Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Farewell Hofstra & Dear Freshman Me

Farewell Hofstra by Logan Grasso (Right)

It's been four years apart from myself now, and so it's become hard to recognize that person anymore. I was asked what I would tell the Freshman version of me now that I'm graduating. I'm sure there are plenty of ways I could prepare that kid. There's advice I could give like I gave so many others that weren't myself. And yet, if I had the opportunity to tell him something, I don't think that I would say a single word. 

There's a difference between foresight and hindsight. It's easy to look back at something after the fact, regardless of the experience being a difficult one even, and appreciate that for helping you to grow as a person. It's not so easy looking at hardship ahead of yourself and thinking it'll be all worth that trouble when you finish enduring it. 

I wouldn't be able to tell myself it'd be okay in the end, not for the sake of lying or giving a shred of hope, but because that isn't my decision to make. Who I was then and who I am now are different and it would be a crazy thing to ask that kid to go through what I did for my sake. 

But I'm here at the end waiting should my past self decide to go through it all. I'm here waiting to not say congratulations or to express how proud I am. Rather, I'm here to say "thank you" for making that tough call and never giving up. Because I never did it for myself and I know neither did he. 

Dear Freshman Me by Rida Shah (Middle)

Dear Freshman Rida, I would like to start and congratulate you on accomplishing a great feat that many do not have the privilege to do. It will be a bittersweet journey in which you will face many challenges and question yourself but don’t worry, those you meet along the way will help you more than you can ever imagine. These friends, peers, and mentors will push you to explore your interests and achieve many accomplishments that will help you down the line in real-world experiences. You will have to wake up early in the morning and stay awake until late into the night, pushing yourself to your own limits and passing them- creating new ones, to achieve your dreams. Do not worry if you feel lonely because the next moment you will have an abundance of people who care, surrounding you with that warm fuzzy feeling that made the Grinch’s heart grow. It has been a long journey with many ups and downs but all your hard work has paid off and you have acquired a degree from a prestigious university, one that you may share with pride. I wish you all the best and hope you will always believe in yourself- as I believe in you. Best, Graduating Senior Rida <3

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Parents Need Friends, Too


Parents Need Friends, Too

By Stephanie Kepke

Close your eyes and let the years spin back to your student’s early childhood. What do you remember? Maybe the beautiful chaos of small children is the first thing that pops into your mind. Or perhaps, you recall how easy it was to make friends. Pre-school pickup, play dates at the park, endless birthday parties. There was always an opportunity to chat with other parents and an opportunity to forge relationships based on your kids being in the same stage at the same time.

Those memories are so sweet. I still keep in touch with my first mommy friend almost a quarter century after we pushed our kids on the swings at our favorite park, pushed strollers around the mall on rainy days, and lifted the brightly colored parachutes at Gymboree. We’re literally half a world away from each other—she’s lived in Australia for two decades now—but that bond is unbreakable. Same goes for the other Gymboree moms with whom we became friends. We’re all still connected.

When we moved from Boston to Long Island (to my hometown) I easily made even more friends—with each kid, I met moms with whom to bond. But…as my kids grew, my ability to make new friends shrunk. It got harder and harder to meet new people. Without the communal experience of chatting while picking up our kids or sitting on the bleachers watching Little League, life felt more isolated, although I still adore all my mom friends from every era, of course. Covid was a nail in the coffin, moving PTA meetings, the one place I still socialized with a group of moms, to the virtual realm.

But then…something happened at around the same time covid hampered my in-person relationships—I met new friends. Yes, it started as in-person friends just before covid in the fall of 2019 (when my middle son started Hofstra), but grew into vibrant virtual connections that eventually transitioned back into the real world. You may wonder what I did as a fifty-something to finally make new friends. The answer…I joined Hofstra Parent and Family Council! We are a group of parents, guardians and family members dedicated to bridging the gap between home and Hofstra. Fostering a connection that is often overlooked when students leave for college is rewarding for parents, the university and the student body—everyone wins.

We gather for dinners; have our own cheering section at home basketball games; attend monthly meetings, which are on Zoom and always chock full of information (the last meeting of

the spring is in-person, as well as on Zoom); we support each other; and we care about all students, not just our own, raising funds for the Student Emergency Fund. (Parent and Family Council also presents monthly “Timely Topics” Zoom sessions, which are “must-see.”) Perhaps best of all, we have the amazing Branka Kristic, Director of Parent and Family Programs and Assistant Dean of Students, leading us. She is a gem who will guide you through any crisis that may arise with compassion and knowledge. And she facilitates that feeling that we are all there for one another.

And to be sure, members are so supportive of each other. I feel very fortunate that my fellow PFC members crowded a book store on an icy night last February for my book signing. It meant so much to me to look out at the audience and see my PFC friends. It really sent home the message that we are there for each other, beyond supporting our students and Hofstra.

The bond you form with parents of children in the same stage as yours is undeniably strong, even when those children are young adults. I have commiserated with other PFC parents of students struggling with the same issues mine have struggled with (I currently have a senior and a sophomore at Hofstra), and it helps to not feel alone. I would argue that with the stakes being so much higher in college than they were when we were young parents chatting at school pick-up, it’s even more important to have friends with kids in the same stage. Having others who understand the parenting struggles and challenges of raising children who are on the cusp of full-fledged adulthood is priceless. (And yes, I know they’re adults at eighteen, but having raised three humans, one of whom is twenty-five and “fully adult,” living on his own, I still think of college age as “almost adult.”)

So, join us…whether it’s for a fun Zoom event or to cheer on Hofstra’s basketball team or to sit around a table enjoying delicious dishes and sparkling conversation (if you’re local or visiting), you will be glad you did—and you may even make one or two (or several!) new friends.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Dear Mom, Thank You


Christine Rice MBA '23 and her mother, Josie Rice

Dear Mom,

January 2017

After a long day of classes on a brisk and chilly afternoon, I got home from school and scoured our home mailbox, spotting the letter that would completely change my life. Arriving in a white pack with the school logo on the upper left-hand side, the material was dense, as if it had multiple pieces of paper inside. My heart began to race as I ran inside to find you, the moment had arrived. So many questions and thoughts ran through my head- there was only one way to find out. I stood at the kitchen table alongside you as I opened the acceptance letter.

As soon as I saw the Congratulations in a bolded font on the first line, we both began to cry- this is what my grandmother, my mother, and ultimately I always worked for. From humble beginnings coming to the United States and working our way up into homeownership and entrepreneurial endeavors, I always knew that I would be the first person in my family to go to college and earn a Bachelor’s degree. Without you, this wouldn’t have been possible. I was incredibly excited for the next 4 years.

August 2017

Moving to a new city that was 3 hours away from home, I transitioned into university life. From freshman move-in to Homecoming Weekend, despite the distance, you were always there for me in ways that I couldn’t even comprehend.

Many difficulties arose as I began my battle with an autoimmune disorder that affects the very way that I lived my life. Throughout it all, you would advocate for me, call me every day to check on how I am doing, often drive up every weekend to see me and take me out to eat at my favorite place. In the moments when I didn’t have the strength to continue on my path, you encouraged and supported me to get through some of the toughest moments of my life.

May 2021

I finally made it to the finish line to earning my Bachelor’s Degree with Summa Cum Laude honors amidst a global pandemic. I did it! I became a first-generation college graduate.

As I walked across the stage and shook the hand of the Dean and University President, I turned to my left to see my Mom in the audience. Through it all, my Mom was there, once again, cheering me on for this momentous achievement. I felt so grateful. From all the things that I went through in order to get to this moment, I wouldn’t have been able to do so without my amazing Mom.

Looking back at my 17-year-old self, I would tell myself that my life journey hasn’t always been easy and that I can lean on my family and university for support. There are so many people who want to see you succeed, especially, in my case, my Mom.

The simplest way to summarize it is: Thank you Mom for everything.


Your Daughter

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Connection on Campus

By Logan Grasso

Is the sharp thrumming of your heartbeat due to a lack of oxygen flow as you hold your breath, or are you terrified that you’ll meet the gaze of who’s occupying the same space you’re in? Whether you’re hiding from a familiar face in the frozen foods aisle of a grocery store, a chill prickling the hairs on the nape of your neck. Or you feel the tension in your legs as you crouch to duck down behind your office desk, wishing to flee the scene. We’ve all been there before. You spot someone you know in public before they’ve noticed you, and now you have to hope that they don’t make that same connection. 

Oddly enough, I’ve never felt that disconsolate dread during my time at Hofstra. Any time I cross paths with one of my former classmates, there’s a mutual excitement that comes with that recognition. Even when I happen to see a professor! Instead of rolling my eyes, they light up a bit. I occasionally find myself wishing to happen upon them some days, when the sun needs just a little more brightening. It’s amusing when put this way, but I feel like I’m searching sometimes, my eyes scanning the crowds like I’m going to finally find Waldo. 

It may be a bit of an exaggeration to call this change in attitude a phenomenon, but one can’t help but wonder why there’s such a dramatic shift simply by circumstance. It’s kinda obvious. I didn’t have to ponder in rumination for too long. Though it still surprised me. Even for an introvert such as myself, I don’t mind the company of the people on campus. Because they enjoy my company as well. There’s a sincerity that isn’t just surface level.

Speaking with someone is overcomplicated. Even arranging the conversation is difficult. Sometimes, it doesn't seem worth the trouble. That is, until we actually do it. When you think about going to an amusement park, you think about the rides and how fun it'll be. Not the crowded competition of finding a parking spot so you can get your turn on the rides. Not the online ordering process worse than having to create a new password just to get some tickets. Not even the lines you'll have to wait on. Maybe, the pricing, I'll let that one slide. But you get the idea. We tend to concern ourselves with the level of difficulty when it's not tough to do at all. As a matter of fact, like all those issues with arranging a park vacation, you can just call them up to walk you through the process. That's what my advisor did for me. I hadn't thought to set up a meeting to figure out my class schedule. Figuring out a website to create an appointment seemed too complicated. But if you can find your advisor's office, or get as lucky as I did to have them as your professor, you can essentially do a walk-in. Anyone and everyone on campus is willing to help, all you have to do is find them. They may not be able to come to you but it's worth the trouble to go to them. 

Our professors don’t just ask us how we’re doing to be polite. They genuinely care to know. Our peers aren’t just waving as we pass by; fellow students actually stop to talk. It’s a distinct contrast from what most of us are familiar with. Making time for others even when we’re in a rush doesn’t cross our minds during the New York hustle, but time stops for everyone here because right now is OUR time. 

It’s our optimal time to grow. To connect. To become who we’re going to be for the rest of our lives. It’s time for class. It’s time for Common Hour. It’s OUR time.