There’s a photo my parents have of me as an infant “typing” away on an old computer keyboard while staring at the camera. It’s things like this, as well as my experiences over the past few years at the Herald, that make me believe that life has a way of working itself out — but along the way, you have to expect the unexpected.
I started attending Hofstra University in the fall of 2012, double majoring in journalism and political science, and over the years, I learned how to conduct interviews, write a lede and tell people’s stories. I loved my time at Hofstra, and by the time I was a junior, I started to worry about what a life after college might hold. So when my friend Brian Stieglitz, now the editor for the Wantagh and Seaford Heralds, told me he decided to stay at Hofstra for another year to earn his Master’s degree in journalism, I thought it sounded like a smart option that would make me a more desirable candidate in the future, and I enrolled in the five-year Master’s program myself.
It was in that program that I decided to take a course in community journalism taught by the venerable Scott Brinton. I had no idea at the time that he had recently been promoted to executive editor of the Long Island Herald, but it did not take long for me to find out. So when my advisor told me I would need an extra three credits to graduate on time, I decided I would ask the professor if I could intern at the chain of community newspapers for three credits towards my Master’s degree. He agreed, but told me that if I were to earn a full three credits, I would have to come into the Garden City office every day over winter break, which I did.
By the time my internship ended, the Herald was in need of additional staff, and before I knew it, Scott — whom I still referred to as Professor Brinton — was asking for my resume, and hired me as the reporter for the Valley Stream and Lynbrook/East Rockaway Heralds. It was my first job in the industry, and one I will never forget.
But after I accepted the job, I was quickly thrown into the fire, having to immediately learn about PILOTs and their effects on centralized high school districts as Valley Streamers were struggling to recoup their tax money. Then one day, while I was still trying to figure all that out, I saw a report that a wallaby had been found starving in an East Rockaway man’s garage. My editor at the time, Mike Smollins, asked me to jump on it for our paper that week, and I still remember asking the veterinarian how the wallaby was healing, to which he replied, “He’s eating like a horse, drinking like a horse and peeing like a wallaby.” Like I said, in this job, I had to learn to expect the unexpected
Well from there, I went on to report on a number of community issues, from a dispute over the East Rockaway High School mascot to legal and social justice issues. I had seen high school students become activists, demanding more accountability and representation from their school district administrations, and I had gotten to know the communities better than the town I lived in my entire life.
By 2019, I was promoted to assistant editor of the Franklin Square/Elmont Herald, and I soon met so many people who cared deeply about their community and wanted to make it a better place. I followed along as a group of Elmont residents sued the state government over its approval of the Belmont Park redevelopment plan, and watched as people throughout the area stepped up to help their neighbors during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. I was honored to tell your stories.
But everything must eventually come to an end, because as I said earlier, life has an interesting way of working itself out.
In March, I was presented with an opportunity to work at the Daily Mail in New York City that I could not refuse. And while I hate to say goodbye, I am excited to start typing up other people’s stories at my new office.
I hope you’ll follow along, because my life is still working itself out, and this is just the beginning of my journalistic career.