Thursday, August 18, 2022

Grow As We Go

My name is Aleyana Boothe. I am entering my junior year this fall semester majoring in Urban Ecology and minoring in Sustainability Studies. As a first-year student in the fall of 2020, I was determined not to let COVID interfere with my college experience. I decided to get involved on campus by joining clubs such as UNICEF, LEAF Club (our university’s environmental club), and SGA (Student Government Association).

In the spring of 2021, I communicated my interest in working on sustainability initiatives to a few SGA cabinet members.  I was directed to reach out to Ms. Branka Kristic (Director of Parent and Family Programs) as she was working on the addition of a family garden to our campus with our university’s Parent Council. I emailed her to suggest the inclusion of pollinator plants in the  

garden, to spread awareness about protecting bees and other pollinators. This email gave me the opportunity to be invited to the Parent Council meeting where Mr. Fred Soviero (Director of Grounds and Arboretum) addressed the creation of the Hofstra Family Garden. Afterwards, I attended a meeting with Mr. Houston Dougharty (Vice President of Student Affairs), Ms. Branka Kristic, and Mr. Demetrios Mihailidis (Vice President of the Hofstra Parent Council) to discuss the plan for the Hofstra Family Garden. We brainstormed and discussed various strategies to promote the family garden and focused on how students can become more involved.

The Hofstra Family Garden Logo Competition became the first project I worked on at Hofstra. From the end of the spring into the beginning of the fall, I communicated and met with various individuals to conduct the logo competition. In mid-fall of 2021, we formed a committee to choose the logo out of twenty-eight submissions to be the official logo for the Hofstra Family Garden. At our announcement event held in the student center atrium, we gave out participation gifts, announced our runners-up, and the winner, who was Joseph Pergola, a first-year student.

Additionally, in the spring of 2022 (this past semester), I organized an activity under the SGA Programming Committee to generate an uplifting playlist that would be located in the Family Garden. The only way students could access the playlist was through the QR code located in the garden which would get more students familiar with its location. While the QR code was in the garden it was scanned over forty times by current students, prospective students, and parents/guardians. 

Furthermore, the LEAF Club alongside other sustainability-involved students joined in the 

greenhouse to start growing plants propagated by Dr. Bennington (Chair of the GES (Geology, Environment, Sustainability) Department) early in the spring semester. Mr. Fred Soviero, Mr. Michael Runkel (Assistant Director of Grounds and Arboretum), and I used some of those pollinator plants in the Family Garden.

This upcoming academic year, there are plans to expand the Hofstra Family Garden as more pollinator gardens are added to our campus. There will be two pollinator gardens added to the academic side of our campus, one being located beside our admission building and the other by Monroe Hall.

Additionally, I will continue to work on my goal of more students finding out about the garden and its value to our campus.

When I came to Hofstra, working on projects related to a university family garden was not what I 

envisioned myself doing, but I could not be more thankful for being given this opportunity. I 

have learned so much from working on these projects with such amazing members of the Hofstra community. I am excited to see what other Family Garden projects I will complete during my last two years at Hofstra and the projects that may be completed after I graduate.

Aleyana Boothe

Student Representative of the Hofstra Family Garden

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Triumph Over Failure

Stephanie Kepke

Failure is a part of life, and it often leaves one stronger and wiser. But…when it’s our students who are failing college classes, it can leave parents feeling disappointed, frustrated, confused and even angry. After all, college is not a small investment and to see both your dollars and the opportunities afforded by attending a prestigious institution, such as Hofstra, squandered is upsetting. It may seem hopeless, but I’m here to tell you that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

You see, my son, Joshua, failed three classes in the first semester of his sophomore year in fall 2020. Looking back, it was a perfect storm. Covid was raging. Some of his classes were virtual, but most were in-person. He had a severe phobia of covid tests at the time (which, thankfully, he has gotten over), so he missed his mandatory covid test, due to an anxiety attack, and was therefore not allowed to return to campus. Thanks to his attention deficit disorder, he struggled mightily with a full schedule of virtual classes. To top it all off, he was in a major that was not the right fit for him, even though he had just switched into it the semester before from another major that was not a good fit.

When I clicked on my ebill statement on the Hofstra portal in the dawning days 2021, I was hit with a bit of sticker shock. Joshua had lost his scholarship…or so we thought. Telling him he had to withdraw from school was excruciating, but without his scholarship we simply could not afford for him to return. He decided to take a gap semester before transferring to community college to at least try for an associate’s degree. He always had an interest in real estate, so we bought him a real estate course, so he could study for his license during his time off. We were all quite despondent, to be honest—this wasn’t just something that affected Joshua. As a parent, when your child’s dreams are shattered, yours are, as well.

Another disappointing aspect for me that had nothing to do with Joshua was dropping out of Parent Council. I truly enjoyed the meetings and cherished the friendships I had made. It pained me to let Branka Kristic, Director of Parent and Family Programs, know that I would not be attending any more meetings. However, that one email changed the trajectory of Joshua’s life in ways we couldn’t even imagine at the time.

Upon hearing that I would not be returning to Parent Council, since Joshua had dropped out of school, Branka sprung into action. She immediately called me to let me know that not all hope

was lost and advocated for Joshua, calling the bursar’s office to see if he had indeed lost his scholarship, since generally scholarship reviews take place at the end of each academic year, not the end of the semester. I could have sworn I saw a message that said, “Insufficient grades” and a $25,000+ price tag when I initially tried to pay the spring bill. But, Branka let me know that Joshua did still have his scholarship and he would be welcomed back to campus, should he decide to return. It was nothing short of a miracle.

While Joshua felt that it was too late for him to return for Spring Semester 2021, as it was two weeks in already and it would be difficult to make up the work he missed, he set about making plans to return for Fall Semester 2021. The first order of business was deciding what he was truly passionate about—not what he felt he should major in, but what he’d love to major in if pursuing his dreams did not crash into the reality of a post-graduation job search. He had switched majors from radio production to political science for the Spring Semester 2021 (he entered Hofstra as a psychology major), but he never actually took even a single class in political science…

After lots of discussion and soul-searching, he came to the conclusion that I had suspected would be best for him all along—music was his passion and that was what he’d truly love to study. I knew this from the time he was in high school and first applying to colleges. I encouraged him to apply to music programs, as he’s wildly talented, even being self-taught. He thought it would be impractical for the future, so he fought it and by not following his dreams, he struggled and failed multiple classes. He earned a .42 GPA for Fall Semester 2020. Discovering the BS in Music Business program, which includes music performance studies, combined with Branka’s advocacy changed Joshua’s life for the better, and here’s where the story gets really good…

Joshua went from that .42 GPA for Fall Semester 2020 to a 3.47 GPA when he returned to Hofstra in Fall Semester 2021. In fact, in his major he now has a 3.70 GPA. He loves his classes. He’s even found his “tribe” after difficulties in making new friends as a commuter. He’s in several music clubs, both performance and business-based and performs in the Percussion Ensemble and the Jazz Ensemble. Their upcoming concerts are free and open to the public, so if you are local you can catch all the talented students on both April 23rd (Jazz Ensemble) and May 9th (Percussion Ensemble). He also has performed as a musical guest on Thursday Night Live and Two Weeks notice, both shows Hofstra’s HEAT network, as part of the backing band for rapper Official X. He just recorded a song for one of his classes, on which he plays all the instruments.

His professor liked it so much, he sent it to the music supervisor of an indie movie. Joshua’s friend used it for a short movie he filmed, and even though I truly hate to brag…it really is pretty amazing.

On second thought, bragging is actually important in this situation. And you know why? I’ll tell you…the whole point of this essay is to let you know that even if your student is struggling, there is hope. You and your student just need to do a couple of things. First, reach out to Branka at the office of Student and Parent Services. She is a true gem and can help you with literally any situation that comes up. She’s a treasure and always has students’ and families’ best interests at heart. If there is a way to help your student (and there is always a way), she will find it and point you in the right direction.

Branka helped us tremendously in the process of filing an appeal to get Joshua’s scholarship reinstated, because even though he didn’t lose it for the Spring Semester 2021, he did lose it after taking an academic leave of absence. But, knowing whom to speak with and how to go about the appeal process made everything so much smoother and, as I’m sure you can figure out, Joshua’s scholarship was reinstated with no problems, thankfully. Marc Oppenheim, Dean of the Center for University Advising, was also extremely helpful. He met with me and Joshua via Zoom to really help with Joshua’s path going forward. Take advantage of all the people at Hofstra who want your student to succeed. They’re there to help.

The second thing you and your student must do is have a serious conversation about your student’s passions. The old saying, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” applies to college, as well (that quote—or some variant of it—has been attributed to everyone from Confucius to Tim Cook). If your student studies what he/she/they love, it’s not really work and success is pretty much guaranteed. And the best part about that? Studying what you love in college leads to a life of doing what you love.

It might take a bit of experimenting—Joshua first auditioned for the Music Business BS (with music performance) as a bass major. That’s not really his first instrument, and he did not get into the program and was placed in the Music Business BA program (purely a business program for non-musician students). However, he did get accepted as a percussionist into the BS performance program right after he returned to Hofstra, and he absolutely LOVES it. The drums are his first

love, and he’s been soaring to new heights in his private studies with world-renowned percussionist, Sean Ritenauer. Professor Ritenauer is also the director of the Percussion Ensemble and the opportunity to study with him one-on-one and in a group setting is something Joshua would never have experienced if Branka didn’t pick up the phone and call me after I emailed her that I wouldn’t be returning to Parent Council. And for that we are forever grateful. So, do not give up hope if your student is struggling. Reach out to Branka, talk to your student, brainstorm what gives your student joy, and before you know it, you’ll be celebrating your student’s success.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Public Safety Launches New Program

 Rida Shah

The Public Safety department is holding ‘Dishin’ with the Director’ in room 111 in the Mack Center every Wednesday at 1-2 pm. This is a fun and interactive way the Hofstra community can reach out and meet with the director of Public Safety, Gerri Hart, without an appointment necessary. This is a great opportunity for students to drop-in and leave suggestions for improvements because of its timing during common hours.  As a Hofstra student myself, I know the importance of having an opportunity to reach out to those that care about the community deeply, such as the Public Safety department. This event gives a wonderful chance to meet the director and see the people behind the scenes that help keep the community safe. Other services provided by the University are the Hofstra Shuttle and ‘Safe Walk’. When I was a freshman, I was very new to the area- even though I was from Long Island myself. Through some other students and professors, I found out about the Hofstra Shuttle. The Hofstra Shuttle provides safe and quick transportation to and from certain locations such as the nearby grocery store or the shopping center. Another benefit of the shuttle is that it has a route to the nearby train station. Since we’re so close to New York City many professors plan trips to the city and the shuttle helps us greatly- especially with such large groups of students. Another plus is, during the holiday season and breaks there are extra hours in which the shuttle will operate- including routes to the nearby airport. Another great service provided by the University is the ‘Safe Walk’ program. As a freshman I used to feel a bit uncomfortable walking to my car at night but Public Safety offers this wonderful program in which not only do officers accompany students to and from their cars during very early and very late hours, but student patrol officers as well! Having students help in patrolling not only takes off the workload from the already hardworking officers but also the embarrassment that may be felt from students who call for this. It helps students reach out to others and be able to help, creating a wonderful community that interchanges and interacts.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

How We Decided to Send Our Only Son Off to College Far Away from Home during the Pandemic: Part 1

 Biljana D. Obradović

We began preparing for my only son’s college in his eleventh grade. His high school, Benjamin Franklin, the best public high school in the state of Louisiana, was great in letting us know how to do it. There were all kinds of sessions for parents and visits by different colleges from all around the country and the world. Since I am an immigrant, originally from Europe, we thought about his going abroad, maybe to Trinity College, or to American colleges in Paris or Rome. Some of my son’s friends were thinking of going to Canada. As we travel overseas each year and spend a substantial time during our summer breaks in “the old country,” I knew right away that I would not be OK with our son living overseas on his own for college. There would be too many unknowns.  If I needed to get to him, I could not, and what if he got sick? I just was not prepared for that. He could go for a semester abroad during his undergraduate years, but even though he had never been away from us for more than a few days, I knew that he should go anywhere he wanted to in the US. We are not from New Orleans originally, not even from the South (my husband is from Pennsylvania), so we’d let him go anywhere he wanted to…well, sort of. He, on his own, opted not to even look at schools in California and the West for his undergraduate studies, but would keep that area in mind possibly for his graduate study.

But, to get back to how our son made his college choices….Either our son, my husband or I went to these school college events. We took detailed notes that we shared with each other and our son when we could, when we were not busy teaching Creative Writing and English classes at two different universities in New Orleans. We’re both poets. So it was rather a surprise that, out of the blue, our son got interested in filmmaking, on his own, in eighth grade at the private school we sent him to from K-8th grade. He began to make short stop motion movies with his Legos. He was always creative—not much of a surprise. But making movies?

Why not? We suggested that he could try to get into the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts. He prepared a film for the audition on his own and got in, but was on the waiting list, so he had to wait a year. He made another and got in his sophomore year, then spent three years going to both high schools. He knew what he wanted to study in college his junior year. He was always interested in History and Geography, and loved flags…Also both of his grandfathers were diplomats, and his paternal grandmother is an immigrant like me. So, he decided that he would double major in Filmmaking and International/Global Affairs. So now that that was settled, we needed to find colleges that had both of those as majors and/or minors.

The World Wide Web is too wide. We weren’t sure where to look. So, in October 2019, of my son’s junior year I bought a great book on colleges in the US: The Complete Book of Colleges, 2020 Edition: The Mega-Guide to 1,359 Colleges and Universities (College Admissions Guides) published by the Princeton Review. It was very useful, but didn’t have the majors separated….So, I also borrowed a book from the local library which showed universities by the majors. So you could look at Filmmaking and it showed all the colleges in the US (and some overseas) that had the major. Not every university called each major the same thing, so sometimes it was Global Studies, sometimes something else, like International Affairs, but often it was the same thing or similar…We picked a bunch of colleges that had both majors, and that we knew by reputation; after all both my husband and I are college professors. Then we looked at each one in the other book, the one I had bought, and we began comparing, and then on their websites. Some of the universities had come to my son’s school campuses—both of his schools had college visiting them, so he had talked to people from some of the schools we were looking at already. The city also had a big college fair and I went to check it out, got a lot of handouts, lots of information.

Things were progressing smoothly… When my son and I visited my mother-in-law for Easter that year in Philadelphia, my son’s first cousin showed him around the campus of the University of Pennsylvania where she and her two siblings were at college. We had visited some other schools in the past on our own. So we decided to visit the colleges in Louisiana first, right at the start of the school year. There was only one possible school our son would be interested just two hours away by car from us (he could come home on weekends!), and it would practically be free tuition as our son would qualify for the in-state funding for colleges—

Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS). But, it was in a smaller city, and the opportunities for filmmaking and for being exposed to world views at the school just didn’t seem to be there…So that was another reason for our son to go elsewhere. Most of his classmates from the private school days were going to LSU. He had wanted to go there when he was four, but definitely not anymore. He was never interested in sports…  

We decided during the winter break that our son and I would go to visit my friends in Indiana at the end of February 2020, so we could look at some colleges in the Midwest. We booked our flights. But in January, something unexpected happened. There was a virus called Corona Virus spreading like wild fire all around the world. A few cases had already been detected in the US. I looked for facial cloth masks on the internet and found a package of three black ones that arrived just in time for us to get on the plane for Chicago. Nowhere else could you find masks for sale. No one except for the two of us had masks on the plane or at the airport. Everyone looked at us like we were total weirdos.

We had been to Europe in summer of 2019, first to the “home country” and then to the South of France and then to Paris following the steps of the Impressionist painters.  After we returned, our son got very sick. He had a very high fever for nine days that would not go away and he also a rash on his body. The epidemiologist at the Children’s Hospital looking at his lung X-ray told us he had dots on his lungs. Our son was being attacked by some unidentifiable bacteria. It was a scary time. Everywhere we had gone to in France, there were mostly Asians wearing masks over their faces and gloves on their hands. Did they know something we did not? Once our son recovered and the dots disappeared from his lungs, I wasn’t going to chance anything, so we put on those new, black masks, just in case. When our friends picked us up from the airport, they were shocked to see us wearing the masks, not realizing that mask-wearing would soon become part of our everyday lives. We toured the universities and were the only ones wearing masks at each school. We visited ten universities there.

Those were the last ones we would visit due to COVID restrictions, but we did not know that at the time. We had to do virtual tours from then on as COVID spread drastically. One could not travel anywhere…But we managed and made up our minds eventually. We never visited the school our son would eventually attend before he made up his mind to go there. In fact, we had not flown anywhere (not to Europe, that’s for sure), until he and I got a plane to New York City in August 2021 for him to begin his college on Long Island in person, now vaccinated, but still wearing a mask. We took AMTRAC in June to NYC for his orientation, and to leave seven bags with an old friend from the American school I went to in Greece who lived close by. What are friends for during difficult times then to help each other…Even though I had not seen him in twenty years, he picked us up with his truck, loaded the bags, kept them for two months, and when we came in August helped us move my son into his dorm. Amazing!

All was well…except that Hurricane Ida had other ideas. She appearing suddenly while my son and I were busy moving him in. My husband stayed home.  Ida hit New Orleans on August 29th, 2021, sixteen years to the day of Katrina which had destroyed the first floor of our house and everything in it (including all of our two-year old son’s baby toys), so that we could not live there for a year. I didn’t know what to do. I was in a hotel room by myself when PTSD hit me. Would we lose our house again? Would we lose our jobs? How will we pay for our son’s college then? I was stranded. I could not go back to New Orleans. The airport was closed The power was out.…Who knows how long it would take before I could go back. I immediately called my Indiana friends, and they said to come stay with them. I rebooked my flight and flew to Chicago. I found out from my husband that our house was OK, except for a few living-room leaks, and shingles off the roof, the bent fence. He saved our furniture, rugs, floors, by being there…But the city was not OK and would take a while for things to be OK again. But the levees held this time. We did not get flooded this time.

I suddenly realized we had made the right decision for our son. He was safe (even though two days later Ida flooded basements of three friends in New York and New Jersey, who had kindly offered for me to stay with them, including the friend who had kept my son’s bags). My husband endured 90 degrees heat for a week. I was in Indiana for eight days before I could fly home to the piles of debris in front of our house...

In the meantime, at Midway airport, my friends greeted me wearing masks. Ah, what irony! 

On a train in Chicago on the way to visit Northwestern, February 2020, wearing ,masks

My son’s suitcases for college piled up on the sidewalk in front of the main entrance to his dorm.

Safe with my friends in Indiana walking by Lake Michigan.

Dr. Biljana D. Obradović, a Serbian-American poet, translator, critic, Professor of English, who was recently Head of the English Department at Xavier University of Louisiana, who has a Ph.D. In English from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from VCU in Richmond, VA, has published four collections of poems, most recently Incognito (Cincinnati: WordTech Press, January 2017), two translations of collections of poems—into English from Serbian (Bratislav Milanović; Zvonko Karanović, Sleepwalkers on a Picnic, Dialogos Press, 2020), five into Serbian from English (John Gery, Stanley Kunitz, Patrizia de Rachewiltz, Bruce Weigl, and Niyi Osundare), and two anthologies of poems, the most recent co-edited with Dubravka Djurić, Cat Painter: An Anthology of Contemporary Serbian Poetry (New Orleans: Dialogos Press, Oct. 2016). She has also edited a collection of essays by Philip Dacey, Heavenly Muse: Essays on Poetry (Lavender Ink, 2020). An issue of Atlanta Review, Summer 2021 was devoted to Serbian poetry that she co-edited with Dubravka Djurić and mostly translated herself. She is currently working on a new collection of her own poems and a new translation of selected poems by Dubravka Djurić.

Monday, October 18, 2021

HOFSTRA Strong - With "Pride & Purpose!"

February 2020, After accepting a Departmental Scholarship, I started as a Graduate student bright-eyed & bushy-tailed eager to take on the world! I had enrolled as a Graduate student in hopes of fulfilling a lifelong aspiration to complete my master's degree in Education with a focus on College Student Development! Finding myself in NYC weekly attending classes touring various museums with my class after years at home dedicated to my 3 under 3 who now suddenly were teens and my aging mother well it was like being born again! I found myself saying to myself, "Hey, I remember you!" I had not been out & about and in and out of NYC as much since my days attending The Fashion Institute of Technology! So, when the Pandemic hit home and all were under a Shut-in and classes moved online I, like the rest of the world was met with an overwhelming sensation of anxiety. All of the self-doubt and concern about funding my return to school and performing technologically on the road ahead suddenly came flooding back. Now, I was met with a choice...I could opt to play it safe and put my dreams aside and give in to the anxiety crippling our Nation and the World or I could stand up and choose to come out of this stronger! The words of my mother rang through my ears: "Where there is Will, there is a way!" And so with zero to little Zoom experience, I forged ahead to continue my studies and remotely participate in Hofstra's "Museum as Educator'' class. Today, almost one year later I have continued to choose to take on various challenges big and small where needed to support this mindset and the Hofstra community at large. One such way I contributed was as that of, "Hofstra Health Ambassador'' - "a group of peer educators deployed across Hofstra to help inform the campus community about the new protocols and to encourage compliance." To Continue the spirit and momentum of this path to which I felt perhaps I was being divinely led I took one class per semester to find myself next seeking opportunities to observe in Student Affairs. It was the very Brave & Welcoming of none other than our very own Branka :)  Director of the Parent & Family programs that chose to safely and within protocol virtually take on a student observation during a Pandemic!! Well, they say that "everything happens for a reason," and I am not so sure about that but I am sure that if one remains open to the path presenting itself and if kindness is shared all things are possible. Today, I am writing to you as a Graduate Assistant in the Parent & Family program!! I am realizing my dreams and offering my servitude to the greater good. Challenging & Supporting Students and their families at this time of sensitive transition. Most of all, as a mother, and like my Grandmother, and mother before me, I am walking through this most challenging of times determined to come out of this stronger. As Life continues to shift I pray that I may remain open to the possibilities, And as Grandma Mountain once said, may I continue to choose to walk through the challenges, not around them. And I might add...And with "Pride & Purpose" and always Hofstra strong! Go Pride!


 A HUGE shout out to Vice President Houston Dougharty & Parent & Family Program Director Branka Kristic as well as Dr. Genevieve Weber and Dr. Seirup &  Dr.O'malley for investing in & supporting my endeavors & dreams!

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Dear Young Mom

Dear Young Mom,

Right now it probably seems like not a moment goes by without a tug on your sleeve; a nose that needs to be wiped; a fight that needs to be broken up; or a constant chorus of “Look, Mom.” There are also probably those moments when you want to lock yourself in the bathroom, turn on the faucet and the fan (to add a cushion of noise) and just scream at the top of your lungs. Or maybe you want to let loose a tirade of expletives. You just want to release the frustration and exhaustion that can overwhelm you. I know. I’ve been there too…

One of the sagest observations I ever heard about parenting is that the “days are long, but the years are short.”* It’s so true—but I don’t know if I ever fully appreciated that fact when my kids were young, when I was in the trenches, in the middle of it all and so worn down that a quiet house seemed like a miracle, rather than a depressing reality…

Motherhood is a job no one in her right mind would ever apply for, if it was a classified ad (or a LinkedIn post—I’m showing my age)… Long hours (sometimes all night, if there’s a case of croup or an ear infection). No vacation. No training before you’re thrown right into the job. You’ll be expected to fulfill such disparate duties as chef; chauffeur; laundress; therapist; nurse; referee; baker; cleaning lady; the list goes on and on… Your heart will break a million times over big and small things. In fact, if you do your job well, heartbreak is guaranteed—when you say goodbye to your child and send him or her off into the world. Imagine a job where your most important task is to train your best employees to leave and be successful elsewhere. That’s parenting. Those little babies who tugged on your sleeve and wiped their drippy noses on your shirt; jumped on the furniture after being told a gazillion times not to do it; colored on the walls (in non-washable crayons); left sticky fingerprints everywhere will leave the nest in the blink of an eye to meet the future that stretches out before them. And it should be that way, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

When they do go out into that big, brave world, they might seem very far away. They might not need you anymore and then…well then you’ll be left wishing—just wishing—that you could have that commotion back for one more day.  You’ll miss that whirl of small children playing way too rough, messing up the couch cushions, tugging on your sleeve… You’ll wish that you could hear that chorus of, “Look, Mom!” just a few more times. You’ll swear that instead of getting frustrated because you have work or laundry or dinner to prepare—if you could have that moment back again,  you’d kneel down and look, really look, at that scribbled masterpiece; the tower of blocks; the cool looking rock that must be a piece of the moon that somehow found its way to your backyard. But, as a young mom you don’t have to wish for that—it’s right there. You’re still feeling the tug on your sleeve, the endless loop of, “Look, Mom!” You still have the chance to kneel down and give your full attention to your small child. Do it.

All too soon, that little child will grow up and stop asking you to look. In fact, if your teen catches you glancing over a shoulder, he or she will immediately snatch her phone out of view or snap his laptop closed. Instead of details about school and friends, you’ll hear, “Can I take the car?” You won’t be the center of his or her world anymore and you’ll be relegated to further and further outside orbits, until he or she goes away to college and your house is quiet. (Even if you have younger kids, one leaving changes the dynamics—and believe me, it’s quieter.) And one day, you may send a text asking when you can call to catch up for a few minutes and get back, “I’m busy. I’ll call you when I can.” And then…your phone will stay silent.

So, mothers of young children—especially loud, rambunctious boys who leave your living room looking like a tornado hit it or a Toys ‘R’ Us exploded; who play ball in the house and jump on the sofa; who tug on your sleeve and say, “Look, Mom!” more times than you thought possible—relish it. Revel in the noise, the chaos—the fullness of it—because it is ephemeral. Blink, and it’s oh so quiet…

Much Love,


Monday, March 15, 2021

Staying Together


Staying Together

              My freshman year of college ended a lot differently than I had expected. On March 8, 2020, I got an email around 10pm saying that I wouldn’t have classes leading up to Spring break. I think myself and a lot of my peers saw this coming. The Coronavirus had just been detected in Washington state. 

              The coronavirus had been sitting in the back of my head for quite some time at this point. The office I worked at on campus had been the main hub for all talk Covid-19. Everyday I worked I heard all about Covid, the new updates, and what Hofstra was planning to do. I couldn’t escape the topic even if I tried.

              Once home, my family and I realized how boring it is to be stuck in the house all day everyday. Not only that, but my step family (who we didn’t live with at the time) was an hour away so we didn’t see them much. Masks were just becoming a thing and social distancing was starting to arise. There were a lot of unknowns and we didn’t want to risk anything. 

              Soon after we decided to hunker down, I began planning fun events for my whole family to partake in. These events happened once a week, where we all got together for dinner and whatever I had planned. Our first dinner was called “Family Costume Party.” I used the website Evite to create a fun invitation and then sent it out to everyone in the family. 

              There was only one rule. You couldn’t buy anything for a costume. Whatever you wanted to dress up as, you had to do it yourself. And let me tell ya, I was not disappointed with the outcome. My parents dressed up as Forrest Gump and Jenny, my sister as Squidward, my other sister as Elder Price from the musical The Book of Mormon, and myself as that crazy girl from the movie Finding Nemo. It was awesome.

              Some other events we had were “Family Quiz Night”, “Lord of the Rings”, “Tiger King Dinner”, and a “Tour of Italy.” For my sister’s birthday, we had a The Office themed birthday party. Everyone dressed up as their favorite character from The Office and added their own special touches. 

 I captured pictures from all of them to create a photo album at the end of the year. Looking back on them now, I don’t see a family in the middle of a pandemic, I see my family, all together, having fun.

Hannah Rowe '23
Undergraduate Assistant