Jessica Ma

Journalist. Poet. Hopefully, city-bound.


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Long Island Welcome Center Features Taste NY Market

The Long Island Welcome Center opened in Dix Hills five weeks ago; it aims to promote tourism on Long Island and features a Taste NY Market.

The market is part of NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Taste NY Initiative, which aims to promote local products throughout the state. Just last week, Cuomo announced that gross sales of NY-based products more than doubled over the past year.

This video story was created through Snapchat.


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Mineola in Top Six LI Neighborhoods for Young Commuters

Home is where the heart — and sometimes, train — is.

Many Long Island communities struggle today in attracting young professionals. One problem is a lack of affordable housing options. A recent Long Island Index (LII) report maps out all existing and proposed rental, condominium, and co-op properties on the island. The study found that of the existing 83,000 rental units, only 30% — or 24,900 — are within a half-mile of a Long Island Railroad Station. The LII argues rental units in close proximity to commuter transportation hubs are essential to keeping young people on Long Island.

One village where young professionals could consider living is Mineola: the Mineola station ranks in the top six LIRR stations with rental units within a half-mile radius.

Mineola has long been a rental-friendly community. From 2009 to 2014, the village saw the number of its renter-occupied housing units go from about a quarter to a little over a third of overall occupied housing, according to American FactFinder, a searchable public database provided by the United States Census Bureau.

The village has also seen its number of residents between 15 and 34 years old who live alone in a rental increase since 2011, from 5.3% to 8.4%. Mineola’s peak in young people renting their own apartments was in 2012, at 9.9%.

According to the LII’s Multifamily Housing Map, all 23 buildings with rental units within a half-mile radius of Mineola station are located in areas with 20 to 30% of residents who are between the ages of 18 and 34. The downtown area currently has four rental properties constructed since 2000 that are available to young professionals. Another proposed property (the Mineola Village Green) is in the works.

Village officials are optimistic these more recent properties, along with the proposed Village Green, will attract new residents of all ages. Mineola Village Clerk Joseph Scalero says the main benefit of the recently-constructed properties is “putting more residential units in the downtown area” with the ultimate goal being “more foot traffic and nightlife” in the village.


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Martins, Suozzi Face Off in AARP Debate for Senior Citizens Issues

Candidates for the 3rd Congressional District of New York Senator Jack Martins (R) and former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi (D) took to the stage in an AARP-sponsored debate to discuss senior citizens’ concerns on October 24, 2016 in Albertson, NY.


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Power Through Poetry

Hofstra’s spoken word group SP!T celebrates National Poetry Month with its second annual showcase, featuring a slam poem competition and an open mic session.

For some, poetry is a tool to promote activism or help cope with struggles they face. Three members of SP!T talk about how they see poetry as a means of empowerment.


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University Club Sports Keep Passions Alive

Jazmine Gonzalez has no doubts about her lacrosse skills. “I knew I wasn’t good enough for a D1 [Division 1] team,” she says. But that didn’t deter her.

The junior radio production major is a goalie for Hofstra University’s women’s club lacrosse team. In this video, she explains how her love for the sport couldn’t be stifled.


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Giants at Large Descends on Hofstra

The stage was like a comic book come to life: explosive word balloons with words like “Pow!” and “Bam!” dotted the columns which supported the lights and speakers. Four tall banners surrounded the stage, each depicting a musician drawn superhero-style. The fenced-in area designated for the audience was filled, but not so crowded that you couldn’t move about freely. Students with bulky cameras, clipboards, and headsets flitted around the edges of the room. Everyone eagerly awaited the band to take the stage.

Local Long Island pop punk/indie/rock band Giants at Large played a free concert Monday, March 31 at Hofstra University. The band was the star of the annual show, Live From Studio A, a program which showcases local bands and is run entirely by TV and radio students. It is broadcast over WRHU, the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication’s radio station, as well as on HTVinteractive.com, which hosts several programs created by Hofstra TV and film students.

The show began with a loud, twanging chord and a crash of the cymbals, and it only picked up in energy and volume from there. During the band’s new song “Summer,” a mosh pit broke out: a large group of guys jumped around and crashed into one another. At one point, the audience huddled together so one excited fan could briefly crowd surf. The fans’ chaotic energy seemed to match that of the band. Bassist Brian Thomann was especially enthusiastic, spinning around and dancing as he strummed.

In between songs, pre-recorded interviews with the band were broadcast on two TVs set up on either side of the stage. The members shared funny stories about being on the road and the origin of their band.

Sophomore Brian Stieglitz is very familiar with Giants at Large and with the local Long Island music scene, in general. “I always go to shows on Long Island with my brother and the opening bands are usually local,” he said. “When you go to the same venues, you start to see the same bands and same people at each show. It’s kind of like a community and I love that.”

Freshman Nicole Vuono, on the other hand, had never heard of the band prior to the concert. A teaching assistant in one of her radio, television, and film classes invited the students and Vuono though, “Why not?” Since then, Vuono said, “I’ve been listening to their music on YouTube on repeat constantly.”

Some fans were noticeably more enthusiastic than others. They also seemed to have a rapport with the band, shouting funny words of encouragement. It turns out, these audience members were either very involved in the Long Island music scene or were part of local bands themselves.

One such attendee was Andrew Bilder, who is part of the band Bellwether. He said, “My first band was actually with Matt. I grew up with him, writing music together. We still play shows together.” Bilder said that what makes his childhood friend’s band unique is that “Giants at Large, on Long Island especially, fills a niche where they connect with the older guys–you know, like me and my friends, [who] have all been going to shows for a very long time–and they’re able to connect with younger guys who are in their early teens.”

Matt Lagattuta, lead vocalist and guitarist, was equally as excited about the show as the fans were. “We’re not used to playing [on] stages and [having] barricades and lights. It’s usually [in] a dingy basement, so this was cool for us.”


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Warning: This Post is Not for the Faint of Heart

Map of abandoned mental asylums in greater New York Area.

A few weeks ago, I was on the popular humor website Cracked.com, reading an article about some of the creepiest places on Earth. I was surprised (and slightly terrified) to see Creedmoor Psychiatric Center and Kings Park Psychiatric Center on the list: my college campus is only 20 and 40 minutes from these institutions, respectively. However, it piqued my interest. If there were two mental institutions in Long Island alone, how many were there in the greater New York area?

This map has the location of seven abandoned mental institutions in Long Island, New Jersey, and part of New York state.

Now, a simple Google search of “abandoned mental institutions in New York/New Jersey” will reveal that there are definitely more than seven institutions in these two states. However, many of these buildings have been completely torn down, whereas I wanted to focus on asylums that are still at least partially standing.

A quick disclaimer: most of these locations are closed to the public and trespassing is illegal. If you choose to visit any of these sites, you do so at your own risk.

Happy exploring…