A small group of about 20 students gathered in the UC Down Under Thursday night to engage in a poetry performance by The Asia Project.

Asia Samson, a slam poet, was accompanied by his brother-in-law Jollan Aurelio, who plays guitar.

The night started with a poem about being beautiful without enhancements, makeup or “superficial ambition.”

All of Samson’s pieces come from personal experiences, most of which have challenged him throughout his life, including dealing with his sister’s death and his own battle with cancer.

Samson’s sister had gone to the hospital with complaints of a headache only to find she had a tumor in her brain that needed to be removed through surgery. After a blood hemorrhage Samson’s sister fell into a coma and later died.

Samson told the crowd he believes everything happens for a reason and everyone should cherish each minute because one never knows when it will be the last moment.

“We’re so worried about what will happen tomorrow we forget the moment we are in,” Samson said.

Samson said the poem he wrote in his sister’s memory was one of the hardest he has ever written, yet a valuable lesson was learned.

“Life is a coma we can still choose to wake up from,” Samson said.

Samson asked for audience involvement frequently, but he especially received support it in his poem “Love you Like the ’90s,” where he talked about different trends in the ’90s. Samson also spoke about his battle with testicular cancer in January 2006.

SEAL Manager Sara Molnar said The Asia Project caught her attention and Samson’s brief 20-minute preview performance about his cancer struggle was enough to engage her.

Molnar was one of the five delegates of SEAL chosen to attend NACA, a conference held each year to choose events and programs for the upcoming school year with the intent of finding something that will appeal to all students.

“Specifically for us, I think that a lot of times in spoken word it’s hard to kind of realize what would fit well in our campus, kind of what people are interested in,” Molnar said. “I think just how he was able to be so show such emotion and be able to talk about his personal experience was a reason that we really liked him.”

The Asia Project has been on the road since August and visits about 180 colleges each year.

Samson tailors his material for the college atmosphere, and Molnar said she knows everyone deals with hardships that maybe they can relate to Samson’s poetry.

“People deal with their own personal struggles on campus a lot, and we thought students could really relate to that and how to handle their own situations,” Molnar said.

Freshman Brandon Bennett was in attendance at The Asia Project to fill a class requirement, and said he was surprised by the emotions the event evoked.

Bennett said he initially was not looking forward to the event, but he connected with Samson through a similar struggle he is facing in his own life.

“He started talking about his dad and his sister with brain issues and everything,” Bennett said. “And my dad actually had a tumor taken out a couple of weeks ago and it’s cancerous, so I really related to that, just how’s he’s saying being places for a reason kind of hit me.”

Bennett said poetry has never been an interest of his. He only ever engaged in spoken word when it was required for a class.

Poetry can be hard to understand, Bennett said.

“I’ve never been a huge fan of poetry, but I don’t know, he kind of gave some respect to it,” Bennett said. “Like poetry just reading it, you don’t know the meaning of it, but him giving me the meaning and everything and telling me the background it made it more relatable.”

Cancer free for eight years, Samson reflected on his battle with cancer and left the students with one last bit of advice.

“Sometimes you have to loose a part of yourself to find your whole self,” Samson said.

Steve Jobs, 50, offered words of wisdom to Stanford’s graduating class of 2005, stressing the importance of being passionate and courageous to achieve success.

Jobs, CEO of Apple Inc., clearly highlighted three main points in his speech: connecting the dots, love and loss, and death.

The company, which Jobs co-created with friend Steven “Woz” Wozniak, soon ejected him after a power struggle with co-worker John Sculley in 1985.

“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith,” Jobs said. “I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love.”

Devastated, Jobs said he wasn’t sure where to go with his life but his love for technology gave him motivation to persevere.

Jobs said that although he didn’t understand at the time, being fired from Apple was the best thing that could have happened to him.

“The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

Jobs left Apple and founded NeXT, a computer platform development company specializing in the higher-education and business markets. In 1986, Jobs created Pixar Animation Studios, the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm.

When Jobs was 17 he attended Reed College in Portland, Ore., and ended up dropping out six months later. He said he thought he was wasting his time and parent’s hard-earned money pursuing something that he could not justify.

He started enrolling in classes that interested him but he would have never guessed that they would help to attain such success in his future. Reed College offered a calligraphy program known to be the best in the country, which he later incorporated into the creation of Mac, with scripted typography that no other operating system had.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards,” Jobs said. “So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

Jobs revolutionized the modern technology industry.

In 1998, Jobs regained status at Apple Inc. and turned the company around, from impinging bankruptcy to profitability.

He has been referred to as “legendary”, a “futurist” and a “visionary” and has been described as the “Father of the Digital Revolution”, a “master of innovation” “the master evangelist of the digital age” and a “design perfectionist.”

In 2003 Jobs was diagnosed with a pancreas neuroendocrine tumor and was told by doctors he would only live another six to eight months.

In the face of death all pride and the fear of failing fall away and all that’s left is the urge to follow the heart, Jobs said.

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose,” Jobs said.

Death is the fate that we all share.

Jobs reminded students that death is life’s natural way of clearing out the old and inviting in the new, and so the time for each graduate is right now because someday they too will be cleared away.

Jobs said “time is limited” so it is important to live life to the fullest and realize that happiness comes when one lives their own life, not someone else’s.

“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice,” Jobs said. “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”


The city of Kittatinny could face the loss of police protection with Mayor Gustavus Petykiewicz’s new proposed budget.

Due to the loss of $99,044 of city income after the decommissioning of Blast Furnace Unit 1 at Susquehanna Steel Corp., Petykiewicz has proposed a new budget to balance spending and income for the city.

“I do want to stress that this is only the beginning,” Petykiewicz said.

The budget proposes to reduce full-time Kittatinny police force from ten officers to eight and cut out a full police shift from 4 a.m. to noon.

Chief of Police Roman Hruska said he is mostly concerned for public safety and said he is has an uneasy feeling this budget will decrease the protection available to citizens.

“I cannot stand idly by and watch a city of this size be deprived of regular police protection for a third of each day,” Hruska said.

During the hours Kittatinny police are off the clock, calls will be transferred to the county sheriffs and response times are expected to increase.

Hruska said he thinks there are better ways to balance the budget than reducing the security of citizens.

City officials, including the mayor, are willing to negotiate and take salary cuts if needed.

“I am willing to take a 10% salary cut if other members of the city are too. I think we are going to see that happen. I think there is a feeling of shared sacrifice. We are all in this together,” Petykiewicz said.

In addition to the police force cut, Petykiewicz is proposing a tax increase from 4 mills to 4.3 mills meaning taxes on a $100,000 house will increase from $400 to $430 per month. Along with that, garbage pickup will be removed from the city utility bill and left for each citizen to pay individually.

The budget needs to be approved by the council and signed into law by Petykiewicz by December 2014 and will not go into effect until January 2015.

“I need to have the support of the citizens,”Pettykiewicz said.  “I need to hear from them.”

Citizens are asked to attend the upcoming public meeting to offer input. The meeting will be held at the City Hall within the next week.

In 1999, as a 5-year-old, Elisabeth Middleton, was diagnosed with a thing that all parents fear: a tumor.

In February Middleton underwent surgery to remove a tumor-like abscess from the backside of her head.

Middleton said her mother picked up on a few signs including sleepless nights, sore throats, ear infections and unbearable headaches, but then one day she got a call.

“Eventually it came down to the point where my mom got a call from my school at the time and said that I had passed out,” Middleton said.

Middleton’s mother took her directly to the hospital where she was examined thoroughly.

“I do remember one thing about that hospital visit,” Middleton said. “I remember being so terrified of the machine that they were going to check out what was going on in my head.”

Immediately after X-rays, Middleton was air-lifted to Madison Children’s Hospital and surgery was performed straightaway.

Middleton said recovery wasn’t as long of a process as some might think. She spent a day without food and slowly worked her way back to a regular diet. She was also placed in a wheelchair for three days to regain physical strength.

Doctors informed Middleton their speculated reason for the abscess was a combination of an ear infection and strep throat.

Today, a junior at UW-Whitewater, Middleton enjoys writing creative and fan fiction for viewing on social media site.

February 19th will be the 15th year anniversary for Middleton’s surgery, and she hasn’t had to revisit the doctor’s office for any further examination of her brain since the day of her surgery.

“Honestly the only thing that affected life from that,” Middleton said. “Was for about three years afterwards any time that I got a headache my mom would be like ‘and how does that headache rate to like the ones in the past’ because she was always worried that it was coming back.”

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February 3, 2014 | 1 Comment

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