Hughes Represents Kids of Special Olympics in NYC Marathon

Senior Caroline Hughes was making her way down the Verrazano Bridge alongside 50,000 other runners on Sun., Nov. 4, when it hit her that she was not running her usual route on the Walkway Over the Hudson, but was participating in the New York City Marathon.

Although always an athlete, Hughes picked up running in college as a way to clear her mind and destress. Only four years later, she trained for her first marathon entirely by herself, and finished in an impressive 5 hours and 47 seconds.

“Running next to complete strangers who also have a passion for running was such an unbelievable motivation,” Hughes said. “It was really, really awesome.”

Hughes first began training last summer, but it became harder to increase her mileage when she returned to Marist as the school work piled on. During mid-semester break, however, Hughes finally had time to pick up the pace, and ran 18 and a half consecutive miles, her longest distance yet. After break, she hit the gym for strength training, and, with only a few weeks to go before the big day, focused on getting enough sleep and eating properly.

Hughes’ decision to run the marathon was inspired in part by the children she works with at Windham Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation, where she volunteers in the winter. Many of the students she teaches there are a part of Special Olympics, an organization that helps children and adults with mental and physical handicaps participate in sports. While preparing for the race, Hughes fundraised alongside 15 other runners on the Special Olympics Team, collectively raising over $70,000 for the organization.   

On that Saturday before the race, Hughes picked up her race number at the NYC Marathon Expo, where she saw runners of all different shapes and sizes, speaking a wide array of languages. The night before the race, she was sent a heartfelt video from her friends and family,  who wished her luck. She also received a letter from a Special Olympics athlete with Down Syndrome, in which he thanked her for her fundraising efforts. By 11 a.m. the next morning, the day of the race, the few fears Hughes had experienced were well out of mind, and she was ready to go.

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Hughes poses outside the NYC Marathon Expo

At the starting line, Hughes’ was greeted by the sound of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” a special moment she said she will always remember. Neon signs in hand, her friends and family were scattered along the route, cheering her on. As she ran throughout the city’s five boroughs, Hughes noticed how although the crowds changed, each brought something new and exciting to the race, and every bystander, even members of the homeless, were there to support her.   

“As a runner, I was running alone, but I never felt alone,” Hughes said. “There was just so many people cheering you on, even if they didn’t know you. It was such a moving experience to see all of the different people supporting you. It really unified the entire city.”

Hughes recalled mile 21 as her most challenging, but mentally related her pace to her route back home, to remind herself that she had completed similar distances before. For further motivation, she thought of the kids of Special Olympics, who had already gotten her this far.

When she reached Central Park, she realized she was almost done; after passing her family one last time, she crossed the finish line only a few miles away, and was instantly overcome with emotion.

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Hughes finished the NYC Marathon, her first, in 5 hours and 47 seconds.

“It was just a really unbelievable feeling, to know that I had just completed a marathon,” she said.

Despite the long day, and the lingering dehydration and leg pain, Hughes returned to Marist later that night. Her own reward for the once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment? Hughes skipped her 8 a.m. the next morning, and slept in until her 11 o’clock class.

“I didn’t want to give myself too much time to rest,” she said. “I had to keep going again.”

Hughes said her favorite part of the experience was running along 1st Avenue to “Empire State of Mind,” while passing her friends and family. In the future, Hughes intends to run more marathons, but wants to race in other cities to see how their environments differ from New York’s.  

“At the end of the day, I was extremely proud of myself, because I was able to set a goal, and stick to a commitment, regardless of other things going on at the time,” Hughes said. “[Receiving letters from Special Olympic athletes] showed me that I am very blessed to run for something that is bigger than myself. It was really special, and something that I’ll never forget doing.”  

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Students Stay Up ‘Til Dawn for a Cause

While most college students were out partying or hanging with friends, on Sat., Nov. 11, Marist students traded in a night of sleep to participate in the 12th annual Up ‘Til Dawn event, which raises money for the pediatric cancer patients of St. Jude Children’s Hospital. 

Located in Memphis, TN, St. Jude’s is one of the world’s premier pediatric cancer and treatment centers. With the help of the donations it receives through events like Up ‘Til Dawn, St. Jude’s covers the treatment, travel, housing and food expenses for all of the roughly 7,500 patients it treats each year. 

This year’s Up ‘Til Dawn Executive Director, Casey Jaeb, cannot remember a time when St. Jude Children’s Hospital was not a part of her life. She made her first donation- the contents of her piggy bank- at the age of six, and in high school organized a night-long zumbathon event, the proceeds of which went directly to the children’s hospital.

Now, as a college senior, Jaeb led the organization’s efforts to ensure its participants were fulfilling their fundraising potential, and would all make it to sunrise on Sun., Nov. 12.

“I don’t know about anybody else, but this moves me,” Jaeb gushed. “To see college students give up a night when they could be going out or doing other things with their friends, and [instead] giving their night to raise awareness about St. Jude’s, is amazing.”

The event kicked off at 11 p.m. with interactive games in the student center, followed by a karaoke session in the cabaret. In between activities, students watched video montages of St. Jude patients and their stories, and took photos at the decorated backdrop. Food and refreshments were provided throughout the night to keep the participants well fueled.

Jaeb explained how the event’s brainstorming process usually starts in April, while the actual planning begins about three weeks into the start of the new school year. Although a portion of the funds for the event are provided by Marist’s Student Government Association and St. Jude’s, some of the expenses come directly out of the board member’s pockets.  

While students who participated were encouraged to fundraise at least $100, many went above and beyond that goal, with some raising over $1000 each. For those who struggled to fundraise, however, the St. Jude executive board hosted several events and donation challenges throughout the semester to give students a head start, including the “Halloween No-More-Cancer-Rally,” which took place on Oct. 24.  

Sophomore student Alexa Fisher participated in the event with her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma. The fundraiser struck a personal chord in Fisher, who has several family members affected by cancer.   

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The members of Kappa Kappa Gamma participated in this year’s Up ‘Til Dawn

“[Living] in the college bubble, you often times don’t think about anything but yourself and your problems,” Fisher said. “So [realizing] that there’s other people that are struggling more than you but are powering through, shows that you can power through too.”

Similar sentiments inspired Ava Hanlon to become involved in Up ‘Til Dawn during her freshman year, when a close family friend’s 11-year-old daughter was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Leukemia.

“My passion [for Up ‘Til Dawn] comes from the hope and spirit these children have to fight this disease everyday,” Hanlon, a junior, said. “To me, it is my job to to help in any way I can, to one day see these children home and healthy again, cancer free.”

According to the St. Jude website, approximately 75 percent of the hospital’s budgeted costs are covered by public contributions. Since its conception more than 50 years ago, St. Jude’s has helped increase the childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent in 1962 to 80 percent in 2018.

“St. Jude is one of the greatest charities in the world,” Jaeb said. “They provide treatment for kids with life threatening illnesses at no charge to the families, and on top of that they do top-of-the-line research that they share with every hospital and every doctor around the world who wants access to it. St. Jude is just amazing.” 

Enthusiasm was still high among the participants as the night neared dawn, and reached a crescendo when, at 5 a.m., the executive board members gathered on the third floor of the Rotunda to reveal the total amount fundraised: $61,567 of their initial $65,000 goal.

This year marks the first time Marist’s chapter of Up ‘Til Dawn fundraised over $60,000. Since the event, the total has climbed to $62, 342, and continues to grow even now.

“The outcome of the event is one thing, but the fundraising we were able to achieve is astounding,” Hanlon said. “That one night of sleep is incomparable to the sleep parents and children lose when battling cancer, so every ounce of me is beaming with pride of how incredible the turnout was.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Frankenstein” Revived Through Storytelling and Visual Art

Despite the otherwise light atmosphere of the Marist College Art Gallery, its graphic contents can only be described as bleak, eerie, and haunting. Directly opposite the display’s unique mixture or grays and blacks are 10 chairs on which visitors can sit and contemplate the work; no matter which chair is sat in, however, the painting’s phantom acrylic eyes always seem to follow.

These paintings make up only one part of Professor Tommy Zurhellen’s “Frankenstein: Könfidential” exhibition, a project that combines traditional storytelling and visual art to recreate Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

“My first impression walking into the gallery was that of feeling tremendously cold,” Professor Zurhellen’s student Kevin Hudson, a senior, said. “The room was spacious, and the cool/monochrome color scheme of each of the paintings created this feeling. I believe Professor Zurhellen was creating a strong introduction through intense feelings of discomfort.”

Professor Zurhellen’s decision to pursue a recreation of the original Frankenstein was prompted by the 200th anniversary of its publication this year. Despite its age, the professor believes its central themes of creation and ethics are as timely as ever.

“[Frankenstein] is 200 years old yet the writing is still fresh and new,” he said. “It’s creepy and spooky and dark and weird, and it could have been written yesterday.”

Professor Zurhellen’s narrative is told in serial form and split into 24 episodes, mirroring the number of chapters found in the original work. Each week one installment is released, accompanied by a visual art graphic that pertains to the story’s timeline. The artwork was created by Hyeseung Marriage-Song, a New York-based artist the professor collaborated with for the project.

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The painting that accompanies Chapter 1: In the Cemetery

“Once people understand that it’s a celebration and recreation of the original story in a collaborative way, they get it,” Professor Zurhellen explained. “It takes a little bit of imagination to get the whole project, but once [people] do, they love it.”

Like the original work, Professor Zurhellen’s project centers around Victor Frankenstein and his vicious creation, but the similarities stop there. In “Frankenstein: Könfidential,” the doctor is a Jew living in Nazi-Germany during the final months of WWII.

The new narrative opens much like the original version, with American Capt. Robert Walton’s cryptic letter to his younger sister Margaret, which is provided as part of the exhibition, complete with rips, creases, coffee cup stains, and a US Army Examiner Stamp.

“The inclusion of this letter in the exhibit was really cool to see as it brought Zurhellen’s story to life among the accompanying artwork,” senior Sarah Howard said. “It looked like a real artifact that you would see in a historical exhibit in a museum.”

Many of the characters within “Frankenstein: Konfidential” are taken from Shelley’s original work, like Dr. Frankenstein’s childhood friend Henry Clerval, but are infused with Professor Zurhellen’s personal twists. Others, however, are entirely based on actual historical figures. One painting depicts the character “Lilo,” who was involved in the resistance movement against the Nazis during the war, and the story’s antagonist is based on real-life Gestapo agent Robert Mohr.

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From left to right: “Lilo,” “Ode to CDF,” (Below) Capt. Walton’s letters to his sister, “Henry Clerval”

“Adding that kind of historical flare [to the characters] helps make the story feel more authentic,” Professor Zurhellen explained.

“I think that Zurhellen is trying to reinvent the Frankenstein story in a new light and give it a newer and more current life,” Howard explained. “I got the sense from the exhibit that he wanted onlookers to question everything they previously knew about the original Frankenstein story, as well as dispel their concept of reality to really transport themselves into the world he has created.”

Since its grand opening on Sept. 27, the exhibit has garnered positive reviews from The ChronogramHudson Valley Magazine, and The Poughkeepsie Journal, among others. Much of the project’s success, Professor Zurhellen said, is owed to his collaboration with Marriage-Song.

“Trust in the power of collaboration [because] you’ll get something that normally by yourself you’d never get,” the professor said. “You get more than just your own work. It’s almost easy, because someone else is working just as hard [as you] and you create something no one else would ever think of. [This project] wouldn’t have happened unless these two powers came together and did something unique.”

In November the exhibit will appear at the Gowanus Industrial Arts Complex in Brooklyn, in front of a much larger audience. Once all 24 installments of “Frankenstein: Könfidential” are released, Professor Zurhellen plans on grouping the chapters together into a printable version.

 

 

 

 

Marist and Health Quest Partner to Form Medical School

What began as mere rumor became reality on Wed., Sept. 12, when President Yellen confirmed Marist College’s partnership with Health Quest to form its very own medical school.

“The Marist Health Quest School of Medicine aspires to become a nationally recognized leader in technology-enabled medical education,” President Yellen stated in a campus-wide email. “This unique partnership will push the boundaries of healthcare by focusing on where medicine is going, not where it has been.”   

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Robert Friedberg, President & CEO of Health Quest, and David Yellen, President of Marist College, at The Marist Health Quest School of Medicine announcement at Marist College

According to the statement, Marist will be added to the list of only 151 other MD-granting medical schools in the country, and the school will become the first of its kind in the area between Albany and Westchester County.  

Health Quest is a nonprofit organization made up of hospitals and healthcare providers primarily in the Mid-Hudson Valley, whose four award-winning hospitals include Northern Dutchess Hospital, Putnam Hospital Center, Sharon Hospital, and the Vassar Brothers Medical Center.

The Marist Health Quest School of Medicine will be constructed on an l00,000-square-foot area within Poughkeepsie’s very own Vassar Medical Center, only a 5 minute drive from Marist.

“In many ways [the Marist Health Quest School] can help programs that are already here on campus,” explained Dr. Stephen Katz, Medical Director of the Physician Assistant Department. “It could benefit the psychology program, the business program, [and] people in the economics department who are involved with medicare and medicaid [because] now they’ll have a direct access line to that sort of information.”

Dr. Katz described the placement of the medical school on the Vassar Brothers campus as “appropriate,” as much of a medical student’s clinical work and patient care is done within local hospitals.  

Although the decision to go forth with the medical school was shared with select staff and administrators over a year ago, the recent announcement shocked many students.

“I was actually very surprised but excited [when I heard about the medical school] because this is a major accomplishment for Marist and its pre-health students,” said Kristina Thompson, a senior Biology Major with a pathway in Public Health. “This medical school now offers an opportunity that students have not had before.”

School of Science Dean Alicia Slater, who assumed the position on July 1, participated in the tail-end of the negotiation meetings with Health Quest, and believes the school’s completion will bring benefits to both Marist and the surrounding community.

“I hope that the school is going to attract more graduate [students] from across the country, and raise the national profile of Marist,” she said. “We’re going to see a lot of interaction between the faculty here on campus and the medical school students so that we can help produce medical care providers who are broadly trained.”

According to Dean Slater, the Marist Health Quest school will operate with a little more independence than the other departments because of its partnership with Health Quest.

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The Marist Health Quest School of Medicine building concept

Both Dean Slater and Dr. Katz proudly noted the fact that the college’s new doctoral  program for Physician Assistants saw its first graduating class have a 100 percent pass rate for its certifiable exams, making Marist’s decision to open its own medical school all the more timely.

“Marist has been highly supportive of our PA program; they have invested enormous resources, and given us enormous administrative support, and have helped us have a very successful new program,” Dr. Katz gushed.  “I have no doubt that Marist will insist on making [the medical school] a good program too.”