Mayor of Sea Bright, Dina Long, being sworn in. Photo by Paul Scharff of the Monmouth Journal

By Laura Pulgarin —

Something about her Media and Government class with the late J/MS Professor Tom Hartmann really intrigued Dina Graygor Long when she became a journalism major in 1986.

Twenty-six years later, Long would make an ideal speaker for the Media and Government course. She is the new mayor of Sea Bright, a community running along one of New Jersey’s most beautiful barrier beaches.

She brings to the position years of experience working with the Democratic administrations of Gov. Jim Florio and Gov. Jim McGreevey, where she was finance director.

When she got the job with Florio, Long took a short break from her education at Rutgers and returned to graduate in 1996.

“Those were some stressful times!” she recalled. “On the bright side, during this time I also returned to J/MS and finished my degree requirements,” said Long.

Even though she began pursuing a college teaching career and now is an English professor at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, Long stayed close to the politics that intrigued her so much in Professor Hartmann’s class.

When she was offered the opportunity to serve on the borough council for her hometown of Sea Bright in 2003, she accepted. Long was re-elected three more times and during her tenure served as the chair for the Public Safety and Finance Committees, and in her last term, oversaw the Beach/Environment Committee.

“After serving on the borough council for eight years, I decided to run for mayor when the mayor announced her intention to retire,” said Long. “It was entirely a grass-roots campaign — I knocked on 1,000 doors, twice, and wore out a pair of sneakers in the process. In the end, I won by over 100 votes.”

She ran, primarily, to get the governing body to work together as a team. In Sea Bright the mayor does not vote on policies, spending or initiatives.

“We’re rolling up our sleeves here to get the job done,” reported Long. “Sea Bright is essentially a three-mile sand bar. Think Mayberry-by-the-sea [the fictional setting for TV’s “Andy Griffith Show”], with a lot of aging infrastructure and a local economy that struggles in the off-season. We’ve got major challenges coming at us from Trenton as well. My priority as mayor is to keep the small-town character while bringing us into the modern age.”

Fully embracing new technologies and trends, Mayor Long made herself available through all online outlets, including a Twitter account (@seabrightmayor), which she updates regularly.

“As mayor, my role is to provide leadership and direction to the governing body and to serve as the ‘chief executive’ of the community,” said Long. “Mayor is definitely a more visible role than council member, and I have to admit I’m still adjusting to it. When I walk into a room and people say ‘Mayor,’ I turn around like, ‘Where?’”

Recently the Asbury Park Press called her for a comment. “It used to be the other way around,” said Long. “Luckily I know a little bit about how this works, so I make sure to speak slowly and choose my words carefully. When it comes to communication skills, J/MS gave me the foundation I needed to get where I am today.”

Rendering of proposed new SC&I building on College Ave. Illustration provided by Cannon Design; descriptives added by Alum-Knights

By Jade McClain —

Cramped classrooms, outdated equipment and peeling walls mark the end of an era for the School of Communication and Information (SC&I) as plans for a new $95 million technology-driven building take root. View Post

Kelly Whiteside. Photo by Rachell Mejia

By Rachell Mejia —

Having torn her anterior cruciate ligament her first soccer game of her freshman year at Rutgers might have been the best thing that happened to Kelly Whiteside, J/MS 1990. View Post


By Miguel Acevedo —

Mental illness is something that Tom Davis, J/MS 1989, knows all too well.

Professor Tom Davis signs copies of his new book at Alexander Library. Photo by Liz Fuerst He not only witnessed mental illness devastate his mother, Dorothy, but Davis himself has battled mental health issues throughout his own adult life, including his time at Rutgers University.

With the recent release of Davis’ book, A Legacy of Madness: Recovering My Family from Generations of Mental Illness, View Post

Josh Rosenau. Photo supplied by Josh Rosenau

By Keren Brown —

In an unsteady economy and less-than-promising job market, Josh Rosenau, J/MS 2011, has been able to do what many college students fail to accomplish—obtain a full-time job doing what he loves: reporting full-time for The Times of Trenton. View Post

David Greenberg, presidential historian. Photo supplied by David Greenberg Professor

As the GOP heads towards its convention in Tampa in August and the presidential race begins to consume the media, J/MS professors are gearing their fall teaching toward the 2012 election. View Post

In an article in the winter 2012 Alum-Knights about three young friends from The Targum who found jobs in New York, there were several errors.

Our student-writer reported that Jessica Gatdula, J/MS 2009, one of the alumni profiled, works for Wenner Media’s Rolling Stone when in fact she works for Wenner Media’s Special Interest Publications team under Us Weekly. Gatdula’s only con­nection with Rolling Stone is that she previously interned/freelanced for its website.

Margaret Darias, another of the graduates profiled, was a Communications major and not J/MS. She graduated in 2010 – not 2009, as written.

Alum-Knights deeply regrets the errors.

Candice Helfand travels the U.S. with the click of a mouse. She covers local news for CBS from New York and still finds time to sing with an a capella musical group. Photo supplied by Candice Helfand

By Darian Barnes — 

While sitting in her CBS News office in New York, Candice Helfand, J/MS 2005, produces articles for local news websites in Washington, Tampa and Atlanta, even in Seattle. View Post

Aaron Task, J/MS 1990. Photo supplied by Aaron Task

By Jenna Grunfeld—

Over the past few years, online journalism has jumped from phenomenon to mainstream, and few know more about it than Aaron Task, J/MS 1990, who has been working in online journalism for over 15 years. View Post

Virginia Stuart, 97, lives independently in Vermont. She just published her first e-book. Photo supplied by Virginia Stuart

If you’re a writer and you’re 97 and want more to do than most nonagenarians, you write a book. Since it’s 2012, you write an e-book. View Post

Yas is a bilingual AccuWeather forecaster. Photo supplied by Violeta Yas Violeta

By Matthew Yu —

Integrating the journalism skills learned at Rutgers with her native Spanish language, Violeta Yas, J/MS 2008, is trailblazing as a bilingual TV weather forecaster for AccuWeather based in State College, Pennsylvania.

Yas has proved that being bilingual helps broaden job opportunities post graduation.

Hoping to build on her experience as a beat writer covering Rutgers men’s and women’s basketball and football at Sports Page Magazine during college, Yas pursued a career in sports journalism once she graduated. She did not exactly see herself working in the weather industry. However, when AccuWeather offered her the opportunity to work as a bilingual weather forecaster in 2010, she packed up and moved to Happy Valley.

“A lot of my background is actually in sports journalism, but I just fell into the weather,” Yas said. “It sounded like a wonderful opportunity to learn something else. I decided to hop onto it.”

Serving a wide range of news clients around the nation and 175,000 customers, AccuWeather has found weather is in constant demand, especially when Mother Nature is not at its best.

Based on the weather’s time- sensitive tendencies, Yas’ typical day requires her to record both audio and video broadcasts during an eight and a half hour shift – between 50 and 60 videos and 10 to 20 radio broadcasts.

“Between 11 and 1, it’s my time to get ready, my hair and makeup, and I usually go in and have a slew of websites I need to check,” Yas said. “Obviously radar, satellite, National Weather Service, Storm Prediction Center, and then, I usually have a briefing at 12:30.” That’s when AccuWeather scientists give her an overview of that day’s weather.

“We have videos that we provide on our website, we have our regional videos for the Northeast and Southeast, we have sponsor videos for, and we have videos that specific clients request,” Yas went on. “We also are responsible for the radio, so once I’m done recording on the set, I go over to the radio booth.”

Yas is responsible for recording all broadcasts in Spanish.Despite Spanish being her first language, Yas finds the task to record in Spanish sometimes difficult to complete within the minute and 15 seconds she is limited to.

“I would say it’s more difficult in Spanish because a lot of times we’re speaking very fast, and it sounds like we’re saying a lot of things,” Yas said. “Really, it just takes more words to say, so doing a forecast becomes difficult because I have to speak in scientific words, and those terms tend to be lengthy.”

While the weather industry can be daunting at times, she is enjoying her time at AccuWeather.

“I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t a little intimidating not really having any prior experience in weather, but I have great people training me and explaining things to me, and it seems to have worked out so far,” Yas said. “I really like it.”

She truly values the skills she learned at J/MS. The first two years at Rutgers, she didn’t know which major to pursue but was aware she could communicate fluently in Spanish.

She found her calling in journalism. Before long, the idea began to percolate that she could combine bilingualism with journalism. The media industry is quite broad, she noted, and there are growing opportunities for Spanish speakers.

“I could stick with what I’m doing right now, the English market, or if I wanted, I could pursue something in Spanish,” said Yas.

Being bilingual, she emphasized, “does open up a whole other world.”