Hey Stony Brook!
Ah, Spring on Long Island! Warm(er) weather, blooming trees and flowers, bike rides, beach days, sprawling out on the Staller Steps to soak up the sun…this swift change in seasons marks the end of yet another academic year here at SBU.
The end of the year means it’s the perfect time to celebrate all the goals we’ve met and the achievements we’ve made over the past 10 months or so (or more, if you belong to the “intersession intelligentsia”–you know, those of the “sleep when you’re dead” mindset) as well the accomplishments that span your entire academic career. One way in which Stony Brook congratulates amazing achievers is via its Undergraduate Recognition Awards.
This spring, the Stony Brook University Sustainability Studies Program was lucky enough to have an outstanding undergraduate snag such an award! We’d like to extend a mean, green congratulations to graduating senior Kerri Mahony!
Kerri, who reports that she “always loved the environment and knew that it needed more care,” is majoring in Ecosystems and Human Impact (EHI) and is minoring in Geospatial Sciences (GSS). Her fascination between the intersection of human health and the environment was first inspired while she was a ninth-grader attending a two-week Brown University pre-college program. Kerri took a class on the environmental causes of human cancer and was truly inspired to help determine how to best prevent, identify, and treat the disease.
This past fall, Kerri created her very own event–the Kick Out Cancer kickball tournament. She created the event “to have an interactive way to raise money for the Stony Brook Cancer Center” while having fun! Students, faculty, and staff attended the event and raised over $600!
Ever since, she’s been dedicated to studying these connections more closely. After graduating in May, Kerri plans on pursuing her Masters in Public Health (MPH) and a Masters in Public Policy (MAPP) here at Stony Brook. Eventually, Kerri hopes to receive a PhD in Epidemiology so that she can focus on further discerning the connections between environmental toxin exposure and cancer in humans.
As Vice President of Clubs and Organizations for the Stony Brook University Undergraduate Student Government and an active member of several other on-campus committees, Kerri is a natural and effective leader. She further demonstrates her exemplary leadership skills as research team leader in Dr. Pochron’s Earthworm Ecotoxicology lab. Thanks to her valuable skills and efforts, both in- and outside the classroom, she was nominated to receive the Undergraduate Recognition award in Outstanding Achievement: Leadership!
Kerri was nominated by her favorite professor at Stony Brook, Dr. Pochron. Though she loves working in Dr. Pochron’s Earthworm lab, she says that her favorite class is Dr. Pochron’s EHI 340: Ecological and Social Dimensions of Disease class. Kerri took the class her sophomore year and served as TA the following year. Kerri was elated to receive the award. As she puts it:
I am honored to receive the student leadership award and I am thankful to Dr. Pochron for nominating me. I am happy that I could help bring positive experiences to other students on campus. Looking back to freshman year I would have never thought I would win this award because I honestly wouldn’t think I would be in leadership roles. Receiving the student leadership award shows me that I have grown as a person during my time at Stony Brook. I am happy I could “leave” Stony Brook a better place than when I started.
We are so proud of Kerri for all of her hard work and dedication. In the future, there is no doubt she’ll serve as an amazing leader in her graduate studies, and, eventually, in a cancer research lab!
Another day, another #supergreenstatus achieved.
The Stony Brook Sustainability Studies Program is full of supergreen stars.
peace. love. run.
PS. Kerri will be presented with her award on the evening of Monday, April 21 at 7pm in the SAC Auditorium. Congrats again, Kerri!
Hey Stony Brook!
If you haven’t already heard, this coming Friday is BNL Admitted Students Day, to be held in the Wang Center from 10am to 11:45pm. It’s a day when admitted high school students and their families will visit campus to learn more about some of the exciting research and opportunities we offer here at SBU!
One such student is B.S Biology and MBA Healthcare Management dual-major Joy Pawirosetiko! Currently a senior here at SBU, Joy will be showcasing her studies on the long- and short-term effects of Roundup™ and fertilizer on earthworms, research that she conducted as a student in Dr. Sharon Pochron‘s Earthworm Ecotoxicology Laboratory class. For more info on this Sustainability Studies Program course, please see one of my pervious posts, “Digging for Answers.”
Joy was born in Paramaribo, Suriname, and moved to New York in 2001, graduating from Lindenhurst High School in 2010. Here at Stony Brook, she serves as President of the Commuter Student Association and participates in the Undergraduate Student Government. In her free time, Joy can be found with her nose in a book, traveling the globe, and testing out new activities–like indoor rock climbing (which she reports is harder than it looks)!
Recently, I interviewed this dynamic student to learn more about her Sustainability Studies Program research on earthworms. Excerpts from our conversation follow:
Erica Cirino (EC): I am really interested in learning more about your research! Could you sum it up for us, exactly what it’s all about?
Joy Pawirosetiko (JP): Farmers and growers desire for thriving earthworm populations because [earthworms] are a good indicator of soil health. Earthworms tend to internalize ecotoxins that are introduced to the soil through products such as pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. [My] study examined whether the addition of Roundup™ and fertilizer by many farmers and growers end up harming or hurting the earthworm population, and additionally harming or hurting plant growth.
EC: Wow, so great that you could research such an important topic! How would we grow food if not for earthworms? How would we have trees and plants and air to breathe? Could you please discuss your results?
JP: [My] results supported the hypothesis regarding the negative effect of Roundup™ on earthworm health and the positive effect of fertilizer on earthworm health. Weeding type (Roundup™ vs. hand-weeding) had short-term effects while fertilizer type (fertilizer vs. no fertilizer) did not. Fertilizer type had long-term effects while weeding type did not. This study could ultimately help farmers and growers maximize earthworm health, soil health, and plant growth.
EC: Awesome stuff. How did you like the Earthworm Ecotoxicology Laboratory class, may I ask?
JP: Taking classes with Dr. Pochron has always been such a great experience, and the lab is great. [Dr. Pochron is] definitely one of my favorite professors on campus.
EC: Though I’ve never taken a class with her personally, I have heard very positive things about her from other students as well. What makes her classes special?
JP: Dr. Pochron teaches in a way that makes normally difficult material more accessible. Both classes I’ve taken with her also required for a group presentation, an invaluable experience that is necessary beyond the classroom. Not only does she teach the class in an entertaining way, but she also provides advice and assistance for matters outside of the classroom. She encourages students who take her class to be proactive about their academic career. She stresses taking up opportunities and trying out for programs. She believes in the importance of research and is willing to help students who seek her assistance.
EC: So glad you could be a part of the Sustainability Studies Program even though you are not a major or minor in our program! We are so happy to have you conducting this important research. Do you plan on continuing working in a laboratory post-graduation?
JP: After I finish my B.S. I intend on finishing my MBA and expect to graduate by May 2015. After graduation I might look for a job as a lab technician, or something that still allows for research. I’m still a little unsure about my future plans, but it would preferably involve something in biology or healthcare (I think: you never really know where life will take you).
Be sure to stop by the Wang Center on Friday to take a peek at Joy’s research!
It is students like her that make a difference.
Joy, you are right; we don’t know where life will take us. But, it certainly seems like you are headed in a positive direction! Congratulations! #supergreenstatus for you, my friend.
peace. love. run.
PS. Joy was selected as URECA’s April Researcher of the Month!
Hey Stony Brook!
It’s time yet again to highlight another Sustainability Studies Program Student of the Month!
Born and raised in South Orange, today this Jersey girl can be found practicing archery (but not hunting), attending Dr. Who conventions all around the nation, and serving as the Hillel’s Women’s Wellness Coordinator, in her spare time.
Some of her study-related activities include working in Dr. Sharon Pochron’s Earthworm Ecotoxicology Lab, serving on the e-board of the Friends of Fire Island National Seashore, and attending SBU Environmental Club meetings.
From a young age, Emily developed a strong love of the outdoors, often hiking with her father in her town’s nature preserve. However, it was not until she enrolled in AP Environmental Science in high school that she considered environmental science as a career path. As Emily puts it, “My AP Environmental class really opened my eyes [up] to issues that otherwise would not be on my radar.” Inspired to solve some of the issues she learned about in class–climate change, deforestation, species extinction, pollution–Emily graduated from Columbia High School in her hometown determined to make a positive impact on the Earth.
Initially at SBU, Emily enrolled as a Marine Sciences (MAR) major. Later, she changed to the Sustainability Studies Program’s COS major, desiring a major which more heavily incorporated environmental science with humanities and career leadership skills classes into the curriculum. More recently, Emily added the EHI minor, also part of the Sustainability Studies Program, so that she could learn more about the interaction and intersection of humans and the environment. Honing in on a career in restoration ecology (in particular, of the marine environment), this course of study is the perfect formula for success!
Emily finds further purpose in attending environmental events and rallies. She finds the educational aspect of such events to be one of their most important features, as they enable people who may not know much about a given issue to learn more. At such events, Emily enjoys meeting and talking to new people, which she says is pretty easy, especially because “the people [she meets] at such functions have something in common immediately: environmentalism. In fact, the diverse environment of events and rallies mirrors both her educational goal and lifestyle: to learn as much as possible in a wide variety of different areas; a philosophy she hopes to impart on others. As Emily puts it, “We can learn from one another because there are so many different faces of it: science, philosophy, law, and writing.”
In our books, this Jersey Girl has achieved #supergreenstatus!
Thank you, Emily, for making a difference.
peace. love. run.
Everyone at some point ask themselves…I want to learn [insert desired language]! The problem is…where do you begin?
If you’re not busy this summer, it would be a great time to start. This year, Arabic (ARB 101, ARB 211), Turkish (TRK 101), Persian (PER 101), as well as Russian (RUS 213) are being offered. These are pretty cool languages to start learning! You can find more information here: https://llrc.stonybrook.edu/language-institute. I find the Turkish poster particularly interesting:
I am more of a European language person, and if that is the case for you, then look into these languages this summer: German (GER 101, 112), Italian (ITL 101, 201), French (FRN 101, 201), and Spanish (SPN 111 – 321; both EU and LA Spanish!).
If you are more into learning an Asian language (by the way…Japanese is awesome!), then you can take: Chinese (CHI 101, 201).
You can even take beginner or intermediate Sign Language courses! (SLN 111 – 212) – that is pretty cool!
If you are busy or planning to relax this summer – never fear! You can always add on a language class to your course load for the Fall or Spring semester (especially if you have not completed your language requirement yet). Some languages to think about:
Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek (Modern), Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin*, Persian, Russian, Sanskrit*, Spanish, Swahili, and Turkish!
*Of course, Latin and Sanskrit will not be spoken, but they are really important languages. I took a couple years of Latin and it changed my life!
One language that has not been offered for a while is Portuguese (Brazilian or “Brasilian”), but it may be offered in the future!
Also keep in mind that there are also “Uncommonly Taught Languages” offered through Linguistics, so if you’re interested, there may be a language being taught that is not on the above list! And for our non-native English speakers, there are always ESL and English classes available as well.
So that is my language-spiel…if you have any questions about a language, just ask me, but if you need actual guidance on what language to pick or what level, please see the appropriate department! [Note: obviously the European languages would be part of the European Language, Literature, & Culture Department, and the Asian languages would be part of the Asian & Asian-American Studies Department]
About My Language Experience(s):
My mother is fluent in English, Tagalog, and Italian, but her native language is Tagalog (or what others incorrectly call “Filipino”), which means I hear it all the time (but I only know how to speak a few words). I grew up taking Latin and Italian in Montessori school, and I took Spanish when I went to Catholic school. For public high school, I continued on with Spanish. While in high school, I tried teaching myself Japanese and Russian, but I can only speak and understand a few words. Next, I met my (current) boyfriend and his family speaks Portuguese (EU, not Brazilian) – it is similar to Spanish, but so much harder! I finally got to college (with intentions of taking Italian or Spanish) and I ended up taking Latin once again! Since I loved the classics, I couldn’t wait to learn some Greek, so I spoke to a professor and I did a year-long independent study in Ancient Greek! Last summer and I took an intensive German course, then I went off to Berlin, Germany to use my language skills and I took intermediate German while I was there. Now that I am graduating in May, I am sad to leave Stony Brook, but I know that languages will still be out there for me to learn…what’s next: Norwegian!?
Yes my story sounds crazy and ridiculous, but who cares…I love languages (and you should too)!
Hey Stony Brook!
This week I would like to feature a tenacious, hardworking–and just plain awesome–Stony Brook Sustainability Studies Program alum, Alex Santiago!
An Environmental Studies (ENS) major here at the Brook, Alex declared a minor in Environmental Humanities (EHM) during her senior year, after realizing that many of the classes that she had enrolled in “for fun” would count toward the minor–classes like Dr. Heidi Hutner‘s Ecofeminism (WST/EGL 372) course. Alex quickly realized the benefits of studying the interdisciplinary curricula that is the Stony Brook University Environmental Humanities Program. She graduated last year in the spring of 2013.
I had the great privilege of taking an Environmental Humanities course (Dr. Hutner’s Ecology and Evolution in American Literature AKA SBC321–which I HIGHLY recommend!) in which Alex was a TA. Her fierce passion for the environment, creative mind, and super-motivated attitude became readily apparent after just a few class sessions. Alex was always there to help edit and refine students’ ideas or to hook us up with amazing events, people, and internship or job opportunities.
Recently, I asked Alex if she could highlight some of her experiences as an ENS major and EHM minor, and also to update us as to where she is now as a Stony Brook University Sustainability Studies Program graduate. Excerpts from our conversation follow.
Erica Cirino (EC): Hey Alex! First off, going back a bit, could you please share with us two highlights from the time you spent here in the Sustainability Studies Program? Let’s say…your favorite project?
Alex Santiago (AS): My favorite project had to be SBC 401: Integrative Collaborative Systems Studies at Sylvester Manor. The small capstone class acted as a consulting board to a nonprofit/community farm in Shelter Island called Sylvester Manor. Students came up with individual projects to help Sylvester Manor further their mission. I developed a market analysis of East End restaurants to determine whether they were interested in partnering with a historical farm and if their business would be interested in purchasing local and organic produce. The project allowed each student to take ownership of their work and apply their skills to an actual problem (and hopefully provide a solution!).
EC: Awesome! It must have been great to apply your passion for both business and the environment in your very own project. How about another memorable moment, please?
AS: As far as my most memorable moment goes, Attending the “Design by Nature” Sustainability Conference at the Omega Institute with Dr. Heidi Hutner’s class. The conference was incredible and students had the privilege to personally meet sustainability leaders like Josh Fox and Majora Carter– people we read about and discussed in class! The entire experience was a blessing and I’m grateful I had to opportunity to learn from some of the world’s most progressive and innovative activists/movers and shakers.
EC: An great perk to the Program! I too, so enjoy meeting the real-life environmental heroes that we learn about in the classroom. Speaking of the classroom, how have you applied what you learned in class to what you are now doing in the “real world”?
AS: At the moment, I am freelancing at four different positions in order to explore a number of my different passions and develop additional skills (while having some fun!).
Firstly, I am Events Coordinator at Green Spaces, a co-working space in NYC that is home to a number of small social enterprises and startups This opportunity allows me to interact with entrepreneurs on a daily basis and gain a better understanding of the grit, hustle and tenacity it takes to run a business.
Secondly, I am Events Coordinator of Body Local Socials. Body Local is a startup whose mission is to provide better visibility for local wellness/health resource for consumers as well as connect the NYC health and wellness community.Third, I serve as Community and Engagement Fellow at Imperative, a career services platform that seeks to help people discover, connect and create with their professional purpose. I help create partnerships with organizations and recruit/market to new users.Lastly, I am a Research Assistant to Dr. Malcolm Bowman and the Stony Brook Storm Surge Team, and I assist with managing database, media requests, publications and more.
EC: You are a busy lady! How do you think the EHM minor and Sustainability Studies Program, as a unique interdisciplinary program, helped prep you for these numerous eco-biz gigs?
AG: I believe the combination of studying the environment through both a scientific lens and artistic/social aspect allowed me to develop a very thorough, critical and empathetic understanding/perspective of today’s major environmental challenges. I believe the amalgamation of science and art provided the opportunity [for me to] develop as a stronger leader.
EC: Well-said! What are your goals for the future?
AS: Next year, I am starting a 2-year MBA in Sustainability Program at Bard College.
My dreams include:- Start several of my own social enterprises with my best friend revolving around healthy lifestyle options- Create a movement in University settings that allows students to gain greater access to organic produce/healthy food choices- Travel to new countries to research nutrition, health and lifestyle (and have fun!)-Much, much more to come that I can’t even predict!
Hey Stony Brook!
Since we’re midway through the first full month of classes this spring semester, I thought it was about time I feature another outstanding Sustainability Studies Program student as a part of my running “Student of the Month” blog feature.
For February, I am pleased to present to you a dedicated student who possesses a knack for writing, SCUBA diving, and shark saving…
Nicole, who was born in Asheville, North Carolina, lived in the southern US for most of her life, save for a few years in which she and her family resided in Germany. Tucked deep away in a verdant forest on a mountaintop, Nicole’s current home is an environmentalist’s paradise: gorgeous views, quiet, and endless opportunities for hiking and exploring nature.
Although Nicole spends much time in the woods when she’s in the South, she reports that, of all the places in the world, she has “never felt more at home [anywhere else] than…under water in the ocean.” Nicole began scuba diving while still in high school, and has “since decided to spend more time in the water than on land.”
When in 7th grade, Nicole and her family visited Belize. On the final day of the trip, after hours of swimming, fishing, and snorkeling, Nicole lingered in the water to intently watch a school of fish that was ravenously feeding on some of the family’s leftover fishing bait. Suddenly, the fish scooted away, and Nicole, confused, spun around to find out where and why the fish had fled…
Soon, she saw her answer: two enormous bull sharks! While most would be scared beyond consolation, Nicole thinks it was her “pure fascination [of the sharks] and [her] comfort in the water” that allowed her to stay calm while the two “curious” sharks investigated the area around her family’s boat. It was in that moment that Nicole realized her passion for sea animals, especially sharks…and marks the beginning of her role as an “Environmentalist.”
From then on, she dedicated herself to the never-ending task of researching all-things shark and/or marine. She is so grateful to have found the Sustainability Studies Program here at Stony Brook University, as the curriculum has “broadened [her] entire perspective on life,” beyond issues related to just the world’s oceans. As Nicole puts it, as Sustainability Studies Program student, she learned that ”each system in the environment depends on another, therefore saving one [part of the environment] but sacrificing another would ultimately change nothing.”
And Nicole is all about change. As an Environmental Humanities major and Marine Biology minor, this savior of sharks is working toward a law degree after receiving her undergraduate education, so that she can make changes and influence policies to protect her “beloved sea and its inhabitants.” And, as far as making change goes, Nicole suggests a “radical” approach:
“I think the key to change is awareness, the more everyone knows and understands then the more progress can be made. We need to become, as corny as it sounds, ‘one with nature.’ We cannot, [as humans,] cement ourselves in place on this pedestal of dominance we have sat on for so long; instead we must equalize ourselves with the environment. We are a species just as a snake and a sea cucumber are a species, we each have a purpose and ours as humans is not to destroy, but to live alongside of everything else. I may be a bit radical for some but the truth is that being radical is what has brought us to exploiting almost all of our resources on Earth. Why not try being radical in the opposite direction and saving our resources and environment?“
Well said, Nicole, well said.
With her energy and hung-go attitude, we have little doubt that Nicole Grein will go far in her sea-worthy endeavors! #supergreenstatus achieved.
Till next time…
peace. love. run.
For students who want to be leaders:
“Good leadership consists of showing average people how to do the work of superior people.” -John D. Rockefeller
When it comes to leadership at Stony Brook University, I believe anybody can do it. There are so many resources on campus to help any student, a freshman or senior, to acclimate and lead the community. An awesome link to check out is: http://studentaffairs.stonybrook.edu/nexus/. From Undergraduate Fellow to Orientation Leader to RHA Member, these opportunities are open to anybody who seeks them. With a lot of effort and focus, anyone can become a leader.
The first step is to reflect on your experiences and see what you have learned about yourself already. If this is your first thought about leadership, then you may need some help along the way. You might want to talk to someone in the “Getting your foot in the door” program: http://studentaffairs.stonybrook.edu/studentlife/involvement/foot_in_door.shtml or even to someone who you admire as a leader. The Stony Brook community is very friendly and definitely loves to help any student achieve the goals that they shoot for.
For students who are experienced leaders:
As an experienced leader myself, I remember trying very hard to get involved and it allowed me to learn more about how I am as a leader and a member of SBU. The problem with being an experienced leader is that you often take on too many leadership opportunities. If you are an experienced leader and want help managing stress and your time, I think the best policy is:
“[...] to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.” -Nelson Mandela
I believe what Nelson Mandela is saying is that sometimes leaders need to take a step back – not to take all the opportunities available or to receive all the credit; being a leader is an exercise in teamwork and community, so for experienced leaders…try to take a step back and help to grow other students into the leaders of tomorrow.
Hey Stony Brook!
First off, I hope that your Spring 2014 semester is off to a fantastic start!
My semester surely started with a bang; somehow, I am currently juggling three internships, one independent study, an honor’s research thesis, three jobs, and I am training for this year’s NYC marathon! I’ve never been busier, but I am truly happy doing what I love: studying and solving the world’s environmental problems, so that I can help educate others on how live greener, cleaner, and more healthy lives.
This year, I’ve been lucky enough to snag a position as a Teaching Assistant in Dr. Heidi Hutner‘s SBC325: Environmental Writing and Media course for the second year in a row! Though the course–peppered with environmental field trips and events, visits from talented authors and speakers, and fascinating course content–is already awesome, this year’s class is sure to be even more exciting than ever before…
That is because this semester’s class is receiving instruction from talented two-time Emmy Award winning filmmaker (think, ER, Third Watch, and Studio 60) and environmental advocate Dave Chameides aka “Sustainable Dave.” Dave, who visited Stony Brook University in Fall 2013 (see my coverage of his seminar on waste), is donating his valuable time to teach the class filmmaking in our modern digital age. With Dave’s help, students will produce their own short environmental films!
In addition to producing their own movies, students will also be viewing and critiquing others’ films as to better refine their filmmaking strategies and practices.
In fact, the Sustainability Studies Program is hosting our second “Sustainable Film Series,” a series of feature-length environmental flicks to be shown right on campus! Join us in Chemistry Room 370 almost every week this semester for showings of environmental films spanning a wide variety of different topics, from animals to nuclear waste. You will learn A LOT.
We hope to see you there!
peace. love. run.
See the flier, below, for details on the film series:
Hey Stony Brook!
This post is geared mainly toward my fellow Seawolf Seniors (Spring Class of 2014).
To make sure you’re NOT stressing in April, weeks before graduation, here are five handy tips I’ve learned from other students–and from my own experiences–on how to see success come Commencement Day!
1. Check your University email and Blackboard…OFTEN.
All too often I hear classmates complain, “WHEN did THEY tell us THAT was due?!” (“THEY” being administration and “THAT” being one or more of myriad online forms, paper documents, or other materials necessary to graduate). Many times, students neglect to check, or simply miss the important messages that pop up in their SBMailbox or on Blackboard Announcements. In these final months of your SB career, keep on top of everything! An easy way to do this is to set your SBMail (which is set up on Gmail) to forward to your personal email address. You’ll never miss another important message again!
2. Keep a calendar with important deadlines.
This tip goes hand-in-hand with tip #1. Again, I recommend that you harness the incredible power of technology and keep an electronic calendar. That way, you can easily update upcoming tasks with the click of a button. Gmail and Apple both offer great electronic calendars where you can use various colors to indicate different types of tasks. This is a great way to keep track of all sorts of things, from reminding you when to return your textbook rentals to when scholarship applications are due.
3. Update your résumé.
Ok so nearly four years have passed since you first began your college career. Time to remove certain items from your résumé (as much as you loved scoring free slices, chances are your future employer could care less about your stint working in a pizza parlor) and add others (think exciting internships, cool jobs, and hefty research projects). You get the idea: Be your own best advocate!
4. Set goals.
Some keep their goals written on a “to-do” list style piece of paper. Others record their aspirations on Facebook or Twitter so others can hold them accountable to actually go after those goals. I keep a whiteboard on my bedroom wall right next to my bed so that I can write down things I think of that I want to accomplish (best ideas usually come first thing in the morning or in the middle of the night). Visually seeing your dreams get checked off is one of the best feelings in the world! Goals can be anything: be a nicer person, get healthy, win a race, ace a test, nab a job interview… Once you set your goals, get out there and get ‘em!
5. Immunize yourself against the dreaded SENIORITIS!
Ok, so we’ve all been there in high school. You know, those days where you’d rather be grabbing some egg sandwiches and coffee at the deli with friends than be sitting in your morning class. Unfortunately, much of the same thing happens in college. Make it a point to keep up your GPA during senior year. It is hard, but you can do it! Go to class, and pay attention (no texting or thumb-twiddling or sleeping allowed). Your hard work and attention will pay off in the form of good grades, and can also sometimes mean academic accolades! And, chances are, your AM professor will let you eat your egg sandwich (or, if you’re a CSH alum like I am–your classic CSH Deli “egger“) and drink your coffee in class (sweet!).
All for now! Good luck to those taking finals this week. And, remember seniors: YOU CAN DO IT!
peace. love. run.
Hey Stony Brook!
So, it’s the last day of the month: you know what that means…
Time for another Stony Brook Sustainability Studies Program Student of the Month Feature: November Edition!
This month, it is my pleasure to introduce you to a classmate of mine, one with a passion for preserving the local environment, namely, the myriad of marine ecosystems that make Long Island the diverse and unique place that it is…
I first met Justin last year, in Dr. Heidi Hutner‘s SBC 325: Environmental Writing and the Media course. My first impressions? By the skateboard propped up against his desk and his copious use of “rad” and “dude” and similar words which he peppered throughout his sentences, I immediately labeled him:
But, after befriending Justin The Friendly Surfer and reading/listening to his thoughts on the environment and its problems and viewing his breathtaking photography (always always focused on oceans, beaches, wildlife, or surfing) I knew there was more–Justin is truly a Steward of the Seas!
Justin grew up in Bayshore and South Brentwood right here on the Good Old Island, just about a stone’s throw from the Robert Moses State Park and the mystical Fire Island National Seashore. From a young age his surroundings made a big impact on his values in life, and Justin reports harboring a lifelong love of the shore and sea, “spending [his] summer days building sandcastles and learning how to swim in the bay and ocean.”
Later, Justin got into skateboarding, which eventually led to surfing. Surfing was Justin’s way of escaping–if only momentarily–the frantic and fast-paced “New York State of Mind” kind of life, as Justin puts it. Surfing connected Justin to nature and soon it became his de-facto way of life:
“Surfing sort of has this way of creeping into your life where soon everything you do revolves around whether or not there are waves. You start to wake up at the crack of dawn and drive to your favorite beach to see if you can surf before class or work, you avoid making plans on Saturday mornings in the event the waves will be good, and soon you save up some money to buy winter surfing gear because the thought of actually not surfing for 6 months sounds more ridiculous than paddling out in 40 degree water and 32 degree air, while it’s snowing, completely covered in head to toe in 5mm of neoprene.”
Justin had finished school for a few years and had been yearning to return to the classroom, but wasn’t sure what he wanted to study. Sitting on his board pondering such a notion during a frigid January surf session a few years ago at Lido Beach, something funny happened: a young harbor seal surfaced close by and began barking and diving and swimming gleefully. A few weeks later, Justin saw more of these slick gray spotted creatures while surfing at another Long Island beach. Justin was left feeling inspired by the numerous seal encounters…he had never before, in his lifetime of beach-going and years of surfing, “come face-to-face with a wild seal.”
Why now? Justin wondered. He played out all of the possible reasons why he had never before seen the seals but then had suddenly seen so many in the past month: Improved water quality? New marine protection legislation? Justin was sure “that there had to be something happening here, that in [his] opinion was having a positive effect on local marine life.” Whatever was happening with the seals and the sea, Justin felt a calling to play a part in the restoration and conservation of Long Island’s marine habitats. That’s when he decided to come to Stony Brook to major in Coastal Environmental Studies.
Last spring, Justin worked collaboratively on a film and public education project with a few other students (Isabella Bartoloni, Bryan Flynn, and Troy Petrignani). The group created–among other works–a powerful documentary detailing the causes, ongoing effects, and implications of Hurricane Sandy: a nine-minute-plus feature dubbed “Islands Made of Sand.” Justin and his group mates debuted their findings at Earthstock 2013. This coming spring, Justin will flex his filmmaker talent, extending his advice to others and sharpening his own skills as a TA for Dr. Huter’s Spring 2014 SBC 325 course (of which fellow Sustainability Studies Program students Chelsea Moccio and I will also serve as TAs!). This year, the course will feature environmental filmmaking, and students will work with two-time Emmy Award winning filmmaker Dave Chameides aka “Sustainable Dave” aka the man who kept a year’s worth of garbage in his basement (but that’s a whole ‘nother story).
Besides surfing and filmmaking, Justin also connects to nature through photography, something which he admits wasn’t something he quite intended to become involved in. As he says, “I sort of just like taking pictures.” Fancy equipment? No…he uses his iPhone! Hard to believe once you take a look at some of his incredible work.
Justin’s favorite subjects to photograph are landscapes, subjects which he feels perfectly preserve the place and time that he experienced outside of the camera. To him, landscapes are spiritual, and he believes that the natural beauty of the outdoors is essential for a person’s mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. His mission?
“Maybe if I can take a picture of a really gorgeous sunset, or a picturesque beach with not a person in sight, I can influence somebody else to become more environmentally conscious. These days there is a lot at risk with rising populations and energy demands. We have our work cut out for us as Sustainability Studies Program students here at Stony Brook. I’d rather live in a world with blue skies, beautiful oceans and diverse wildlife, as opposed to a world with smoggy air, toxic brown sludge, and garbage laden oceans complete with dead animals covered in oil. The Earth has so much beauty for us to just sit back and enjoy. As my mother always said: “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Couldn’t have put it better myself.
Justin, you have earned #supergreenstatus and more! Keep up the amazing work.
peace. love. run.