Career Fair 2014: A Job Well Done

Kenneth R. Bardelli Jr.  Contributing Writer The Feldman Arena of the O’neil Center played host to nearly 60 employers on April 9th, as the 2014 Western Connecticut State University Career Fair took More »

Fighting for a Cure: Relay for Life 2014

Kenneth R. Bardelli Jr.  Contributing Writer  It was a heartwarming sight at the Feldman Arena, Friday, April 11th, as the Western Connecticut State University Relay for Life took the floor to raise More »

New Visual and Performing Arts Building on Westside

By Keith Goldstein DANBURY, Conn – The new Visual and Performing Arts building on Westside is all the hype at WestConn. The project budget to build the new arts center is over More »

History Professors Inspire Students With Their Books

Alexis Koukos Staff Writer On March 13, history professors Dr. Jennifer Duffy and Dr. Leslie Lindenauer took students and faculty on a journey through the process of writing a scholarly piece of work, and explained the More »

Senator Richard Blumenthal Visits Western

Steph Myers Managing Editor   On Monday March 25th, Senator Richard Blumenthal came to Western to discuss sexual assault on college campuses. Also present at the talk were President Schmotter, Laura Cordes, More »

I went to New York City by myself. Part 2.

by Shiny S. Patel

Opinion and Editorial Editor

$12.

There are two types of personalities within me. There is people person Shiny who is gifted in the art of small talk and exaggerated enthusiasm even if I truly could not care less about the conversation. Then, there’s dumb Shiny, dumb as in dumbfounded and incapable of speech Shiny. The second personality is released when I am in the presence of someone who deeply intrigues me, someone who I would love to have in my life. Fortunately, this handsome young man didn’t just bring out dumbfounded Shiny, he brought out a combination of both. He took a seat next to me after asking my permission, gave me another smile, and then he received a phone call.

“I understand, good luck with that. Let’s reschedule for another day. Bye!” My heart leaped at this opportunity to talk to him because he was clearly not busy at that moment. Cue my intervention in his life in 5, 4, 3, 2.

“Hi, sorry to bother you but I’m not from around here and I’ve been looking for a nearby coffeehouse. Do you possibly know any off the top of your head?”

And that was all it took. Handsome Young Man was so kind to me and gave me the name of one. He told me where it was and every landmark on the way in detail. I thanked him sincerely and gathered my things in preparation to head over. He offered to walk me there, saying it was relatively close to his apartment. Obviously, I could not refuse. He inquired as to how I had ended up in the city by myself and asked about my day, seeming to think it was significantly more humorous than I had. In the middle of a laugh, a reaction to my stealthy integration into a paid tour, Handsome Young Man introduced himself as Matt. It was simple and easy to remember. Matt.

$9

We arrived at the coffeehouse, at which point we could have gone our separate ways but I had invested so much of my thoughts and hope in making friends with Matt that I invited him to join me. Over coffee, we exchanged details of our lives to each other in fragments separated by the awe of how talented the live jazz group performing was. He told me how he came to the coffeehouse every Thursday night. I also go to a coffeehouse every Thursday night; therefore, it was only natural for me to make a scene in the center of the venue. Matt was understanding and joined me in my overbearing rampage of screaming “WHOA WE HAVE SO MUCH IN COMMON, THIS IS SO COOL.”

At this point it was almost 7 in the evening and we had spent about three hours discussing topics ranging from the Ukrainian conflicts to why rugby was THE best sport in the world (a discussion piloted mainly by yours truly) to the most obscure would-you-rather questions. We shared several views on political issues and controversial topics, but for mutually exclusive reasons. We talked about sports and had both ran varsity cross country/ track all throughout high school. Naturally, this was cause for another “so much in common” outburst. He didn’t run for his college, NYU, but he said he still ran for pleasure all the time. I felt like I was talking to a male version of myself who was not only more worldly than me but made me question things from a different perspective. I couldn’t get enough of this kid.

I brought up how much I loved abstract art in regard to a Picasso piece hung on the wall and Matt immediately got up from his chair and said, “c’mon, let me show you something.” It was more than evident that I had nothing planned for the day so I couldn’t refuse, not that I had even the slightest intention on doing so. We walked down the street for several minutes and took a turn into what seemed, at first glance, to be an incredibly sketchy alley. Upon more careful examination, it turned out to be a narrow passage way between two buildings whose walls were coated in decomposable graffiti. I felt as though each graffiti piece told its own story. I finally understood the Red Hot Chili Peppers and their talk of “street communication.” The sun was just barely making its way down but its beams shone into the alley, striking the caricatures and writing in a way that made them come alive. The rays happened to strike Matt as well, in a manner that was far more stunning.

He had short brown hair and sideburns that reminded me of Ringo Starr, but in his good years. The more I stared, the more his green eyes transformed into effervescent emeralds right before me. He had lips so pink that looked better than any lipstick shade and these perfectly lined, snow white teeth with the exception of one crooked tooth on the top row. He was well dressed, like he was a walking model for J-Crew or some other high end clothing company. Have you ever seen that picture of Zac Efron and Dave Franco crossing the street in suede loafers, khaki pants, and blue collared shirts with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows? Well, Matt dressed as though he belonged right next to them.

$7

Right across the street from the alley, there was an interesting sculpture accompanied by a water fountain, next to which we sat down after buying hot dogs from a street stand. It was 9 at night and I was getting anxious because I knew I should be going soon. I wasn’t planning on staying until the last train but I hardly wanted to go back home either.

Matt yawned and I knew it was time for us to say our goodbyes. It was too late and we both had our own realities to get back to. I said to Matt, “well, Matt, this was such a great day but I really should get going. Thank you for everything, I’ll write about it.”

“Yeah, it is getting late. This was such a spontaneous day, I’m glad you had fun; I did too! Stay safe and take care. Hope to run into you some day, pun intended.” I laughed and we gave each other an awkwardly long hug, considering that we were kind of strangers, and stood there for a moment before continuing in opposite directions.

$0

I took the subway to Times Square and sat there people watching for 45 minutes as I reflected on how wonderfully my day had gone. I looked at the bright lights, the pools of happy faces, and the buildings that towered over me and realized that the Concrete Jungle really was what dreams were made of. With that thought, I went back to Grand Central. Outside of the station, there was a young man performing a cover of “Float On” on his guitar proudly to the public that hurried past him. I gave him the last of my $7 and caught the next train back home. Sometimes, I can still hear his voice singing that sweet song of serendipity.

We had never exchanged phone numbers, I don’t know his last name, and the one good friend I have at NYU has never heard of him. I doubt I’ll ever see Matt again, but I take comfort in knowing that I am in fact a better person after the mere couple of hours I spent with him. Matt lived a life of perseverance and positivity that made him the confident young man he was. He was fascinating and it opened my eyes into seeing that every stranger has a story to tell and a personality that could possibly enhance your own. Matt has given me the courage and reason to be friendly to all those I encounter, in hopes that one of them could turn out to be what he was. Wherever you are, Matt, know that I am still terrified of birds, I haven’t stopped thrift shopping, and I have been to New York City alone four more times since the day we met. Thank you for being the companion I was looking for.

Stargazing

by Shiny S. Patel

Opinion and Editorial Editor

I like to star gaze at the golf course right next to my parents’ house on any warm summer night. I try to convince myself that I’ll only spend a maximum of two hours stargazing but I know that’s a lie. That’s because I spend all night connecting the stars in the sky to spell out our future together. And as the hours go on, the stars shift and tell a new chapter in the story that is our life. I am an avid stargazer but it is so hard for me to point out all the constellations in the sky because I only see us. Orion the Hunter could never kill our love. If it wasn’t for the sunrise erasing the elaborate book I began to write in that moonlit night, I think I would lay out on that golf course forever.

 

I went to New York City by myself. Part 1.

by Shiny S. Patel

Opinion and Editorial Editor

$44.

I woke up at 7:00 AM due to the sun rays that tickled my eyelids and demanded I wake up. The excuse of “much-needed recuperation” from the so-called stressful school and work week was not reason enough to spend the entirety of yet another Saturday in bed simply to avoid interaction with the world. Reluctantly, I crawled out of my bed and pulled on my black leggings with a plain-white tee and a denim oversized shirt with beaded fringe on the pockets and lining of the collar. With that, I undid my braid from the night before and put on my signature golden headband to settle my waves down. I was going for a “didn’t-even-try-and-look-presentable-when-I-woke-up-this-morning-but-I-still-look-cooler-than-you-but-I-actually-took-90-minutes-to-get-ready” look. Always gotta dress to impress.  After perfectly applying my makeup, I put on my tan boots, grabbed my satchel with a solid $44 inside and ended up at the train station.

$17

I bought a round trip ticket and found myself sitting on the train en route to Grand Central station. I sat watching crowds of people from every part of the personality spectrum flood in with every stop of the train. Those people were rich businessmen on their way to work, couples looking forward to a cute city-date, and friends who clearly planned this trip for some time in advance. Meanwhile, I sat on the train alone, taking up enough room to show my disinterest in the company of others. I’m not too sure why I did that, though, because secretly, I was hoping to make a new friend by the end of my day.

I was going to the city to aimlessly wander in hopes of convincing myself that I am a spontaneous human being who does not need an itinerary in order to have a fulfilling time. As I told that to myself, I couldn’t help but remember my to-do lists, or should I say, my daily itineraries, on my table that I forgot to check before leaving for my day trip. I sat on that train with my earphones in as the Red Hot Chili Peppers told me to meet them for some street communication. What better place to communicate than the streets of New York City?

By the time I got off the train, it was noon and I had the whole day ahead of me seeing as the last train back to town was at roughly 2 AM. The first thing I did was go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The last time I’d been there, my international French best friend from across the hall had given me a guided tour of the entire French gallery, telling me the history behind every French artist and how the scenery in the paintings had impacted his own life. This time, since he wasn’t by my side, I had to find someone else to give me a tour of another section I knew nothing about, because heaven forbid I try and learn something on my own.

A few minutes of overwhelming solitude in the epidermis of the art gallery of the Italian Renaissance, I saw that moving on in the gallery would be a waste of energy to me without any company assisting me in sorting out my sentiments on each piece of art. I wanted someone with slight credibility to decipher the art for me in order to give me some sort of direction for my opinions. As if Fate or the universe had read my mind, a tour guide walked past me with her group of overly enthusiastic Indian tourists curious to learn about the paintings that lined the halls. I nonchalantly shifted my path and became one with that group. Ready to whip out my perfected Indian accent, under the circumstance that the tour guide realized I didn’t belong in the group or if a tourist decided to call me out on my evident mooching of their paid tour, I followed that group confidently as to not draw any attention to myself. After hearing stories of Annibale Carracci and his influence during the Italian Renaissance, among many other artists of the era and culture, I decided learning about one culture was enough for the day. Plus, the Indians were perfumed in cheap cologne in failed attempts to mask their natural scent of curry and spices, and quite frankly, it gave me a headache like no other.

$12

I left the museum at approximately 2 PM and sat on the steps outside it as I browsed my phone to find the quickest way to the main campus of New York University. I bought a $5 subway pass and went from Upper East Side to NYU. Here, I decided to simply look lost and disoriented yet approachable and calm in order to strike the attention of a passerby in hopes to make a new friend. After a half hour or so, I realized my efforts were not working. I walked towards a semi-isolated bench, or at least as isolated as one can get in NYC, as I emitted defeat. I decided to sit for few minutes before asking someone for a nearby coffeehouse that plays some live jazz. The second I sat down, however, the breeze wafted the smell of Old Spice in my general direction. I got a good vibe from that. I felt a gentle tapping on my shoulder and I could have sworn I got whiplash from how quickly I turned my neck in anticipation of my first human encounter of the day. With inspiration from Big Sean, I looked up, and before me stood a handsome young man.

With an earnest smile quivering on his lips and what seemed like genuine intentions, he asked me, “do you mind if I sit here?”

Not at all, handsome young man, not at all…

 

Love Letter to a Stranger

by Shiny S. Patel

Opinion and Editorial Editor

You sound like perfection to me. You are the beating silence of the night that simply transcends description. You are white noise that helps me fall asleep, the fan that buzzes and carries me into my REM cycles, that’s you. You are when I press my head up against your chest and I hear my blood coursing through my body. I cherish you because you remind me that I am living. You are the cracking of my back that has people cringing when they hear it because it is repulsive to them but it feels sensational to me, and that’s how you make me feel, sensational. You are the silver triangle in a smooth jazz performance that whispers to most but sings out loud to me. It’s a subtle kind of sexy. You are a lullaby, the “hush little baby don’t say a word,” that’s you too. You are my Frank Sinatra, even though you can’t sing; and I would fly with you anywhere, any day.

You are every modern art sculpture that everyone thinks they understand but I know my interpretation of you is the most accurate. You are the palette I use when I’m painting because I usually like the used palette way more than I like the finished product. You are each individual brushstroke in Van Gogh’s Starry Night because that painting would never be my favorite if it lacked just one of those strokes. You are not only the stars that are not visible to the naked eye, that you can only see if you use a telescope, but also the stars that are so far away that not even the telescopes could show them to me; I just have to believe they exist. You are the near and the far and everything in between; infinity is what you are. You are the darkness in my every blink and the light that calls me back from even the deepest of sleeps. You are a well fitted suit and the perfectly tied tie that just barely hits the belt buckle. Damn. You are the crisp line that defines the white foam from the dark Guinness that the bartender just poured. Something about that definite line is so beautiful, you, you are so beautiful.

 You are the sensation of touching and feeling. On a warm and sunny day when my friends drive through town and I stick my body out of their sunroofs, you are the wind that pushes my hair back out of my face. You are what I feel when you scratch my back after a long day and you are the blush in your cheeks after I kiss your nose. God, I love kissing your nose. You are my body pillow named Parker that I cuddle with and it feels so right, I don’t even care if it’s weird. You are a ten minute massage; ten minutes is not enough and I can’t get enough of you.

If I was capable of coming up with the perfect recipe for any meal or drink, it still would not taste as good as you do. You are in the first sip of water I have after my 11 mile runs; you quench my every thirst. You are the cold can of beer on a hot day at the beach. You are the taste of authentic Italian pastries with a bottle of Chardonnay. You are that understandably overpriced chicken penne a la vodka I got from that five star restaurant in New York City. Peculiarly, you are also my grandmother’s goat curry, oh man I haven’t had that in years, since before she passed away. From what I remember, it tasted like heaven. You taste like heaven.

My nose is annoyingly sensitive. There are only a few smells it can handle without acting up and you are all of them. You are the salty ocean breeze. You are Old Spice, the smell of any attractive man. You are the aroma that fills the air when I am in the midst of cooking a fancy meal. The temptation that fills the spaces of my best friend’s car after he finished hot boxing is you, too. Nothing calls my name like that irresistible feeling of temptation.

You give me a reason to write. You are that gentle but exhilarating pause between the period and the next word that I write down after crippling hours of writers block. You are when I press my finger to each key of my laptop. You are why everyone in the library despises me because I am typing away in an undeniable craze while everyone else is trying to study in quiet. What the quiet means to them, is what you mean to me. You are why I finally invested in an electric pencil sharpener at my desk because you wear the tip of my pencil down so fast. You are the graphite of the Ticonderoga #2 pencil that has left the actual pencil but never stuck to the paper. You are the underrated and the necessary. I do not know who you are, what you are or even where you are, but I know you exist. You give purpose to my writing and I never want to stop writing about you.

Career Fair 2014: A Job Well Done

Kenneth R. Bardelli Jr. 

Contributing Writer

The Feldman Arena of the O’neil Center played host to nearly 60 employers on April 9th, as the 2014 Western Connecticut State University Career Fair took over the gym floor. 62 different booths housed various companies ranging from the Federal Bureau of Investigation to Boehringer Ingelheim. This year marked the 19th time that Western has hosted this event and this year’s event helped connect more than 400 students and alumni to potential employers.

The Career Fair, put on by the Career Development Center here at Western is effective tool in career development for all students ranging from freshmen to alumni. Dr. Anthony Ciarleglio, Director of Cooperative Education here at Western Connecticut State University and one of the primary orchestrators of the Career Fair, weighed in: sharing that this event has been “…getting better every year.” Dr. Ciarleglio was pleased with this year’s event making mention of the attendance and how it was much higher than usual. When questioned about why so many students were attending this event, Ciarleglio made note that “…from the student’s point of view, it’s one of the rare times that employers are coming to them.” That is the benefit of a Career Fair after all and Western’s is on par with national average.

Although Dr. Ciarleglio didn’t have a source for the statistic, he did state that “nationally 50% of candidates receive interviews following the event. out of that 50% 65% get jobs or dinternships (offer of employment).” This is promising for Western’s students, seeing as the wide variety of agencies and corporations in attendance can cater to nearly every major. Federal Agencies like the FBI, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Connecticut State Police were in attendance looking for Justice and Law students to fill positions and internships available at the agencies. For many of the Liberal Arts students, private sector corporations like Cartus, Victorinox, Boehringer Ingelheim, Praxair, and Icon International were in attendance looking for everything from Technologies Majors to Creative and Professional studies.

`               Overall, the three and a half hour event yielded exceptional potential for many of Western Connecticut State University’s graduating seniors as well as current students of all ages. However, this is not where the Career Development Center’s job ends. Although this is the largest event that the Center puts on each year, there are many other services and workshops available to current students as well as alumni in room 227 of the Midtown Student Center. The services include:

  • Senior Recruiting Info Sessions
  • Resume Workshops
  • Interview Workshops
  • Job Search Wrap-up Workshops
  • Resume Critiques
  • Mentoring Network
  • On Campus Recruiting
  • The Etiquette Dinner

All of these services are provided for free by the professionals at the Career Development Center. Although you’ll have to wait until next April for the Career Fair to come around don’t be hasty about stopping in at the Career Development Center and getting a jump start on your future today.

Fighting for a Cure: Relay for Life 2014

Kenneth R. Bardelli Jr. 

Contributing Writer 

It was a heartwarming sight at the Feldman Arena, Friday, April 11th, as the Western Connecticut State University Relay for Life took the floor to raise philanthropic funds and awareness of cancer in America. The event, which was first held at Western in the spring of 2009, raised nearly 29,000 dollars from its 450 participants and set numerous success records for the charity event. 36 teams, including many student organizations, helped fill the arena and create a path for supporters and survivors to walk side by side. While the participants were walking the booths offered various fundraising opportunities including a Jail-and-Bail (Kappa Chi Alpha), Cheerleading stunts (WCSU Cheerleading Team), and even piggy-back laps (Tau Kappa Epsilon).

Katelyn Broderick, Western Alumnae and the American Cancer Society chair of the Western Connecticut State University Relay for Life, was immensely grateful for the strong participation and commitment of the planning committee in the Relay for Life’s record breaking year. “WestConn contributed on numerous levels to help the event be such a wild success, the community of Western has shown commitment and dedication to the Relay for Life event and it showed by Relay making and exceeding our goals.” Katelyn said, beaming with pride after the successful event. In the interview, Katelyn recalled the “Luminaria Lap” as her favorite portion of the event. The Lap is dedicated to those who are currently fighting, or have lost the fight, to various forms of cancer. When asked about it, she stated “that was probably one of the coolest ceremonies I’ve seen at Western’s Relay. [It was]… absolutely mesmerizing.”

This isn’t a onetime event. Relay for Life has been happening in the Feldman Arena of the Oneil Center since 2009 and will continue next year with, hopefully, another record breaking year. After setting the bar with 29,000 dollars raised and 450 participants over 36 teams, Katelyn has set her goals higher for next year’s event. “Personally I’d like to see 600 people come out next year.” She said, adding that a goal of 30,000 dollars raised wasn’t out of the question. Overall, Katelyn and all of the participants had a great Friday evening dedicating their time to raising funds and awareness for the American Cancer Society. With a record breaking year in the books there’s no telling how much Western will raise at next year’s Relay for Life.

Thank You to my United Nations of a Friend Group

by Shiny S. Patel

Opinion and Editorial Editor

This school year has unwrapped me from the shroud of unhappiness and broke me out from the cocoon of an unappreciative mindset. I had mentally stepped back from the petty arguments and drama that high school had provided for me. I was surrounded by immaturity that were brought on by the emotionally unstable and ignorant teenagers. I was ready to leave this environment that hindered my desire to grow as a person.

When I came to college, I met the best people ever. No, that was not a hyperbole. I genuinely mean it, from the bottom of my heart. Some of these people however, were slightly different than the rest. I met a few people who were intelligent yet humble, hilarious yet calm, sarcastic yet genuine, interesting yet curious. These people were the international students.

Anyone who knows me even slightly, knows that I get emotionally attached way too quickly. Only after a couple of weeks of hanging out with someone, I will already refer to that person as a good friend. Often times, I do that when the feeling is definitely not reciprocated. Not once did I ever feel as though there wasn’t mutual love between me and each individual international student that I encountered. Now if I get attached so quickly after a mere few weeks, imagine what a semester and a full year did for my love for them.

These students were so accepting. Even though they were all three or four years older than me, I was never treated like a child. They treated me as an equal even though they had experienced so much more than I have and even though they were clearly mature in more ways than I am. I learned too much from this bunch of students.

More often than not, I got into disagreements about what was acceptable or not with them. I got into debates about what should been prioritized and what shouldn’t be. Their different cultures opened my eyes to why some people think the ways that they do. When I read the news and hear about different countries disagreeing on conflicts that are occurring, I immediately wonder why it’s so hard to work things out. These debates I got into with my new foreign friends taught me that culture does play a role in the professional side of things. It’s the stubbornness of each polar opposite culture needing to meet common ground that makes it so difficult. Before trying to solve global conflicts, I feel as though the diplomats and leaders of all countries need to talk and learn culture rules in each country beforehand. If conflicting nations could just sit down and learn why each country behaves the way they do, the way I did with my diverse United Nations of a friend group, then I personally believe more conflicts could be resolved.

I learned what real friendship was. They invited me out with them on their excursions that they had planned for themselves. They made me feel like I belonged. I learned true love. When you see people who are from completely different sides of the world, from unbelievably contrasting cultures of the world coming together and setting all differences aside to acquire more knowledge and understanding, you see the harmony that brings all members of the human race together. I learned how to appreciate what I have before it’s gone. On one of my last nights with these students, they told me how ready they were to go back home to what they had. They told me they were ready for their home cooked meals. They were ready to speak their own language again. They were ready to go to local establishments that they had gone so long without. Most importantly, they were ready to go home to the friendly acquaintances, friends and family they had waiting for them. This made me realize how much I should thank my hometown. Going to college in my home town has made it difficult for me to see what I would be missing when not living at home. Seeing their own individual struggle from being away from their homes made me feel grateful that I was so close to my own home.

I was referred to as a younger sibling by one of these international students although we had only known each other for one short semester. It’s a good feeling to know that I made a difference in someone’s life to the point where I was considered family. I was given a dozen thank you’s everyday by these students for doing what I thought was normal courteous actions. These students gave me the gift of friendship and didn’t let me forget I was unique. My gratitude for this love I was blanketed in is infinite.

These international students have enlightened me with kind words, positive energy, and excitement for things that I have not been appreciating as much as I should be. I am fully aware that people come and go as life goes on but the lessons and memories I have with these people will never leave my heart. As they go back to their own respective home countries across the globe, I know that each student will tell the same stories but add their own personal twists to them. When I study abroad next year, if all goes well, I can only hope I can impact the lives of the students in my host country even a tiny bit as much as these international students here at Western have impacted mine.

This article is dedicated to Jean- Baptiste d’Isidoro, Nekruz Mamadalizoda, Aldo Rappaccioli Montealegre, Camelia Garcia Errajaoui, Hyun Jung “Jada” Song, Sabine Seyer and last but not least, Julie Stelzig. Thanks for everything. 

New Visual and Performing Arts Building on Westside

By Keith Goldstein

DANBURY, Conn – The new Visual and Performing Arts building on Westside is all the hype at WestConn.

The project budget to build the new arts center is over $97,593,000 and has many useful facilities to students in the School of Visual and Performing Arts, according to the school website. Some of the facilities include painting, sculpture and drawing studios, digital photography and graphic design labs, a Broadway-caliber theatre, an acoustically sound concert hall, state of the art recording studio, an art gallery, and instructional studios and practice rooms.

Already, the different departments of the SVPA are preparing for the great shift into the newly furnished building. The music department has already started picking out their lineup of guest artists for the 2015 season, starting with the grand opening of the concert hall with a concert by Jimmy Green and the personnel of his most recent record.

Jamie Begian, Chair of the Department of Music, has large plans for the opening of the new building. On September 28th, the building will be open to the public to see what a day in the life of the building will be like, claims Begian. “We’re going to have what’s basically a day in the life of the building,” Begian said. “The building is the star. We’re going to have combos playing in the combo room, people doing lessons, and orchestra on the stage. We’re going to involve 150 students and all the faculty involved on this Sunday. People will be able to walk around and peep their head in on the choir rehearsing, Jimmy and the big band in the instrumental recording room.” This event is going to happen concurrent with the other departments, including an art exhibition and a theater performance.

Some of the faculty members that have been around for longer also think that this is a great change for the university. Chris Morrison, the guitar studio coach, has been at WestConn since 1990. “This department doesn’t resemble anything that it did in 1990, and it’s all for the better,” Morrison said. “[The students] are going to finally have a building that lets this department do what it really can do.” Morrison and other professors have been kept up to date with the several pictures of construction. “Today there’s maybe 10 combos. Back then there were three. We have two full big bands, a full concert choir… there’s so many things going on. This building is what the department deserves.”

Begian claims that the scheduling of the music courses have been changed to accommodate to people traveling between Midtown and Westside to get to classes by putting the bulk of core music classes on the same days to reduce shuttle traffic. While upperclassmen are excited to have a music building that’s on their respective campus, commuters are also excited for the opening of this building.

John Holden, a guitarist in the music program, commutes daily from Redding, Connecticut. “From where I live, I think it would be just about the same commute since Westside is right off the highway,” Holden said. “I think that this building will only enhance WestConn’s reputation. I think that WestConn deserves to be listed as one of the best music colleges in the country, especially in New England.”

The design firm in charge of the acoustics for the new performance hall was Jaffe Holden, a company based out of  Norwalk, Connecticut. This company has also been commissioned to build elite concert halls worldwide, including Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Cirque du Soleil’s stage for the Beatles LOVE and Viva ELVIS shows in Las Vegas, and the Daegu Opera house in Daegu, South Korea to name a few.

Even though his company has built halls around the world, Mark Holden still put careful thought and consideration into the contents of the VPA building. “The half round wood logs on the ceiling have never been used in this application before,” Holden said. “The way the hall walls flare out as the hall gets higher is a unique design specifically for the recital [hall] to help sustain reverberation, and the red perforated metal sound diffusers on the walls help bend and mellow the sound.” The hall also features acoustic absorbing banners on the side walls that deploy to change the acoustic of the room for amplified jazz and popular music.

According to The 2007 Facilities Master Plan, in addition to the VPA building, the Board of Trustees of the Connecticut State University System has approved the construction of a 500-car parking garage on the Westside campus in addition to many other renovations, though the starting date for these projects are not publicly available.

The 2007-2008 WCSU University Planning and Budget Committee Report to the Senate states that since there was not enough money in the budget for a library to house the VPA collections due to the price creep of the project, some renovation or expansion would have to happen to the Westside Classroom Building. The same report states that as of October 2007, the Facilities Master Plan includes a proposed 55,000-square foot addition to the Westside Classroom Building, possibly for the VPA library.

Photo courtesy of News Times

Spencer Albano: Unconventional Artist

Kyle Venditti

News Editor

            When most people think of fine art, they think of renaissance men like Leonardo Da Vinci with “The Last Supper” or Raphael’s “School of Athens.” For the more modern inclined, Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” or Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans,” but these pallid pieces do not compare to a massive fifteen foot  tall giraffe made from nothing more than scrap metal.

“I take old, beat up scrap metal that no one sees value in,” said Spencer Albano, “and turn it into art.”

Spencer Albano, 19, has been forging metal sculptures since he was in High School. Albano gathers pieces of leftover metal from Windy Walls Antique Shop in Goshen, CT, and welds them into various shapes and sizes, making a spectacle that few can compete with. The shop, which is owned by Albano’s father, serves as the perfect haven for his creative nature.

“You see a piece of scrap metal that could become something cool,” said Albano.

Albano got into industrial sculpting when his father spoke to him of his aspirations to build wondrous titans out of “junk”, as others called it. But his father never had the time to pursue his dream. Instead, when Albano came looking build, his father encouraged him.

In feats of “constructive criticism,” Spencer and his father started small, building tripod lamps and iron chickens no bigger than a foot in size. His father worked alongside his son, giving him advice and tips to become a skillful welder and artist, but Spencer soon found he was building on his own.

“I’ve been doing it more myself,” said Albano, “but without him, it wouldn’t have been possible.”

Albano garnered many compliments from his father’s customers, who saw some of his sculptures in and around the antique shop. Some offered Albano money for his pieces. Others offered him advice and gave him scrap metal, a commodity that Albano could not refuse.

“The customers would tell me they really like the pieces and that I was doing a great job,” said Albano, “they even brought me pieces to use.”

Albano found a title for his giraffe piece, which towers over his head, from an artist who had pieces featured in a museum.

“He called it the ‘Gothic Giraffe’, and it just stuck,” said Albano.

“It inspires me to keep going.”

Though Albano recognizes the popularity and demand for his pieces, he wants to continue to strive for a job using his Interactive Marketing degree. To him, making some money on the side from his hobby is a perk, but he wants to keep it just that: a hobby.

“I’ll always do it,” said Albano.

Spencer Albano has just won first place for his rooster piece in the “Art @ The Dump” show in Cornwall, CT. He will be selling his pieces at the curator’s gallery in Bantam, CT. 

Contact Spencer Albano at Spenceralbano@yahoo.com to express interest in his pieces. 

Photos Courtesy of Spencer Albano. 

Western Running Back McKoy Prepares for Rare NFL Opportunity

Photo Courtesy of WCSU Athletics

When Western Connecticut State running back Octavias McKoy put himself among college football’s elite after breaking the NCAA single game rushing record, he set off a domino effect that would lead to good publicity for his school, his team, and possibly the opportunity to achieve what so few can dream of, a career as a professional football player in the prestigious NFL. With the NFL Draft coming next month, there is a possibility that McKoy may hear his name called that weekend. According to McKoy, the interest in him actually started before the record day. “The Indianapolis Colts scout came in the summer time, they were the first team to show interest.”

After the record day, in which he ran for 455 yards against Worcester State, the interest grew exponentially. According to him, “Up until this point [we] probably spoke to 12-15 teams and that interest has grown since then”. McKoy also appeared on television, for networks like ESPN, YES, local news outlets, even high profile sports websites like Bleacher Report and SportsEdge covered his game. This is impressive, since very little attention is given to football at the Division III level, the lowest level of NCAA athletics, and very few Division III stars go on to star, let alone have careers in the NFL.

However, a big game and a big season for McKoy wasn’t enough. In order to prove that he could be a pro football player, he had to sell himself to teams further. This meant participating in workouts where he would show off what he could do to more NFL scouts. McKoy attended Yale University’s Pro Day, a showcase for top college football players from the New England area.

McKoy, however prides himself on his performance at a regional scouting event in Atlanta. As he rattled off his measurables, there seemed to be a gleam in his eye. “I ran my fastest 40 [yard dash] at my regional combine out in at Atlanta. That was a 4.6 [second] electric. I jumped a 10’ broad [jump], I had a 37.5” vertical leap. Some of my numbers got better, some didn’t improve, but as far as field drills, I didn’t drop one pass and I nailed every field drill.” (Editor’s note: His 40 yard dash would have placed him 20th among running backs, his broad jump would have placed him 17th, and his vertical leap would have placed him 7th had he participated in the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, according to CBSSports.com.)

It was also through that event that more teams communicated with him. “On a one on one level, it was actually very cool because when I was in Atlanta I talked to the Dallas Cowboys, I talked to the [New Orleans] Saints and I talked to the [Atlanta] Falcons so they’re showing some more interest.” he recounted.

McKoy admits that preparation for the Draft is difficult at times. “Day-to-day, you can’t do a lot of things. You gotta kind of be in the shadows, keep a low profile, can’t really go out, but it’s only for a period of time.” However, he’s not concerned about teams judging his character or his football IQ. “My stock has definitely risen because I’m a high character guy… I’m a true student of the game. I’m not just a player, coaches will want a student of the game so I study the game”. He also said that in preparing for the draft, he has a great support system. “My family, my coaches, my agents back me, my friends… as far as your family and your team of people, they pretty much keep you in line, keep you focused.” Surprisingly, the only person whom he hasn’t gotten advice from is former Western baseball player Conor Bierfeldt, who was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles last summer.

McKoy’s humility could play a factor into his future with a team, as he already knows what to expect should he be on a team’s roster. When asked about what he thinks about his future role should he be drafted or signed, he acknowledged the fact that he’d have to start small. “As a rookie going into the league, you got to play special teams, especially if you come from a small school… Basically you got to go and play wherever the coach asks you to play, you go out there and give it your best, and hopefully, you’re good enough to earn a job… I feel like whatever team I go to, I feel like I’ll be a part of it and I’ll contribute. I’m just patiently waiting, and we’ll see.” However, he knows that even with the lower expectations, he’ll still try and make sure he works hard. “I’ll be myself, go out there, work hard, stay dedicated to my craft, try to be my best, and we’ll see what the future holds”, he said.

McKoy gives all credit to Western, going so far as to say that the school changed his life. Reflecting on it as if he had already left, he gushed, “The opportunities I got at Western changed my life so I could never really truly thank them enough. I think about it all the time.” He showed an incredible amount of maturity in realizing that he has become one of the faces of Western, not just their athletics, but also the school as a whole. “I look forward to just staying positive and becoming a role model for my school, my community and try to be at my very best… I want to see our school succeed, I want to see our sports succeed, definitely football succeed, and anything that could come from me breaking records or me getting notoriety for getting our school benefit, I’m all for it.”

If McKoy is given the chance to play in the NFL, not only will he give Western athletics the notoriety he knows will come of him playing, he will also help further blur the stigma that comes with the disconnect between playing at a lower level college program, possibly paving the way for more outstanding Division III football players to make their mark in the NFL.

- Alex Giobbi, Sports Editor