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Podcast Explores the New Normal Through Eyes of Campus Leaders

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Melanie Formosa ’22 speaks with Vice President of Student Affairs Rick Gatteau for her podcast. Photo by John Griffin.

While many people talk of getting back to some kind of normality, one Stony Brook University student is actually documenting it.

Under the mentorship of Jan Diskin-Zimmerman, TV producer/director with the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, journalism major Melanie Formosa ’22 has produced a series of podcasts with key university leaders designed to help ease students’ transition back to the academic life that was suddenly and unexpectedly disrupted in March 2020, as the pandemic sent the campus, along with the rest of the country, into isolation.

Formosa, a TV studio assistant, interviewed a number of campus leaders whose far-reaching leadership and compelling stories provide vision and insight into how we can navigate the new road that awaits us in Fall 2021.

“COVID made a huge impact and now that we’re ‘returning to normalcy,’ I wanted to get different perspectives on how best to achieve that,” said Formosa.

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Melanie Formosa ’22 created “The Comeback Podcast.” Photo by Will DeLisi

“Tuesdays with Melanie: The Comeback Podcast” features interviews with campus leaders on a variety of topics, including Assistant Vice President for Career Development and Experiential Education Marianna Savoca (career choices and diving into various fields of career interest without stress), Associate Director of the Center for Prevention and Outreach Danielle Merolla (how to maintain and sustain mental health while erasing the stigmas), Vice President of Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer Judi Brown Clarke (the importance of pausing to notice ignorance), student Subomi Babawale ( the dangers of assuming, especially in the context of international students), Associate Provost for Academic Success Shelley Germana (what academic success is and how to achieve it), Vice President of Student Affairs Rick Gatteau (Student Affairs and how college isn’t solely classes and studying) and Dean of Students Ric McClendon (self-care techniques and how respecting oneself is integral to providing service to others)

All of the podcasts are available on YouTube; view the playlist here.

Formosa honed her journalistic “chops” as co-host/co-producer of the GRIT 2020 and 2021 podcasts, which are also available on YouTube.

Formosa interviews and records using the podcast equipment Rodecaster in GoGo studio in the ECC Building. She uses an SD card to manually place it on a Mac and then edits them on Adobe Premiere Pro.

“I wrote up questions before, but I use a very loose script because I want it to be more of a conversation,” Formosa said of the production process.

Although the primary audience is students, Formosa said the podcast is designed to appeal to a wider general audience as well.

“We cover solid topics that apply to everybody,” she explained.

“What I’ve learned from these interviews is that although this has been an incredibly tough year, out of every challenge comes at least one positive, one silver lining,” said Formosa. “After speaking with some of the most prominent leaders on campus, I am eager to come back to a revitalized campus community.”

—    Glenn Jochum

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