Author Archives: amandalavergne

Editor’s Note

We made it! This week is the last issue of The River Reporter and the stories were better than ever. There is an editorial on domestic violence, as well as an article on seniors mixed feelings as their last few weeks at college come to an end.  With the swine flu epidemic sweeping the country, what does it mean for our community? One of our reporters checked it out. Speaking of our country, with the recession we are in, is cheap now trendy? Also be sure to check out the student-teacher profile of Tim Wall a student at Marist who has anything but a normal routine compared to most college kids. All in all it has been a successful semester of reporting with lots of interesting topics cropping up, thanks for reading!

-Amanda Lavergne


Celeb Obsessions: People Just Can’t Seem to Get Enough

By Amanda Lavergne

“Miley: Nick Jonas is ‘So Lovely’-But Not my Boyfriend,” “Heidi & Spencer ‘So Happy’ at Wedding Reception,” “Stars’ Real Sizes Revealed!” “Lindsay: ‘I’m So Alone,'” “Britney in Crisis!”

I could literally go on for hours and make lists and lists of these absurd tabloid headlines which are obsessed with one and only thing: celebrities. What is even worse is how obsessed the American population is with stars. Our obsession with celebrities is like our obsession with food, obese and ever growing, and it is really affecting kids now too.  We ogle them on television, movies and in concerts and cannot seem to get enough. What’s with us?

According to an article on by Carlin Flora, even though it is easy to blame the media for this fixation, the real

Angelina Jolie and her parade of kids. Image courtesy of

Angelina Jolie and her parade of kids. Image courtesy of

mastermind behind it is our own brains. The article goes on to point out that “celebrities tap into powerful motivational systems designed to foster romantic love and to urge us to find a mate. Stars summon our most human yearnings: to love, admire, copy and, of course, to gossip and to jeer. It’s only natural that we get pulled into their gravitational field.”

I myself am even into the celeb photos, maybe even obsessed with them. For instance, while waiting for a flight of mine over the summer, the People issue had just come out with pictures of Brad and Angelina’s new twins and I was right there with everyone else snapping up a copy to see those gorgeous newborns.

Even at my slow moving summer job I found myself perusing the website checking out the latest daily photos, numbing my mind one thumbnail photo at a time.

Another aspect I always get a kick out of is the photo album on and in their magazines where they try and plead with their readers that stars are “just like us!” Let’s get this straight; they are not just like us. And they never will be. Just because Angelina Jolie is toting her multi-cultural brood through a grocery store does not make her just like me. Oh look, Jessica Alba is playing with her daughter in the sandbox, aw now she’s just like me, not quite. It’s just another fantasy drawn up to make us, the avid readers, feel more connected and on the same level as the stars we aspire after.

I mean let’s face the facts, the E! Channel is solely devoted to celebrities, they even have E! News, a news program that is all about the daily ins and outs of the celeb world

OK magazine is one of the most popular tabloid magazines. Image courtesy of

OK magazine is one of the most popular tabloid magazines. Image courtesy of, as well as other news sites have a link for entertainment that will lead you to the latest in celeb news and gossip, despite their main focus of hard news.

Sure, it’s nice to read about Amy Winehouse and her many rehab stints to make you feel better about your own life, but let’s remember to not get too wrapped up in celeb-gossip-town and make sure to bring our minds back down to reality.

Holocaust Remembrance Program Gives Insight to a Survivor

By Amanda Lavergne

As part of the 19th Annual Holocaust Remembrance Program on April 16, Holocaust survivor Edward Lessing came to speak about his experiences to the Marist College campus.

The program also included a musical performance by Bonnie Ham, an adjunct music professor here and a candle lighting ceremony led by Brother Frank Kelly in honor of those who lost their lives in the Holocaust.

Welcoming remarks were done by President Dr. Dennis J. Murray and Lessing was introduced by recently elected Student Body President Stephen Townsend.

“We who are here tonight are indebted to our guest speaker,” Townsend said when introducing Lessing.

When it was time for Lessing to share his tale he was gracious and humble.

“I don’t even consider myself to be a survivor, rather a Holocaust escapee,” he said.

Lessing grew up in Delft, Holland with his mother, father and two younger brothers. Lessing said that he had a happy and normal life until two days after his fourteenth birthday when things began to change for the worse.

“It was May 10, 1940 at 5 a.m., and it sounded like someone was firing a machine gun right next to my bed,” Lessing said. “Huge planes were roaring over my house and at first I thought it was an exercise being done by the Dutch Army but then realized it was the Germans.”

Lessing said that the Germans over-ran Holland in 5 days and everything was being taken away from them at a rapid pace.

“We had no public transportation, no theatres, we couldn’t go to the beach or sit on benches at parks anymore,” he said.

Lessing told another story of when he had to start wearing the yellow star on him every day that said “Jew.” He and his cousin Hans were outside fooling around and a Nazi soldier saw them and asked why Hans was hanging around a “dirty Jew.” The Nazi then smacked Lessing in the face and he fell to his knees, nose bleeding.

“Right then in that moment, I understood what hate could do,” he said. “That event really ended my childhood; I was never again as light-hearted and I never trusted the world as much.”

Junior Samantha Marturano who attended the event was deeply affected by Lessing’s words.

“It was really powerful that he could remember such specific dates and times,” Marturano said. “It just makes you realize that we are so lucky and that everyone should take some sort of lesson away from his story.”

Lessing then continued on and told how about 1,000 Jews were being transported via cattle cars to concentration camps. On Oct. 22, 1942 Lessing and his family took off their yellow stars, threw them away and split off to go into hiding. Lessing was left on his own as his mother could not find anyone to take in a 16-year-old Jewish boy.

“I then had to stay with a Christian family on a farm and I had to bleach my hair. I hated every minute of it,” he said. “I was a city kid who was literally put in medieval conditions.”

This is the man, Oksam, who helped to save Lessing. Image courtesy of

This is the man, Oksam, who helped to save Lessing. Image courtesy of

Later on, a man by the name of Oksam took Lessing into hiding with seven other Dutch Gentile men who were resisting the Nazis. However on the morning of Dec. 29, 1943 they heard the Nazi trucks coming and they had to make a run for it.

After being on the run Lessing decided to go on a search for his father and brothers, since he had received the news that his mom had been sent to the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen.

He found them and went back to Holland, and barely survived the winter since there was little to no food left there.

“After that winter, when the spring came I saw the most beautiful thing in the world, Canadian Army trucks,” Lessing said.

After the Canadians came in, the war was over for them.  Lessing added that about 80 percent of Holland’s Jews did not return.

“It took me 50 years to have the courage to tell this story,” Lessing said.

After his experiences Lessing went on to get married to his wife of now 60 years and has learned to see that there was one positive thing out of all of this and it was his rescuers and the fact that his mother had survived.

“I just hope that you all try to help and not to hate,” Lessing said.

Marist Named One of the Top 15 Business Schools in U.S.

By Amanda Lavergne

On April 2, the Marist College School of Management had the honor of being recognized as one of the top 15 business schools in the U.S. by Entrepreneur Magazine and the Princeton Review.

The school was recognized specifically for two areas of study; general management and operations. Other schools that

The April 2009 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. Image courtesy of

The April 2009 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. Image courtesy of

were recognized for this include;  Dartmouth, Harvard, Purdue, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Stanford, Syracuse, the University of Virginia, and the Drucker School of Business at Claremont McKenna Graduate University in California.

Tim Massie, the chief public affairs officer, explains the process Marist had to go through in order to receive this honor.

“First, Marist needed to receive Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation,  the “seal of approval,” for our programs provided by the top international agency to certify quality business education,” Massie said. “Second,  Marist needed to be included among the Princeton Review’s top 296 business schools in the country.”

Massie then added that as a final requirement, student satisfaction had a major influence.

“Selection for this ranking ultimately depended on the reviews written by School of Management students, and the quality of those reviews was matched with the reviews of students from the other schools,” Massie said, “which makes this such an honor for Marist, because the students, through their praise helped us to get this distinction.”

Senior Kevin Mullahy, who is a business major with a double concentration of finance and accounting, was pleased to hear this news.

“The fact that Marist made the top 15 business schools in the whole country is a very big deal to me,” Mullahy said. “I feel that now when I go into interviews I have an extra level of confidence that my school is one of the absolute best in my field.”

Sophomore Jessica Ortner, another business/finance major, agreed.

“It made me feel very confident that I am getting the best education possible for my major here at Marist,” Ortner said.

Marist Launches New MBA Certificate Program

Compiled by Amanda Lavergne

Press Release from Marist College:

POUGHKEEPSIE – As employees consider career changes during the current recession, a new, non-degree executive education certificate offered by Marist College starting next week is designed to enhance professionals’ careers and hone their business skills.

The Marist College School of Global and Professional Programs has tailored the non-degree certificate program for supervisors, middle managers, and small-business owners.

“MBA Basics for Today’s World” will look at the changing global economy, 21st- century legal issues, and essential topics in accounting, finance, and marketing. Course modules in leader effectiveness and career planning will round out the fast-paced program.

“MBA Basics is designed to equip those who may already have their degrees with the latest tools and cutting-edge techniques in basic business principles such as finance, accounting, and marketing,” said Dr. Lauren Mounty, dean of the School of Global and Professional Programs. “It is perfect for professionals who may need to hone their skills for a job transition or for those who just do not have the time for a full MBA degree right now.”

MBA Basics is offered in two convenient formats: a five-week online option, which gets underway on March 30, and an on-site offering that meets one Saturday per month for three months at Marist’s executive center in Fishkill.

The Man Behind the PR Mask

By Amanda Lavergne

Many people find fulfillment from their job in various ways. Some people get it from seeing a light bulb going off in their students head or others may have a more typical reason, such as getting a bigger paycheck, but for Timmian (Tim) Massie, 51, it comes from simply getting to know his students.

Massie is the chief public affairs officer here at Marist for 15 years and has woven in his presence with this school.

Tim Massie, Chief Public Affairs Officer Image courtesy of

Tim Massie, Chief Public Affairs Officer Image courtesy of

“I have had so many memories here at Marist and I truly do love my job and enjoy it each day,” Massie said.

Massie began his career as a radio news reporter here in Poughkeepsie for WEOK/WPDH. He then had other various jobs until he found his PR niche at Marist in 1994.

“I actually left Marist for a period of about 5 months in 2002 for a job offering at Pace University,” Massie said, “but I hated it and ended up coming back here to Marist.”

Massie says that he works 7 days a week and the typical work-day for him is about 16 hours each day.

“I am constantly reading 25-30 websites each day,” Massie said. “And I am a part of a lot of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.”

Amanda Huggins, a public relations major, feels that Massie is a great asset to the school.

“I feel that he is always available to go to for information,” Huggins said, ”no matter how hectic his schedule is.”

Massie also teaches an Organizational Writing class that incorporates PR, journalism, and business writing. In addition to that, he teaches a religious studies class that focuses on an insider’s view of Rome and the Vatican.

“It’s a unique class and we do take the students to Rome during either spring break or as an attachment at the end of a semester,” Massie said.

Through his 15 years here, Massie has had many fond memories from his many experiences.

“One of my favorite memories was in 1999 when I went with the Marist Singers and 150 other Marist kids to Rome,” Massie said. “We went because Marcellin Champagnat was going to become a Saint, and it was a great honor because the Marist Singers actually got to be the choir at the mass in front of the Pope.”

Massie’s other memories range from when Marist housing was featured on Good Morning America and even when Marist is mentioned in the Poughkeepsie Journal.

Outside of his busy career, Massie truly cherishes a quiet evening at home.

“Since I don’t have a lot of spare time with my busy schedule, a quiet night or day at home is a real treat for me,” he said.

Massie also enjoys traveling, theater, music and cooking. He is also greatly involved with the community.

“I volunteer for more than 40 community organizations, including serving two terms as a member and president of the City of Poughkeepsie Board of Education, president of Dutchess Outreach, president of the Dutchess County Chapter of Literacy Volunteers of America, chairman of the Dutchess County Arts Council, and vice president of Taconic Resources for Independence,” Massie said.

He is currently a director of the Dyson Foundation and serves on the boards of Saint Francis Hospital, the Saint Simeon Foundation, and the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation, which are all located in Poughkeepsie.

However, at the end of the day, what Massie appreciates the most, are his students.

“I feel that they become a part of my family and it is wonderful to watch them grow in both their careers and personal lives,” Massie said.

He has been to countless weddings and christenings that past students have invited him to.

“I even had a student come back and talk to one of my classes once, and it was great for him to say how he feels as if he is a part of my family as well and doesn’t just think of me as a previous professor,” Massie said.

He mentioned that he watched one student grow to become the Vice President of Miss Universe and another is now an Account Supervisor for an advertising agency.

“Nothing ever becomes run of the mill for me here, I truly enjoy each day,” Massie said.

“The Little Mermaid” makes a splash on Broadway

By Amanda Lavergne

Only $25 for a Broadway show and transportation to and from New York City? Through Marist this is a very real option for students to take advantage of.

The College Activities Office gives Marist students the opportunity to see selected Broadway shows for a discounted price.

“I’m mad at myself that I never took advantage of this before,” said sophomore Gabrielle Conte. “When I received my Shrek ticket and saw that the normal price was $109.50, I was really amazed at how great this deal is.”

The most recent showing was “The Little Mermaid” which students attended on Sunday March 29.

Being showed at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater, “The Little Mermaid” from beginning to end was  a spectacular display of underwater sets, dazzling costumes, and great actors.

“I was amazed at how well the props for the show were done, it made you feel that you were really under the sea,” said sophomore Cassandra Palummo.

Sierra Boggess who played Ariel, did a wonderful job as the sea princess with her light, clear voice, and her ability to portray the naive girl to a T.

Sierra Boggess as Ariel. Image courtesy of

Sierra Boggess as Ariel. Image courtesy of

Prince Eric, portrayed by Sean Palmer, simply seem to do his job as your traditional Disney prince, just being handsome and well-sung.

Heidi Blickenstaff nailed down Ursula with her cackling laughter and ability to go from sweet to evil within a nanosecond.

“I was truly impressed with the way Ursula was done,” said sophomore Alexandra Lomolino. “I felt like if I had closed my eyes I was hearing the Ursula from the animated movie.”

However, the one who truly stole the show was Trevor Braun who played Flounder. Braun, who looked to be about 8 years old was a comic relief and had a surprisingly strong voice.

“I think my favorite character was Sebastian,” said Conte. “I loved how the actor who portrayed him was able to get his Jamiacan accent down perfect.”

With new song numbers added in, the show ran for two and half hours and only had a few dull moments. When just Prince Eric (Palmer)  held the stage, such as for the song “Her Voice,” he seemed to be a bit awkward and came across that he didn’t quite know what to do with the whole stage to himself.

“Overall I think that it was very well done and I would tell anyone to go see it,” said Palummo, “especially if you have young kids.”