by ROSE BRENNAN, A&E Editor
While The Quadrangle may be a constant presence on campus, so much work goes into it beyond interviews and articles. Much of this work is done behind the scenes by The Quadrangle’s production team, headed by junior secondary education major Alyssa Velazquez.
Velazquez became a member of The Quadrangle when she was selected as one of the five Quadrangle scholarship recipients of the class of 2020. But she did not have to travel far from home to attend Manhattan College. In fact, Velazquez was born and raised in the Bronx, having lived in the neighborhoods of Parkchester and Throggs Neck.
Velazquez noted that people from outside her home borough have many preconceived notions about the Bronx’s safety. But she believes the image of a violent, gang-filled Bronx is not entirely true.
“Everybody has this fixated idea of the Bronx being dangerous. One of the things I like to joke about is, ‘Well, I’ve been living here for 20 years and I haven’t been shot yet,’” she said.
In fact, Velazquez feels that the cultural diversity found in the Bronx is something to be celebrated.
“Every part of the Bronx has some kind of. . .I guess, unique style to it. If you want Italian food, go to Arthur Avenue; if you want Indian food, go to, like, mid-South Bronx. Everything is around here, and it’s not that hard to get to, because of public transportation, but then again, it is kind of hard to get to because of public transportation. It’s just a great, culturally diverse part of New York,” she said.
Though MC was located in Velazquez’s hometown, it was not really on her radar until it caught the interest of her longtime friend Michevi Dufflart. Dufflart, now also an editor for The Quadrangle, had her mind set on MC, and so Velazquez applied as well when she learned of the college’s education program.
Once she had been accepted, Velazquez decided to apply for The Quadrangle’s scholarship program. Her portfolio was unique among the others because it was mostly composed of graphic designs she had done in high school.
“I’m good at visuals and looking at things from a visual perspective. I’m not the best at writing, so I was a little hesitant on applying, but, regardless, I submitted my work that I did in InDesign and Photoshop and Illustrator, and I guess they liked it,” she said.
Velazquez’s big break with The Quadrangle came early on in her first semester. On Sept. 27, 2016, a home being used to grow marijuana exploded on West 234th Street, not far from the college’s south campus.
“I remember I was driving and I saw a bunch of helicopters floating around, and I was like, ‘Hmm. . . something’s off. And all of a sudden, right in front of me, one of the cars turns into a cop car, because it was, like, undercover, and it just speeds off and I just start following the car through the streets. . . not really knowing where I am, because I don’t really know the area yet, and that’s when I parked the car near the scene and started looking around and taking pictures,” she said.
Velazquez then gave the information she gathered to The Quadrangle’s editorial board, who then proceeded to write the article regarding the explosion.
The first article Velazquez wrote for The Quadrangle on her own, however, did not have the pomp and circumstance of a nearby explosion. In fact, it was actually about the college’s fall career fair.
“That article was a fun article to write because I was definitely put out of my comfort zone, where I had to go around the career fair and just ask people different questions. And it was just this big space where everybody looked super professional and I was just in my normal, like, jeans and T-shirt,” Velazquez said.
Her favorite article, however, was one which she co-wrote with Dufflart, in which they covered the summer research scholar presentations in the fall of 2017. The article was later nominated for Best Feature Article at the 2018 Quaddie Awards.
This article was particularly important to Velazquez because it tied into her passion toward her future career as an educator.
“I’m all for learning for the joy of learning, and not learning to be like forced to get a grade. So just seeing that, and the excitement in people’s eyes and getting to talk to them and learn more about what they enjoy was really great,” she said.
Though Velazquez has experience writing for The Quadrangle, readers will rarely see a byline with her name. According to her, she will rarely take an article aside from the ones she is required to write, or unless a topic really interests her. This is largely because of her tireless efforts behind the scenes in producing the paper itself.
As the leader of The Quadrangle’s production team, Velazquez must sacrifice many precious Sundays throughout the semester in order to compile the week’s stories, photographs and edits into its finished product. Her work usually begins around noon, and sometimes doesn’t end until late at night. She recalled one instance when she did not leave production until 10 p.m.
“The main reason why I don’t do articles so much is because of what I have to do behind the scenes where every Sunday, I used to be in that office. . .for maybe eight or more hours a day. And that was back when I was a commuter! I had to travel back and forth, doing that eight hours every Sunday,” Velazquez said.
For much of Velazquez’s first year as production editor, she produced the entire paper by herself. However, the production team has now expanded, and Velazquez now has an assistant production editor, sophomore communication major Samantha Walla, along with fellow editors who can help speed the process along.
But no matter how many people are on the production team, putting the paper together is nevertheless a daunting task, and it is one which must be done weekly.
“[Being] production editor isn’t just throwing a bunch of articles into a [paper] and calling it a day. It’s about, basically, playing this giant game of jigsaw, where you have to figure out how many words an article is, figure out the sizing of the font that you want the title to be, figuring out where the pictures will go. If there’s no captions, you’re going to have to read the article yourself to make captions. So it’s all these little things that really add on to the time it takes to make the paper, and I think people kind of forget that it takes such a long time to form the paper into what they receive every Tuesday,” Velazquez said.
But whether as a writer, editor or producer, Velazquez believes that her work with The Quadrangle has given her an appreciation for the art of journalism.
“Before I came to Manhattan College and before I joined The Quad, I wasn’t really too keen on the media and what journalism was, because I never really learned about it,” she said. “When you. . . learn how much goes into the art form of journalism, it’s really just this amazing thing that I think people kind of neglect when they watch the news and the media, especially more recently with ‘fake news’ and our president kind of bashing on journalists. But I’ve definitely gained a new appreciation for those who choose to study this, and those who choose to have this as a career.”