Alumna Credits St. John’s Education for Successful Public Service Career

Alexis Torres ’09CPS, ’11GCPS has many responsibilities as Chief of Staff at the Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), a New York State public benefit corporation that maintains, programs, and manages 92 acres of land and 36 acres of pristine public parkland in downtown Manhattan—but she handles them with aplomb by never forgetting the lessons she learned while a student at St. John’s. 

“After more than a decade of work in state and local government, I am grateful to St. John’s for preparing me to take on the real world and dedicate my career to public service,” she said.

Ms. Torres earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations and a Master of Science degree in International Communication from the College of Professional Studies (now called The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies). She is thankful for the education she received from the professors in the Division of Mass Communication, including Basilio G. Monteiro, Ph.D., and John DiMarco, Jr., Ph.D. 

“Alexis stood out not only as a smart and hardworking student, but as a gracious person with a contagious smile,” said Dr. Monteiro. “She always cared for others; she was known among her classmates as someone they could always rely on for anything. She is a problem-solver without drawing attention to herself.”

During her college years, Ms. Torres also had the opportunity to apply the skills she learned in the classroom by interning at the Queens County District Attorney’s public information office, where she compiled press clippings for the late Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, and at Rubenstein Strategic Communications, where she helped organize media for the Tribeca Film Festival.

At St. John’s, Ms. Torres was a member of the Public Relations Club and a host of a show on WRED-TV, the campus television station. She also was a student worker for St. John’s Office of Conference Services and at the TV studio. 

“My first job was at St. John’s and I am forever grateful,” she said. “I attribute my work ethic and leadership skills to all of the mentors who guided me during my time there.”

As Chief of Staff at BPCA, Ms. Torres helps manage the day-to-day operations and oversees implementation of a variety of special projects and events. This includes the planning of public events for the authority’s annual Earth Day and Climate Week celebrations, which—given its role as an environmental sustainability leader—are important dates on the BPCA calendar. 

Most recently, she has been managing and coordinating, along with New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s office, the construction of new memorials to Mother Cabrini and to the victims and survivors of Hurricane Maria that devastated Dominica, St. Croix, and Puerto Rico in September of 2017. Both memorials will be located in Battery Park City.

Ms. Torres began her career at the City of New York’s Business Integrity Commission (BIC) during the administration of New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. There she worked to help eliminate organized crime and other forms of corruption from the public wholesale markets, trade waste, and shipboard gambling industries. While at BIC, she received a mayoral award for excellence in customer service and became a certified Spanish translator and interpreter for the City of New York Language Access Plan.

Esperanza: A Story of Complicated Hope in Cuba

On December 17, after a half a century of strained relations, the United States and Cuba announced that the two will embark on a careful journey to normalization.

Just two months after this momentous announcement, five students from the Media and Public Diplomacy course of the International Communication Graduate program at St. John’s University and two professors got the rare opportunity to spend a week in La Habana through the People-to-People Educational ambassador program.

St. John’s Stoked Alumna’s Passion for Television

Liz Muentes ’09CPS, ’11GCPS is an Emmy Award-winning multimedia producer and journalist with more than 10 years of experience in the television industry.

“I am passionate about this medium and its power to broaden horizons and impact communities in positive ways,” she said. “I hope to give back by being a mentor and teach at St. John’s one day.”

A New York native, Ms. Muentes chose St. John’s due to its proximity to New York City. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations and a Master of Science degree in International Communication from the College of Professional Studies (now called The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies).

“St. John’s has played a big role in where I find myself in my career,” she explained. “It opened doors for me and allowed me to pinpoint my skillset.”

Today, Ms. Muentes is a Digital Reporter/Producer for News 12, covering music, arts, and restaurants in the tristate area. “I love storytelling and sharing stories with the public, showcasing stories that sometimes are overlooked,” she said. “I get to meet new people and learn about their craft.”

Ms. Muentes began her career at WNET, the nation’s largest PBS member station, where she produced and oversaw preproduction through postproduction development of various programs focusing on news and politics, business affairs, the arts, and science and technology.

In addition, she also worked on documentaries that explored the Latino community, the history of one of the nation’s greatest champions of theater and performing arts, fashion at Lincoln Center, the life of Reginald Lewis, and treasures of New York.

At St. John’s, Ms. Muentes was President of the Public Relations Club and was very active with WRED-TV, the campus television station, where she was a Production Secretary and host of the weekly newscast, Eye of the Storm. The television studio on the fourth floor of Marillac Hall became her second home, and it is where she shared her passion for television with like-minded people. At WRED-TV, she covered everything from news, sports, trends, and concerts, and learned the fundamental skills needed for creating a segment, using a camera, and editing a television show.

During her college years, Ms. Muentes interned at Nickelodeon and WNET. While completing her master’s degree, she had the opportunity to freelance at WNET on a documentary about Fashion Week at Lincoln Center. After graduation, she joined the WNET team full-time and worked there for the next eight years.

Ms. Muentes said she was lucky to have “amazing” professors in the Division of Mass Communication at St. John’s, including Basilio G. Monteiro, Ph.D.John DiMarco, Jr., Ph.D.Brenda M. Laux; and Alla Baeva, Ph.D. “I owe much of my success to my professors, who were always my mentors, who enlivened classroom lessons with real-world experiences, and who emphasized the importance of mass communication in society.”

Mini-Multilateralism and “connectography:” “Generation Now” looking ahead in a networked “infosphere”

ICM students presenting at ACUNS conference, Coventry University, UK, June 25-27, 2020 – Virtual Conference

James Wheatley, Sara Rabelo-Tacher, Quiana Criales, Natalie Affenita, Hope A. DeVito, Basilio G. Monteiro

                                 Academic Council on the United Nations System

Covid-19 have exposed the deep flaws of the structures of all aspects of global society, and now, like all pandemics before, it offers us opportunities to imagine a new world that is more equitable and content. The younger generation impacted by this pandemic will not allow the world to go as usual. Globalization has been a convenient camouflage to lull us into feeling that prosperity is upon us… In fact, it was and is “helicopter-globalization” – which benefited only those with good tele-connectivity and tele-port, regardless of geographical location.

The inevitable challenges of climate change and its disruptive consequences are upon us. Any deliberations about economy, geopolitical relationships without taking into account climate change will be an exercise in futility.

Our students’ presentations are framed in the context of mini-multilateralism, with focus on regional supply chain, while keeping loose connections with larger globalization as demanded. The trust in economy has collapsed. Trust, is a human virtue, and cannot be managed by sophisticated protocols, checks and balances, cannot be technologized. Trust is nurtured in frequent close human proximities, which nurtures familiarity (unrelated to business gatherings).

Parag Khanna in his book Connectography: Maping the Future of Global Civilization states that Connectivity is destiny – and the most connected powers, and people, will win. Climate change is going to change some of that connectography. When he wrote his book, he did not anticipate the COVOD-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, there is a foresight in this thinking and worth paying attention to. He believes there are two main megatrends shaping the world we live in today: urbanization and connectivity, and the precarious of both this pandemic has exacerbated. And, together, they dictate human behavior every bit as much as – maybe even more than – any other force or factor we’ve seen previously.

Connectivity really comes down to the enablement of supply chains, both physical and digital, which are now the conduits of our economies. What we have seen is that – in a very uncoordinated, unsynchronized yet simultaneous decision-making process – billions of people are gravitating toward infrastructure and the supply chains they enable. (https://home.kpmg/xx/en/home/insights/2018/06/connectography.html).

Here, in our panel we are advocating for regional supply chain, which will have inevitable impact on mitigating economic inequality as corporations need not go around the world foraging for inhumanly cheap labor; regional supply chain with improved regional transportation  modalities will mitigate carbon emissions, and will de-urbanize our glass-cities which increasingly are becoming, given its high density population, incubators for all kinds of epidemics.

We advocate for re-thinking the tourism industry, which is driven by neo-liberal economic impulses and has created sustainability disasters in most part of the planet earth.

The post-pandemic world will grapple with some fundamental questions: Who are we, and how do we relate to each other? Luciano Floridi, one of the leading figures in contemporary philosophy, argues that the explosive developments in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is changing the answer to these fundamental human questions. As the boundaries between life online and offline break down, and we become seamlessly connected to each other and surrounded by smart, responsive objects, we are all becoming integrated into an “infosphere”. Personas we adopt in social media, for example, feed into our ‘real’ lives so that we begin to live, as Floridi puts in, “onlife”. This metaphysical shift represents nothing less than a “fourth revolution.”

The pandemic and post pandemic living as brought us to the realization that “onlife” defines more and more of our daily activity – the way we shop, work, learn, care for our health, entertain ourselves, conduct our relationships; the way we interact with the worlds of law, finance, and politics; even the way we conduct war. In every department of life, ICTs have become environmental forces which are creating and transforming our realities.

Economist E. F. Schumacher in 1970s, who was an important voice then at the United Nations, advocated an economic model of Small is Beautiful as if People Mattered. May be in this pandemic it is time to dust off his little but perceptive book. He advocated for the end of the excessive consumption, inspired movements such as “buy locally,” Fair Trade, and strongly opposed casino capitalism.

The presentations of the students in this panel are located in this framework. They are the “generation now” thinking radically and eager to grab the opportunity painfully unfolded by COVID-19 and seeking to shape a better world for themselves and the generations to come.

James Wheatley

in his presentation on hyperloop and the future of travel made a compelling case for regional supply chain, without compromising global alliances, as a way to address climate change, income inequality, de-urbanization and particularly to nurture the trust essential in any economic activity. He highlighted the evolving new modes of transportation, particularly the Hyperloop experiment in the Netherlands, to underscore the feasibility of regional supply chain.

Sara Rabelo-Tacher

examined COVID-19 trajectory and argued that in times of global crises, nations must prioritize communication and collaboration in order to overcome the issues together. She paid significant attention to the issues of national pride and the position of countries in the hierarchy of geopolitics, which compels the nations to control the information about the pandemics and thus fudge the essential information in detriment to global community.

Quiana Criales

examined the complex dangers of technology in the post-COVID-19 era. She examined the dangers of a complex system of ICT, threats to national economic system, national security, civility, and call for simplicity. She argued that the multilateral dependency can be fatal in pandemic times as she pointed out that given the accelerated climate change, the frequency of pandemics will be in short cycles. Her analysis of technology capitalism highlighted how the monopolies are significant threats to national security. She underscored that public services and essential resources, specifically within technology sector have become privatized commodities.

Natalie Affenita

in her presentation on Travelers and NOT Tourism she argued that post-COVID-19 world must be different for the sake of the health of the planet earth and it is inhabitants. The global pause imposed by COVID on human movement rejuvenated the environment at the pleasant surprise and satisfaction of all. She clearly distinguished between a traveler, who seeks to know and learn the people and places, versus a tourist, who seeks enjoyment by doing and seeing things packaged by the tourist agents for a given price, without regard for local culture and history. She anticipates the younger generation will develop a wholesome attitude to travel and safeguard the rapidly deteriorating environment.

Hope DeVito

as a vibrant member of “generation now” examined the prospects of Globalization post COVID-19, which led to some poignant questions for further study: what will the global stage look like after this? Will the countries with long standing power find themselves on the backburner while the middle or smaller power countries bounce back faster from the pandemic? How will globalization change? Will it become more digital with knowledge-based economy? Will the easy flow of travel, resources, etc. be the same? How will the rise of new generation affect power and the economy will be seen?

Basilio G. Monteiro

Lo que el viento no se llevó

by Cristina Pérez-Cordón, Ph. D

De todos es conocida la frase “las palabras se las lleva el viento”, pero nada hay más lejos de la realidad. Hay frases que han cambiado el rumbo de la historia, como la célebre I have a dream (tengo un sueño), pronunciada por el activista Martin Luther King (1929-1968)  en agosto del 63 al terminar la manifestación de Washington por el trabajo y la libertad. Otras han sido el eje de una forma de vida, como la frase “sé el cambio que quieres ver en el mundo” del abogado, político y pensador indio Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948). Algunas son una poderosa forma de motivación, como el famoso No pain no gain (sin esfuerzo no hay resultados) que acuñó Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) y popularizó Jane Fonda (1937-) en sus ejercicios aeróbicos en los 80, aunque en realidad el concepto aparece expresado con otras palabras ya en textos de la antigüedad. Parece claro, pues, que las palabras permanecen con todo su peso, e impregnan el ambiente, causando un efecto de mayor o menor dimensión en aquellos que las reciben.

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Grazie Mille, Dean Passerini …

The Institute for International Communication owe its existence to Dean Katia Passerini, who gave an enthusiastic support to this idea, which was languishing for about 5 years prior to her arrival at St. John’s University. Dean Passerini saw the value in the Institute that would promote interdisciplinary dialogue through intellectual work beyond the curriculum and by international exchange of ideas through academic activities, and engaging scholars and industry practitioners.

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Diálogo de una lingüista y una pandemia

By  Cristina Perez Cordon

Seguro que en las últimas semanas has visto imágenes similares a estas circulando por las redes sociales. Son ilustraciones de personal sanitario que muestra su lado más valiente en la lucha contra la COVID-19 y su lado más humano para paliar la angustia de aquellos que la sufren. ¿Sabías que hay una explicación a las mismas en una obra del siglo IV antes de Cristo? Si como yo, tienes curiosidad por saber cuál es, te invito a que sigas leyendo.

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How to Remedy the “Infodemic”? On the Notion of Communication Rights

Collaborative essay with Quiana Criales, Hope DeVito, Seraiah Romero, and other participants of the ICM835 – Media Governance course, Spring 2020.

 

What Are Communication Rights? 

people holding mask over a sculpture
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The rights-based approach is typically presented in a general sense as a counterforce that protects individuals against illegitimate forms of power, including both state and corporate domination. Many have noted the democratizing power of the digital age. But the increasing amount of challenges – the rampant spread of disinformation and hate speech online, the internet giants and related violations of privacy, persisting digital divides, and inequalities created by algorithms, to name a few  – face us as individuals and members of society.

These challenges have sparked renewed discussion about the idea and ideal of citizens’ communication rights – and these debates have intensified in today’s global health crisis caused by the coronavirus. No wonder the World Health Organization has called the situation “infodemic”.

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R-42: Not Just a last ride, but the end of a communication era

by Mark Juszczak

I had a suspicion, at the moment, that this might be bigger than I thought. And I also knew I was not alone. So I approached them and asked if them if they were waiting for R42. Not the A train, as in the A train line. But the arrival of the R-42 Subway Car type. Indeed they were. Continue reading “R-42: Not Just a last ride, but the end of a communication era”

#WhoWillWatchtheWatchers? IICM Symposium

“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” Bruno Latour & The Need for a New Critical Science of ‘Science & Technology’ Symposium

Authors and organizers: Dr. Basilio Monteiro (Director, IICM)
Dr. Natalie Byfield (The Department of Sociology & Anthropology of St. John’s University)

“Who Will Watch the Watchers: Bruno Latour & The Need for a New Critical Science of ‘Science & Technology’,” a jointly organized symposium by the Institute for International Communication and the Department of Sociology & Anthropology housed respectively in the Collins College of Professional Studies and St. John’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, brought together researchers who have different epistemological approaches to the study of contemporary technologies and people’s relationships to those technologies.

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“Hiroshima Sparrow” by Harumi Yamamoto

A Guidepost for the Future: Japanese Artist Stuns with Musical Message 

NEW YORK — “Study, learn, and try to become more invested in these issues,” said artist Harumi Yamamoto. “Remember that nuclear issues affect each and every one of us.”

This was the message Yamamoto gave students who attended her musical presentation about the horrors of nuclear power, on September 30 at St. John’s University’s Queens Campus. About 70 students, faculty and guests crowded an upstairs room in the D’Angelo Center.

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