Whether feature-length profiles or carefully crafted biographies, I've developed a keen ability to capture the essence of my subjects and interviewees. Please peruse this page for a collection of recent samples of these pieces.

Extraordinary Senior: Kenneth Wei jumped at chance to 'enjoy' high school

Versatility, curiosity and tenacity are the keys to Kenneth Wei’s psyche. In addition to completing 11 Advanced Placement courses at Mount Sinai High School — a course load that put him on track to be salutatorian and an AP Scholar with Distinction — Wei, 18, opted to diversify with electives ranging from psychology to ceramics to computer programming. “I just really wanted to enjoy my high school experience and not focus too much on grades, too much on academics, that stress a lot of people...

Extraordinary Senior: Carmine Passarella finds road to success paved with empathy

The road ahead was not clearly paved for Carmine Passarella. Instead, C.J., as he’s known to family and friends, forged his own path through determination, diligence and dedication. Noting that she separated from her husband when C.J. was 9, his mom, Judy Passarella, said, “I’ve heard him say that he’s never going to struggle like I did.” To prove it, she said, “he’s got the brains and the smarts and the drive and the will power.” Observing how hard his mother worked to support four kids on...

Extraordinary Senior: School, friends helped Jackie Arias cope with kidney failure

These are a few words that come to mind when describing Jackie Arias. Just before her sophomore year at Sanford H. Calhoun High School in Merrick, Arias was diagnosed with Takayasu arteritis, an autoimmune disease causing inflammation of the blood vessels that can result in heart damage. Soon after, she experienced kidney failure and, requiring dialysis several times a week, began home instruction. At the start of her senior year, Arias underwent a kidney transplant — and was back in school...

Extraordinary Senior: Samiah Davis blends empathy with entrepreneurship

Most people don’t become entrepreneurs in their teens. But Samiah Davis is simply not like most people. Davis, 18, and a senior at Valley Stream Central High School, two years ago created Virtual Youth, an online business selling street-wear. She has since sold the business at a profit. Davis is awaiting a patent for The Lunch Cub, a combination teddy bear-backpack insulated lunch box that sprang from an eighth-grade technology class project. Gearing The Lunch Cub toward kids in kindergarten...

Vietnam veteran from Bay Shore keeps dad's World War I legacy alive

As a child, Bill Barto felt he stood out: All the other kids he knew had dads who served in World War II; his dad fought in the Great War — World War I. Barto, 69, of Bay Shore, can recall countless stories of his dad’s wartime escapades serving in the U.S. Army’s 16th Cavalry Division. “As soon as I found out he was a horse soldier, I was hooked for life,” Barto said. “I was constantly asking him questions, and he was always telling me stories." The younger Barto will be among those...

Beekeeping master Rich Blohm has a honey of a hobby

This time of year, Rich Blohm can be found in his garden apiary, tending to his 50 beehives and 20 bee breeding boxes. “The honey flow has just started with the blooming of the black locust trees,” says Blohm, a master beekeeper in Huntington, who’s been at his favored pastime for 44 years. “I make sure they have adequate room to store the honey that’s coming in.” It’s a sweet hobby for Blohm, whose bees produce about 1,500 pounds of honey each year. Blohm sells the bee nectar for $12 a pound...
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