Monday, July 20, 2020

Awesome Hofstra Story

I am a member of the Hofstra parents class of 2024 Facebook group.  I was the one mentioned at the Thursday coffee that posted the list of get-to-know you questions that now has over 140 comments. I am submitting an interesting story that came out as a result of that post and this wonderful Facebook parents group.

This photo was taken at a wedding reception on July 4, 1920 in Zwickau, a German.  Sadly many of the people in this photo did not survive the Holocaust.  In the front row, left of the center are three girls. Here’s a closeup of that part of the above photo:

On the left is Berta Birnbaum Davis and the center is Erna Moerdler Brandwein. On the left is Erna’s sister Toni Brandwein Hausmann, she did not survive the Holocaust.  Berta and Erna were very close and stayed very close throughout their lives.  They both miraculously survived the Holocaust.  Betta married in Germany, had two children there and one in the U.S. and eventually ended up in Pittsburg.  Erna married and had one son.  Her husband did not survive he holocaust, but her and her second husband eventually ended up in New York.  The two women always stayed in touch and visited each other as often as possible. 

Erna is in the back row on the left.  Berta is in the front row on the right.  Next to Berta is her husband Emil and behind her is her daughter Rose Kay.

After Erna died their families lost touch.

On Wednesday, shortly after I posted the get-to-know-you post, I received a message from a Hofstra 2024 parent named Stacy Browning Stein.  She was showing her mother the Facebook page and her mother recognized my name.  I told her that I remember her grandmother! She told me about my grandparents dancing at her wedding.

Stacy’s mother is Rose Kay, the woman in the photo standing next to my grandmother Erna Schwartz. After texting for a while with Stacy and her mom, I video called my dad and I told him “Erna Brandwein Moerdler Schwarz’s great-granddaughter is going to be an incoming freshman with Berta Birnbaum David’s great-grandson!”  I went on to explained that I was contacted by a woman who said her grandmother was my grandmother’s first cousin, Berta David.  To say he was shocked would be an understatement. I could see all the emotion in my dad’s face as he told me that one of his biggest regrets over the past 25 or 30 years was losing touch with this side of his family.   As my dad talked, all my memories of Berta and Rose Kay flooded back to me.  I texted questions my dad had to Stacy, who, in turn asked the questions to her mother.   My dad asked for her mom’s phone number and email and that information was exchanged.  It turns out we (& our parents) live less then a half an hour from each other!  So hopefully they will get to see each other again soon. 

Instagram handles and cell numbers were also exchanged for the two incoming freshman. Elinoa Moerdler-Green and her first cousin twice removed Isaac Stein have chatted and are looking forward to meeting each other in person. They will even be in the same dorm, the Netherlands!

Thanks to Hofstra’s class of 2024 parents group two first cousins, once removed, have been reconnected after over two and a half decades of separation!

And every time I pass by that wedding picture from July, 1920, I think to myself how happy Erna and Berta would be that their families have reconnected and how they would laugh at the happy coincidence that their great-grandchildren are both members of the Hofstra class of 20204!

Hopefully, once this pandemic passes (or at least eases), our two families can reconnect in person, maybe even on Hofstra campus.  Wouldn’t that be an awesome photo?

Now how’s that for Hofstra pride?

Sharon Moerdler-Green

Friday, February 28, 2020

Living On Campus

A Student's Experience

As Housing Selection quickly approaches, many students begin to wonder what else they can do as a resident student, and the answer is: A lot! Take it from Pamela Vallejos, a Sophomore Biochemistry/Pre-med student who has gained so much more than just a place to live while a resident student.


Starting college, whether you are a first year or transferring student can usher anxious and exciting emotions all at the same time, especially when making decisions about housing. Being an international student, one of the first decisions I had to make was, with who am I going to spend not only my first semester of college outside my country with, but also an entire year of what is going to make up my first college experience. For incoming students, residing on campus is more than just getting a room and roommate; it becomes an experience in which helps shape you into the future working adult you’ve always wanted to become. With my personal experience, I believe residing on campus is among the top benefits college has to offer. It not only gives incoming students, but everyone who lives on campus, an opportunity to really get that college experience that we have waited and prepared ourselves for all throughout high school.

One of the most important benefits is that most campus resources are less than a 10 minute walk away from your room! Even resources that you had no idea you needed are present all around campus. Each dorm has a resident assistant who helps you in at any time of the day, who in addition works with resident directors who help guide you towards any path you want to take. Public Safety arrives immediately for any emergency and always responds to any students who request their help. Within the residence halls, they all have lounges, study areas, kitchens, some even a workout area where students are welcomed at any time. The RAs make programs that help students connect to resources on campus, and some programs even involve them with faculty and administrating members who reach out to students as well for them to really let them know that they are not alone and they will always have someone on campus they can talk to.

Living on campus gives students the opportunity to make strong friendships in a way that they become their second family. My first friend on campus ever, is someone I now call my little brother. We have become so close to a point where people actually believe we are related. Both of us living extremely far from our families and childhood friends bonded us to a point where we created a family setting between each other and our other friends. This strengthened our friendship and was one of the main reasons I was always excited to come back to campus. My suite mate became one of the closest friends I never thought I would make within the first months of college that even during vacations we always plan on spending time together whether it is me visiting her or the other way around. As all college students, we were able to support each other academically as well. Living on campus made it easy to make friends in and outside my major in a way that we could all spend time studying at the library or in our dorms together for certain classes throughout the week and weekends. In times of stress, such as finals week, we were there to support each other and push one another to keep working hard through all our upcoming exams. Once we all got through our finals, sharing the happiness of making through our freshman year together was very sentimental and a true bonding experience.

Living specifically in the Living Learning Communities (LLC) that Hofstra has to offer gives the opportunity to students to really grow in a community where everyone is there to support each other as we are all going through similar situations our freshman year. Living in the First Generation housing was something that really shaped me as the second year student I have become. Even though it was just one year, it was the beginning of a new life, my future career, and the person I am becoming and always wanted to be. The LLC not only helped me stand proud of who and what I represent, but also allowed me to meet others who do the same. It is one of my favorite experiences of my freshman year and something I am very grateful for having. The friendships and bonds I have made within the LLC still stand strong through the end of my sophomore year, and I know they’re something I will always be able to count on.

One of the biggest difficulties I had in high school was maintaining my academic life, social life, and work life together on top of my parents driving me everywhere I needed to be. Living on campus, made me view Hofstra as my new home. I eventually began to feel comfortable to reach outside the residence halls and participate in on-campus activities. By the first semester of my second year I have become treasurer of Hofstra’s Organization of Latinx Americans, and work with the wonderful staff of Student Affairs, and the on campus catering Hofstra offers at our new Starbucks, everything being a 5 to 10 minute walk away!

As much as I miss my family and friends back home, if I had the option to drive everyday to campus from my house to college I would still choose to live on campus. It really helped me grow not only as a student, but also as a person. Living on campus gave me the opportunity to really know where I decided to begin my future, and I do not regret making that decision. The more you live on campus, the more you become to enjoy and get more involved. Next year I will be joining the resident staff at one of the first-year residence halls and will have the opportunity to make an impact on students as an RA, as did mine for my first year and I could not be more excited to be a helping hand to incoming and transferring students!"


Housing Selection begins March 2 with the Housing Deposit. For more information about living on campus and the many facilities available, you can visit

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

75+ Things to Do Before your Student's Graduation

by Susan Heilig
Secretary, Parent Council

I had seen a post on the Hofstra website on suggestions for students on what to do before graduation. Search "75 things to do".  I read the list and thought, 'wow, good list.'  Well as a-now-Junior parent who is going along for the ride. I thought I'd write about my own, parent version, of this list.

  • Make lots of cookies for the First-Year Welcome Day/Move-In with Parent Council. Oh so much fun! 
  • Become an active member of Parent Council. (Make new friends!!). Just email to learn the meeting schedule and to indicate your willingness to join Parent Council.
  • Attend Parent Council meetings in person or online, and try to not miss one.
  • Participate in Family Orientation, Family Weekend, Admitted Students Day events (with Parent Council).
  • Buy some Hofstra apparel and swag (Hofstra Mom or Dad) in Hofstra Bookstore, Mack Student Center.
  • Apply for a job through Indeed, or the 'Hofstra jobs' website.
  • Cheer on the Hofstra Pride at a sporting event. Go PRIDE!!
  • Listen to Hofstra University radio Station 88.7 FM. Winner of Marconi Award 4 times.
  • Take your Hofstra water bottle and fill it up at a hydration station while visiting your student on campus.
  • Take a Paint and Sip or Tech Ed for Parents class with other parents. 
  • Play pool in the Game Room (Lower Level, Mack Student Center, next to the Pride Den). I prefer air hockey!
  • Take a trip around the campus, checking out the grounds, statues, flowers, and trees.
  • Participate in Hofstra Celebrates the Holidays in the beginning of December. (Open to parents to see the lighting of Hofstra Hall and the painted windows in the Mack Student Center Main Dining Room.)
  • Complete parent surveys to let Parent Council and the Office of Parent and Family Programs know your opinion and suggestions.
  • Eat a sampler platter at the various eateries on campus.
  • Meet our Family Program Director, Branka Kristic. Love that lady!!! 
  • Check out the Hofstra website for all the things parents can do on campus.
  • Participate in Chance Auction and basket-making for the Fall Festival! 
  • Enjoy a coffee on the Quad at Dunkin' and our new Starbucks. It's full service!!!
  • Check out the part one of the renovations in the Mack Student Center. 
  • Take advantage of the many shows and theater that Hofstra's Drama and Music Department produce. (Open to parents)
  • Experience HofUsa MENU AND FOOD!  (It's a diner menu!)
  • Enjoy yourself at the Fall Festival of the Family Weekend. Great fireworks!!
  • Know the Pride Rules for the dorms (It's our students' first apartment!)
  • Walk over the unispan that connects Hagedorn and the University Dome. (Kids call it the Useless Span and you need them to swipe!)
  • Walk over the Netherlands unispan. 
  • Attend the lectures and festivals on campus. Check out the University calendar for all the events open to the public.
  • Host international students for Thanksgiving dinner. Email
  • Create your own omelet or other delicacy at the Food court in the Student Center.
  • Watch the videos that Hofstra posts, the Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds. (Oh, can you learn a lot!!)
  • Check out the amazing exhibits in the Emily Lowe Gallery, South Campus.
  • Join the Parent Council at a fitness session in the Fitness Center.  Pat M. I hear is a tough personal trainer!
  • Attend a weekend movie showing in the Student Center Theater sponsored by Entertainment Unlimited.  (Bring a container for free popcorn or buy it for a $1.00)
  • Meet President Rabinowitz around campus during events that Parent Council sponsors.
  • Share some #HOFVIEWS on social media (Twitter, Facebook). (Check out the beautiful sunsets from the from the 10th Floor of the Axinn Library!)
  • Walk around the walk track in the Fitness Center during Family Weekend.
  • Attend a play in the Adams Playhouse. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Hofstra Box Office at 516-463-6644, or purchase tickets online at
  • Admire student art work in the Form Gallery in Calkins Hall. 
  • Volunteer as Event Greeters and Speakers. Speak to Branka Kristic for details.
  • Read the Hofstra Chronicle in print on campus newsstands and online at It can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 
  • Go find Memorial Square and the Memorial Statue. (Hint: they aren't in the same place.) 
  • Host a reception as a Regional Parent Ambassador for 30 to 50 parents and students. 
  • Participate in various programming through the Intercultural Engagement and Inclusion Office. (can be found on the Hofstra Calendar of Events).
  • Participate in the annual Tea, Tulips and Trees event that happens every May when the tulips and trees bloom!  
  • Sit in the commuter lounge and take a break from walking around campus.
  • Provide internship and job connections for Hofstra students. Share career advice.
  • Go up to the David Filderman Gallery, Joan and Donald E. Axinn Library, Ninth Floor, South Campus, Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. • Saturday and Sunday, noon-4 p.m.
  • Come to campus and watch a game of Hofstra Zombies or the Quidditch ('flying' brooms) tournament from Harry Potter. 
  • Go sit in the new pavilion in the new Pride Park by the main gate, behind the Boston hitchhiker. 
  • Check out the stadiums on both North and South Campuses.
  • Watch a game of soccer, basketball, track and field, lacrosse. We have winning teams in both men's and women's sports. 
  • Walk the labyrinth in front of C.V. Starr Hall.  (While there, check out the Phoenix at the 9/11 Memorial. Stand in the middle of the labyrinth, talk and you will hear an echo.)
  • Check out plaza and "The Court of Courage" with the memorial sitting walls around the labyrinth. 
  • Sign up for Parent Council to be a member, or an officer.  
  • Check out the more than 200 cultural events that happen on campus. 
  • If you have siblings of a Hofstra student, come to our Siblings Day parent event in the Fitness Center in February. Parents can network with each other and the Parent Council. 
  • Participate in the Relay for Life every April. Parent Council comes out to walk around a track for cancer research and support our students. 
  • Cherish the Hofstra Arboretum (comprising Hofstra's entire 240-acre campus) offer exhibits, programs and tours year-round. The arboretum includes a bird sanctuary.
  • Eat healthy at Freshens.
  • Find "Walter" sitting under a tree. Tradition has it the students rub his head prior to testing for good luck.
  • Go to Bits & Bytes, and enjoy a Red Mango. 
  • Write an article for the Family Connections blog.
  • Take pictures of your student and family in the beautiful settings around campus.
  • Check out the oldest stature on campus in the Pinetarium.  (Hint: Behind the Axinn Library)
  • Have lunch in the University Club.
  • Sign up for the Family eSpace for the latest information. 
  • Attend the NYC Alumni Holiday Party at Club 101, 101 Park Avenue (at 40th Street) in December.
  • Show Parent Pride at Athletic Events. Tickets can be purchase at or calling the ticket office at 516-HOF-TIXX (463-8499).
  • Play Frisbee on the Memorial Quad. 
  • If you are on campus, say thank you to the men and women of the Department of Public Safety who are protecting our students. 
  • Purchase an item from Amazon and ship to the Amazon Locker, Cria, in the Mack Student Center, North Campus. 
  • Check out the 'Hofstra cats' that can be seen around campus. 
  • Go inside Hofstra Hall, the home of Kate and Willie Hofstra, the founders of our university.
  • Reread the Hofstra Family Handbook. 
  • Go on the Halloween Tour of Hofstra Hall and the grounds while learning about the ghosts that reside in the area. 
  • Surprise your student and mail them a card to their mailbox. 
  • When your student files for graduation, don't miss signing up for the Commencement Cruise. 
  • Go up to the top of the Axinn Library and take in the spectacular views. If a good day, you can see the NY city skyline. 
  • Stretch out on the grounds of the campus. 
  • Pick-up one free item from the tables at the parent events. 
  • As we all passed through freshman orientation as parents, remember how nervous/excited/worried you were. 
  • Check out the "Arboretum in Bloom" at
  • Locate the Monkey Puzzle tree.
  • Locate the "Million Dollar" tree. 
  • Purchase a Midterm or Final Exam Survival Kit through Office of Student Leadership and Engagement: 516-463-6914.
  • Network and make new parent "friends"! 
  • Go to graduation and clap for your student. 
Enjoy the time your student and you explored all that Hofstra campus has to offer. These college memories will last a lifetime!

If you need information or want to contact me, please email Branka Kristic in Parent and Family Programs at

Monday, November 25, 2019

Why College Really Can Be The Best 4 Years of Your Life! By Sofie Ramirez, '22

Hofstra student and undergraduate assistant in the Office of Parent and Family Programs, Sofie Ramirez, '22, shares with us her experiences in and out of Hofstra classroom. How can she be an A student, work two jobs on campus, and be involved in 5 clubs?! Sofie shares her advice to your student:

My entire high school career I was just living for the future, for the resume, for whatever came next. I was incredibly busy with honor societies, clubs, music programs, anything that would set me apart in an application process. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed what I did, but I could never fully appreciate it because I wasn’t doing it for who I was in that moment, I was doing it for whoever I wanted to be the next day. Everything was set up to something bigger and it wasn’t until coming to Hofstra last fall that I realized I didn’t have to live that way anymore. Don’t get me wrong I am still very busy (probably now more than ever!) but the things I’m doing aren’t to impress anyone else by adding it to my LinkedIn profile, for the first time ever, it’s for me! 
Since coming to Hofstra I have opened my eyes to a world of possibilities that I thought was completely out of my league. I thought I wouldn’t have the time or the resources and I thought that I might not belong. But Hofstra isn’t like high school, there’s no little cliques, no social rules that we have to abide by, telling us who we get to be. We really can be anything. Since coming here I have been a part of 2 academic programs, the Legal Education Accelerated Program (LEAP) and Hofstra University’s Honors College (HUHC), I have 2 jobs (an undergraduate assistant for Hofstra’s Parent and Family Programs and a Resident Assistant for the HUHC dorms), I am a part of 5 clubs, Hofstra’s Hillel (center for Jewish life on campus), Yoga Club, a pre-law fraternity, HOLA (Hofstra’s Organization for Latinx Americans) and the Rock Climbing Club, all while taking a full class load of 17 credits. 
This is a huge departure from who I was in high school, I was the complete band geek, nerd type who didn’t get out much and was either practicing one of my instruments or studying for an exam in the library. Now, I have such a diverse set of interests that I would not have been able to pursue had it not been for Hofstra’s extensive opportunities and inviting community. Every single club and program on this campus has the capacity to be a home for students here, a chance to grow, develop and change. The only caveat is that you have to be open to the experience. You can go from band geek to club athlete, from bookworm to student leader, you can come out of your shell and be the person you were planning to be tomorrow, today.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Seems Like Yesterday ....

A new Hofstra parent shares her experience when she said goodbye to her first son as he went away to college:

Here is Stephanie Kepke's bio:

An award-winning author and blogger, Stephanie Kepke's second grade teacher told her she should be a writer, and she hasn't wavered in her path since. In her past life, before kids, Stephanie was an arts reporter and music journalist. She lives on Long Island with her family, which includes two slightly crazy rescue dogs (one of whom is three-legged). Stephanie's books include the novel, Goddess of Suburbia; the book of essays, Boys, Dogs and Chaos; and the novellas, A New Life and You & Me

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Call for Chance Auction Donations

Hello Hofstra Parents!  If you have been following the Parent Council Minutes of the past meetings, you will know that we are starting early to request donations for an item, gift certificate or service of any size to our upcoming Chance Auction during Hofstra’s Fall Festival: Alumni, Student and Family Weekend on September 27 -28.   Cash donations of any value are also greatly appreciated. All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Hofstra University is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. 

At our last Parent Council meeting we learned that the Chance Auction Tickets will be sold on Friday and Saturday, September 27 and 28 with the drawing to take place on Saturday, September 28, 2019.  Branka Kristic, Director of Student and Family Programs and Francine Berman, Chance Auction Chair explained by donating an item, gift cards, or making a cash donation, you are supporting our Emergency Student Fund, as well as help raise seed money for the following year Hofstra Fall Festival budget.  The Fall Festival is run by the Hofstra University Office of Student and Family Programs. Without our parents supporting the Chance Auction, the charge for this event would be fully passed on to those in attendance.  The money set aside helps with Guest Speakers, as well as the Saturday Family Breakfast and Friday Reception dinner.  Your little gift card or item will help 5,000 plus people the following year enjoy the Festival, as well as fund the Student Emergency Fund.   We are so excited to announce that we have received Family Disney Hopper Passes, as well as the use of a Condo in Salt Lake City, Utah for two days for our chance auction, as well as many local business gift cards.

If you are interested in donating an item or have access to a business, vendor or tickets to an event please contact to get a link to our donation letter and form. Please note that the legal department says the bottom of the donation form must be filled out stating that you or a business are contributing, item(s) or service(s) described to Hofstra Parent Council Chance Auction. Submitting this form agrees to provide the items(s) or service(s) to the Hofstra University Office of Parent and Family Programs.  Francine and the entire Parent Council Executive Board thank everyone in advance who can contribute to the Chance Auction in any way possible.

For more information on how to donate to Chance Auction, please visit:

Catherine Fisher
HU Parent Council

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Parent Council Meeting Recap: Guest Speaker: Dr. John Guthman, Executive Director of Student Health and Counseling Center

25 February 2019

Hofstra’s Parent Council had the opportunity to hear from Guest Speaker, Dr. John Guthman, Executive Director of Student Health and Counseling Center. 

Below are notes from the meeting:

Branka Kristic, Director of Parent and Family Programs, introduced our Parent Council to Dr. John Guthman, Executive Director of Hofstra University's Student Health and Counseling Center (SHACC).  Dr. Guthman explained how Hofstra supports all students while emphasizing support for students with anxiety, depression, and other mental/medical health concerns. SHACC is structured as an integrated medical and counselling support for all Hofstra students. Students in need of any medical attention may make an appointment with SHACC to see nurse practitioners, psychologists, or other professional staff. SHACC also offers group counseling to students to come together to discuss common concerns once a week. If students are in need of immediate mental health support after hours, they can contact the Office of Public Safety who can put them in touch with our on-call counselors.

Dr. Guthman reviewed statistics regarding mental health among college students. In 2018, depression was the number one mental health concern in college students, followed closely by anxiety. He further explained the impact parents often have on students' lack of resilience in their well-meaning attempts to shield their students from failure. He explained the importance of parents letting students struggle (and sometimes fumble!) in order to learn to tolerate failure and its resulting anxiety. 

SHACC also provides preventative measures against harassment across campus. All incoming students at New Student Orientation receive information about the services SHACC provides, as well Title IX and bystander intervention training.  All club executive board members, Resident Student Safety, and student government groups are required to take additional Title IX and bystander training. Additional preventative measures include optional programming such as mental health screening days several times per year, as well as our CARES program. As part of our CARES program, administrators, faculty, and staff meet bi-monthly to communicate concerns about students who might need extra support. Support staff determine which offices and administrators will provide support to each student and concerns are re-addressed at follow-up meetings. 

Hofstra University conforms to HIPAA standards: if a student is 18 or older, they do not have to inform their family, staff, or faculty in order to receive SHACC services. Students younger than 18 do require parental consent to attend individual psychological counseling. Additionally, students are also advised on the limits of confidentiality under Hofstra Title IX rules, as only chaplains, counselors, and medical staff do not have to report harassment to the Title IX office.  

Support Staff Contact Information:
Student Health and Counseling Center: 516-463-6745
(After SHACC is closed, on-call counselors can be reached by contacting Public Safety at 516-463-6789)
Branka Kristic, Director of Parent and Family Programs: 516-463-4698 or
Allison Vernance, Title IX Officer: 516-463-5841 or
Submitted by Susan Heilig, Communications Chair