Intern Profile: Jenna Gragnano at the Northeastern Association of the Blind

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Jenna Gragnano (right) at NABA’s 2014 Visionary Gala.

Jenna Gragnano interned at The Northeastern Association of the Blind at Albany, or NABA, in Spring 2014. These are her experiences.

At NABA, I was responsible for various tasks while working under the supervision of the Director of Communications and Development, Michele O’Hare. My first assignment was to contact prospective golf courses to see if they were interested in holding a Blind Golf Tournament at their course. One of my many writing assignments including conducting an interview with NABA’s Youth Coordinator, Caterina Marra, about the Youth Program. After interviewing Caterina, I was responsible for writing an article about the Youth Program that ran in NABA’s annual newsletter, Brighter Horizons.

I also helped plan, assemble, and assist at the 2014 Visionary Gala. I wrote the mail invitation letters, as well as worked the wine pull at the event. I was in charge of asking guests if they would like to purchase a wine cork for twenty dollars, and at the end of the night they would receive a bottle of wine ranging in worth from twenty dollars to one hundred dollars. There were eighty wine corks and I successfully sold all of them, raising NABA $1,600. The money raised from the wine pull will allow NABA to continue to provide services to help the blind and visually impaired achieve their independence and growth.

I also learned the basics of how a non-profit organization was run. I worked on small projects such as: stuffing envelopes for mail letters, organizing sweatshirt orders, and decorating for the wine pull as well as putting together advertisement posters for the Visionary Gala.

The first day I interned at NABA, I was asked to make phone calls to a list of country clubs and golf courses to see if they were interested in hosting a Blind Golf tournament. I was given a folder of golf course directories and placed in a room by myself. I can remember feeling overwhelmed and nervous to call the courses. That day, I left forty voicemails to prospective golf courses. I left my internship that day still feeling nervous and worried that I was not going to be an asset to their organization.

My last week at my internship, I was asked to call the golf courses again to confirm a date and time for course play. Michele O’Hare handed the same folder of golf course directories to me and placed me in an office by myself. The feeling of nervousness was far gone, and that is when I realized that I had become comfortable at my internship as well as talking and conversing with others since this time the golf courses were open and someone was available to speak to.

Being an English major has been a blessing in disguise. Although I was originally an Adolescent English Education major, I still was nervous about my choice to become an English major. After interning at NABA, I realized that my major is applicable to a variety of fields and that my possibilities are endless. After I graduate, I plan on volunteering at NABA because I really enjoyed my time there and I want to work with non-profit organizations.

My advice to students in this major is to not always listen to what others have to say being an English major, that it’s a negative for your career. You are gaining an education that leaves you with endless possibilities

Frequency North Presents: Marc Spitz!

On Thursday, November 6, novelist, rock writer, playwright, and memoirist, Marc Spitz will be joining us at 7:30pm in Saint Joseph Hall Auditorium, 985 Madison Ave., Albany, NY 12203

In addition, Spitz will discuss his craft in an informal talk and question-and-answer session at 6 p.m. in the College’s Albertus Hall Room 301, 432 Western Ave., Albany, N.Y.

Both programs are free and open to the public.

Spitz is a music journalist and playwright based in New York City. n 1997, Spitz was hired by SPIN magazine, where he wrote over a dozen cover stories on artists as diverse as Axl Rose, Weezer, Trent Reznor, The Strokes, The White Stripes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, and Franz Ferdinand. In 1998, Spitz’s first play Retail Sluts premiered at screen graphic_nov6_1024x768Todo Con Nada, Dubbed the “hipster playwright,” by local critics, over the next decade Spitz would write (and sometimes co-produce) a dozen more Off-Off-Broadway plays. Spitz’s has written a number of books including: We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk (Three Rivers Press, 2001),  How Soon Is Never?, Too Much, Too Late: A Novel (Broadway, 2006, Nobody Likes You: Inside the Turbulent Life, Times, and Music of Green Day (Hyperion, 2007), Bowie: A Biography (Crown, 2009), and JAGGER: Rebel, Rock Star, Rambler, Rogue (Gotham, 2011), and Poseur: A Memoir of Downtown New York City. His most recent publication is Twee: A History (It Books 2014). His writing has appeared in Uncut, Rolling Stone, Maxim, Blender, Nylon, Harp, Vanity Fair, New York Magazine, and The New York Times. 

This event is funded in part by Poets & Writers Inc. with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

The remaining “Frequency North” schedule is as follows. All readings are free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.FrequencyNorth.com or follow on Twitter @frequencynorth:

• Friday, December 5, 2014, 7:30 p.m. – Dave King
Neil Hellman Library, Reference Area (1st Floor), 392 Western Avenue, Albany NY 12203
Co-presented with the M.F.A. in Creative Writing

Intern Profile: Chris Surprenant at Modern Farmer magazine

Surprenant1Chris Surprenant (right) was an editorial assistant at Modern Farmer, based in Hudson, NY. Here is his account.

During my time at Modern Farmer, I was required to do a variety of different tasks for both their print magazine and website. I produced several transcriptions of phone interviews that ranged anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour long. I was also required to create several photo posts using materials from the Library of Congress, and conducted a phone interview that I later turned into a Question and Answer post for their website.

When I was not involved with the writing side of things, I was actively involved in administrative duties that required me to take inventory of their online store items. For this, I created a spreadsheet that included names and addresses of potential places where the magazine would be sold. While I performed a variety of different tasks, creating photo posts and transcribing were my two biggest responsibilities.

summer14I pitched our web editor three or four ideas, and he chose which one he felt would generate the most online traffic. Once I was given the go-ahead, I would spend the afternoon gathering up a collection of photos from the Library of Congress, create a document with the provided captions, and write a short blurb about the spread itself. I then uploaded the photos and captions to their website through WordPress where I would arrange them according to preset guidelines. The following week, the post would be published on a Friday afternoon. As for the transcriptions, they were a tedious but integral part of the writing process for the writers. On average, a half an hour interview could take up to two hours to transcribe without interruption.

I was able to observe how a print magazine is put together and the many steps it takes to actually create a final product. The pitching process was also interesting to observe, as I was able to see what would or would not fit into the magazine and why.

I was definitely able to see the potential of an English major in the workforce, particularly in areas that rely heavily on writing and research. English majors are trained to find answers to hard questions with all of our research papers we write. Also, knowing how to correctly form a sentence is something that is valuable in the news industry. Clarity and the conciseness are things we are taught as undergraduates in our writing, and it is overwhelmingly applicable when writing a story.

The creative muscle of an English major is also incredibly valuable. The “7 Prominent Pop Culture Pigs” post I created required me to be able to phrase their biographies in such a way that was not only humorous, but also clear and brief. These are skills that I feel can be applied to marketing, writing, editing, or research positions in the future. I’ve learned that, as an English major, it’s all about how we market ourselves. We can’t say that we just read a lot of books and wrote a lot of papers. That’s reductive. It’s elaborating on how we did those things that employers will ultimately care about.

For English majors who will eventually be doing their internships, my advice would be to write, write, and write! Modern Farmer liked that I had clips to show them to actually prove I could coherently string words together and write on variety of topics in different ways. Also, it’s a good idea to join clubs where there is a lot of collaboration. My time at The Chronicle not only gave me an outlet to write, but it also required an immense amount of teamwork. I think that those traits are valuable not only for landing an internship, but for functioning in the real world.

Frequency North Presents: Kiese Laymon!

The second event of the Frequency North season is next Thursday with author, Kiese Laymon!

Laymon will read on Thursday, October 23rd, at 7:30 p.m. in the Saint Rose Events and Athletics Center (Standish Rooms, Second Floor), 420 Western Ave., Albany. Copies of his most recent works will be available for purchase and signing.

The program is free and open to the public.

kiese-laymonKiese Laymon is a black southern writer, who earned an MFA from Indiana University and is the author of the novel, Long Division, and a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America.  Both of Laymon’s book are finalists for the Mississippi Award for Arts and Letters in the fiction and nonfiction categories.  Laymon is currently at work on a new novel And So On, and a memoir called 309: A Fat Black Memoir. He is an Associate Professor of English at Vassar College. Check out his website.

This event is funded in part by Poets & Writers Inc. with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

The remaining “Frequency North” schedule is as follows. All readings are free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.FrequencyNorth.com or follow on Twitter @frequencynorth:

• Thursday, November 6, 2014, 7:30 p.m. – Marc Spitz
Standish Rooms, Events and Athletics Center (Second Floor), 420 Western Ave., Albany

• Friday, December 5, 2014, 7:30 p.m. – Dave King
Neil Hellman Library, Reference Area (1st Floor), 392 Western Avenue, Albany NY 12203
Co-presented with the M.F.A. in Creative Writing

Frequency North kicks off with Chloe Caldwell!

The 2014-2015 season of Frequency North kicks of with Hudson, NY native, Chloe Caldwell!

chloecaldwell1Caldwell will read on Thursday, October 9th, at 7:30 p.m. in the Saint Rose Events and Athletics Center (Standish Rooms, Second Floor), 420 Western Ave., Albany. Copies of their most recent works will be available for purchase and signing.

The program is free and open to the public.

Chloe Caldwell is the author of the forthcoming novella Women(SF/LD Books, 2014) and the essay collection Legs Get Led Astray (Future Tense Books, 2012). She is the founder and curator of the Hudson River Loft Reading Series in Hudson, NY, and has taught Creative Writing workshops at Omega Teen Camp, The Hudson Opera House, The Independent Resource Center, and personal essay classes online through Lit Reactor.

This event is funded in part by Poets & Writers Inc. with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

The remaining “Frequency North” schedule is as follows. All readings are free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.FrequencyNorth.com or follow on Twitter @frequencynorth:

• Thursday, October 23, 2014, 7:30 p.m. – Kiese Laymon
Standish Rooms, Events and Athletics Center (Second Floor), 420 Western Ave., Albany

• Thursday, November 6, 2014, 7:30 p.m. – Marc Spitz
Standish Rooms, Events and Athletics Center (Second Floor), 420 Western Ave., Albany

• Friday, December 5, 2014, 7:30 p.m. – Dave King
Neil Hellman Library, Reference Area (1st Floor), 392 Western Avenue, Albany NY 12203
Co-presented with the M.F.A. in Creative Writing

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Announcing: The College of Saint Rose High School Essay Contest!

EssayContestFlyer 001 The English Department at The College of Saint Rose is starting an essay contest for high school juniors and seniors.  The theme for this contest in 2014-2015 is:

If you could share a meal with a fictional character, author, or filmmaker, who would this be? How has he or she affected your life?  What would you eat?  What would you discuss? 

Any high school junior or senior is welcome to submit an essay related to this topic.  Research is not required, but, if you choose to do research, make sure you give credit to your sources.  Essays will be judged on originality, depth, clarity, and correctness.

FIRST  PRIZE:  $300.00

SECOND PRIZE:  $200.00

THIRD PRIZE:  TWO AWARDS OF $50.00 EACH

LENGTH:  Between 3 and 5 pages (in 12-point type, double spaced, with 1-inch margins).  Do not include your name on the pages of the essay.

SUBMISSION:  You may send a print copy of your essay to: Dr. Catherine Cavanaugh, The College of Saint Rose, English Department, 432 Western Ave., Albany, NY 12203.  If you prefer, you may email your essay in a Word document to cavanauc@strose.edu.  Include a separate document (print or electronic) with your name, contact information, high school, the title of the essay, and the name of your English teacher.

DEADLINE:  December 3, 2014.  Winners will be notified in February 2015.  All winners and their parents and English teachers will be invited to an awards ceremony at The College of Saint Rose in Spring 2015.

QUESTIONS: Contact Dr. Catherine Cavanaugh cavanauc@astrose.edu

The College of Saint Rose (www.strose.edu) is a dynamic, comprehensive college of nearly 5,000 students. Located in the city of Albany, the heart of New York State’s Capital District, the College is a private, independent, coeducational institution with a comprehensive liberal education curriculum and progressive academic programs.  For almost 100 years, the programs at Saint Rose have included strong and continually evolving majors in English and English-Adolescence Education (www.strose.edu/english).   We have nurtured great writing for a long time and welcome applications to our English programs from high school students who care about writing, literature, drama, film, and media studies.

Meet The Majors: Part I

Meet three of our new majors here at the English Department at The College of Saint Rose! I’m happy to introduce Sean, Vincent, and Derek. Though the photo quality is shaky, their interest in English is steady and strong. Following our tradition of “Two Truths and A Lie,” here is some information from the friendly trio:

-Once had a pet Chinchilla named Master Roshi who used to steal Nutella.
-Jumped off a 50 foot cliff on a bet to get a turkey sandwich.
–Taught my history teacher how to surf in Hawaii.
–I love to spend time gardening in the summer.
–Played two varsity sports in high school.
–Grew up in the Capital Region and have lived here my whole life.
–I’m an only child.
–Broke my leg playing football.
–Used to get shots in my head as a child.

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