Last updateFri, 19 Jun 2020 7pm


Student, Music Lover, Published Author

Student AuthorA sprinkle of inspiration, a dash of music, and a boatload of writing; these were the main ingredients that drove the self-publication of my debut novel, The Uncommon, at 18 years old.

The Uncommon combines my two lifelong passions—music and writing. The coming-of-age novel follows five high school musicians from New Jersey who form a rock band and realize that they all have one thing in common: they’re all uncommon from the rest of society.

Each of the characters have different backstories that make them unique, and they’re able to form everlasting friendships with one another through the power of music. The thematic combination of friendship, growth, aspiration, and music holds a very special place in my heart as it reflects upon my own life and virtues.

I wrote The Uncommon to inspire readers that being uncommon is an idea that should be embraced. So many young adults struggle with fitting in, but these five characters show that being different from society should be valued because it’s what brought them together in the first place.

They show that individuality is a wonderful thing, since it has the power to teach you about your true self, and help you understand exactly who you want to become. Without being true to themselves, their journey would never happen.

A book is more than just words on pages. Books send messages to their readers with the power to change lives, while transporting them into captivating worlds.

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Malibu: Bringing the West Coast to West Long Branch

Malibu West Long BranchBy now, most Monmouth students have heard of Malibu. But if you haven’t had a chance to jam to their beachy vibes yet, you’ll definitely want to add them to your playlist.

The band consists of Scott Buksbaum (bass/vocals), Ray Laux (guitar/vocals), Eric Schwartz (guitar), and James Spavelko (drums). Since coming together to create music as freshmen last year, the members of Malibu have experienced major success.

To celebrate their one-year anniversary, Malibu has over 14,000 Spotify streams on the song “Brighter Blue.” They also recently announced that they will be supporting Natalie Claro during her upcoming tour, throughout October.

In regard to how they began to create music together, Buksbaum, a sophomore music industry student, said, “I knew Ray through a couple classes and I knew he played guitar and sang, so I asked him if he wanted to start a band. I never met Eric before our first band practice, and I met James through a mutual friend.” Once they began to play together, there was instant chemistry. 

Blue Hawk Records, Monmouth’s student-run record label, has infinitely helped Malibu grow as artists. Schwartz, a sophomore political science student, said, “Blue Hawk Records gave us our first outlet to write and record our songs, which we’re really grateful for.”

“We recorded and released ‘Brighter Blue’ with them, which has since been our most successful song. They’ve also given us plenty of opportunities to perform on and off campus, letting us reach a bigger audience,” he continued.

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Transfer Student Survival Guide

Transfer Student Survival GuideImagine being a penguin in a jungle, somewhere unfamiliar that you’re jumping into headfirst. For many transfer students at Monmouth, this is a common feeling.

If you’re stressing about fitting into Monmouth as a new transfer student, you’re not alone. Luckily, there are unlimited ways to overcome the struggles of being a transfer student. Monmouth offers numerous resources to help transfers adjust to life here.

Erica DiNapoli, a junior business administration student, transferred to Monmouth this year. “I’m feeling like a freshman again,” she said. “I’m trying to figure out where everything is, and I’m trying to meet people.”

One of the most common difficulties of being a transfer student is the social aspect of college. But meeting friends at a new school is easier than you may think.

DiNapoli continued, “You have to put yourself out there and go out and meet people. I’m doing that all over again. It can be scary at first, because you don’t know anybody and you don’t know how they are. But if you get invited to things, you should go regardless.”

“Just try to make the best out of it. If you transfered as a junior, you have two years left and at that point, you might as well make them count,” she added.

Take advantage of the events that are hosted right here on campus. There are so many things to look forward to. For instance, Gift-Card Bingo and Casino Night are happening on family weekend from Sept. 28-30.

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The Best Things to do in Monmouth County

Monmouth County Best ThingsAs syllabus week winds down and you have planned out your work, or planned to procrastinate, you may be looking for some things to do. Thankfully, there are countless things to do around Monmouth County to occupy your time. 

Only a ten-minute drive and a couple of dollars for parking can immerse you in the artistic, hipster, and alternative vibe of Asbury Park’s boardwalk. Walking down on the far end, past the Paramount Theatre, are a collection of aesthetic murals. The hand-painted surfaces features everything from mermaids to Marilyn Monroe.

Donna Dolphin, an associate professor of communication, said, “It’s a lovely place, very close to campus, and I can’t think of a reason why anyone wouldn’t want to go there. It can be a free activity. It’s full of cultural history as well.”

Further along the boardwalk, there are various other attractions, such as mini-golf and a vintage-styled shop. There are also beachfront restaurants that are the perfect spot for a date-night.

One of Asbury Park’s most unique attractions is its Silverball Museum. Chris Chen, a sophomore computer science student said, “It was very nostalgic seeing all these old pinball and arcade machines. It was honestly worth the $15 to play until closing since I was there for hours.”

The Silverball Museum is not your average gallery or collection. You can immerse yourself in this pseudo-1950s world with pinball, skee-ball, and even authentic air hockey machines. Similarly, Red Bank offers Yestercades, which is filled with other vintage games like Pac-Man.

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How to Stay Healthy This Fall

Staying Healthy FallAutumn has its amazing side– pumpkin flavored everything, being able to wear comfy sweatshirts, and even just being able to walk outside without sweating. Even though there is so much to enjoy about this beautiful time of the year, it is clear that it is also a time of strain on the body.

Not enough sleep, weather change, and stress can all come together to make for one nasty sickness. In light of this, here are a few things to keep in mind to help us all stay healthy this season.

Regardless of which season is approaching, it is important that you always drink water. Water makes up around 60 percent of the human adult body, meaning that without in-taking enough water, your body will end up shutting itself down from dehydration.

When this happens, it becomes hard to think, your lips get super chapped, and your skin becomes overly dry.

After asking some students about how they try to stay healthy, Shannon McGorty, a sophomore education student, said, “I don’t like the taste of water very much, but it’s important to be healthy, so I buy flavors for the water, so I make sure to get the daily recommended intake.”

So, even if making sure you have all that water everyday seems impossible, you can find a way to do it. The more water going into the body, the better the body will work.

Another easy way of keeping those germs away is by washing your hands. Although everyone should know that soap and water are always there to help, there are some people who do not believe in germs.

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Summer Scholars: A Look at Undergraduate Research

Summer Scholars UndergraduateEight students participated in this year’s Summer Scholars program. The students were from six different departments, each guided by a faculty mentor.

21 applications were reviewed from across the University, and the following were selected: Kaitlin Allsopp (Political Science), Emily Blaser (Communication), Megan Conchar (Psychology), Emma O’Rourke (Political Science), Jenna Puglisi (English), Nathaniel Rodriguez (Mathematics), Marta Telatin (Biology MCP), and Sebastian Vera (Biology MCP).

This group worked on their individual projects throughout June and July.

The program provides a stipend, a budget to complete the project, and housing for the summer months.

I personally completed a creative writing project, which is a short collection of poetry. It uses the natural elements to frame a love story, with our local environment providing inspiration to the imagery.

This program allowed me the chance to place all my focus on my writing, which is something that I rarely have the chance to do.

Now that the writing is done, I am submitting my work to poetry magazines.

While our topics were very diverse, my fellow peers had similar positive experiences.

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It’s Okay to Not Click with Your Roommate

Click With RoommateYour roommate isn’t who you thought they would be, and now you’re hiding away in the library or bathroom hoping for a change. Is it too late to switch? Will the awkwardness pass? Or will you be stuck with a problem child until May?

You may have envisioned a life of fun and friendship with your roommate but instead, you were greeted with the exact opposite of their misleading Facebook profile.

Going into freshman year is a terrifying experience, especially for those who struggle in new social settings. You may even be an upperclassman who needed to settle for a random roommate.

Unfortunately, not everyone can match your style of living. Some problems can result from lying on the roommate personality test, or you may just have plain bad luck.

Luckily, you are not the only one who has encountered roommate problems!

A sophomore, who wishes to remain anonymous, shared their own story, recounting a problem with their suitemate last year.

The student said, “Everything was fine in the beginning.” However, once “most of the [students] got comfortable with each other” and shared classes, they began to use the common room for “homework and music at night.”

There was a suitemate who was annoyed by the noise and constantly complained, despite the music being played at a low volume.

“You know that the walls are paper thin,” the student continued, “you can breathe in one room, and you’ll hear it in two rooms down.”

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No More Back-to-School Blues

Back To School BluesStarting classes. Making friends. Mounds of homework. These and many more things are the cause of stress for millions of students returning to college and arriving for the first time. There are different types of stress that can affect students, which can ultimately affect their performance at school and their mental health.      

First year students are even more affected by this, by not only having to deal with the stress of classes, but also the social pressure to make friends or go to parties. However, there are multiple ways to combat this stress and not let it ruin a great year before it even starts.

Feed the Mind -- As Well As the Body

Katherine Rizman, LCSW, a counselor at Counseling and Psychological Services explained that the center on campus most commonly sees people with anxiety. She said, “We see a lot of anxiety here, which is directly related to stress. There are lots of different factors, such as social, academic and even athletic.”

She mentioned that when this anxiety kicks in, students forget to take care of themselves. Even something as basic as eating can be neglected.

Rizman said, “Our bodies are not going to handle stress well if we aren’t eating, especially if we are eating the wrong things. You won’t be able to focus or do things the way you want if you are hungry.”

Taking small breaks to eat something filling and nutritious will not only help you be able to manage your stress better, it could even give you the energy to finish all the tasks that are causing your anxiety.

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Dress Up Your Life: Fashion for the Fall Season

Fashion Fall SeasonLeather jackets, combat boots, ripped jeans: the quintessential “rocker” outfit. And the best thing about this apparel? It emerges in the fall, amongst the changing leaves and the dropping temperatures.

Even though the heat has been staying with us during the first few weeks of this semester, it won’t be long before the coolness of autumn sneaks in.

Walking around campus like you’re on a catwalk has never been easier than it is in the fall. Aside from the sleek look of leather in the autumn daylight, the comfort and style of denim jackets never fail to fulfill our fashion needs. They match everything, and they never go out of style.

Sophomore communication student, Cristian Tiberi, shared his go-to fall outfit. He said, “I love to wear denim vests with a long-sleeved shirt or an Old Navy Sweater.”

Not to mention, denim vests and jackets offer a dash of sophistication, as you make your way from class to class, getting ready to take on the world.

Not into leather or denim? Don’t fret– there’s a pattern for everyone! Spice up your look with a classy camouflage jacket. Or turn to plaid, one of the most versatile styles.

A flannel shirt can be worn tucked in with rolled-up sleeves, or long and unbuttoned with a simple t-shirt underneath.

Of course, the choice of style depends on the weather. On cooler autumn days, you’d opt for a style that would keep you warm, whereas on days that still feel a bit like summer, you may choose to sport plaid around your waist.

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"I Care. I Care a Lot, it's Kinda My Thing" | Alexandria Afanador's Senior Goodbye

Afanador 1I remember when I was young, growing up I wanted so desperately to be older- I would drag my little feet around the house in someone else’s high heels, rub bright crimson lipstick across my lips, eventually smearing it on everything I touched. Being the youngest of four older half sisters, I looked at them as adults, not siblings. I wanted to be like them: traipsing around with significant others, graduating high school, being their own people--just like the movies. I didn’t know that when I got older, it came with a number of other things less glamorous than walking the halls hand in hand with friends. But, still, here I am today, looking back on the years I’ve spent wishing to be older, more mature, having an aura of seriousness and elegance that I couldn’t even imagine having, let alone deserving.

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Playing for Change

Playing for ChangePlaying for Change (PFC) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that was founded in 2007 by Mark Johnson, a producer and Grammy-winning engineer and award-winning film director, and Whitney Kroenke, a continuing advocate and participant in the arts.

I became interested in PFC through my Health in Developing Countries class, HE-375, taught by Chris Hirschler, Ph.D. associate professor of health and education.

PFC has generated a lot of attention as countless musicians around the world are presently involved including celebrities such as Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones), Bono (U2), and Sara Bareilles.

In 2005, a small filmmaking crew crafted a mobile recording studio and traveled around the world filming musicians on the streets in which they lived.

Later, the sound was mixed and despite the fact that the musicians never were in the same room or let alone on the same continent, musicians were united through music with each giving their different gifts to the compilation album.

Technology has permitted the birth and growth of Playing for Change. Joe Rapolla, Chair of the Music and Theatre Department, indicated, “Playing for Change is another example of how music and art can connect culture and impact societal change. Music is embedded in our DNA.

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Contact Information

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

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

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151