All posts by Stefanie Vitale

Alum talks success in web design, computer sciences

Jonathan Bulava, ’05, shared his professional experiences with his alma mater.
Jonathan Bulava, ’05, shared his professional experiences with his alma mater.

Alumnus Jonathan Bulava gave students a first-hand account of succeeding in the web development industry and offered advice as part of the Young Alumni Series on Wednesday, April 4.

His presentation, titled “Real Time Web Development and Social Media Analysis in the Entertainment Industry,” described his education at the College and the evolution of his career from web developer to senior application engineer at WiredSet in New York City.

Bulava, who graduated in 2005 with a degree in computer science and a minor in interactive multimedia, began the presentation by showing the audience his first website. He juxtaposed his first site with his more recent work, demonstrating how far he’s come since his original site.

“I had no idea about anything like webhosting …  I had no idea how it worked,” Bulava said. “This is what I’m drawn to. I could create something and then everyone could see it. I like visuals. I’m a visual learner. I like to create things that people actually see.”

Bulava now works almost exclusively with Trendrr, a branch of WiredSet, which tracks and analyzes the progress of social media campaigns for clients. He has designed apps, widgets and other multimedia for clients, including MTV, VH1, ABC and Oxygen.

Bulava explained some of the projects he has done, including one that taught him that making mistakes can be a good thing.

“What I have learned in this industry is that failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” he said. “You can run with it and come out stronger.”

After graduating from the College, Bulava earned his Master’s Degree from Villanova University. He gave the attendees advice on education and graduating from school.

“College is really what you make of it,” he said. “You can take classes and you can learn what’s in front of you. But if there’s something else you are interested, take the time to learn it.”

Bulava also stressed the importance of learning new things everyday.

“Always be on the lookout for what’s out there,” he said. “Don’t just stick to what you know. This industry changes fast, and you never know what’s going to be more efficient and faster.”


How to save our activities from cuts

Every Tuesday, my roommate and I take time to hang out together. We attend kickboxing at the T/W Fitness Center, grab some dinner from TDubs, and then retreat to my room to watch Glee. Last Tuesday, we arrived at the fitness center to find a sign on the door: Both kickboxing classes are canceled for the rest of the semester, due to a lack of accommodations. Word spread quickly among the flood of students arriving for class, as did shock, anger and confusion. How can the most popular class be canceled?

Since the very first class last semester, the kickboxing classes have rapidly grown each week to accommodate more and more students. In recent weeks, between 50 and 70 students have attended each kickboxing class. The class became so large that we could no longer safely fit in the fitness center. We began using the T/W Lounge, which has more than enough space for every student who wanted to attend.

However, school administration deemed that in order to continue the classes, they had to be held in the Fitness Center, with a cap of 20 students in each class. The student teacher denied the request, feeling uncomfortable with the idea of capping the classes at such a low number. Becoming a referee for 70 eager students certainly sounds like a daunting prospect, and it doesn’t seem fair to put a single student in that kind of position.

At this point, whatever happened between the administration and the class instructor is moot. Both parties attempted to keep the classes going. It didn’t work out. The point is, we want our classes back in any way, shape or form. What if students had to sign up for a specific class on a specific day, in order to give everyone a chance of attending? More effort should have gone into finding a solution. However, why should the school make an effort unless we speak out about it?

What we should be focused on in this situation is the fact that health and exercise programs at this school always seem to be taking hits The free personal training program at the Physical Enhancement Center was cut last semester. The number of classes offered at the fitness center each day has declined significantly from last semester, despite the fact that more students than ever are attending them. The “renovations” at the PEC have barely made any improvement to the small, poorly equipped room.

The cancellation of kickboxing classes is indirectly related to budget cuts. If there were more classes, there would be fewer people at each class. Budgeting and funding are complicated political issues, and I sympathize with the individuals who have to make these kinds of decisions, but if we want our classes to continue then we have to convey how much they mean to us.

I am writing this not to criticize what happened but to implore students to speak out for change. If you want your classes back, fight for them. Tell the school how much you love these classes (though the numbers should speak for themselves). I have already drafted a petition with 175 signatures on it. If we complain to each other without speaking out, then the programs will continue to be cut. We are students, and that does mean something. It means a lot more than you think.


Lions captain found basketball and never looked back

It’s a good thing senior interdisciplinary business major and women’s basketball captain Jessica Imhof moved from Hillsborough to Flemington in the third grade, otherwise the team’s current leading scorer very well may have never started playing the sport in the first place.

Imhof averaged over 12 PPG on the season. (Jess Davis / Staff Photographer)

“My mom wanted to get me started in something interactive, to help me meet new kids,” Imhof said. “I haven’t stopped playing since.”

And lucky she didn’t. The senior guard is now winding down her fourth and final season of Lions basketball with some impressive stats. She’s racked up 293 points so far this season, averages over 12 points per game, makes over 80 percent of her free throws (83.3 percent), over 40 percent of her attempted shots (43.1 percent) and almost 40 percent of her three pointers (37.3 percent). Her previous seasons have been equally as stellar — she finished the 2011 season leading the team in 3-point field goal percentage, free throws made and steals. And she’s in a good position to repeat that accomplishment.

Though proud of her individual accomplishments, Imhof is quick to stress the importance of collective team goals.

“It’s important for everyone to set individual goals, but if the team doesn’t perform, your individual ones don’t matter,” she said.

The team unfortunately lost in the NJAC Tournament, in which they were billed as the “dark horse” of the competition, Imhof said.

“This means that we’ve been determined to have enough potential to surprise some people,” Imhof explained.

Of course, the NCAA Tournament was on the team’s mind, as it is “in every athlete’s mind,” Imhof said. “Our goal is to reach different platforms and experience different playing fields. Teams and players want to challenge themselves. Being the best — playing the best. That’s what we want to do.”

Head coach Dawn Henderson is feeling confident that the players accomplished many of their goals this season and that they had the potential to finish strong.

“There are probably a couple of games we would like to have back, but for the most part, I think we have done very well,” she said. “This has been a close group, a group of fighters. I would like us to continue toward our goals together as a cohesive group. If we do that, the sky is the limit.”

Henderson also had high hopes for Imhof’s final weeks of the season.

“I’d love to see her finish out strong in all areas of the game,” she said. “If she is a presence at both ends of the floor, we are a better team.”

The team “family” mentality has been Imhof’s favorite aspect of playing basketball, especially at the College.

“You spend so much time together that you really start to lean on each other outside of the court,” she said. “Obviously there are specific things I love about the game itself, but the community of who you play the sport with … that’s what I love. You can have a bad game or an off-day, but at the end of it, you still have your teammates there with you.”

Finishing a last season is an emotional milestone for any athlete, and Imhof is no exception.

“I’m terrified and extremely sad,” she said. “I’ve been trying to embrace every moment. I’d like to say that I’m never going to stop playing. It’s not something I’m going to give up on easily.”

Overall, Lions basketball has greatly shaped Imhof’s experience at the College.

“(Basketball) has been the majority of my college experience, from the hours it takes to maintain a position, to the amount of time in the gym, to the relationships I formed.”

In the future, Imhof isn’t entirely sure where she will take her business degree and sociology minor, but she hopes to somehow involve basketball.

“Basketball is more than a hobby,” she said. “It’s such an obsession. We do what we do because we love it.”


Students studying abroad face challenges with cultural differences

Students and teachers from around the world gathered Nov. 19 to communicate, in a panel discussion, the ups and downs, pros and cons, and ins and outs of studying abroad.

Seniors Liz Christian, international business major, and Victoria Kudrak, special education major, came together with exchange students Suthasinee Saisaengjaemsanga (better known as Fa) from Thailand, Hannah Nossek from Germany and Patricia Torres from Puerto Rico to discuss the cultural differences and challenges students face when studying abroad.

The event, sponsored by the Modern Languages department, PNC Bank, the College Art Gallery, and the office of International and Off-Campus Programs, took place as part of International Education Week.

According to Simona Wright, professor of modern languages, the theme of International Education Week was “bridging cultural divides.”

“The best way to cross borders is to immerse oneself in another language and culture, to learn about its history and society, to meet its people and enjoy their customs,” Wright said.

To begin the panel, Kudrak spoke about her experiences in Chile in the spring of 2008.

“(Until I went to Chile) I thought I was good at Spanish,” she said. “(The first day of class) was the day I learned that I stunk at Spanish.”

All joking aside, Kudrak explained a phenomena echoed by the other panel members: the difficulty of being completely immersed in a language for the first time.

“It was extremely difficult,” she said, explaining that Chilean expressions and style are different from the Spanish taught in classrooms. Christian, who studied in Frankfurt from March to July of 2008, thought she knew enough German to find her way around and understand the basics, but soon realized that she was “way wrong.”

“My classes were full of Germans,” she said, as she did not attend an American satellite university. “That really sped up my learning.”

Torres, on the other hand, claimed the language barrier was not as difficult for her.

“I’ve been studying English since I was in the first grade,” she said. “Bilingual private schools (in Puerto Rico) have good English programs.”

Another major issue the panel discussed was adjustment to food and meal times.

Kudrak “did not know what to expect” from Chilean food and claimed she gained 10 pounds because the food is almost always fried. She explained that meals last at least an hour, during which you “can’t deny your Chilean mom” when she makes so much food.

“Weight is not an issue in Chile,” she said. “There is no emphasis on being really skinny.”

Fa and Torres complained that their native cuisines are completely different than that of the College.

“Food in Thailand (is) so delicious, but when I go to Eickhoff (Hall) . no comment,” Fa said.

Despite other difficulties, the group agreed on the general experience of studying abroad.

“It was very dynamic. You learn a lot about things,” Christian said. “Everyday you are learning something new about everyone.”

Nossek added, “I love experiencing all the different cultures, even within the states.”

Overall, the students and teachers explained the opportunity to see the world and other cultures is the best reason to consider studying abroad.