Returning from Freshman Florence Experience creates a tough transition

Strolling the cobblestone streets, passing by Renaissance works of art, eating some of the finest cuisines, and enjoying the bustling city’s nightlife are a few privileges that students abroad enjoy in Florence. This lifestyle becomes a reality for freshmen choosing to spend their entire first year abroad. In nine months, these 18-year-old students have become Florentines. They have spent two semesters chatting up the locals, becoming café regulars, traveling Europe–all while forming close relationships with peers. But what happens when this magical year abroad ends? It is time to return back to America and pick up as a sophomore at Marist in Poughkeepsie.

Instead of eating in a quaint trattoria with the freshest food, students are now eating in the dining hall. The days of walking to class with street musicians serenading them are over. Now, the group is walking to class in a sea full of strangers.

Marist College implemented the Freshman Florence Experience over 10 years ago as a way to grant first-year students a unique cultural experience while pursuing foundational coursework. The program has been running for over 10 years, remaining a popular path to take.

An average of 40 students per year, partake in the program. “With 40 students, allows a strong relationship with faculty, and the student cohort members themselves,” said Alex Tom, associate director of international admissions.

Joseph Campisi, the assistant professor of philosophy in Poughkeepsie has taught in Florence for two semesters. He sits in his Fontaine office, starkly contrasting to his space in the historic, Renaissance city. Campisi enjoyed the tight-knit group that was formed between the “FFE’s.” “You have a fewer number of students, and so they all get to know one other. It creates a neat classroom experience since everyone is all friends with each other,” said Campisi. This is a blatant contrast to classes in Poughkeepsie, where a student often does not know anyone in the room.

Former FFE Aaron Todd explains one challenge of breaking away from the FFE group and trying to meet new classmates. “We were going from a super friendly, familiar environment–then returning back as a sophomore, the rest of the students already established their friends and weren’t as open to meeting people,” Todd noted.

Florence is a unique place. Therefore, there needs to be a differentiation between the year abroad and life at the New York campus. “Italy is not going to be Poughkeepsie and the second you start thinking it is, you are going to absolutely hate it here,” confessed Jackie Gruber, former FFE. It is important to remember that the two cities are clearly, not the same. Alex Tom (aforementioned) is an alumnus who participated in FFE. “When you come back from a year overseas, initially you think ‘wow Poughkeepsie is not Florence’ but that is obvious. There are more opportunities in the New York area that you’re not going to get in Italy,” Tom reassured.

Another difficult adjustment is the lack of nightlife for freshmen. FFE’s are legal to drink in Florence. But when they come back to New York, all of that changes. “I always worried about the social aspect for students returning back. They were of legal age to go to bars and clubs in Florence. When they get back they’re going from 60 miles per hour to 3 miles per hour,” Campisi said.

While the transition from abroad is quite the adjustment­–it is possible. Marist faculty try their best to make FFE’s feel comfortable. Three days prior to the semester beginning, orientation is held. “We do a lot to try to help the sophomores acclimate to campus here. We talk about the different resources available and each student is paired up with a mentor/former FFE,” said Jean Hinkley, coordinator of the Freshman Florence Experience.

“We would do things to acclimate, like have picnics by the Hudson River with the FFE’s,” Gruber said. It is a stark contrast to eating pizza on the Ponte Vecchio, overlooking the Arno River. However, creating some kind of familiarity helps FFE’s transition and resume their college careers back in the United States.

Abroad photo

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Enrollment Changes Causes Admissions to Work Harder

Poughkeepsie, New York- Enrollment at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York has varied greatly; causing a quick response in the Admissions office to ensure the revenue does not change and to keep the institution in good financial standing.

Applications for admission to universities and colleges nationwide has increased the past few years but the yield, or the amount of students who actually attend the institutions, has gone down.  “There are many reasons as to why this is happening,” says Nicole Radasso, Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Marist College. “We have noticed that prospective students are panicking and applying to more schools to ensure they have more options.  They are keeping financials in mind more so now than ever before also,” said Radasso. The student demographic at Marist College is made up of 46 states and 65 countries.

Marist College has increased their acceptance rate throughout the years to try and match the same number of students enrolled in the freshman class each year.  Although the acceptance rate now stands at 45% it is still fairly below the national acceptance average which stands at 68%, making the institution a “selective school.”  Roughly 11,000 students apply to Marist College each year and around 1,300 will be accepted with a slightly lower number actually enrolling.

So what else is Marist College doing to protect the enrollment?  “We’re doing well, we are looking into the future for different programs, and we are doing everything we can to enhance our undergraduate program,” says Radasso.  The college has met their projected enrollment number each year and that is what is needed to “keep the business running,” according to Radasso. Enhancing the graduate programs, the amount of scholarships the institution can offer,  and increasing the amount of programs offered are just a few ways the school is working to keep the revenue at the right rate.

Junior, Emily Marold, said, “although I now have more knowledge about tuition and the debt it can put you in, I still would never regret my decision to attend Marist.  It’s costly, but it’s for a good reason. It just motivate me to look for more scholarships and be a better student to obtain the academic scholarships.”

Poughkeepsie Gets Greek Culture

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Pictured: Member of the Kimisis Greek Orthodox Church preparing loukoumades

 

Located in the heart of Poughkeepsie, the Kimisis Greek Orthodox Church hosted it’s bi-annual Poughkeepsie Greek Festival.

This four day event held at the Hellenic Community Center attracted over 10,000 people. This festival is a celebration of the food, music, and the culture of the Hellenic people. The proceeds of the event went to the church’s programs.

 

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Pictured: Andrea Miller, long time member of Kimisis Greek Orthodox Church

 

Andrea Miller has been a member of the Kimisis Greek Orthodox Church for over 45 years and has been a part of the festival since its inception. “The fact that the Greek community comes together and we work for weeks ahead of time baking and cooking, it’s apart of our heritage,” stated Miller. “The fact that this event has been going on for over 40 years proves that it serves its purpose.

People attending this event feel like they are being immersed into another culture when they attend this festival. Many locals attend every year because to this, it is not an event that can be missed.

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Pictured: Millbrook students dancing to traditional Greek music

Although there was no live music and dancing featured at this event attendees danced together to the music the DJ played. This showed the camaraderie as members of the community learned how to dance to Greek music.

“I come every year, twice a year, and I have been for over 15 years. This is not an event that I can miss,” said Yolanda Harris, a Poughkeepsie native. “I like some of the music, I just like being out and seeing different people, different cultures, different races, and I also like to go into the shops that they have here to see what is different from my heritage,” said Harris.

To add to the overall authenticity of the event, the festival this weekend focused on the food.

John Giogakis, is the president of the Parish Council at Kimisis Greek Orthodox Church, and has been working at this event for four years. “People come for our Greek food, everything here is handmade, made to order, and people love the food,” Giogakis stated.

This focus proved to be successful as attendees raved about the quality of the food.

“It has really good food. The atmosphere is extremely inviting, I have been to other Greek festivals but this is by far the best one,” said Frank Davis, Boston native who came to Poughkeepsie just to attend the festival.

Among the food options were, gyros, greek fries, souvlakis, loukoumades, and other traditional Greek food.

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Pictured: Greek fries that were sold at the festival

“It was Greek, very Greek. The food is very similar to the types of foods that I eat at home,” said Cady Anderson, a high school student at Millbrook High School.

This unique event showcases the Greek culture to the local community. Every year it attracts more people and becomes more popular.

“Basically the purpose of this event is our Greek heritage, and giving it to Poughkeepsie. The fact that over 10,000 people have come in four days is truly amazing,” said Giogakis.

Marist Knocks Down the Wall

Poughkeepsie, NY- Immigrants at Marist and the subject of immigration is not something typically explored within the student body. On November 8, 2017, in the Henry Hudson Room on 3rd floor of Fontaine at Marist College, the presence of Dan Buzi, Dr. Maria Höen, Anish Kanoria, Ignacio Acevedo, and Renee T. Oni-Eseleh commanded the attention of the student, faculty filled audience.

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Marist Is Not Excluded From Rape, Sexual Assault

[Edit, 12/16/17: A picture of SNAP safewalker routes was removed upon request by the Security Office’s SNAP program due to concerns about on campus safety.]

[Edit, 12/17/17:  Pictures of the SNAP procedural manual, except for its cover, have been removed.]

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – When Marist’s Office of Safety and Security published its 2014-2016 crime report this semester, students were shocked to discover the following statistics that took place over those three years: 12 total rapes, one fondling, three aggravated assaults, one domestic violence case, and seven dating violence incidents.

Students who sought out this information were shocked, but based off the lack of observable student activism or discussion, a large majority of students remain unaware of these statistics.

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Marist’s Ethical Fashion Initiative Club, Changing the World One Garment at a Time.

As of 2017 The Business of Fashion has ranked Marist Fashion Program as 38th globally in their annual ranking of fashion schools, but how much are these students learning about the ethical aspect of fashion.  In 2016, alumni Rebekkah Coclasure started her senior year of college with one goal in mind, to startup the Ethical Fashion Initiative Club.  By the end of her senior year she had succeeded, but has anyone stopped to wonder where are they now?  With that stood other looming questions, what have they done for ethical fashion and where are they headed for the future? Continue reading

Marist Faculty Petition vs. Bill O’Reilly

Poughkeepsie, NY – Bill O’Reilly is Marist College’s most famous alum, but some would say the most infamous alum.  The recent news about sexual harassment lawsuits that O’Reilly has settled has put him under fire and was released by Fox News earlier this year in April.  In response to these developments, the Marist faculty has taken action by starting a petition to remove the honorable degree that O’Reilly was given in 2001.   Continue reading

From Underdog to Internationally Recognized, Marist Fashion Flourishes

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — Marist Fashion, a program housed within the School of Communication and the Arts, has garnered significant recognition from a multitude of media outlets within the last year. The program, however, had modest beginnings, according to a Sep. 1977 edition of the Marist Circle, which states that the school’s first inkling of a fashion program originated when nearby women’s school Bennett College closed and Marist agreed to “take in” Bennett Fashion students. Since then, the program has grown exponentially; as of Fall 2017, 563 Marist students are either majoring or minoring in Fashion Design or Merchandising, as stated by Jared Todisco, the Marist College Reports Manager for Institutional Research and Planning. In this year alone, the program was ranked within the top 50 fashion programs internationally by Business of Fashion, students in the program have appeared on national television as part of an “upcycling competition” on Good Morning America, and Marist’s “FM/AM” magazine has been awarded multiple prestigious honors by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication as well as the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. The cumulative message of these accomplishments is obvious: Marist Fashion is thriving, and will continue to do so in the future. Continue reading