Spring Break comes at just the right time

By: Autumn Barszczowski

Next week begins Point Park University’s spring break. Most students have been complaining about the break since the beginning of the semester, all because of the dates that it falls on.

Personally, I don’t see what the fuss is all about.

Sure, for years we have been shown images of college spring breaks on TV, where students are partying on beaches for the majority of their break. It gave us the false sense that spring breaks were filled with warmth and a carefree vibe.

That just isn’t the reality of the situation. Other colleges in Pittsburgh are holding their “spring” breaks within the next two weeks as well. We aren’t alone. Just from a quick search, I can see that both the University of Pittsburgh and Carlow University are also holding their breaks in the first week of March.

At this point we’re halfway through the semester. I have been exhausted since week two of classes and have barely had a weekend to rest. All I know is that I need a break; I need a week to do the things I want to do, instead of the things I have to do.

Spring break is meant to be a chance for us to relax. To have a week where we don’t need to attend classes and instead, can fill the time with whatever we choose.

Personally, I am tagging along with the Honors Program to New York City for the majority of the week. My advertising team will spend the beginning half gearing up for the completion of our book.

We will have the time to do whatever we need or want to do, and in my mind, the timing of this break is perfect. It may not be the most spring-like spring break, but it’s a break, nonetheless.

Along those lines, I would argue that this spring semester isn’t even spring-like at this point. Being in Pittsburgh means that as soon as January hits, we go through a variety of seasons within just these few months.

The second semester has never felt like spring to me, so I’m not surprised that spring break doesn’t feel like spring to me either.

My favorite part is that this break isn’t dictated by when a holiday is. In the fall, we have to wait until Thanksgiving for a break to roll around, and typically it’s only a week or two before the end of the semester. Thanksgiving break is typically occupied by family visits while final exams loom overhead.

Spring break is conveniently placed right after most midterms so we don’t have to gear up to take exams as soon as we return. Instead, we have the chance to relax before we come back to tackle the second half of the semester.

Spring break is perfectly placed in our academic calendar. The halfway point of the semester reminds me that I only have halfway to go before summer. That’s enough for me and hopefully that’s enough for you.

Originally published in The Globe


Allies should learn when to speak up and when to step aside

Why Bernie Sanders’ decision to drop out of the Women’s Convention is beneficial

By: Autumn Barszczowski

Within the past week, organizers of the Women’s Convention in Detroit announced that Bernie Sanders would be one of the event’s opening speakers. Since this announcement, he has dropped out of the convention in order to visit Puerto Rico following the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

However, it is still important to discuss the fact that this news was met with confusion and concern as many began to consider why the organizers chose Sanders to speak.

When I heard about the original announcement, I was immediately thrown back to my senior year history class on women’s rights. We spent that semester talking about topics like religion, violence and how power plays a large role in the way our society treats women. It was one of the most memorable classes I have taken.

Before I continue, I’d like to give a shout out to my high school teacher for opening up this series of discussions on women’s rights and giving high school seniors the opportunity to discuss the ongoing problems in our society. There are not many teachers who are willing to sit and discuss topics like rape and other forms of violence on a weekly basis. Your students will forever be grateful for the knowledge they gained.

But in the end, this course was not flawless, as nothing truly is. The one problem I had was that our source material was “A Call to Action” by Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States. While the topics in his book are prevalent issues for women’s rights on a global level, there are times where these topics should be discussed through the perspective of those affected by these issues.

I am always one to advocate for bringing allies of these oppressed groups into important conversations and utilizing their privilege to spread the message about these issues; however, there are times where we should be listening to the people who are experiencing these issues in their day-to-day lives.

Just as my history class would have benefited from source material written by women of various backgrounds, the Women’s Convention will benefit from focusing on the women speakers that they are hosting. Events like these are meant to be a platform for those to tell their stories and have people learn about the struggles being faced on a daily basis.

When you bring in a name like Sanders, you are inadvertently diverting attention away from the women who will be at the event.

People will be drawn to this event to hear him speak despite losing in the primaries during the 2016 presidential election, and the message this convention is trying to send will be lost in the shuffle to see what Sanders will say.

Sanders is an important activist for the midterm elections happening next year and for many of the issues that are being challenged during Donald Trump’s term as president.

We need him to headline for many of these issues, but there are times where he needs to step aside and allow for other voices to be heard. People like Sanders are helping us to navigate this tough political climate but we have to recognize what times are appropriate for him to be included and when we should focus on new perspectives.

Those who are familiar with Sanders know how he views the world and the experiences that brought him to this point; but there are plenty of women who are itching to share their stories and to become the storytellers that we need in this crisis. Sanders’ open spot at the convention is the perfect stage for these perspectives to be heard and we should allow them to have this opportunity.

Originally Published in The Globe

College is stressful, but enjoy it

Lessons taught outside the classroom

By: Autumn Barszczowski

At the end of my second week of junior year, I attended X-Fest, with headliners Bastille and Highly Suspect. But as I struggled through the workload of these past weeks, my mind has been stuck on one of the opening acts: K. Flay.

I’ve spent all day listening to her album and trying to think about what I have learned at Point Park. I’m at the halfway point of my college career, so what have I learned and where do I go from here?

Well, K. Flay has a song titled “It’s Just a Lot,” and honestly, I don’t think anything has better described what I’ve learned at college.

The chorus of the song perfectly sums up everything that I have learned about life during my time here: “It’s just a lot, it’s just a lot / I wanna hold onto the innocence I got / It’s just a lot, it’s just a lot / I wanna care for all the little things I got.”

So, why those lyrics?

After the most overwhelming three weeks of my time here, I realized that’s exactly what college is. It’s just a lot. I could go into detail about why and break down every meeting I’ve attended and every assignment I’ve completed up until this point, but no one has the time for that. Those four words get right to the essence of my college experience.

However, if I must provide detail, one of the things I have learned is that you’re forced to grow up overnight. Most of us had been getting accustomed to the adult life slowly over the summer leading up to our freshmen year, but the moment you step on campus, that’s it. There is no turning back. You’re an adult. You remember the years before fondly (or maybe not), but you can tell that the innocence is slipping away with every essay and presentation.

But from this I learned that the innocence you hold onto can be the simple things. You can hold onto the enjoyment of watching your favorite show in the comfort of your favorite shirt or the joy you feel when your high school friends visit you during breaks to play board games and buy you bubble tea.

I learned your innocence disappears for the most part, but in those moments, the innocence remains. By allowing yourself time to do the things that bring you happiness, you can hold on just enough to remind you that life is not all about stress.

Which is where the last portion of those lyrics comes into play. All I have done throughout these past two years is allow myself to enjoy the little things. While that wasn’t something new I had learned to do (I had a sign in my high school cubicle that said “Enjoy the Little Things.” It was from Claire’s and covered in painted flowers), I thought it was something important to mention.

I’ve met so many people since I got here, and sometimes I think we do not stop to appreciate the little things we encounter. We are so focused on the next big step that we don’t always appreciate things such as the milkshakes we buy or the people who stop to actually ask you how your day is going.

College is just a lot, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that we can’t let college consume us. We have to be able to enjoy our time here. Enjoying the little things seems to be the only thing we have at times, so why not make it a priority?

We learn a lot at college, but what I’ve taken away from my time so far is that no matter how high the stress levels are, we still deserve to be happy and to feel innocent and carefree, if only for an hour. So from here, I’m going to keep enjoying the pictures I take with strangers’ dogs and the concerts where I don’t know a single lyric, because college is a lot, but it’s not everything.

Originally Published with The Globe

The old Taylor is dead, but she still has a place in this world

Exploring what we made Taylor Swift do and why it’s important

By: Autumn Barszczowski


Taylor Swift by Nicole Pampena


That’s right. The old Taylor Swift is dead. At least, that’s the narrative that Swift is selling in her new single, “Look What You Made Me Do.”
But what exactly does that mean?
Since 2006, we have witnessed Swift present a new version of herself with every album. She’s come all the way from America’s Sweetheart to… Well, however you see her now. Because in 2017, you either have an undying love or never-ending hatred for Taylor Swift.
Or at least, your feelings are based on how authentic or inauthentic you believe her to be. Many see this new Swift as a snake, who is money-crazed and does nothing but play the victim.
The only problem with that view is: Do we actually know who she is? We only see what she presents and, eventually, how the media and other celebrities discuss their own perspective of her well-woven narrative.
We have built up this idea of who she is, and with every new piece of information, we have re-defined what we know about her until the version we see is nothing like the one presented.
The problem with this? We still do not know who Swift really is. We only know what she is selling us, and frankly, no matter how she presents herself, people are no longer willing to buy it.
Over the years, we have seen her reinvent herself enough times that we no longer know who she truly is and, for a while, we didn’t care. She shielded herself from the world and we went along with it.
In her self-titled album “Taylor Swift,” she established her image as America’s Sweetheart. She went from “Tim McGraw” to “Picture to Burn,” where she exposed what it felt like to be in love and to be heartbroken. In “A Place in this World,” she discussed the thoughts we all face regarding growing up and searching for where we belong. It was littered with innocence and uncertainty at what was to come.
Fast forward to her album “1989.” At this point, she has grown up significantly. She found her place in the world through her music. Unfortunately, this is also the moment in time where people were more focused on the drama related to her lyrics than the shared experiences she sang about.
People were analyzing every lyric to see if they could find a story to sell. We began to lose the real Swift as she embraced the fact that she had to fight for her reputation in an effort to keep a hold of the title of America’s Sweetheart.
What many have yet to understand is that, we have taken away her ability to grow. Swift can no longer freely express her anger without people questioning the motives behind every lyric and action.
“Look What You Made Me Do” is Swift’s way of showing people that she can no longer be America’s Sweetheart. That after years of ridiculing her for her breakup songs and the way she handles conflict, she is finally accepting her role as the snake because we will not let her live in any other way.
We have this idea of who she is in our heads, that she has been given no other choice. No matter the effort to keep her music upbeat and innocent, she can no longer maintain it when that isn’t what sells.
Her place in the world is in the music industry and, unfortunately, she will do anything she can to hold onto it.

Originally Published with The Globe

There is (Not) a Feminist World Inside Your Phone – The Emoji Movie

By: Autumn Barszczowski

Before I begin, I should note that there will be spoilers. For my purposes, I cannot avoid them. I apologize in advance if you care enough to eventually see the Emoji Movie.

With every new animated movie, feminists like myself are scouting for strong female characters who do not fall subject to the typical romantic plots that overshadow their ambitions and dreams. We are looking for characters who have more than marriage as their end goal.

Walking into the theater at promptly 4:40 p.m. on July 28, I wondered what I would get out of the movie. I admit, I had grown to ironically love the movie. Everyone around me was sick of hearing “Emoji Movie, coming July 28.” I kept reminding myself that I had this ridiculous, silly movie to look forward to amidst the nightmare that is the United States.

We could escape the serious implications of our president’s actions for an hour and a half to listen to stories about emojis.

However, as the movie progressed, I stopped thinking about the pure joy that came from watching this cinematic masterpiece, and instead began to consider how Jailbreak, a female emoji, would be as a character.


In this movie, Gene the meh emoji is on a mission to fix the fact that he expresses too many emotions. In a society that expects him to only be “meh,” he has to fix his “malfunction” so that he will not be deleted. He ends up meeting Hi-5 who agrees to find a hacker that will help Gene solve the issue before the anti-virus bots can send him to the trash.


Jailbreak, the “emo” female hacker, starts out as our representation of people who successfully go against society’s roles and expectations. In the snippets I had caught before seeing the movie, she seemed to be Gene’s guide in his journey to the firewall where he would be able to restore himself to his original purpose as a “meh” emoji and rid himself of malfunctions.


Everything I knew about her led me to believe she could be a strong female character amongst the wild creation that is the Emoji Movie. I thought for a second that maybe, just maybe, we could salvage something from this movie.

Boy, was I disappointed.

There were clear moments where it seemed like the writers had considered establishing Jailbreak as a feminist character . In fact, I would guess that they had put a solid thirty minutes of research about feminism that they could sprinkle into her character periodically.

For example, the writers start by “surprising” Hi-5 and Gene, who wrongfully assumed that the top hacker would be male. Instead of a male, they find Jailbreak and are forced to say “she” instead of “he.” As a result, the writers show that the best in an industry are not always male.

Then, when she first meets Gene and Hi-5, she tries to brush them off, but she quickly realizes that by helping them, she could help her own hidden mission and dream. It is only when she finds out that she can benefit from the mission that she decides to help them. Thus, Jailbreak isn’t written to be willing to help wherever she is needed, the usual female role. Instead, she has purpose and seeks missions that benefit her goals.

Later, she encounters a moment where Gene and Hi-5 interrupt her thought and begin to claim an idea she has for their escape as their own. Instead of letting them, she firmly reminds them that the idea was in fact hers and she would not stand to have it taken from her. By standing up for herself, she shows that females do not always have to take what is given to them.

But the turn comes in the scenes that follow where we continually hear about how she helped a princess emoji to escape the phone through the cloud. Instead of discussing that journey, she lets Gene and Hi-5 ramble on about the stories they had heard. This is when my brother turned to me and said “I bet you $10 she is the princess emoji.”

I didn’t have to bet him anything because I knew that he was right. I watched as her princess crown is revealed and any hopes of her achieving her goals was lost.


Sure, the writers tried to develop her back story with minor emoji history details, like saying that she had left Textopolis (their world) because women could only be a princess or a bride in the first set of emojis.

What they seem to forget though is the underlying romantic plot they thread between Jailbreak and Gene. The moment that plot starts, all hope is lost for the seemingly feminist character.

By the end of the movie, Jailbreak is willing to give up her dream of escaping the phone to stay with Gene. Instead of watching out for number one like she had always done, she remembers that Gene asked her “What good is it to be number one if there aren’t any other numbers.”


In that moment, Gene is telling her that she does not need to put herself first because her ambitions are useless without someone else to share it with. Unfortunately for Jailbreak, by not putting herself first, she gives up the opportunity to escape. Instead, she returns to a slightly improved Textopolis for a guy she has just met.

Overall, the movie was everything I expected it to be: Garbage.

But man, I loved watching every second of that train wreck. If you’re into lame jokes and the recycled plot line of Wreck-It Ralph, this is the movie for you. 10/10 would recommend.

Originally Published on Her Campus – Point Park

Caruso Heating

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Originally Published through The Reader’s Choice – Southwest Edition

Caruso Heating was founded over two decades ago and continues to be a family-owned business at 98 McNeilly Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15226. They earned the 2017 Reader’s Choice Southwest Silver award for Best Heating and Air Conditioning.

Caruso heating has been owned by Tony Caruso for the past 25 years. According to him, their services include heating and air conditioning, air quality and humification products. They offer affordable pricing on HVAC units and installation, which includes making their prices fit within your budget.

Caruso discussed how his business follows old school values. The company is dedicated to 100% customer satisfaction. He wants his customers to know that he will tailor their services to fit within the boundaries of their budget.

“We treat and deal with every one of our customer’s on an individual basis. We try to do the job right on the first time around. We try to meet and adjust to customer’s needs on heating and cooling,” Caruso said.

The technicians that work for Caruso are NATE-certified which means that installations will be done right. They rate high with the A+ Better Business Bureau and their workers are NATE-Certified technicians.

They are currently looking to hire HVAC Field Service Technicians. If you are interested in the position, you can call 412-882-6080.

Caruso Heating offers a variety of deals on their HVAC services, including 36-months of no-interest financing and saving up to $1650 in instant rebates.

In response to what customers should know about their services, Caruso said “We are committed to integrity, customer support and product quality.”

They guarantee that customers will be satisfied with their work on the first installation.

When asked about what Caruso believes is unique about his business, he said “We treat the customer’s house and property like it’s our house. We take the same amount of care as if we are working on our own house.”

Railyard Grill and Tap Room

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Originally Published through The Reader’s Choice – Southwest Edition

Railyard Grill and Tap Room, opened in October of 2016, and is known as a New American Craft Cuisine to loyal workers and customers. They are located at 413 Railroad Street in Bridgeville, PA.

“Our goal is to put Bridgeville on the map with quality of food. You don’t have to go downtown to experience a vast beer selection and elevated food selection. We are trying to bring that downtown feel to the South Hills,” said general manager Jeremy Rob.

Railyard and Tap Room has 50 rotating taps along with locally sourced food. They carry drinks from all over the world, but they focus their taps on local Pittsburgh or Pennsylvania beers, ciders and meads. They won two Reader’s Choice awards including a Gold award for Sports Bar and Silver Award for New Restaurant, both in Southwest.

As for their food, Rob said that “Railyard Grill and Tap Room is unique because we source all our beef, pork, all the stuff we get from local farms. It is all local grass-fed and cruelty free. The fish we sell can be swimming around the warm pacific ocean waters of Hawaii one day and in our kitchen 24 hours later.”

The food found at Railyard is homemade or sourced from other nearby businesses. They like to try different dishes at the restaurant but some of their speciality food includes local grass-fed steaks and burgers and craft-beer infused wing sauces.

“Being a new business in the area, we try to partner with other local businesses. Like we use a salad dressing from a place up the street. We are trying to grow the businesses of our partners that we team up with,” said Rob.

In doing this, Railyard is hoping to increase the impact of sustainability in ingredients and food. They make sure that they are creating an environment that helps to build the communication and execution of these ideas while giving people a place to enjoy their food.

On top of the normal dining experience, Railyard also offers a large space to host events and they include a full-banquet menu. They also host a trivia night once a month.

“It’s a neighborhood gathering place where you can get elevated food and a vast beer selection in an environment where the staff is friendly and knowledgable and where people like to keep coming back,” said Rob.

You can find them on Facebook as Railyard Grill and Tap Room and on Instagram @RailyardTap. They are open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.


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Originally Published through The Reader’s Choice – Westmoreland Edition

Cenacolo Restaurant started as a small pasta business in Steve and Jen Salvi’s basement. They began selling pasta to Pittsburgh restaurants in 2005 and eventually the business grew into Cenacolo in 2013.

Cenacolo’s is located at 1061 Main Street in North Huntingdon, Pa 15642.  It seats over 120 people and provides a full bar to customers.

“Being in an industrial park, I like when people enter the restaurant for the first time and are taken back by the design of the restaurant” said Steve Salvi in response to what he liked the most about his restaurant.

The pasta they serve is made by them with Italy-imported machines and some of the speciality dishes include tagliolini with crab meat and ricotta gnocchi with short rib ragu.

When asked to describe his restaurant’s services, Steve Salvi said “We are strictly a fresh pasta restaurant.  It is a dining experience that should not be rushed.  From the olives to the lemoncello, it is time to sit back and relax.”

The dining experience he discusses takes about two hours and his food is only a part of it. He believes that the company people bring and his food together create a great time for his customers.

Cenacolo won three awards from Reader’s Choice, including Gold for Ethnic food and Bronze for Romantic Restaurant in Westmoreland  and Bronze for Restaurant in North Huntingdon.

“We are very grateful for the rewards given, but the only rewards we strive for are the smiles at the tables” said Steve Salvi. “I would like our customers to know how grateful we are for their support. To know that we will always strive to give you the best in food, service and experience.

The restaurant also offers pasta classes once a month, sometimes more. You can make Cenacolo favorites and then enjoy them afterwards. To reserve a spot, call 724-515-5983.

“I welcome anyone who is looking for a great pasta meal. It is a dining experience that when you are finished, you feel that it was the best meal you have had in a long time, you feel refreshed and cannot wait to come back and bring your family and friends” said Steve Salvi.

Cenacolo is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m, Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Sunday they have brunch from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and dinner from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. You can make reservations by calling 724-515-5983.


Trib Reader’s Choice “Advertorials”

During March of 2017, Autumn had the opportunity to write “advertorials” for the Trib Total Media Reader’s Choice. She wrote about Cenacolo’s in the Westmoreland edition and about Caruso’s Heating and Railyard Grill and Tap Room in the Southwest edition. To prepare for these pieces, she conducted short interviews with the owners and did research about the businesses on their respective website

Why identifying as an intersectional feminist is important

By: Autumn Barszczowski

In the aftermath of the women’s marches, how do women expand the feminist movement?

The further we venture into Donald Trump’s presidency, the more I realize that we need to start a conversation about intersectional feminism and how to step away from mainstream feminism, or what I like to refer to as, white feminism.

What is white feminism, you ask? White feminism is what we often consider to be the main form of feminism, a movement that solves problems for all women.

This includes ideas such as equal pay, the sales tax placed upon feminine hygiene products in some states, clothing choices in the workplace and much more. While these are clearly problems that many women face, these feminists fail to realize that these problems are faced primarily by white, middle class women.

The problems women of color and transgender women face are the ones that white women tend to forget about simply because they do not affect us. We do not do it on purpose, but we are so focused on the problems we face that we forget that we are not the only ones who struggle.

For decades, many white women in the feminist movement have failed to include the problems of these women in our movement and have moved forward without them.

In the past three years, I have started to examine the problems that I have been discussing as a part of the feminist conversation. I realize now that there were times where I was not inclusive of all women in the feminist movement. I noticed my shortcomings in feminist conversations when I was introduced to the idea of intersectionality.

This term intersectionality seems obscure but is defined as “the theory that the overlap of various social identities, as race, gender, sexuality and class, contributes to the specific type of systemic oppression and discrimination experienced by an individual,” according to dictionary.com.

For example, this could refer to how a black woman is not only faced with the oppression that comes with being a woman, but also with the oppression that comes with her race.

This problem is faced by all women who are outside of the white, straight, middle class description. This could be due to their race, class or sexuality.

Whatever it may be, they are faced by the trouble of the overlap of this systematic discrimination and will not be faced with a singular set of problems.

The reason it is important to recognize the distinction between intersectional feminism and mainstream feminism is that it allows us to open the conversation about how oppression is not limited to one of your identities.

The struggles that white, straight, middle class women face are more likely to be seen and heard in the mass media, even if the problems they bring to light are not solved.

The problems faced by these women are a part of a conversation that many women of color and transgender women do not get a chance to be a part of.

I grew up in schools that constantly shed the spotlight on the ways that oppression can build up depending on your intersecting identities. It’s time that our feminism reflects on the fact that people in the world have more than one identity.

We need to support the people who are not included in this mainstream movement because we must stay united.

If we choose to ignore the problems we do not personally face, then we will never be able to move forward.

I am an intersectional feminist because I recognize that I will not struggle in the same way that other women do and they will need my support just like I will need theirs.

My problems will not be the same as theirs, but that does not mean that they do not deserve equal attention. If we stick together in this fight we can keep progressing because without unity, the next four years will be impossible to conquer.

Originally published with The Globe