All posts by Paula Schultz

A fourth semester journalism student at Suffolk County Community College. Current Editor-In-Chief of Compass News. Avid bookworm and foodie. Future best-selling novelist.

Tri Nguyen wins SCCC’s 2018 Student of the Year Award

Tri Nguyen, a Campus Activities Board executive and student worker, Nguyen was recognized for his dedication to the campus and students with the 2018 Daniel De Ponte Student of the Year Award.

The award was given at this year’s Student Recognition Luncheon on May 15.

Nguyen has been a student at SCCC for four semesters and plans continue studying business. He hopes to be accepted to New York University.

Nguyen said he would like this recognition to serve as a platform so he can share with other his story.



Cinco de Mayo celebration livens up the campus with Mexican culture

The Spanish Club on the Ammerman Campus held a Cinco de Mayo celebration in the Eaton’s Neck room on May 7. Festivities included a presentation on Mexico’s history, Hispanic cuisine and a live mariachi band. Faculty advisors Kristin Peters and Cathy Garcia-Hill coordinated the event.

The fiesta was held in Eaton’s Neck room on May 7 from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Kristin Peters, left, and Cathy Garcia-Hill are Spanish instructors as well as the faculty advisors for the Spanish Club.

A common misconception is that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day. In fact, Cinco de Mayo is actually celebrated to honor Mexico’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the French-Mexican War (1861-1867).

An arrangement of tissue paper flowers were on the front table so the girls can wear them in their hair. Sombreros were also available for the gentlemen.

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An assortment of traditional Hispanic cuisine was available, including empanadas, fried plantains and rice with beans.

The live mariachi band livened up the room with traditional Mexican music. They also took song requests from guests.

SCCC students Alicia, and Nick enjoyed the festivities with some empanadas and a complementary Cinco de Mayo-themed word search game.

Fun fact: More than 81 million avocados are consumed on Cinco de Mayo every year in the United States alone.

Suffolk Sentinel reporter Mike Guido got to experience the fiesta as well. Check out his audio piece of the event below.


Fun fact: Cinco de Mayo is primarily celebrated in the United States, with the largest celebration being held in Los Angeles. In fact, Cinco de Mayo is not a federal holiday in Mexico. 

All photos by Paula Schultz

SCCC needs more healthy options to prevent the ‘Freshman 15’

The healthy food section at the Babylon Student Center food court. Photo by Paula Schultz. (April 11, 2018)

The “Freshman 15.” It’s a dreaded phrase that refers to students’ weight gain as they adjust to life in college.

Actually, according to the National Eating Disorder Association, the average college freshman gains about 2.5 to 3.5 pounds during their first year of college.

When students start college, they get exposed to much greater freedom and stress than they did as children and adolescents. The large selection of cheap junk food and lack of exercise can result in an unhealthy lifestyle and weight gain.

At SCCC, the encouragement of student wellness is rather small. All students are required to take two credits worth of physical education, but students are on their own after that.

Some students understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle by having gym memberships and bringing food from home. Most students, however, find it challenging to fit healthy habits into their busy lives.

There are some opportunities for students to get moving on campus, but they interfere with many students’ schedules.

Zumba and dance classes are offered to students every Wednesday at 11 a.m., but that is during Common Hour and may interfere with students’ club commitments. There is also a weight room open to students at the Brookhaven Gymnasium, but the hours are very inconsistent.

Maintaining a healthy diet is another important factor that many college students tend to brush aside. Fast food is convenient for the average student who does not have the time to make their own meals. The cafeteria is where most students end up in between classes. The lack of healthy – and delicious – options further increase the issue.

The cafeteria at SCCC offers a plethora of food options including Chinese food, pizza, and a Moe’s Southwest Grill. The great number of food options is favored amongst students, but what about the healthy options?

The so-called “nutritious” food area in the cafeteria lies in a refrigerated section in the middle of the food court. Some food options include salads, wraps, sushi and fruit. Unlike the other stations in the food court, the healthy area rarely gets updated with new and interesting food options. It’s always the same Caesar salads and spicy tuna rolls that lack in the flavor department.

Because SCCC is not taking student wellness as seriously as they should, students may forget just how important it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is not all about looking your best, but, rather, feeling your best.

With academic and life stress being in the way, having a healthy lifestyle may not seem like another important part of life. When in fact, the healthy choices you make now will determine your health in the future.

In order to have a greater emphasis on student health, I think SCCC needs to make some changes in order to resonate with students. Providing a bigger, creative and more updated selection of healthy food options may interest students to make better food choices in school and outside of it.

As far as exercise is concerned, requiring students to take a physical education course every semester may be a challenge because of other graduation requirements. However, SCCC should invest in building another weight room on campus for students who want to work out on their own time.

Advice from advisers: the process of priority registration

Walking into the adviser office was a dreary sight. The waiting room was lonely and cold, with no student waiting anxiously to see an adviser about their academic future. Most of the action came from the secretaries themselves and even they were just sitting at their desks, eager for a student to come in. Although inactive now, the traffic will surely shift when priority registration season begins.

The empty advisor center waiting area during off-seasons.

Students tend to complain about the process of priority registration, but the job of advisers must not be taken for granted. Academic advisers are located upstairs in the Albert M. Ammerman Building and serve to build schedules, plan for college transfers, assist students in making the most of their academic future, etc.

Returning SCCC students know the frustration and chaos that goes into priority registration season; from the slow-moving lines to see an adviser, to fighting over minimal class spots. New students do not have it any easier, as they have to go through a longer process to register.

“Advisers are people who will do prescriptive work,” said Ben Laudicina, an adviser and counselor at the Ammerman building. “As an adviser, the scope is large and everything is time sensitive.”

Academic advisers do a lot more than create schedules for students. During off-seasons, advisers are hands-on with a variety of events on campus, such as transfer day and on-site college visits. They also write recommendation letters for students. Aside from academics, advisers additionally serve as career and mental health counselors when needed.

On a typical off-season day, up to 100 students come to the advising office per day. Students can schedule 45-minute appointments to discuss future plans at SCCC and beyond.

During priority registration season, however, that number reaches upwards of 200 students a day. Due to the great volume of people and a small staff of only seven advisers, open door policies are in place during the three-month priority registration season to help students at a quicker rate.

“From my own perspective, the priority registration process is very overwhelming. We often have 25-30 people in the waiting room regularly,” said Laudicina. He says the biggest issue in the advising center is understaffing.

“It’s important to take mini breaks in between seeing each student. The job can get overwhelming, but it’s always a rewarding feeling at the end of the day,” Laudicina said.

The Honors college, located in the Southampton building, has an advising center as well that is strictly available to honors students. Although students in the Honors college typically have earlier access to register, they still experience the stress of registration, especially when it comes to picking classes.

Nicholas Grasso, a fourth semester Liberal Arts major, has been a part of the honors program at SCCC since he started his education in the Fall of 2016. He finds honors registration and regular registration rather similar in their roles and organization, but he noticed a significant challenge when registering for honors classes.

“The registration is well-organized. However, in my experience, it seems the Honors classes fill up exponentially quicker than regular classes,” Grasso said.

The biggest issue in both regular advising and honors advising is the under-staffing of advisers. With a campus enrollment of over 14,000 students, it becomes difficult for academic advisers to fully help students with all their needs and get them into the exact classes they need.

The counseling center at the Ammerman building. This is home to academic, career, and personal counselors for students of SCCC.

Due to the under-staffing, it is encouraged by advisers that students go see an adviser in their declared major, or a trusted professor that also does advising. Doing this can significantly help relieve the burden of overcrowding.

“Be proactive, not reactive. You can meet with an advisor and prepare your schedule far in advance to avoid the long lines,” said Laudicina. “It’s never too early to start planning. It only makes life easier.”

Save the date: Summer/Fall 2018 Priority Registration starts April 9.

Email scam targets SCCC students’ tuition refunds

An email phishing scam aiming to steal student tuition refunds has targeted SCCC students, according to a warning sent by the college’s Information Technology Services department earlier this month.

Rochelle Tharpe, a 20-year-old criminal justice major at SCCC, received the phishing scam email, which sought to trick students into entering their school account information, but fortunately did not fall for it. She said she the experience was nonetheless unnerving.

“It was from that moment on that I began to fear for my cybersecurity,” Tharpe said.

SCCC student, Rochelle Tharpe, showing the phishing email scam warning she received from Suffolk on Feb. 14. Photo courtesy of Paula Schultz.

“The email looked like it came directly from the Suffolk IT department. It states that you must enter your student email and password in order to have access to your tuition refund,” Tharpe said. “Thankfully, I was too busy and did not go through with entering my information. This whole mess made me question if student information is really that safe from cyber-crime.”

Tharpe said she received a warning from Suffolk information technology department before she fell for the scam.

On Feb. 2, students attending any SUNY institution were informed about a phishing scam that has targeted SUNY students through email. By Feb. 14, an updated email announcement informed Suffolk students the email scam had reached them.

Just how many students were affected is not yet known.

In the most recent email, students were instructed to delete the scam email and empty their trash folder.

The email that SCCC sent out to students, warning about the active phishing email scam. Photo courtesy of Paula Schultz.

“Phishing scams seem to have become a commonplace in educational institutions these days and they have increased over the last year or so,” Steve Rios, the educational technology specialist on the Ammerman campus,  said in an emailed statement. Rios has worked for the college for 28 years and is in charge of setting up and maintaining the classroom technologies.

“Most of the time it’s a group of people trying to scam users’ information for many different illegal reasons, like stealing money from someone’s bank account,” Rios stated. “Scammers send out hundreds and even thousands of emails to try to get someone to email their logon and password or other information that will allow the hackers to penetrate the user’s computer, work or home network, and or bank information.”

For cybersecurity concerns such as this, the Office of Information Security at Suffolk works to analyze trends in cybersecurity and keep student and school data protected. Information security officer Jason Fried makes it clear that protecting student information is an ongoing effort.

“We strive to continuously enhance our controls, policies, procedures, and training. The National Cybersecurity Alliance is one of many organizations that provide free training and materials that guide people through making good decisions about their online activity,” Fried said.

“I encourage students to review the Information Security Policies on the College Website …. Also, please regularly install security patches on your personal computers and mobile devices,” Fried advised.