Three Mount Saint Mary College (MSMC) seniors have been writing blogs for their senior thesis projects. Though they share the blogs as their projects’ medium, each of theirs is entirely different.
I Didn’t Sign Up For This:
Jacquelyn DiLorenzo decided to write her blog, I Didn’t Sign Up For This, on a topic she deals with daily: dating a man in the military. And so, her followers got a realistic glimpse into what it’s like entering into a military relationship as a nonmilitary person, or a civilian.
As her blog suggests, civilians don’t all sign up for it, but the need to be familiar with the ins and outs of military life. Her blog informs civilians about the military lifestyle from a different perspective–from the perspective of the significant others, family members, and friends who support someone in the military.
What is appreciated about DiLorenzo’s blog is that it’s straightforward and gives civilians advice for surviving the military lifestyle. She touches upon dealing with distance, moving, military misconceptions, and the upside to being with someone in the military. DiLorenzo is honest in telling her audience that what she deals with isn’t east, but the hope that is portrayed in her writing is incredible.
Faces of HeartShare:
Jillian Torre’s photoblog, Faces of HeartShare, gives a heartwarming look into HeartShare Human Services of New York. HeartShare runs dozens of programs in New York City that help those at a disadvantage. Some of their services include residential programs for disabled adults, recreation programs, health and mental services, and Medicaid service coordination. While her blog is not focused on writing, it allowed Torre to bring her love for photography into her project.
Torre met with and took pictures of people who benefit from HeartShare’s services. Much like “Humans of New York,” Torre adds quotes from the person in the photo.
Inspiring is the perfect word to describe her blog. Each photo represents a story andeach caption gives us a taste of each person’s personality. Torre captured these moments beautifully with her camera and through personal interactions. Unlike the other two projects, she used her blog to help promote an organization.
Jac Bergenson’s blog is all about something he and everyone else loves: food. After coming to MSMC from The Culinary Institute of America, Beregenson wanted to combine his passion for writing and food. On his blog, Hard Broiled, you can find anything and everything about food, including reviews of Hudson Valley-based restaurants.
Bergenson’s attention to detail in his writing, as well as the overall layout of his website, is much appreciated. Building the website from the ground up was an interesting part of his project, and it came out beautifully; it’s easy to follow and easy to navigate through.
Bergenson provides articles on his website, such as restuarent reviews, trends, happenings in the culinary world, and of course, recipes.
It’s obvious he knows the information he talked about, and he could easily create a trusting relationship with his audience through his writing. As a whole, his blog is extremely well-rounded. Whether you want to know where to go for dinner on a Saturday night or how to make a Bundt cake, Hard Broiled is the place to go.
If you’re a food lover or just a reader of all things, Bergenson’s blog is both entertaining and a pleasure to look through.
Mount Messenger asked the three writers a few questions to get a better understanding of their blogs and the ideas behind them:
Mount Messenger (MM): What made you want to write your blog about the topic it is on?
Jacqueline DiLorenzo (JD): I chose my blog topic because I am a civilian who is dating someone in the military. He wasn’t in [the military] when we began dating, but he joined eight months later. He’s been in for almost five years now (four years, nine months). I was completely uninformed of aware of the life I was getting myself into by dating someone in the military, and even after five years, there is still so much for me to learn and explore. So I wanted to write my blog to help those in the position I was in to better understand and adjust to the lifestyle and to let the civilian population be aware of how the military life works and help them realize they are just normal people and families, too.
Jillian Torre (JT): My blog doesn’t exactly have much writing, but I have always been intrigued by portraits and what they can tell you about a person. I originally wanted to photograph strangers from all walks of life and get their stories. I think when you pass someone in the hallway or on the street you subconsciously (or sometimes consciously) judge them on their appearance, when in reality there is so much more to a person behind the clothes and skin. Someone pointed out to me that my idea sounded a lot like Humans of New York, so I knew I had to change it and put an original spin on the idea. I decided to take my original concept and use it to help promote HeartShare Human Services of New York, a Brooklyn based charity that is near and dear to my and my family’s hearts. Combining the photojournalism style blog with an organization brought the PR aspect of my major into my project. It allowed me to use my journalism skills to promote an organizations that does amazing things for people all over New York City. I wanted to put a “face” to HeartShare, which is where I got the title “Faces of HeartShare.”
Jonathan Bergenson (JB): I’m sure I’ve told everyone my story by now. I have a passion for food. I spent time at the Culinary Institute of America, where I learned all the ins and outs of cooking, and I’ve developed my skills at local restaurants since then. But I also have a passion for writing. I picture myself reviewing restaurants for the New York Times one day, the next Pete Wells. Lofty ambitions or not, I need experience it it’s ever going to happen, so a food blog was the natural choice.
MM: Did you face any difficulties while writing your blog?
JD: The difficulties I faced while writing were really minor. I switched from WordPress to Blogger just because I found Blogger to be easier to navigate and use while setting up my blog site. I also chose not to use Google Analytics and because it proved to be a bit difficult to understand and Blogger has widgets I could use that provided the same functions as GA [Google Analytics] would’ve. I also found that I needed more information than I had originally thought from the people I interviewed and didn’t want to be a bother going back and asking them more questions, but found they were all super willing to help and answered me ASAP so I could have the information I was looking for.
JT: The most difficult aspect of my blog was bringing people to it. HeartShare doesn’t have millions Facebook and Twitter followers, like the Red Cross or Coca Cola, so getting new people to view the blog was probably the hardest thing. Unlike other’s events and projects, mine wasn’t geared toward the MSMC community so I couldn’t hang up flyers and market on campus; I had to reach another audience. My Facebook friends are probably sick of me posting about the blog multiple times a day, but you got to do what you got to do.
JB: The biggest difficulty lies in building a site from the ground up. I’m fairly tech savy, but web design is not my forte. Fortunately, you can learn how to do anything on the Internet these days; you just have to know what to Google. I also had a hard time making my original vision a reality. Hard Broiled was meant to be a hard news site, but I went into it without any real contacts or leads. A journalist is about as good as his network, so the site’s identity evolved from that of a hard news site, to that of an editorial resource. People love it when a blogger has a voice. I don’t have the same resources as the big media outlets, but I have my own voice and I’d hope that is compelling enough for someone out there to read.
MM: What advice would you give to future seniors who choose to write a blog like you have?
JD: The advice I would give would be to write about something you’re passionate about and do as much research as possible before beginning. You don’t want your writing to be a wasted effort because something already exists out there that serves the same purpose your blog would be serving. Read a lot, understand the language pertaining to your subject, and know people who can help you along the way.
JT: Choose a project that you’re excited and passionate about. All of the seniors have put a crazy amount of time and effort into their projects. If your working on something that you just don’t care about, you will be miserable. As hard as this project was at times, there wasn’t a single moment when I thought, “I hate this. I can’t wait until it’s over.” I loved every minute of visiting HeartShare’s programs and meeting some of the incredible people involved in the organization, and I was proud to be sharing their stories and helping them build an online presence. If you find a project you’re passionate about, you and your project will be better for it.
JB: Plan, plan, plan. Identify your skills and weaknesses, recruit the right people to help you, and get started early. If you want to write, write. Don’t wait for your blog to go live. Go out there with a pen and paper (or a keyboard) and submit you stories to as many publications as are willing to publish them. The thing with journalism is that it’s changing every day; it’s impossible for you to know what you’re doing unless you get out there and do it. My other advice is to actively reflect upon the lessons you are learning. I’ve received some great feedback from my site, but it’s only half as successful as I hoped it would be. That doesn’t mean there aren’t lessons to take away from it. What worked, what didn’t work – all of it will inform my career in the future.
Make sure to check out the senior thesis blogs here:
Jillian Torre’s: Faces of HeartShare
Jac Bergenson’s: Hard Broiled
Jacquelyn Di Lorenzo’s: I Didn’t Sign Up For This