Putting a Face on a Disease

By Jenny Stein

In 2005, Hofstra University alum and AIDS activist, Stacy Friedman, and 15 others took a trip to Southeast Asia that helped define their lives and provide a better understanding of a recognized global epidemic.

Photo: Chelsea Tillett

Six years ago she started volunteering at an AIDS hospice in Harlem, N.Y. There, she leads a group of volunteers while doing local outreach. “Now that I have been volunteering at the AIDS Hospice for so long, and spent so much time with those infected, I feel like I’ve put a face to the disease,” she says. “And now there’s no turning back.”

She balances her hospice work with her full-time job at the Oxygen Network as a production manager for the on-air promos team. Although Stacy Friedman, 32, has been volunteering for a variety of AIDS related projects since high school, it was only after 9/11 that her dedication to the cause gained definition. Her devotion inspired close friend and co-worker, Chelsea Tillett, to join the cause as well. “I was blown away at how committed she was to raising awareness about AIDS,” Tillet, 29,says.

In 2005, Tillet heard of an event called TrekAsia, an adventure challenge in Vietnam that raises money for AIDS research. TrekAsia requires each volunteer to raise $10,000 to participate. All funds go to support HIV programs in Asia. The adventure challenge consists of kayaking in Halong Bay, trekking through the Mai Chau Valley and sleeping in local tribal villages.

“As soon as as I heard of TrekAsia, I knew we had to be a part of it,” says Tillett. Given Friedman’s background in TV/film production at Hofstra University and Tillett’s experience and passion for documentaries, she suggested they make a documentary feature on the experience, which would later be known as Leaving Mai Chau.

“When we told people what we were doing, their first question was always ‘Why Vietnam?’” says Friedman. “No one seems to know that there is an epidemic brewing over there, as all of the press is always about Africa.” The trip consisted of 16 volunteers, all having been touched in some way by AIDS.

Tillett and Friedman formed their own production company, worldFrame Productions, in March 2005 so they could film the documentary and the 14 volunteers agreed to be filmed. “They all believed in the story we are trying to tell,” says Friedman. “Just by participating in the trip, we knew that they had the same vision of publicizing the AIDS epidemic as we did.” Some volunteers used the documentary to tell their own stories. One woman, who has been HIV positive for years, is using the opportunity as a platform to come out about her illness.

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The expedition through the Mai Chau Valley
was tough. “It was over 100 degrees, with 100 percent humidity, and the cicadas were out in full force,” says Friedman. The challenge was more physically strenuous than any of the volunteers had expected. Friedman, who suffers from an ailing knee and asthma, struggled to climb mountains in the extreme heat. “Thank God for Chelsea,” says Friedman, “because she was able to keep shooting while I was struggling just to make it through the day.”

However, most of the time, two cameras were rolling as the filmmakers tried to capture everything that was going on; from the fighting, tears and injuries to the excitement, camaraderie and sharing homemade wine with the locals. “The [first] trip definitely was more about the actual adventure challenge, and seeing these people wildly out of their element,” Friedman says.

The experience was very draining for the two women. “It’s a great way to test yourself, and learn what you are capable of,” Friedman says. Tillett said the process was both humbling and inspiring. “On a daily basis we are working to create a film that will motivate our audience to promote change and education about the global epidemic of AIDS,” she said.

The two now hope to get their film onto in New York film circuit. Their ultimate goal is to take the film worldwide in order to reach the largest audience possible to promote the funding. “This funding can literally save lives, we saw it in action,” Tillett says.

Their goal with Leaving Mai Chau is to inform and educate those who are unaware of Vietnam’s struggle with AIDS.

Visit worldFrame Productions to watch the Leaving Mai Chau trailer and become a fan on Facebook.

For the full story, check out the Spring issue of Pulse, available now.

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Published in: on April 12, 2009 at 3:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Being All You Can Be, in Hofstra’s ROTC

By Sara Kay

Photo: Stephen Cooney

Photo: Stephen Cooney

Elizabeth Tully, 18, of Massapequa Park, NY, is making big strides towards a hopeful career in the military.

Q: What made you decide to join ROTC?

A: I have always wanted to join the military since I was little. My three brothers and my father were in the military, so I guess I kind of dreamed about it from their stories and the way I admired them. At one point I wanted to do active duty because the bonus is immediate and I felt like me and my mom could use the money especially after my dad died. But since I was 17 when I joined, she made me do ROTC instead in order to go through college. The full tuition is also a plus.

Q: Is there a reason you are interested in combat?

A: I think I want to get as close to combat as I can because it’s the most difficult and demanding job in the Army. I want to push myself to my limits physically and mentally.

Q: Do you feel pressure to get involved in another field of the army, instead of combat, because you’re a girl?

A: There is hardly any pressure to push women into specific fields. In our battalion we are motivated by the cadre to pursue our career choice. The only way to guarantee your position is to excel in school and get good scores on the PT [physical training] test. Women are banned from the infantry and artillery branches, because of the high probability of direct combat. My career choice is to be an MP (military police). This is the closest women can get to combat.

Q: Have you ever done anything embarrassing in front of your superior?

A: Oh do I have embarrassing stories! The day after Halloween I was out all night, without any sleep I headed to PT to play soccer and in front of the colonel I continued to kick the ball the wrong way for the entirety of the game. During last semesters FTX [Field Training Exercises] at West Point, we conducted a drill on how to respond to an enemy ambush. The master-sergeant followed us in order to grade us and provide feedback. We were traveling down a steep rocky cliff with our weapons, and it was raining and extremely slippery. We were expected to move swiftly, and in complete silence. Of course as I traveled down the rocks I tripped, busted my ass and slid down the incline. I looked up and the master sergeant was shaking his head trying not to laugh at me.

Q: What is your favorite part of being in ROTC?

A: My favorite part about ROTC is definitely the training. I’ve increased my physical abilities because of the program, and I get a good workout three days a week. Also, I’ve learned to be more organized, responsible and motivated.

Q: How do you plan to use your experiences in ROTC after you serve in the military?

A: My experiences in ROTC will definitely help me in future careers. The training we receive now is not only physical; the point is to turn you into a leader. We learn management skills, communication skills and learn to be confident in whatever we do.

Q: Describe a typical day for you, including any physical activity you have to do.

A: I wake up at 5:50 am in order to be at PT by 6:15. During PT we concentrate on specific workouts so it can be upper-body which may involve ridiculous amounts of push-ups, bear crawls, pull-ups, etc. Cardio is by far the worst, running almost three miles and singing cadences gets extremely annoying. We occasionally do pool exercises or ruck marches also. After every PT which ends at 7:30, I have to change out of uniform and run to my 8am class. Thursdays we have lab and we go over land navigation and tactical movements.
Q: What is the most difficult part of being in the program?

A: The commitment. Some cadets are not contracted, meaning they have little responsibility and aren’t held to high standards. Being contracted means you took the oath, and signed your name on an army contract. We have to make every PT, put aside one weekend every semester to train at West Point and commit eight years of service after school. It’s not for everyone.

Q: Even though you’ve only been in ROTC for less than a year, how do you think it has changed you as a person?

A: My short experience in ROTC has changed me in great ways. I am more responsible and independent. I have my college paid for; I have to manage my stipend and my time. I contracted when I was 17 so I feel like I went from being a kid to being an adult over night. The program also allowed me to increase my physical abilities and push myself.

Q: Describe your favorite experience so far in ROTC, and why you enjoyed it so much.

A: My favorite experience in ROTC was the FTX at West Point. For three days we lived in barracks, trained in the mountains and barely slept. A helicopter dumped us in the middle of nowhere, and we hiked 4 miles to the training point in full gear. After that, we went over drills, night land navigation and learned important tactics. I think it was the FTX that made me realize this is what I wanted to do with my life, and what a good choice I made.

Q: Are you scared of the possibility of going to Iraq or Afghanistan after graduation?

A: Absolutely not. I would be honored to serve my country abroad in combat, and I’m willing to accept the dangers of my career choice. Two of my brothers and my father have served combat, and I’ve had discussions on the effects and emotional implications of those situations. When I contracted in the army, part of my oath involved my willingness to bear arms for my country in times of need. As a soldier, one of the army values we must live by is selfless service, and I truly believe in this concept. When it comes down to it, too many people don’t support our country’s efforts, and can’t even comprehend what it means to be dedicated, selfless and willing to give the ultimate sacrifice in order to protect everything else around us. I was raised to believe that these few people have to step up, and commit themselves to our country.

Q: What are your feelings about women not being able to be in combat?

A: Double standards exist in the army in order to make tests and physical boundaries fair. Men are stronger and faster naturally. I believe in order for women to serve combat, these double standards would have to be overlooked, and the few women that could pass the male standards and meet every quality necessary to serve infantry or artillery, should be considered. Also, positions such as military police, transportation, etc. face the same dangers daily in the Middle East. Although many women feel that the right to combat should be granted, many factors make this almost impossible. Family values, sex abuse in secluded units, etc. Our country may not be ready to see young women coming home in body bags because of traditional cultural values.

Q: How does your mom feel about you going into the army?

A: This is a funny question. My mother had to sign my contract for me because I was 17 at the time. I remember the day I contracted she was late, and she asked what I would do if she didn’t show up. Although my entire family has military backgrounds, my mom still has trouble with my career choice. I know she isn’t happy still for little reasons. I know it takes families a lot of time to come to terms with a military lifestyle.

Published in: on April 11, 2009 at 9:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

NYPD Retiree Keeps Hofstra Safe

By Samantha Davies

John O’Malley brings his NYPD background to Hofstra’s campus to ensure that it remains safe by acting as head of Public Safety

omalley-pic1

With the high crime rates that occur in Hofstra’s neighboring areas, many students may feel uneasy at school. That’s why the University employed, Associate Manager of Public Safety, John O’Malley. With O’Malley’s NYPD background and his daily contributions to Public Safety, students can sleep well at night knowing he’s in charge.

O’Malley graduated from Fordham University with a bachelor’s degree in education, but he soon decided to pursue a career in the police force. His love of helping others led him to his twenty years in the NYPD. Throughout his career in New York City he has experienced devastating incidents such as domestic disputes, fatal accidents, suicides, murders and other harrowing situations. “Every day was a challenge,” says O’Malley, “the amount of cruelty that individuals inflict on one another is beyond comprehension.”

Although it was many years ago, he can still envision his most challenging case in his career. While trying to uncover specific organized crimes, he was ordered to wear recording devices and attend the actual meetings of the suspects. This occurred for a period of over six months and resulted in numerous arrests and convictions in both State and Federal Courts. “There are always moments as a police officer that you are frightened or concerned,” says O’Malley.

It was after O’Malley retired from the NYPD that he was soon asked to work at Hofstra University within the field department. He has now been here for 21 years and has climbed the ladder up to Associate Manager. “This career has exposed me to a population I wasn’t familiar with,” says O’Malley. As for our safety here at Hofstra, O’Malley assures us that there are no major safety problems, but it’s always important to let Public Safety know if you are feeling uncomfortable.

“My advice would be to always be alert to whoever is around you, use the buddy system, utilize public safety escort services and last but not least drink in moderation,” says O’Malley. As to whether or not his career has changed him he says, “I like to think that it hasn’t changed me, but educated me and made me become more benevolent to the needs of people.”

Published in: on April 11, 2009 at 7:36 am  Leave a Comment  

From Woodstock Star to Word Detective

By Erin Furman

Photo: Erin Furman

Photo: Erin Furman

Forty years ago, Robert Leonard was taking tequila shots with Jimmy Hendrix at a bar and opening with his band, Sha Na Na, at Woodstock. Now, he’s the chairman of Hofstra’s department of comparative literature and languages and director of the Forensic Linguistics Project. From rocking the crowd to testifying in high profile murder cases, Leonard has had a long and bizarre journey.

The journey started getting interesting when as an undergraduate at Columbia, Leonard’s brother told him and a few college friends, “Boys, I’m going to make you all rock ‘n’ roll stars.” “I didn’t believe him,” Leonard says. Five months later, at his brother’s encouragement, Leonard founded the retro band Sha Na Na and was invited by Jimmy Hendrix to open for Hendrix’ band at Woodstock. “It wasn’t gradual,” says Leonard. “One minute I wasn’t, the next I was.”
When Woodstock had passed and Leonard decided to walk away from the stage (leaving his gold bodysuit behind as well), he aimed his feet in the direction of his real love: linguistics. “I was always interested in languages,” says Leonard. “Language is the central thing that makes us humans.”

robertleonard

Leonard has been called on by both prosecutors and defenders at the state and federal level to analyze language evidence, and has been consulted on an array of cases that include murder, bribery, insider trading, extortion and medical malpractice. “Linguistic evidence helps make links between other kinds of evidence,” says Leonard. “Very often, there is language evidence that is ignored and misunderstood.”

Outside the courtroom, Leonard has served as the inspiration for Rob Potter, a character in Kathy Reichs’ latest Temperance Brennan novel “Bones to Ashes.” He is also featured on Court TV’s Hollywood Heat, an episode of Forensic Files titled “A Tight Leash” and a segment from Discovery Channel’s series “Solved” . “We really help the cause of justice,” says Leonard. “When we do our job correctly, we make sure that all the evidence is looked at scientifically.”

Ultimately, it is the pursuit of justice that drives Leonard’s success today. “Linguistic evidence is not enough to convict someone,” he says. There still needs to be hard evidence, motive and all the elements of a concrete case. “But you can build patterns… We ensure linguistic evidence is taken into account.”

For the full story, check out the Spring issue of Pulse, available now.

Published in: on April 11, 2009 at 7:26 am  Leave a Comment  

Arguing Particles

By Stephen Cooney

Student with a love and aptitude for physics turns to law

Dan Richford is a senior with a dual degree at the University. His degrees make zero sense when put together: one is in physics and the other is in English. Add a minor in mathematics and Richford probably has one of the most complicated intellects on campus.

When not winning awards for his research, he can often be found working as the Copy Chief of the Hofstra Chronicle. This experience would lead one to believe that Richford is either going to edit for a living or become a physicist. Yet, his friends insist he’s going to law school. We decided to sit him down and sort this nonsense out ourselves.

Q: How did you end up majoring in physics and English?

A: Mostly, because I had time. I was originally an engineering major but the engineering major being five years and being, shall we say, every moment of my life being set from then on, I decided physics was the way to go.

Q: You won an award in physics?

A: I was a research assistant over two summers. We did enough work to put a project together and we took it to an American Physical Society meeting in Upstate New York and we won first prize for undergraduate research.

Q: What type of research?

A: I was doing computer modeling of chemical reaction. I really hate explaining the reaction because in layman’s terms, it was basically making a mixture change from red to blue. These reactions seem like they were not important but it has a whole lot of other applications.

Q: Such as?

A: Specifically for the heart. It is the study of an excitable medium that enters into oscillation, which mimics fibrillation in the heart – a heart attack.

Q: How did the award help the school? Did it help with the Particle Center?

A: When a school has the students that are interested and capable of doing the research there is always a chance that they can get noticed for it. Since we won the awards it raised the profile of the school and that helped the school when applying for funding.

Q: Why don’t you want to work in physics?

A: I don’t not want to work in physics. I just need a change from that whole type of work.

Q: So you are going to law school?

A: I always wanted to go to law school. There isn’t really a pre-law so I studied what I liked. I am going to write a book called ‘Why Do Physicists Go to Law School?’

Q: Are you looking at Hofstra Law School?

A: I am not sure if I am going here. I did an even distribution across the top 100 law schools. The Hofstra bracket has said yes. Plus, they were willing to help me out with the finances. I spoke with President Rabinowitz and Berliner about going to school here too. They are both very nice.

Q: What type of physics do you like the best?

A: I am a big fan of elementary particle physics and it figures that the quantum mechanics course would come right when I was getting ready to graduate.

Q: What is elementary particle physics?

A: Well, it is a step down from chemistry. It deals with atoms and electrons. It is the constituents of atoms; protons and neutrons and their constituents and all the other funny particles that tend to be there, like corks and leptons, neurons, neutrinos.

Q: Since you don’t think you are going to be working with all those fancy particles any more, what type of law do you want to practice?

A: I always liked different languages and different cultures so I am thinking international law.

Q: How is physics going to help with that? I guess physics is a culture, but protons don’t need lawyers.

A: Some protons might; they are kind of squirrelly. There are indistinguishable particles and indistinguishable particles need representation.

Published in: on April 11, 2009 at 7:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Finance Major Dances at 2009 Oscars

By Saira Bajwa

Malikah (3rd from right) with Slumdog Millionaire stars

Malikah (3rd from right) with Slumdog Millionaire stars

From Hofstra to Hollywood, Aniejane Malika has had a memorable year. In February, Aniejane appeared on stage at the Oscars, performed on the Oprah Winfrey show, and met some of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Drama students may dream of Hollywood, but Aniejane Malika spends most of her time academically crunching numbers as a finance major.

Anie, as she prefers to be called, began learning classical Indian dancing at a young age. Several years ago, she and a group of her friends started a dance team called “Yuba”. The group’s first performance was at a church fundraiser. They went on to perform in Indian exhibitions and fundraisers, and even have traveled as far as Trinidad for a performace. Anie chose to attend Hofstra and major in finance, where she maintains much of her focus.

Yuba caught the eye of choreographer Rujuta Vaidya, who was asked to choreograph the Bollywood number at the Oscars; thus beginning Anie’s unlikely journey to Hollywood. The dancer describes the event as being incredible. “Performing in front of the talented people who I look up to and who I watch on screen was amazing, “says Aniejane.

Vaidya fought hard to include Yuba because of their strong background in Indian dancing, which the other dancers lacked. Vaidya wanted the girls to bring their graceful, genuine Indian touch to the performance. “Being the only four Indian girls on that stage, it was an honor to represent the Indian community,” Anie says.

oscarsoprah3

Anie also met some of the biggest stars in Hollywood: Oprah, Danny Boyle, Freida Pinto and Dev Patel as well as others whom she saw in passing. Despite being star-struck initially, Anie says they were “just really pretty people.” “The cast of Slumdog Millionaire was especially nice and spoke to us for quite some time. We actually snuck into Oprah’s green room the next day and met Danny Boyle just kind of holding his Oscar like it was no big deal. It was surreal.”

Dancers who make it to the Oscars are typically professionals who have devoted their lives to dancing. Anie, however, is a content finance major who has no plans of changing her dreams. “Dancing will always be a wonderful hobby of mine. I can’t rule anything out but I really do love finance.”

“I’m so grateful for this experience and I’m humbled by the response I’ve gotten from my friends and my community”. For now however, Anie says “I am looking forward to getting back to my normal, boring life,” catching up with classes, and preparing for graduation like any other stressed-out college student.

For the full story, check out the Spring issue of Pulse, available now.

Published in: on April 11, 2009 at 7:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Raising Awareness of Climate Change

By Samantha Schatz

Geology professor E. Christa Farmer raises awareness of climate change.

Photo: Jim Browne

Photo: Jim Browne

Dr. E. Christa Farmer helps organize events such as the National Teach-In, to educate students about global warming. In her research, she studies the geological record for clues to how climate systems operated in the past and thus might work in the future.

One of the first students to graduate from Stanford University with a degree in Earth Systems, an interdisciplinary environmental program, Farmer went on to work for the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank that helps educate Congress, and monitored the Kyoto Protocol negotiations as part of the U.S. Climate Action Network. She earned her doctorate at Columbia University before joining the Department of Geology at Hofstra.

Q: What is one of the biggest obstacles that you have had to overcome?

A: I spent a good year of graduate school trying to do some very complicated statistics. One of the things that I did in my dissertation was that I looked into whether or not it would be possible to take multiple species of a particular marine organism, and use all of their geo-chemistry to get a detailed picture of the upper-water column. I spent about a year trying to do the statistics all by myself, because I wanted to do it on my own. My advisor advised me to talk to a statistician, who was able to write a code for me to do it in about five minutes. I had been banging my head against the wall for a long time, and I finally realized that collaboration is useful in many things, in the sense that people bring many different strengths to the table.

Q: Before coming to Hofstra University, you spent some time hiking in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Can you describe your experience there?

A: For a couple of years after I completed my undergraduate degree, I was paid to do it [by the U.S. Forest Service]. It was a study of small weasels. We put radio collars on them, and studied the habitat that they were living in to see which areas they liked best. It was very rewarding living in such a gorgeous area, but it taught me a very valuable lesson. Anything that you have to do everyday becomes a chore at some point. At first I thought, ‘Oh, wow, this is amazing,’ and then there were days I woke up and said, ‘I don’t really want to do this, but it’s my job.’ So it taught me that you’re going to have good days and bad days, and you’re going to make the most of what you can.

Q: What exactly was the work you performed before Congress?

A: I helped put together educational events for Congressional staff, usually young folks like myself working for the Senators and Congress people. We would do things like bring in scholars who specialized in studying the tax code, and have them give presentations on better tax laws, or scholars who study environmental issues with better ideas for regulations. My job was mostly administrative support for these events.

Q: When did you first develop concerns about global warming?

A: In college, I started out as a geology major, and switched to biology, and was studying ecosystems and ecosystem ecology. I took an incredible class called Biology and Global Change, which really looked at the human impact on all ecosystems.

Q: What is your favorite class to teach here at Hofstra?

A: There are certain things I like about every class I teach, but the newest class that I’ve developed is a first-year student seminar called Global Warming and the Science of Climate Change. It allows us to really go into detail on all of the parts of the climate system. It has been most rewarding to me because it is the topic closest to my heart.

Q: If you were to give one piece of advice to the Hofstra community on helping to combat global warming, what would it be?

A: I think everything you do helps in some way. The more we reduce our manufacturing, the more we reuse items, we are helping. Little things like that, as well as reducing the use of our cars, or trying to convert our homes to water or solar energy.

Q: Any advice for students here at Hofstra?

A: Young people who are very idealistic and see solutions to problems should push for them, because the system gets entrenched in the way it works now, and it’s not always best. Always keep pushing for what you think [would be] a better world.

Published in: on April 11, 2009 at 3:58 am  Leave a Comment  

Law Prof Fights for Fair Pay

By Ryan Sexton

Photo: Ryan Sexton

Photo: Ryan Sexton

“I always wanted to be a lawyer,” says Joanna Grossman, an associate professor in the Hofstra School of Law. “I definitely have a very combative personality!”

She has used this passion to fight against sexual harassment and sex-based discrimination in the workplace. To Grossman, it is mystifying that despite the amount of legal work done to eradicate sexual harassment, “it still continues to have a pervasive effect on women’s experience in the workplace.” Over time, she says, “there’s been very little actual reduction in sexual harassment.”

In addition to sexual harassment, Grossman is interested in other areas of discrimination and in family law. “I’m very interested in the way law affects individual lives,” she says. “That’s a sort of over-arching theme to the kind of work that I do.” Though she’s had plenty of high points in her career, she says her most recent was during her tenure at the University. “What I like most about teaching law is providing the structure,” she says.

While many Hofstra students were trying to score tickets to the Presidential Debate, Grossman was pushing the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 in Washington, D.C. Lily Ledbetter was once an ordinary production supervisor at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. When she left in 1998, she was waiting on feedback from a pay discrimination complaint she had filed. In the end, it was discovered that she often received as much as 40 percent less than her male counterparts, even ones ranking slightly lower than her.

The case made its way to the Supreme Court, where, sadly for Ledbetter, it was shot down based on a time limitation. In most states, action had to be taken within 180 days of receipt of pay deemed discriminatory. Grossman became an advocate for revamping the law to make that time limitation much more realistic.

On January 29, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act became the first bill President Barack Obama signed into law. “I had the opportunity to be in the White House the day they were doing anything important for the first time,” says Grossman. Although the law won’t directly benefit Mrs. Ledbetter, it will likely help women for years to come.

For the full story, check out the Spring 2009 issue of Pulse, available now

Published in: on April 11, 2009 at 3:55 am  Leave a Comment  

Youth Promoter Helps Kids Achieve Dreams

By Mandy Tracy

Using public relations to help kids achieve their dreams

Photo: Mandy Tracy

Photo: Mandy Tracy


Dwayne Cumberbatch never planned on entering the world of public relations. His sights were set on law school. Yet, an invite to a release party for Garnier Fructis changed his path.

His friend who invited him was an actor, and decided to tell the guests that Cumberbatch was his publicist. When the vice president of public relations for Maybelline asked Cumberbatch what the name of his PR firm was, he blurted out the first name that came into his head, Alpha II Omega Public Relations. It was the name of a mock PR firm he once created for a class in college. At the end of the night, his friend told him he should consider doing public relations for a living.

While Cumberbatch’s original plans after graduating in December of 2001 were to gain a law degree, after that party he couldn’t stop thinking about his friend’s advice. He found himself in the library learning how to start his own business.

He quickly found out that starting a business means new bills to pay, so he took a substitute teaching job at his old elementary school.

Aside from subbing in the classroom, Cumberbatch started holding fundraising events for the school. Soon enough, the Allen Christian School in Queens became his first client. By 2004, he had become the school’s program coordinator.

He started an athletic program to create publicity for the school. “I literally opened the yellow pages to find schools that would want to play basketball against them,” he says.

He found two other schools and had a few games with them. The following year he had a few more schools. Before he knew it, he had a league going with 15 schools and 23 teams from all over Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan. Cumberbatch then created Alpha II Omega Youth Services to help fund the program. “The program allows me to give these kids the opportunity to be active and feel good about themselves,” he says. If the program did not exist, the kids would not have anything to do. Some of the schools involved don’t even have gyms.

Cumberbatch hires 25 local high school students each year to run the games. The students learn leadership roles and what is involved in organizing an event. By the time they graduate, they have a resume most high school students would envy. “I think there is something to be said for an 18-year-old to be able to say they know bookkeeping and event planning,” says Cumberbatch.

He is now in the process of evolving his PR firm into a media group where kids can make documentaries about issues that affect the youth, such as diabetes and obesity.

Hofstra, he says, taught him to set a standard for yourself that will grab the attention of others. While here, he was given a platform in which he could practice, learn and work with other people in organizations such as the National Association of Black Journalists and the Society of Professional Journalists.

Cumberbatch, who holds his degree in Mass Media Studies, gives back to the University by offering internships to students and returning to speak to classes. “When Dwayne studied PR, we had one class with 20 students,” says his mentor and friend, PR professor Ellen Frisina. “Today we have close to 250 students. Even today, Dwayne Cumberbatch would stand out for his communication skills, personality, motivation and enthusiasm.”

Cumberbatch says Professor Frisina never saw him going to law school.

Published in: on April 10, 2009 at 12:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Racing For Research

By Jenny Stein

Two Hofstra Grads dedicate their stamina and time to raise money for cancer research.

Photo: Brightroom

Photo: Brightroom

Hofstra grads Lauren Mann and Dominick Martimucci trained to run the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The two, who met through Hofstra’s television program, are members of Team in Training, the world’s largest endurance sports training program.

The society, which funds research into blood cancers and aims to improve the quality of life of patients and their families, has raised over $600 million since its founding in 1949.

Q: Since Hofstra, you two have remained close and now work together?

Lauren Mann: Yeah, Dom got me this job through this Yahoo group called Dempster rats. He has been the editor here at Grey’s [Grey Worldwide, a global marketing and advertising agency] for about two and a half years, and he needed an assistant editor. I’ve been here since September.

Q: How did you become involved with Team in Training?

LM: They came to Grey’s to speak about the program; some cancer survivors came and spoke about how they raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. There was this one girl who survived Hodgkin’s disease and I started tearing up listening to her speak. I told myself, these people have cancer and if they’re training to do it, why can’t I?

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Q: What does your training usually entail?

LM: We do training on Tuesdays at 6:40 AM and Saturdays at 8:30 AM in Central Park. Our head trainer Ramon sends out weekly emails and calendars of dates we’re scheduled to train. At first we started out with a three mile run and now we’re working up to 14 miles over the George Washington Bridge.

Q: How are you able to incorporate your training into your work schedules and everyday lives?

Dominick Martimucci: If we miss a day of training we usually make up for it on a treadmill run. We have to cross train by ourselves as well.

Q: With all this training, have you ever wanted to give up?

DM: Some days have been more difficult than others. We used to think “Oh, we have to go run 15 miles,” but now we do it and go, “Oh, that was awesome.” Now a five or six mile run is considered a light practice.

Q: How do you go about fundraising?

LM: Well, nationally we have to raise $3,800 each. Every state is different, like New Jersey has to raise $2,200 each. We have a lot of fundraisers here at Grey’s. Every Friday we have bake sales and next Thursday we’re hosting a bar night. We also had candy-grams on Valentine’s Day. And all the money goes 100 percent to [the leukemia society].

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Q: Where do you see your future with Team in Training?

LM: I’ve decided to register with New York Road Runners because Team in Training does all their races through them. After completing nine races and volunteering once, you automatically qualify to run the New York Marathon in 2010.

Q: Dom, will you be doing the same?

DM: Yeah, this has been a group effort for the two of us. And it’s just exciting being able to tell others about it. When you run into someone and they ask what’s new, now I can tell them I’m training to run a marathon. If someone once told me that, I’d use to think that it’s unbelievable and they were crazy.

Learn more about Dom and Lauren’s fund raising or about Team in Training

Published in: on April 6, 2009 at 8:00 pm  Leave a Comment