Category Archives: Education

Marist’s Florence Campus, FFE Program Take Flight

by Robin Miniter

In Florence, students live with history in their own backyard. Seen here is Il Duomo, Florence's central cathedral, on a rainy Easter Sunday. (photo by Robin Miniter)

In Florence, students live with history in their own backyard. Seen here is Il Duomo, Florence's central cathedral, on a rainy Easter Sunday. (photo by Robin Miniter)

Thinking of Marist, visions of the Hudson, the Rotunda, and those perfectly manicured lawns may come to mind – but what about the Arno, il Duomo, and cobbled streets? Stressing the importance on the development of global citizenship, the Marist International Program has set up a branch campus in partnership with Scuola Lorenzo de’Medici in the heart of Florence, Italy. As one of the top rated institutions in the country for the study abroad experience, Marist sees hundreds od upperclassmen off each year to destinations around the globe. Now, in competing with other top universities in the country, the fall of 2009 will bring fourth wave of freshman students to Italy through Marist’s own Florence Freshmen Experience (FFE).

Taste of Italy: Students experience local culture and cuisine at the local market. (image by Robin Miniter)

Taste of Italy: Students experience local culture and cuisine at the local market. (photo by Robin Miniter)

Though under one umbrella, both programs are unique in their offerings. As a branch campus, Marist enrolls students from all over the world to attend LdM, hailing from as far as Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, and Japan. Here, they can receive a four-year degree with a Marist seal in digital media, conservation studies, studio art, art history, fashion design, or interior design. Also at this location, the FFE program allows incoming freshmen to bypass the traditional campus experience in favor of a global one.

After receiving a letter in the mail and a phone call from the Marist International Program in the summer of 2007, current sophomore Sophie Ordway elected to give Florence a shot. “It gave me an outlook on life that I think would have been completely different had I come to Marist my freshman year,” says Ordway, “I feel much more receptive to other cultures and I would like to think I have a somewhat better understanding of people in general.”

Kate Giglio ‘07, Resident Director of the Marist-LdM program, likes the FFE program because it gives students who are already predisposed to adventure a chance to, “really take off like a rocket.”

“I mean, why not just head out into the world, ASAP?” says Giglio.

Fresh out of high school, incoming freshmen are offered to partake in the fledgling year-long program. According to Joe Associate Giacalone, Coordinator of International Recruitment at the Admission office, potential student criteria include their major, strong academic standing and demonstrated interest in a global education. The past three years have seen number participants in their teens.

Dr. Claire Keith, French professor and director of the Global Studies minor sees the program as an opportunity for students to really, “break their ‘American’ crust.”

As a full accredited university, freshmen receive full-credit transferable back to Poughkeepsie when – and if – they decide to head back to the states. The students live in apartment-style Marist housing in the city center, footsteps away from local markets and the most renowned Renaissance art and architecture in the world.

"When in Rome...": The FFE students take a day trip to Rome in the fall of 2007. (Image courtesy of Heather Staats)

"When in Rome...": The FFE students take a day trip to Rome in the fall of 2007. (photo courtesy of Heather Staats)

“I have watched students come to Florence kind of nervous, some whom have never even been outside the States, and by the time they leave in May they’ve become more confident, more adventurous, more likely to keep traveling…” says Giglio, “When we are away from our comfort zone we learn the most about ourselves and our surroundings.”

Erika Sorg, Ordway’s roommate and FFE alum, praised the program in the sense that it taught her much more than she thought she was capable of. “I gained confidence and a better understanding of myself] “she says.

Kelly Gallucci, also a sophomore back on campus, chose Marist because their International program selection was, “diverse and full of opportunity.”

“I wasn’t nervous at all when I first heard about the FFE program, it was really exciting to me,” says Gallucci, “The Marist staff took such good care of us, we had programs about culture shock and homesickness and other things that really made me felt safe while I was there.” Though she fondly remembers, “[bonding] over the silliest things – burnt french toast, lack of Italian language skills, uncertainty of how to use the washing machine,” she cites, “to see those things that I had once learned about in school, up close, was the best part of the whole experience.”

“It made me feel like I was a part of something so much bigger than me, something that transcended time – to be standing within arm’s reach of the works of Michelangelo [was incredible].”

As of press time, the decision making process for the class of 2013 continues. When asked what she for sees for Marist’s international programs down the road, Keith replied, “Well, I think the student body will vote with their feet.”


For more information, please contact Marist International Programs


Mixed Feelings as Seniors Prepare to Say ‘Goodbye’

Courtesy of Google Images

Courtesy of Google Images

By: Stephanie Espina

For some seniors, the digital countdowns hanging on the walls of academic buildings seem more like a death sentence than a countdown to liberation.

Those about to graduate already have plenty on their minds: “Where can I get a dress for Senior Formal?” “Will anyone hire me?” “Where did the past four years go?” and yet each one knows that they will be hearing “The Pomp and Circumstance” whether they’re ready for it or not.

“Sometimes I don’t think I should be graduating, or that four years passed by so quickly, but it has and it’s weird to me,” says senior Victoria Banks. Looking down at a pile of research papers she sighs, “It’s bittersweet.”

Banks, originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin is unsure whether she will relocate to the New York area upon graduation and is in the process of finding a full time job. It was her attendance to Marist’s annual River Festival, where reality settled in.

“I had just realized it was one of the last times I’d be out with my Marist friends on the river and that was difficult for me to grasp,” says Banks. “I completely balled my eyes out…and it made my friends cry too.

Many senior attendees swaying and singing the words to “It Ends Tonight” looked up at the fireworks and shared the same feelings as Banks, where an ending was the last thing they could possibly want.

Then again, some seniors feel ready to move on.

“Although it doesn’t feel like four years, I know I’ve put in the time and energy,” says senior Vincent Anthony, taking a bite into a buffalo chicken wrap. “It feels good to graduate and be done.”

Anthony is a Business Administration major at Marist and just recently completed his extensive capping project. The completion of a capping course relative to one’s major is a strict requirement for graduation. Weeks of preparation are involved and once the course is completed, any other assignment seems pleasantly feasible.

“Once capping is over, you are on top of the world,” says Anthony.

Banks, about to pick up her pile of papers and head for her 2 o’clock class stops to think about what she will miss the most about her college experience.

“I’ll miss this little community we’re all in,” she says. “I’ll miss the landscape, the grass and I know I’ll definitely miss the view of the Hudson River.”

Anthony pauses after finishing his tasty lunch courtesy of the Cabaret.

“I mean it’s sad to know that I won’t be in college anymore and I won’t see some of my favorite people every day,” says Anthony. “But then I feel excited and happy about ending this chapter in my life. I’m really looking forward to discovering new things.”

Seniors will receive their diplomas on Saturday, May 23rd.

Student Teaching: The Transition From Behind the Desk to in Front of It

By Jennifer Hill

At 5:45 a.m. the alarm clock rings. Although most college seniors would cringe at the sound, Tim Wall gets out of bed, ready to start his day. After a general morning routine, Wall begins his 25 minute drive to Rhinebeck High School. Seven hours of work lay ahead as Wall enters the classroom and starts to do what he loves, teach.

“Being a student teacher is definitely an important experience,” Wall said. “It’s not easy and you need to weed out the people who can’t do it. You couldn’t teach without doing this first.”

Wall first was placed at Marlboro Middle School, where his first day was far from easy.

“I was teaching an 8th grade class and turned my head to help a student,” Wall said. “Within about 10 seconds a fight broke out. Desks were pushed, punches were thrown and blood was all over the floor. One student had his nose broken and both were suspended. It was then I realized how easy it is to lose control.”

Tim Wall is ready to start his career as a teacher. Image courtesy of

Tim Wall is ready to start his career as a teacher. Image courtesy of

At 7:30 a.m. school starts. Wall observes a class and has a free period, which is used a planning time. After making sure that everything is copied and ready, Wall begins to teach his third period 11th grade honors class.

“They’re very intelligent,” Wall said of the 11th graders. “It’s only a five year difference between us but they treat me with respect.”

After observing another class, it’s about 10:30 a.m. and Wall eats lunch. He then observes an advanced placement class. Finally, he gets to teach again to his ninth grade class.

“The experience is very rewarding,” Wall said. “It’s all about how you teach it, how you sell the information. There definitely will be things that you don’t know but the most important thing is to follow through. If you tell a student you’re going to do something you have to do it, otherwise you’ll lose respect and show your weakness.”

Wall emphasized the importance of not making mistakes.

“Awhile ago I created a quiz and on one of the questions I didn’t have the right answer,” Wall said. “My mistake was quickly pointed out. I think after I teach for some time it will become easier but right now it’s important for me to stay organized and try to avoid all the mistakes I can.”

Later, Wall ends the day with two free periods. Instead of leaving early, Wall stays and continues to plan for the next day. He talks with his teacher about how he did that day and any improvements that can be made.

Greg Buggisch, Wall’s roommate, admits that at first it was hard for Wall to get used to the routine, but he sees a tremendous amount of dedication in him.

“He loves his teaching,” Buggisch said. “He’s become used to the routine and I can see him being a great teacher.”

When he gets home, after napping and eating dinner, Wall has about two more hours of preparation for the next day.

“Naps become your best friend,” Wall said. “Your entire social life changes and you don’t to see some of your friends.  But, it’s definitely worth it; it’s absolutely necessary and an awesome experience.”

When thinking of the future, Wall is happy about being a teacher.

“It’s a good job with benefits and steady hours,” Wall said. “More importantly, I can have family. My kids will be in school at the same time I am and I won’t have to travel away from them.”

Wall taught at a middle school and a high school and said he isn’t sure of which he prefers.

“I’m more concerned with getting a job than where I’m going to teach,” Wall said.

When asked if he was sad about leaving, Wall admits that he has formed an attachment to the students but he’s ready for the next step.

“I’m ready to go,” Wall said. “It gets frustrating to be in someone else’s classroom. It has nothing to do with the teacher, the kids or the material. I just want my own classroom to have my own rules and routine. The whole experience feels bittersweet.”

Cat Fight: Perez Hilton v. Miss California

By Jennifer Hill

One of the most important amendments made to the United States Constitution is freedom of speech. Every American values the fact that they are able to express their feelings and thoughts in a peaceful manner, which is precisely what Miss California, Carrie Prejean did at the Miss USA pageant.

On Sunday, April 19 Perez Hilton, one of the judges at the pageant asked Prejean what she thought about gay marriage. Controversy broke out after Miss California’s answer. However, shouldn’t we first consider if the question should have been asked? Why do Americans need to know how contestants in a pageant feel about gay marriage? What effect will Miss California’s opinion have on Perez Hilton’s life? None.

Miss California stood strongly behind her beliefs. She gracefully replied, “We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what in my country, in my family I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody there, but that’s how I was raised and that’s how I think it should be, between a man and a woman.”

Miss California answering Perez Hilton's question. Image courtesy of

Miss California answering Perez Hilton's question. Image courtesy of

Hilton, a celebrity gossip blogger and a homosexual, very strongly felt that Prejean answered the question incorrectly. Hilton posted a video on his Web site and referred to Prejean as a “dumb b—-.”

At least if Hilton wanted to argue against Miss California, he could have not used vulgar language. His attacks were juvenile and inappropriate and Prejean had the dignity not to retaliate in that manner.

Hilton also carried his feelings onto Twitter, a social networking Web site. Other celebrities agreed that Prejean answered the question incorrectly. Heidi Montag, a character on MTV’s The Hills and Miley Cyrus, a teen pop star, both agreed with Hilton on the Web site.

Montag tweeted back to Hilton, “God says in the bible that we should love our neighbor and he created us all as equals. I know in my heart that gays and lesbians should have the same government rights that Spencer and I will when we get married. So, yes, this blonde Christian believes in gay marriage and I hope to one day go to YOUR wedding, Perez!!!”

While it may be true that Montag believes in gay marriage, it seems that she is just trying to be friends with Hilton so he does not gossip about her on his popular bashing Web site. It appears that the two almost celebrities were able to bond further at Montag’s recent wedding.

Perez Hilton pictured at the reception of Spencer and Heidi Pratt's wedding. Image courtesy of

Perez Hilton pictured at the reception of Spencer and Heidi Pratt's wedding. Image courtesy of

The judgment that Prejean now faces for an honest answer is unacceptable. Prejean said she feels that she was runner-up in the pageant because of the answer she gave. A contestant should not have to answer in manner in which the judge thinks is appropriate. Americans should want a Miss USA who is honest and stays true to her beliefs rather than a woman who will tell the judges the answer they want to hear. Prejean provided an honest answer and made an effort not to be offensive to anyone.

“Miss USA should represent everyone,” Hilton said to “Her answer alienated millions of gay and lesbian Americans, their families and their supporters. She lost it because of that question. She was definitely the front-runner before that.”

While Prejean’s answer caused a great deal of controversy, she said that she has “no regrets” about the way she answered the question. I admire her for standing behind her answer and her beliefs.

On “The Billy Bush Show Prejean reflected on her answer and said, “I feel like I’m the winner. I really do.”

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 digs “Sandbox”

By Jennifer Hill

On April 15th, five Marist students presented “Sandbox,” a play written by Gino Di’Iorio, as a part of 2008-2009 Marist Lecture Series. “Sandbox” addresses the War on Terrorism from the perspective of American soldiers and an Iraqi suicide bomber. The characters are trapped in an apartment in Qaim, a town on the border of Syria and Iraq.

“At first I didn’t even feel like I had the right to deal with the material and it was very difficult to write,” Di’Iorio said. “But, I felt like I had an obligation to finish it and say what I thought was true.”

The play reading was presented by Di’Iorio, who is the 2009 Writer in Residence at Marist. He is also teaching a weeklong workshop on playwriting. His goal for “Sandbox” was for the students to be able to perform a play that had characters they could relate to.

Gino Di'Iorio speaking at an event. Image courtesy of

Gino Di'Iorio speaking at an event. Image courtesy of

“It was a wonderful play and very easy to act out,” said Kate Costello, one of the actresses. “The play shows a different aspect of the war, more than what we see on television.”

Costello was very impressed by the believability of the play and the angle that Di’Iorio chose to take.

“You never for a minute think ‘this couldn’t happen,'” Costello said.

Although the play was difficult for Di’Iorio to write and he still considers it a work in progress and the audience appreciated his interpretation.

“It’s a tough subject to address,” said Jessica Turgeon, a student at Marist and member of the audience. “It was so emotional, it gave me goosebumps.”

Di’Iorio  is an associate professor at Clark University and serves as the theater program director. He is an award-winning playwright and has produced plays regionally and nationally. He was an actor for many years but is now concentrating on playwriting.

Gino Di'Iorio working at his computer. Image courtesy of

Gino Di'Iorio working at his computer. Image courtesy of

“I always have my writing,” Di’Iorio said. “I’m more comfortable and I have control over the play.

Di’Iorio admits his inspiration comes from many different places.

“My motivation is that I am curious about people and the world,” he said. “I meet someone for 15 minutes and think what a great character they could be.”

The reading is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs. More information about future Lecture Series events can be found by calling (845) 575-3000, ext. 2381 or e-mailing