lindsey medwin

One Year Gone: How I lived since my suicide attempt

By Lindsey Tess Medwin
Contributing Writer

You’d like to say that it was an immediate wake-up call. That things immediately took an upward turn because you realized how “valuable” your life was and “how lucky” you were to be alive. But that isn’t true. In fact, life got a hell of a lot worse after. Intensive therapy almost everyday for hours. Labeled with conditions you barely understand and prescribed a cocktail of medications you can hardly pronounce the names of. Learning coping skills and mindfulness and all these other therapeutic ways to deal with your problems and past.

You try to kill yourself and all the sudden the world expects you to devote every second of everyday to wanting to live when just a week earlier you made a clear decision to die.


The transition back to reality is far from easy. You expect so much out of yourself and, mindlessly, expect a lot of those around you. Especially those who are closest.


But for some reason- you do it. You drag yourself out of bed and swallow your morning meds. You ignore the voices in your head telling you to give up and that there’s no point. You fight through the crippling anxiety that stopped you from going to work, seeing your friends and even leaving house most days. You just go.

And at first you don’t do it for yourself. You can’t even really explain why you’re doing it. Maybe it’s for your friends or for the loved ones around you because you don’t want to let them down again. Maybe it’s to pass the time since you can’t work or go to school. Maybe it’s because you have nothing left to lose.

It’s never easy and it’s definitely never something you’re prepared for. Talking about the darkest parts of your soul and memories for the first time in your entire life and opening up about things you’ve pushed down for years. That’s never easy.

And yet, you start to find some type of comfort in it. Despite sitting at a table surrounded by strangers, opening up seems safe. There truly is a lack of judgement and a universal upstanding for the pain and suffering you all share. And for the first time in your entire life, you stop feeling so alone.

As the weeks and months go by, you start to develop a sense of self again. And though you are miles away from where you want to be, the fact that you want to be anywhere and have some sort of drive again gives you so much relief. You want to be a better you. A healthier, happier, successful you. You want to be alive.

The journey isn’t over though.

The transition back to reality is far from easy. You expect so much out of yourself and, mindlessly, expect a lot of those around you. Especially those who are closest. You develop an unhealthy dependency and attachment and it makes you question where your happiness is really derived from. You are so caught up in the idea of having hope again and the eagerness for things to go back to normal, that you overlook the toxicity still surrounding you.

Eventually you realize it’s this remaining element of darkness that is holding you both back from true happiness and prosperity.

And while you do your best to prepare as the survivor you are, no one could ever be ready for the person you loved to leave you.

But by that point you’ve come too far. So, with the comfort, care and concern of those around you, who immediately come through, you let go of the shock and sadness and begin working to overcome this.

And it’s during this time of desperation and vulnerability that you realize who’s there for you when you really need it.

And you accept that you always be grateful to this heartbreaking loss, for it gifted you the greatest friend you’ll ever know.

And soon after, you take a chance on an opportunity that gifts you stability. And while that’s all it was initially, this opportunity also surrounds you with an incredible group of people you never expected to love so deeply.

And from there, you really start to grow.

You are no longer consumed with your anxiety or depression or post-traumatic-stress-disorder. You are no longer fixated on survival. You are no longer seeking approval from partners or from your past.

You’re finally at peace.

And while there is so much more for you to learn, that’s all you could really ask for.

And suddenly, it’s been a year since your suicide attempt. And you can honestly say you have never been happier.

Inter-Club Council continues Parent club, SGA awaits reform

By Lindsey Medwin
Managing Editor

As the reformation of the disbanded Student Government Association begins this semester, both the Office of Campus Life and division of student development and enrollment management look to rebuild the Inter-Club Council.

The ICC is a committee of student club leaders on campus that meet on a regular basis to discuss ongoing events and recruit volunteers while serving as a structured way of keeping students informed about what’s going on around campus.

The ICC was lead by the Student Government Association, so its final meeting was abruptly canceled last semester when the SGA was officially disbanded.  This cancellation was not a consequence of any issues with the Inter Club Council, but rather with the club that oversaw it.

In April, Dr. Bette Simmons, vice president of student development, described the SGA at the time as “a governing structure that was not representing [the student body].”

The lack of representation Simmons described stemmed from a series of concerns the administration had with the Student Government Association last semester, including conflicts of interests among the governing body members, and an investigation concerning leadership.

“There’s nothing wrong with ICC; there was nothing wrong with ICC,” Simmons said, “It’s a wonderful body on campus and encouraged absolutely.”

Though the Inter Club Council will still be run by the Student Government Association going forward, the college has emplaced a new selection process for choosing the representatives.

“The big change will be how the ICC chair person is selected,” said Don Phelps, associate director of campus life. “In the past, the Student Government Association picked this person, but now the entire Student Association will have a say in who runs the ICC.”

The main objective with this change was to address the leadership problems and improve the diversity of students involved in major campus organizations like the Inter- Club Council and give students who may have not had an opportunity in the past a chance to lead this semester and in the future.

“It does give us an opportunity to broaden out amongst [the students],” Simmons said. “By the virtue of that it does make it much more representative.”

Until the Student Government Association is reinstated by mid-October, according to Phelps, the Office of Campus life will be hosting earlier ICC events.

Club leaders, advisors, and any candidates for club leadership positions are invited to the Student Leader Lunch-In Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 12:30 p.m. in the Davidson Rooms.

Two Inter-Club Council meetings have been scheduled as well Tuesday, Oct. 10 and Tuesday, Nov. 7. More information about these events will be released as the dates get closer.

Students mount drama despite budget, program cuts

By: Lindsey Medwin
Managing Editor

A shuttered major, slashed budget and challenging material did nothing to slow the drama students at County College of Morris as they mounted “The Elephant Man” to close out the semester in May.

The play, the true story of Joseph Merrick, an elephantiasis patient in the 19th Century, and his relentless devotion towards love and acceptance. Merrick’s story pushed the plotline of the drama through scenes that displayed significant moments in his life up until his death.

“The subject matter was hard to get through some nights,” said Liam Young, a former drama major who played the elephant man himself, describing the extensive preparation he went through to take on the role. Young went on to describe how he spent hours in the mirror, mastering the contortions and voice the part asked of him.

“That’s why I love the character so much because it’s a full body experience,” Young said, noting how much this differed from other CCM shows he’s acted in.

Also performing in prior dramas at CCM, Kira Gumbinger, who played Joseph’s friend Mrs. Kendal, expressed a sense of embodiment towards her role in this particular production.

“I think I grew as an actress to really be able to become that role,” Gumbinger said.

Gumbinger and Young not only showcased their talents on stage, but also took on additional responsibilities behind the scenes. Traditionally, actors’ jobs consist of delivering a performance while backstage positions are delegated to others.

Gumbinger not only played two parts on stage, but she also served as stage manager for the production. Young was extremely hands-on with technical work for “The Elephant Man” as well. Their willingness to fulfill these outside obligations allowed the show to thrive.

With a small cast and even smaller budget, the play enhanced the skills of the actors by performing the show ‘in the round,’ where the audience members are seated around the stage area, rather than in front. This use of setting allowed for a far more emotional and intimate experience and an even higher quality production.

“It was such an intense experience because you really felt part of the story,” said Dr. Robert Cioffi, professor of English and director of the show.

Throughout the performance, the simplistic execution of “The Elephant Man,” in terms of set and props, efficiently used the limited resources the drama receives to put up the show each semester.

Cioffi said that he’s had to teach numerous drama and English courses in a variety of settings, thus finding space in the Davidson Rooms at times.

“Many students have commented in the past several years that our facilities are inadequate,” Cioffi said.

In May of 2016, the Board of Trustees made the decision to remove the associates in fine arts as a major and only a concentration in drama under a liberal arts degree would be offered. This change became effective Friday, July 1 of that year.

“In the economic crunch, the college decided it was no longer economically feasible to stay with the program,” Cioffi said. “There are several other programs being looked at, but our’s was the first to go.”

Students already enrolled in the program who only needed a few short classes to earn their degree were given the opportunity to finish out their remaining courses.

“We worked to help them complete the degree before we stopped offering a number of the classes,” said Dr. Bruce Dutra, dean of the division of liberal arts on campus. Dutra said that the board and liberal arts department decided to continue the dramas themselves each semester.

“Obviously, we thought it was extremely important that we continued to offer at least some classes in drama and have the performances, the very high quality of performances,” Dutra said. “And fortunately, we’ve done that because Dr. Cioffi is an incredible leader and teacher.”

Young said that the program being cut has curbed his ability to learn.

“I want to study; I want to learn more,” Young said. “The whole program feels crippled.”

Costar Gumbinger echoed those sentiments.

“I think it’s really shameful of a community college,” Gumbinger said.

For his part, Cioffi said the program cuts are tragic.

“I think it’s a tragic thing what’s happened to the drama program,” Cioffi said.

Despite the challenges, members of the production have, in part, credited the show’s quality and success to the passion derived from these circumstances.

“One of the reasons our show was so good was because we were so furious that this was happening to our major,” Gumbinger said.

Figures regarding the program cut and budget itself were not stated in the meeting notes. When contacted about this, the department of business and finance on campus did not respond for comment.

Going forward, Cioffi aims to keep the dramas alive by encouraging new students to participate, as the shows are open to not only students across campus but anyone in the community. The “Elephant Man” alone illustrates the standard of theater students and faculty are willing to work for, in spite of any circumstance.

“We showed them the past two semesters that we don’t need their money,” Young said. “But it could just be so much better if we could have more backing.”

Members, however, did acknowledge their appreciation for allies of the program on campus.

“I know there’s some really great supporters of arts who saw the show,” said Gumbinger.

Cioffi said he wanted to thank Dutra and Dr. Janet Eber, professor of English and chairperson of the English and philosophy department specifically, saying without their support, “The drama department wouldn’t have lasted as long as it had.”

Students and faculty can look forward to another great performance in the fall, for they will be putting on “East Of Eden.

“It has family, it has a little bit of sex, it has some darker undertones…There’s some minority characters in it, which is awesome and it’s going to be great.” Gumbinger said.

Auditions will be held at the start of the fall semester.

 

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‘Diverse’ dancing focus of showcase

By: Lindsey Medwin 
Staff Writer 

Incorporating both variety and collaboration into this year’s annual main stage production, the Department of Music, Dance and Performing Arts hosted a performance unlike any other at CCM.

The Dance Theatre Showcase, held Friday, March 3 and Saturday, March 4, was one of three dance concerts the program puts on throughout the academic year. It is the only one, though, which takes place on the Dragonetti Auditorium stage. That means it requires a lot of time and effort for preparing the 15 different dances featured this year.

“Some of the pieces we actually started rehearsing over winter break,” said Noelle Cappuzzo, a double major in dance and musical theatre major and one of the leading performers in the showcase, noting that some pieces took up to 46 hours to finalize.

The extensive preparation for this event, though, is not just to perfect the pieces, but also to create them. Professor Terence Duncan, director of the event, noted that all of the dances were formulated from, “all original and self produced work”.

One dance in particular that left an outstanding mark on the production was entitled, “Departed Dearly”, choreographed by Christina Paolucci. This 16 minute duet conveyed a dark, yet humbling story of two sisters journey together up until their deaths through the beauty of dance. This complex number and the story behind it was all inspired by Paolucci’s vision of door, which was used throughout the piece. Cappuzzo and Sabrina Olivieri, dance major’s at CCM, played the sisters in the duet.

“Christina did a really nice job of crafting a work that was both challenging and intricate,” Duncan said.

Paolucci said that choreographing dances is not always easy, and that’s the point.

“The whole point of what we do as choreographers and choreographers of students is that we want them to succeed and have a positive experience, even if that means we have to struggle to get there,” Paolucci said.

The initial development of some dances featured in the showcase stemmed from a collaboration the department had with the Garden State Dance Project, a New York dance school. The co-founder and artistic director of the project, and CCM alumnus, Eli  Kababa, personally trained with the students for several performances in New York, choreographing numbers featured at the concert.

Duncan said that working with the project was, “an opportunity to have a performance series in New York in January and present the work to New York city public school children.”

This experience enabled the students involved to expand their abilities and talents, to then present those skills to a local audience at CCM.

“It really helped me keep my technique balanced in all genres of dance,” Cappuzzo said.

The Dance Theatre Showcased extended this trend of collaboration by featuring some CCM musical theatre majors in a student choreographed piece entitled, “The Cellblock Tango.”

This was the first dance concert where different majors in the department were featured. This not only gave some variety to the concert, but also allowed everyone involved to work together and create a fantastic opening number to the second act of the concert.

Gabe Weiss, one of the actors featured, noted that it was great working with, “people that really care about the program,” and by bringing different walks of life together, it made the Department of Music, Dance and Performing arts a far more, “well rounded program’

“I have to say, this has to be one of the best showcases we had because there was so much diversity in dance and do so many different things,” Cappuzzo said.

Unity Day celebrates differences, highlights similarities

BY LINDSEY MEDWIN
Contributor

After a divisive fall semester that was punctuated by a contentious election cycle, the County College of Morris chapter of Phi Theta Kappa responded by hosting  a celebration of culture and difference.

Unity Day, held on Dec. 1, 2016, was planned as an event to bring together all walks of life on campus in order to educate attendees not only on different cultures, but what exactly unites them. This event ran from 12:30 to 2:00 and took place in the Davidson Rooms at the Student Community Center. The idea for Unity Day stemmed from PTK’s Honors in Action project and was developed with two leading themes: beauty and vulgarity.

“We wanted to do something that highlighted how different cultures go together,” said Michael Gosden, president of Phi Theta Kappa.

Though not particularly inspired from an on campus issue, but rather a bigger unification problem in society overall recently with the uproar over the election in particular, PTK aspired to organize an event to address these concerns and allow their intentions to spread beyond the grounds of CCM.

“We can start it at county [college] and spread it further throughout the county,” Gosden said.

Over the summer and throughout the fall 2016 semester, members of the chapter worked together and created Unity Day.

“It was a huge team effort, especially with our adviser, Dr. Bette Simmons.” said Gosden.

Unity Day kicked off with a cultural experience all college students can enjoy – free food. The event was catered by Forte Pizza, representing Italian culture, as well as a Dover restaurant which served empanadas from Spanish culture.

Attendees then had time to walk around the room lined with tables, each representing a specific culture.

“Those helming the tables displayed travel photos and various mementos from his or her respective culture,” said Nicholas Sisti, an attendee and contributor to Unity Day.

PTK included an informational kiosk designed to educate students on cultures the event was not representing directly. This was achieved by having a laptop open with heads of the table handy if anyone had questions.

“We would then briefly research on the internet whatever culture the student asked about and provide them with insight,” Sisti, a table head, said.

“We didn’t want to exclude anyone because that would defeat the purpose of the project,” Gosden said.

After some free time to explore the tables, everyone came together to participate in various group activities such as games and dancing. A game teaching colors in Italian was featured, as well as three different cultural dances from Greek, Korean and Spanish culture.

The dancing was like “one big multi-cultural dance party,” said Sisti.

In total, the event attracted about 50 people, a slightly higher number than expected by the chapter. Both the United Latino Organization and the Asian Students Association joined the event and contributed to its successes.

“Our Unity Day Event led to a greater appreciation of different cultures by a wide variety of students from across campus,” said Mohammad Rahmatullah, secretary of PTK.

In addition to hosting an upcoming blood drive and other various fundraisers, Phi Theta Kappa plans on duplicating Unity Day in the 2017 spring semester. Students can look forward to seeing this event brought back to campus and hopefully an expanded window of time to allow anyone interested in attending a greater opportunity to do so.

“If any students have any questions about PTK or how to join, they can stop by the office in room 130 in the Student Community Center,” said Gosden.

As multiple board members of PTK will be graduating at the end of this semester, Gosden and other executives expressed hope that the event will ultimately get passed down to the language department so Unity Day can make a customary appearance on campus in the future.

Any students with questions about PTK or about how to join can contact President Michael Gosden in SCC130.