Successful NFL reporter Andy Kent recently paid a visit to East Islip High School’s journalism, creative writing and English classes. The Boca Raton, Fla. Resident flew up to New York to write his first-ever book – a profile of Rohan Murphy, the 2001 East Islip graduate and champion wrestler who lost his legs at birth. Due to science teacher John Reilly’s efforts, Kent was able to visit East Islip’s students to discuss the difficulties and advantages of working as a journalist.
Kent visited three classes during the day of his visit, each group of students seeming to take in every bit of information and showing keen interest in each detail. As a child, Kent discovered his huge interest in writing and reading, and that hobby has stayed with him throughout his life. After attending Jacksonville University and majoring in political science, he began to search his hometown for a local newspaper internship. He did eventually find one, jokingly adding, “That office was about the size of the bathroom in my current workplace.” Some of the students were surprised to learn that a journalist majored in political science. “Simply writing is only half the project,” Kent said by way of explanation. “It takes a lot of outside knowledge to become a successful writer and connect to the reader.” Kent couldn’t stress enough that through all his good and bad experiences, writing remained his passion and nothing was going to stop him.
Kent was asked about the impact of technology and its effect on writing, and responded by explaining that the change from paper to computer will benefit writers by offering unlimited writing space on the Internet. “Because of the recent switch from print to internet, major publishers and newspaper distributors such as Newsday will continue to lay off workers, but it should affect only a minimal amount of writers,” he added reassuringly.
Near the end of Kent’s presentation, he encouraged students to ask questions about his experiences and to seek advice on what it really takes to succeed. He emphasized the significance of first-time writers getting out and proving that they plan to devote extensive time to their work. As Kent and the students parted ways, it was evident that he had left a significant mark on the students’ thought processes, as well as the teachers. As senior Cristiana Votta said, “He was inspiring for young journalists.”
Kent’s visit not only led potential journalists in a better direction, but opened the eyes of those who felt that a career in writing was a near impossibility. He showed the students that by working hard and being assertive, a person can accomplish anything imaginable.
Article by Ryan Scalcione