School in session for education students

While most college students desire to get away from their schoolwork on Thanksgiving break, there are some students who simply cannot remove themselves from the idea of school.

These students are the Education majors at Marist College, and on this early Monday evening, two seniors concentrating in Elementary Special Education are working on a small project for their class: Teaching Elementary Science. In class earlier today, the students were assigned homework from their teacher. Their assignment was to draw their idea of a scientist, whatever it may be.

Kristen Witkowski, a senior from, drew a picture of herself. The point, she says, was simple.

“Anyone can really be a scientist,” Witkowski said. “You don’t have to be in a laboratory; you can be a scientist anywhere.”

Classmate Alisha La Hogue felt the same way.

“The point is that everyone seems themselves as scientists,” La Hogue said. “That is what we want to teach our future students.”

Over break, both students will continue working on similar projects. For example, Witkowski has to complete a homemade science experiment due a week from today. These type of projects are common in elementary education classes. Although that means school always surrounds them, both Witkowski and La Hogue wouldn’t change their major for anything else.

“I’ve always loved helping others, and teaching all about helping students learn,” Witkowski said.

First to be right are wrong

     On Monday, April 15, 2013 the city of Boston was struck with fear and terror when two brothers decided to bomb the finish line of the Boston Marathon, causing a panic throughout the streets that had not been seen in an American city since the September 11th attacks in 2001.

     As with any major news event, word of the bombing soon spread to Twitter, where millions of people began asking questions. What happened? Who was responsible? How many people were killed? People wanted answers, and soon, answers would be given. Except the answers were not answers at all.

Twitter has served as an excellent news outlet for this generation. But the drawback of relying heavily on Twitter for news and information comes down to the fact that anyone can tweet what they want and when they want to, regardless of their knowledge of a particular topic.

When news breaks, people want to be the first to know what has happened. With Twitter, they can be the first break the news as it happens. This seemed like a blessing at first, as “citizen journalism” grew more credible and legitimate.

But now it seems that citizen journalism has lost that same credibility and legitimacy because of Twitter. People want to break the news themselves so badly they will say anything they want to. As long as they are first.

Look back to two weeks ago on that fateful Monday in Boston. The minute that news broke of the bombing, the “Twitterverse” blew up with millions of reports and updates. Some were accurate, but many were not, just the product of a generation that believes that being first is more important than being right.

There were multiple bombs exploding throughout the race, according to the Twitterverse (there were only two bombs). Others tweeted that they had seen the bombers flee the scene with bags in hand (the bombers would be identified several days later). Many tweeted that there were dozens dead from the blast (there were three casualties in the blast).

This “reporting” was not just coming from the general public; well-respected news organizations were getting in on the action. The New York Post was the first to report that 12 people had been killed, most likely resulting in the citizen journalists tweeting the same information. CNN’s coverage of the entire week, from the bombing to the investigation of suspects was atrocious; at one point, the network reported that there were suspects in custody when police were still trying to identify those responsible.

The most dangerous part of Twitter? It takes one click of the “retweet” button for inaccurate news to travel fast. People see the tweet that sounds legitimate and instantly retweet because they want to get in on the action. There is nothing wrong with retweeting a tweet, as long as the tweet is the truth.

Unfortunately, this was not the case two weeks ago. Being from the Boston area, I wanted new information as it was coming in, and I refreshed my Twitter feed constantly throughout that Monday afternoon and evening.

I chose to study journalism because I have a passion for writing and spreading the news. When I was younger, I loved watching the news and learning about all that was happening in the world. As I grew older, I realized that being accurate and fair was just as important as being on top of a breaking news story.

Sadly, that opinion does not seem to be shared today. Between both professional and citizen journalists, breaking the news first means more than being right. And that is just wrong.

Sacrificing sleep for school: the life of a college student

“There just aren’t enough hours in the day.”

This is an opinion that is shared by many students here at Marist. Between classes, jobs, clubs, and other extra-curricular activities, the concept of free time is not a familiar one to college students.

Students make sacrifices in order to get their work done. But sometimes, the sacrifices made may do more harm than good, and a good night’s sleep proves as an example of such sacrifice.

“Yeah, I would say sleep is pretty low on my priority list,” Marist senior Dave Centopanti said. “With classes and everything, I usually don’t have a lot of time during the day [to get work done]. So I end up staying up pretty late.”

Centopanti, a Media Studies and Production major, also works as commissioner for the intramural badminton league and plays on the club ultimate Frisbee team. He says that his sleep schedule has changed dramatically since his freshmen year as he has taken on more activities and responsibilities.

He says that he typically averages five hours of sleep during the week, staying up as late as 3:00 a.m., only to wake up for his 8:00 a.m. class. After he completes his day, Centopanti does not start his homework until close to 11:00 p.m.

“There are some days where all I want to do is sleep, but you have to just keep going. I sometimes watch an episode of whatever T.V. show I’m in to at the time for a break. That might be a reason why I’m up so late,” Centopanti said jokingly.

According to a recent study by the University of Arizona, a college student averages about six and half hours of sleep per night, although the study notes that most students over-report in similar studies in order to make their sleep habits “more normal.”

That average is nearly two hours less than the recommended number of hours of sleep (eight). That number comes from the Psychology of Sleep class offered at Marist. The course studies sleep length, deprivation, and dreaming.

Students who take the course have learned a lot about just how unhealthy sacrificing sleep in order to get work done can be. Senior Mike Kryger said he has made it a priority to get the recommended hours of sleep since he began taking the class.

“I don’t always get the full eight [hours], Kryger, an International Business major, said. “But I’ve definitely become more aware of getting to bed at a reasonable hour. The results speak for themselves; I feel better on the days when I sleep well the night before.”

Kryger explained that on the first day of class, the professor asked each student to give their averages of how many hours they slept a night during the week. The number of hours were “pretty low,” according to Kryger.

Since then, the class has learned about the dangers of sleep deprivation, from weight loss to depression. Sometimes, students are instructed to bring in their own pillows to class to participate in napping exercises designed to help students study their own sleeping habits.

Technology has made it easier for students to study their sleeping habits as well. A new cell phone app called Sleep Cycle allows people to monitor their movements and sleeping patterns.

Using sensors, the Sleep Cycle app determines which sleep phase a person finds themselves in: awake, sleep, or deep sleep. A person simply has to open the app on their cell phone, place the phone underneath the sheets, and set an alarm for a wake-up. As the person sleeps, the app collects data such as amount of time spent in bed, sleep quality, and specific hours the person was in a specific sleep mode.

The app allows people to see how healthy, or unhealthy, their sleeping habits are, and if they don’t like what they see, they can make the necessary adjustments to ensure a good night’s sleep.

“I think it’s really smart,” senior Jeff Woronick said of Sleep Cycle. “I think it’s really cool to see what you’re like when you’re asleep, in terms of how deep of a sleep you’re in and how much sleep you need to properly function.”

Woronick used Sleep Cycle for entire week, and the results showed just how much sleep needed to have. The app determined that Woronick spent just five hours in bed, and the majority of it was spent in just the regular sleep phase.

As a result, he managed his time more effectively, choosing to go to bed earlier and doing work earlier in the morning, rather than staying up later and being ineffective with his work.

“Time management is what it really comes down to; you can’t do work late at night if you don’t get a good night’s sleep the night before,” Woronick said.

A good night’s sleep typically leads to success the next day and beyond. College students are placed in positions every day to succeed, but sometimes priorities get in the way. If the priority list has sleep at the top, they will no doubt lead healthier and happier lives.

International talent finds home at Marist

Marist Men’s Tennis Internationally: Google Maps

When college students move away from home to start the next chapter of their lives at school, they have to adapt to an entirely new environment.

For some members of the Marist men’s tennis team, adapting to a new environment takes on a whole other meaning.

Eight players this season are from foreign countries, more than half of the team. These players are born in countries as close as Canada, and as far away as Australia. Yet they all have the same desire: to receive a top-notch education while playing the game they love.

The combination of strong academics and a successful tennis program has attracted many international students to the small liberal arts college in the Hudson Valley.

“I really focus on academics; I came to America to get a great education, as well as to play tennis,” said sophomore Trym Nagelstad, who hails from Oslo, Norway. “I felt that Marist had really good academics, in addition to having a great team. It was a great choice.”

Athletically, the men’s tennis program stands as arguably the school’s most successful sport. In 16 years, the Red Foxes have captured 10 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) championships, compiling a 106-6 record in conference play during that span.

Academically, many of the team’s players attend Marist with a desire to work in business after graduation, according to head coach Tim Smith. Marist has a strong international business program, and in 2002, was accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSG)-International, placing the school in the top 25 percent of business programs nationwide.

A successful tennis team and strong education programs have made the recruiting pitch much easier for Smith.

“We have a great international business program here, and our team has been to more NCAA tournaments than any other team in the school,” Smith said. “That combination is very attractive to players.”

Smith has been the tennis coach at Marist since 1997. Three years into his tenure, he recruited the first two international players in the program’s history, one from Australia and the other from Switzerland. Those two recruits “got the ball rolling,” and soon Smith received phone calls and emails from international coaches with players looking to play in the United States.

Marist has found many international players from junior colleges around the country. Smith admits that he has never gone abroad to recruit, instead relying on what he hears from friends and fellow coaches.

Another way that Smith has kept Marist as a tennis melting pot is through the help of former players. For example, Loic Sessagesimi (Switzerland), a member of the Red Foxes from 2006-2010 and three-time MAAC Tournament MVP, helped to recruit fellow countryman Lorenzo Rossi, now a senior at Marist and a two-time MAAC Player of the Year.

For Smith, the recruiting process has always been the same: find the player who will help the Red Foxes the most.

“My goal has always been to get the best player I can,” Smith said. “They can either be international or American. If he can contribute to our team that is the player we want.”

One such player is sophomore Fredrick Bjerke, also a native of Norway. As a freshman last season, Bjerke won ten consecutive singles matches, finishing 11-4 overall and earning the MAAC Rookie of the Year Award.

Bjerke says that in addition to the academics and strong program, the camaraderie of the team makes Marist the special place that it is for many international students.

“This is a really tight team, and we are all really good players love competition,” Bjerke said. “When you are an international student, you are always trying to make connections [with others] and to have a lot of other guys in the same position; the transition [to college] becomes easier.”

The professional aspirations and desire for competition has made Marist a new home for these international students, a home that, despite being thousands of miles away from their families, has made adapting to a new environment a whole lot easier.

Trends From This Week at #Marist: Oct. 7 to Oct. 14.

With fall well underway and mid-semester break just around the corner, there was plenty of Marist activity on social media last week. Here are the top five trending stories on Marist from last week:

1.)    Marist football versus San Diego 

The Marist football team squared off against Pioneer League rival San Diego on Saturday afternoon, in San Diego, Cali. Both teams were 2-0 in the conference entering the game. With first place on the line, the Red Foxes scored a late fourth quarter touchdown to take a 33-32 lead. But San Diego would drive down the field on the final drive to attempt a 33-yard field goal for the win. The kicker missed, but Marist was called for running into the kicker, giving the Toreros the game-winning kick from 28 yards away with no time left to win, 35-33. Marist is now 3-3 overall, and 2-1 in the PFL.

2.)     Marist soccer versus Saint Peter’s

 In other Marist athletics action, the men’s soccer team hosted Saint Peter’s on Saturday night at Tenney Stadium. The Red Foxes got their first MAAC victory of the season, defeating the Peacocks, 2-1. Senior captain Gerry Ceja got Marist on the board first off a free-kick header in the first half. Saint Peter’s tied the game in the second half, but junior Myles Ashong scored just over a minute later to secure the victory. Marist is 1-2 in conference play.

3.)     Beautiful Marist skyline 

On Wednesday, the beautiful Marist campus was graced with a beautiful fall skyline following a heavy rainstorm. The sky was filled with bright orange and yellow, coming together to create a pink color that was underneath a purple cover. Students took to their Twitters and Instagrams to capture the site. Marist has always been known for its breathtaking beauty, and Wednesday’s skyline was the latest example.

4.)     SPC Broadway trip

 Marist students enjoyed a matinee performance of the Broadway musical, “Pippin,” courtesy of the Student Programming Council. Pippin won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Direction of a musical, among other things. SPC sponsors trips for Marist students to see Sunday matinees throughout the school year. They provide free transportation and a Broadway ticket for just $25.

5.)     MCCTA’s “And Then There Were None”

The Marist College Council of Theater Arts put on their production of Agatha Christie’s  And Then There Were None,” a murder mystery. There were four performances of the show throughout the week, and faculty and students alike were impressed by the cast’s performance.

Physically and academically, a new Marist College

     In 1905, a group of Marist Brothers purchased a small piece of property along the eastern shore of the Hudson River, intent on creating a college for young men wishing to enter the brotherhood.

     Today, Marist College has become one of the Northeast’s top colleges and universities, a 210-acre, coeducational institution with over 6,000 students pursuing both bachelor’s degrees or master’s degrees. The school has been named to lists on The Princeton Review, U.S. News and World Report, and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine.

     It is hard to imagine that the Marist Brothers could have seen their little school on the Hudson transform into the place that it has become, but it has been an amazing transformation to watch.

     “We are very proud of what Marist has become, both in terms of academic reputation and as simply a beautiful place to come to school,” Brother Michael Flanigan said. “I know the founding Brothers would be very proud of their ‘purchase’ today.”

     Following the issue of the state charter in 1946, Marist grew in both physical and academic stature. Marian Hall and Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Chapel were the first buildings built on the new campus. Both still remain today.

     Lay people and women were admitted into the college in 1960 and 1968, respectively. In 1979, Dr. Dennis Murray was named the president of the college, the first lay person to be named president. Murray’s appointment began the era of change for Marist, according to Flanigan.

     “Dr. Murray came in right away with a goal, and that was to make Marist a big name, and not just in the Hudson Valley, but around the country,” Flanigan said. “He really wanted to put the college on the map.”

     With Murray at the helm, Marist has grown to one of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges, one that alumni do not even recognize anymore.

     “The Marist now does not resemble at all the Marist that I attended,” Bob Lynch, the director of college activities and class of 1975 alum, said. “I talk about it all the time with my classmates; I would love to be a student here now. I know I work here now, but it is obviously very different.”

     Lynch points to the days where Marian Hall, a freshmen residence hall, was once the school’s main gymnasium. Academic buildings like the Lowell Thomas Communication Center and Dyson Business Center, both homes to two of Marist’s most popular majors, did not exist when Lynch attended the college.

     “There was a lot more green space back then, believe it or not,” Lynch said.

     Lynch said that the college has maintained its beauty and green space, despite the addition of new buildings and housing. He says that the buildings have allowed the academic programs to fully develop into the established programs that students are able to graduate from with a wealth of knowledge and experience. 

     Even more recent alums, like Joe Guardino, Class of 2010, feel that Marist has changed significantly since his college days. Like Lynch, he desires to be a student again, but he feels as if Marist would not accept him into their community today.

     “Knowing a lot of people that work over in the admissions office, I know that the standards are getting tougher,” Guardino said. “A lot of talented and smart high school students want to come here now because the profile [of Marist] has been raised so much. I don’t think I could get into Marist today if I applied. I hope I would, but I’m not sure.”

     One of the areas of the college where people can see the most change is the admissions office, where counselors are given the responsibility of choosing the next class of Marist students. Over the years, the standards for the admission into the college have changed, so much so that even students can see.

     “They [the counselors] are stressing what type of person the applicant is, rather than who the applicant is on paper,” senior Eric Croci, a student assistant in the admissions office, said. “They are looking for students who challenge themselves and are well-rounded, not just in academics but in their extra-curricular activities as well.”

     Croci said that the admissions office “tracks” potential students throughout the application process in the hopes of getting to know them better. Counselors monitor things like the number of visits applicants make to Marist, whether or not they send thank you notes to tour guides, or consistently send emails with questions to counselors about Marist.

     The point of this process is to determine which students truly wish to attend Marist. The tracking, according to Croci, helps to make sure the right student gets into the college.

     It has also become clear that the academic caliber of the Marist applicant has gotten stronger over the past decade. Alex Berube, another student assistant and tour guide explained that the average GPA of an applicant has risen significantly. For years, Marist was considered a “safety school” for bright students. Now, many of those bright students are choosing Marist as their top choice, something that doesn’t surprise Berube.

     “With all the new academic buildings and the strength of programs like the sports communication and fashion programs, Marist is getting a better reputation, both regionally and naturally,” Berube said. “A Marist degree is carrying more weight nowadays than it ever has been.”

     Marist has changed significantly since the Marist Brothers decided to buy the land that it has been built on. The changes will continue; the Student Center renovation nears its end, and Lowell Thomas remains next on the list. There are also discussions for new housing areas as well.

     Despite all the changes, both physically and academically, the mission of Marist will always remain the same.

     “The goal of the Marist Brothers was to create an educational environment where people could learn about the world and themselves in a supportive and spiritual environment,” Flanigan said. “That mission has continued on throughout the years, and I know it will for many years to come.”