April featured alumnus: Chris D’Arienzo

April featured alumnus: Chris D’Arienzo

It all started with a dream.

Chris D’Arienzo, Paw Paw native and ’94 MSU School of Journalism graduate, said during an interview with the Macomb Daily that he would go to musicals all the time while visiting his mother on the East Coast.

Photo via Flickr.

He dreamed of one day having a musical of his own.

“I said I wanted to write a Broadway show,” D’Arienzo said during the interview.

Writer for the smash-hit musical “Rock of Ages,” D’Arienzo was nominated for five Tony Awards in 2009 including best musical.

Based on hits from the ‘80s, “Rock of Ages” includes music from Journey, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, Pat Benetar, Whitesnake Twisted Sister, Poison and Asia, to name a few.

Despite his initial negative attitude, D’Arienzo decided to go to New York to make his “Rock of Ages” dream come true.

“When I pitched it, I jokingly said, ‘This is a Broadway show,’ and everyone kind of laughed,” D’Arienzo said during his Macomb Daily interview. “Then all of a sudden we were going to New York, and we said, ‘The critics are gonna hate us, but hopefully the audience loves us. Then we opened and got a rave in the New York Times.”

Touring around the world, “Rock of Ages” has been recognized as one of the 50 longest-running musicals of all time.

Dabbling into the film industry, D’Arienzo also wrote and directed the film “Barry Munday” and is currently directing the film “Always On My Mind,” starring Nick Nolte and Glenn Close with music by Elton John.

On April 6, “Rock of Ages” will be returning to D’Arienzo’s alma mater for a one-night show at MSU’s Wharton Center for Performing Arts.

The show begins at 6 p.m. and tickets start at 25 dollars.

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February featured alumni: The Bachelor edition

February featured alumni: The Bachelor edition

In the history of ABC’s hit reality show “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” two Spartan grads have been a part of the fan-frenzy mania.

As week five of the 18th season is quickly approaching, the gossip about this year’s bachelor, Juan Pablo Galavis, is quickly heating up. But what many MSU students and alumni do not know is that two highly talked about bachelors in the past call MSU their alma mater.

Bachelor #1

Bob Guiney preforming with Band from TV. Photo via Flickr

Bob Guiney

From: Riverview, Mich.
MSU Graduation Year: Class of 1993
Season: One of “The Bachelorette” & four of “The Bachelor”
Relationship Status: Divorced

After getting his first view by the public eye back in 2003 on season one of ABC’s “The Bachelorette,” Guiney was not chosen by at-the-time bachelorette, Trista Rehn. Rehn just celebrated ten years of marriage to the season’s winner Ryan Sutter in Dec. 2012.

Guiney was later chosen to be “The Bachelor” for the fourth season of the show, and was added to the Wetpaint.com list of seven who left the show without proposing.

In 2004, Guiney later married soap opera star Rebecca Budig from All My Children. After almost six years of marriage, Budig filed for a divorce in 2010.

This former Spartan football walk-on was the host of TLC’s 2008 show called Date My House and is currently part of a charity band of actors called Band from TV.

Bachelor #2

Ed Swiderski

Ed Swiderski. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

From: Monroe, Mich.
MSU Graduation Year: Class of 2002
Season: Five of “The Bachelorette” & three of “Bachelor Pad”
Relationship Status: Dating

Causing drama in 2009 during season five of “The Bachelorette, ” Swiderski walked out mid-season on bachelorette Jillian Harris to focus on his job. After realizing he had left what he thought to be the love of his life, Swiderski returned to the show and ended up winning the season.

After merely a few months had passed, celebrity tabloids released that Swiderski and Harris would not be making the walk down the aisle.

Recently, Radar Online released a series of odd email messages that led readers to believe that he is now dating Natalie Bomke, a host of Good Morning Chicago.

Currently living in Chicago, he is the Senior Vice President at Legacy Marketing Partners, author of the book “Pinterest for Business: How to Pin Your Company to the Top of the Hottest Social Media Network” and an Alumni Board Member here at MSU.

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Action on abortion legislation heats up in Michigan

Action on abortion legislation heats up in Michigan

Elaina Clark, Michigan State University sophomore human biology student, said that women should not have to be convinced or manipulated into making a decision that could put an innocent child at risk for growing up under poor circumstances.

Ohio recently received national attention as it joined eight other states, including Michigan, that require women to be given the opportunity to view the ultrasound of their conceived child prior to abortion.

“[This law] makes it seem like they’re trying to make women feel guilty for what they are doing,” Clark said. “It’s already a hard enough situation as it is.”

Earlier this year Michigan House Rep. Joel Johnson, R-Clare, presented a bill to the Michigan House of Representatives that would intensify the statewide ultrasound viewing law. Michigan also recently approved a bill that prohibits insurers from paying for abortions unless the woman has already purchased coverage through a separate insurance rider.

Genevieve Marnon, Public Affairs Associate at Right to Life of Michigan, said that this bill would take the Ohio law a step further.

“We currently require the abortion clinic to offer a woman the option to view an ultrasound image prior to an abortion, if the clinic uses ultrasounds, but we do not mandate that an ultrasound be performed or that the clinic maintain a copy in the patient file,” Marnon said. “HB 4187… would mandate that an ultrasound be preformed, [which] Ohio does not make this requirement.”

Long-time activist for women’s reproductive rights, Dr. Penny Gardner, associate professor for Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures at MSU, said that she finds the idea of requiring a woman to have an ultrasound done as part of abortion procedure is a defamation of women’s rights.

“It’s terribly destructive,” Gardner said. “It’s something put up to dissuade a woman of a decision that she has made, [and] it is her right and her choice no matter what way she has come to that decision.”

MSU sophomore social relations and policy student Kathryn Maass said that although she considers herself to be pro-life, she thinks it is unfair that male political figures are making the decisions, regarding abortion legislation, on the behalf of women.

“They will never understand the situation or the stress that a woman is put under,” Maass said. “Women’s rights should ultimately be made by a woman.”

Dr. Jayne Schuiteman, interim director of the Women’s Resource Center and associate professor in the Center for Gender in Global Context at MSU, said that anti-abortion legislation, like the one passed in Ohio, could have detrimental effects on the efforts that have been taken during the past decades in the revolution of a woman’s right of choice.

“I think each effort is a chip away at women’s reproductive rights,” said Schuiteman. “I think the ultimate [goal] with anti-choice people is to eliminate abortion altogether and each step is just a chip away at that general overall goal.”

Stressing the importance of having mandated ultrasounds on women in Michigan, especially for college-aged adults, Marnon said many women don’t realize that they are carrying a living being inside of their body.

“Many young people have been told that it is just a clump of cells or it isn’t really a person,” Marnon said. “Having the image of a tiny human in front of your eyes will dispel that illusion and hopefully lead more young women to choose life.”

As a woman who has devoted a large majority of her life to traveling the United States to spread the ideals of reproductive freedom, Gardner said how each piece of intrusive legislation affects her personally.

“If you don’t want to have an abortion don’t have one, if you don’t want to buy birth control don’t buy it,” Gardner said. “But I don’t see why those of us that make those decisions need to be penalized by insurance companies, by the state, by access, by all kinds of barriers put in front of us where we should have a voice to choices that we are making, that are about our lives.”

While decisions on these abortion-related bills in Michigan could be drawn out all the way until election season in November of next year, only time will tell as to whether or not they will become enacted into state law.

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Technology in academia is helping less, hurting more

Technology in academia is helping less, hurting more

An overwhelming majority of people use it everyday. Some people sleep with it at night, cuddle with it like a favorite stuffed animal and a shocking number of people can’t even go ten minutes without checking it.

technology

Technology use is sweeping across the MSU campus like wildfire and it is beginning to creep its way into the academic lives of students and pose potential issues on communication, said Zachary Retterath, a senior elementary education student.

“I think that we’re already on the verge of something dangerous in our society where we’re becoming socially awkward because we rely so much on [technology],” said Retterath. “It kind of worries me that we are not having as much face-to-face interaction like with online classes.”

Rapidly changing day-by-day, professors are beginning to implement new forms technology into their course curricula and everyday classroom life. These advancements in technology are beginning to form a new era of learning and education here at MSU that could have complications, said MSU students and faculty.

Jeremy Steele, a specialist in the School of Journalism, said that one of the biggest drawbacks of virtual classes is that issues may come from not having a personal connection with his students.

“It can be hard to figure out if students are understanding a subject,” Steele said. “It’s very different from an in-class experience in that you never get to know the personality of the [students].”

As a professor who strongly discourages technology use during his lectures, Charles Bokemeier, an accounting professor of practice at MSU, said that the majority of students he sees using laptops in class are doing something that is completely unrelated to taking notes.

“For most classes, all you have to do is walk into a big lecture where computers are out and observe what is on their screens,” Bokemeier said. “I don’t have [any] statistics, but I have observed [that] the majority of the screens are not related to the course … [and] often these students will be the ones doing poorly in the class and wonder why.”

Many professors now are beginning to post their PowerPoint lectures online, which allow students to access virtually all of the information that is presented during class. Katelyn Butman, an MSU sophomore pre-nursing student, said that when professors do this, it gives students little incentive to go to class when they can learn the majority of the information on their own.

“It motivates me less to go to class if they are going to post the same thing that they are going to say out loud to the class,” Butman said. “I am probably going to think twice before I go to class that day.”

Although technology may have growing issues, online classes can work well in a university setting when managed correctly. After having his first trial run with teaching an online summer session of JRN 203 this past summer, Steele said that this version of the course had multiple benefits.

“The advantage was that [students] could take it anywhere and not be tied to campus [and] they could do assignments on their own time and work on each lesson at their own pace,” Steele said.

While technology is becoming more implemented into learning at MSU, Bokemeier said that students still have to find a good equilibrium between technology-based and traditional styles of education and not become over-reliant on one form or the other.

“In the end, students still have to read, still have to express themselves through problem solution, writing, etc.,” Bokemeier said. “ [Students] still have to be able to think and communicate answers both with technology and other wise.”

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November featured alumna: Julie Aigner-Clark

November featured alumna: Julie Aigner-Clark

During a CNBC interview with Julie Aigner-Clark, founder of The Baby Einstein Company, she said that one of the things she admires most about business is when people are willing to listen to the ideas of someone who may not necessarily be “the boss.”

Julie Aigner-Clark

Photo via www.mommymade.com

“I admire bosses who can listen to people who work for them and accept their ideas and believe that the idea of the person who answers the phone can be just as valid and excellent as the person who has the Harvard MBA,” Aigner-Clark said.

A Michigan State University College of Education class of 1988 graduate and former school teacher, decided she would create a video that would expose toddlers and children to the arts in a way that was easy to understand.

Five years after its release, The Baby Einstein Company generated nearly 20 million dollars in sales before it sold its rights to The Walt Disney Company.

With the ultimate goal of her videos to allow families to spend time together, Aigner-Clark said in her CNBC interview that her dream would to be able to balance her work life so that it does not interfere with the amount of time she spends with her family.

“My dream is to try to maintain the closeness that we have as a family as my kids get older,” Aigner-Clark said. “… We just have such a wonderful family life.”

Although her The Baby Einstein Company, that she started from her home as a stay-at-home parent, is just a tidbit of the amazing things that this MSU grad has accomplished. She has been featured in innumerable media outlets including USA Today, CBS Nightly News, Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America, The New York Times just to name a few.

Also, she has been personally honored at the president’s State of the Union address, and is also the founder of The Safe Side, which is an organization that has dedicated itself to the safety of children and is partnered with The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

But she is not done yet. Her recent company that was released this year—called Baby Bytes—is an interactive application that can be downloaded by parents for on-the-go baby and toddler engagement. Using the research done by Dr. Elizabeth Vandewater, an associate professor at the University of Texas – Austin, Aigner-Clark was able to fine-tune her application to make it as user-friendly as possible for babies.

Ultimately, the ideal personal qualities that an individual should have to be successful are to be optimistic and do whatever it is that you love, Aigner-Clark said during her interview.

“I admire people who make choices based on good priorities,” she said. “I admire people who do what they love, who aren’t unhappy in work, who see the good things in everything.”

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October featured alumnus: Brandon Kirby

October featured alumnus: Brandon Kirby

Kirby

Brandon Kirby

Many students wonder how to crack into the incredibly competitive field of journalism, especially if they want to explore the exciting entertainment industry of Los Angeles.

“The best qualities to have in being a successful journalist are resilience, persistence, never saying no and always being willing to dig for more,” said Brandon Kirby, MSU School of Journalism alumnus and editorial assistant at the Hollywood Reporter.

In a relatively short span of time, 24-year-old Kirby has accomplished some pretty amazing things in his career both pre and post graduation from MSU.

Kirby said he did internships at places including Lansing CityPulse, online entertainment blog emcBlue, M3, and Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle Magazine he was able to learn invaluable lessons that he has been able to use throughout his career. Another noteworthy position—Brandon used to be the editor-in-chief of The Big Green. He said all of his internships ultimately set him up with the experience needed to land an internship and eventually a full-time position at The Hollywood Reporter.

Internships today are extremely important in making oneself a marketable candidate in the very competitive job market that there is today. If done well, internships can also have the potential to turn into a full-time opportunity.

MSU prepared him for the workplace in ways he did not even realize while first taking classes, Kirby said. He said that learning things beyond just journalism coursework, such as interpersonal and collaborative communication skills, are invaluable in being successful at an internship or in the workplace.

However, his current position at The Hollywood Reporter did not come to him without complete goal-driven dedication on his part, which often times required him to step out of his comfort zone in order to seize a particular opportunity.

“Being successful after graduation requires you to take advantage of every opportunity and always be willing to put yourself out there,” he said.

This is something he still currently finds beneficial even today in his career.

Although, Los Angeles is over 2,000 miles away from East Lansing, there is always a way to stay connected with fellow Spartans just about anywhere in the world after graduation.

Kirby said he always gets great joy when he finds MSU graduates out in LA, and that there is always a bond when he comes in contact with people in his career that are fellow alumni such as himself.

While Kirby has already had a fantastic start to his career in journalism, keep an eye out on this Spartan alumnus because we will surely be seeing more great things from him as time progresses.

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Spartans weigh in on proposed New York soda ban

Spartans weigh in on proposed New York soda ban

Now in his third and final term as mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg has, yet again, sparked media and public frenzy with his recent propositions.

Photo credit: Joe Orlando

Passing laws such as the mayoral regulation of the public school system and the ban on smoking in restaurants and bars that eventually led to the entire country to follow suit, Bloomberg has single-handedly been able to spark national attention multiple times during his career.

Bloomberg’s latest effort is to try to increase the overall health of the citizens of New York City.

Bloomberg’s plan focuses on reducing obesity by proposing a ban on sugary drinks more than 16 oz. in various locations such as restaurants and sporting events.

“I’ve got to defend my children, and yours, and do what’s right to save lives. Obesity kills. There’s no question it kills,” said Bloomberg after the bill was recently denied by the Supreme Court earlier this month.

Although Bloomberg’s bill may not have passed, it has created awareness of the need to address the harrowing statistics of the current obesity population in the United States.

“In my view, obesity is America’s biggest public-health problem,” said Dr. Charles Ballard, Professor of Economics at Michigan State Univeristy. “Thus I am glad if we are at least tiptoeing in the direction of trying to do something about it.

However,  Ballard said Bloomberg’s proposed bill would have had little effect had it been passed.

“I doubt whether this law will have much of an effect in New York City, and I doubt whether a similar law in Michigan would do much,” he said. “The problem is that there is no limit on how many 16-oz. drinks a person can get.”

Gitanjali Singh, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University, has devoted the past five years to studies on the many health effects of sugary drinks. Using 2010 public health surveys from around the world, Singh and her team have established that sugary drinks have caused 133,000 deaths due to diabetes, 44,000 deaths due to cardiovascular disease, and 6,000 deaths due to cancer.

With this topic now a major health concern addressed in almost every national publication, many Americans feel that now is the time to take action, by halting the frighteningly high number of fatalities due to obesity.

The question then becomes centered around Bloomberg’s proposal: Is his plan the most economical and efficient to tackle this issue?

Nutritional sciences senior Sophia Hemmric said she thinks Bloomberg’s plan may not be the most effective way to tackle the issue of obesity, but applauds him for taking action.

“It is a personal choice how much soda to drink, what kind of food to buy, and how frequently to exercise,” said Hemmric. “At the same time, many people are uneducated about healthy diet and lifestyle and do not fully comprehend the consequences of consuming large volumes of sugary drinks.”

Kinesology sophomore Daryn Portman said childhood education is important when it comes to to reducing obesity.

“[Education] would help decrease obesity in some ways, but one of the most important things as well is to exercise,” said Portman. “I think if Bloomberg incorporated exercise, or promoted it more in childrens’ education, people would see his bill as more do-able.”

Ballard said lack of physical activity is now proving to cause economical effects that will inevitably affect American populations, healthy or not, as a whole.

“I once saw an estimate that America spends $200 billion per year on health-care expenditures that would not be necessary if we weren’t so overweight,” said Ballard. “The population is getting fatter at an alarmingly rapid rate, which means that those health-care costs will continue to rise, unless people change their behaviors.”

Many have stated this bill is too extreme and a violation of basic constitutional rights, but others feel that it could be the answer that America has been looking for to jump start this battle.

“In order to ‘save the general public’, some drastic changes need to happen,” said Hemmrich. “And I think that banning soda over 16 oz. is the fastest way to alleviate the problems.”

Certainly getting many people thinking, how would you react if during your late night outing to Taco Bell the soda cup you received was half of the normal size? With Michael Bloomberg’s bills passed often radiating across the entire United States, this could potentially be a very real scenario many people will have to become accustomed to.

“Ultimately, obesity becomes an issue of national security,”  said Ballard “If we don’t have a ban on big sugary drinks, and if we don’t put a tax on sugar content, I think we still need to do something.”

 

Currently Mayor Bloomberg has intentions of appealing the Supreme Court decision, with the belief that the next time around his bill will become law.

 

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ICYMI: Oscars 2013

ICYMI: Oscars 2013

It certainly has been a remarkable past year in movies, having six of the nine best picture nominees grossing over $100 million. Presented by Michelle Obama, the Oscar for Best Picture went to Argo this year. Directed by Ben Affleck, this thrilling expose describes some of the untold stories of how a CIA exfiltration expert devises a plan to help six individuals who managed to escape from the Iranian invasion of the United States Embassy in Tehran, Iran in 1980.

Argo takes Best Picture. Photo via mashable.com.

This is the first time since the 1989 film Driving Miss Daisy that the director of the winning film for Best Picture had not been nominated. This came as a shock after Affleck’s recent win of best director at the Golden Globes in late January.

Life of Pi won for Best Cinematography, which some criticized as untrue to cinematography.

“So, Life of Pi won [Best Cinematography], which had beautiful cinematography, but relied too heavily on visual effects to get there,” exclaims Lawles Borque III, professional cinematographer for The State of Louisiana. “In essence, the film was nothing but nice shots of water and sky.” 

However, Skyfall took home awards in both sound editing and best song performed by Adele that evening, which received a standing ovation.

“As always, Roger Deakins should have won for Skyfall,” Bourque describes, “ he is the best cinematographer in the business at the moment and brought a fresh, beautiful look to a worn out franchise. Every frame of that movie looked like a beautiful photograph, even when we were looking at something ugly.”

Tributes to music in the film industry continued as the evening progressed. Viewers had the rare opportunity to see performances by Barbara Streisand, performing the theme song from the 1973 film The Way We Were, and a performance of the the theme to the acclaimed James Bond film, Goldfinger, by Dame Shirley Bassey. Musicals were paid special tribute at the awards, with performances by the actors from Dreamgirls, Chicago and Les Miserables.

The Academy, desperate to increase viewership among people ages 18 to 49 years old, hoped Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane would be the solution.

“I knew Seth MacFarlane would be great,” Goksu Adanali, MSU freshman engineering student, describes, “but I never expected him to rock the show in the first five minutes.”

However, this was not the opinion of numerous viewers that night, that described his brash humor as being too extreme and often very insulting. Many reviews of MacFarlane’s hosting performance and humor viewed him as being self-indulgent, racist and sexist.

Despite viewership of this years Academy Awards, it did in fact increase amongst people of the targeted population. Seth MacFarlane released on Twitter that he will not be hosting the ceremony ever again.

 

After her surreal performance in the surprising nominee for Best Picture, Beasts of the Southern Wild’s Quvenzhane Wallis, made Academy Awards history by being the youngest nominee for Best Actress in a Leading Role at nine years old.

Both the film and Wallis did not end up winning an award. Victoria Diebel, MSU communications student, was surprised by this snub, “because of the unexpected quality of acting and performances that came from an indie film.”

Additionally, Diebel describes her feeling for who should have won Best Actress in a leading role.

“I think that Jessica Chastain was also snubbed for her performance in Zero Dark Thirty,” Diebel said.

This category had a lot of buzz throughout the night from Hollywood A-listers, as each individual seemed to have their own opinion of who had the best performance.

In the end, the Oscar went to Jennifer Lawrence of Silver Linings Playbook. Even though she “stumbled” her way through her acceptance speech, she was able reclaim herself during her witty after Oscars interview.

Jennifer Lawrence stumbled on the steps up to receive her Oscar for Best Actress. Photo via usmagazine.com.

Beating out the Los Angeles Times and New York Times predicted winner Robert De Neiro of Silver Linings Playbook, Christoph Waltz takes home the Oscar win for Best Supporting actor in Django Unchained.

Anne Hathaway’s Oscar winning dream “finally came true.” Since her talked about performance in Les Miserables, after its release this previous Christmas, many critics had predicted her to win the award for Best Supporting Actress. After years of waiting, Anne Hathaway was able to take home her first Oscar.

After a night full of unexpected surprises, media reviews and critics are proving that this will certainly be a very well remembered Academy Awards.

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