Monday, May 18, 2009

City Life

Coming Home Again, And Again
By Alyssa Schwartz

To most Americans, Europe is a continent of beauty and travel, a vacation spot. But for Elana Delasos, Europe is more than a beautiful vacation destination, it is a second home.

Meeting Delasos for the first time, one would never guess that she lived anywhere too far from New York City. Her voice has a recognizable northeastern tint and she wears simple jeans and a tee shirt during an interview in which her computer screensaver of the Eiffel Tower sparked a conversation about travel. Delasos has not only traveled to different countries, she has lived in them, as well.

Elana Delasos on one of her many trips to Paris.

Delasos spent her childhood moving between Europe and the US. She lived in Connecticut until she was in kindergarten, when her family moved to Paris. “My father worked for IBM and he had to move there for work, so of course at that age you go where your parents go,” says Delasos. “It wasn’t too drastic of a change because I was so young that I was easily able to adapt.”

Delasos lived in Paris until third grade when her family moved back to the US. “It was a little bit harder moving this time, because in third grade you are more aware of your friends and the fact that a big change is occurring,” says Delasos. “Still, I was young so it didn’t really faze me too much. I was excited to go back to see my grandparents and family. ”

Delasos remained in Connecticut, making new friends and re-adapting to American life. One might think that moving back to the US might be a difficult change, but Delasos explains that it was easier than expected. “I quickly adapted to life back in the United States. I made friends quickly, I had my family. After the initial move, I settled down pretty quickly,” she says.

Delasos, left, and a friend in Paris.

Delasos and her family lived in Connecticut until she was in the sixth grade, when she discovered she would be moving back to Paris. “I was so excited by the news” she says. “As excited as I was, I will admit that it was tough. I had close friends and I did have fears that leaving would put a strain on these friendships. It was also hard to say goodbye to my family, especially my grandparents.”

Delasos lived in Paris for two years, soaking up the culture and sights, enjoying it even more than the first time she lived there. “I appreciated it so much more this time,” says Delasos. “I really got the change to take in the culture and learn from it and appreciate it. I loved being there. I acquired my love for travel and for their language and culture. I’m still interested in it today.”

Although Delasos loved her life in Paris, she admits that there were certain things about America that she missed sorely. “American food, especially diners,” she says. “Television is another big one. A lot of American television shows that I had got interested in did not air in Paris.” She laughs and explains that, “at age 13, television and music was really important. It was weird not having that. I missed it a lot.”

After two more years in Paris, Delasos’s family moved back to the US so she could start high school. “It was such a bittersweet move. I was sad to leave my friends there, but I was excited to be back to the United States and see my friends here,” she says.

Delasos kept in contact with her US friends, but she describes feeling slightly out of the loop after making the move. “It was weird. My friends had all of these stories and memories between them. Plus, they shared interests in things like television shows that I had no idea about. I missed out on a lot – but I certainly don’t regret it.”

Delasos finished high school in Connecticut and moved to New York City for college. She knew going into college that she wanted to take part in a study abroad program and found one that allowed her to spend her junior year in London. “It was my first time being back in Europe since I had left Paris,” says Delasos. “I could not have been more excited. It was such a great experience. Not only did I go with my friends from college, but also I got to see my old friends from Paris. It was such a great semester.”

Delasos, right, and a friend in London.

Even though the moves may have been difficult at times, Delasos doesn’t regret one minute of her time in Europe. “I feel so lucky. I learned so much, like how to adapt easily, which is a great quality to have. It also made me extremely close with my family, because no matter where we lived and where we were going, we always stuck together and had each other,” she says.

Although she does not have definite plans to return to Europe, Delasos says she would, “love to live there with my family, at least for some period of time. It’s an experience everyone should have.”

Music & Muscians

Faithfully Pursuing Her Music Career
By Damaris Colon

A frustrated father, gazing at fresh pen marks and a cut in the family’s leather sofa, sought answers from his two year-old, noodle-haired daughter.

“Jessie, do you know who did this?”

“Yes, me,” she replied.

“Would you like to tell me why,” her father questioned.

“Because mommy made me mad,” a young Jessica Nunez-Mattocks responded honestly, and her father tried desperately to keep from laughing in order to teach his child a lesson.

Looking back on that exchange with her father, Nunez-Mattocks remembers “the greatest childhood ever,” which some friends compared to the Cosbys. She remembers her house always being busy and having a great relationship with her three sisters.

Although Nunez-Mattocks now calls New York home, she was a military baby who spent a great deal of her childhood traveling between Germany, New York, and Maryland. Nunez-Mattocks credits her outlook on life to her upbringing in Europe, as well as her parents exposing her and her siblings to different cultures at a young age. Now 23, Nunez-Mattocks is pursuing a career as a singer, songwriter, and stylist/designer, and credits her parents for giving her the freedom to pursue those creative interests.

Jessica Nunez-Mattocks records under the artist name
JessieADORE and is working on a new album.

Nunez-Mattocks has been singing since “forever,” before she could talk, according to family members. She perfected her craft as an ambitious high school vocal major attending the Duke Ellington School of Arts in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

In high school, Nunez-Mattocks says she was friends with nearly everyone -- jocks, cheerleaders, mathletes, artsy students, and older kids. She nicknamed Oodles for her noodle-shaped locks and was dubbed the honorary cool kid from New York.

Nunez-Mattocks is critical of current music i
ndustry trends.

Nunez-Mattocks, currently single, is highly focused on her goals. She says she works everyday to strengthen her relationship with Jesus, whom she describes as “the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

When asked about the state of music right now, Nunez-Mattocks becomes very passionate. “I am rather disgusted with the state of music right now. It lacks substance. People who are considered the "best" are only that because any real competition is blackballed and the only other artists around for them to be compared to are talentless,” she says.

Nunez-Mattocks records under the artist name JessieADORE and is working on releasing an EP, “The Heathen’s Epiphany.” (Listen to a few songs here).

Nunez-Mattocks may feel frustrated with the music industry now because she is a new artist who must battle against such established songstresses as Beyonce and Rihanna to gain recognition. Nunez-Mattocks says she wants to be a true artist, who is seen for her talent and not judged on anything other than her music.
However, one can’t help but note Nunez-Mattocks’ fashionable and trendy style. She has already received recognition from Clutch Magazine, where she describes her personal style as classic.

When asked where she sees herself in the next five years, she says, “I try not to kid myself by mapping out where I’ll be in the future. I have done that so often in this process we call “maturing” and there are always so many variables, and things that work out better than you could ever imagine. I just allow God to direct me...surely His way is guaranteed success.”

City Life

Welcome To Looseworld
By Sydney Zarp

The clock strikes midnight, and a sea of yellow taxis roll up to Broome and Centre Streets. Model-like girls and dudes wearing Nike kicks pour out of the cars and flood down the stairs to the entrance of the club Southside. As they pass a rowdy crowd they cannot help but laugh at the people who have been waiting for similar treatment.

Skyler Gross, the co-founder of Looseworld.

Overcome by the thumping music, this crowd of 20-somethings is taken from the real world and welcomed into another dimension. These silver spoon babies will easily dry the bar, ordering shots upon shots on to each other’s open bar tabs. For the next five hours nothing matters except who will hook-up with whom. They are not worried about rejoining reality until early the next morning.

This is Thursday. This is Looseworld.

Skyler Gross, 22, was born in Malibu, California which is squeezed between the Pacific Ocean and Hollywood, which explains his distinct laid back demeanor. His privileged childhood is illustrated by colorful memories of his extravagant “Barmitzfa” and his foreign travels. Thinking back to when he was 10, Gross remembers posing for a book cover. “I modeled for a book cover about jaded children in Hollywood. I guess they were right,” he says.

Regardless of his lavish upbringing, Gross knows what it means to work hard. Building his own company from the ground up, Gross has proved that he understands the value of the dollar.

Whether filming his senior thesis, “French Diss,” or throwing his Looseworld events, Gross knows how to acquire and use his resources to his advantage. His drive and motivation comes from his childhood of watching his father live the ‘good life.’ He realized that in order to live an easy life he had to find his niche in the business world.

His company, Looseworld, is a new media marketing and distribution platform. “We have a blog,, where we feature special artist from all mediums,” Gross says. “Then once a month, we have an event called Looseworld Presents where we invite people who will want to invest in the artist we are featuring.”

Gross’s ultimate goal is to eventually evolve into a production company and open a store where they sell both Looseworld gear and gear of the featured artist. Gross’s attitude and business approach are far from stereotypical. Take his company name for example, Looseworld.

“Looseworld is a way of life. Loose is what you make of it,” he says.

Gross explains that his life has always been loose and proves his point by telling a story about when he was 16. “During high school I went to a school in Switzerland, called TASIS. It was all because of one Monday night I was caught smoking weed in my room, and my parents decided to send me to Switzerland,” he says. “It was supposed to be a punishment for always getting in trouble for dumb shit, but really it was the best three years of my life. How could it not be? I was in another country doing whatever I wanted.”

It is stories like these that set Gross apart from the typical businessmen. Gross admits that he is lazy, but school was not that difficult for him. “I knew how to get the most from doing the least.” Sweet-talking his teachers and charming his way through work has been his strategy for the past 16 years. Now with a company on the line, Gross is learning that his swagger has become a part of the business. Keeping up a ‘loose’ lifestyle is all a part of the game and is a factor that catches investors’ attention, he says.

Alex Bittan, 22, co-founder of Looseworld, confesses the he always knew that he would end up working with Gross. “We grew up together, so we know each other down to the core,” Bittan says. “We both know what we want out of our lives, and quickly figured out what we have to do to get there.”

Most soon-to-be college graduates are dreading the day when they leave the comfort of school. Some students are looking into other options after college, because they have realized that there aren’t many jobs available right now.

A recent survey found that 71% of companies say they plan to hire fewer people this year than they have in the past. The Washington Post said that, “Seventy-three percent of today's graduating seniors will leave college with student loan debt, at an average of about $23,000. This means that about 70% of the 2009 college graduates will move back home after receiving their degree.”

Many of these graduates may be forced to return home to live with mom and dad to save money, and get a local job in their hometowns. But not Gross. Obviously his business is just beginning to emerge and has yet to reach its goal. But, the success of the previous three events sponsored by Looseworld, and the thousands of daily hits to the blog is a sign that that they are moving in the right direction. And, there is a waiting list for Looseworld apparel, but the guys made me an exception and hooked me up with gear.

At the end of May, Gross will graduate from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts with honors, and will soon be ready to hit the real world, with no intention of moving home.

“This is what I want; this is what I have always wanted,” he says.

Art And Artists

Not Your Average School Experience
By Alexandra Gardell

Ask the people you know about their high school experience and you’ll likely get a myriad of stories about annual school musicals, Friday night football games, bad cafeteria food, stressful exams, field trips, and large graduation ceremonies. It seems like the modern collective American school experience, whether public or private, encompasses all or at least some of these experiences.

Imagine, however, if this was not your experience at all. Imagine that your kitchen was your classroom and your mother was your teacher for all of your school years, day in and day out. You could never play hooky, or tell the teacher that your dog ate your homework. Your mom knew when you were sick and she knew that you didn’t have a pet dog.

David Felicie and Michelle Kakalecz in a recent performance at Lincoln
Center with the non-profit ballet troupe, the Performing Arts Ensemble.

According to a 2006 New York Times article, “Home Schoolers Content to Take Children’s Lead,” in recent years, about 1.1 million children in the US received their education at home. Among them were David Felicie and Michelle Kakalecz.

Both Felicie, 22, and Kakalecz, 20, are from New Jersey and were taught at home by their mothers. Both are disciplined, hard working, active members of their communities and pursue their dreams. And although they share a similar background in their curriculums and interests, their experiences with education are unique.

Felicie grew up in a large household, the fourth of six siblings. And his mother taught them all. “My mother thought homeschooling was the best decision because it would create more of a one-on-one learning atmosphere, rather than a one-on-twenty or one-on-thirty environment,” says Felicie. “Another reason was to keep us out of trouble. We were living in Staten Island in a rough neighborhood and moved to New Jersey when I was ten and continued to homeschool.”

How does one give a thorough education to six kids, all different ages, at once? The Felicies had a system. “The two oldest were in the same grade, the next two, myself and my older brother Joey, were in the same grade, and the youngest, Bethany and Josh were in the same grade,” explained Felicie. “Basically the youngest of each pair got bumped up a year so that my mother was teaching three grade levels instead of six at a time.”

David Felicie in a recent performance of Beauty and the Beast, produced
by the Performing Arts Ensemble, discovered his dance talents while
attending vocational school.

This is not an unheard of practice in home education, and think of this: kids in any given public or private classroom may be a year or two apart in age. “Throw away that grade level thing. It's a way of comparing children, and in a home setting just isn't necessary,” said Mary McCarthy, co-founder of the New Jersey Homeschool Association said in an article from Home Education Magazine. “Then see if you can combine several children in one subject. I've never seen it written anywhere that children can't work together on learning.”

It worked for the Felicie family, and it also helped them focus on family bonds.

Kakalecz is the youngest of three. Her oldest brother attended private school, and her other brother was homeschooled from eighth grade on. Kakalecz’s mother decided to educate her daughter herself, using a pre-determined curriculum and a series of extracurricular activities and learning programs.

Setting the curriculum
Homeschoolers have many options in deciding their curriculum. Both Felicie and Kakalecz used the A Beka system, which was created by the founders of Pensacola Christian College in Florida. “We would order our textbooks and videos through A Beka, but my mom would also add her own lesson plans,” said Felicie.

Kakalecz’s mother, Gayle, would attend events called curriculum fairs, where all the different companies that produced textbooks and other learning materials would showcase their products to homeschoolers. This is where the Kakaleczs got their materials, like those from A Beka.

In addition to textbooks, A Beka offered videos with daily lessons that gave students the feeling of a classroom. Sometimes they had other students at desks, other times just a teacher at the front of the room.

The videos weren’t a replacement for one-on-one interaction, however. “I don't think the videos were that effective though; they didn't really explain how to do things; they gave the problem and then the answer, they moved too fast sometimes,” says Felicie. “My mom would do most things manually, and really teach us on her own.”

Kakalecz said one of the good things about the A Beka videos was that if she did not fully understand something she could call in and someone would talk her through the problem. Making a phone call may have been more difficult than raising your hand in a classroom, but there was help available if you needed it. In addition to A Beka, Kakalecz also used other curriculums for various subjects, such as Algebra and Geometry.

Homeschooling is not “unschooling,” explained Gayle Kakalecz. She says the unschooling approach to learning is where parents do not set a curriculum but rather encourage their children to learn by experience alone. “They go out into nature and learn from nature, they learn from making things. Homeschooling is more instructed,” she says.

Even with a curriculum, though, homeschooling gives kids and their parents’ chances to customize the curriculum to fit their interests and allows room for creativity. “Michelle read a variety of books, such as Pride and Prejudice,” says Gayle Kakalecz. “Once she wanted to see the musical The Scarlet Pimpernel and I told her she had to finish the book first.”

Felicie stressed that he endured a rather strict curriculum. “We were taught English, math, science, everything that you do in public school. If you didn't complete that day's assignments you couldn't do what was considered recess, anything fun like going outside,” he says. “Sometimes I would goof off and not want to do my work, so I would end up inside while everyone else was outside, doing my school work until 8 p.m., maybe even twelve at night.”

Now a very conscientious adult, Felicie gained from these experiences. “I learned to work hard though, and to always complete my responsibilities.”

Just like most other students, homeschoolers can take standardized tests and exams like the SATs. “I took the SAT and the PSAT at Middletown North,” the public high school Kakalecz was zoned to attend if she had not opted for homeschooling. “I took the tests where you fill in the bubbles,” she said with a laugh, the familiar standardized tests, at the school her brother previously attended.

What do the professionals think?
Twila Liggett, a professor of Education at Marymount Manhattan College and creator of the famed educational television program Reading Rainbow says that, “Some parents feel they can offer a richer, more interdisciplinary approach to learning. Some kids just find it hard to be in an overly structured environment and do much better with homeschooling.”

No two situations are exactly alike, and there is no definite answer to what is the best way to obtain an education. The most important thing, Liggett says is that, “Parents should be intellectually curious and willing to spend the time it takes to do the job.”

Interacting with others
Growing up with so many close siblings, mostly all boys, Felicie always had someone to hang out with. Conversely, Kakalecz was the baby of the family, and the only girl. No matter the size of the family, though, homeschoolers have opportunities to get together with kids their age, just like in traditional school.

Kakalecz completed all of her core curriculum at home under the instruction of her mother, but often got together with other local homeschoolers for special activities.

“We met with a group called REAP for ‘Geography Nights.’ We would research a different country each time, learn about the culture, and prepare foods from that country to share with everyone,” said Kakalecz. “I studied French and Spanish with a group, and we would even learn cross-stitch and sewing at one of the girls grandmother’s house.”

In addition to the group’s organized swimming at the YMCA, Kakalecz always got her physical education from gymnastic and dance classes. “I took ballet almost every single day,” she says.

Felicie had a network of other homeschoolers as well. “Homeschoolers that were affiliated with A Beka in the area would network and organize events, things like field trips. We would go roller-skating, bowling, go to farms and take care of and feed animals, all different things,” he recounted. Kakalecz shares similar experiences with day trips as supplementary education.

And what about the prom? “We had a prom that was organized by some of the parents where they would rent out a big hall and all of the local junior and senior year homeschoolers would go,” says Felicie. “We could bring "outsiders" as dates, just like other proms.”

Both Felicie and Kakalecz had high school graduation ceremonies. Kakalecz acquired her GED from a vocational program. Felicie had a ceremony with other homeschoolers in the area. He added, “I finished my high school studies early and graduated at 16 because I actually skipped a grade.”

Life after graduation
After graduation, Felicie attended a two-year vocational program that was part of his local county college. He started studies in landscaping but once he got there he switched to dance, saying he was part of what they called the "Jump Start Program."

At this time Felicie began cultivating his natural talents with formal education in dance. He had always played around with break dancing and hip hop, but this “jump start” actually turned out to be a grand jete that helped to move Felicie towards classical ballet, which became a passion. Felicie has since attended numerous intensive programs, and has performed as a professional dancer and choreographer. He also works as a dance instructor.

Kakalecz is currently a Liberal Arts major at Brookdale Community College. “I am finishing my second full semester now, but I had taken two other classes at Brookdale before starting fulltime to get used to going,” she says.

Kakalecz says she feels like she had a full, well-balanced experience thanks to her involvement in many different activities while being homeschooled. She is very active member of a non-profit ballet company, The Ballet Company of the Performing Arts Ensemble, where she met Felicie, who is also a member of the Ensemble. She’s involved in various volunteer efforts, including at the Holocaust, Genocide, & Human Rights Education Center at her college.

On Felicie’s homeschooling experience, he says, “I think it turned out to be the best thing for us.”

City Life

All Work And No Sleep
By Adriana Lorenzo

You can be categorized as a night owl or an early bird. There are even entire cities that are jokingly referred to as ones that never sleep. Then there are the rare groups of people that are busy at work as the rest of the country sleeps. As the majority of America is settling into their pajamas and curling up under their covers, the night shifts commence.

Yamile Gloria, center, and hospital co-workers.

Yamile Gloria, 23, is a registered nurse in the Pulmonolgy Division of the Miami Children’s Hospital, and has been working the night shift for the last two years. “On a typical work day, I will get to work around 6 p.m. and not be home until 8 a.m. the next morning,” says Gloria. “So there is nothing typical about my work day really. My hours are long and weird, and my schedule never coincides with any of my friends and family.”

Immediately after graduating from the University of Miami, Gloria landed this job, which was exactly in the field she was interested. She would be working with children, and the pay and benefits were ideal. The only catch? She would be working the dreaded night shift.

“At first I couldn’t picture myself working such crazy hours, but I felt it was a small price to pay for having my dream job,” says Gloria. “Sure, I have had to reschedule my life around my odd hours, but every minute and sleep deprived night has been worth it.”

The hospital is undeniably a prestigious place of employment in Miami. On the Miami Children’s website, the hospital prides itself as “South Florida’s only licensed specialty hospital exclusively for children” and is “renowned for excellence in all aspects of pediatric medicine with several specialty programs ranked among the best in the nation in 2008 by US News & World Report.”

Landing the job was the perfect pay off for Gloria, who had been working very hard in nursing school. As a registered in the Pulmonology Division, Gloria works with children ranging in ages from newborns to about 18 years old, who suffer from illinesses as common as asthma to more serious conditions like cystic fibrosis, tuberculosis and pneumonia.

“Working with kids is the best part of my job,” Gloria says. “It breaks your heart to think of a sick child, but the most rewarding part of my job is that I get to help these kids through their illness. It is the most satisfying feeling to know I am making a difference in a child’s life.”

But not every story of every child Gloria encounters has a happy ending. As expected in a hospital setting, Gloria and her colleagues have had their share of heartbreak and disappointment.

“The worst nights for me have been when a patient takes a turn for the worse, or even worse, has passed away,” Gloria says. “We have made bonds with these children and their families, and of course have been working extremely hard to return them to perfect health.”

Gloria recalls one very difficult particular nigh. A young girl that had been a long-term patient at the hospital lost her battle with a serious and rare disease. “This girl was amazing. She was young but had such a positive attitude and always had a smile on her face,” says Gloria. “Losing a patient is never easy, but this loss really shook me up. It’s hard not to feel emotionally involved in these children’s lives, and seeing her parents’ suffer was so hard.”

One perk of Gloria’s unconventional schedule, however, is she often gets a couple of days off during the week. “I might work both Friday and Saturday night shifts, but then I will have off some other days,” she says. If someone wants to make plans with her, their best bet is to get her on a day off. “I can’t really go out to dinner or a movie on a weeknight usually. I use my days off to catch-up with friends, or do some shopping and other errands.”

Three in the morning hits, and Gloria hits a slump in her night. “After midnight, especially on slower nights, I start feeling pretty tired. Some nights are harder than others, but it definitely helps having my other nurse friends in the same boat with me.”

Gloria had some words of wisdom for any nurse, doctor or other professional who could someday work a night-shift. “Sleeping during the day is going to feel strange at first, but catching up on sleep is very important in staying sane.”

When asked what her ultimate secret weapon for staying awake was, Gloria laughed and answered, “endless cups of coffee, and definitely never touching decaf.”

City Life

Escaping Family To Find A Career
By Katy Berninger

Sitting quietly in a coffee shop drinking green tea lemonade while reading a magazine, I am waiting for someone who is very late. However, I know this person is on his way because he has sent me about a dozen text messages apologizing profusely for being tardy.

Suddenly I hear a loud, exasperated sigh and Wesley “Wes” Williams, 18 plops down beside me.

“I am so sorry, rehearsal ran long,” exclaims Williams who has just left practice for his upcoming high school musical. I can’t be angry with him, of course, because there is something lovable about him. He is a giant teddy bear who wears over the top “movie star” sunglasses and a blue scarf around his neck. Williams sits and excitedly explains how glad he is to be able to help me out. This is who he is: a vibrant personality who is obsessed with Beyonce and would do anything to help another person.

Williams always tries to look on the bright side and
not worry about the future.

Born in Baltimore into a conservative religious family, Williams is the third child, but the first of his parents’ children to live. He was soon joined by a sister, Amarys, 15, and two younger brothers, Jonathan, 12 and Joshua, 6.

As a child Williams moved around a lot, but always had the company of his large family, including his grandmother and uncle who still live him. When asked about his family, Williams says, “we are kind of like the family that yells and screams at each other but we laugh constantly.”

The family may be a little dysfunctional, but Williams says he gets a long fairly well with everyone, especially his sister who he says he jokes around with a lot.

Despite the close family relationship, Williams is quick to point out that he is considered the “weird” one because he is gay. Although he has come out to his friends, Williams has yet to come out to his family, and he says that even though his family doesn’t know, “They’ve gotten lots of hints. I think they kind of deep down know….they're trying to ignore it.”

Williams says he is OK with this arrangement because he feels the only way he will ever be able to tell them is once he is away at college, and say that his parents would probably, “make my life hell,” because he believes his parents cannot comprehend that being gay is not a choice.

According to a 2002 Los Angeles Times article, “Being Gay in a Conservative Environment,” Williams is just one of many gay children who live in conservative families who are afraid of telling their parents about their sexual orientation. Williams’ family is highly religious and they believe that being gay is a sin. According to the article, the communities that these families are a part of create a “culture of hostility toward homosexuality.”

Williams recognizes this and has decided to let his parents ignore “the elephant in the room” so that he doesn’t have to deal with their reaction. Instead, he has opted to be open with his friends who have all accepted him.

Williams says he has big goals and dreams, and for now, is looking towards the future as he plans his move to Salisbury University in Salisbury, Maryland. When asked what he most looks forward to about college Williams says, “being open, being able to perform, and meeting guys.”

Performing is what drives Williams the most, and is what he hopes to do for the rest of his life. When asked about acting and singing, two topics Williams is very passionate about, he lights up. “I always knew I wanted to be known, like it was always in my personality to want to be famous.” Williams’ post-college career may be far off, but he plans to move to California and “work his butt off” until he makes it big.

Wrapping up our conversation, Williams says, “That was fun,” and says he’s going to go see the new Beyonce movie that night. Still jovial, he grabs his things and bounces out of the coffee shop.

City Life

Conquering The World One Pizza At A Time
By Heather Bates

It was love at first bite. When Carmen Cascetta was 19, she had no idea that the local pizza boy would become her future husband. Antonio Cascetta was just minding his own business and making pizzas. Cascetta's younger brother Johnny wandered into the pizzeria to cause trouble. Little did he know that his mischievous behavior would lead to a lifetime of love and support.

Antonio and Carmen Cascetta came to the US as children and run
a successful family business.

Carmen Cascetta moved to the US from Cidra, Puerto Rico when she was only five years old. Her memories of her homeland have dimmed, but she has fond memories of her childhood there. Carmen remembers the small things about her native country, such as her grandfather bringing delicious loaves of bread home after church on Sunday mornings. When she moved to New York City and began building her life there, Cascetta had no idea how grateful she would be one day. Now, she is a successful wife and mother of two.

Unlike his wife, Antonio Cascetta did not move to the US until he was 12. Back in his hometown of Teggiano, Italy, Antonio “Tony” Cascetta remembers playing soccer with shoes that had metal wires attached. “Nobody would let me play,” Cascetta jokes. “They were worried that I would break the ball.” Tony also has many things to be thankful for in the United States. He owns a pizzeria in Brooklyn, not far from the home that his family shares.

When either Cascetta is asked what they like most about living in the US, the answer always returns to their two children, Adam, 24, and Krystal, 25. This year, Krystal graduates from Albany Medical College and will begin working as a resident at the Long Island Jewish Hospital. Krystal believes that is able to work toward a medical career because of the choices that were made for her parents to come to the US when they were children. Adam is also graduating from college this year, leaving New York City College of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in entertainment technology.

Tony’s Pizza Spot has hit a few rough patches recently.

Carmen Cascetta says she is very proud and excited to watch her children earn the diplomas that they worked so hard for. “That’s exactly why I say the United States is better for your children. They get to have a better education,” she says. “Of course, I’m very happy that my children were able to continue their education as far as they needed to, and I’m grateful that my daughter was able to attend medical school here in the US.”

Despite the family pride that comes from seeing their children succeed, running a family business in such tough economic times is not easy. Only a year after he moved to New York, Tony Cascetta began working for the original pizzeria owners. When his boss retired and returned to Italy, Tony and another employee took over the pizzeria as co-owners. But because of health issues, Tony’s partner gave him sole custody of the pizzeria.

While Tony’s Pizza Spot is still open, business is suffering. “Things are rough. The economy sucks,” Tony says. “When people spend their money now, they want more for less.”

Carmen says she is also affected by the economic problems. She recently lost her job as a customer service representative at Avis car rentals. Now, she is stuck trying to help her husband run the pizzeria while also looking for another job to help support her family.

“I’m directly affected by the economy. For example, losing my job and not knowing when I’m going to have another one, and losing all my medical benefits, which is the most important thing at my age,” Carmen says. But she says, “The US is the best place to raise children due to the better schools, health care, arts, et cetera. In Puerto Rico, it’s a harder way of life and jobs are scarce.”

Recent economic hardships have not stopped them from keeping their business alive and watching as Adam and Krystal move on to build their careers. “It’s what I worked for,” Tony says. “To give opportunities to my children that I didn’t have when I was their age. I feel very proud of both of them achieving their goals, and I’m sure that they will be very successful in whatever they do.”

City Life

Sometimes, There’s No Place Like Home
By Thomas Ford

We’ve all heard the story of the “good girl” gone “bad” — the girl who starts off polite and kind and takes a sharp turn for the worse, becoming reckless and irresponsible. But seldom do we hear the story of the good girl gone bad gone good or in simpler terms, Chrissy Galifianakis.

From a very young age, Galifianakis was extremely headstrong. She, unlike many of her peers at her private school in Jamaica, Queens, entertained responsibilities that even most adults would find daunting. On top of the piles of homework her honors classes forced her to complete, Galifianakis performed the daily routines of a stereotypical housewife in her early teens. She cooked daily meals for her family, maintained the condition of the house, did laundry and any other activities her parents might ask her to do.

While this may seem like chores any young person would be obligated to do, Galifianakis was taking the full brunt of these obligations because there was no allowance and she couldn’t shift these duties with her younger brother. She was, essentially, acting as the mother and father of the household. She jokes, “I cooked and cleaned like a slave!” Yet, the motivations for her unstinting willingness to take care of people; people much older than she, were far from humorous.

Galifianakis’ mother, Helen, suffers from multiple sclerosis, a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system and is often disabling, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Galifianakis cared for her mother in all ways that she could, whether it was helping to bathe her or pushing her wheelchair. Seeing her mother’s slowly debilitating health inspired Galifianakis to do something to help ill people. She wanted to become a doctor.

However, her father, John Galifianakis, had other plans for her. Bitter from an accident at work that ultimately limited his mobility, John Galifianakis thought that his daughter should stay at home and not go to college. A very strict man who values Greek traditions, John Galifianakis sees Chrissy marrying a Greek man and doesn’t like it when she brings home friends home of other races. “I am not very close with my father,” admits Galifianakis.

With what most would consider burdens, it is no wonder Galifianakis was ready to escape her daily life of taking full care of a mother she loved and dealing with her father who simply did not understand her or believe in her. So, despite her father’s reservations, Galifianakis attended Marymount Manhattan College in Manhattan. Unfortunately, along with escaping her old life and leaping head first into a new one, she lost her better judgment, and the phase of the so-called ‘bad girl’ ensued.

With Manhattan at her disposal, Galifianakis wanted to venture into a new quadrant of life that she hadn’t explored. What was it like to be a kid? To be a teenager? What was it like to do the things kids, teenagers, and young adults do that she had missed out on?

She would soon find out.

Galifianakis began partying on weekends and her roommates encouraged a habit of staying out all night, which she did. Classes slowly became less important to her and alcohol slowly became more of a focus. As partying began to completely consume her weekends, so did her consumption of alcohol and interests in using other substances.

She laughs, “I had a Lindsay Lohan month.”

The worst of the month came when she was nearly evicted from college housing. This moment, along with friends outside of her partying circle intervening during this phase, forced Galifianakis to realize that she needed to regroup, to get back on her feet and do exactly what she came to Manhattan to do.

Achieng Radier, a close friend of Galifianakis, was present throughout the good and the bad times. “I told her she needed to change. She had a new best friend every week for a month,” says Radier. “I wanted her to realize that these people were damaging her life, not helping it.”

With the support of her old friends who actually cared about her and the image of her mother driving her to be successful, Galifianakis buckled down and slowly returned to being the joyful, light-hearted, gregarious person many had grown to love. She rid herself of anything that would negatively affect her body and her mind and began working diligently in school again.

Galifianakis also returned home intermittently to help her parents. However, this time, she would do even more than she did before. In addition to cooking and cleaning, she helped her parents organize and pay bills, patched her father’s jeans, and even managed the gardens outside the house.

Galifianakis was back to helping people and doing what she always wanted to do. It seems as if her days of continual partying at gay clubs and neglecting everything that was important to her are coming to end. Says Galifianakis, “I want to help people, and we need doctors!”

Thursday, April 30, 2009


The Good, The Bad, The Millennial
By Alyssa Schwartz

The Millennials, one of the most studied generations, are the offspring of the Baby Boomers who grew up in a time of technological advancement and were raised with very different ideals and ethics than their parents.

It would seem that being a Millennial, one would have more going for them than against them. The Millennial, also known as Generation Y or the Echo Boomers, seem to be more studied and criticized for growing up in a new era than welcomed and accepted for the new ideas and knowledge that they can offer society.

Millennials appear to be defined by the fact that they were raised in a time when technology was thriving. According to the CBS News 60 Minutes report “Echo Boomers,” this generation is “a reflection of the sweeping changes in American life over the past 20 years. They are multi-taskers with cell phones, music downloads and instant messaging on the Internet.”

Is this attribute a positive factor or a negative slam at the generation?

Maria Lagis, a student at Stony Brook University says it is “100% positive.” She believes that because the Echo Boom generation grew up with all of these technologies and the ability to multi-task it will ultimately help them in the long run.

“I think we are lucky to be able to multi-task. If I wasn’t brought up knowing how to multi-task, I honestly don’t think I would make it through college,” Lagis says. “It’s necessary.”

Maria Lagis, right, and her mother.

Lagis believes that her generations’ technological skills will prove useful throughout college and into the work force.

“I feel as if the business world is changing and demanding that employees be technologically advanced. It’s a requirement for so many jobs these days,” says Lagis. “How lucky are we that we got a head start in being able to understand technology and survive situations where we might have to handle various tasks at once. I think we have the advantage.”

Steven Schwartz agrees that the Millennial generation is becoming necessary for the survival of business. He is the owner and manager of a Long Island mortgage company, and is part of the Baby Boomer generation. Schwartz finds it necessary to mix part of the Millennial generation into his company.

“It is essential to survival,” he says. ”That these people who are now entering the work force with this in depth knowledge on technology – they are necessary. They have a huge understanding of new computer programs, they know quicker and easier methods of doing work and they get the work done just as efficiently and effectively as my older employees who actually find it difficult to learn new programs and adapt to new methods.”

Schwartz admits that the idea of hiring younger people was not something he was always opened too. “Having children myself who are part of this generation, I know firsthand that they can be a little bit lazy and would probably rather be on “Facebook” than doing actual work,” he says. “I’ve learned though that people in this generation will complete any task I ask of them, even if on “Facebook” while doing it.”

Technology is not the only aspect that has contributed to shaping this generation. The way their parents raised them plays a large role in this generation’s relationship to the workplace. Marian Salzman in the 60 Minutes report “The Millennials Are Coming,” notes “that while this generation has extraordinary technical skills, childhoods filled with trophies and adulation didn't prepare them for the cold realities of work.”

The Millennial generation grew up on praises and teamwork, something that is not always a reality in the business world. Schwartz agrees with Salzman’s ideas. He realizes that he and his wife raised their children on teamwork and praises such as, “you did the best you could and that’s all that matters.”

Schwartz says, “we probably did shelter our children a lot, and it may hurt them in the end or help them. Ultimately I believe raising good and honest people is more valuable then raising people who can be tough enough to climb to the top of the workforce.”

Lagis feels that the way her parents raised her has been a positive attribute rather than a negative.

“Sure I was part of soccer teams and everyone won and life was great. That doesn’t mean I’m not capable of handling myself in real life,” Lagis says. “My parents pushed me to be the best I can be and that is something I will take with me into real life. I will always have that motivation and drive, that will help me - not hurt me.”


An Impatient Generation Full Of Team Players
By Adriana Lorenzo

They can listen to their iPods, instant message online, watch television and reply to a text message all at the same time. They share files, blog and spend hours online a day.

The above portrayal may sound like a description of a robot, but it is actually the routine of the typical member of the Millennial generation. These individuals born between 1982 and 1995 are the quintessential ‘multitaskers’ and are one of the most studied generations in recent times due to their large population and buying power.

According to two recent CBS News 60 Minutes reports, “The Echo Boomers” and “Here Come The Millennials,” this generation is of great interest not only because of their large size and spending power, but also because of their belief systems and attitudes. Also called “Echo Boomers,” this generation differs greatly in their goals and priorities from the group they echo -- their parents, the Baby Boomers.

Christina Gloria says her generation is very impatient,
but is also innovative.

While Baby Boomers were taught the only way to excel was to work extremely hard, the Millennials have been constantly praised and awarded simply for effort. “You now have a generation coming into the workplace that has grown up with the expectation that they will automatically win, and they'll always be rewarded, even for just showing up," said Mary Crane in the 60 Minutes report “Here Come The Millennials.”

The report presented members of the older generations’ concerns about the Millennials entering the workplace and their abilities to handle not only responsibilities, but also criticism. If the Millennials have been told they will always succeed, how can they handle the real world of disappointments, deadlines and critique, the report asks.

Jennifer Wright, the mother of a 16 year-old Millennial believes her and her husband’s parenting may affect her son’s career in the future.

“We have always told Connor it was OK if he didn’t get an A in a class, as long as he was trying his hardest,” Wright said. “We definitely praised him more for his efforts growing up, and even do up to this day. But in the real world, your boss isn’t going to praise you simply for participation if you aren’t working up their standards.”

The Millennials beg to differ, and even Connor had a few words to say against his mother’s concerns. “I do think we have definitely been babied too much and told too often that we did a good job when we didn’t, or won a game when we really lost,” he says. “But, we are really great at teamwork and supporting each other, and getting what we want when we want it.”

Connor’s sentiments reflect another angle of the 60 Minutes specials: the Millennials are more interested in teamwork than in the individual, and strive to do all that is required of them. CBS research showed some results: violent crime is down 60 to 70 percent among teenagers, five out of 10 Millennials trust the government, and tobacco and alcohol use are at an all-time low.

Christine Gloria, a sophomore at North Carolina State University believes her generation will accomplish great things because of their unique attitudes. “I think our parents’ generation had more of an attitude like, ‘I want to do well and I’ll take down anyone that stands in my way’,” Gloria says. “With our generation, it’s like, ‘I want to be the best, and I want all my friends to do amazing things too so we can celebrate together.’”

This generation that longs to support each other in achieving major goals, also wants to achieve them quickly. The Millennials are used to receiving whatever they want at the exact moment they want it. Unlike their parents, the Millennials do not read through endless books for research. They search the Internet and have thousands of hits on their topic in the fraction of a second. They hear a song on the radio and can download it right away.

The Millennials are accustomed to instant gratification, an attitude that will likely benefit them in the workplace.

“I think we are really impatient as a generation. I get so frustrated if my Internet connection is even a little slow,” Gloria says. “So I am confident that as a generation we will get things done quickly, but also in innovative ways.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Millennials On The Market
By Alexandra Gardell

Millennials could possibly be the first generation to be less financially well-off than their parents. This is a fear and a reality this generation, particularly those getting ready to graduate college, are facing and trying to find ways to deal with.

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert cites reports in a column titled “Here Come the Millennials,” describing the hardships facing this generation, who range in age from early teens to their early 20s, that include worsening job prospects, lower rates of health insurance coverage and higher levels of debt.

Elis Estrada-Simpson, 21, a model student and job applicant, aspires to become a broadcast journalist. She’s near the top of her senior class at Marymount Manhattan College, and is graduating this spring with a major in Communication Arts. She can rattle off a list of internships that she has completed: ABC’s The View and One Life to Live, VH1 Productions for MTV, Resource Magazine, and NBC Nightly News.

Elis Estrada-Simpson is taking the social networking skills she picked up in college and
applying them to her job search through sites designed to help students find placement
in today's shaky market.

Estrada-Simpson plans to attend the CUNY School of Journalism in 2011 to pursue her Master’s degree in Journalism. “Undergrads usually don’t go into grad school for journalism because they already have the training, but my school did not provide that curriculum, so I want to prepare myself for grad school,” she said. In the meantime, she’s looking to gain any experience or paying jobs that she can in the field.

Lindsey Pollak, author of “Getting from College to Career: 90 Things to Do Before You Join the Real World” says students in the job search process under today’s economic conditions must “take action every single day.”

Millennials like Estrada-Simpson looking to land jobs now need to do more than the basics of finding listings online and firing off resumes. “In addition to the basics you need to show that you’re hardworking and eager. It’s what you do surrounding the bare minimum,” Pollak says in her book. That extra effort is what’s going to make the difference during these challenging times.
Below, Pollak offers an insight on how Millennials can brand themselves to compete and ultimately succeed in today’s trying job market.

Tips Tailored For Millennials
Everyone has heard horror stories of Millennials’ infamous helicopter parents, or parents who are always present, and sometimes become too involved in their child’s affairs. When it comes to the job hunt process, it’s easy for young people to want their hovering parents to back off. But Pollak suggests using their help and resources.

“The trick is to keep them in the background,” says Pollak. “Ask your parents to edit your resumes and cover letters and to practice mock interviews with you, but make them invisible to employers.”

A lot of people aren’t comfortable asking their parents for help, but if your mom or dad can introduce you to people who may be able to help you, then Pollak says to take their help. “Nobody can get you a job, but they can get you an opportunity. Let them make a phone call or send an email to make an introduction and then you can run with it. There’s no shame in that.”

Something that Pollak cannot stress enough is the importance of networking. She says to use the relationships you have with your parents, friends, your parent’s friends, professors, college alumni, college career centers, internships you’ve done. Have business cards printed with your contact information on them and carry them at all times because you never know when you will meet someone who can help.

“When you meet a recruiter at a job fair give them your card and have a conversation about a recent article you read to make yourself memorable. Send them an email that night with a well-written, targeted cover letter” says Pollak. Once you’ve made a connection, you need to follow up. “If someone at a networking event says they can help you, send them an email right away saying, ‘Thank you! Here is my resume.’”

Pollak reiterates that in this competitive environment you need to be extremely proactive, and you need to be doing more than what was acceptable in the past.

“Use all of your college skills of being on Facebook 24 hours a day and apply them in a professional environment,” Pollak says. She adds that LinkedIn is more comfortable and targeted than or Pollak warns that sitting behind a computer is not going to get you a job, however, and reminds students of the importance of going the extra mile.

"Getting from College to Career: 90 Things to Do
Before You Join the Real World" offers practical job
search advice.

Another must-do is to immerse yourself in your desired field to keep current on happenings and learn the vocabulary. Sign up for the email list for trade publications in your industry, and do your homework on companies you would like to work for. For example, Pollak blogs on, the Big Four accounting firm PricewaterhouseCooper’s site developed to give career help to college graduates. So, if your dream company offers resources like this, make sure you take advantage of them.

And don‘t forget to clean up your Internet profiles. Potential employers, colleagues, and everyone else have the ability to search you online, so make sure that you present yourself in a way that you wish to be viewed. You don’t want those Saturday night frat party pictures to come back and haunt you while you’re looking to land your first job out of college.

Using Those Skills
Estrada-Simpson says she had a full-time job offer as a production assistant come from one of her internships, but she could not accept because she was still in school. “The timing wasn’t right,” she said. Now she’s registered for job search social networking sites like LinkedIn,, and MonsterTrack hoping to connect to those who can assist her in jumpstarting her career. “I haven’t sent out emails and resumes to the people I’ve met through my internships, but I’m starting that soon, letting them know I’m graduating,” she says.

Estrada-Simpson is optimistic and driven, but knows she will have to persist and work hard to make her goal a reality. “The job market is more difficult right now, but in the industry I want to get into even in good markets it’s all about being in the right place at the right time. I’ve seen several well-qualified people not do well and it all boils down to timing, luck, and who you know. I’m hoping that my timing and the connections I’ve made will work out.”

New Grads: Use Your Assets
Although it can be intimidating to compete in the job market with seasoned professionals who may have been recently laid off or are returning to the job force, students do have some advantages. Pollak says that those advantages fresh-faced grads have include enthusiasm and the fact that they’re not jaded.

Pollak says students on the prowl for jobs need to be “smarter, faster, better.” She says that they need to use all of their assets including their relationships with family and friends, their school professors and career centers, professionals they have met through internships and networking opportunities, as well as their energy and eagerness to work. They’ve got to show potential employers that they are hungry to start their careers with their follow-up and networking.


Millennials Inhabit A Different World
They have not had to confront the sins of the past
By Thomas Ford

As a generation that was born into, and has actively grown up in a largely desegregated US society, it’s probably not too far off the radar to expect a growing support for multiculturalism. Members of this generation, sometimes called Millennials and Generation Y, are said to have a growing subconscious appreciation for diversity and equality.

According to the report, “Adults of Generation Y in the US: Hitting the Demographic, Lifestyle and Marketing Mark,” by, they are the most ethnically diverse generation in US history. So, it would only seem natural for the newcomers permeating the various ethnic communities in society to grow more accepting of one another.


Maybe these new attitudes should be attributed to the Millennials’ upbringing and not directly to the fact that they were born into a different type of society than previous generations.

Charlene Thomas, third from the left in the back row, with a diverse group of her friends.

One thing is for sure: these people have been born at a critical time in US history; a time when things are certainly changing. Because they are the future leaders of this country, it’s absolutely necessary that we, as a nation, take a look at how and why they are changing as human beings.

Charlene Thomas, a 20 year-old student at North Carolina State University, attributes her more accepting and culturally appreciative perspective of others to both society and the way she was raised. “I feel like I was so immersed in a diverse (school) community that I barely even realized that I was," says Thomas. “It was such a big part of my life that it had to be important.”

Thomas says when she meets someone, she sees more of the person and less of the color, but recognizes that not just the school community has contributed to her open-mindedness. “My family didn’t really teach me tolerance but practiced it so much that I never even really knew there were different types of people until at least elementary school,” she says.

Throughout her education, including middle school, and high school, Thomas lived in Maryland, a state with strong pockets of liberalism. But for college, Thomas moved to North Carolina, which is more conservative. However, Thomas found that in her transition, her peers’ outlooks were not much different than her own.

“The culture is different in North Carolina, but the people aren't, really. I get treated differently, but it isn’t because of my race or background; it's just how people treat each other down here.” She jokes, “God forbid if a boy opens the door and walks inside before (a girl!)”

It would seem that this shift in attitude and perspective is more generational than circumstantial. It’s possible that the way the Baby Boomers, the previous generation, raised the Millennials is a result of societal desegregation efforts and the change has become widespread.

In fact, many Baby Boomers have noticed a change in both their children and in themselves. Gerald Ford, 57, is a director at TSA Homeland Security with three children, ages 37, 25, and 19.

Says Ford, “(the Millennials) have grown up with little realization of racism as those in the past have. For example, they are very accustomed to interracial marriages. They did not go to schools that were consciously integrated. They were integrated because their neighborhoods were already integrated.”

Ford also believes that the current administration would not be possible without the Millennials growing up in the existing environment. “President Barack Obama is the product of an interracial marriage, but no one even notices,” Ford says. “He is president, in my opinion, because we, and in particular white America, to a great degree, have moved beyond (issues of racism).”

Of course, the Baby Boomers were a major part of this election, too. President Obama wasn’t just elected by the Millennials; the older generations had a part in it, as well. So, were they, at any time, really that different than the Millennials? Are their worlds really that different from one another?

Ford, who grew up in the 1950s and 60s, argues that the differences are vast. “If you grew up when I did, you constantly, yet unconsciously measure many things done by white Americans as to whether it is racially motivated. (Younger generations) likely do not think about that at all,” he says. “Same, I think, holds true for sexual considerations. There is much less despising towards same-sex relationships.”

If what Ford says is true, and there really are such vast differences between the two generations, then the older generations aren’t the ones leading the change; the Millennials are. They are helping to teach their parents to be more accepting, and to embrace all cultures and ethnic backgrounds. This may be because, according to Ford, “…the Millennials have not had to confront the sins of the past to a great degree.”

Says Ford, “Bottom line: it's a different world for the Millennials.”


Technological Trauma: Generation Y In the Workforce
By Heather Bates

There was once a time when people listened to music on compact disc players, used land lines to make phone calls, and dressed in professional attire to go to work. Those days are over. We are in a day and age where technology is growing every day, and there is no doubt that millions of people depend on it to get a job done.

The workforce is changing rapidly, and while Apple releases another version of iPod, businesses are becoming flexible on the types of attitudes they condone in the office. Who is responsible for these changes? None other than the “Millennials,” or Generation Y who are forcing changes in the corporate workplace.

In the past few years, CBS News 60 Minutes aired two reports centered on this generation. In 2005, the program aired “The Echo Boomers,” which was followed in 2007 by “The ‘Millennials’ Are Coming.” Both programs focused primarily on the incredibly large group of individuals that will take over where their Baby Boomer parents and Generation X left off. Businesses are being forced to adapt to the changes that these tech-friendly people are creating.

Jeremy Morris believes Millennials will need to work harder to prove themselves
in the workplace.

Some people blame Millennials’ outlook on parents who raised these demanding youths, certain that as children, constant coddling and reassurance caused them to become too spoiled and too demanding about what they are looking for in a work environment.

In “The ‘Millennials’ Are Coming,” J. Walter Thompson ad executive, Marian Saltzman said, "These young people will tell you what time their yoga class is and the day's work will be organized around the fact that they have this commitment. So you actually envy them. How wonderful it is to be young and have your priorities so clear. Flipside of it is how awful it is to be managing the extension, sort of, of the teenage babysitting pool.”

How do these young people in question view the workforce that is evolving to meet their ever-changing needs? Jeremy Morris is a sophomore business major at The University of Akron and has a lot of ideas about the world that he will enter after he graduates.

"With all of the new business graduates coming out into the job market, it is going to be a different environment in the future,” says Morris. “We're coming into an unsteady economy, and our mindset is that the market is completely different than what it was for the generations before us. Because of the situation that they put us in with bad economic decisions, we will be expected to work harder to create more progress and to turn the economic situation around," Morris says.

Melissa Rosenthal says Millennials will be expected to be technologically experienced
when they enter the workforce.

With the economy in its current messy state, many college graduates are desperate to find a job that pays the rent and guarantees them the experience they need to move up in their selected fields. Marymount Manhattan College senior Melissa Rosenthal is worried about where she will work when she graduates in the fall.

"I think that many companies have much higher expectations of graduates now than they did before,” Rosenthal says. “Even without any prior experience, they are expected to know a lot more when entering the workforce. Technology has a huge influence on that because we have grown up with it always readily available to us whenever we need it."

In "The Echo Boomers" report, the generation is said to be "totally plugged in citizens of a worldwide community." Is technology to blame for the outlook that Generation Y has on the business world today?

Morris says, "Our technology changes every single day. We're at a disadvantage because the technology that we're using now in our schools and our personal lives will be outdated by the time that we graduate. It's impossible to keep up."

It seems that some "Millennials" are worried about the changes that they are inadvertently causing. "My biggest worry now with our generation is that the next one coming up will outdate us even faster," Morris says. "I do have a lot of faith in our generation, though. We may have somewhat of a bad reputation, but we have to work much harder to prove ourselves. And we will."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Millennials Grew Up With The World At Their Fingertips
By Raquel A. Castillo

It's 1993 and you’re kicking back after school while eating your Lunchable and drinking Capri Sun left over from snack time. You plop down in front of the TV after surfing past little Michelle from Full House saying "You got it, dude" to uncle Jesse then on to the next channel where you stop to rap the entire opening theme song from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire.

Suddenly, you know you can't go wrong with the Nickelodeon channel because there is a loud buzzing sound blaring from the TV. But you saw this coming all along. You know the buzzing only means one thing -- that kid "is toast." Anxiously anticipating his fate you slurp the last drop of juice from the silver Capri Sun pouch and then it happens, the moment you have been waiting for. That "total loser" gets splattered in slime! "Boo-ya!" Everyone got "slimed" on Nickelodeon.

If you can't relate to the story above then you are most likely not a parent of, or a member of the coolest and most popular generation to hit planet earth, the Millennials, also known as the Echo Boomers. According to the CBS News 60 Minutes report, “The Echo Boomers” there are about 80 million people in the generation born between 1982 and 1995.

Jeff Aldna (left) and Chetra Nhem. Aldna says his values differ from the "traditional
spoiled American kids."

Jeff Aldana, a 22 year-old Echo Boomer says that his favorite things about our generation are fruit-roll ups snacks and the Internet. "The Internet has impacted our generation big time and has provided us with originality,” Aldana says. “We literally grew up with the world at our fingertips" When asked, what he would like to change about our generation, Aldana said, "I wouldn't change a thing." He stopped to think about it again, and added, "well except for our current recession, I would definitely change that!"

Aldana’s confidence and pride in his generation is admirable, yet eerily consistent with the studies that have been conducted on the “oh so hot topic” of the Millennials. The 60 Minutes report said that, "they were raised by doting parents who told them they are special, played in little leagues with no winners or losers, or all winners."

Although Aldana says that statement could not be further from the truth in his case. Aldana says that being the first generation of his family to grow up in the US has affected his "Millennialism" a bit. Good grades needed to be the best grades, and a better life for their family was the eye on the prize while maintaining strict cultural values which Aldana says differ from those of "traditional spoiled American kids."

The 60 Minutes report boasts tons of valuable information that proves that the Millennials claim to fame is going to be more than just 15 minutes. The documentary states that although, "only a small percentage are eligible to vote, they are already one of the most studied generations in history by sociologists, demographers and marketing consultants."

Why the scientific interest? Sociologists are interested in Echo Boomer’s numbers because they make up nearly one-third of the US population. Marketing consultants are very interested in learning about Millennial lifestyles because they spend $170 billion a year of their own and their parents' money.

Along with Aldana's echoing voice booming with praise for the Internet’s impact on creating a savvier, well-rounded generation, the impact of instant gratification could be one reason for the perception that Millennials have had it a little too easy.

We will be the first generation to not have to wait for our 25th high school reunions to catch up and see how old friends and foes ended up. Within a couple of minutes on, one can pretty much find their entire first grade class if they really wanted to.

Joanne Morton, an entrepreneur and artist living in New York City, and a member of Generation X, says, "10 years ago, the only face books we had were books about faces."

Now that the era of the year books are gone, even non-Echo Boomer generations are benefiting from the new social networks.

Are there just as many disadvantages to instantaneous information and instant gratification that we receive as there are perks? According to Aldana who just logged into his Facebook account from his Blackberry and became the 337th member of a group called "The Fruit Roll-ups Fan Club," the answer is no.

"Life just doesn't get better than that."

Monday, April 27, 2009


Your Fear Of Millennials Is Not Our Fault
By Gabriella Calabro

While many people in today’s society worry over terrorist attacks, illegal immigration, and the downward spiral of the economy, CEOs and managers have something much more serious to focus on — Millennials.

The generation of people under 30 is graduating college and entering the workforce, and although their main worry is how to find a job in today’s market, their future bosses have other fears.

This generation born between 1982 and 1995 causes so much concern that CBS News 60 Minutes did a report in 2007 titled “The Millennials Are Coming,” that warned people how this generation would affect the workplace. As the Millennials get older and more of them are graduating college, the fear of how managers should handle them also grows’ according to the report.

Dozens of books and articles have been published that advise older generations how to work with Millennials. Although the 60 Minutes report tries to portray this generation in a negative light, they don’t do a very good job. They warn future employers that, “They multitask, talk, walk, listen and type, and text.” How horrible that must be.

The website for Generations at Work lists the characteristics of Millennials as, “Confident, hopeful, goal- and achievement-oriented, civic-minded, and inclusive.” As a part of this generation, it may be more difficult for me to understand, but do the Baby Boomer and Gen X CEOs and bosses want unconfident, unmotivated, lazy employees? That’s what it seems like if these are the traits they are complaining about.

Wallace Fischer, director of operations for The Boston Group of Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, , who has two children and an assistant who are part of the Millennial generation also does not understand the worry. “The limited exposure I have had is positive,” Fischer said. “I sense that this generation has a work ethic that has been missing in previous generations.”

Although he is exactly the audience that the 60 Minutes report tried to target, the message of fear seems to have missed him.

The “anti-Millennials movement” seems to lack clarity and structure. We are being penalized for being a generation in which trophies and rewards were given just for participation, and for being a generation who often never heard “no.”

Interestingly, it is not the Millennials’ fault. The children of the generation should not be getting blamed for something that they had no control over. The parents, teachers, coaches, and leaders of the Millennials, all of whom are part of either the Baby Boomers or Generation X, are the ones who encouraged the behavior, and are now the ones who are criticizing the effects of it.

So are they really blaming themselves? Are only people of the Baby Boom generation without kids, or without kids in this generation, writing these articles? This certainly is not clear when reading the articles.

While some people are enraged about what is being said, others seem to understand. “I think people have always been kind of scared of us,” says Lindsay Dowling a 19 year-old college student. “I remember being in middle school and teachers would be intimidated by us. We have an upper hand on technology, and ultimately there’s more of us than there are them, and it makes sense that they’re scared, but that’s not our fault.”

It is natural for the previous generation to be nervous that all their hard work will be disregarded and replaced, but the way they are handling it makes them look childish. They are projecting their fears onto the newer generation and making the younger people look as though they need to be tamed and have no idea what they are doing, when in reality the older generation just does not know how to handle themselves.

Fischer does not show any fear about the new generation. “I’m not nervous, every generation has to learn to lead, and there will always be capable leaders, it’s just finding out who they are,” he said.

It’s comforting to know that some Baby Boomer business people are confident in the Millennials.


Echo Boomers Versus Baby Boomers
By Katy Berninger

You're watching TV, browsing the Internet, and texting your friends at the same time. If this sounds familiar to you then you are most likely an Echo Boomer. According to CBS News 60 Minutes report, “Echo Boomers” there were of 80 million people born between 1982 and 1995. They are called Echo Boomers because they are the offspring of that other famous generation, the Baby Boomers.

Echo Boomers have grown up in a digital age where they are surrounded by technology, and multitasking is their way of life. However, they fascinate many researchers not for the unique way in which they have grown up, but because they are the biggest consumers, influencing product development and the way in which companies advertise. And because they are a new breed of workers who are entering the workforce.

The power that Echo Boomers have is changing the way in which corporations are thinking about demographics. A 2008 article from Fortune Magazine discussed this new phenomenon when the auto industry began to decline. The car companies’ ray of hope has come in the form of this new technologically savvy generation. Companies like Toyota and General Motors are focusing on Echo Boomers with sleeker, cooler designs in the hopes that they will purchase their vehicles and save the auto industry from it's slump.

While Echo Boomers are being seen as a highly influential group of people, there are some who look down on the young generation who, some say, have different priorities than their older counterparts. People like Marian Salzman, who was featured in one of the 60 Minutes reports, have noticed that some Echo Boomers walk into offices believing that they deserve to be the best without putting in any effort. Salzman says she notices an attitude from her younger employees where they think that anyone over the age of 30 is, “old, redundant, and should be retired.”

While Salzman does mention that there are plenty of Echo Boomers who are hardworking and willing to pay their dues, it's important to take a look at why some employers might see their younger employees as careless.

When asked whether she thought Echo Boomers were lazy or just misunderstood, Ana Caruso, 22, says, “I think we're misunderstood. By no means are we lazy. I think what older generations don't realize is just because we don't think or work like they do doesn't mean they we don't have goals or ambitions.”

Caruso touches on an important difference between a younger generation who is used to getting what they want quickly, and an older generation who had to work harder for their information. Just because Echo Boomers can gather data swiftly does not mean they aren't taking their jobs seriously.

In response to the negative comments made in the 60 Minutes report on Echo Boomers, Bobby Harold, 19 says, “When I think about it, I see why older people would find it hard to understand us.” When asked why he believes that, Harold says, “because, they grew up going to the library and spending hours trying to find one piece of information while I Google something and I immediately have pages and pages of resources in less than a minute.”

Harold is right, and one has to realize this difference before immediately criticizing, whether you're an Echo Boomer or a Baby Boomer. Caruso says, “maybe what needs to happen is the Echo Boomers should walk a day in the older generation's shoes, and vice versa. Maybe a respect would develop from that.”

Sixty Minutes is quick to point out the differences between the two generations, but what we need to do is see the similarities. Echo and Baby Boomers may work differently, and think differently but everyone wants to be successful and happy. If the Echo Boomers and the older generations can come together, then maybe there can be less of a misunderstanding and a thriving workforce can develop from their unique experiences.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Guilty, But So What?
By Sydney Zarp

Getting dressed every morning for work I base what I wear on how I feel that day. Sometimes when I’m tired I wear plain blue jeans with tennis shoes, while other times I may feel energized and wear a flowery spring dress. Whatever the decision, it is not based on what I think the boss or the company expects me to wear.

Some people may think I have an attitude problem, or maybe I am revolting against society by my making my own dress code. These two conclusions would seem like reasonable explanations, but after much discussion and research it turns out that I am a victim of my generation.

Bridgett Ryan, 20, believes Generation Y should
rewrite the corporate dress code.

This process of only thinking about my personal feelings when getting dressed is a defined characteristic of the self-absorbed ‘Echo Boomer’ who are also known as Generation Y. Defined as people born between 1982 to 1995, we have become a highly visible generation, according to researchers interviewed for the CBS 60 Minutes report, “The Millennials Are Coming.” With more than 80 million of us populating the land, we have given older generations something to think about.

Jeans with flip-flops, iPod headphones in our ears and the cell phone within reach is how most of us twenty somethings grew up. Being a part of this well-studied generation, I find I am worn out by the overload of information from other people telling me how “we” act. Researchers and psychologists are picking apart and analyzing every detail of our soon-to-be meaningful lives in the business world.

Well, I am tired of everyone telling me how I should act in the workplace, or how I lack face-to-face communication skills, because I was raised with e-mail and text messages. So my question is, what is the point of all these researchers warning everyone about the supposed dysfunction of our generation. Can’t they just sit back and enjoy the Gen Y?

Change is going to happen no matter what information they find, even if it is about our unconventional childhood. Every generation has brought uneasy change to the stubborn elders. Yes, we may be the biggest generation yet, but that doesn’t mean we are the most controversial to hit the workforce.

Being shuttled around from one activity to another planned activity is how the majority of Generation Y’s grew up. Our stay at home moms focused all their attention on raising confident and self-assuring children. Every child felt as if they were special, getting awards and ribbons for simply participating, without actually trying to excel. But, we realized quickly that if we put a little effort into things we got big rewards. Our elementary classes were small, with teachers focused on our happiness and offering individual attention. We are the kids of Baby Boomers, and our relationships with our parents couldn’t be better.

Looking over the supposed facts Generation Y, I still wonder what the older generation thinks of us. When talking Barbara Colby, 83, who is a parent of three Baby Boomers, the somewhat negative tone in her voice clearly shows her feelings about the younger generation.

“The population in general was smaller back then, making it all around less competitive,” says Ms. Colby. “The kids today have a different work ethic, they didn’t see anyone working for the luxuries, they just got them.”

Ms. Colby also believes that it is insane that households have more then one TV and computer. She feels that the drive for materialistic things is to blame for our demanding attitudes. Even so, she still offered some lighter moments.

“Although what do I know, maybe the kids now will have happier lives always full of constant entertainment.”

Ms. Colby’s insights are very different than those of Bridget Ryan, 20, who is an avid blog reader and has her own blogspot.

“I always work hard and am enthusiastic about going to my internship,” says Ryan. “A lot of the other interns are so eager to please, and I see myself following suit.”

Ryan believes that technology is a blessing in disguise. She says she is constantly checking her work e-mails, even after hours. “I love being in constant contact, but sometimes I wish I could turn it off.”

Her fondest hope for Generation Y, she says, is that they will rewrite the corporate dress code. Her blogspot is all about fashion and shoes, and she feels what better time than now for change.

Generation Y may be the most researched generation yet. But without reading the reports we know that the competition is higher and the toughest it has been in years, and a college education is standard, including graduate school. With our non-traditional dress code changes, and the variety of ways we communicate, I’m proud to be part of biggest and most driven generation yet, regardless whether researchers have anything positive to say about us.

My only fear is what they will say about Generation Y’s children in the coming years.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Movie Reviews

Who’s Watching You?
Movie Review
By Gabriella Calabro

Watchmen is still playing in nearby theatres.

Taking a break from the usual nonsense of stereotypical "romantic comedies," I found myself enthralled by the action-packed, reminiscent love story and hero adventure film, Watchmen. Having no prior knowledge of the storyline from the graphic novel, published by DC Comics in the late 1980s, following the story was pretty easy.

The first few scenes were filled with visually amazing flashbacks from "the way things used to be" for superheroes. This part of the story is similar to Pixar's The Incredibles, in which a group of superheroes who the public no longer deemed helpful and were shunned, still try to make a comeback to save the world. These first few scenes of Watchmen were not only historically based, but also rather provocative for the period they represented. Shot as pictures that come to life, the aesthetic quality of the first few scenes is definitely unique.

The music features songs written by Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Phillip Glass, and performed by Jimi Hendrix, Tears for Fears, KC and the Sunshine Band, and others. Although not what you would expect for this type of movie, the songs help illustrate the passage of time and identify the decades shown in the film

Once back in the present day, the lighting dims and the sets become drearier. Having directed both Watchmen and 300, director Zack Snyder exhibits offbeat lighting, and distinct cinematic styling that adds to the high action-packed scenes in the film, and made the romantic scenes that much more intimate. Following the love triangle of Nite Owl, played by Patrick Wilson, Laurie Jupiter, played by Malin Akerman, and the ever-glowing Dr. Manhattan, played by Billy Crudup, kept hopeless romantics engaged in the otherwise superhero action movie.

Fighting against an unknown enemy, the superheroes reconnected to keep each other, and ultimately the world safe. Rorschach, the name matched the mask that simulated the famous ink-blot tests, played by Jackie Earle Haley, was the primary leader in getting the group together, and became the character audiences loved to hate. Yes, he forced the team to fight against their will, but their teamwork saved the world.

Having gotten mixed reviews at the box office, people should go see it and make up their own minds. Be sure to clear your day, because the movie runs a little over two and a half hours. Although some parts of the movie do drag, it clearly explains what’s going on and answers any questions the audience may have. No matter what has been said, the movie made more than $55 million in just one weekend, according to, and has so far grossed nearly $100 million. I say watch the movie, become part of the phenomenon and join the Watchmen debate.