The Campus Slate Impact on Me and My NYIT Education

John Santamaria with Bob Wolff

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I recently looked back in time, almost a decade ago to September 2007. I was  16 years old attending St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip, NY in my junior year. I knew I was going to begin the process of choosing a college, which takes time, but for me the easy part of choosing a major was complete. I wanted a career in Broadcasting and Communications. My main focus was choosing what college to attend in order to reach my goals.

From the start of the process and right up through getting the acceptance letter in December 2008 as a senior, I knew NYIT was the place for me to attend. I chose NYIT because of the various programs offered throughout the Communication Arts Department and in the College of Arts and Sciences. I felt they all could make an impact on the direction I wanted to go in regarding my professional career and my education I would be earning.

As far as the Journalism portion of Communication Arts, this was something at the time I was newly exposed to dating back to my last couple of years in high school where I was fortunate that they have a full run television and radio station which I was actively involved with.  I didn’t spend much time early on around the school newspaper known as “The Prophet.” During my junior year in early 2008, my teacher, Mr. Ron Martorelli, discussed the possibility of bringing me onto the newspaper. He knew I was already covering sports for the school on television and he told me that writing articles can be an expanded version of what I cover on TV.  I first questioned why he had approached me but he had confidence that I would be able to do well and enjoy this other area of media. A good friend of mine Pete Paguaga, who was currently leading the sports coverage for the publication, also talked me into it because he knows my love and passion for sports. He also believed I would be able to learn quickly and have a great passion for sports writing.

Pete and Mr. Martorelli wanted me to get a chance at writing an article. They both were great assistance to me as they wanted to help me anyway possible because they both believed in what I can bring to that publication. The first story I was assigned was a preview of the school’s varsity lacrosse teams for the upcoming season. This was a sport I knew nothing about and I believe to this day that was done on purpose for the challenge of working with me on writing. Mr. Martorelli told me I did a good job on that assignment and that he wanted me to lead the sports coverage for my senior year of high school in addition to signing up for his Journalism class. It was awesome the first time I saw something I wrote in print and hearing my classmates, teachers and members of those teams saying I read your story in the newspaper you did a great job.

This turned out to be a real positive for me during the next year and a half as high school was coming to a close. I grew as a writer, attended a Journalism conference at Hofstra University hearing from some of the best in the business, and I improved over that time as a writer. I knew I wanted to stick with journalism going into college and was excited for the opportunities NYIT had to offer. At the end of my senior year in 2009, I was awarded Journalist of the Year from the Long Island Catholic for my work in Journalism and Broadcasting, recognition from the Athletic Department where I earned a Sportsmanship award and a Communications Award from St. John the Baptist at my graduation. It turned out that Mr. Martorelli was right about how much I would enjoy journalism.

In September 2009 I started my college education at NYIT. During my freshman year I wanted to get a feel of things so I didn’t join “The Campus Slate” right away especially after finding out it is a course. I later found out that you can do it as an activity as well but wanted to use my credits for that opportunity. My first article written was a guest spot for New Student Orientation in 2010. It was an article I submitted on my own because I was working as one of the orientation leaders that summer and I knew I would soon get involved with Slate. I missed writing and I was looking for an opportunity to contribute something to the publication prior to eventually becoming a staff member. At the time, I was also reporting for NYIT LI News Tonight.

At the start of spring 2011, I joined the Slate and never left. My Tuesday free hours were no longer free as I made that weekly drive down to the Slate office at the Balding House parking lot on campus and had numerous weekly lunches from our pizza advertisers over the years. I started as a staff writer under Faculty Advisor John Hanc and Editor in Chief Amanda Beekharry. It was my first course with Professor Hanc and was impressed from the start when reading his bio and seeing his various articles and books out in the press. I took more steps as a writer learning from him and developed a great portfolio of work.

The one thing I least expected to happen occurred that semester and it was when Professor Hanc asked me to take over the job of Editor in Chief. I was surprised having only been there one semester but he wanted me there for the long run and didn’t see it as a 1 year stint like many past editors have held the job. I accepted the position and was surrounded with an experienced Editorial Team that helped me get the ground running on my foundation for NYIT’s student newspaper. I knew it would be a great resume builder and it ultimately led to internships and awards from the college.

During my two years as Editor in Chief from 2011-2013, a lot was accomplished. Having been part of important changes such as developing to the current monthly publication and the website www.campusslate.com to what they both have become today. The process of the Campus Slate app began under my regime and developing a great working relationship with the School of Engineering and Computer Sciences. We also covered a lot of important stories including the 2012 Presidential Election, 10th Anniversary of September 11th Attacks, Penn State Scandal, Hurricane Sandy among many others along with the key important stories taking place at NYIT. I will never forget the time I sat down and interviewed legendary sportscaster Bob Wolff when he visited campus to receive an award from the Athletic Department in 2011.

I would like to thank Professor Hanc for giving me this opportunity of a lifetime as part of my college education. You have helped me become the journalist I am today and every piece I write, there is something in it that I learned from you. I am a better journalist today because of your teaching and guidance. Our success as a staff isn’t done without the great support of the NYIT community and alumni around the world who read, view, and support the publication daily.

To sum up my whole Campus Slate tenure, I spent four years on the publication from 2011-2014, first as a staff writer, then as Editor in Chief. I returned as a graduate student as Senior Consultant to work with my successor Erica Brandt as she wanted my guidance to help her Editorial Board in a transition year after I stepped down as Editor. I met so many great people along the way and was able to learn much more about NYIT through these opportunities.  At graduation I was honored to receive a number of awards from Communication Arts and it was a true honor to represent the institution in this position.

My NYIT education set me up for where I am today in the early part of my career. I am a Content Assistant at Major League Baseball Advanced Media working with various digital platforms for Major League Baseball and other company partners. I am also working at NYIT as the Public Address Announcer for sporting events on campus throughout the year. I still read and follow what The Campus Slate is up to. I couldn’t be more proud reading the publication and seeing my last name still playing an important role as my younger brother Matt Santamaria is the current Editor in Chief. I got to work with Matt on the staff when he was a freshman.  He is a talented writer working very hard on each story while also serving as a student leader in this important position. Keep up the great work bro!!!

In addition to NYIT and everyone there who made an impact on me, Mr. Martorelli deserves just as much credit because he believed I had what it takes to become a good writer and he was right. He along with Pete Paguaga who today is a sports writer in Connecticut, helped setup the path for me at NYIT to lead “The Campus Slate” as Editor in Chief with that first opportunity they both gave me as a high school junior. I couldn’t thank you both enough and you both have meant so much to me throughout my studies and even today in my professional career.

Congratulations to The Campus Slate on a milestone 50th Anniversary!!!  I hope it continues to make an impact on many more students just like it did for me.

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