Full question & answer with "Bachelorette" contestant Jason Tartick '10

Geneseo alumnus Jason Tartick ‘10 dancing with Becca Kufrin (pictured above) on ABC’s “The Bachelorette.” Tartick made it to the final three of the reality television show, even becoming a fan favorite amongst avid viewers (courtesy of Jason Tartick).

Geneseo alumnus Jason Tartick ‘10 dancing with Becca Kufrin (pictured above) on ABC’s “The Bachelorette.” Tartick made it to the final three of the reality television show, even becoming a fan favorite amongst avid viewers (courtesy of Jason Tartick).

For this week's spotlight on an alumnus, The Lamron's copy editor Julia Skeval interviewed Jason Tartick. Tartick, who graduated from Geneseo in 2010 with a business administration degree, became one of the final three contestants on the most recent season of ABC's "The Bachelorette." This interview was transcribed by Skeval. Managing editor Malachy Dempsey edited and condensed the interview for clarity. 

Copy editor Julia Skeval: First, can you just tell me about your Geneseo experience?

Jason Tartick: I graduated in 2010 as a business major. I was on Division 3 men’s soccer team and I was the captain my senior year, I was one of the captains on the team. I’m not really sure what clubs I was involved in—I was involved in some of the business clubs and things like that. In general, my experience was just phenomenal. I lived on South Side my sophomore year, before I moved out to the soccer house (56 Court Street) my junior year and then I lived in the Meadows my senior year. Just in general, I loved the professors, the sports organizations, the coaches of all the teams, the intramural programs, club programs, etc. I was very fond of just my whole experience. What I liked about it is that Geneseo is really in the middle of a rural area, the middle of nowhere. Creates such a strong sense of community and continuity and camaraderie amongst your peers, classmates, Greek life, athletics. Those are relationships that became so strong and will last a lifetime.

Skeval: What else have you done since leaving Geneseo, career or otherwise?

Tartick: I started with Key Bank in a management program right when I graduated from Geneseo and they recruited from the Geneseo business school. I worked in Syracuse for a year and a half and then I was promoted to work in Cleveland, Ohio at the corporate headquarters in a credit underwriting group. I was then promoted to work in corporate strategy in Cleveland. Then I came back to Rochester to work in the commercial banking group as a junior commercial banker. While doing that, I earned my MBA at Simon Business School in the University of Rochester in accounting and finance. What I will say is that the business school at University of Rochester is very fond of business students who come out of Geneseo. When working with the directors of the program, they clearly communicated how strongly they feel about the program and what Geneseo does. I graduated in 2016 and was promoted from a junior banker to a vice president and commercial banker. Then I was asked by the president of the bank to take a senior banker role in the commercial banking group out in Seattle. It made sense to move out there. I’ve been with Key Bank almost eight and a half years and I’ve relocated with them four times and I got my MBA from University of Rochester.

Skeval: Do you think Geneseo prepared you well enough for the career you have now?

Tartick: Yeah, absolutely. Geneseo does a good job of preparing their students in the classroom. The foundation of what the school promotes and pushes is just having a well-rounded base and a well-rounded foundation. That’s what liberal arts education pushes.The gen ed structure at Geneseo allows their students to be really well versed while having the reputation that they do, allows you to focus specifically in on what youre looking to achieve. The one thing Geneseo needs to do a better job of is marketing the power what the school does and instills in students. Having had the fortune to relocate all over the country, I’ve gotten to notice that our brand just isn’t powerful outside of New York. So that’s something we really need to be better at that.

Skeval: Do you think anything at Geneseo prepared you for life on reality television?

Tartick:  We hard but we had fun. We worked hard and played hard. That taught me to overcome adversity in the classroom, overcome challenges on the soccer field and deal with the changes of life throughout the years of college. I think it also helped me build a strong emotional IQ. In reality TV, that’s a lot of what the bases are. It’s understanding life, understanding people, reading and reacting to situations and handling them with poise and confidence and composure. I think Geneseo helped teach me that and I don’t think a lot of the people on the show had that, as you were able to see if you watched the show.

Skeval: Why’d you initially sign up for “The Bachelorette”?

Tartick: I actually didn’t. Gilda’s Club is a Foundation that’s all over the country and I believe the founder was the family of Gilda Radner. She was a famous comedian on Saturday Night Live, who died of ovarian cancer. Gilda’s Club is a foundation that supports families and those undergoing cancer treatment. So I was asked by one of my buddies in Rochester to do what they call the Gilda’s Club “Bachelor Auction.”  I was pretty involved in the community and what you do is you raise funds before you do this auction. Then they have this big marquis event where there’s 30 bachelors and people are bidding on dates with the bachelors and all the money goes to Gilda’s club. I ended up doing it and promoted it. I was able to raise the most money before the event and then at the event I was able to raise the most money there out of the 25-30 guys. I came out to Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock & Roll,” and I had the American flag on an inflatable guitar, I was working the crowd a little bit. The video got sent to ABC and then in October I received a call from them. At that point I was 29, single and had just moved across the country, so I decided to pursue it.

Skeval: Could you summarize your overall “Bachelorette” experience?

Tartick: In summary, I would say my experience was phenomenal because I learned a lot about myself, I made friends with the cast. I was very fond of production and still have really strong relationships with Chris Harrison and all the producers involved. I really fell for Becca, Becca was an amazing Bachelorette and a better person. For me, I did some soul searching about myself. I came out of it a better person than I went into it. Just in general, I’m very fond of the experience.

Skeval: Would you say it was more staged and planned by the production crews or do you think it was a pretty authentic representation of what happened?

Tartick: That’s one of the wild things. Going into it, I thought it was staged or I was worried about my edit—will my edit depict who I am? And I got to say, going out of that, every person who I got to know had an edit that reflected who they are. In my experience, it wasn’t staged. Not one time did anyone tell me to say anything. People may have had other experiences, but for me I didn’t feel as though it was scripted. Now are there funny TV things you have to do?  Yes. I think they show it on the bloopers: my mom and Becca get up and they go talk and they walk in different doors. For TV that look’s stupid, so they ask them to do it again. So there are funny TV things, but other then that I felt that the edit was a true reflection of who we are. I mean It’s reality tv and there wasn’t much planning or producing.

Skeval: How was it being filmed constantly?

Tartick: The first couple weeks it was challenging to deal with all the cameras, especially while having deep, intimate talks. After a few weeks, you got numb to it. By week three, I didn’t have a clue cameras were there. If you're comfortable on camera, you should be comfortable speaking in front of any audience at any time  so it’s a good thing.

Skeval: Were there any big over-the-top personalities on the show?

Tartick: Jordan is a very big over-the-top personality, so yeah I definitely experienced those. I think that’s part of it—they bring in all different personalities. You deal with that in any social situation you’re in, whether you’re in Geneseo, at home, or reality tv. There’s always a different mix of personalities and it’s just about how to deal with them effectively

Skeval: What has life been like post-“Bachelorette”?

Tartick: It’s been crazy. I’m just a Buffalonian who went to school at Geneseo and pursued a banking career and didn’t expect any of this or foresee any of this. It’s been wild. You go from doing your day job to having meetings and talking to Ryan Seacrest in the studio. It’s just crazy but at the end of the day, all the support has been so appreciated. The important thing is that through the whole process and still to this day, all my friends and family have said the whole time I stayed true to myself. All the fame and the followers and all of the attention is endearing and flattering, but it’s also great to know that the person they’re supporting and rooting for is the same person I always am. I think there’s something about my message that resonates with people. I don’t know if its gay rights, career management, education, diverse family background, dealing with some difficult diseases like Alzheimer’s in our family, but I will say that something in my message resonates with people and it’s sparked some pretty cool dialogue.

Skeval: How’d it feel being one of the fan favorites?

Tartick: It’s pretty flattering and endearing. You don’t know what to expect. You don’t know whether people are going to hate you or love you. To see that everyone finds me to be an authentic, genuine person with a story that resonates is endearing and flattering. For me, I’m very thankful for all the support. I never expected it. I just stayed true to myself and it’s been really fun.

Skeval: Have any friends from college reached out since the season aired?

Tartick: I’m very close with a lot of my Geneseo friends, some I talk to every single day. I’ve remained connected with those friends and then alumni have reached out—people I didn’t go to school with, current students. A lot of messages, texts and calls have come through. If I see messages or meet people from Geneseo, they get my attention.

Skeval: Did you ever see yourself being on reality TV?

Tartick: I’ve always enjoyed singing and dancing, taking the mic here and there, so I guess I have a little stage presence in my blood, but I never saw it. I mean we’d joke around back in the day, like sitting around with the boys watching “The Bachelor” thinking “that’d be funny,” but I never saw it in my future.

Skeval: Do you think you’re going to pursue any other reality TV opportunities? I know you just recently didn’t get the spot on “The Bachelor”. Any other things?

Tartick: I would be very open to it on a situational basis, pending the purpose of the show and where I’m at in life. I was very fond of my experience—for me it was an unbelievable experience that I only look back on it smiling from ear to ear. So because of that, I would certainly entertain another one but it has to be right time, right place, right fit.

Skeval: Did you ever think you would be the next Bachelor?

Tartick: I was definitely approached by ABC for the opportunity and with open arms I would have accepted the opportunity. I think it got done to a few of us and they had to make a decision that was best for what they do and how they do it. Colton is a good friend of mine so I’m happy for him, but I definitely would have done it if they had made that selection.

Skeval:  Do you think dating life is different after having been on “The Bachelorette”?

Tartick: I can’t really answer that since I haven’t started dating yet. I think it’ll be a little bit different. I’ve always taken a careful approach to who I date and I’ll probably do the same. There’s a lot of support out there.

Skeval: How would you compare reality TV show dating to college dating?

Tartick: I’ll say that I think college dating and real world dating are all very different. Just dating in 2018, there are so many venues and manners in which people date. This type of dating was a crash course. No cellphones, no Internet. I was fully immersed in the person you’re dating. There was something refreshing about being as dialed in to someone as you possibly can. One of the most powerful conversations I ever had in a relationship was the one-on-one date with Becca where we talked about her father having cancer and her father passing away and me doing the same about my grandmother. It was just a really deep conversation. The lack of distractions and technology allowed us to really dive deep into each other’s lives and see what shaped us to be who we are.

Skeval: What advice in general would you give to Geneseo students now?

Tartick: The advice I would give is to be resilient and adaptable in your approach to education and as you move in your career. Too many people today view their education and view their career as a blueprint. Today more than ever, It’s not a blueprint, it’s more of a mosaic. Build your brand, understand your passions and pursue it. A lot of people I’ve seen become unhappy with where they’re at over the years. They’re afraid to take those risks, they’re afraid to pursue what their heart is telling them to pursue and they’re so focused on a blueprint approach. In my opinion, that isn’t a formula for success. Be open, be resilient, be adaptable and look at your career as more of an art than a blueprint. Continue to take the risks and pursue your dreams because you’ve only got one shot at it.

Skeval: Is there anything else you want to talk about?

Tartick: A lot of these guys [on “The Bachelorette”] were models and pro-athletes. It was an honor to get Buffalo on the radar and get people talking about a small liberal arts school out of Rochester, Geneseo and people asking me about it. I’m honored in the fact that I could represent Geneseo and I’m flattered at the reaction of those who have gone to the school and know the school, that their proud of my representation. It was fun and we’ll see what’s next. Go Knights!

 

Spotlight on Alumna: Cara Nelson

Running one marathon—26.2 miles—is a feat most people can’t see themselves completing even just once in their lives. 

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SPOTLIGHT ON: Jenna Lawson Student tackles strifes facing marginalized groups in comedy show

Senior Jenna Lawson doesn’t know how she became an activist; she just feels that she has always been one. 

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Spotlight on: Peter Scilla

Geography and economics double major senior Peter Scilla is a guitarist, singer and songwriter for the band Salary Jones. Scilla tries to keep his music appealing while also staying unorthodox, as Scilla ensures to create avant-garde music and to avoid sounding mainstream. 

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Student author publishes first novel

American studies major senior Olivia Vetrano published her first novel, Neverland, in 2015 at the age of 20. The fiction novel was selected to be published by the Kindle Scout Campaign, which called upon readers to vote for their favorite book. (Courtesy of Olivia Vetrano)

Getting a book published is no easy feat, but American studies major and history and anthropology double minor senior Olivia Vetrano has done just that. 

It all started in her senior year of high school when she was 17 years old. 

“[Neverland] is primarily about this 18-year-old with an eating disorder,” Vetrano said. “She’s kind of battling her own demons, trying to figure out life post-graduation.” 

When Vetrano was 19 years old, she finished the novel, and it got published immediately after she turned 20 years old.

Vetrano obtained a book deal in March of 2015—the spring semester of her sophomore year—with Kindle Press, where the book was electronically published. The paperback edition was self-published about a year later.

“I really didn’t think anyone would want to read it because it was a book written about a teenage girl by a teenage girl,” she said. “[It’s] not exactly award winning, but I got a really good response to it.” 

The Amazon website writes, “Neverland follows a thin line of magic that strings together Hayley Winter’s last shreds of hope. At 18 years old, the thoughts of glimmering kingdom lights and enchanted tea parties were the only way to dull the flashbacks, insecurities, burying of loved ones, etc.”

In addition, the prompt warns, “This is not a happy tale. And despite the green-eyed man who inspires magic with every touch, it’s not a love story either. It’s a reminder to always cherish the things that give us strength, real or make-believe.”

Hayley Winters, however, is not so different from the writer herself.

“The book has been a really big comfort to me because I wrote it about a lot of personal stuff, so it’s kind of like my diary in a weird way,” she said. “[Writing Neverland] was sort of a way for me to write a script of my own struggles, sit down and say, ‘This is how she’s going to respond to this,’ because I didn’t have that much control of myself.”

Vetrano submitted an excerpt of her novel to the Kindle Scout Campaign—a 30-day campaign that involves advertising your book and getting people to vote for it. When she received an acceptance for her submission, she was taken aback.

“I was raised by a librarian so everyone always knew, ‘Oh she loves to read, she loves to write,’” she said. “So the idea that I was writing a book wasn’t really a big shock to anyone, but the fact that I wrote this 300-page book as a teenager, and it was a published, everyone was like, ‘Oh, that’s cool.’”

Even though she’s not an English major, Vetrano said she is looking forward to pursuing a career related to writing after graduation. 

“Yes, ideally, I would love a career as a novelist, but … it’s not the most realistic thing. So I’d like to go toward the publishing world,” she said.

Right now, she’s planning to take a year off before going to graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in young adult and children’s literature. Another dream of hers is to write children’s books.

This is just the start of Vetrano’s career, as she has big and bright plans for her future. Seeing what she’s already done this early in life, it seems like there’s no limit to what she’ll be able to accomplish.

Spotlight On: Kevin Pierce

Junior Kevin Pierce is the president and resident beatboxer of a capella group Between the Lines. As a mathematics and secondary education major, Pierce hopes to incorporate his love of music into his future teaching endeavors. (Ash Dean/Photo Editor)

For mathematics and secondary education major junior Kevin Pierce, beatboxing serves as an outlet for his musical energy.

As the president and beatboxer of Geneseo’s coed a cappella group Between the Lines, BTL has been just that for Pierce: a channel to pursue his hobbies. 

“As a math major, I don’t really get a lot of opportunities for music, and like any other Geneseo student, I’m not just my major—not just a math person,” Pierce said. “But BTL has become just like my family; they make me the happiest.”

Pierce has been involved in BTL for three and a half semesters after auditioning as a beatboxer during the second half of his spring semester freshman year. Pierce has been leisurely beatboxing, however, since seventh grade. 

“I auditioned for BTL because I really wanted to be in a cappella and I missed having music in my life,” Pierce said. “When I got in, that was probably one of the best moments of my life.”

Music has always been a part of Pierce’s life; before beatboxing he was a percussionist and has been since fourth grade. In addition to beatboxing and percussion, Pierce is a drummer and even taught himself the ukulele “just for fun.”

“I can do impressions, and so what beatboxing was for me was doing an impression of the drums, and I started doing that in seventh grade when I was going through my seventh grade phase of being really into hip hop,” Pierce said. “Since then, I’ve realized what a cappella was and realized that this thing that I just did as a joke could be used as a part of actual music.” 

Since then, Pierce has been “making beatboxing up” as he goes. Even without any formal training in beatboxing, Pierce wouldn’t say that he practices beatboxing by setting aside time to rehearse.

“What I do is anytime I’m listening to a song or I hear something that kind of interests me, I try to replicate it by beatboxing,” Pierce said. “Music is constantly playing in my head, so I’m always singing something or beatboxing.” 

Pierce’s tastes are eclectic in that his musical preferences change daily. BTL’s music choices, however, do coincide with his own personal music playlists. For Pierce, picking and arranging “Beware the Dog” by The Griswolds—for a vocal solo in spring 2016—is a highlight of his music career.  

“Last year I got the solo, and that’s probably the coolest thing for me because I don’t consider myself a singer: I am the beatboxer,” Pierce said, “So knowing that not only did BTL support me in my singing, but also that I had progressed enough that they thought I was worthy enough to get a solo, meant a lot to me.”

Over the summer, Pierce will have the opportunity to be a part of the EXPLO Summer Program on the Wellesley College campus, which is a project-based educational summer camp. There he will teach logic, puzzles and math, along with an a cappella workshop for children—combining both of his interests.

Looking further into the future, Pierce aspires to continue to fuse teaching and music, as he will this summer. He would like to take a gap year after graduating to either participate in City Year or to teach abroad before beginning his career in teaching math.  

“I really want to either help with choir in a school that I’m placed in or find some way to support the arts while I’m doing math, because I think music is basically applied math, so it’s really easy to tie it into the math curriculum,” Pierce said. “I’d also love to be in a band with my friends or just join some community choir to keep that musical outlet going for me.” 

Until and after then, Pierce will keep beatboxing—which he can summarize in one word:

Spitting.

Milne Library’s digital publishing manager helps students reach career goals

If you’re a student interested in editing and publishing, take some time to get to know Allison Brown, the digital publishing manager at Milne Library. A Rochester native, Brown has been a member of the Geneseo faculty since 2012. She was originally hired as the evening and weekend circulation supervisor for Milne, but within a year she was brought on to develop the library publishing tool kit.

“The college was starting publishing programs, and I had a background in InDesign and book production, so I was brought on board to do a research project on library publishing,” she said. “Then, I was kept on as the editor and production manager for the Open SUNY textbooks. I coordinated the publishing process for all of our Open textbooks.”

With technology rapidly advancing, Brown ensures that Milne’s services and books remain up-to-date and accessible for faculty and students.

“We’ve created Open SUNY textbooks, but we also want to provide services for the faculty and students who want to use other educational resources,” she said. “So we’re trying to work with other SUNY schools to band together to solve problems with textbook affordability and making all of those resources user-friendly for faculty.”

Beyond focusing on Open SUNY, Brown is also involved with other publications on campus.

“I support the publication and public access publications here on campus, including student publications like Gandy Dancer,” she said. “I also work for the proceedings of G.R.E.A.T. Day, supporting the training of students, interns and managing editors to learn the technology and walk them through the publication process.”

Brown enjoys working on collaborative projects like Gandy Dancer; she has been a wonderful resource for student editors to gain field experience here on campus.

“I paired up a student editor with a faculty author and gave that student some really good hands-on experience with editing and gave that faculty member some more editorial support where they may not have had access to that,” she said.

Brown has been fond of editing and publishing for a while, but grad school is what solidified this interest. While obtaining her master’s degree in fine arts at Emerson College, Brown took a handful of elective courses in electronic publishing and book design. Working as Milne’s digital publishing manager has helped Brown to hone her publishing and design skills further, becoming a master in her craft.

“I really like the graphic design book production part of it,” she said. “When I began working here, I started to really understand how electronic publications and websites and e-books are structured and how to design for both print and electronic formats.”

But Brown isn’t just tech savvy—she’s also a poet. She has had multiple poems published in various literary journals, including White Whale Review.

Every book lover has their own guilty pleasure books, and Brown is no exception. She prefers to read fiction, and shamelessly indulges in young adult fiction every now and then.

Even if editing and publishing don’t interest you, Brown is a delightful source with a wealth of knowledge to offer students of any major. As students, whether it’s textbooks or novels, we are all responsible for reading, and who better to consult than Geneseo’s own digital publishing manager?

SPOTLIGHT ON: Emma Belson

Roslyn Heights, Long Island may be far from Geneseo, but that doesn’t make it any less of an inspiration to Geneseo Campus Activities Board Arts & Exhibits Coordinator Emma Belson. The childhood with special education and English double major has an artistic eye that reaches homeward in her own work, but outward in others’. The Long Island native—a sophomore here at Geneseo—has taken over the MacVittie College Union Kinetic Gallery this year and is determined to bring all students a bit of color, whether it’s local, regional or nationwide.

“I want [the Kinetic Gallery] to be colorful—not that art can’t be black and white and can’t still be beautiful,” Belson said. She instead referred to the many gray months that accompany Geneseo’s traditionally harsh winters as her motivation.

“If it was up to me, I’d probably have one of those artists come in and just repaint the whole gallery in one of their installations,” she said.

A former GCAB general member, Belson decided to put her passion for the arts to good use and run for the position of arts and exhibits coordinator. She began sketching in art classes long before her college years, however, developing an appreciation for her home and family that influenced the evolution of her style.

“One of the biggest things I usually try and get right—but I never do—is my house. I take a lot of inspiration from that because it’s my home and I just love it,” she said. “There’s a big green tree out front, and my dog playing or something.”

Transcendent of her creative drawing ability, Belson’s dorm room walls are adorned with delicate Barbie sketches by Robert Best, which give an elegant interpretation of the plastic figurine. “They always remind me of something … it brings back memories,” she said.

Belson finds the greatest connection with a different medium, however. Photography has given an additional lens through which she fully immerses herself in the versatility that art can offer.

Her soft-spoken nature perhaps enhances her skill behind the camera, quietly capturing landscapes as Monet—her favorite artist—would do with a paintbrush.

“If we were to go outside Sturges right now, I’d look for all the bright colored leaves,” she said. “It makes you so happy … it could just be an old building or a piece of granite or cement that cracked in a certain way that you like.”

This harmony between photography and architecture fascinates Belson. Her travels across Europe’s most paramount cities—from Paris to Barcelona—have only heightened this curiosity, camera clicking to catch Notre Dame or the Sagrada Familia.

“If I had the skills in math, I’d probably be an architect,” Belson said.

The position of arts and exhibits coordinator for GCAB is a responsibility as large as the famous structures Belson admires. She finds and contacts potential artists, drafts their contracts, organizes their exhibits, controls advertisement, executes the opening ceremonies—down to the refreshments—and cleans it all up afterword.

“I basically do everything,” she said. “One of the biggest things is finding the artist. They can either be student artists from campus or they can be someone that I pick out at random from Google, but I usually have an idea in mind of where I want to go.”

The gallery is currently showcasing Suzanne Anker’s collection, “Blue Eggs and Spam,” which incorporates biology into its aesthetic. Belson hoped to integrate the interests of Geneseo’s large population of biology majors in the exhibit, an achievement in her objective to inspire students across all disciplines.

“Art has a lot of influence on people. It’s a way for people to release tension,” she said. “So many people are worried about college students and their depression, how they are handling things, but art is a way of releasing that.”

Each exhibit runs for approximately four weeks. The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming—a not-for-profit organization servicing the developmentally disabled—will display photographs taken by the students it supports in the gallery beginning Nov. 15, according to Belson.

At the heart of campus in the Union’s center, this particular exhibition embodies Belson’s theme of accessibility, expression and inclusion.

“You look around, everything is a piece of art. But some things are popping out a little bit more than other things would,” she said. “I think when you have a chance to look at things, you should.”

SPOTLIGHT ON: Francesca DiGiorgio

Senior Francesca DiGiorgio is more than a President’s List psychology and vocal performance double major here at Geneseo. Thanks to her participation in the Community Advocates Ambassadorship in Community Engagement, DiGiorgio felt like she “was an educator, business woman and performer all in one.” By combining her love for music and her interest in psychology, DiGiorgio set out to create a workshop this summer, dubbed Opera Kids, in which she hoped to give students a new and different educational opportunity. DiGiorgio was one of ten selected by the Center for Inquiry and Discovery in Doty Hall to receive a $5,000 grant to create, design and execute a project that would contribute to the community. She believes opera is a wonderful art form that often seems as inaccessible to younger generations. She hoped to demonstrate that students could understand and love opera in the workshop, as well as show the various educational opportunities students have in music programs offered at Geneseo.

The interactive two-day workshop involved nine children ranging from fourth to sixth grade who learned the importance of opera as an art form, were exposed to classical music and attended the Finger Lakes Opera Production of “La Traviata.”

The workshop included games and activities that helped the students understand opera. They would use this new understanding to enrich their later experiences in the workshop. They also learned music with the guidance of DiGiorgio and her collaborators, childhood and special education and vocal performace double major senior Sarah Sharrin and Sara Glover ‘16, both of whom were involved with the music department at Geneseo. In addition, vocal performance majors seniors Jordan Bachmann and Bria Kelly came in for a Q&A session with the students. At the time, the two were working as professional performers in the Finger Lakes Opera Production of “La Traviata.” This unique learning opportunity for young children opened their minds and hearts to the world of opera, elevated their enjoyment of the performance and showed them the many paths available in music education.

This ambassadorship helped DiGiorgio to combine a variety of interests to make a difference. The year-long process was difficult and tedious, but rewarding and eye opening for students at Geneseo. DiGiorgio was not only in charge of running the workshops, but also recruited students to attend, marketed her ideas, created the timeline of events and more. Despite all the grueling work, she described the opportunity as a “liberating process [that] showed me that I don’t have to pick one thing,” and felt empowered to be able to use her skills in music to do something meaningful for others. And although DiGiorgio was the teacher, she learned something as well—even though she will be graduating later this year, she will never stop learning.

As a senior, DiGiorgio is diving head first into graduate school applications.  She is most interested in continuing her education in music, and believes that her work on this project was an integral part in helping her make this decision. “Music is an invaluable and irreplaceable part of education.” Francesca explained. Her goal is to continue learning to better her skills and to be an advocate for the arts in this community and in many others.

SPOTLIGHT ON: Nicole Bergamo

Onstage or in the classroom, senior Nicole Bergamo sets her mind on perfecting her skills with the creative and critical thinking that she harmoniously blends together as both a dancer and student. As a psychology major and dance studies and human development double minor, Bergamo spends her time combining her love for science and dance through performance and psychology extracurricular activities. Since the beginning of her freshman year, Bergamo has been an active member in dance ensembles across campus, including Knightline, Geneseo Dance Ensemble and Orchesis. She’s also the department representative for Psychology Club and a lab coordinator for a research lab in the psychology department.

Bergamo explained that her mother put her in dance classes at Tawn Marie’s Dance Center in her hometown of Liverpool, New York when she was three years old. After that, she couldn’t escape her love for dance. She tried sports, but after her parents saw her “dancing up and down the court,” they knew she belonged in dance shoes.

From there, her talent brought her to a myriad of dance competitions; winning the 12 & under Grand Champion for the 2004 Rochester Dance Championships for her first tap duet, Teen Miss Sophisticated in 2010 and Junior Miss Sophisticated in 2011 and 2012 for solos she performed at the Sophisticated Dance Competition in Syracuse. Bergamo noted, however, that the transfer from competition to college dance is “such a shift.”

“In a competition, it’s all about showmanship and performance and how many tricks that you can do,” she said. “[College dance is] modern and not how many turns you can do … the movement or the feeling behind the movement and more thinking about what you’re doing rather than ... just going out on stage and performing and getting the gold.”

Although she claims each dance ensemble is different, Bergamo credited Knightline for allowing her to find most of her long-term friends and GDE for teaching her more about the art of dance. She added that one of her favorite performances was her jazz piece “Serendiptity” that was featured in GDE’s fall 2015 show “48 Live: Dancing on the Edge.” Bergamo was not only a choreographer, but also a student assistant director for the show.

Bergamo admitted that while she may not continue to pursue dance after college, it’s definitely something she wants to incorporate into her life. Bergamo is set to attend Michigan State University to get her Ph.D. in school psychology and to research Autism Spectrum Disorder to obtain her license as a school psychologist. “To incorporate dance movement in a classroom setting would be really cool,” she said. And for her, it wouldn’t be the first time she’s done it.

“Since [dance is only a] minor here, it’s not really something that has driven my career goals,” she said. “[But] teaching dance is always really cool as like a part-time job, so I’d love to incorporate that somehow.”

Although she may not continue dance outside of college, Bergamo emphasized that dance will always remain a very important part of her life. “[Dance has] surrounded me with ... really cool people that share the same passion ... It’s just provided me with more outside connections,” she said. “In terms of the way I think, I think dance has allowed me to think more creatively.” Bergamo added that she used to always consider herself as more of a “math” student, but dance has opened her mind to think both creatively and logically.

Whether she’s performing on stage or solving a problem, Bergamo has demonstrated that when she puts her mind to it, she can accomplish anything.

Dedicated student half-marathoner relieves stress through running

While many view running as a dreadful, tiresome activity, sophomore Michaela Omecinsky views it in a much different light. Running has been Omecinsky’s passion since she made the modified cross country team in eighth grade. Over the past year or so, Omecinsky made a goal to start training for half marathons and has since run 11 5Ks and three half marathons. As an accounting and political science double major, Omecinsky’s hard-working, driven personality is seen in both her running and studying habits. After joining the modified cross country team in middle school, Omecinsky chose to pursue running in high school as well. Her potential was quickly recognized when she started running varsity as only a sophomore. While she does not run competitively anymore, it continues to be a part of Omecinsky’s daily life.

“[Running] gives me a break from school—school is stressful and I feel like your mind tires out so much,” Omecinsky said. “After sitting all day, getting up to run allows me to get rid of my full energy and clear my head.”

Many runners use the sport as a natural de-stressor, similar to Omecinsky. Omecinsky, however, has a more structured training plan vital to doing well in her races.

“During the week, I run three to four miles a day, depending on my course load,” Omecinsky said. “Four days between Monday and Friday, I run three to four miles. Sundays are my long run days when I add a mile each week starting at three. The week before my half marathons, I get up to 12 miles because I want the first time I run 13.1 to be the day of the race.”

One of the three half marathons Omecinsky has completed was the Geneseo Oak Tree Half Marathon on Sept. 6 2015. Omecinsky noted that it was a memorable race for her due to the grueling conditions.

“The race was insanely hilly,” she said. “There was a huge hill at mile 10 that was very difficult. It was also a very hot day, so that race was the most difficult one I’ve run because of the heat and the hills.”

Geneseo is an excellent place to train for long distance running because of the diverse topography of the land. The entire campus is uphill, giving runners a chance to train on more difficult conditions.

“I love to run up Center Street and around Byrne Dairy and then back to Main Street,” Omecinsky said. “When I want to challenge myself, I run up “cardio hill,” which is the long, steep hill between Lauderdale Center for Student Health and Counseling and Newton Lecture Hall.”

Omecinsky continues to set even more goals for herself after reaching her half marathon ones. By 2017, she plans to finish a full marathon.

“My goal is to run a full marathon by my 21st birthday,” she said. “I’ve started looking into them for March or April of next year. I want to run my first marathon outside of New York near a body of water—I’m interested in Lake Placid, Maine or Connecticut.”

Omecinsky noted that after her first full marathon, she plans to make it a recurring event. She even has a bucket list of marathons she wishes to complete one day—which is no ordinary feat.

“There’s one in Disney World called the Princess Half Marathon that I really want to do. There’s also one in Kentucky called Run the Blue Grass where you end up running a lap around the Kentucky Derby horse track, which I thought was really cool,” she said. “Lastly, I want to do the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon. The money for the race goes to St. Jude’s Research Hospital and they play country music the entire way.”

Omecinsky’s lifelong passion for running continues to benefit her in many different ways. Her goal-oriented, dedicated work ethic and personality shine through in everything she does.

SPOTLIGHT ON: Joshua Shabshis

Theater major junior Joshua Shabshis has led a life surrounded by fascinating live performance. Born and raised in Forest Hills, New York, Shabshis first started studying theater at City Lights Theater School when he was five years old.

Shabshis is currently directing a main stage production for the theater and dance department entitled “The Forced Marriage,” written by 17th century French playwright and actor Molière. Shabshis also directed Noah Haidle’s “Mr. Marmalade” as part of the department’s staged reading series and starred as Cal in Tina Howe’s “The Art of Dining,” directed by professor of theater and dance Randy Kapplan. Shabshis has a concentration in acting in his major.

Despite his immersion in the theatrical arts, Shabshis noted that he came out of his high school—Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts—fairly disillusioned by the teachers’ cynicism.

“Even though I’ve done theater my whole life, [LaGuardia High School] kind of turned me off due to the way the school was run,” Shabshis said. “They would basically tell you that you were going to fail and there was nothing that you could do.”

Instead of taking this discouraging attitude to heart, Shabshis used it as motivation to succeed in his passions and look at theater in a much more open and optimistic way.

“I think it’s so important to be on the same level as your actors. I believe theater is an ‘us’—a ‘we’ art form. Painting is an ‘I’ art form,” Shabshis said. “Theater is collaborative, from the designers to the dramaturges to the actors to the directors. Everyone involved is equally as important and I don’t think there is any hierarchy. I think it’s a communal experience.”

Apart from his formal education, Shabshis draws much of his influence in his directing and acting from his Russian heritage. Shabshis is a first generation American with his parents hailing from the Soviet Union and his first language being Russian.

“I was brought up in a traditional Soviet household—growing up with all my parents’ Russian friends hanging around the house, drinking a lot of vodka with clouds of cigarette smoke in the air,” Shabshis said. “I started learning English around the age of three.”

In addition to his uniquely Russian upbringing, Shabshis comes from a long line of relatives that were intimately involved in the Soviet world. Shabshis noted that his great grandmother was a ballerina for the Bolshoi Ballet and his great grandfather was part of the Soviet Writer’s Union, where former Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin censored much of his work for being too “cosmopolitan.” Shabshis’ great-great uncle was a successful Soviet theater set maker and costume designer and his great aunt was also involved with Soviet costume design. For Shabshis, theater is in his blood.

Shabshis’ Russian heritage not only plays a huge part in his life, but in his directing and acting. For “The Forced Marriage,” Shabshis explained that he is using an experimental and collaborative technique in his directing—something that comes from studying the world of Soviet directing.

Shabshis’ passion for theater can be seen in almost every aspect of his life. He currently works for the Genesee Sun, where he writes press releases focusing on art events in Livingston County. Shabshis will also be working as an intern this summer for the Bohemian National Hall, working with Czech and Slovak artists and studying their creative process.

When asked about his post college plans, Shabshis maintained the same kind of determination and humor that is so evident in his creative works. “I’ve half-joked to my friends about this: I really want to start my own theater company when I graduate and I’m making my friends sign five-year contracts to my theater company,” he said.

SPOTLIGHT ON: Michael Carlin

During his appearance in Geneseo Pride Alliance’s Drag Ball last year, business administration major sophomore Michael Carlin discovered a hidden talent: his expertise in makeup. Known to many by the pseudonym “Kai Vanguard,” Carlin has embraced his ability to create his unique artwork, using cosmetics to contour cheeks instead of carving clay and using powder instead of paint. An advocate for social justice, he has combined art and activism to produce works rooted in cultural diversity. Carlin explained that his interest in makeup developed when he was a child, foreshadowing the natural skill that emerged during his freshman year of college. “I remember times when I would sneak into my mom’s makeup bag and play with the products,” he said. “I had a natural inclination for it.”

His connection with the craft, however, did not spark until his participation in Drag Ball. With encouragement from friends, Carlin transformed his look using cosmetics, fully experiencing the power of makeup for the first time and discovering another side of himself that had yet to be seen.

“I fell in love right then and there,” he said.

A self-proclaimed “self-portrait artist,” Carlin’s style centers on androgyny. Although he gathers inspiration from a variety of sources such as New York City photographer Ryan Burke and YouTube vlogger Patrick Simondac—also known as PatrickStarrr—Carlin strives for originality in all of his creations. He emphasized his pride in being self-taught, with his creative eye acting as an intrinsic gift.

“Some of the best advice that I’ve heard is that you can’t take someone else’s ideas and thoughts and incorporate them into your own because then it will never actually be your own art,” he said. “I want people to perceive me as I perceive me.”

Carlin added that he thoroughly appreciates the work done by Burke and Simondac, complimenting their thought-provoking, “over-the-top” designs. These artists have inspired him to push boundaries, specifically those regarding gender fluidity.

“Kai Vanguard” is an emulation of this androgyny, providing Carlin with a persona that is even more extravagant than “Michael”—a persona that does not have to align with a gender.

Alongside juniors Sarah Simon and Thomas Magnus, Carlin is currently working on a studio project in Sturges Hall that will exemplify his advocacy for social justice and gender equality. The project will be a series of photographed looks that represent different diverse cultures and minority groups on campus, such as blacks, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and LGBTQ+ students.

In addition to creative projects and artistic looks, Carlin does simpler makeup across campus for people attending date parties or special occasions. “Simplicity can be so amazing,” he said. “My favorite thing is seeing all the little things add up and the confidence I can instill.”

Carlin explained that he hopes to pursue a career in makeup artistry by attending the New York City campus of Make-Up Designory following his graduation from Geneseo, aspiring to enter the nightlife entertainment industry or to become a potential business owner.

“I would like to be an artist; not in the sense that I’m going around doing wedding makeup, but that I’m going around doing what I like to do,” Carlin said.

SPOTLIGHT ON: Oliver Diaz

Junior English and French double major Oliver Diaz has always loved writing and making people laugh. When he came to Geneseo, he decided to put those passions to use when he picked up the creative writing track on his English major and joined the improvisation group No Laugh Track Required. Diaz explained that comedy was “something that [I] grew up with,” noting that he was profoundly influenced by his father, who also had a passion for comedy.

Diaz added that he knew early on that he appreciated the power of comedy, specifically recalling a time in elementary school where he and a close friend of his were hysterically laughing on the floor from a simple joke they made. “I remember always trying to make people laugh,” he said.  This love for spreading laughs helped to foster his interest in improv comedy.

As the years have gone by, Diaz emphasized that No Laugh Track Required has become more than just something fun for him—it’s become a creative outlet. “I went to a [No Laugh Track Required] show my freshman year,” he said. “In my next semester in my freshman year, I went to audition and was really lucky to get in. It’s slowly become a really important thing for me that I enjoy.”

Diaz noted that one of his favorite parts about the improv group is the “potential for growth” amongst performers. “[Improv is] silly, but you can get good at it ... just being involved in it and seeing over the past two years [how] people get better has probably been the most rewarding thing,” he said. “It’s really cool to see people improve in anything ... and to improve personally.”

Such personal growth for Diaz is reflected in his newfound confidence and outgoing nature—traits that he wouldn’t have attributed to his younger self. “I was really small and scrawny and didn’t know how else to communicate with people,” he said. “I definitely was really timid and awkward and quiet.”

Apart from developing personally, Diaz noted that he loves the group dynamic of No Laugh Track Required. “I really enjoy our rehearsals [and shows],” he said. “It’s just a place where a bunch of people who relate in this way of making jokes constantly throughout the day can convene and work together toward something that they’re passionate about.”

When he’s not working on comedy, Diaz can often be found exploring his passion for writing. He explained that he has loved creative writing since elementary school, expressing himself through music or in journals. Toward the end of high school, Diaz began writing reflective entries that extended past typical daily recordings. It wasn’t until he attended Geneseo, however, that he realized that he could do something more with his love of writing.

After taking ENGL 201: Foundations of Creative Writing, Diaz knew that the creative writing track was the right choice for him. “I think I almost tricked myself into deciding [a major] very early and it was the right choice,” he said. “Now, I’m like, ‘Yes, this is really what I want to do.’”

Diaz’s experiences in both improv and writing have allowed him to explore other creative avenues like acting. Diaz performed in the theater department’s fall staged reading series as Mr. Marmalade in director junior Joshua Shabshis’ adaptation of Noah Haidle’s “Mr. Marmalade” and will return to the stage in director senior Samantha Clowes’ staged reading of Christopher Durang’s “Beyond Therapy.”

With so many different creative talents, Diaz isn’t quite sure about his postgrad plans. “In an ideal world, I would go on and keep doing improv and write and life would just be a “Saturday Night Live” experience, but it’s not that simple,” he said. “I love it, it’s what I want to do, but it’s not that simple.”

Diaz noted that while he has looked into potentially taking classes at Upright Citizens Brigade Theater or The Second City to further his improv career, he has also considered other careers like teaching. Whatever career path Diaz ends up on after college, it’s certain that his talents and enthusiasm for comedy, writing and acting will guide him to a successful future.

Nature Walk Club provides outdoor experience

For some students, having a chance to go out and to engage in an outdoor environment is a rejuvenating way to take a break from academics. This is partly what drew geography major and Nature Walk Club president junior Sarah Kowalski to the Nature Walk Club. The club is composed of environmentally-conscious students, faculty and staff who share a similar appreciation for nature.

Nature Walk Club provides an opportunity for individuals to get outside and immerse themselves in nature. According to their Facebook page, their mission is “to establish, solidify and maintain the essential relationship between individuals and nature.”

Beyond that, the club also serves as a tool for education and preservation with both student and faculty-led nature walks. These walks often take place at the Spencer J. Roemer Arboretum or elsewhere at off-campus locations such as Finger Lakes Trail, Stony Brook State Park and Letchworth State Park.

“Since I was little, I would go on outdoor walks with my grandma, so it’s nice to be able to find the same thing here,” Kowalski said.

Geneseo Nature Walk Club often collaborates with other clubs and organizations on campus––such as the Office of Sustainability––in order to bring events to the campus community. For example, the club has teamed up with associate professor of biology and Spencer J. Roemer Arboretum Advisory Board chair Jennifer Apple to partake in invasive species removal and native seed planting.

Nature Walk Club also hosted Ephemeral Arts Festival in conjunction with Art Club in October. Students expressed themselves through art by only using materials found in nature at the arboretum. Photos of the artwork were displayed in the Kinetic Gallery.

Other collaborative events that the club has done in the past include working with Yoga Club to hold a session at the arboretum.

In their official description, the club noted that they aim to provide a “transformational learning experience” and to stress the “importance of maintaining healthy, symbiotic relationships” with nature. These concepts have been explored through events like their recent White Pine Tea walk.

“Students took an educational walk to explore some white pine trees in the arboretum,” Nature Walk Club vice president sophomore Sophie Boka said. “At the end, we picked some pines and used them to make tea.”

According to Kowalski and Boka, the club is made up of a wide variety of students from many different majors. Boka expressed her hopes to see more faculty and staff get involved, especially with leading the nature walks.

“And that’s the beauty of it—anyone can come with whatever they can offer,” she said. 

SPOTLIGHT ON: Alix Seskin

Communication major and art history minor senior Alix Seskin—also known as “Lix Rich”—combines her love for music and film in her job as a DJ. Seskin spends her weekends entertaining and hyping audiences up with her remarkable skills. Seskin explained that her career as a DJ started when she was a freshman spending weekends at the Inn Between Tavern. She noted that she didn’t like the music that they were playing, so she decided to take matters into her own hands. Seskin’s ex-boyfriend sparked her interest in house music and with that inspiration, she decided to purchase a DJ controller and software to begin creating her own music.

Seskin first got a job working at the IB, but after it closed, she started playing at The Statesmen after performing at a party there. In addition to The Statesmen—where Seskin currently works—she also covers some Geneseo Late Knight events at the Knight Spot.

Although she is now well-versed as a DJ, Seskin explained that her talent and passion have only been recently cultivated. “I wasn’t really into music, surprisingly, [during] my senior year of high school,” she said. “And then freshman year, it was just my boyfriend’s influence. Then, on top of that, trying to be my own person and trying to be my own person in college and then I found who I was … I found my niche.”

Seskin noted that her love of DJ-ing is due largely to the gratification she gets from performing and seeing crowd members enjoying the music she plays. “Personally, I’m never in it for the money … but I’m really into it for the music more than anything else,” Seskin said. “I like making people happy and … the high you get off of playing music for people that they love … it’s compensation enough.”

Although she has not really created many original songs, one of her favorite remixes is a mashup between Avicii’s “Street Dancer” and David Guetta’s “Louder Than Words.” Seskin’s favorite artists range from DJ Dillon Francis to Odessa and earlier Avicii. Generally, she prefers to listen to techno and deep house music. Her inspirations for her sound while DJ-ing, however, are a little different.

“When I was growing up, [my family] always listened to a lot of Michael Jackson, a lot of funk and a lot of Grateful Dead,” Seskin said. “So I was always growing up around nice guitar riffs and stuff like that, so I’ve really liked to listen to funk mixed with house.” Seskin specifically cited artist Griz as one of her current funk inspirations.

Seskin’s unique spin on DJ-ing with funk stems from a desire to celebrate both music and creativity. “I love using [funk in DJ’ing]. I think it’s the perfect song to get people up, but also dancing,” she said. “It’s actual music because people are playing saxophones and doing the drums and it’s not just technical DJ toggling.”

Seskin added that her favorite part about DJ-ing is seeing the reaction she gets from audiences. “You get such a high from just vibe-ing off the people at the bar and then playing what they want to hear,” she said. “You hear the screams like, ‘Oh my God, I love this song,’ and you’re just like, ‘Yes I did that, this is me.’ And it’s such a nice feeling, making people happy.”

Although she enjoys her hobby as of DJ-ing, Seskin plans on attending film school next semester for cinematography. She added that she hopes to combine her love of both film and music to possibly combine them by making music videos. “Music is such a great starting off point for everything I want to do in the future,” Seskin said.

Whether it will be through film or music—or both—Seskin’s distinct artistic presence will certainly continue to entertain audiences in her future adventures.

SPOTLIGHT ON: Sarah Simon

Photography has been a part of junior psychology major and geography and communication double minor Sarah Simon’s life since she was a young and inquisitive 7-year-old growing up in New York City. Since then, Simon has continued to explore her potential through photography and has found it to be incredibly rewarding. Simon explained that her father—an avid proponent of visual arts and one of Simon’s greatest influences—was the first one to support her in her artistic endeavors; he noticed his daughter’s talent after she stole his digital camera one day when walking in Central Park. Simon noted that her father was pleasantly surprised when the pictures on his camera were more than the expected clumsy snapshots of a 7-year-old. Simon distinctly recalled the moment when her father said to her, “You have the eye.”

Simon emphasized that she has always seemed to be aware of the power of visuals, noting that she views visual art as a “holistic experience that is more universal than reading a message.” She describes her style as cinematic, as she loves taking photos of people. Simon’s portraits, however, are about more than the final product. They’re about the collaboration of those both in front of and behind the camera.

“You’re both contributing to this,” Simon said. “The picture is what happens and it’s a reflection of both of your work.”

The importance of connection between photographer and subject was highlighted for Simon over the summer as she interned with fellow photographer and New York City native Michael Cinquino. Gaining professional experience with photography is critical for Simon, as she simultaneously navigates the art world while attending school. For “real world” practice, she relies on her internship at the Genesee Sun and on projects that she sets up for herself, sometimes collaborating with other students.

One of Simon’s favorite current projects is her collection of Instagram works in her “Light Series.” Simon noted that she loves the unique and experimental nature of the series. “It’s basically random shadows and whatever I see that involves light in some way,” she said. “Photography is the study of light, so I have a lot of latitude with it.” Photos in Light Series range from neon streetlights to shadows created by natural light.

Simon’s online presence continues on her Flickr page, where she puts her favorite shots. Simon noted that she is proud of the success she has had through these online accounts.

“I think we live in a society that is repugnant towards narcissism … but showing your face is something you have to do, especially if you want to get out there in art,” she said.

While not entirely photography-oriented, Simon showcases her love of the creative in another project: the performance art group Womb Rumors where she works with junior Alex McGrath and sophomore Tess Ramos-Dries. Each individual has a different role, with McGrath creating the music, Ramos-Dries dancing and Simon reciting poetry. In addition, Simon works with McGrath in a photo and music mash-up.

Simon’s biggest piece of advice to fellow photographers is to listen to their inner voice and to strive to stay present and aware of their environment.

“You have to be open to the opportunity,” Simon said. “There are times when I’m in the middle of the street and it would not be convenient for me to take a photo, but something in me is like, ‘You need to take a photo.’”

Simon explained that she is hoping to take her photography to the next level with a Geneseo ambassadorship for a project that she has proposed. “It will involve going to three different countries and photographing teachers in the classroom. And so that, again, draws on people,” Simon said. “But also, I like thinking about teachers; when they work in the classroom, it is a performance. They use their hands and their bodies to express to you what they want you to learn. It’s beautiful.”

An ambassadorship is just one goal of Simon’s, but her real aspiration is to keep doing what she loves. “If you take a picture, it beats not taking a picture,” she said.

SPOTLIGHT ON: Maggie Maloney

For junior chemistry and math double major Maggie Maloney, her interest in making music began with a sarcastic request from her parents. In 2012, she asked for a ukulele for Christmas because she knew it was an instrument that she could learn within an hour. Her wish was granted and her music career began. So far, Maloney has performed at coffee shops and open mics in different areas around Buffalo. Her workplace at home hosts “acoustic Wednesdays” and her boss insisted she play at one of these shows after learning to play the ukulele. This gig proved to be a perfect opportunity for Maloney. “I did the acoustic Wednesday and then I got picked up by LIPS Records after that,” she said.

After seeing Maloney perform and hearing her impressive chord progressions on the ukulele, head of LIPS Records—Jake Smolinski—immediately wanted to sign her to the label. Unfortunately, an over-protective boyfriend prevented her from signing right away and it wasn’t until after she broke it off with him that she joined LIPS Records to officially pursue music.

In January 2015, Maloney officially began recording with the label and she released her debut album in October titled Tribute. Maloney explained that her music falls in the genre of “twee.” Maloney explained twee as music that “sounds really, really happy but [has] a super-depressing undertone,” which is what she likes to emulate through her own sound.

“I like to see [music] as an outlet of all of the fucked up shit you think about when you’re alone and all that jazz,” she added.

Maloney named the twee band Heavenly as one of her musical inspirations, along with Smolinksi’s band Local Onlys. Local Onlys hails from Philadelphia and Maloney classifies them as “very garage-indie.”

Maloney cited Smolinski in particular as one of her greatest inspirations and musical influences, noting that she admires his versatile musical talent when it comes to instruments. “He plays guitar, drums, everything in the entire world,” she said. “You name the instrument, he probably knows how to play it. He’s one of those kids.”

Maloney’s musical taste is a quirky assortment. Besides Heavenly and Local Onlys, she is a fan of indie band Yellow Ostrich from Brooklyn, NY. Maloney also noted that she “really likes trap beats because they’re funny.”

What makes Maloney stand out among other artists is her unique voice and lyrical writing ability. “My buddies like to say that I’m able to portray a lot of emotion in really simple lines,” she said. This is certainly no easy task—many people struggle to describe their feelings using many words, much less a few lines. Maloney, however, manages to be both straightforward and poetic.

She explained that she has plans for more music. “I’ve been talking to my buddy Jake [Smolinski] … and I think we’re probably going to try to record an EP this winter break,” she said.

Be on the lookout for more music from Maloney—her whimsical talent is worth recognizing.

Involved, ambitious student works for community, campus unity

A communication major and sociology minor, junior Caroline Wilson is dedicated to promoting cohesiveness between the campus and Geneseo community. She’s a member of Sigma Delta Tau sorority and is the Main Street Manager—an internship position—at Livingston County Economic Development. Her self-described mission is to encourage students’ involvement in the town as well as locals’ involvement on campus.

“Working with both on-campus and off-campus organizations has definitely allowed me to understand all sides and perspectives, which really helps with my goal,” Wilson said.

Studying in the personal and professional track of communication, Wilson is proficient at speaking to people and businesses in a fashion that is relatable and friendly while also qualified and to-the-point. These virtuous traits have aided her pursuits, especially through her internship work.

After weeks of effort, Wilson sent out a list to the student body on Tuesday Dec. 8 that delineated most of the major holiday discounts at local businesses to inspire student connection with their shopping and service resources in town. Nineteen companies with various specialties were listed. To compile the information for the list, Wilson visited the establishments personally to inquire about seasonal deals.

“I work on getting any relevant community information out to students, so I thought of the idea to collect deals and discounts together into one place,” she said. “I asked businesses if they had any promotions going on for the holidays. Many did, and some created deals based on my inquiry.”

Because the list was only recently sent out, its success can’t be determined yet, but reactions from students have been tremendously approving and grateful. “I haven’t heard back from any of the businesses yet, but student feedback has been very positive and appreciative,” Wilson said.

Another project she’s involved in through her internship is a monthly online newsletter that consolidates information about events in the student and campus community as well as within the town and surrounding area. Wilson reported that community member subscription has been growing, but noted that student subscription has not gained much momentum yet, as the newsletter launched in July.

“It tells a bit about each event and might strike people’s interest,” she said. “I’d love to see more student subscribers because right now it’s mostly been promoted through the community, but I would like to make it my mission to get a lot of students subscribed.”

A sister of SDT since her freshman year, Wilson has acted as a public relations person for the organization in the past and currently holds the position of Vice President of Panhellenic Counsel. Wilson said that taking on such leadership positions has provided her with great opportunities to bring the campus and community members together.

“My cousin was in SDT before I came to Geneseo—she’s a senior right now—and she introduced me to all of her friends which sparked my interest in joining. But also I just wanted to be in an organization. I’ve always been interested in getting involved,” she said. “It’s given me rewarding experiences within the Geneseo community—both on and off campus.”

While she has not yet decided on the specific career path she wishes to pursue after her undergraduate education, Wilson wants to continue doing work that is relevant to her passion for community and fostering positive experiences and involvement in local business. Her ambition radiates in her communication and her professional self-presentation—she and her contributions are invaluable assets to Geneseo.

Spotlight: Senior marries, disregards societal expectations

Senior Peter Donlon recently took the plunge and tied the knot. Married on Oct. 25, he and his wife Rebekah Donlon—who is currently a student at a local community college—are admittedly still in the honeymoon phase, but confidently assert that even when they move on to the next stage of marriage, they won’t waver in their covenant despite their young ages.

Committing to marriage in one’s undergraduate years may seem premature or illogical to many, as it is fairly uncommon in today’s culture, but Peter Donlon stresses that disregarding societal guidelines is imperative to making the right decisions for one’s self and as a couple.

“Society really does dictate that people should only get married after they’ve been through college and have good careers, and I don’t want to discredit that approach, but it’s not the right path for everyone,” Peter Donlon said. “Couples should consider their own unique situations and act on what they believe is best for them regardless of outside pressure.”

Friends for about a year and a half before entering into a relationship, Peter and Rebekah Donlon were emotionally in tune with one another right from the beginning. After some issues in her family life, Rebekah Donlon was going to move in with a friend but the plans fell through. Peter Donlon and his immediate family were there for her and welcomed her into their home. While this development was not itself a factor in their decision to marry, Peter Donlon noted that it played a major role in allowing them to realize their compatibility.

Both of the Messianic Christian faith, the pair explained that religion did play a role in their choice to marry, but was not a primary motive. “Being Christian and living with someone before marriage is of course a unique situation—there’s definitely that struggle of wanting to be close to someone when, Biblically, you’re not really supposed to be,” Donlon said. “Our faith was just part of the whole decision though, a decision that was ultimately right for us in all aspects.”

The couple is also lucky enough to have the support of family and friends—something not all young newlyweds would receive. “Everyone has been pretty supportive. At first, there was definitely a lot of hesitancy about it and people asked if we were ready for it and things like that, but overall, we received a lot of support and positive responses,” Peter Donlon said. He also highlighted the fact that he knows other couples that married young and have been successful in wedlock.

A communication major on the personal and professional track, Peter Donlon stressed that communication is key not only in maintaining a healthy relationship, but also in making decisions together as a couple—including the decision to marry. He emphasized that he and Rebekah Donlon discussed the life-altering step extensively, covering all necessary topics about their needs and desires for the future.

“It’s important to talk about future expectations such as if you want kids, a big or small family, where you want to live and other topics like that,” Peter Donlon said. He explained that they are in tune with one another in this respect. They both want to travel after they finish school and both hope to eventually move to the south, possibly Florida.

Peter Donlon and his wife are dedicated not only to their educations, but also to working and saving money. Both employed by Atria Senior Living, they have learned to separate work life from personal life. “We motivate each other when we need to and give each other space when we need to,” he said.

Their story may not be run-of-the-mill, but it’s a tale of sincerity. Peter and Rebekah Donlon are steadfast in their certainty that they did what was right for them in their decision to marry young. Resisting the weight of modern cultural norms, they allowed themselves to contemplate all contributing factors and arrive at the conclusion most suitable for their lives and future desires.

“Of course, before I proposed to Rebekah, the thought was in the back of my head that maybe we were too young, but marriage takes work at any age. Neither of us expected to marry young, but we’re happy we did,” Peter Donlon said.

On a lighter note, he joked, “Advice for anyone choosing to tie the knot: Make sure the rings fit right!”