Monthly Archives: September, 2010

Perseverance Pays Off For Student With Physical Disabilities

Facing the future, Honors Program Student Matt Skolnick looks forward to his transition to a four-year college.

By George Verity

“It got to the point where I was just so tired of breaking bones, having surgeries, and needing physical therapy that I decided to move into a wheel chair full time,”  said Matt Skolnick, a full time student at the Ammerman campus. 

Skolnick is a 20- year-old from Islip who has been on campus for the past three years for a total of five semesters.  He has a 3.9 GPA, is in the honors program and loves to give back to his community by serving as the president of his high school alumni association.  Currently, he is a member and an officer of Phi Theta Kappa .  His tremendous work ethic  doesn’t let anything slow him down in life, not even his disability.

“Without a doubt a disability becomes a part of who you are.  I would not be the same person without it; but I don’t let it control my life.  That’s the difference” Skolnick said.

 Medically diagnosed at birth with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a genetic disorder characterized by fragile bones that are prone to fracture and is often referred as the “brittle bone disease,” Matt has been wheelchair bound since the age of eight. 

OI is caused by a mutation on a gene that affects the body’s production of the collagen found in bones and is not caused by poor nutrition. Just drinking more milk won’t help.

Matt’s father was born with OI, caused by a genetic  mutation.  “I inherited OI from my dad at a 50 percent chance,” Skolnick said.  But Approximately 35 percent of children with OI are born into a family with no family history of OI.  

Several variations exist in this gene0tic disorder.  Though cases of OI can be diagnosed, the disease is so variable that eight different types are described in medical literature ranging from mild to severe cases depending on the person.  Skolnick has a mild diagnosis, but it will affect him for the rest of his life.

“I’ve had 20 or more fractures in my life.  By the time I was 8 years old I hated itchy casts from my fractures so much that I decided to go into a wheelchair.   I used to be able to walk around, but  after fractures, surgeries, and lack of strengthening such as weight bearing I can’t walk on my own anymore.  Maybe with a walker, but it’s been a while.  I can still stand though,” he said.

 Skolnick  is an average Joe in the sense that he loves to play sports and video games.  In addition, he is also a “full-time Yankee fan.”

Skolnick graduated high school from Henry Viscardi School.  HVS is a dedicated school that teaches students with physical disabilities and health impairments to enable them to be active, independent, self sufficient participants in society.  The school ranges in grades from kindergarten to 12th grade and is state funded.

Matt enrolled at HVS in the  middle of 5th grade.  “I didn’t want to go to the school at first because I was afraid of all of the kids who seemed to have more severe disabilities than I did.  But as time went on, it became a great comfort zone for me because someone was always there to help, and the classroom setting was very small which meant making friends was easy,” he said.

 “After graduating I wanted to make a gentle transition into college so I choose Suffolk County Community College.  I have to say my academic experience as a college student has been outstanding because academically this is a good school.  But socially it’s pretty hard.  There’s always that one seat empty next to me”

Prior to his first semester on campus, he had to purchase and move into a power chair rather than the manual chair he was previously in because of the hilly area.  Transportation and accessibility as a whole; not just for Skolnick, but all disabled individuals is improving because of the changes that are being made throughout society and the community.

“People are very helpful to my situation but they notice and stare at times.  Not so much in college, but out in the community with the general public. The best way I can describe it is like if Lady Gaga was walking through Penn Station in her meat dress; people’s heads would turn and eyes would stare and the attention would all be on that one person.  They just can’t help it”

With graduation at Suffolk approaching , Skolnick said he is looking to make another gentle transition to continue higher education at another institution without leaving his comfort zone.  He plans on staying in New York and on Long Island.  But, the first question, like so many other college students have, is what lies ahead in his life?  In addition to finding the right school academically fit for his best needs other questions hover over his future plans. Where will he live while attending his future school?  How will he commute? Will he dorm?  One thing is for sure his friendly personality and his steady work ethic will carry him though life.

Hurricane Season and Suffolk

By Barbara Donlon

With hurricane season in full swing, the likelihood of Long Island getting hit with a hurricane is pretty high. As it turns out, many people are unaware of when hurricane season is. Atlantic Hurricane season begins June 1 and is set to last until Nov. 30. According to Weather.com, September is the month when the Atlantic is most likely to see a hurricane form. With all the hype that stemmed from Hurricane Earl, it opened up the eyes of many Long Islanders and even people here at Suffolk Community college.

 According to Scott Mandia, a meteorologist for 23 years, and a professor here at Suffolk Community college, Long Island has a “28% probability that Region 10 which includes NY City/Long Island will be hit with a tropical storm or hurricane in 2010.” Usually the normal value for Long Island/NY City is “15 %,” so that leaves us with a 13% increase of a hurricane.

With the risk significantly higher and the close encounter with Hurricane Earl that leaves many people here at Suffolk worried. “I was worried about Hurricane Earl because they told us we were going to die,” said Nicole Brems, 19, a student in her second year at Suffolk. While it was obvious Brems was fully aware of the storm, it came as a shock to many students. Out of roughly 10 students asked, only 3 of them were aware it was hurricane season, the rest had no idea, nor did they want to have any idea.

Mandia went on to add via United States Landfalling Hurricane Probability Project that, there is a “99.9% probability that NY City/Long Island will be hit with a tropical
storm
 or hurricane in the next 50 years. [A] 99.4% probability that NY City/Long Island will be hit with a hurricane in the next 50 years [and a ] 90% probability that NY City/Long Island will be hit with a major hurricane (category 3 or more) in the next 50 years. In his professional opinion, Mandia said if Long Island were to get hit, it would “most likely be a category 1 because they are the most common overall.”

                                                                                                                         

On a brighter note, if Suffolk were to get hit with a hurricane, the college itself would be in good standing condition. Mandia mentioned that the college is actually a “designated shelter,” if we were to get hit with a hurricane. Also, the buildings would withstand the high winds a hurricane produces. “The buildings here will do fine because they are very sturdy and would not get hit with the ocean storm surge.  The surge is what causes the
most damage to buildings.  There will be some light wind damage but nothing that would be devastating,” said Mandia.

“Truthfully, I know this sounds awful, but I had no idea it was hurricane season. I knew about hurricane Earl possibly hitting us, but not for nothing the college never really announced it or made it a big deal about it. Luckily enough, it misses us and we were good,” said Lexi Durham, 18, a student attending her first year at Suffolk Community College. Oddly enough, Durham doesn’t stand alone with being unaware to hurricane season.

While it seems that Suffolk Community College would do well during a hurricane, the American Red Cross has set up a very important list of what you need to make a Family Emergency Kit. They recommend, Water (at least one gallon per person per day,) Non perishable food items, first aid kits, medications, battery-powered flashlights and radios, clothing, personal items, and important family documents. In addition to the family emergency kit, the American Red Cross also recommends making a disaster response plan. They recommend you always plan ahead, know that phones and email may not work, make sure all you loved ones know your contact numbers, and practice a communication plan often. You can never be to prepared for a natural disaster.

If Long Island does get hit with a hurricane this season, or even in upcoming seasons, remember Suffolk County Community College campuses are used as shelters so visit them if needed.  Keep informed with television, News 12 (channel 12,) TV 12 TW(channel 61) TWC (channel 62.) If television is out the following radio stations will keep you informed; WALK (97.5 FM,) WBAB (102.3 FM,) WBAZ (102.5 FM,) WRCN (103.9 FM) WLNG (92.1FM.) The Suffolk County Red Cross is reachable at http://www.SuffolkCounty.redcross.org By phone call: 1-877-PREP-4-LI OR 1-877-773-7454.

Hip Hop and Optimism Take Center Stage

By Brandon Mazzei

 Positive vibes were flowing freely on September 9th, where anxious fans were given the opportunity to witness a very intimate performance by one of hip hops most cunning lyricists, as Talib Kweli took center stage in Farmingdale, New York. The show also featured many local acts looking to ply their trade, gaining some much-needed experience prior to Kweli’s set.

For $25 dollars fans were offered the chance to experience hip-hop in its purest form. The concert, which was held at “The Crazy Donkey” and was promoted by “Loaded Rock Shows”, featured a small elevated stage that catered to the rappers eagerness to engage the audience. A solitary lighting rig illuminated the artists from above, and provided concert goers with an intimate venue.

The doors opened at six o’ clock, as fans were patted down and ushered in to prepare for what many anticipated to be a can’t miss show. Once inside, many scampered off to the bar in search of mixed drinks, while others made themselves comfortable at the available booths parallel to the stage. One by one the local acts were given their moment in the spotlight, and soon it became clear to those in attendance who was prepared to embrace it, and who was not. The artists all made a conscious effort to draw the fans attention in with captivating instrumentals and dynamic lyrics, but many fell short and left those in attendance sitting on their hands. Applause was scattered, and it seemed as if the crowd breathed a collective sigh of relief after each act said their goodbyes.

Standing out among this group of unproven artists was the rap duo of ‘Snottaynose’ and his accomplice ‘Pottymouth.’ Their punch lines were unbearably cheesy, and forced an otherwise quiet crowd to groan in disapproval. True fans of hip hop were certainly not in favor of two local artists who didn’t seem to take the creative aspect of their music overly seriously, including a song about the popular board-game “Battleship.”

Familiar faces appearing at the show included perennial local act ‘Team Beef’, consisted of “Carnivore” and “Crispy”, who are led by their front man “Grim.” While it was apparent that “Crispy” had honed his skill for some time (“Carnivore” not so much), it was difficult to take the act produced by his group seriously. With a grainy high-pitched voice, “Grim” sped through vocals that had fans confused about what exactly their songs were about. Better suited perhaps for a different crowd, it is safe to say that their unique blend of rock/rap was not well received.

Due to the amateur nature of most of the opening acts, fans were slow to respond throughout the evening, opting instead to socialize among one another. Cigarette breaks and trips to the bar were frequent, as new fans began arriving in droves hoping to catch Kweli’s set. While many spectators were informed of the possibility that he may not arrive until shortly before 1 o’ clock, it was announced by club management that Kweli would take center stage at midnight.

Hitting the stage around 10 ‘o clock was “Disconnect”, who was clearly inebriated and only seemed to get more intoxicated as his set lingered on. He seemed to have a strong local following, and his music was generally well received by the crowd who responded by showering him with adoration. Although a malfunctioning microphone almost put an abrupt end to his act, he was able to quickly rebound and bring the crowd to their feet. By far the most impressive musician up until that point, many were grateful for the opportunity to hear an unsigned talent spill his heart on stage.

Kweli posted a message on his twitter account just moments before taking the stage, tweeting at 10:52 p.m. “Crazy Donkey, Long Island. Grimy. Ok, I know what to do.”
He was backed by an endless array of infectious beats throughout the night supplied by longtime collaborator DJ Hi-Tek, and both artists worked hard to give the crowd their moneys worth. Touching on hits from previous albums such as 2002’s “Quality” and his 2004 release “The Beautiful Struggle”, Kweli was dedicated to performing each track with conviction. Packed in like sardines, fans scrambled for the opportunity to slap hands with Kweli as he belted out favorites such as “Never Been in Love.”
After receiving multiple requests to perform his commercially successful track “Get By”, the underground artist teased fans by responding that he “probably wasn’t gonna play that one, because people don’t usually like that one.” This of course incited fans who were eager to hear Kweli’s signature track, and they persisted until eventually he transitioned into the chorus which made the crowd roar in approval. After rapping for close to an hour, Kweli abruptly dropped the microphone and went backstage where he remained for the next ten minutes.
Lured out by chants of “Kweli”, he returned to perform an extra set which was well received. Perhaps the high point of the night came when Kweli performed his verse from Kanye West’s “Get ‘Em High”, which was followed by an onstage discussion over the most effective means of burning marijuana. He wrapped up shortly thereafter, and was seen exiting the front of the club and climbing into his Range Rover SUV, as the aroma of a lit joint still lingered by the stage.

Even the local MC’s were visibly awestruck by Kweli’s demeanor, as Sean “Disconnet” Morgan could be overheard asking friends if they had “ever been that close to a famous person before?” Alicia Hansen, 23 of Farmingville, made the drive out to the show specifically to see Kweli, and she was not disappointed. “I wish Talib performed a little longer, but it was hot. He really had the place jumpin’ when he did ‘Get By.'”

While most attending made the trip primarily to witness the premiere act, many fans were caught off guard by the verbal skills displayed by the lesser known talents. “I gotta give them mad props. A lot of the local acts did their thing, but Talib owned the stage. As far as the lesser known  MC’s and shit, I was really into ‘Team Beef'” confessed Bruce Alonzo, who is also an aspiring rapper himself. Indeed, the American dream was in full effect tonight, as unknowns were given the opportunity to share the stage with an authentic hip hop star and gain some much-needed experience in the process.

Not even the immaturity displayed by a handful of the opening acts could tarnish the indelible impression that was left on those who stuck around for Kweli. It was a successful night for hip-hop, as a good time was had by many and a love for music was the common thread that brought the mixed Long Island crowd to their feet.

 Perhaps the night  summed up best with a quote from Kweli, who said “My music is intelligent. But it is still music. I perform in nightclubs, not debate clubs. The drinks flow, smoke blow, speakers are loud. ”

Cross Country Runners Go The Distance

By Melissa Ann Bornschein

 Head Cross Country Track Coach Bob Mott is more like  an educational and inspirational adviser than a  typical coach.  Speaking of his team, Mott mentioned that only three runners are returning. He explained that the runners have team practice every Monday through Thursday and run an average of 3-10 miles during practice. They train weekly in the school’s weight room focusing on upper body, endurance, strength and speed.

Since the team this season is a young one with many new faces it’s important to gain input from returning team members.  

“Running keeps me occupied, and I enjoy the challenge running long distance provides,” Claudio Barros a sophmore said. Kristen Mortak a sophomore who has run since she was in seventh grade agrees with Barrios about running and its benefits.

 “It releases stress, helps to stay fit and gets you evolved with your school and community whether it be through fundraisers or running meets, ”Mortak said.  

“Running is an undesirable thrill” said sophomore Bryan Coyle. and when asked what advice would he would give to a younger student who just started his running career Coyle stated “Patience! You have to have the drive within yourself to carry out your tasks and faith in yourself that you will see it through.”

With three meets completed, mens and womens cross country team members are preparing for an Oct. 3 race at Van Cortlandt Park, hosted by the College of Staten Island.  They will compete in the Highlander Invitational  on Oct. 10 in New Jersey.

Volunteer Fair offers opportunites for student service

By Patrick Adams

Nothing makes you feel like you did something greater than to volunteer to make yours or someone else’s lives better. The College hosted a Volunteer Fair in the Montauk Point Room at the Babylon Student Center from 11 am to 2 pm Sept. 15.

Many organizations came to inform the students of volunteer opportunities in our county. Such organizations include Long Island Association for Aids  Care (LIAAC), the Peace Corps, and Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, The American Red Cross, YMCA Family Services (The William Floyd Project) and others.

Nina Scollo is a case worker for LIAAC which is a nonprofit organization delivering comprehensive services to all Long Islanders infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.

 “I believe my words and information really touched the students I

The Guide Dog Foundation accepts volunteers for working with dogs like Misty, a trainee, preparing to work as a guide for the blind.

with,” Scollo said.

Most tables had pens to give out to students but LIAAC provided a bowl of condoms. They were gone before she knew it.

“At least most students practice safe sex,” Scollo said. “I was surprised to see the girls wanted them more than the guys.”

Everybody has in one time in their lives heard about the American Red Cross but do you know what they do? And did you know that you could be a part of it? Tembi Jenkins is the director of the Suffolk county chapter. She was really informative about the programs offered to students. You could be a part of the Disaster Action Team, Client Caseworkers, or Logistics. For Thanksgiving you could do more than eating and watching  football. The Red Cross is sponsoring the Harry Chapin Food Bank. If you chose to volunteer, you would be a server and help the people who do not have anywhere to go on Thanksgiving. If you are interested in helping out for one day or for life you can call (631)-924-6700 x209. Jenkins last note was “And remember YOU can make a difference!” other services the Red Cross offers is CPR and first aid training.

One of the most interesting places to volunteer is the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind. This non Government funded organization focuses on training dogs to improve the quality of life for people, who are blind, visually impaired or have other special needs. There are a number of programs for students to volunteer.  One of the favorites is to volunteer in the kennels. If you are a dog lover, this is the job for you, as a kennel volunteer you provide hugs, kisses, and exercise for the dogs housed in their kennels. Volunteers play with their dogs in enclosed indoor and outdoor play yards. And if you’re a dog lover and don’t have a dog of your own there’s a program for you too.

Puppy Walkers is a program to make a commitment to take a puppy home for approximately 12 months. Puppy Walkers provide a safe and loving home where the puppy will learn housebreaking, obedience, excellent house manners, and socialization in public places. You will undergo an obedience training course and ongoing professional training and education while the puppy is in your home. If you love dogs, check out their website at www.guidedog.org.

One of the organizations that the students spent the most time at their table was the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps is the most intensive volunteer program at the fair and in life. The rewards of joining are great. Their presentation was about 10 to 15 minutes long and some of the students took chairs from the cafeteria and sat and listened and asked questions. It was like they were in class. Some were taking notes as well. Eddie Lennon a freshmen majoring in computer science asked the most questions. He was the most interested in joining. When asked what he liked the most in the Peace Corps he replied “I had never traveled or helped anyone in my life. I was thinking of joining the Army but my mom would have  killed me.” Eddie said. “I didn’t even think of the Peace Corps until I saw the sign.” 

 Vincent Wickes is the regional manager for the Peace Corps had a lot of information to give to the students. He made us think about what to do after college or even before. The Peace Corps offers free Graduate school at 60 accredited colleges around the United States. By joining the Peace Corps you will learn a different language, different cultures, and Leadership skills. Once you join you will go through three months of intensive training and then go in the field for 24 months.  But as Wickes says “it is the most enlightening moment to see what volunteers do.” If you would like to know more about Volunteering you can contact Career Services & Cooperative Education in the Babylon Student Center on the Ammerman campus.

Administration’s New Vision Ignites “One-College Athletic Program” Model

By George Verity

The college has eliminated five duplicated sport teams following a series of student forums in January and the hiring of College-Wide Athletic Driector, Samuel Braunstein in February.

 “Here at this institution we want to accomplish one central theme, one Suffolk identity.” said Dr. Marvin Bright, vice president of student affairs.  “But this is a process, a process that has a series of phases.”

Bright has been the Vice President of Student Affairs since the fall semester of 2007.  He has worked as an educator in the field of student affairs and athletics for the past 19 years at the higher education level. Braunstein has been Athletic director for the past six years at the college’s Grant campus, to go along with six previous years in the New York City system.  

Together they created what is now called the “One-College Athletic Program” model. 

“We have had positive feedback and no complaints from student leaders” Said Dr. Bright.

Before this model, intercollegiate athletics were run independently on separate budgets that competed against one another with different mascots and colors.  It consisted of duplicate sport teams on both the Grant campus in Brentwood and the Ammerman campus in Selden.  Men’s baseball, men’s basketball, and women’s volleyball were all duplicate sport teams offered at the college.  The Eastern Campus did not, and will not have sport teams because of its facility and size.

“Our goal is to have a seamless transition” Braunstein said.  “Basically we are taking two separate teams and putting them together to form one competitive team.”

With enrollment on the rise as a result of the economy, and more than 200 students participating in athletics at the intercollegiate level already, this vision and model appears to be successful.

 “I don’t see how this could be anything but beneficial because we are opening competition and putting the best athletes available together.  This will allow our athletes to become leaders and display excellence against other rivalries like Nassau Community College,” Braunstein said.  “Not only that, but now for the first time I have an assistant athletic director, Joseph Kosina.”

In addition, the “One-College Athletic Program” is looking to expand intramural programs by providing more opportunities for students to get involved on campus.  Intramural programs like dodge ball, flag football, ultimate Frisbee and basketball are now available for all students. Students with an i.d. card can participate in intramural registration in the Brookhaven Gym or on the student portal at MySCCC.

The college has already combined the two men baseball team’s into one sport team at the Ammerman Campus.  As of right now men’s baseball, basketball, cross-country, golf, soccer, tennis and women’s basketball, cross-country, softball, tennis, and volleyball teams are played at the Ammerman Campus.  Men’s basketball, bowling, lacrosse, outdoor track, swimming, and women’s bowling, outdoor track, soccer, swimming, and volleyball teams are played at the Grant Campus.  The remaining duplicated teams will be blended and fused together in September of 2011.  At this time one official mascot and school color will be announced to complete this vision of one identity and unity.

While students voiced their support in January’s forums, some athletes are concerned about the changes.

“The only difference is  having to prove yourself all over again to a new coach because he has never seen you play before” said Anthony Eilers, a former baseball player for the Longhorns at the Grant Campus who will be joining the baseball team at Ammerman.  “Also transportation will be kind of a pain because of the time distance and the cost of gas,” Eilers said.

Each week practices and home games will alternate on both campuses.  One week the team will play at Grant, the next at Ammerman. 

“One issue is transportation but because of our budget and ADA compliance we cannot provide transportation to these students as of right now.  We are continuing to investigate a solution, but you are always going to have snags and hurdles in such a process like this,” Bright said.

As a result of the “One-College Athletic Program” model there will be also a vigorous competition for coaches.  All intercollegiate coaches at the college serve on a yearly basis.  After every year the coach has to re-apply and interview for the position and the best candidate will be hired.  The athletic department has opened the search for coaches nationally.

Grant Campus Professor Releases Second Book

Grant campus Communications Professor William O'Connell has spent more than 2000 hours among the homeless of Venice Beach, Ca.

By Matthew Kogut

“I am an activist for the common struggling person in this country, the underdog, the person whose consciousness and voice has been shut down in mainstream America. I don’t dare have the nerve to think I am better than someone because I am more fortunate. I respect all people.”  William O’Connell

William “Bo” O’Connell, instructor of communications on the Grant campus,  has become a powerhouse when it comes to his work with the homeless. In his new book, “Chief Keetoowah “Legacy,” ” O’Connell details his experience with Chief Keetoowah and other homeless people in Venice Beach, Ca., through pictures.     

Chief Keetoowah, a former astrophysicist and subject of Professor William O'Connell's latest book, has been homeless for more than 25 years.

It all started with his first book, a Lulu Press worldwide best seller “Homeless In Paradise : Communicating with the Bohemian Venice Beach, CA Subculture”, where he talks about Chief Keetoowah,  also known as Chief Soaring Eagle. As stated in the book’s synopsis, Chief Keetoowah is a Native American man who is an astrophysicist with a PhD. He is called “The Chief” and although he has been homeless for 27 years, “he has been a civil rights activist through all of the movements against oppression, which transformed America in the 1960’s.”

 O’Connell first met the Chief four years ago in the underbelly of  Venice Beach, Ca., living among the  homeless. What drew him to the Chief was, “his vision, his sense of reality, and his ability to communicate and articulate on a level which for me was compelling enough that I wanted to know more,” O’Connell said. “Chief is a spiritual force,” he added.
            “The book was easy to write,” O’Connell said. “I am the type of person who sets up what I want to do in my mind well ahead of time and then I just go out there and do it! I am not waiting for the world to come to me — I am out there everyday living life to the fullest — you should too! We never know how life can change from one second to the next. There are people who lift and people who learn in this world — my mind stays busy.”

O’Connell is now an expert when it comes to the homeless. He has studied the homeless for five years and has stated he is one of a few people in the country who has spent more than 2,000 hours with homeless people. Being around homeless men, women, children, and even animals, has changed his way of thinking in life.
            He got inspired to work with the homeless by a Vietnam Veteran named Pruitt. When asked about how he got inspired, he said, “His story moved me because he only had one arm. The other arm he lost on the battlefield of Vietnam. Pruitt’s fascinating story is captivating. Every 18-year-old has a dream. His was taken away fighting for the American Flag. When he lost his arm, he lost inspiration to fulfill his dream. My dream is not to the elitist mentality…Most people go through life talking about making a difference, while I am making it in the lives of complete strangers whose voices would otherwise never be heard,” O’Connell said.
            What does the Chief have to say about this? On being a member of the homeless community, he stated, “Being homeless on the beach there is really no want for anything. There is nothing there but the sand, and the sea, and the sky. As far as the subsidence by prayer, meditation and getting focused and balanced in that arena, everything I received in the last seven years I did not have seven years ago. I received nourishment, good information, good entertainment, everything that a person needs to have through a movement achieved on a daily basis.”

In O’Connell’s research, it is also important to state that the Chief, for a number of years, has worked for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena,  Ca.
            But when it comes to working with the homeless, why Venice Beach, California? Why not New York City or any other places with an elevated level of homelessness?

“Venice Beach and Southern California has more homeless than anywhere in the country. More than 250,000 people are homeless in Los Angeles compared to 55,000 in New York,” O’Connell said.
            The communication instructor’s  hard work is finally paying off. He is currently working on a documentary called Voices in the Sand which is based on his books on the homeless of Venice Beach and the people who he has built close relationships with, including gang members. He is not giving much information out about his documentary. He has also been hired by British actor Russell Brand to serve as a contributor and consultant on a feature length documentary film titled Russell Brand’s Happiness Project. He set up locations, scenes, and brought the homeless to Brand, educating him about the crisis of homelessness. That movie is expected to air during the summer of 2011.
            On the topic of “fame,” The Chief was asked about how he felt about becoming more recognizable, “It’s the greatest honor that a person can be recognized and to be on a front cover of a book is extra love…You know I think that the spirit at this time in my life is calling me to be part of something that’s never been thought of or created.” He also stated, “Since the release of Professor O’Connell’s popular book I have been interviewed six times already. The Thai media recently interviewed me on a piece that they plan to use for children.”
            The Chief told O’Connell, when O’Connell went homeless in January of 2010, “it doesn’t matter if a person is homeless for 30 years or 30 seconds–what changes when someone experiences homelessness is that a person develops a deeper level of understanding of how important it is to help people.”
            “Chief Keetoowah “Legacy” “can be purchased at www.lulu.com , and all proceeds go to the Chief. O’Connell’s first book is also available for purchase as well on the same website. More information on Professor O’Connell, his books and current movie projects can also be found on his website www.williamoconnell.net.

 

 

 

 

 

SCCC drops the ball on 2010 hurricane season

 

Storm surge map for Long Island, New York

By Kendra Mercer 

A tidal wave of hype preceded Hurricane Earl’s predicted arrival on Friday, September 3, 2010.  That particular Friday marked the unofficial start to the Labor Day weekend that so many people celebrate to mark the end of the summer season.  During the entire week leading up to Earl’s impact with Long Island, news channels, both cable and local, radio stations and the internet were inundated with possible worst case scenarios and “cones of uncertainty”.  Unless you were living under a rock, it was next to impossible to be unaware of the impending doom the storm presented.  Or not. 

            Much to my surprise (sarcasm), the majority of the students in my classes had absolutely no idea the storm existed. They also had no idea what to do in the event this storm or any other actually made landfall on Long Island.  Really?  Really.  I am willing to cut my fellow students some slack since many of them were toddlers or not even born the last time a major hurricane made landfall on the island.  They certainly don’t remember our old friend Gloria from 1985, or even Bob from 1991.  What did surprise me was the lack of hurricane preparedness information, specifically the fact that not one piece of information was distributed by the college.  Nothing noted on the main college website, nothing mentioned on MySCCC, no emails sent out listing tips on how to stay safe, not even a memo to be read out loud by the professors at the beginning of class.  I seem to recall at least once last semester, a lock down drill college wide as a precautionary measure to help educate the students in the case of a campus shooting or similar threat.

             Every news organization I tuned into, as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association called for a strong probability that Earl was going to make landfall in the North East.  The only area of uncertainty was how close it would come to Long Island.  Some of the early prediction models showed the possibility of Earl actually making landfall here on the island.  Either way, we were going to feel the effects of Earl, at the very least, tropical storm conditions.  Was the college remiss in notifying students on contingency plans and tip sheets related to preparation?  I think so.  I actually posted a few comments on the SCCC Facebook page, asking why they hadn’t posted information for the students with regards to storm preparation.  My questions were met with a link taking me to a Facebook page for SCCC’s own Professor Mandia, a meteorologist, and another response included a link to his blog and weather page.  I had never heard of Professor Mandia and wondered how many other students were in my boat.  Casually asking my classmates through out the week, I discovered that a large majority of them, both new and continuing, had not heard of him either.  I was annoyed by the response given to me, and felt the college, at least on the Facebook page, was being very flippant about a potentially serious situation.  (Don’t worry; I made a point to share that opinion with the College on their Facebook page.)  What’s my point?  My point is this.  If the College has time to send out emails in error to students telling them they are losing their schedule, and has the time to keep up a Facebook account, and has the time to practice lock downs in case of other emergencies, then shouldn’t the College make the time to inform and educate students on what to do in case of severe weather, such as a hurricane or tropical storm?  YES, they should.  I’m no Chicken Little and the sky is not falling.  I understand, especially being a journalism student, that T.V. sensationalism and media hype is overwhelming common sense and responsible reporting.  I also understand that you can’t believe everything you see and hear, and need to maintain a reasonable and logical sense of perspective when it comes to any type of natural disaster or weather event.

             Now we find ourselves half-way through September, which by the way is considered by many weather experts to be the peak time of the hurricane season. Two major hurricanes (a category 3 and 4 at the time of this writing) are churning in the Atlantic and a third has already made landfall in Mexico.   It would be prudent to make sure you and your family know what to do in case of an evacuation, or if you choose to ride out the storm, how to prepare your house and protect your loved ones.  If the College won’t fill you in on that information, then we will.  Please see the links provided below for information on Hurricane preparation, safety precautions and other information about hurricanes and Long Island.  Are you ready? 

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ 

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/HAW2/english/disaster_prevention.shtml 

http://www.liprepares.org/hurricaneli.cfm?lang=en 

http://www.lidarc.com/downloads/floodzone.pdf 

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/SuffolkCCC?ref=ts 

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000811221015&ref=ts

Finding A Place, The Latoya Remy Story


By Jennifer White
“ This can’t be happening, I don’t want to go”, Latoya Remy said, as her father started the moving van. This was it they were leaving their old lives behind. There sat Latoya, as she was holding her hand to the window. She was looking back at the place she lived all her life. Slowly wiping the tears from her eyes; knowing her life wasn’t going to ever be the same. They were on their way to a new future, one that Latoya wasn’t at all ready for.

            She was thirteen years old; when her parents moved from Queens New York, to Suffolk county Long Island. “ I was in complete culture shock”, Latoya said when asked about her move. She was in an entirely new environment, one very different from the one she spent most of her life in.

            “ I walked into school the first day, feeling out-of-place. No one there talked to me, no one even cared to get to know me”. Latoya said as she recalls her first day of junior high school. She was placed in the Three Village School Districts. She didn’t see many African-American students as she roamed the halls of  her new school. “ It was hard because I knew I wanted to fit in. I just didn’t know how, or even where to start. I never really felt at home, I went from a school with the majority of students being African-American and Hispanic. To  almost every student being white. I couldn’t find any other students who were like me. Not just because most of the school was Caucasian but because I was a city girl living in suburbia”. Latoya said while talking about her feelings of coming to Long Island.

            “I told Latoya to never let anything keep you down! I encouraged her to try new things. I wanted her to join a club and get involved in her new school. This was to be her new home and I felt that she should try her best to like it here. I wanted to make sure she kept who she was intact. Most kids who move at such a crucial age as Latoya did find it can be hard. Especially when you feel the need to fit in. What made it harder was she couldn’t find a common ground to stand on. She couldn’t find friends who she felt she connected with. She didn’t feel that anyone understood her culture and came from the same backgrounds as she did”. Charmain Remy said, speaking about her daughter Latoya.

            It had nothing to do with color, it had to do with culture. Latoya did make and had a lot of friends. By the time she went to high school, she made life long friends from all different cultures. She loved the friends she kept near and dear to her heart. It wasn’t that She didn’t love them, or consider them good enough. It was  just that she wanted a home like feeling. “I wanted someone to talk to about certain things. That some of my other friends wouldn’t understand”. Latoya said describing her need for familiarity.

            Latoya joined some clubs in high school and they didn’t really fill the void for what she was looking for. She never truly felt at ease, or at home in her school. No matter how long she had been there. It was like she was always searching for a place to feel 100 percent herself. She graduated in 2008 from Ward Melville High school, it was a sad and happy time for her. She had been accepted to St. Johns University in Queens. She was hoping she would  finally be able to move on. To find what she left, Maybe even fill a void she had for many years.

            She started at St. johns in the fall hoping to feel at home again. She stayed for a few semesters. It went well and she liked it, but even being back in her old neighborhood didn’t feel like home. She couldn’t find the unity she longed for anywhere she went. She moved back home  on Long Island with her family. So without any other options she figured she would enroll at Suffolk Community College.

            “ You have to talk to Malika Lockheart”. Charmain Remy, Latoya’s mother insisted. So Latoya set up an appointment with Malika who works on campus; as an admissions counselor. It was the day of her appointment and she walked in and met Malika. Who right away looked and talked in a manner that was inspiring. Malika was trying to convince Latoya to join extra curricular activities here on the campus. “ I didn’t want to join anything here at Suffolk. I liked Malika but I didn’t want to join any more clubs. Up to this point I was sick of trying new things. All they did was just leave me feeling empty”, Latoya said.

            Malika was wise and she was proud and she asked Latoya to come and check out her club. “ We help each other and others, it is a club for everyone. Not just African-Americans, its open and anyone and everyone is welcome. it’s a place where everyone can take pride in African culture”. Malika said about the African-American Culture Club.

            After talking to Malika, Latoya went to check out the club, she was shocked to find. How homey and comfortable it was there. So she kept coming and slowly  becoming apart of the club. “ I felt at home, it was a place where we reflect on our day and get things done. We help others by put together benefits. We are planning a lot this year! We will be planning benefits, to help many people. I want to try to have a fundraiser for Katrina and maybe an African Fashion show”. Latoya said while talking about upcoming events.

                        After being in the club for a while Latoya can say she found a place to express, learn and become a part of helping others. Not to mention she is now the president of the club. She was voted to be president by her fellow club members. She is finally in a place where she can help others, learn and be a apart of something that helps her feel at home. For those of you who are interested, in joining or checking out this club. The African-American Culture Club meets on Wednesdays, from 11:00 to 12:15. In room 108, in the Islip Arts building. They have a Facebook page which you can find on Facebook, under AASU Selden.  Latoya is encouraging  anyone who feels or has felt as she did; or anyone who feels like they need a place to feel at home. To come and be apart of something more than just an extracurricular activity. To find a sense of not only culture but of awareness.

Film ‘Vampires Suck’ Shines Light on Vampire Obsessed America

By Colleen Maidhof

Directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer who are popularly known for such Sub-genre satires as ‘Scary Movie’ haven’t moved forward from their moderately long string of disasters including their 2008 ‘Disaster Movie’.

Their film ‘Vampires Suck,’ a parody of the ‘Twilight” series by Stephenie Meyer is not only a disaster, but a hilarious one. It is so terrible, yet so true. It intensifies some of the nonsense of ‘Twilight’, and it truly but cruelly brings to light the fact that one of America’s top-selling series has simply become a sick obsession for some of its fans.

The parody ‘Vampires Suck’ truly did suck. It received a 6 percent rating on Rottentomatos.com. The original 2008 ‘Twilight’ received a 50 percent rating. In the film, characters are given creative spoof names which are similar to their original names in the ‘Twilight’ film. Bella Swan becomes Becca Crane, Edward Cullen becomes Edward Sullen, and Jacob Black becomes Jacob White. The plot consisted of scattered moments from the first two ‘Twilight’ films where the director believed puns could be inserted, and scattered tidbits of pop culture  could be included in attempt to add more humor. For example, when Bella does the whole ‘I know what you are’ scene from the original ‘Twilight,’ her guess is ‘the Jonas Brothers’ instead of a vampire. Then in attempt to make that scene even more comical when he tries to explain to Bella that he is a killer, he shoots Alice from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ to prove his point.

At first these random scenes were sort of funny, but when they continued, it just became embarrassing to watch.

“I thought the movie ‘Vampires Suck’ was bad, but I also found it kind of funny, too. It brought to attention how silly the ‘Twilight’ movies actually are. Hopefully, others also see that while watching it,” said theatre major Jose Garcia.

America is becoming so obsessed with the ‘Twilight’ series that the ‘Edward Cullen’ has become a well-known hair style, and parents are even naming their children after their favorite characters. Cullen, the surname of Edward leaped almost 300 spots from the 2008 popular boy’s name list according to the Social Security Administration’s Annual Rundown of most popular names for newborns; however, Vampire Cullen has a slick competitor, his rival Jacob Black the wolf. Jacob is currently the most popular boy’s name on the list , and we can’t forget about Isabella Swan the indecisive lover.

The most common name for female newborns is Isabella, and Bella her nickname is placed number 58 on the chart.

“Twilight has very strong messages that I don’t agree with, and I don’t think society should be responding to in the way it is. To name a child because of a certain character out of respect for his/her actions is understandable, but what has Bella done? She doesn’t go to college. She gives up any semblance of a normal life for a boy. If you take Edward out of the equation, Bella has no friends, no income, and no real personality in my opinion. Her biggest decision in life is whether to choose one boy or another, and this is the decision that will impact her life the most. As for Edward I think it places unrealistic expectations on guys. I mean, are they really supposed to be able to physically stop a speeding Volvo with their bare hands and not get a scratch,” said Journalism major Pamela Cori.

The obsession doesn’t stop there. Large arrays of ‘Twilight’ supplies are not only found in places where most would anticipate them to be like in movie rental stores or bookstores. Shelves in various stores and supermarkets are filled to their brim with ‘Twilight’ folders, backpacks, lunch boxes, fangs, underwear, buttons, posters, life-sized cardboard shrines, and even shirts that say Team Edward or Team Jacob on them.

Kids are wearing ‘Twilight’ backpacks and fangs, and young teenage girls are worshiping their life-sized cardboard Edward Cullen. People of all ages are going vampire crazy. People are becoming so vampire crazy that the entertainment industry has even caught on.

After ‘Twilight’ gained so many fans ‘True Blood’ and ‘Vampire Diaries’ came out to ride its coat tails. Several other movies that are vampire-related also have been released this past year like ‘The Vampires Assistant’, ‘Day Breakers’, and ‘Transylmania’ another vampire spoof. America has had obsessions in the past that have simply turned into memorable fads. In the 1990’s for example ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’, ‘Jaws’, and ‘Friday the 13th’, were so popular that many sequels followed. On top of that, there were tons of children that dressed as Freddy Krueger or Jason for Halloween. Also, in the 1970’s the ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ was the young adult obsession for a long time. America’s new fad seems to be sparkly vampires, but just in case keep garlic and sun glasses handy for your own sake.