Humans of Hofstra, 2016 presidential debate


Melisa Gibson

Hofstra University Assistant Program Coordinator

“This is my first debate. I came here in 2005, graduated in ’09 and never left. Everything is exciting. To see how the campus transformed is truly amazing and then Tuesday, it’s going to be like nothing ever happened…”

-interviewed by Jessica Harrington


Michael O’Rourke,

Hofstra University student volunteer

“The closest thing to real production I have ever lived through.”

– interviewed by Connor Giblin


Alan Collinge

Protestor and founder of

“On the student loan issue, I was incredibly disappointed. Neither Hillary nor Donald Trump have proposed anything to date that would significantly help anyone that goes to private schools…or anybody that’s already been through school and has student loans.  I still have my own student loans. I’m hoping, by the next debate, they break ground on the student loan issue.”

– interviewed by Connor Giblin


Ava Mandel

Hofstra University student volunteer

“It’s literally a front row seat to democracy! My dad and my grandma can’t wait to watch me walking by on television.”

– interviewed by Connor Giblin


Joseph Sibilia

Hofstra University student volunteer

“I’ve gotten to meet a lot of great people. I’ve gotten to do a lot of interesting jobs for Hofstra. I could not be more happy to be a part of a historical event.”

– interviewed by Connor Giblin


Tim Cothren

Freelance videography

“Everybody has a different story. Everybody you meet in this business has a different story about how they got into it. I initially went to college to learn recording studio production because I wanted to work in the music business. As a prerequisite, I had to take a television course and I always liked writing stories and taking pictures and documentaries and stuff. Immediately it was just like the lightbulb went off over my head and I was like, ‘wow I really like this, you know, job opportunity.’ So when I graduated when I was 19, I bought a one way ticket. I met a kid in college who lived in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and he told me that there were two TV stations in the Virgin Islands and I thought, well, you know, either I get a job in Columbus, Ohio or St. Thomas. So I moved to St. Thomas and in a few weeks I got a job at the local PBS station down there and stuck with it and worked on a lot of productions down there and started meeting people that would come through. It’s a really long story, but I’ve been doing this a long time, been all over the world, everywhere from Borneo to Baghdad and every place in between. I’ve been lucky, you know, done a lot of cool stuff.”

– interviewed by Allison Eichler


Tara Giovanelli

Hofstra University IT

“It gets real crazy, everybody’s running and looking for the technical help, so it gets pretty crazy. And for this [debate] there are a lot more people than there were at any of the other [debates]. So many people and so many networks have bought space. The main networks like CNN, FOX, MSNBC, ABC definitely, and I heard that Facebook and Twitter are gonna be here too. You see different reporters coming through that you’ve seen on TV but maybe not caught their names. You don’t recognize them. John Kerry came in the last time and asked us for some water and it took me a while to figure out who he was. I knew he looked really familiar but when you see them out of context you don’t always know who the people are. If Hillary walked through or Trump, we would recognize them, but everyone else sort of looks different in person than they do on TV. And usually there’s a crowd around them, so then you know it’s someone important. We’re the behind the scenes. We’re kind of like wallflowers. I don’t know if we’d wanna be up where all those people are. It’s fun, it’s like a team bonding thing. As much work as it is, it’s really is fun.”

– interviewed by Allison Eichler


Melissa Connolly

Hofstra University Relations

“What happens that is really interesting about hosting a debate are the odd people you meet at 6 a.m. or middle of the night like media from around the world that you just get into conversations with at odd times and in odd places. You just find these spaces to meet really interesting people as busy and chaotic as it is. You get this great cross-section that you would’ve never expected.”

-interviewed by Andrea Vega 


Carley Weinstein

Hofstra University Social Media Manager

“What we did on social media in 2012 is so different from what we’re doing now, just in terms of multimedia and the way people are engaging in social. It’s all about understanding our audience, the ways in which they engage on social, and just giving people the content that they’re most interested in. It almost feels like the debate is the new normal. I honestly can’t remember what it was like before the debate. This is something I will never forget. I feel so lucky to be a part of it all and I couldn’t be more proud to be part of the Hofstra Pride.”

-interviewed by Andrea Vega