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Second Annual Toni Morrison Day Celebrates African-American Author

Morrison 1The second annual Toni Morrison Day, hosted by the Department of English, took place via Zoom on Thursday, Feb. 18. The all-day event celebrated the life of late African American author Toni Morrison and the conversations of race and marginalization highlighted throughout her novels. The event was co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Monmouth Review Club, and the Intercultural Center.

“This event, although only being held for two years, is so important to the Monmouth English Department community,” said Gabriella Arabio, a senior English student who presented at the student symposium portion of the event, where students presented academic pieces surrounding the topics of race and gender. “Through the works of Toni Morrison and other great writers, students and faculty can expand their interests and points of view on important topics such as gender equalities and race.”

The event began with a faculty pedagogy panel featuring Dr. Heide Estes, Beth Swanson, and Dr. Abha Sood of the English Department, Dr. Walter Greason of Educational Counseling and Leadership, and Anne Deepak of the School of Social Work. The event followed with a keynote address from Dr. Keisha N. Blain, Associate Professor of African American History at the University of Pittsburgh.

“When we began planning Toni Morrison Day back in September, we knew there was a strong likelihood that it would need to be all virtual this year to accommodate the COVID-19 health crisis, and we decided to approach it as an opportunity, rather than a challenge,” said Beth Swanson, Lecturer of English and Advisor of Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society. “Hosting the event remotely actually worked in our favor be-cause it enabled us to expand our outreach beyond campus. We were able to invite guests and include participants from a much larger community, which resulted in a much more high-profile event.”

The student symposium continued afterwards, featuring scholarly readings from five students: MA English student Anthony Clark on the topic of colorism in Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye; sophomore music student Jenae Louis-Jacques on race and cinematography; senior English education student Nikki Ortt on the oppression of women in a male-dominated society found in Morrison’s novel Sula; senior English education student Gabriella Arabio on feminism within the entertainment industry; and English student Latisha Liang on the racial injustice and violence explored in Marilyn Nelson’s poem “A Wreath for Emmett Till.”

“Presenting my paper for Toni Morrison Day was such a profound experience,” Clark said. “Given the powerful literary titan that Morrison is, it was such an honor to be able to discuss her work. She is someone who I have always looked up to both personally and in my writing life, because of her courage to write about emotionally taxing subjects that shift our consciousness.”

“The experience of presenting my work at the Toni Morrison Day Event was very rewarding,” Arabio said. “The entire audience at the event were extremely supportive and asked thought-provoking questions about the works presented.”

Swanson said, “I felt really inspired by the Student Symposium because so many of the participants were either members of Sigma Tau Delta or former students of mine, and it was wonderful to see how empowered they were by sharing their work and how their presentations led to really important cultural conversations with other students and faculty who attended the session.”Morrison 22

The day concluded with a reading by multi-award-winning author, Tracy K. Smith, who received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and served as 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States from 2017 to 2019. Smith recited poems about femininity, racial identity and culture, sexuality, and power.

“Planning and participating in Tracy K. Smith’s readings was truly an honor,” said Melissa Lauria, senior English student, President of Sigma Tau Delta, and Editor-in-Chief of the Monmouth Review, the student-run literary magazine. “Smith’s poetry beautifully follows in Morrison’s footsteps, but also celebrates its own nuance and uniqueness. I was absolutely thrilled with the turnout from both faculty and students alike.”

Swanson also said that she was thrilled with the turnout of each event. “I couldn’t believe the surge in registration we received when our registration went live,” she said. “I’m also very grateful to many of our campus partners—like the Honors School, the Intercultural Center, and PGIS—who helped us with promotional outreach. I remember watching the waiting rooms on each Zoom call and being amazed by how many people not only participated in the celebration, but also attended multiple events throughout the day.”

Morrison received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Nobel Prize in Literature. Notable works include The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977), Tar Baby (1981), and Beloved (1987). Feb. 18 would have been Morrison’s 90th birthday.

“I believe that students and faculty alike can connect with Toni Morrison’s works and legacy, because every archetype of African American people are represented in her books,” Clark said. “Thus, she is one of the many authors who have reminded us that African American people are not a monolith. Her works are just as timely in the present day as they were during their initial publications, because the topics that she wrote about are still happening today.”

“I hope Toni Morrison Day eventually evolves into an annual whole-campus event, so it sounds like we are off to a promising start,” Swanson said.” Toni Morrison’s legacy is so far-reaching…I think as a campus community—and as a human community—we share the responsibility to advocate for cultural change that will cut paths towards equality, equity, and the type of shared future Morrison envisioned. I believe this is what Toni Morrison Day really stands for—an opportunity to come together and recommit ourselves to being better, more self-aware, more culturally-responsive, more empathetic, kinder.”

 

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Students Discuss Graduate School Experiences

Students Discuss“What is the right path for me to take after college?”

That is the question many college seniors ask themselves. Some may choose to dive straight into the workforce, others prefer to take a break before applying to jobs, and others choose to pursue graduate school.

Graduate school is an option that always lingers in the back of students’ minds as they juggle the many factors that can influence this decision.

Kelly Grant, a ’20 alum, studied radio and television as an undergrad and holds a master’s degree in corporate and public communication from Monmouth University.

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"Julian Abele Project" Brings Recognition to Great Hall Architect

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“I’ve always wanted to do some type of project with my students on Julian Abele for a few years now,” said Melissa Ziobro, Specialist Professor of Public History who teaches the Museums and Archives Management course. “Over the past few years, the University has been revisiting its relationship with Woodrow Wilson and the renaming of Wilson Hall. In the course of those conversations, I learned about Julian Abele and his role in the building.”

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Students Find Difficulty Making Friends in Online Classes

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While students could once converse with their peers before and after a class, they now find themselves alone as soon as the professor hits “end meeting.” Students are now forced to adjust to everything virtually—taking classes, completing tests and quizzes, and even making friends. For many students, this adjustment has not been easy. Many have found it difficult to create connections with their peers and professors.

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A Blood Test Does Not Always Show COVID-19

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Antibodies within patients decline over time. According to the CDC article, a negative antibody test does not indicate that a patient did not have a previous infection of COVID-19. Because the amount of time COVID-19 antibodies remain detectable within a patient’s blood remains uncertain, health experts believe that this blood test does not seem like a reliable way of detecting a past infection.

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Quarantine Poetry: How One Student Turned to Writing to Cope With a Loss

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After a sudden digestive issue prevented her from running, she and her mother took a trip to the hospital, only to be sent home frustrated with inconclusive tests results.

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Wrapping Up the Fall Semester: Students and Faculty Reflect Upon Course Delivery

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Gabriella Nasto, a junior communication student, did see benefits of in-person instruction this fall. She said, “I think my in-person class benefited me more because I was able to focus better than I did in my on-line classes.” Nasto also felt that communication was easier with her professor when meet in person rather than through Zoom meetings like her other classes. Nasto believes that Zoom classes can make it difficult to find the right time to ask a question or make a comment.

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He described his song on the album, titled “Those Green Eyes,” as having an early ‘70s, soft rock, acoustic vibe, reminiscent of old-school artists like Jackson Brown, Elton John, and Neil Young.

“It sounds like your standard rock/pop song about somebody’s eyes. I mostly chose green because it seems like all the other one syllables were taken, so that’s what I was left with,” he chuckled. “The theme I’m running with is the idea that a lot of people will end up being with the type of person they think they deserve. It’s like a case study… It’s not even a love song as much as it is observing what people are doing and why they choose certain types of people to be with.”

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PR Professor Mary Harris Conducts Awareness Campaign for a Recently Published Book

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“The book offers nourishing and affordable whole food plant based recipes designed for anyone looking to make healthy changes to their lifestyle,” she explained. Harris works as the Media Director of the science-based, non-profit website NutritionFacts.org founded by Dr. Greger.

Harris’ vast experience in the public relations field has helped her in the creation of this campaign. “I have worked in public relations and marketing for the past 14 years in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors, so my experience with past promotions and campaigns has guided my work,” she said. She is also the co-advisor of the Public Relations Student Society (PRSSA) and the Shadow Public Relations Firm.

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Student Spotlight: Payton Collander

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Collander, a senior double majoring in criminal justice and political science, explained the process of vote counting, “We logged into the Associated Press database, which was filled with safety precautions. You would either get a call or a fax from clerks or stringers, the people that are at the polls. We did all the votes by county. By the end of the day, you were counting a couple hundred thousand votes.”

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The Institute for Global Understanding's Inclusive Mission

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Established in 2001 as the Global Understanding Project (GUP), the organization believes there needs to be an increasing demand of learning and understanding. A major event that led to these initiatives was the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Following this event, in Spring 2002 the Global Understanding Convention was established and became an annual week-long convention consisting of student, faculty, and public speakers with open classrooms to examine analysis of matters relevant to IGU’s mission.

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Contact Information

CAMPUS LOCATION
The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

MAILING ADDRESS
The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey
07764

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu