Sienna and Tuscany and Umbria was close enough.  The workshop was offered two years ago before I finally made the decision to attend. Financial and health reasons kept me from going earlier.”

D: What was your favorite experience of the workshop?

B: “I loved every bit of the workshop and trip…and it began with the arrival at the villa in Todi where we stayed. The estate and view around the villa was absolutely breathtaking and we did most of our painting at the villa. We were very fortunate that the villa owners were present because the wife wanted to take the painting workshop and the husband was on holiday. He was born in Italy and educated in Harvard and Columbia University here. They’re both Americans who spoke fluent Italian and they were our tour guides when we visited other towns because they live in Todi a few months out of the year. Traveling with locals made the experience so much more enjoyable and memorable because they gave us historical and present day information.  They accompanied us to neighboring towns and villages, such as Assisi, Orvieto, Civita di Bagnoregio, Todi and Spoleto.”

D: What was your least favorite experience during the trip?

B: “I arrived in Rome first, and spent a day and visited the Vatican Museum. Even in October, the tourists and crowds made it unpleasant. It was impossible to get around and enjoy the Sistine Chapel because of the wall to wall crowd and it was very hot and stuffy in there.”

D: What were some of your favorite activities during the workshop?

B: “Painting at the grounds of the villa, cooking lessons, sightseeing and visiting local hang outs in Todi.”

D: What was the best painting that you created?

B: “One of the views from the villas was San Damiano, a monastery near Assisi and I painted that. When I learned about the history of the church and monastery, it made the painting even more special. The weather was constantly changing also, so painting plein air made it very challenging due to the lighting changing from the rain and fog.”

D: What were the foods that you ate?

B: “One of the cooking lessons was making pasta from scratch and it tasted so good because it took all seven of us to make it and was the most fun and time consuming ordeal. When we ate at the villa, they had a cook who cooked for us and we helped without getting in her way. She used herbs and vegetables that were grown from their organic garden and everything tasted so much better and was very nutritious. We had their own olive oil and wine from their grounds with every meal. When we ate out, I tried foods that I wouldn’t normally order back home, like rabbit, pigeon and wild boar. It was all so delicious.”

D: Did you have a favorite attraction that you’ve visited?

B: “It’s tough because they were all great! The churches had incredible fresco paintings, but I guess if I had to choose…Civita di Bagnoregio is pretty up there. I learned that the village sits on top of a hill between two valleys at an altitude of 1440 ft. above sea level. We had to walk up this steep walkway to get to the village. They had an Etruscan cave preserved for visitors to visit and it was amazing to see a piece of ancient Italy. The village and sights around it were very beautiful and the local restaurants’ food were very good.”

D: Did you enjoyed the Italian culture?

B: “I was submerged in the culture, history and sights as well as learning to paint, only because we had the best two people showing us around.  We had art lessons at the museum and churches from the wife because she was so well versed with the artwork and artifacts. They took us to local places for coffee and people watched. It was just an incredible and memorable experience for me.”

D: Lastly, would you recommend everyone to visit Umbria?

B: “Yes, absolutely! You don’t have to partake in the painting workshop to enjoy this experience. For me it was a cultural, historical, artistic and gastronomic experience. I met such wonderful people in the workshop and the Italians who lived there. I learned to slow down and breathe in general -- just basically be present and enjoy the natural and ancient beauty around me in this medieval place. I continued to slow down and enjoy my surroundings and people back home.”

After conducting this interview, I wanted to thanks or “grazie” for my mother for taking her time with this interview. This would give an idea for anyone considering visiting Umbria, which does not require participating in a workshop to get there. This unforgettable experience is the perfect memory to share and will never fade away.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Interning at NBC's Star-Studded Studio 6B

By Lauren Higgins

Getting to work on a television show has always been a dream of mine. As a Communication major, I have always known that I want to do something in the entertainment field. After my second year of college, I was fortunate enough to secure a summer internship at "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," where I was able to get hands-on experience of what it takes to produce a successful show in the legendary Studio 6B at Rockefeller Center in the heart of New York City.

Studio 6B has been home to several radio and television programs for decades. It has broadcasted game shows, news, and late night talk shows throughout the years and continues to entertain people today. Walking the halls backstage at Studio 6B brings to life all of the former hosts and stars to work on this famous stage. The walls are lined with pictures of game show hosts, newscasters, and late night hosts who called Studio 6B home. From old black and white telecasts to modern day high definition programs, Studio 6B has entertained millions across the nation.

As an intern, I had to do everything from getting coffee for celebrity guests to going on “runs” to return clothes for the wardrobe department or equipment for the camera crew. I was assigned to stand in during rehearsals, hand out monologue rehearsal tickets to people in the NBC Experience Store, and record the show as a backup in case anything went wrong with the original. As one of twenty interns, we were divided into different departments and each of us had the chance to work in the studio to rehearse for the show that day. It is unbelievable to think about how many legendary people were in the exact studio I had the honor of working in for those few months.

I am so grateful to have interned at "Late Night" last summer. It truly gave me the chance to see how much time and effort goes into creating a television show. As a production intern, I was able to see the inner workings of what goes on behind the camera. The internship helped me gain the knowledge I will need to prepare for my career. Getting to understand everything that goes into the production of the show is so fascinating and there is so much that goes on behind the scenes that the audience does not realize. Everyone in the staff has a purpose and they all work together in order to create a remarkable show each night.                              

Before I began the internship I didn’t really have an idea of what I wanted to do in the future. By getting the chance to help out with the producers, directors, and writers, I realized I definitely want to do something in production. I was privileged to have been able to spend my summer not only working with a great group of people, but also getting a firsthand look at what it takes to put a national television show together. Getting to work in one of the most famous television studios in the nation has opened so many doors and I look forward to see what is to come as it continues to make television history.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

On the Job Experience

By Nikki Zaidan

As an employee at a TJ Maxx store in Southbury, Connecticut, Alyssa Hamilton has experienced working with many different people and has challenged herself to become more outgoing in her work and life. Working at a shopping center department store for the past two years has changed her positively; it made her “grow up,” she said, and appreciate how much work people do in retail.

Recalling her first day on the job, reporting for a nine-thirty to five o’clock shift, she even remembered details about her outfit, which included a striped pencil skirt and pumpkin-colored hair clip that matched her blazer “perfectly.”

“I was terrified,” she added. “It was my first job, and there were so many people on that day because it was the grand opening of the store. I was also afraid I would lose my job because the managers said that they had over-hired and that they would need to fire people.”

Upon arriving that day, Hamilton was very apprehensive, especially since there was a huge crowd of people around the store, and no one let her into the building until five minutes before her shift started. “I wanted to make a good impression,” she said, “so I came in early thinking I could get myself situated before I had to work. There were so many people everywhere; it was a bit overwhelming.” She explained how she was the youngest jewelry associate there and how she felt comforted after helping her first customers, who reminded her of her sisters.

Another moment of relief, in the crowded and busy jewelry section, came when a woman approached Hamilton and complimented her on her work. “I was surprised and grateful when this woman came up to me and told me she admired my work ethic; she even asked if I could work for her because she appreciated how I treated the customers.”

Her most memorable moment from her first day was when one of her bosses complimented her on her work. “The head of the jewelry department hugged me and told my manager that I was doing a great job, which made me feel more comfortable in what I was doing.”

In addition to the many customers Hamilton dealt with, she also met people who have greatly influenced her, including a co-worker named Ava. “She is such an interesting person who has helped me a lot,” explained Hamilton, “She escaped from Cuba when she was young, and has earned a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature. Ava has often talked to me about grad school, which helped me to make my own decisions about what I want to do in the future.”

As an English major, who studied at St. Thomas Aquinas College, Hamilton appreciated their talks about English, as well as Ava’s movie and book suggestions. “I see her as my second mother. She really helped me when I needed it, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to get to know her.”

Thinking about her experiences at TJ Maxx, Hamilton said “It’s helpful to me that I am not a judgmental person, and that I am patient, which is very important when you are working with customers. I am also not as shy as I used to be, and feel more comfortable talking to strangers now, which will definitely help me later when I need to network.

“I truly appreciate the experiences I have had while working at TJ Maxx, and these lessons will definitely help me later in life,” she added.