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Queens College sports panel tells students be serious about studies

Howie Rose, the radio voice of the New York Mets and New York Islanders, and Michael Weisman, NBC’s Emmy-winning sports producer, returned to their alma mater last week and encouraged Queens College students to do what they had not: take advantage of their college years.

“While I was here, I was so single-minded about wanting to become a broadcaster, and I regret the fact I let academics get away from me,” Rose said. “If you want to be a journalist or broadcaster, that’s great, but take other courses, a history or a business class.”

Rose and Weisman spoke at a sports panel March 24, during which they were joined by fellow Queens College graduates Harvey Benjamin, the executive counsel for the NBA, and Gail Marquis, who earned a silver medal as a member of the U.S. women’s basketball team at the 1976 Olympic games.

Like Rose, Weisman urged students to spend their college years broadening their horizons.

“I did not take advantage of what the campus had to offer,” said Weisman, who was in charge of NBC’s production for the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing. “Most people look back at their college years as the best years of their life. What I want to express to the young people is take advantage of your time here.”

Marquis moderated the event that lasted about an hour and a half at which all the participants marveled at the way the school has changed for the better.

“What strikes me is the diversity of the student body compared to when I was here,” said Benjamin, who graduated from Queens College in 1961. “Then it was very white, lower-middle class. Looking around it’s obviously a much more diverse student body, which adds greatly to the college experience. I wish I had been exposed to a much more diverse student body.”

Rose, who graduated in 1977, said he was pleased to see the campus had greatly expanded since he walked the school’s halls.

“This building wasn’t here, though people have told me I wouldn’t have recognized a library anyway,” Rose joked about the Rosenthal Library, where the forum was held. “My whole perception of the campus today is how beautiful a job they’d done in making it feel like a campus and community.”

Weisman, Benjamin and Rose spoke of their career paths after Queens College and said a degree from the school known as the jewel in the crown of the CUNY institutions had made a difference.

“When I graduated, the fact I had a diploma from Queens College and a degree in television was a really good thing,” said Weisman, who graduated in 1971. “I was able to get a job as a page and tour guide at NBC.”

The panelists encouraged students to “just get their foot in the door,” as Weisman did with NBC, in order to land the jobs they really wanted.

“You start wherever you can get a job,” Weisman said. “There’s so much going on in New York. There are more opportunities for you than when we graduated from school.”

Alex Garrett, a Queens College freshman who works as a broadcaster at the school’s radio station, said he was thrilled to meet the sports figures. Garrett gave the panelists a tour of the radio station before the event, at which he introduced the speakers.

“Howie imparted a lot of good wisdom for me,” said Garrett, who was born with one leg. “He said don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t do something. Don’t let anything stop you.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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