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WE TALK TOO MUCH
Collected Interviews with
EXPLORATIONS IN FEMINIST
ELISABETH SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA
WE TALK TOO MUCH
Collected Interviews with Interesting People
“All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No
matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
1. Weddings and Bulldogs: An Interview with Alyse French 3
2. Interview with Sunshine Osella from November ¸, zo1z to
November 6, zo1z 7
3. Interview with Brianna Johnson 11
4. Let’s Get Political: An Interview with Cal Zaborowski 15
5. Interview with Colette Plassmann 19
6. The Perks of People Watching 23
7. Life of an Accounting Major: Interview with Erik Jonisz 27
8. The Life of a Volunteer Fireﬁghter 29
9. On Music, College, and Love 33
10. Great Expectations 35
11. A Good Friend of Mine 47
12. The Big World of Miniatures: An Interview With Kevin Burns 49
This is a project from the English 116 Freelance Writing course at the College
of Saint Rose for the Fall zo1z semester. Our collection of interviews oﬀers an
opportunity to showcase our best work in a professional platform. The ebook
is available for free download as a kind of calling card for our writing careers.
Editing for each section was the responsibility of the individual author.
Cover photo © Brian Barker, cover design facilitated by Emily Willworth
in concert with the class members’ votes
All essays copyright to the individual authors.
K. A. Laity
ENG 116 instructor
The College of Saint Rose
College of Saint Rose Info
Weddings and Bulldogs: An
Interview with Alyse French
By Abbey Barker
Houston, Texas based wedding and lifestyle photographer, Alyse French, has just
wrapped up the wedding season and celebrated her business’ ﬁfth anniversary.
Alyse and I spoke about what she’s learned along the way, how she balances life as
photog and bulldog momma, and what keeps her going.
I feel everyone has a great story as to how they got into their chosen pro-
fession, so to start, what is the story of how you got started in photography?
So the story of how I got into wedding photography is sort of strange. I
graduated with a photojournalism degree from the S.I. Newhouse School of
Public Communications at Syracuse University, but knew that I could never
work for a newspaper or magazine. It just wasn’t me. At all. What really made
me decide to use my degree in this way was the fact that my then boyfriend
(now husband) had a job that required him to travel back and forth between
Houston and NY every single week. I needed a job that would let me be the
boss and essentially, let me be with him. All in the name of love, I guess. I
then started reaching out to wedding photographers I knew and admired, and
simply asked questions! They then invited me to second-shoot some weddings
with them. I, in turn, began building my wedding photography portfolio. From
there on out I developed my blog and my brand and it’s been a blast ever since.
What do you think is the secret to standing out in the photography
industry, or even any industry?
I think the secret to standing out in my particular industry is simply
embracing who you are as a person ﬁrst and a photographer second, and then
building your brand around that. No one can be you, as terribly cliché and
Disney that sounds. As photographers we sell ourselves and the experience
a client has while working with us, just as much if not more than we sell our
What have you found to be the most valuable lesson you have learned as
you have built your successful career?
4 We Talk Too Much
The most valuable lesson I’ve learned in building my career is probably to
just enjoy the journey. To enjoy where I am right now, instead of wasting my
life and productivity away with day -dreaming about where I want to be in the
From friends and family of mine that are photographers, I know they
struggle to strike a balance in their work and home life. How do you ﬁnd
I am probably not the best person to ask this question, but I swear I have a
good reason: You know you love your job when it’s all you want to do in your
free time. In other words, I’m deﬁnitely not a pro at shutting my computer at
6PM every day. But I am a ﬁrm believer in being eﬃcient for the beneﬁt of not
only my clients, but my family and friends also. I outsource the majority of my
editing, which frees up time for other client-related projects, as well as some
solid cuddle time with my Sully-dog.
What is one thing you would highly recommend to anyone participating
on the other side of the lens in a photography session?
My best word of advice to those who ﬁnd themselves on the other side of
the lens is to trust your photographer. I am extra passionate about this topic. It
is extremely important for clients to trust me with the knowledge I possess to
compose a beautiful image, to trust me to work in the best light and not the
light they think would work but won’t, and to trust me that capturing moments
and posing people in an awesome way is my full-time job. They do not need
to stress over that! It’s all on me and that’s the way I like it.
Do you ﬁnd to be the hardest thing about incorporating your own
artistic vision and a couple’s vision into the photographs?
That’s the beauty of doing what I do – It’s not up to me to incorporate a
couple’s artistic vision into their photographs because they came to me for my
artistic vision. If we agree in that regard, incorporating my own artistic vision
is a breeze.
What would you consider to be your dream shoot?
My dream shoot would be a styled shoot that is completely white! In an
abandoned warehouse that is completely white, with a white dress, and white
table decor. Someday. . .
Who was your most memorable couple to shoot?
Gosh, that’s such a hard question!! I really try to invest myself into every
one of my shoots, so picking just one couple is basically impossible. The
freshest in my mind is one of my more recent couples, Tammy and Sonny.
They brought it hard.
Out of everything beautiful and inspiring about weddings, what are
some key components that make shooting weddings beautiful and inspir-
ing to you?
Some of the most beautiful and inspiring aspects of a wedding day are
often the details (decor/venue/etc.) and the party! There’s something about a
Weddings and Bulldogs: An Interview with Alyse French 5
crazy, dance-ﬁlled reception that forces me to choke back tears. I love seeing a
bride and groom’s most loved friends and family celebrate with so much joy.
With your business now celebrating its ﬁfth birthday since inception
and three years being an up and running business, at what point did you
take a step back and say “I’ve made it!”
I don’t think I’ll ever say, “I’ve made it.” I’m far too much of a perfectionist
for that. However, I am consistently validated for doing what I do. Whether
that means receiving a sweet note from a grateful bride and groom, or being
contacted by new photojournalism students whom my old professors have
referred to me for questions. These things deﬁnitely make me proud of how
far I’ve come.
Sum up a snapshot (pun deﬁnitely intended) of a day in the life of a
photographer in three words.
Oh that’s hard! But I’d probably have to say, “Emails. Editing. Yoga-pants.”
Had to hyphen that last one.
Interview with Sunshine Osella
from November , to
By Rachel M. Bolton
In today’s world, people are more and more worried about their child’s
education. But they should feel happy that a person like Sunshine Osella
wants to be a teacher. I met Sunshine freshman year working on the college
newspaper, the Chronicle. When I was promoted to managing editor this
year, I got to know her better. Sunshine was happy to share her life and
experiences with me.
Could you tell your name, age, and birthday?
My name is Sunshine April Osella and I am z1 years old. My birthday is
April ¸rd 1jj1.
What are you doing with your life right now?
Right now I am working towards by bachelor’s degree and am a senior
in college. I am also active on my college campus. For example, I am the co-
executive editor of my school’s newspaper. I also have two jobs, work study
Where do you go to school and why did you pick that school?
I go to the College of Saint Rose and I ﬁrst found Saint Rose through the
College Board website search. It was originally at the bottom of my choices
list but a couple things happened that made me unable to ignore the fact that
this was the college for me. Saint Rose kept showing up everywhere, which
is strange seeing how I live in Virginia. My dad manages a hotel and guests
kept coming to stay at the hotel from Albany who had relatives and children
that did or do go to Saint Rose. Then my aunt who was a nurse in Cape Cod
took care of one of the priests from St. Vincent’s who broke his hip while
vacationing in Cape Cod. I took all of these strange happenings as a sign, in a
way, that I needed to give Saint Rose some newconsideration. Then I contacted
8 We Talk Too Much
the ﬁnancial aid oﬃce at Saint Rose asking if there was anything they could do
to lower my cost so I would be able to attend. Steve Dwire cut my cost in half
and I knew that a school that is willing to help me out like this is the school
Tell us about your unique name?
Well ﬁrst of all, I think it is important to mention that my parents were
NOT hippies. It’s actually not such a special story, if a bit corny. My mom
watched a sitcom and there was an actress on this sitcom that had two sons
named Sunshine and Hope. When she heard this name for the ﬁrst time she
thought it was really pretty. My mom could not decide between Violet and
Sunshine. Then the day I was born was a sunny day and the ﬁrst thing I did
was rub my eyes from the sun coming in the window and she knew that she
wanted my name to be Sunshine.
Describe your family and your relationship to them?
My family consists of My Dad Tom (¡8) who is a hotel manager, my mom
Nancy (¡6) who owns her own transportation business, my sister Virginiarose
(z¸) who is a ﬁrst year nun, and my brother Jake (1¸) who is in 1oth grade.
My dad is a humorous person who is always cracking jokes, he is also very
caring. I get along well with him and get my determined work ethic and love
of cooking from him. My mom is a more serious person and takes pride in the
cleanliness of her home. I have had a rocky relationship with my mother for
as long as I can remember. We do not see eye to eye on many things and are
always butting heads. Many people have told me that it is because we are a lot
alike but I don’t like to believe that’s the case. My sister is a typical bossy older
sister and has a passion for singing, playing piano, and music in general. We
have always been close although that relationship has suﬀered because of her
recent entrance into a religious order. My brother is a typical 1¸ year old boy
who loves basketball. My brother and I are the closet of all my family members.
Since he was a baby, I have been protective of him and we have always gotten
along. We talk often and he always comes to me when he needs help with a
My family prides its self in our Italian and Polish heritage mostly through
holiday practices. Some of the overall values that my family upholds are the
importance of family activities. We eat dinner together every night, we play
games, watch movies, and other such activities as a family. Our parents have
also drilled in us from an early age the importance of working for what we
want in life. My sister and I both had a job by the time we were 16 and have
ever since. We are also expected to pay for our own clothes, phone, car, college
tuition, and other personal expenses once we make our own money. Not only
for work ethic reasons, my parents would help more if they could aﬀord it.
Sunshine Osella 9
What are you studying in college?
I am studying Early Childhood Education with a concentration in English.
What is the best thing about your major?
The opportunity to go out in the ﬁeld and get experience throughout my
four years working with children from all kinds of diﬀerent schools and grade
levels. I love the hands-on experience.
Do you have or had any pets? Do you want one?
We used to have three dogs and three cats but our cats all died in the last
two years. Currently, back in Virginia I have three dogs. Fritz, a male 11 year
old dachshund. Calvin, a male j year old mutt, and Georgia, a female ¸ year
old terrier dachshund mix. If I didn’t live on campus I would have a pet here
and I plan on getting one when I graduate and get my ﬁrst stable home. Not
sure whether I want a cat or dog ﬁrst but eventually I’d like both.
My favorite food is grilled green beans, which is green beans baked in the
oven with olive oil and garlic.
It’s hard to pick but I guess I would have to say that my favorite movie is
Rent. I have also seen the Broadway show and love them both equally.
Why did you decide to be a teacher?
I ﬁrst realized my passion for teaching when I was in middle school and
began spending my study halls helping out in the preschool that was attached
to my school. Since then I have volunteered in after school programs and
done lots of babysitting which solidiﬁed my belief that being a teacher was
the profession for me. Children are such a joy to be around and they have a
way of looking at the world that is hard to explain but it is infectious. There is
an honesty to the way they approach life.
Why early childhood?
I have always had a particular liking for the real little ones because at
this age they are still passionate about learning, new knowledge is exciting
to them. I also love to watch how fast young children grow developmentally.
For example it is amazing to watch an 18 month old realize for the ﬁrst time
that she can turn the lights oﬀ with a switch or watch a ¸ year old learn to
write their name for the ﬁrst time and the amount of pride they take in this
What do you think is wrong with the education system?
10 We Talk Too Much
I think the education systemgets so caught up with state test scores and the
standard that they sometimes leave out important learning experiences that
do not show up on the standardized tests. The focus is in English Language
Arts, math, and science. Subjects like social studies, music, art, and drama get
neglected in the early years especially.
What do you want to change with it?
I would like to see more eﬀorts to encourage the inclusion of the impor-
tant learning experiences mentioned above. Music, art, and drama can all be
incorporated into ELA, math, and science lessons and can actually assist the
comprehension of these subjects by being re-enforcers. I think the education
system should make this a main stream practice that teachers are required to
What type of school do you hope to teach at?
I would like to teach at a private school so I have more freedom to put into
practice the things I mentioned above. However, I am also passionate about
the urban schools that need help. The children there are a joy to work with
and I think some teachers lose sight of this fact.
Sunshine was easy to work with during the interview process and was
happy to answer my questions. I will miss her when she graduates, but I know
she will become a great teacher.
Interview with Brianna Johnson
by Kiersten Anderson
Many people would ﬁnd transferring to a new school over ¸oo miles away
from home stressful and overwhelming. Adjusting to a new living situation
and not knowing anyone in the area; without the comfort of knowing you can
always head home for a weekend can be scary. Throw on top of that managing
the academic course load of a college student along with a vigorous daily
basketball practice and it is a lot to take in. Brianna Johnson, a sophomore
transfer student at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY makes this major
transition appear eﬀortless.
Despite being in her ﬁrst semester, Brianna is well known amongst the
campus community. This can be contributed to her warm smile and friendly
demeanor as well as her bleach blonde dreadlocks and basketball star identity.
As a fellowtransfer student, I have watched in admiration of Brianna’s positive
outlook on life. She takes the time to get to know everyone around her and
takes a genuine interest in them and their life. A simple task such as walking
to the dining hall can take Brianna nearly twice as long as an average student,
due to the fact she stops to say hello and carry on a conversation with so many
students and even staﬀ along the way. She is on a ﬁrst name basis with nearly
all the school workers as well as a large number of students. It is evident that
she only stops to converse with others because she genuinely cares about them.
I have never met a person like this before and it is truly something to take
notice of. As Brianna’s roommate I see on a daily basis howher positive outlook
and compassion towards others aﬀects them. Watching her take a few minutes
out of her busy day to brieﬂy chat with a shy freshman student or a cafeteria
worker, and it is obvious how much this small gesture brightens that person’s
I am lucky to have Brianna Johnson as a friend and roommate and I had
the pleasure of interviewing her about her adjustment to The College of Saint
Rose, basketball, her family and more. Enjoy!
What is your full name?
Brianna Claire Johnson
What is your age?
12 We Talk Too Much
I am zz.
Where are you from? I was born in Houston, Texas. Then I moved to
London when I was four years old. I stayed there for about one and a half years
before moving to Northern Virginia, where I have lived for thirteen years.
How do these places compare to Albany, NY?
They were very diﬀerent from Albany. Not as cold, the landscaping is a
little diﬀerent. In Texas it was a lot ﬂatter and hardly any trees. In Virginia
there was a lot of trees.
Do you play any sport?
Yes, I do. I play Basketball.
What position do you play?
I am a shooting guard.
What is it like to balance schoolwork while playing division basket-
It can be a little stressful at times, but I think that staying busy makes
things easier to get done. I know I have a certain amount of time to do
everything. It is all about time management.
What do you think of the team at Saint Rose, How does it diﬀer from
your last school?
I love my team here! There are eight new players this year (ﬁfteen players
total), so we are all getting to know each other. I feel like we are a lot closer
than my other team and we are not as exclusive.
Was it diﬃcult to adjust as a transfer student?
Yes and no. Yes, it was diﬃcult because everything is so new: the people,
the team, the school, the campus; but the actual transferring process was
easy because everyone was really nice. My teammates were very open and the
professors were outgoing and helpful.
Do you like living in the transfer house on campus?
Yes. I think I enjoy being on campus, especially for my ﬁrst year. It helps
to get to know a lot of people. I like how everyone in my building is a transfer
student too and we are all in the same boat coming in.
How have the professors at Saint Rose been helpful or not helpful to
They have been helpful because they are very open to helping me. Most
seem very understanding and reasonable of where we (their students) are all
What are your short/long term goals?
My short-term goal is to do great academically this semester. I want to get
all As and Bs
My long-term goal is to graduate with a ¸.o or higher.
What is your major?
My major is in Special Education. I just recently switched from Communi-
Interview with Brianna Johnson 13
Have you ever over came a diﬃcult struggle? Explain.
Absolutely! I have been through many struggles. One of my toughest ones
was breaking the failure mentality; that was an old habit. I had to renew my
mind and see things diﬀerently in order to move forward. Speciﬁcally in my
academics. I also had to work on discipline in all areas of my life.
Give me a little background on yourself. (Culture, religion, philosophy,
I am very down to earth, understanding and outgoing. I love to help out
others and I love to share. I think that anytime you have an opportunity to
appreciate someone you should. I think that it is important to give thanks
when it is due.
What is your family like?
I have two siblings an older brother who is z¡ and a sister who is z8. My
parents are divorced, both are not married. I am big on family. I am very close
with my momand I amworking on my relationship with my father; but overall
I have a great relationship with all my family members.
Do you have any hobbies or interests other than basketball?
I love to go outdoors. I love hanging out and relaxing with my friends and
family. I love to chill and watch a movie, dance, and read. I also, love to go to
church and hang out with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Explain one lesson you learned that you would like to share with the
To never ever ever give up or stop believing.
What is a fun fact about you?
I have been to zz of the ¸o states.
Thank you, Brianna. It has been a pleasure!
Let’s Get Political: An Interview
with Cal Zaborowski
By Jenna Herbert
Cal Zaborowski is a twenty year old Forensic Psychology major here at the
College of Saint Rose. He attends classes full time, works zo-¸o hours a week at
a part time job, and spends most of his free time reading, playing video games,
and keeping up with current events. Toward the end of October I interviewed
him about his thoughts on the upcoming presidential election.
Jenna: Would you consider yourself a political person?
Cal: Before this election season, I never much cared about politics, and I
generally ignored most of the going-ons except for what came to the morning
news; something about this election sparked my interest. I suppose that would
make me a political person.
J: Do you identify with any speciﬁc political party?
C: I did register as a democrat for the coming election, but I don’t speciﬁ-
cally identify with any party; I tend to vote what candidates I believe will best
represent my views, whether they be GOP, Democrat, or Independent.
J: How do you feel about the candidates for the upcoming election?
C: Um. . . that’s quite a loaded question.
I really like Obama, despite what most people in my family say, mostly
because I feel that he best represents people my age and economic status
(lower-middle class). In my eyes, he has done a lot to further LGBT rights and
to try and create a better education system, though he has been blocked by his
opponents in the Senate and the House.
As far as the challenger is concerned, I do not trust him. I ﬁnd every time I
watch him speak, I want to jump through the screen and slap him repeatedly
while screaming “Tell the truth for once!” What baﬄes me most of all is that
people look at him and say what an honest, upstanding human being he is,
without seeming to take into consideration any of the facts of his record as the
Governor of Massachusetts.
J: Did you watch any of the three presidential debates this month?
16 We Talk Too Much
C: I did, and I found each of them to be quite enjoyable.
J: What were your overall feelings about each of the candidates’ perfor-
C: The ﬁrst debate is the only one I will concede to Romney, solely on the
fact that Obama seemed to be absent from the stage. If his performance had
been better, Romney’s consistent ﬂip-ﬂopping and amazingly rude outbursts
would have lost him the night, regardless of the “style” that pundits say he
The second debate went much better, with Obama completely showing
why he won the presidency in the ﬁrst place. What really impressed me most
from this night was the variety of questions, and the remarkable way that
most were ignored by both candidates in order to pass on more sound bites
and platform issues during the entirety of the hour and a half event. However,
based on general attitude and the way he carried himself, Obama won the
The third night was completely O’s night. Foreign Policy is clearly an area
where Obama is proﬁcient and even Romney seemed to agree. He seemed to
agree more with the President than answer questions of his own.
J: What would you consider to be the three most important issues in this
C: For me, the three most important issues of this election are redistribu-
tion of wealth (The Millionaire’s Tax), student debt reform, and avoidance of
war in the Middle East.
For the general public, I would have to say that the most important
issues are the ﬁxing of the economic depression, the war in Afghanistan, and
J: Do you plan on voting in November? If so, for who?
C: I do plan on voting, and I plan on voting for Obama.
J: Do you feel it is important for young people to vote?
C: I do feel that it is incredibly important for my generation to vote;
however, I feel that it can be incredibly detrimental to the process and
the importance of voting as a whole if people vote simply because their
friends/family/employers/co-workers are voting for one of the candidates,
regardless of whether they vote for my favorite candidate or not. I would
rather people take their time, research the issues, and decide from their new
knowledge who they will be voting for. If they don’t, it’s just a wasted vote for
somebody they don’t care about. It’s how former incumbents who really didn’t
deserve to stay continued to a second term.
J: What would you say to anyone that is contemplating whether or not to
C: My only advice is to take your time and research each candidate and the
position they take on each issue you care about, and even the ones you don’t.
It’s the only way to make sure you can be comfortable with your cast vote.
Let’s Get Political: An Interview with Cal Zaborowski 17
J: Can you make any predictions for the election?
C: Given my personal feelings, I can only hope that Obama is re-elected; if
not, I’ll make sure to send you a nice postcard from Norway!
J: Well I will hold you to that one. And thank you so much for your time.
C: Not a problem. Happy voting!
Interview with Colette Plassmann
By Ariana Wilson
It was hard to decide who to interview for this project because I have come
across so many amazing people in my life. From high school, to college, and
my entire volleyball career, I have met so many inspirational people. However,
there is one person who has been with me through it all. Through the good
times and the bad: my mom, Colette Christ. So I decided I wanted to get to
know more about how she perceives herself.
Hey mom, can you just start by giving the basics like where are you from,
and how old you are?
Well, for starters I have been for years, which doctors can’t seem to
explain. I guess I am some sort of medical mystery! (Laughs) I have lived in
Poughkeepsie, New York my entire life even though I lived in Germany when I was
twelve. We only stayed there for a year because my father worked for IBM and got
transferred over there, and those were some rough years.
What do you mean those were rough years?
Well, my sister and I were outcasts over there. Both of us were only just entering
our teen years and between the bowl haircuts and the braces we were far from
attractive. We also didn’t speak the language. Even though we lived on an Army
reserve, we went to a public school. Other kids used to through rocks at us when
we would walk home in the afternoon. Sometimes they would even threaten us in
the bathroom. After a couple of months they started to leave us alone, but we never
really did make any friends.
So I bet you were glad to move back to the United States?
Yes, it was nice to be back home and hang out with my friends. Plus it was good
because we weren’t in high school yet. I got to make a good core group of friends
before entering into high school.
20 We Talk Too Much
How were the dreaded high school years?
I LOVED high school. Those were my glory days. When I was a freshman I
dated a boy named Reese, who owned a Camaro, and he would pick me up after
school and drive me everywhere. Not to mention he was a senior so he knew ALL of
the parties. It was great, but it didn’t last. We ended up breaking up my sophomore
year. It was good for me I got to focus on my schoolwork.
What is your favorite high school memory?
(Laughs) I had this science teacher in my junior year that I used to call Mr.
Applehead because he always had an apple on his desk. While my classmates always
found it absolutely hilarious, he seemed to react rather negatively to it. One time
he was handing out papers and I received a hundred on it, I thanked Mr. Applehead
and he in turn sent me to the principals oﬃce. I wasn’t a bad student by any means.
All I got was a slap on the wrist and was told to be respectful of my elders. Anyways,
many years later I was at a teaching conference, now that I am a science teacher,
and I saw Mr. Applehead! He approached me and brought the story up about how
I used to call him that and he was actually laughing about it, so I guess he didn’t
mind the nickname in the end.
That’s too funny! I wonder how my teachers would respond to it if I called
them that! Now that you are a teacher do you have students that call you any
Not that I know of, or want to know of for that matter! I teach eighth grade so
I don’t even want to know what is going through there minds.
What do you teach?
I teach Honors Earth Science and Physical Science.
Those sound like interesting subjects, what is it that you teach in those
Well, Earth science is what it sounds like, the study of Earth. I teach them
how rocks form, what kind of rocks form in diﬀerent environments, and we also
go over weather. Physical science is more of ﬁnding out how the world around us
works. One of my favorite lessons is teaching the students about the ways to ﬁnd
mass and density while using velocity because they are actually real life scenarios!
Interview with Colette Plassmann 21
Do you think a lot of what you can teach can be used outside of the
I do. I believe that teaching the students about good character, and morals is
more important than knowing how to identify a rock. I try to teach my students
how timeliness is key in the world, and that treating others the way you would like
to be treated is still a golden rule. I think eighth grade is a critical time for kids to
be reminded that.
That seems great thank you so much for your time!
The Perks of People Watching
By Tricia Dzurica
Growing up, I was never the popular kid. I did not go to parties that the
kids on the playground were talking about or play the same games because
I was “too weird.” That being said because I was a little socially awkward
and had to wear a pair of glasses that were half the size of my face. I did not
make any friends with my classmates until I was nine years old because of a
case of mistaken identity, which means, when you’re eight years old, and your
classmates want nothing to do with you, you spend a lot of time alone. And
when you’re not alone, the other people in the room typically forgot you even
existed until they turned around and saw you heard every single word. But
even then, they looked past you as if you did not exist.
This time to myself gave me the chance to pick up observation skills that
exceeded most people of my age group at the time. It was during this time
I became a people watcher. By this I mean I would observe random people
as I was on the swings, and see how they act, dress, and talk. It’s like bird
watching, only more entertaining. And as I grew older, it only became a lot
more fun, because it went from watching Tiﬀany A tattling on Tiﬀany B to
watching the girl in the bar accept the advances of a guy who three drinks ago
would have been unacceptable. It wasn’t until I went away to college, that I
realized I wasn’t alone.
I recently had a conversation with Jackie Birk, an academic counselor at
The College of Saint Rose, located in Albany, NY. Jackie, a graduate of Saint
Rose, is an avid people watcher.
TD: Would you consider yourself a people watcher?
JB: Absolutely. I am one of those people who will go to the airport early
and not mind because I love watching people or go to the basketball game a
half hour early to sit on the side and watch everybody enter.
TD: Would you say people watching is more of a hobby or a lifestyle?
JB: Just a hobby.
TD: How would you describe people watching?
24 We Talk Too Much
JB: People watching is when a person goes out and watches people they
have never seen or met before and guess what kind of person they are based
on their actions, movements and gestures.
TD: Can you describe your process of people watching?
JB: I just like to look out the window, and, like, when I go to certain places
like the airport or basketball games I like to see the people come in late during
the excitement. It’s the same about church, I like to get their early to sit there.
If someone sits in someone else’s seat it’s big drama. It’s just funny. It’s a part
TD: How long have you been a people watcher?
JB: Hmm. Probably since I was in college, I don’t know if it was when I was
younger than that. Probably not.
TD: Why do you say college?
JB: Just because I was talking to one of the students about studying in the
library and I could never study because I would always be watching what
others were doing outside. I felt like I was missing out and I wanted to see
who was going to dinner or playing wiﬄe ball out on the lawn. That was the
ﬁrst time I remember ever doing it.
TD: Who do you prefer to observe?
JB: I don’t think I have a certain group. Even when I go to baseball games, I
just love to notice what other people are doing, who they’re talking to. I can’t
say I have a favorite group.
TD: Why do you like watching people?
JB: I don’t know. It’s just interesting to observe what other people do.
Sometimes it’s for laughter, sometimes it’s because I am enjoying something
and observing other people enjoying what is going on in their life.
TD: What time do you think is the best time to people watch?
JB: Anytime. I do it all the time. When I am home, I have a screened in
porch and every time I hear a noise I go out and see what it is.
TD: What would you say got you into people watching?
JB: I guess it’s just a nice distraction. When you have something stressful
that you’re doing, why not look at other peoples distractions and make
yourself feel better about yours.
TD: Where is the best place to people watch?
JB: The airport.
The Perks of People Watching 25
TD: Why is that?
JB: Because you’re stuck their doing nothing, who wants to just read for
three hours on a layover? It’s much easier to just people watch. I sometimes
wonder if other people watch me, because I walk back and forth. But I always
plan ahead. I don’t carry that j,ooo pound bag and wear high heels in an
TD: Do you think there are any reservations people have about people
JB: I think when most people think about people watching they imagine
someone who keeps to themselves for the most part. They imagine someone
who has too much time on their hands and has no life. They think of the, I
don’t know, serial killers of the world.
TD: What is the hardest thing about people watching?
JB: I guess it’s sometimes hard not to laugh at what people do. Because I
would feel bad is anyone thought I was laughing at them. I’m not one of those
people who takes pictures and texts if I see something crazy.
TD: What is the easiest?
JB: It just makes you relax and takes your mind oﬀ your problems.
TD: Do you think there is a culture behind people watching?
JB: I never really thought of it. Like I know I do it, and I know other people
will do it. Sometimes people share what they see, even if it’s mean spirited
stuﬀ. I try not to do that, but I guess it’s a never ending cycle of people and
TD: Who do you think make the best people watchers?
JB: I say the wallﬂowers of the world, because everybody sees them and
looks right past them, or doesn’t think they’re paying attention to what they
are doing. This may be the case at some times, but I know I love looking out
for the strange things people do.
TD: Do you ever expect to see half the stuﬀ you do see?
JB: No, I mean some places around here, and some people that I know, do
stuﬀ I expect to see and I like to see the patterns. But it’s at places like the
airport that I like to see the woman in eight inch heels running to the next
gate. It just cracks me up, you’re thinking to yourself ‘just wear sneakers.’
TD: What is the craziest thing you have ever seen?
26 We Talk Too Much
JB: I was at the Fort Meyers Airport (in South Florida), and a woman’s outﬁt
just stuck out to me. She was dressed as if she was dressed for the beach and
she was carrying a winter coat, because we were both going on a ﬂight from
there back to Albany. It was insane. People are insane. It made me want to call
my brother-in-law to tell him what I saw.
Life of an Accounting Major:
Interview with Erik Jonisz
By: Sophia Karnavezos
Erik Jonisz is currently a senior at SUNY New Paltz and will be gradu-
ating in May . My interest is in what the college has oﬀered him and
what made him choose this college over others and if he feels prepared to
What is your full name?
Erik Henry Jonisz
What is your age?
I am z¸
Where are you from?
I am from Washingtonville, New York.
What colleges have you attended?
SUNY Rockland, which is a community college and I then transferred to
SUNY New Paltz where I am currently.
What do you think of SUNY New Paltz, How does it diﬀer from SUNY
I like SUNY New Paltz it is a good school, with very knowledgeable
teachers. It diﬀers fromSUNY Rockland in that SUNY NewPaltz is much more
challenging and requires more critical thinking.
What made you choose to transfer to SUNY New Paltz?
They have a great business program at an aﬀordable price. I also chose
it because it was close to home as well as a beautiful campus to work on
homework. The atmosphere of the college is also very relaxing and friendly,
which I really enjoy.
Do you commute to SUNY New Paltz?
Yes it is about a half hour commute one way. The route that I drive to get to
NewPaltz has lots of great scenery and I really don’t mind driving the distance.
28 We Talk Too Much
Do you feel like you are missing out because you are a commuter
student? Would you be a resident student if you could?
Yes and no. I still try and aminvolved but it would probably be much easier
to make friends and be more involved if I did live on campus. I’m not really
sure if I would be a resident student if I could at the moment.
What is your major?
My major is accounting.
Was it diﬃcult to adjust as a transfer student?
It was diﬃcult, it was hard to get used to the diﬀerent teaching methods
but once I adjusted it was much better.
How have the professors at SUNY New Paltz been?
They have been extremely helpful and motivating. Most of the professors
have real life experience which helps in giving advice about real life situations
and job opportunities.
Have you completed any internships yet?
Yes, I have. I worked for Frank Kincade tax and accounting last tax
season and I was currently accepted for an internship with Ulster County
comptroller’s oﬃce! I will also be working for Frank Kincade again this tax
What are your goals in life?
My goals in life are to become a CPA (Certiﬁed Public Accountant) and
have a successful career. I would eventually like to open my own business.
I would also really like to work for Vanacore, DeBenedictus, DiGovanni &
Do you feel it will be diﬃcult to obtain a job after you graduate?
For me, no not necessarily I have some jobs lined up thanks to really great
connections that I am very grateful for, I know that for others it is a problem
Do you have any hobbies or interests?
I am a member of my local ﬁrehouse and I really enjoy that. I also love to
ﬁsh and hunt when I have time.
What is one important lesson that you have learned?
An important lesson that I have learned is that hard work pays oﬀ.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
Most people don’t know that I like to play guitar.
Thank you, Erik for taking time out to speak with me!
No problem, it was great!
The Life of a Volunteer Fireﬁghter
by Siobhan Melanson
Siobhan: Hello Steven. Thank you for doing this interview with me
today. I am very interested about volunteer ﬁremen because I don’t know a
lot about it.
Steven: Well I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Siobhan: Okay, well to start, where do you volunteer?
Steven: I am a volunteer ﬁreﬁghter for Schuyler Heights ﬁre company of
Siobhan: What made you want to become a volunteer?
Steven: Well it all started when I was going to school. I worked with
a gentlemen who was actually a ﬁre chief at the time, and we were doing
industrial construction and all kinds of dangerous stuﬀ all day, and we went
through a lot of safety training and whatnot, and he kind of talked me into it
and told me what they do and I thought it’d be fun so I thought I’d give it a
Siobhan: How long have you been a volunteer for?
Steven: I’ve been doing it for about ¡ years now. I’ll probably be doing it
the rest of my life.
Siobhan: So is this something you would like to make a career out of?
Steven: I would if I could the but the good old government is cutting
funding everywhere so a lot of people are getting laid oﬀ in the public sector,
so they aren’t hiring a lot of people, and the pay isn’t that good. But, no one
ever does it for the pay.
Siobhan: So what does being a volunteer ﬁreﬁghter entail?
Steven: Well its obvious ya know putting out ﬁres and whatnot, but the
stuﬀ that isn’t so obvious and people don’t think about are the car accidents,
or the training for every possible situation, all the ﬂooding and stuﬀ, any type
of emergencies and then since we aren’t paid we have to raise money and go
out in the community and do fundraisers and put together events and help the
Siobhan: Do you ever get nervous or scared going into a ﬁre?
30 We Talk Too Much
Steven: No, I’ve never been nervous or scared. Even for my ﬁrst ﬁre I wasn’t
nervous or scared. The training you do, the situations they put you in prepare
you for what you’re going to see most of the time. You never know what you
are going to see, but they do put you in situations where you know exactly
what your going to do and what you have to do, ya know, if something bad
happens, what you have to do to get out of that situation and make good of
bad. But, your adrenaline is pumping so much you don’t really have time to
be afraid or nervous. Your training kicks in, and its like second nature.
Siobhan: What type of training do you have to go through?
Steven: Well, there’s a whole lot of training before you can even go inside
any type of burning building. They make you do about 1oo hours of training
over the course of a couple weeks to a couple months, and they put you in
every possible type of situation and walk you through everything and make
you use all types of tools. Honestly you can pretty much equate it to boot camp
for any type of military branches. It’s pretty much the closest thing ya know?
Siobhan: That’s a good way of putting it. Do you have to continue doing
Steven: Yeah we are always doing training. Everywhere you go, every ﬁre
department, at least one night a week they have training where everyone
gets together and go over diﬀerent topics each night. One day it could be car
extractions, taking a car apart to get someone who is stuck inside, or it could
be doing a live ﬁre situation where we actually light a building on ﬁre, and we
pull dummies out or we work with conﬁned spaces where someone is trapped
inside of a tank or something. We go through each situation and go over what
everyone has to do.
Siobhan: What do you wear to go into a ﬁre?
Steven: Well they call it bunker gear. Your suit isn’t 1oo% ﬁre proof. A lot
of people think you are invincible when you wear it, but it gives an you
extended amount of time in 8oo-joo degrees, and it gives you a short amount
of time to survive before you start burning your skin. Butl a lot of ﬁres are
about 1¸oo degrees inside of a house, so you only have a couple minutes before
your skin starts burning and your gear can start burning and smoldering if it
gets too hot.
Siobhan: Do you wear any type of oxygen into the ﬁre?
Steven: It’s not 1oo% oxygen. It’s what you are breathing in the air. If it
was 1oo% oxygen you’d be carrying a bomb on your back essentially. But, its
breathing air, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). You have to where
one on your back whenever you go inside, and put the mask on before you
Siobhan: Oh okay. So, is volunteering a rewarding experience for you? You
aren’t paid or anything for it, but there has to be a reason why you do it right?
Steven: Yeah actually it’s really rewarding when you think about it. We
certainly don’t do it for the money, hardly get any perks, but it’s a really
The Life of a Volunteer Fireﬁghter 31
good feeling knowing that you’re helping somebody out and your helping the
community in a time of need if a house is on ﬁre, there’s a ﬂood, or a type of
accident. No one plans on getting in an accident, and no one wants to get in
an accident. It’s often a very traumatic and hard time for the people. So to be
there to help them out is always nice.
Siobhan: Well thank you for your time Steven. It has been a real pleasure!
Steven: Thank you for allowing me to tell my story.
On Music, College, and Love
By Jennifer Zinis
Kurt Glathar is an eighteen year old college freshman from Cazenovia, New
York. He is a self taught musician and is currently studying Music Industry at
the College of Saint Rose. Kurt and i spoke about his his love for music and
his time at college so far.
So, what made you choose music as your major?
Well my whole life has been. . . I’ve been brought up around music. My dad
is a musician. I started playing piano when I was ﬁve, I was very good but I
quit when I was fourteen and picked up guitar. I taught myself howto play and
joined a professional band after a year. I discovered my love of music through
that, so I decided to go to college for music.
Tell me more about your band
Our band name was One Man Down. We played mostly in the Auburn,
NY area, we performed in a bunch of clubs and bars but because I was under
eighteen one of my parents had to go with me. It was a lot of fun and I learned
a lot through performing.
Who would you say your biggest musical inﬂuences are?
My favorite guitar players are Dickey Betts from the Allman Brothers
and John Frusciante. From a singing standpoint, I’d say Ryan Adams and Jeﬀ
Tweedy from Wilco.
What do you want to do after you graduate?
I know I want to produce music, I just don’t know where or what I want to
How has your time at Saint Rose been so far?
It has been absolutely mind blowing.
I’ve met a lot of really cool people, I’ve made more friends than I could
ever imagine and I’ve done a lot of pretty crazy stuﬀ that I hadn’t done before
I came to college.
That sounds awesome. How about a fun fact about you?
One time my band opened for Rusted Root.
34 We Talk Too Much
If you had one piece of advice you’d like to share with the world what
would it be?
I have realized through my college adventures that love and positive
thinking are the driving forces in life. They will always overcome any negative
aspects because people are naturally drawn to love and things of that nature.
I feel like if people act as vessels of positive energy then they can greatly
inﬂuence the people around them because love is infectious. If more people
felt this way, I think the world would be a more welcoming place.
By Daniella Watson
Students, workers, President Obama: lend me your ears.
A determined young man with a great edge up, “Jermaine Brookshire Jr.”
is a name that you want to remember. For anyone who thinks that it is too late
to make something of your life, this young man’s story is evidence that the
path to creating a life of purpose begins with a decided mind, faith and great
Jermaine is currently a senior at The College of Saint Rose, with a double
major in Philosophy and Political Science, where he is pursuing his vision
of becoming a Supreme Court Justice with passion and fervor. This man is
a machine not only academically but, as a former football player, you do
not want him charging towards you in a full on sprint. Although I could
begin listing his vast array of achievements, which includes reigniting the
college’s Debate Team since its last running in the mid 1jzo’s and his current
motivational Great Expectations Movement, his accomplishments are not
Jermaine’s most notable attributes, but rather, it is his attitude towards life
that sets him apart.
Coming from a harsh up-bringing, Jermaine makes it clear that it is your
mindset, not about your circumstance, that determines your success. If you
have the mind to change then you will see change not only in your life, but in
the lives of those around you. Jermaine’s knowledge of self in God, his hard
work, and his non-complacent attitude is what keeps him striving forward on
his journey of great expectations.
When did you start your journey of great expectations, and when did
you realize you wanted more out of life?
I grew up in a pretty hostile environment, and although I knew what my
situation was back home, I knew that there was better and greater for me
I’d say I really had this idea of wanting great expectations when I was fully
capable of discerning how dire my situation was at home, and then I started
utilizing my leadership roles in school, starting from middle school, as my
36 We Talk Too Much
outlet. It was my way of staying at school longer and obviously staying away
from home a lot more.
So that’s really how it started. I was really hoping that my successes would
spark a joy, spark an oomph, so that my mom and my stepdad would ﬁnd
something to rejoice about. Still to this day I’m trying to make my family
Although I know I have people around me saying that I’m doing good
things, it is still a struggle to try to get that motivation and support fromwhere
I want. So, great expectations is going to happen until I die, or at least until I
get that ﬁnal, “you did a good job”, from the people that I’m waiting to give it
Can you remember a speciﬁc pivotal moment in your life when you said,
“enough is enough”, that is time to turn things up?
Yes, senior year of high school. I had everything: handsome football player,
wrestler, dating one of the hottest chicks in my school- and I was a jackass, a
complete jackass. You did not want to be around me, and if you were around
me, it was only because you knew that there was something I could give you.
I didn’t know who I was. I lost sight of that because before becoming that
smart jock, I was out of shape and no girls gave me any attention. Once I
started making that transition it was ,“oh I’m not just a nerd, I’m a handsome
nerd who plays sports.” With all of that, I had so many people around me
saying, “Yes, you’re doing a good job, you’re doing this you’re doing that”,
but I had no real person saying, “Jermaine, slow down and think about what
you’re doing right here” or, “why did you speak to him like that?” or, “why
would you do that to her?” That’s opened up a web for me, for where I did do
something wrong, or I didn’t do something that everyone wanted me to do, I
saw how easily people could turn on me. And that’s because I didn’t have any
genuine friends, only bandwagon friends. Once I realized that, thankfully I
realized that before I got to college, that’s when I knew, “start self-evaluating,
don’t get complacent.”
I always say don’t get complacent with your success, and know that there’s
a whole lot more for you to attain, but also that you can’t do it by yourself.
I feel like if there is one thing that I am the most proud of myself for, it’s
understanding that I did not get to where I am by myself, and I know that
I’m not going to get to where I am going by myself, which is why I need to
celebrate those who are around me.
The last response alluded to an internal change, but was there one
external event that you could not control that changed your perspective?
Was there an immediate or progressive change?
Coming to a feeling, pretty much this summer, where you feel like
everything that you’ve trusted, everything that you thought you’ve built for
yourself, your foundation, was pretty much gone.
Great Expectations 37
This was a very diﬃcult summer for me. My mother and I, who I thought
was my biggest support system, for one reason or another, started clashing.
Feeling like that support system is not there, it forces you to think about how
is it exactly that you are going to get your composure back. That’s something
that I’m still trying to do.
When I’m confused or I’m scared, I work harder and I get busier so that
can take my mind oﬀ of my problems. My schedule shows that I’m scared and
confused because I’m very busy and I’m working very hard. But I have faith
that things will heal themselves and eventually I’ll know what I need to be
You mentioned that you “have faith”. So aside from your busyness, do
you turn to God to ease the confusion? What is your faith and how does
that play a role in you having that composure?
I have my two important books on my desk, one on the right hand side is
my Bible, appropriately on the right side, and then on the left is my journal. I
have God, my right hand Man, and I have myself, you know?
I journal so I can ﬁgure out, “What’s going on with you? Why did you act
the way you acted? Why are you upset?” Or if I’m upset, let that out. Some
things some people don’t need to hear, especially with how angry you are.
From that, if I’m disgusted with what I wrote, I leave that there, and then I
reﬂect. I love Tyler Perry: “WWJD?” What would Jesus do? That’s when I refer
to the Bible to ﬁnd out what is it that I’m supposed to be doing.
A lot of my faith really comes from, I just- over the years I just feel Him.
I feel Him in me, and I know that He has my back, and so the biggest thing
I just need to make sure I’m doing is I’m walking the walk that I talk. And I
know as long as I do that I’ll be ﬁne.
What was your most challenging set back thus far?
Not knowing how you’re going to get up to college and how you’re going
to pay for it. Everything has been pretty much smooth sailing for me since I
got to The College of Saint Rose, and this last summer was just a shocker.
When you’re at a point where school is a month away, you don’t have much
money to get back up to school, you deﬁnitely don’t have enough money to
pay for tuition that is up, and you’re just wondering, “What did I do? How
did I deserve this?” It was most challenging for me at this point because it
would have been easy for me to just give up, and you know, “I’m just going to
work three jobs, just rack up some money.” But that’s temporary, you know?
Temporary happiness will come from that money.
So, again, it’s just having faith that when the time hits, I was going to be
up at school, having faith that when classes started I was going to have my
books, and lo and behold, I got up to school and I had my books. So, something
38 We Talk Too Much
Why do you persevere? I think we hit the how- you just had the faith to
believe that it would be provided for at that time- but why? What keeps you
I amhorriﬁed of failure. I’ve seen too many people fail, and I think because
there are so many people around me who have failed, it has sort of become a
norm. Failure is sometimes expected. I like to break that mode; as you know, I
like to stand out.
For me, succeeding is really not an option. I will be a shell of the individual
that I am if I do not work towards the prestige that I want to have, and mainly
because I don’t feel comfortable trying to teach someone or trying to take
someone under my wing if I don’t feel like I’ve had a good ranking of success
and achievements because then I feel like, “Well, what do you have to look up
to me for?”
So really, I joke and, yea, I have my cynical moments, but at the end of
the day I want to succeed and be the best individual, be that Supreme Court
Justice, so that I can take one, two, ten people’s hand to walk with me so that I
can show them, “Whatever you want to do, whether it’s a doctor or something,
I will help you direct you towards that path.” That’s why I want to make sure I
do what I need to do to be ﬁnancially stable. Even help sponsor a kid, because
I know for a fact, as it has been with my life, that you can work harder and
your grades come out better when the money thing is not over your head.
Not only would I like to sponsor a kid to help them go to classes, I want
to sponsor them, “Hey, here is an extra $1oo dollars to go to Six Flags for the
weekend.” I get upset when I hear a lot people saying, you know, “You’re in
college, you’re supposed to be on a budget but yet you’re going out and having
a party.” Well you know what? People need that outlet. And I feel like when
you stop enjoying or looking for things to enjoy life with, that’s when you’re
really going to start having a time when you’re not succeeding as much. We
all need that time to recharge and I’m happy that I’m starting to see that for
myself because I used to be a, “work, work, work, work, work” individual. It’s
no fun being around a workaholic. So I deﬁnitely do feel like students need
to be able to have that balance and that’s something that I’ve found and that I
want to be able to give to people, so, that’s why success is a must.
You mentioned a Supreme Court Justice- is being a Supreme Court
Justice the ultimate goal or just a long term goal?
It’s the ultimate goal. I have always been in love with the law. Also, I’m
someone who has a relatively short attention span. So the reason why I want
to be a Supreme Court justice is one, it’s a lot I have to do to get there, working
in diﬀerent government agencies and everything, and one day I’ll bump into
the President, and, “Hey!”, he appoints me to Supreme Court, after I’m on
the circuit court, the court of appeals. So there is a lot of stuﬀ that I have
to do to get there, and that’s what I appreciate about it. But also, there have
been two African-Americans in Supreme Court Justice: Thurgood Marshall
Great Expectations 39
and Clarence Thomas, both two men that I adore. Two diﬀerent paths of life,
but I adore these two men.
I want to have that platform, again, to be able to give to students and to,
“Yea I’ m Supreme Court Justice, yea I may be really famous, but you know
what? I’m coming to your basketball game,” or, “I’m coming to your football
game”. And I know that’s like, “Oh you say this now”, but you know what?
I know how hard my life has been, and again, I know the value of having
someone there to push you, and so I really do feel like unless God is tricking
me, I know that no matter how much success I get, I’m always going to make
sure that I have time to help teach and help give someone the hope and the
motivation for them to achieve their dreams as well. Because, again, without a
good support system that I have at Saint Rose, and even from back home, with
my big school administrators I would not be able to be who I am.
Going to shift it a little bit here: What is your ethnic/cultural back-
ground and class background?
I amJamaican and African-American. Working class, which is pretty weird,
because my Mom’s family does very well. We do well, but we work very hard.
You know, we do well but there’s no extra. So yea, deﬁnitely working class. I
know the value of a dollar.
I love having that balance because my two families- sometimes they clash
[with] the cultural diﬀerence. Jamaicans think Americans are lazy, Americans
think Jamaicans need to go back, so it’s just, it’s fun. It’s fun having that good
family dynamic that I can work oﬀ of.
Does your background, ethnic, cultural or otherwise, make a diﬀerence
in your drive? Do you feel more determined to succeed, or is that aspect
I don’t want to sound cliché, but I deﬁnitely wake up every morning
knowing that I’m black. I feel like that lights a ﬁre to make me work harder.
Sometimes I don’t always like the fact that I’m uneasy, because I’m like,
“Hm. . . I’ve got to make sure that they see me and not just see me as, ‘Oh,
he’s walking around in workout clothes, maybe he’s one of those guys on the
sports team.”’ Nah. There is a lot more to me. So I deﬁnitely, there’s not a day
that goes by that I don’t know that I’m an African-American.
For the most part, I feel like when the day comes that I don’t acknowledge
that, that’ll be a sad day. I love being black. I love acknowledging the fact that
I come from an ethnicity that has a history of overcoming struggles. For me
that’s empowering and for me that gives me the ﬁre that I need to want to make
my ancestors proud. And I do believe that whether or not your know your
great, great, great grandmother, they’re following your lineage and I believe
that they’re looking down on the work that I’m doing.
People are often motivated to be successful because they believe that
they represent something greater than themselves. Whether your motiva-
40 We Talk Too Much
tion is your cultural background or faith background, do you feel that you
represent or are symbolic of something greater than yourself?
Absolutely. And for me, the “who” I’m ﬁghting for, their names are Julisa,
Erica, Gary and Tyler, my four younger siblings. Those are the people who, if
there is no one else, I want to be their superman and I want them to look up
to me and I want to be everything that they’ve ever imagined a man should be.
If the day comes, when the day comes, that I do pass, I want to know that I’ve
left them a legacy and I’ve left them the desire and burning to know that, “My
brother fought very hard to be successful, he fought very hard to try to attain
his dreams. So the least I can do is do that for myself and in turn I’ll be giving
him one of the greatest gifts he could ever want to receive.”
So what speciﬁcally is that thing, if there is a speciﬁc thing, what are
you a representation of?
Just showing them that despite what we’ve gone through, there’s nothing
that’s out of our reach. They are very young but they’ve seen a lot, and a lot
of people tend to think that babies and children, “Oh, they’re just kids; they
don’t know what’s going on.” But no, even if someone raises their voice around
them, they’ve grown up in the hostile environment that they have, they buck
up and they know what’s going on. I just want them to know that everything
is going to be ﬁne and they can look up to me to make sure that it’s going to
be alright. I love them to death, they’re my world.
Is it a burden to be this beacon of hope, as you were describing it, and
do you feel that it’s all on your shoulders? You have people around you, but
do you feel that you would let them help you? How do you handle it?
As I said before, you know, I have a lot of people who help push me, but
undoubtedly, I feel so alone. Mainly because, again, you have people around
you and you are grateful for them, you are grateful for their love, but again if
you don’t have the people, the one or two people, who you are really looking
for that from, you still feel emptiness inside. And so, you know, I would never
want to bring oﬀense to anyone who loves me to death, but it’s like, without
those on or two people, I just can’t feel entirely complete. So, I feel like with
me, with me the biggest thing is understanding what I am ﬁghting for , who
I’m ﬁghting for, and as long as I understand and know that, I think I’ll be
great. And again, I’m ﬁghting for my four siblings, to show them, again, that
anything they want to do can be done.
Who are those one or two people?
My Mom and my Father.
What is an accomplishment to you? Howdo you deﬁne the term, “accom-
For me an accomplishment- in all honesty- for me an accomplishment is
not the certiﬁcates, it’s not the bougie awards I have; it’s none of that stuﬀ. But
it’s really when you leave from doing something and you’re like, “Man that
was pretty poppin’.” Like walking down from a podium after giving a speech,
Great Expectations 41
looking at an exam and even though you see that you got that 1oo%, you know
what you put in to get that 1oo%- sweet. So for me an accomplishment is really
anything that warms your heart. And again I don’t mean to sound cliché, but
it’s just the small things that really warm my heart and really is a pat on my
back to let me know, “you’re on the right track”.
When I start to falter in those aspects of my life, I’m not proud of myself
or I’m not proud to pat myself on the back, then that’s when I’m going to be
nervous because that means I’m not going to be able to teach and I personally
feel like I will not teach anyone unless of course I can show my complete track
record and show that that I’m doing everything that I’m telling you that you
need to do. I’m a ﬁrm believer in walking. . . walking the walk as which you
talk. . . you know! Talk the talk you gotta walk the walk! Woo!
Any current projects?
Deﬁnitely. The Haunted EAC, the Zombie Quarantine I’m putting on with
my roommate Gerald. Also, my roommate Gerald and I, as well as Kajanna,
are putting on our Great Expectations event.
What is Great Expectations?
Great Expectations Event! Uh! It’s a motivational workshop, which is
getting a lot of buzz on campus, and it’s basically an event which is going
to teach students how to self-motivate and empower them to look for better
and achieve greater. Also, it’s an event that’s really going to let people know
that even if you have people around you who aren’t supporting you or who are
trying to take you down, the best place to you can go to pick yourself back up
is within yourself, to self-evaluate. And also, if you are someone who has the
faith in God, look towards God to help you. If you don’t want to look towards
God, look towards other people’s positive energies, and again, ﬁnd all of that
and with all of that you will ﬁnd within yourself what it is that you need to
move yourself towards the next step. So that’s what this event is about, and
it’s going to be an event that no one can aﬀord to miss. It’s about getting to the
next step in life.
That sounds awesome! I deﬁnitely look forward to attending your Great
Expectations event. Where do you see yourself ﬁve years from now?
I better be graduating from prestige law school. I would love to be coming
from Harvard, Cornel, Yale- something of that sort. I would love to have that
experience of Ivy League, so that’s my next step for me. That’s something that
I want to do for myself. I want to prove to myself that I can do that and that I
can take over a campus like that. That’s what I see myself doing, getting ready
to work hard for another ﬁve years before I’m thinking about starting a family.
Is there an ultimate goal other than the Supreme Court?
The movement that Gerald, KJ and I are doing right now- the Great
Expectations Movement- is a part of that long term goal. The Supreme Court
job I’ll have until I die, that’s a life-time appointment- job security!
42 We Talk Too Much
I feel like also my lifetime work will be helping other people ﬁnd that
thing that they want to do for the rest of their lives. This Great Expectations
Movement is something that can grow with us, so as I reach the next step of
success, I’ll be able to reach a bigger group of people. I’ll have the credentials
and a platform to be able to reach a new set of people and that, again, there
is more for you to achieve and there’s a lot that you can persevere through as
long as you have the faith in yourself and you believe that you can do whatever
you set your heart to. And so, that’s going to be a part of my long term work.
Again, I feel like I have a good gift of gab and I want to be able to use that gift
that I’m blessed with to help other people ﬁnd their own gifts.
That’s beautiful; you deﬁnitely do have the gift of speaking. Peter :
says, “Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God Himself
were speaking through you.” Whenever I get up to speak or do anything
I just keep that in mind. Important question: what makes an established
individual? When would you see somebody and say, “They are established.”
First thing is when I see someone, especially a young man, and they
are sitting [all slouched]- I feel like, you’re an established individual when
in complete silence, you exude conﬁdence. Someone just looks at you and
automatically goes, “Man, I got to meet this person, just at least say hello to
them. I can’t leave this room without saying hello to this person.” You may
not know anything about them, but they give oﬀ an aura, a positive energy or
even just a sense of self-awareness or self-consciousness that you just want to
be able to be like, “hey, how are you doing?” Or you just want to help make
their day, you know?
I feel like when it comes down to being an established individual, the
biggest thing you have to do is know who you are. And again, that’s some-
thing that we’ll be working on for the rest of our lifetime. There are many
individuals, a ¸o year-old woman, who will tell you, “Yea, there’s a lot I’m still
learning about myself.” Our bodies, and just our whole perceptions of things,
are constantly changing.
You really know you’re an established individual when you accept the fact
that you will constantly be changing, you can seek perfection but you will
never be perfect, and also that there’s a lot for you to continue to learn. It
may sound like [those are things do not sound complete], but that’s the whole
thing. When you have the discernment to know that life is a constant building
block and you’re constantly reinventing yourself, you have new milestones
to achieve, that’s when you know that you’ve really understood who you are.
You’re seeing within yourself, “Yes. I know that the man I am today can only
get better tomorrow.” And you’re set. You have that game face on to become
that man or woman tomorrow. So that’s when I feel like you know you’re
established, when you’re really ready to embrace the fact that you will be
constantly learning and improving yourself for the rest of your life.
So you would say it’s more of a mindset than a ﬁnancial standpoint?
Great Expectations 43
Yea, people think being established is ﬁnances. We see on the news every
day, “Such and such man is doing drugs, such and such man is beating his
wife,” and he has like a billion dollars.
Don’t get me wrong, money is necessary, and I want a lot of it, however,
money does not create the woman or the man that you want to be. I feel like
Oprah is one of the best examples of that. She has a whole lot of cash; however,
what she gives to us through the television is more valuable than any car that
she can give us: wisdomand knowledge to knowthat, “Yes I have a lot, but, I’m
still hungry and I’m still actively learning.” I love that about her. She makes
herself humble and accessible. That’s why I feel like you cannot talk about
establishment from a monetary standpoint, because you can have everything
you want but still feel empty inside.
I have so many women in my life. My family is predominantly female. I
look up to Oprah. I have so many women who I love and adore and look
to, so I tend to put woman at a higher pedestal than men. I’m always very
disappointed with men, and I’m very hard on them. I really don’t have that
male role model (other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, but I’m talking
about somebody that knows me) that I can look up to, so I try to ﬁnd
everything that I don’t want to be and I ﬂip it to make me. I know women who
need work done too, but I feel like they are going to get it. These guys are the
knuckle heads that need to be beaten down on. So that’s why I automatically
think of the young man who is not doing their job. There are a lot more young
men who are not taking care of their responsibilities than young women.
That’s interesting. I love how you say that you put women on a higher
pedestal than men, because you don’t see that often, especially from men
and especially in this culture. Can you say that you are established? If not,
at what point do you think you’ll be established?
I am not established. I’ll be the ﬁrst to tell you I am not established. I just
went to Home Depot and bought the bricks, they are not laid down yet. I laugh
and I say that jokingly, but really I have so much more that I need to do.
I’m happy that there are people that can look up to me now and see the
work that I’ve done, but, I feel like I won’t be able to look at myself and
say, “man, you’re an established individual,” until I am capable of grabbing
someone from a very early stage and coaching them through to this point
where I’m at, being z1. Even helping them ﬁnancially, being with them as a
mentor, from 1z-1¸ up until college.
I feel like when I’m capable of holding someone’s hand through that, and
being that real backbone for them, for someone who is similar to me, who
doesn’t have a mother or father who really they feel like they can go to, then
that’s when I feel like I’ll be established. But I need to be able to give back to
at least one person in the way that I wish my Mom and Dad would do for me.
Aside fromwhat you’re doing right nowin your life- your life style, your
aspirations, your goals- in an alternate universe as an alternate Jermaine,
44 We Talk Too Much
what would you want to do and who would you want to be? With that in
consideration, would you create that in the now?
The thing is, my life hasn’t been easy, but you know what? I would want to
have a hard life again. I feel like if my life was easy, and then I was still doing
the same things, being on the college’s website and this, that and the third, I
would be a horrible person to be around. I wouldn’t know the value of it, I’d
been given everything my whole life.
So I would want to be having another like where I’ve had times where I
may lose faith in myself for a little bit. I have times when I’m like, “Man, I
had $z.¸o in my pocket and I have no one who I can ask for any money from.”
It’s weird to say but I’d want those points to be in my life, because the fact that
I’ve had those, and you know, look at me and I’m happy and I know there are a
lot more hard times to come, but the fact that I’ve learned from the trials and
tribulations I’ve gone through, when I do ﬁnally make my millions, I know
that I’m not going to be bashful to give to those less fortunate, and again, to
Like I said, for me, all this glory and stuﬀ that I get it now, it means nothing
because I knowthat this is just a stepping stone and I have so many big dreams,
great expectations for myself, that this is like penny candy to what I want to
achieve. And again it’s not saying anything for what anyone else is doing; it’s
just what I’m putting on myself. Its like, “C’mon aight cool you did that? But
listen son, this is what you’ve got to do next.” I love that about me. So, that’s
really what I want to try to keep on doing, to try to keep on looking forward
to my next step.
If you could choose, what would be your ideal upbringing?
My ideal upbringing, would sound cliché, I at least want to have both my
mother and father. Even if they’re not together, just have a solid relationship
with them. But again I want them to give me the leeway to fall and stumble, be
scared with myself for a little bit, because again, I think especially for a young
man, you need to learn how to survive on your own. You need to have those
time when you’re like, “Woo, I have no one to give me this plate of food, how
am I going to earn that plate of food.” I think that’s one of the good things that
shape my character today. So yea that’s why I say no matter how much I make,
my kids are going to make sure they know the value of things and their going
to work for it, because I’m working hard and I have a lot more work to do to
get to that point.
Are you happy with yourself? Why?
Yes. I’m happy with myself because, again, I just think about my story,
you know? I made it, I’m in college. Like I said, I’m someone who doesn’t
get complacent, but I’m someone who can stop for a moment and smile at
a success. And having this happy feeling that I’m going to be able to go to
May zo1¸ and graduate, something that very few of my family members do,
it’s something that really warms my heart and makes me really excited to
Great Expectations 45
reach that milestone. And that’s going to put me in a position to do what I’ve
dreamed of doing.
When it’s all said and done, when you went through life and you’re old,
God willing, what do you hope to say about yourself?
Jermaine never made an excuse for himself. He was never afraid to showhis
emotions. I feel like sometimes guys are apprehensive about telling someone
that they love them, or just looking at someone and telling them, you know,
you look very beautiful today, or you know, just be in touch with your
emotions. And then the biggest thing is that no matter what Mr. Brookshire
received, he never forgot about those who helped him along the way. That’ll
be the biggest thing for me, because my whole mantra would be hypocritical.
I feel like I would not be the man who I envision if I ever did forget about
who helped me or if I ever did think that I was too big to help someone who is
trying to climb the ladder.
Years after you pass what would you want people to say about you? How
would you want to be remembered?
That’s a stern ﬂy cat with an amazing edge up.
In all honesty I just want people to remember me for being hard working
and then just know that it’s not something that you should want to do, that
you’re freakin’ required to help other people. Like, you have to. We are all
human beings; we are all of the same species. You’re supposed to help one
another. Religious or non-religious, I feel like it’s just a part of human nature.
Anyone who doesn’t want to help someone or anyone who feels like they’re
put in a situation where they have half a sandwich left, and they’re starving
with someone, that they wouldn’t cut that sandwich in half? Shame on you,
because I really do feel like you’re going to get that half a sandwich and
more back from planting that seed in someone else; more importantly than
that, you’re just going to get that good feeling of satisfaction that you’ve really
helped this person and hopefully one day if you need that help that that person
will help you back. I feel like that’s the type of good cycle that we need to have,
not a revenge cycle, but a good cycle of karma. I want you to remember like,
“Yea, Jermaine did give me that glass of water, whenever he needs that I’m
going to be the ﬁrst one giving that glass of water back.” And that’s the type
of goodness that we need to have in the world.
So we know how you want people to remember you; how do you think
people will remember you?
I deﬁnitely have a group of fans and I have a group of people who can’t
stand me. And a lot of people who can’t stand me don’t know me. A lot of
people who can’t stand me think, “Oh, Jermaine comes from Connecticut, and
he’s all dressed up and look very prim and proper “, when you don’t know
anything about my life. So, from all the successes and the smiling and I’m
always doing things, people think, “Oh, he has it all together, this kid doesn’t
know the value of a dollar, this kid has everything.” But you’re just, the thing
46 We Talk Too Much
is, I knowhowto put on to make sure that you’re not getting any of the sadness.
I feel like, one, you don’t know me for me to make you feel some type of way,
and the second, knowing that I am blessed I feel that I have a responsibility to,
when you’re around me, make you feel good about being around me and for
you to look forward to coming to see me.
I run on that edge of sounding a little cynical, but you know what? I think
I just know that I’ve been blessed with the gift of having that good spirit and
that good aura that I can imbue within others. And so, you know, I think
people will say about me know if somebody asks them, “Jermaine- ﬁrst of all
he is a crazy dude in the gym, but he is passionate about what he does”. I
would hope they would say that everything he speaks about, the kid does. I
can’t recall one time where I’ve told someone this, or yea, I think you would
do better doing this, and I did not say that same thing to myself.
What would you say to people who feel that it’s too late?
I’d say that you’re sadly mistaken and I feel bad for you for thinking that
way. It’s never too late. No matter where you’re at in your life, I feel like as
soon as you make that decision to be like, “Okay, I’mdone with howmy life has
gone and I’mgoing to move it to a newdirection,” once you say that to yourself
and put yourself on that track and you start chugging your way, getting to zo,
¸o, ¡o, ¸o, 6o miles per hour, and you’re going, there’s nothing that is going
to stop you. And I really do fervently believe that. Like, it’s never too late so
long as you have the will to put the work in, you desire to work harder than
the next man, and you believe in yourself to take yourself from your current
position and put yourself in a better position.
A Good Friend of Mine
By Jared Burns
Alex is one of my best friends from high school who I still keep in touch
with. He and I loved baseball in high school and we still do today. Our senior
year we carried the high school baseball team to the NYS State Championship
Finals. Since then he has continued his baseball career at Wheaton College in
Chicago, Illinois which is also where his older brother plays as well.
• From? – Delmar, NY
• Lives? – Wheaton, Illinois
• Why do you love baseball? – I love baseball because I started at a young
age, enjoyed it and wasn’t good at it at ﬁrst but wanted to get better and
had a “drive to succeed”.
• Why did you continue playing into college? – I didn’t want to stop
playing and wanted to play with quality people that he found on
Wheaton’s baseball team.
• Another step in baseball? – I’m not sure, that all depends on what God
presents to me for the future. If I have the opportunity to play in the
minor or even major leagues that would be great, but again it’s whatever
God has planned for me.
The Big World of Miniatures: An
Interview With Kevin Burns
By Emily Willwerth
Most people have played board games and card games and video games,
but there’s another type of game that requires a hobby all it’s own, and that
is tabletop war/battle games. These games require large amounts of time,
investments of large sums of money, and very, very small ﬁgurines. I’ve had
the pleasure of talking at length with Kevin Burns, a man who has dipped
his ﬁngers (and his paintbrush) into many facets of a variety of these tabletop
games, and was willing to share his insight on the hobby.
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When I went to college, I was in the common lounge and saw a bunch
of guys standing around a table with tape measures and what looked like
toolboxes, but they weren’t building anything, and it intrigued me, so I went
and checked it out. I asked some basic questions, like, “Hey guys, what are
you doing?” and they told me what they were doing. They were playing
Warhammer ¡o,ooo. I watched the remainder of the round and was interested
by the mechanics, and I asked how I could start playing, and it all kind of
spiraled from there
What was the process of preparing for this game like?
Well, the guys in the common lounge pointed me in the direction of Zombie
Planet, which is a game shop on Central Avenue in Albany that sells, among
other things, Warhammer ¡oK miniatures. So I went there and kind of stared
at all of the diﬀerent miniatures. There were so many diﬀerent factions and
armies and conversion kits, I was a bit overwhelmed. I had to ask one of the
store clerks where in the name of all that is holy do I start if I want to play this
game, and he pointed me to the nice, simple, all-inclusive starter packs, and
50 We Talk Too Much
told me to pick which army I wanted to play as. He pointed me to a bookshelf
that had every codex (rule book) for every army, as well as the general one for
the game. After looking at all of this information, I decided to play as the Orcs,
and so I called the clerk back over and asked him everything I would need, he
pointed me in all the right directions, and I walked over to the counter with
armfuls of paint, clippers, books, and most importantly, the miniatures.
How much did all of this cost.
Let’s just say that it would take a child a year and a half of allowance
savings to pay for all of this. Two requirements of aﬀording this game are
a part-time job and living with your parents. You can easily blow three
paychecks in this place.
How do you go about readying your army after you got it home?
I opened the box for the actual models, and I was greeted with a bunch
of tiny bits you had to clip oﬀ of big rectangular frames and glue together.
So it was like a bunch of really, really tiny customizeable puzzles, because
you could put diﬀerent weapons in their hands, or diﬀerent accessories on
their bases and it would mean diﬀerent things, give them diﬀerent stats and
powers and stuﬀ, when you actually played the game. Then came the painting,
which at ﬁrst was really diﬃcult because these things are really tiny, and I’m a
perfectionist with these kinds of things. My ﬁrst couple of Orcs looked really
cartoon-ish and kind of rough, but eventually they started to look like actual
models that you could buy at a store and that was really rewarding.
Do you have any speciﬁc techniques you use to paint things that small?
There’s deﬁnitely a lot of patience involved; also, super ﬁne-tuned motor
skills. If you’re crazy like I am, and want to get all of the tiny, minute little
details, such as shading of the pupils (I know, right?) you literally have to
control your heartbeat and only move the brush between beats, because the
pumping is enough to throw oﬀ the brush and mess everything up. It gets
pretty intense sometimes.
How rewarding is it to see your army all put together and painted?
It’s like watching your child take its ﬁrst steps. You put so much time and
eﬀort into these little pieces of plastic, it’s like being on top of the planet when
you ﬁnally see them out on the table, ready for battle.
After all of that work, how often do you actually get to play the game?
I’m lucky enough to live in an apartment with someone else who plays, so
every now and again we’ll get together and play a game. Zombie Planet and
most other game shops like it have schedules where people who play the game
can all come to the shop and they set up tables and people can get together
and show oﬀ their armies, both in craftsmanship and in battle. Taking these
models you’ve spent hours alone in your room creating and putting them up
against models someone else has spent hours in their room creating, it’s all
The Big World of Miniatures: An Interview With Kevin. . . 51
It’s been quite a few years since you started up this hobby. How many
diﬀerent armies do you have?
I still have my Orcs, but I have two other mostly completed armies of other
factions, one of which are still sitting in their boxes. Like I said, one of
the requirements of this hobby is living with your parents, which I don’t
anymore, and theirs not a lot of time for painting miniatures when you have
grown-up stuﬀ to deal with. It’s quite sad, actually.
Is it just K for you, or do you play other miniatures games like it?
I play quite a few, actually. My armies aren’t quite as developed as my ¡oK
armies are, but I also play Warmachine, Hordes, Inﬁnity, and there’s a new
game coming out next year called Relic Knights that I’ve pre-ordered and am
very excited to receive and start playing.
Do you have any suggestions for people who might want to get into this
If you like money, stay far, far away. Don’t even think about any of it. If
you don’t care about, y’know, eating or living in a house, just ﬁnd a game shop
near you and ask about it. Most places are very welcoming of newcomers and
are happy to point them in the right directions.
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