The School of Journalism never sleeps, or at least never takes a summer vacation.
I’m pleased to report that we have launched a series of initiatives this summer, ranging from students reporting on opioid addiction on Long Island to the first phase of a planned “makeover” of our TV control room and studio, each funded by a major gift.
But before I describe these projects, and more, I want to introduce our newest readers, the class of 2018, our eleventh graduating class, and the largest in our history. To the 41 members of the class, welcome to your first edition of the Alumni Newsletter.
Now for some news.
On June 23, we began a joint reporting project with three East End news organizations — the Times Review Media Group in Riverhead, the Press News Group in Southampton and The Sag Harbor Express — that will focus on the opioid epidemic wreaking havoc across the region.
The goal of the project is to produce multi-media reports on the roots of the crisis, how it has impacted people and their families, along with its impact on town and village police departments and first responders who are on the front lines in fighting the epidemic. Five of our students, under the guidance of Professor Reiner, will be working side-by-side with reporters from the various news organizations and their work will be published across all of the outlets.
The project is an example of unprecedented cooperation between competing Long Island weekly newspapers, and is unique in that it also includes a school of journalism partner. Our participation is being funded by a grant from the Marilyn J. Simons Foundation. The foundation has awarded the school $150,000 over three years to increase “experiential reporting opportunities.” The grant enabled us to send nine students to cover the March for Our Lives in Washington last March. We intend to launch two projects a year that will include reporting in the region and across the country.
Departing on June 24, nine of our students started searching for stories 6,970 miles away in South Korea, as part of our latest Journalism Without Walls expedition. (Given recent news development, I can’t imagine a more opportune place to find terrific stories!)
The trip is being led by Professor Haddad, who is guiding his second group to the Korean peninsula. Our Journalism Without Walls program has now spawned a dozen overseas trips to nine different countries. About 125 students have participated, or about 30 percent of our nearly 400 graduates. Many of you tell us it is a key differentiator and talking point during their job interviews.
Now thanks to the family of Catherine Ayscue even more students will get the opportunity. Catherine was a creative and engaging journalism major, lover of the arts, and editor of the campus literacy magazine. In the summer of 2014, she journeyed to China with us, but tragically died in January 2015. To honor her memory, her parents have generously endowed the Catherine Ayscue Memorial Scholarship, earmarked to support a student participating in the Journalism Without Walls program. For those of you who knew Catherine, or accompanied her on the China trip, I think you will agree that this is a wonderful way to celebrate her spirit.
Many of us not globe-trotting this summer, won’t remain idle either, especially Phil Altiere, who will begin the expansion of our studio and control room space. There is lots of exciting news on this front. We have been given access to Control Room B in the ECC building, a larger space with risers that will allow for more behind-the-camera instruction. Ivana Stolnik, class of 2016, has also agreed to fund new equipment and software, allowing us to have the capability to do cutting-edge graphics, more live, remote broadcasting, and to realize the long overdue “makeover” of our set. All of this will go hand-in-hand with making our broadcast/video curriculum more up-to-date and competitive.
Phil is hoping to complete phase one, the wiring of Control Room B to our existing studio, by the week of July 15, when we welcome our latest class in the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists. It will be our largest class, 26 students, representing 20 high schools stretching from the Bronx to Westhampton Beach, with one major exception.
This summer we reserved two spots for students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the scene of the horrific school shooting last Valentine’s Day. We reached out to show our support for the school’s journalism program, and to note that several of those killed had ties to Long Island.
Two student journalists from MSD, Taylor Yon and Zoey Gordon, will be joining us for the institute in a few weeks.
If you are available a couple hours or a day or two during the week of July 15, and would like to mentor students, or help in the newsroom, please email Maureen at Maureen.firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love your help.
Five weeks later, we will bookend the summer with a three-day News Literacy Summer Academy that will bring to campus about 35 high school and middle school teachers from 18 Long Island and New York City school districts. The teachers will develop lessons they can immediately use in their classrooms next fall. This is part of our effort to adapt our News Literacy curriculum for younger students.
The following week, the new semester starts!
(I am getting tired just reading this.)
In turn, I hope you are doing well pursuing the dream of your choice. And please don’t follow our example. Get some rest this summer! (And come visit.)
Rachel O’Brien: has been working as a media manager for the free-market think tank, The Manhattan Institute, since October 2017, after about a decade as a journalist.
She has gotten to work with renown economist and Harvard professor Ed Glaeser, New York City transit and budget guru Nicole Gelinas, Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, an expert on terrorism and national security, and many more great minds who she has the honor of picking on a regular basis.
But she misses her true love, journalism, and she’s looking for new opportunities. Stayed tuned!
She lives on Staten Island with her three cats and her anomalistic boyfriend, a talk radio producer and host.
Matt Weinberger: I’m currently working as a Senior Editor at Business Insider. Over the last year or so since my last update, I’ve gotten to go on Good Morning America as a tech expert twice, and Fox 5 brought me on to discuss a story I wrote. Back in November, my partner and I ran away to City Hall to get married. We still live in San Francisco with our dog, Wookiee.
Class of 2009
Bill Lind: I graduated 9 years ago this winter.
Moved to philly. Climbed the ladder. Transferred to WCBS. Still climbing the ladder. Currently working on our morning shows so we can tell you everything you need to know “the minute you’re up!”
I’m the overnight assignment editor. Been at WCBS 4 years in August and CBS 8 years in July. It’s fun and chaotic and I learn new things everyday.
I run the overnight assignment desk. I pick our stories for news coverage, whether it is a local story, National piece, or a feature.
I manage 5 photographers and 2 reporters. Along with holding the hands of everyone else in the newsroom. But it’s fun and I love it. And when I’m not working it means I get to enjoy the sunshine with my rescue dog Luna.
Class of 2010
Dominique Batiste: It’s baffling realization that it’s been 8 yrs. since graduation from SBU J-School! OMG, seems like a lifetime ago. I do miss my days reporting for SB News and late nights in the newsroom. My life has been none stop ever since…
During my senior year at SBU I interned for AMC Network’s Research Department. Within a year of graduating, I was offered a full time Ad Sales Research Analyst position. That started me on a path of growth in the TV Media Research field. There I acquired the foundation of my research knowledge. I was exposed and trained on Nielsen Ratings products as well as taught how to understand trends and convey to clients the big picture stories of what’s impacting the television landscape. After about 3 yrs. with AMC, I plateaued in my professional growth there (working 1 yr. as an intern and 2 yrs. as an analyst was enough; it was time to move on).
For the next 5 yr., I worked for Food Network / Cooking Channel as a Sr. Analyst of Program Research. In that role I provided consumer behavior insights for on air programming, digital sites, FN Magazine and FN Wine (Etwine).
Today I head the Consumer Insights Team for Starz Entertainment as Director of Consumer Insights and Analytics. I’ve been here for just 3 months and already I’ve done so much to impact change and deepen the understanding of my internal clients who the Starz customers are and better ways to market and arget them.
In addition to growing in my professional field, I’ve been a mentor through the T-Howard foundation for 5+ years. I’ve managed to purchase 3 real-estate properties (2 in NY and 1 in ATL) and I am in the process of starting my own commercial cleaning business Dream Clean Commercial Cleaners. I hope all is well on your end and at the J-School. Please send my best to everyone.
Theresa Dooley: I’m now attending graduate school at Simmons College in Boston. I’m pursuing my Master’s in Library and Information Science. Right now I’m working as a supervisor and training specialist at UMass Amherst’s Du Bois Library. It’s a cool opportunity, especially because the people are so passionate about what they do, and there are ample opportunities for me to explore the different paths I can take once I have my MSLIS. Luckily I live in the library/book/history/museum capital of New England! Hoping to have more updates for you in another year or two.
Elana Glowatz: I’m a news editor at the New York Post, working on the production of the print edition.
Class of 2011
Micah Danney: I’m currently based in Jerusalem on a three-month fellowship with The GroundTruth Project. I’m also finishing up a fellowship with the John Jay College/Harry Frank Guggenheim Symposium on Crime in America.
I’m doing some freelancing outside of that, but right now I’m focused on these current projects. Based in Brooklyn long-term.
Kasey Scheffiln-Emrich: At the beginning of May I moved to Naples, Florida with my boyfriend of eight years. I started a job as a preschool teacher assistant at The Village School of Naples.
I am doing freelance journalism on the side. In the last update I gave I had said I just became an aunt. My nephew is now 3 years old and the cutest thing ever. Before I moved to Florida, I went to Disney with my family which was my nephews first time there.
Vasili Sushko: Living in Miami. Graduating in December 2018 with an MBA (University of Miami Executive MBA Program). Currently working as General Sales Agent for Aeroflot Cargo at Miami International Airport.
Class of 2012
Kaitlyn Gallagher: As of recently, I’ve been promoted to Associate Director, Business Development at Socialfly, a social media marketing and influencer marketing agency. I now handle agency growth and new client acquisition.
Marta Lora Reina: After graduation, I travelled a lot, changing jobs and discovering new countries. I lived in Brussels for a while writing a few freelance stories. After that, I moved to Morocco where I got a job teaching English and Spanish in a local school.
Finally, I ended up moving to Cuba because I was hired as a sales representative for the Latin America area by a company that manufactures awnings and other sun shading products. There is where I met my husband.
Recently, my husband and I moved back to Spain and we are now parents of a beautiful four-months-old baby girl named Valentina.
I still work for the same company and I really enjoy my job because I should travel a lot (which I love) and I must deal with clients the whole day (and I love communicating).
Jon Millian: I’m currently the producer of Channel 7 Eyewitness News’ 5 pm newscast on weekends. I also write for all shows and have filled in as a producer for just about every show WABC has.
I was hired in April 2017, prior to which, I spent nearly five years at NY1 (where I started as a writer and finished as a producer who filled in as an executive producer about half the time).
In my final few months at NY1 I was internship coordinator, and teaching/mentoring is still a passion of mine. So I’m happy to contribute to the J-School and the alumni program in any way I can.
Class of 2013
Amy Onorato: Amy Onorato is the Managing Editor at DMN, a print and online publication covering marketing, data, and technology. Working directly under Editor-in-Chief, Amy manages day-to-day editorial operations, and is the project leader for partner content, webinars, and print editions. She lives in Astoria with her boyfriend, who she’s been dating since meeting him at Stony Brook five years ago.
Frank Posillico: It’s been a busy last few months. I was promoted to Senior Editor, Video at the New York Daily News. I help oversee the video department and manage a staff of producers and advise photographers and reporters on video. I also find the time to work on my own short documentary content for the site.
I’ve also just become Director of Social for The Video Consortium, a group for non-fiction filmmakers with chapters in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Paris.
This summer I plan on working outside as much as possible and taking a few long weekends off. And I’ll be returning to work with Cathrine Duffy and Zachary Dowdy for my eighth year at the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists.
Brian Stallard: I’m still on Long Island and working as a science communicator for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
The new news is that the pet project podcast that I produce and cohost for the Lab was nominated for a 2018 Webby Award! Although we didnt take the grand prize, this means that the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS) named us among the “five best podcasts in the world” for the subjects of science and education!
It was exciting news that I was eager to share at the time of nomination, so you may have already heard.
Otherwise, things are going very well for me and I’m hoping for the same for the other alumni.
Class of 2014
Suraiya Afrina: Currently, I am working as a Knowledge Management and Multimedia Consultant with the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP.
Joe Damiani: Hope everything is well at Stony Brook! I recently started a new role as a web producer at Fox News Insider after working with News 12 Networks for almost 3 years.
Insider is the official blog for Fox News channel. I really enjoy it so far!
I plan on moving to Long Island City this summer and I’m excited for what’s to come!
Caithlin Pena: I wasn’t able to respond in the last few J-school updates since nothing much was really going on in my professional life.
Last year, the CEO for the media website I work for, YourTango, released her first book,”Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love” and I participated in some of the promotions by writing a personal essay related to the book.
Also, I was recently promoted from Editorial Fellow to Editorial Assistant so that was exciting as well!
Class of 2015
Brendan Jones: I work at the NHL and MLB network in Secaucus, NJ on the studio production team. I also produce sportscasts at News 12 Long Island when I am not at the two networks. The NHL and MLB networks are in the same building in Secaucus as Major League Baseball owns both TV entities.
I was at a start up in Florida called the American Sports Network for 2 years prior to this anchoring and reporting. That network was sold and our entire staff got laid off by the new employers (bummer), but was an incredible learning experience. It has definitely been a pretty wild ride so far, but just wanted to keep you updated!
Class of 2016
Becky Anzel: My mother died in June, so I escaped to the middle of nowhere, a “city” of about 13,000 — Springfield, Illinois. Since then, I earned a masters degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois. It is a portfolio-based program, so instead of being stuck in a classroom for 10 months, I was placed with the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin’s state capitol bureau, covering everything from new legislation and the effects of federal programs to the everyday political back-and-forth for an audience of lawyers, judges and legislators.
Illinois’ state government is just as exciting and dysfunctional as everyone considers Albany to be. The thing on everyone’s minds here is whether lawmakers will pass a budget, which is only a big deal because they had not done so for almost three years. Currently, I am interviewing for jobs out here in the mid-west — I’m not ready to come back to the east coast just yet.
Jasmine Blennau: I completed my graduate assistantship at St. John’s Athletics and graduated with an MBA in marketing. Attending graduate classes at night and working unreal hours as an assistant multimedia director was the most challenging thing that I have done in my career. The NYC grind made me so much stronger and I am grateful for that.
I recently moved to a quiet beach town in Connecticut and began a position as an Associate Producer / Equipment Specialist at Fairfield University. I get to produce, direct, shoot and edit, while also managing an equipment room for the Film, Television and Media department. I continue to freelance at media organizations such as NBA, CBS Sports and ESPN.
Janelle Clausen: I marked my first anniversary of joining Blank Slate Media in late March, meaning I have held a full-time journalism job for more than a year. This [somehow] makes me the senior-most reporter in the office. I recently got an honorable mention for “Rookie of the Year” from the New York Press Association for my reporting too.
It’s been quite a ride so far. I haven’t had time for relationships or volunteering. The only personal development that’s firm is that after 24 years of being an only child, I have a little sister now named Rosa – my parents insist the dog my mom and I adopted is my sister. It’s a huge development since I’ve never owned a dog and it’s been about a decade since my parents ever entertained having pets. She keeps me sane. 🙂
Bridget Downes: I’m working as a full-time reporter for the Long Beach Herald at Richner Communications, a media company that publishes 15 community-based newspapers around the south shore of Long Island.
I write stories, shoot photos and produce videos. I was hired by the Herald in 2016, six months after I graduated from the Stony Brook School of Journalism. Before that, I was working as a freelance videographer producing content for the Stony Brook hospital.
Basil John: I miss you guys a lot back in NY. I really hope I can come back and visit at some point. Right now, I’m still at WWAY News in Wilmington, NC. I’m a reporter and fill-in anchor and I’ve been here for a year and a half.
Right now, just getting ready for hurricane season and the summer heat. Personally, life is still the same. I’m still the father to a parrot and who knows where I’m heading next.
Sara Tweksbury: I am now a full time reporter for KTVF Channel 11, I think that is the only news since the last newsletter.
Kelly Zegers: I’m currently working at Times Review Media Group on the North Fork with three other SBU graduates and this fall I’ll be attending the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. I learned so much and gained a lot of confidence in my reporting while working on the East End since graduating in 2016, so I’m excited for this next step and to see what I can do in the city.
Class of 2017
Siobhan Becker: I started my own photography business last fall while I was doing 490, and I’ve been working on growing it since graduation. I do Sweet 16 celebrations, Mitzvahs and other special events.
Chris Leelum: I will be traveling to Costa Rica in October to get my certification in teaching English as a foreign language. Then, I plan on teaching in Costa Rica for the 2019 school year and then moving around Asia and Europe teaching for the next couple of years.
I’ll be creating a blog to document my adventures so I hope to be able to share that with my former classmates soon.
Arielle Martinez: I’m still at CFR, and last month I was promoted to digital production coordinator. We’re working on (a) producing the first set of modules for our new education website, World101 (world101.cfr.org) and (b) producing new content for Model Diplomacy, an online simulation of the National Security Council (modeldiplomacy.cfr.org).
My department, Education, is actually going on a hiring spree. We’re looking for, among other things, a video producer and a digital production associate.
Samantha Mercado: Since I graduated in December I’ve started working as a news producer at Fios 1 News. I’m learning a lot so far and really liking my first broadcast job. It was a a bit of a change from the print journalism I studied at Stony but I’m enjoying it nonetheless.
I didn’t want to lose my print roots so I still freelance on the side for a local magazine in the Hudson Valley called The Hook.
Real world life is great, but I do miss college and the J-school! Hope everyone is doing well!
Nikita Ramos: I’m working as an MMJ at WETM-TV, an NBC affiliate in Elmira, N.Y. We serve the Twin Tiers of Southern Upstate N.Y. and Northern Pennsylvania.
It’s so much fun being in an environment where I’m learning every single day with people who are driven to deliver quality news. I meet a lot of people in this area just from putting these stories together about the community and I’m loving every moment of it.
Julio Avila, another alum from the J-School works with me as anchor, reporter and producer. It’s great having a familiar face around and talking about J-School memories.
Jager Robinson: Thought I’d give you guys an update from out here in South Dakota!
Last July I moved to South Dakota to be a reporter at the Tri-State Neighbor, an agriculture-focused newspaper in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I did this mainly to be closer to my girlfriend who goes to school in Yankton, South Dakota and is studying to be a nurse.
All is well out on the prairie and it’s been an enjoyable ride. Coming up on the year anniversary is a bit scary to think about, but the summer should be a productive one!
Congratulations to Harvey Aronson, who last month was inducted into the Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame.
The honor celebrates his more than 65 years as a working journalist, best-selling author, freelance writer and caring teacher. He was feted at a Long Island Press Club dinner and awards ceremony attended by more than 200 people who gave him a rousing standing ovation – before and after his speech.
After an entertaining introduction by Dean Howard Schneider, Harvey came to the podium. He was supposed to speak for five minutes but together he and the Dean regaled the audience for more than a half hour. “I only got to speak for 10 minutes longer than Howie,” he said afterward.
Of course, Harvey told stories – about politicians and celebrities he covered, about witnessing history as a journalist in Dallas after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and in Alabama as the all-white public schools were integrated. He evoked a bygone time in America and in journalism. And his enduring passion for good writing and storytelling was more than evident.
“I love to report. I love to write,” he told the audience, which included friends, family, and former and current colleagues and students as well as generations of journalists. “Some of my best moments have taken place on a typewriter.”
Just three weeks before, Harvey marked his 89th birthday. “I’m trying for 100,” he told the crowd.
For those of you who had Harvey as a professor, you won’t be surprised to know that Irene Virag, his wife of 26 years and his co-teacher since the inception of the School of Journalism, was by his side. And that he’ll be teaching narrative journalism again next semester.
Doesn’t it seem like yesterday when we were bonding over last minute 490 changes and panicking about getting an ‘Accuracy F’? As you will read in this newsletter, you will see all the amazing things the J-School alum are up to. We have all come a long way.
For those of you who don’t know me, I graduated in the spring of 2013 and work as a producer at the New York Daily News where I help run the video department. I have been on the J-School alumni board for the last three years and now and I am now stepping up to be President.
For the past several years, Rachel O’Brien (class of 2008) served as board president. She has done an amazing job forming the board and starting off some tradition. Although she is stepping down, she will still stay on as a board member. I know I can speak for the rest of the board in thanking her for her leadership.
Now where you come in. We are looking for new people to be part of the board. The board has done some events in the past such as a Homecoming tailgate, a get together in the city and a workshop on how to get your second job.
Whether you are a journalist, or working in Public Relations or law, I want to hear from you. I am hoping to do more alumni networking events, workshops and fundraising for the school. We are open to ideas.
If you are interested in becoming a board member or have an idea, drop me a line at email@example.com. I would love to hear from you.
As you remember, it is customary at the conclusion of each graduation convocation to ask graduates to assemble for a final, group photo. These photos now proudly adorn our office walls, ranging from the snapshot of the seven members of the class of 2008, all photo-shopped in astronaut garb (after all, the school was about to “take off”) to the 41 members the class of 2017, our tenth graduating class.
Below you will find class notes and personal updates from fellow alums. But I also got to thinking: what would a group snapshot look like if we could assemble all of you together, or at least, could we compile a composite of what you are collectively up to?
So we’ve tried to track down as many of our 365 graduates as possible – through Facebook, LinkedIn, alumni surveys and social media – to determine where you are working. In the end, we reached nearly 85 percent of you. And here’s what we found:
About 70 percent of you are working for news organizations, or in related communications positions, in such fields as public relations, marketing, advertising, social media or digital production.
Those of you in the news business work for some of the top outlets in the country, including CBS News and Sports (leading all outlets with 13 alums), ABC News, NBC News, Fox, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Reuters and the Associated Press. You also work for local TV affiliates in Amarillo, Texas, Elmira, New York, Wilmington, North Carolina, and Portland, Maine, for NPR-member stations in St. Louis and Seattle, and for local newspapers in Fort Worth, Texas and Lowell, Massachusetts.
In the New York area, five of you work for Newsday, four for the New York Daily News, and nine of you work for News 12 Long Island Networks and News 12 Interactive, where you are building a pipeline to help each other.
You’re also in the vanguard of some of the country’s non-traditional news outlets, working for BuzzFeed, Vice, The Verge, Cheddar and the Center for Public Integrity. And three of you have founded your own companies or websites. (Make money fast. Endowed chairs are waiting in your name!)
But here’s the neat thing. Reflecting the fragmentation — and opportunities — of the current media landscape, you collectively work for about 60 different outlets. In other words, ten years after we launched the school, we are everywhere.
Finally, some thoughts about those of you who have chosen to use your communication skills for other purposes. You are doing some amazing things. You are helping change lives as social workers, public defenders, teachers and police officers. You are working in government, in hospitals, for non-profits or for some of the country’s biggest corporations, sports franchises and financial institutions.
I suspect there have been up and downs for many of you, finding that first job, finding the right job, deciding whether to leave journalism after giving it a go, or moving to a different part of the country. Here’s what you need to know: we’re very proud of what you’ve accomplished so far, and you still have long careers ahead of you.
Also, don’t ever forget that you are part of a supportive network beyond your own individual workplace or community. Feel free to contact Jenn to get the names of alums if you are looking to switch jobs, or visit different parts of the country.
Now, for a flash news ticker…..
Professors Ricioppo and Calvi return from the school’s third Journalism Without Walls trip to Cuba this winter; Professor Haddad planning to lead a trip to South Korea this summer….Marilyn Simons Foundation awards the school $150,000 to boost opportunities in “experiential journalism;” school plans to partner with news organizations to report on local and national issues…Voice of America announces it will teach English in 60 countries by using Stony Brook’s News Literacy lessons…Gretchen Carlson, who took on Roger Ailes and Fox News over sexual harassment, to speak on Wednesday, March 7; former Associate Dean Marcy McGinnis will interview Carlson. (You’re all invited. To get free tickets go to stonybrook.edu/journalism.
Rachel left the journalism industry in October 2017 to work in the think tank world. She is a media manager for the Manhattan Institute and might contact you for a pitch. After years of scolding journalists who left the field for PR jobs, she joined the ranks of the underpaid and overworked who gave into the temptation to have less stress and more money. She lives on Staten Island with her boyfriend, a radio producer and talk show host, and her three cats.
Shawn Brown (class of 2009)
Honored to have been nominated for Stony Brook’s ‘40 Under 40’ this year. Coming up on my 8th year as Social Media Producer for News 12. Now responsible for paid and organic social media strategy for the network. Currently in my 3rd year teaching my Social Media & News course at Stony Brook.
Will James (class of 2009)
It’s been about two years since I switched from print (at Newsday) to audio and from New York to the West Coast. I’m a reporter for KNKX, an NPR station in Seattle, where I tell stories about immigration, homelessness, and a bunch of other stuff. I also file national stories for NPR and contribute to my station’s weekly storytelling show and podcast, Sound Effect. An NPR story I filed from Guatemala won a regional Edward R. Murrow award last year, which was cool.
Arielle Brechisci (class of 2010)
I work in cryptocurrencies and the video gaming industry. I’m the Special Projects Manager for OPSkins Group Inc. and Worldwide Asset eXchange (WAX), companies that my brother founded. OPSkins is the world’s largest marketplace for trading in-game virtual items for games on the Steam platform. WAX is a cryptocurrency that OPSkins launched in late 2017, designed to decentralize the digital items trading industry among other things. I’ve been working for OPSkins as a side job since 2015, but finally went full time in early 2017 primarily working with public-facing communications in various capacities (PR, social media, content). It’s been very exciting to watch the companies and industries grow and be a part of it.
I’m living in Sayville, NY with my boyfriend of five years and my beloved maltese-shihtzu mix, Penelope.
Theresa Dooley (class of 2010)
I’m not sure when I last sent an update, but I’m currently living in Amherst, MA, and just started graduate school! I’m attending Simmons College and working on my Master of Library and Information Science, with a concentration in Archives Management.
Micah Danney (class of 2011)
I’m living in Brooklyn and just graduated from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s international concentration. I’m reporting per diem for the New York Daily News and waiting to start two fellowships next month, one with the John Jay/Harry Frank Guggenheim Symposium on Crime in America and another with the Overseas Press Club. I reported in Israel and the West Bank this past summer and hope to go back via the OPC award.
Amanda Marzullo and Rai Ortiz (class of 2011)
The only update I have is Rai and I just closed on a house. We are busy painting, repairing and will be moving in shortly.
Jennifer (Long) Tracy (class of 2011)
2017 was equal parts exciting and exhausting. My husband Tyler and I bought a house and have been working on projects ever since. Even though it feels like our work is never done, it’s been fun making our house a home together. As for work I’m still at WGME in Portland, Maine. Since my last update I’ve taken on a new role as the anchor of our 7pm broadcast and have integrated a new tool “The Live Desk” into our other broadcasts. I’ve also started teaching at a local community college. This summer I hope to develop a course “Writing for Media” that will focus on journalism instead of film (it’s currently the only writing course offered in the department).
Erika Karp (class of 2012)
Writing this from my office at the J-School while I post these updates on WordPress. Love reading through them!
In 2015, I left TBR Newspapers and began working as a staff assistant for the School of Journalism where I coordinate student recruitment and outreach. I’m also pursuing my master’s degree in higher education administration.
If anyone knows of any prospective journalism students, have them email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Sam Kilb (class of 2012)
I’ve moved from a law firm in New York City to Adidas in Portland, Oregon. I am Trademark Counsel at Adidas, handling a wide range of intellectual property issues. It’s exactly as big a change as you think it is – just about everything, from the laid back, outdoorsy culture to the easy access to hundreds of miles of trails, is the opposite of living in NYC. And so far, the rain isn’t as bad as they say it is. That’s it, really, but I do want to encourage any alumni who swing through to give me a shout.
As for me, lots of good changes this year both professionally and personally. First, I left TV to become a rowing coach. Rowing is my passion and I’m excited to be
sharing my knowledge with people of all ages. I’m also engaged and will be getting
married later this year.
Meg Spicer (class of 2012)
IM IN LAW SCHOOL.
Ariam Frezghi (class of 2013)
Although I lost one job last Wednesday, I started another one five days later. I just had my first session as an in-home ABA Therapist for a young boy with autism through Comprehensive Behavior Supports–a New Jersey/New York provider that promotes education, wellness and care for individuals on the spectrum. As a proud sibling of an adult on the spectrum + a soon-to-be (prayers up) journalism student at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, this position is an incredible gift as it’ll help me save for school while furthering my connections to a special population. Also, I started receiving group therapy in November through SibsNY (a group for adult sibs of individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities) and individual therapy last month. The personal and intellectual progress that I’ve made during the second half of 2K17, while undergoing a rough transitional period back home after living in Taiwan for a year, almost feels miraculous. I’m glad to still have my connections at the SOJ in Stony Brook.
If you’re interested in chopping it up about journalism graduate programs, the autism population or how to find/enlist in low-cost/affordable therapy in NYC, then write me email@example.com anytime.
Andrew Kozak (class of 2013)
I am now at the national desk at 30 Rock for NBC News. The company asked me to relocate again, this time leaving Miami and coming back home. I handle primarily breaking news coverage and logistics for any live events throughout the day. The other assignment editors and I anticipate the needs of MSNBC’s needs during the day, and the TDY Show and Nightly News’ needs for any developing stories each day.
Ali Malito (class of 2013)
I was selected for SABEW’s data immersion fellowship. Here’s the release:
After more than three years at Hearst Connecticut Media, where I worked as a local reporter juggling several different beats, I left the company last summer to start a graduate journalism program at NYU. Through the program, called Studio 20, I’ve been working on a variety of digital innovation projects. One of the most exciting of them is the upcoming launch of a membership-driven, ad-free news website (details to come!). Two other big changes: I’m now a U.S. citizen (woohoo) and I’ve moved to Hoboken, N.J.
Frank Posillico (class of 2013)
I have been at the New York Daily News for close to five years. This past year I got to travel a bit and work on more stuff that I care about. I produced/shot/edited a short documentary on the Coney Island Cyclone that was accepted to four film festivals and nominated for a New York Emmy award. On that note, our department received five nominations this year and we just grew our staff for the first time in years. Still looking for part-timers and freelancers by the way!
This year I am looking to create more, collaborate more and push myself further.
Amy Streifer (class of 2013)
A few days ago my boyfriend proposed at Lanikai Beach in Hawaii 🙂 That’s the biggest update.
Adrian Szkolar (class of 2013)
I’m currently working at my hometown paper, the Journal News/lohud.com, which covers Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties in New York. I started out there in August 2014 as a sports reporter, but got promoted to a producing role in July 2016, where I’ve been since.
While my title is simply producer, I’m also basically the de facto sports producer, as well as the guy who runs all the sports social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter). I’ve also become the lone graphics designer for the section, where that basic lesson I learned on Photoshop from Wasim really come in handy. Overall, I’d have to say life has been pretty good to me since I graduated from Stony Brook.
Lindsey Campbell (class of 2014)
I’m the Senior Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure where I head up our social media strategy and video strategy for the site as well as contribute to the overall content creation (writing stories and creating videos) for Travel + Leisure and Travelandleisure.com.
Deanna Del Ciello (class of 2014)
Deanna recently left her position at Education Week after three and a half years for a new job as a producer at SideXSide Studios, an award-winning video creative agency founded by journalists and headquartered in Washington, DC. She completed a graduate program in documentary filmmaking at George Washington University last summer. Through that program, she worked as a producer for the short documentary “Queens in Training,” which has been accepted to four film festivals throughout the country so far and won “Best Ensemble Cast” at Austin Under the Stars Film Festival. Throughout all of this, Deanna is freelancing on the side, creating mostly brand videos for local nonprofits and photographing the occasional engagement session or wedding.
Nina Lin (class of 2014)
Right after graduation I was given the wonderful opportunity to work at the New York Daily News as an editor and photojournalist before leaving for NBC Universal, where I currently work as a multimedia producer for NBC’s Owned Television Stations (O&Os) and Telemundo. Every day is something different – I could be sent to shoot celebrity interviews, take photos, research, design and code data vizes, design graphics for our social media channels or cover breaking news. We covered the Grammy Awards red carpet just last week! Tony Bennett winked at my reporter. #worthit
Of course, I am also gratified to come across current Seawolves in our newsrooms working as our editorial interns. There is always nothing but praise for the young women and men learning the ropes through trial by fire. I’m looking forward to seeing more Seawolves at 30 Rock in the future! Attached are two photos – one of my reporter and I at the Grammys, another that a Getty photographer took of my team playing mini golf with Joe Montana. We were working, I swear.
Greg Wehner (class of 2014)
I’m still working at the Southampton Press as a reporter. I also just got accepted into Regent University’s Masters program with an emphasis on communication. The program started three weeks ago and is tough, but I’ll survive. I am currently in Florida on vacation and will be hopping on a cruise ship that’s heading to San Juan, St. Maarten and St. Kitts.
Erica Cirino (Masters class of 2015)
I’ve continued working as a freelancer with much professional success. I gave 30 lectures as part of my “Go and See Tour” on plastic pollution, science and solutions in the past year, which is focused on my 2016 expedition sailing across the North Pacific Gyre (AKA the Great Pacific Garbage Patch) at libraries, schools and public places, and I have more lectures scheduled for 2018. I nabbed an inaugural CUNY Resilience Journalism Fellowship this fall, spending a week in NYC learning about how the city is adapting to climate change, and also an inaugural Safina Center “Kalpana Chawla Launchpad” Fellowship. I sailed on a long haul expedition in December (just got home this morning), this time from Hawaii to remote French Polynesia, again to cover the story of plastic pollution and science, and traveled worldwide (on land) to learn more about plastic, to Denmark, Thailand, Grenada, California, Hawaii, upstate NY and beyond.
What’s next? Hopefully a book covering my plastic expeditions and what can be learned from them. I’m almost done with the proposal and sample. Personally this was a year of incredibly fast growth for me, writing hundreds of stories, traveling (mostly alone), meeting amazing people, gaining confidence and following my dreams! For now I still call NY home-base (though I was away from home most of last year), but I dream of buying land/building a home somewhere beautifully remote such as Costa Rica, where I could embrace a simple existence similar to that which I enjoy while at sea, but on land. I hope to make this change this year. And of course one day I will acquire a sailboat of my own!
Brendan Jones (class of 2015)
I work at the NHL and MLB network in Secaucus, NJ on the studio production team. I also produce sportscasts at News 12 Long Island when I am not at the two networks. The NHL and MLB networks are in the same building in Secaucus as Major League Baseball owns both TV entities.
Jaclyn Lattanza (class of 2015)
In November, I started working as a production assistant at Cheddar in New York City. Cheddar is a live and on demand video news network that broadcasts from the New York Stock Exchange and the Flatiron Building. We cover top stories in business, tech, and entertainment, and yes, our logo is a block of cheese! I help produce all of the live news hits at our cheese desk as well as the live and taped content we send to our local partners such as PIX 11, News 12 and Amazon. I also work on Cheddar Movers, a show that is all about stocks. It’s been a great experience so far! I actually work directly with SBU JRN alum, Philly Bubaris, and sit right next to her!
Rebecca Anzel (class of 2016)
The last seven months have been tough for me personally, and so I escaped to the middle of nowhere, a “city” of about 13,000 — Springfield, Illinois. I am actually pursing a Masters in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois. It is a portfolio-based program, so instead of being stuck in a classroom for 10 months, I was placed with the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin’s state capitol bureau, covering everything from new legislation and the effects of federal programs to the everyday political back-and-forth for an audience of lawyers, judges and legislators. Illinois’ state government is just as exciting and dysfunctional as everyone considers Albany to be. The thing on everyone’s minds here is a Legionella bacteria contamination in the capitol’s water supply — we’ve been instructed not to drink it or wash our hands with anything more than a pencil-sized stream of water, a difficult task when every faucet is automatic and uses more water than that. I will have my degree by the end of June and will most likely stay out here — I’m not ready to come back to the east coast yet.
On a side note, if any of the current J-School students or alum enjoy political reporting, this program is great. The entire degree is costing me about $15,000 as an out-of-state student and not only do I get a fancy piece of paper, I automatically get an internship placement. Each class is only 12-14 students from all levels of work experience — just working for the school newspaper to having worked for papers up in Chicago — and the alumni is impressive. (The program dates back to the early ’70s, and there is a Pulitzer-prize winner in the midst!)
Julio Avila (class of 2016)
Julio Avila, a graduate of the Winter 2016 class, is now a reporter at WETM-TV, a local NBC affiliate station in Elmira, N.Y. He began his new role in July 2017, reporting with a camera in hand to cover the news and happenings in the Twin Tiers of New York and Pennsylvania. He has reported on and produced stories for both the day and nightsides and helped cover major events such as the NASCAR races at Watkins Glen International. Julio says that what he’s learned during his time at the j-school has helped him perform at his job, but with new things to learn as well. The transition into a new region was hard at first for him, but he now enjoys the City of Elmira and surrounding areas, taking a stroll to nearby Corning when he has the chance. He also enjoys working with the people he’s spoken to, interviewed and his colleagues.
Ivana Stolnik (class of 2016)
I am doing an internship at Senator Schumer’s office. I work in the immigration department there. Very tumultuous area now due to DACA and the DREAMers. I’m also finishing my Masters degree in international relations at NYU. I’m currently writing my thesis on Russia’s growing influence in the Western Balkan region and its implications for the region and beyond.
After graduation I actually plan to go back to SBU and start a Masters degree in history that could hopefully lead to a PhD one day.
Joe Ryder (class of 2016)
I also wanted to update you on what I’ve been up to since graduation a year ago. I freelanced as a PA at Fox News Radio for a bit and then in July I got sworn in as an NYPD officer. I’m doing well and I can’t believe a year has passed since graduation! I’m looking forward to coming back and visiting soon. I’m also applying for a Masters program at John Jay in Emergency Management that should start in the August.
I’m looking forward to staying in touch! And I’m still sticking to photography in my downtime and have updated my website, josephryder.com, with some of my newer work.
Sara Tewksbury (Masters class 2016)
In November I moved back up to Fairbanks, Alaska long term. I recently got a job at KTVF, a local NBC affiliate television station and have been working for about a month as a News Production Assistant. I have been loving it.
Lindsay Andarakis (class of 2017)
Lindsay here. Since graduation, I worked with a babysitting service called Hello Sitter and finished my time as an editorial assistant with The Sag Harbor Express. In October, I started a job with HSBC as a Senior Customer Service Representative in Southampton. I like it so far, but I most definitely miss the wide world of journalism. I’m looking to pick up some freelancing gigs this summer and eventually make my way down to Washington D.C.
Cam Boon (class of 2017)
I’m currently a sports information director at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, working on getting my master’s in communication. I’m in charge of promoting and writing for five different sports in the athletic program, as well as broadcasting a lot of their streams, including volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball. Feels weird not wearing red.
Maggie Cai (class of 2017)
I am currently working as a video intern at INSIDER, the lifestyle publication of Business Insider, and just accepted an offer for a full-time position as an Associate Producer here next month! I’ll be producing, writing scripts, editing- a little of everything- for the text based videos focusing on things for home and design. It’s a short update, but I’m excited to be exactly where I wanted to be after graduation.
Jess Opatich (class of 2017)
On my end, Ghana has been quite an experience. I’ve moved into a new apartment with a Dutch journalist I met at an Airbnb. He does freelance work for a number of Dutch publications and some NGOs. It’s funny, my first apartment and it’s here in Accra with another journalist.
My research was on pause while I was home but now, since everyone is back from holiday, I am back planning trips into the field for the months ahead. Since I’ve been here, I was able to observe and record the first Ada Women’s Day, which was a day for the women of Ada, a village about two hours east of Accra, to come together and discuss what it means to be a woman in Ada. Unfortunately, what many of them had in common were financial hardships, gender based violence and sexual violence. You can learn more about my time in Ghana at jessicamarieopatich.com
I feel like every time I look at the calendar I cannot believe that another month has passed. Time just seems to move quicker, and it gets harder and harder to keep up.
While putting together this newsletter I was reading all of the (incredible) updates that everyone has sent in, and it made me think about what I have been up to since graduating from the J-School and just how much all of us have accomplished in such little time.
So many of us are finishing second degrees, settling into new jobs, getting engaged, getting married, and having children. Some are moving across the country, some are traveling the world, and some are starting whole new career paths altogether. Personally, I think I’ve finally settled into my job as an SBU Residence Hall Director, which I started in January, and have officially finished my Masters of Arts in Higher Education Administration. Plus, I got a really cute puppy, Nellie. When I actually sit down and think about everything that has happened in just a few short months, it’s almost unbelievable. Looking at the updates, it seems that many of you might be feeling the same way.
Here at Stony Brook, we’re just about to start the month of preparations for our students to move back into the fall semester. It seems like just yesterday when I finally got them all to move out of the residence hall, and now they’re all coming back. While this time is filled with excitement, I still cannot believe where the summer has gone. I’m not convinced that June or July even happened. In just a few weeks, we’ll have a whole group of new students experiencing Stony Brook, the J-School, and everything we felt the first time we stepped onto campus.
I’m hoping in the next month or so to be able to take a few days to myself (with my puppy) to enjoy before the whole semester flashes before my eyes. I hope all of you can find some time to do the same.