Hilbert Community Members Pleased with Covid Protocols

Hilbert College students, staff and faculty have been living through the many different changes the campus has had to make since COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, surfaced.

From wearing masks all throughout the school day to hybrid classes, and a heavy load of online schoolwork, this is not the typical day students are used to at Hilbert College.

Sanitization has been one of the biggest changes in the life of Hilbert College students and staff, with precautions being taken to keep people safe during this pandemic. Specifically, Hilbert College is sanitizing every desk and chair before and after classes. Hand sanitizer stations are located all around campus, and it is required for students to take part in the precautions and sanitization at hand.

Maintenance at Hilbert has gone out of their way to put sanitization pads on all door handles. This is for self-sanitization to keep all students and staff safe during such a time of panic.

Vincent Cascio, a junior Forensic Science major, said he felt safe at school.

“No, all the precautions that are being taken are the best that could be done,” Cascio said. “In my opinion, it may be a little overboard.”

Junior Katilina Cordova, a criminal justice major, said she too feels like the school has done a good job in preventing outbreaks on campus this semester.

“There’s not much more to be done besides wearing a mask, social distancing, sanitizing, etcetera,” Cordova said. “I think the precautions are the best they can be at the moment.”

With vaccines unlikely to be widely available until spring at the earliest, it is likely that most of these protocols will remain in place for the spring semester, when the college plans to welcome students back with in-person instruction again.

Erin Warford, an assistant professor of history at Hilbert College, said she thinks the measures are working.

“I think the way things have been going speaks for itself,” she said, pointing to the low number of cases for the fall semester.

“It hasn’t gotten bad enough to take drastic measures, so the precautions are pretty adequate,” she added.

Hilbert Covid Protocols Prove Effective


In a time where the world is working to control a pandemic, Hilbert College staff, faculty and students have been persevering and thriving through the first 12 weeks of the semester.

At other colleges and universities across Western New York, the state and the country numbers have been substantially higher than the 14 positive cases that have been reported on the Hilbert campus. New York State alone has more than 10,000 cases at 181 schools, according to the Covid College Tracer Tracker put out by The New York Times.

Jennine Lukasik, the head of the Math department at Hilbert College, said the protocols had been followed well throughout in-person learning.

“I don’t have any problems with students not wearing their masks or wiping down their areas before and after class,” she said. 

Although Hilbert is a relatively small campus, almost everyone seems to be following the protocols, and those protocols have been working to protect community members, which shows in the small number of positive cases reported.

While some schools like SUNY Oneonta were forced to switch to remote learning just a few weeks into the semester – more than 700 positive cases were reported on the 6,500 student campus this semester – Hilbert was able to continue in-person learning through mid November, just 10 days short of the goal of making it to Thanksgiving break.

The school choose to switch to remote learning, not because of an outbreak on campus, but because of alarming positivity rates in the surrounding community.

Some students at bigger schools have described very different experiences.

Daniel Scully, a senior at the University at Buffalo, said he has seen some students not following protcols on campus.

“For the most part, faculty have been doing everything they can to get students to follow protocols,” Scully said. “I do see students sometimes hanging out in bigger groups without masks which is something that nobody wants to see”.

UB was able to continue in-person learning through the Thanksgiving break, despite crossing just over the state’s 100 active case threshold in the final week.

“I believe that the protocols that the school has put in place are working, but if students do not follow them, they could ruin it for everyone,” Scully said. “If we can just be smart and get through this semester, hopefully, things can start to get back to normal.”

One of the biggest differences between private colleges, such as Hilbert or Canisius College, and public schools such as UB, is that the state school has a much more accessible live update of the number of cases confirmed at all levels of the school.

Scully said he knew the exact amount of cases that had been confirmed to the minute and he  is notified every time there’s a new case through the State University of New York covid tracker website.

A Hilbert student must go on the state’s website check how many cases have been reported, which appear in weekly batches.

Amanda Whalen, a sophomore at Canisius College said her school uses an app called Campus Clear that is required to be used by all Canisius students while they are on campus. Whalen said the app is quite easy to use and makes the Covid-19 protocols clear for students.

“At first I thought it was going to be a pain having another thing to do while getting adjusted to the new ways on campus, but Campus Clear has made it easier because all the Covid information that you need is all right there,” Whalen said.

Now, the hope is that students will be able to return to school for in-person learning again next semester. Like other schools, Hilbert officials have pushed back the beginning of the semester and eliminated spring break in an effort to make things run smoothly.

Hilbert Professor Jenelle Lukasik said she thought students did everything they could to keep the community safe this semester.

“I think everything is going very well so far,” Lukasik said. “The seating in classrooms is spaced out enough. Everyone has been staying in their areas, and the cleaning procedures are being clearly followed. It’s as normal as it can be at this point in time and I believe we are on the right track.”

A Familiar Face Returns to Hilbert

There’s a familiar face back on the Hilbert campus after a brief hiatus: Jeff Papia.

Papia, who returned this year as Hilbert’s Vice President of Mission Integration and Campus Ministry, took a position with D’Youville College in 2018, where he had a similar job as their Chief Mission Officer. 

He said he is very happy to be back.

“It’s a Joy,” Papia said. “I’m seeing old friends and making new ones, and coming back to the Hilbert student community.”

Hilbert is an institution that is proud of its Franciscan heritage and values  and seeks to do good, as the founder of the college Mother Collete Hilbert envisioned.  At the heart of Hilbert the goal is to help make individuals who are empathetic and informed.  

Papia had been a member of the Hilbert Community loved by many when he left for D’Youville. Eileen Stack, the Administrative Assistant to President Michael Brophy, works closely with Papia. She said she is very excited to have him back on campus. 

“It’s an absolute pleasure because he is a genuine Franciscan person and lives his life as a Franciscan,” Stack said.

While some students may not be familiar with Papia, many on campus are familiar with his events. Agape Latte, a popular speaking series where students have an opportunity to get to know a side of professors and faculty on campus that they wouldn’t have learned about in a traditional class setting, is one of his hallmarks. 

Papia said that while D’Youville was a school of faith that he was “grateful to be back at a Franciscan College” as his heart is with the identity of Hilbert. 

Stack  said Papia fits right in with the administrative team.

“I’m very fortunate as the people I support are those who help to make decisions based on the values they hold in the college,” she said. 

While the entire world and Hilbert is currently going through what would be considered a new norm Papia’s office is not going to slow down, as he said he remains passionate for what he does and stands committed to his roll on campus despite challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

“No, nothing really has changed. The goal is to support our Franciscan heritage and students,” Papia said. “So how I do it may be different but the goal is the same.”         

Memorable Blue Jays’ Stay in Buffalo

There were a few surprise teams that made the MLB playoffs in this shortened season, including the Toronto Blue Jays. Because of Covid-19, the season got cut down from 162 games to 60 games and the playoff format was expanded. With the season being shorter, every game was a must win. The Blue Jays have some young players who have promising futures in the league. Despite getting swept by the Tampa Bay Rays in the wild card round, the future is bright for the Jays.

With the Canadian government not allowing the Blue Jays to play in Toronto, the team played their home games in Buffalo, home of their Triple A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons. The play-by-play announcer for the Bisons, Pat Malacaro, had the opportunity to be the PA announcer for the games in Buffalo. I was able to talk to him about the Blue Jays season.

When asked about the expectations for the team, Malacaro said, “Expectations in March were finishing third place in the division (AL East) and hoping to contend for a wild card spot.”

Once the season was shortened to 60 games, then making the playoffs was actually a possibility. In order to make the playoffs, every single player would have a to contribute and they did, he said.

“A lot of guys contributed they were figuring out who they were” Malacaro added.

Some of the MVP candidates for the team were infielder Cavan Biggio and Teoscar Hernandez. A couple of acquisitions from the trade deadline that could help the team not spend big money in free agency are two pitchers, Robbie Ray and Taijuan Walker. “If the Jays hang on to these players, it will help the development of the pitchers in the minor leagues” said Malacaro.

Looking to next season, Pat thinks shortstop Bo Bichette will take a big step. “If he’s consistent with his offense, he can be the lead-off hitter” said Malacaro. One player who struggled was Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is considered one of the best prospects in the entire league. He’s known for his power so you think he would be hitting a lot of home runs. Well he didn’t do a lot of that this during the regular season.

“His biggest issue is getting into baseball shape” Malacaro said. “Covid-19 didn’t help because routine is a big thing for baseball players. Going forward, if he can get into good shape going forward, then he will be successful.”

The future is bright for the Blue Jays. It’s a possibility they will be a powerhouse in the few years.

Hilbert Holds Blessing of the Animals

Hilbert College held the blessing of the animals this week, inviting students faculty and staff to bring their pets to campus to participate in the Franciscan tradition.

Deacon Dennis Conroy performed the blessing as part of the ceremony, which included remarks from Vice President of Mission Integration and Campus Ministry Jeff Papia.

Hilbert Lacrosse Player’s Packed Schedule

It’s a Monday morning and the sun hasn’t risen yet. Travis Kilaknowski rolls over to turn off the alarm on his iPhone as the clock strikes 4:45 a.m. He jumps out of bed, heads to his kitchen and begins to pack his lunch for the day while he drinks a morning cup of coffee. He walks back into his room, grabs his green Army issued duffle bag, looks at his phone as it the clock strikes 5 a.m. and heads out to start his day. Kilaknowski is on his way to physical training, known as PT in Army jargon, just the start to his 14-hour day.

Kilaknowski is a sophomore at Hilbert College where  he is on the Men’s Lacrosse team, has above a 3.0 grade point average, and is a part of the Reserve Officer Training Corps program as well as assigned to a unit in the army.

There are 20,000 ROTC Cadets in the USA, less than 20% play an NCAA sport, putting Travis in a very exclusive group.

“Time management was definitely the hardest skill to master during all of this,” Kilaknowski said.

He finds himself doing homework in his 20 minutes of free time between responsibilities, waking up at 4:45 am and not returning home until 7 or 8 p.m. and knowing there is a four page paper that still needs to be completed. And he knows he needs to be asleep early to attend duties in the morning.

His efforts are recognized by his coach, Michael Carberry.

“Travis has had the highest grade point average on our team almost every single semester,” Carberry said. “His work ethic and determination is something we could all learn from”

Kilaknowski knows that it also important to try to make time to have fun and decompress, he said.

“Saturday nights are nights I normally get to hang out with my friends, but I try to spend that time doing work to get ahead of the next weeks schedule,” Kilaknowski said. “I knew what I signed up for so finding enjoyment in the grind is what has helped me get by.”

Kilaknowski finds fulfillment knowing he accomplished everything he needed to for that week, he said.

“Before each week I try to make a checklist of everything I need to finish before I can enjoy my time to myself,” Kilaknowski said. “When I see all the boxes checked off I find fulfillment and pride in knowing, Wow I really did it.”

Organization skills and being prepared for the upcoming tasks is a huge part of time management, Kiliknowski said.

“When I know what needs to be done and have all my ducks in order it relieves stress and makes the journey easier,” Kilaknowski said. “When I don’t have my checklist filled out it’s like a chicken running around with its head cut off.”

Carberry said Kilaknowski is often the hardest working member of the team during practices, despite having so many other responsibilities.

“Sometimes we have to ask him to turn it down a notch but he just doesn’t have that switch in him,” his coach said.

But to Kilaknowski, all the extra effort is worth it in the end, he said.

“I signed up for this so how could I complain if I put myself here?”


Phillips and Martineau Reflect on Four Years of Hilbert Basketball

Hunter Martineau and Masia Phillips are both four year Hilbert men’s basketball team members. The two guards came in together as freshmen, both far away from their homes, and built a bond right here in Hamburg. Phillips, who is from Queens in New York City, has made a name for himself with the program. He is well accomplished in the sport having scored over 1,000 points and received all conference honors. Phillips, a program great, is Top 10 in ten of the program’s statistical categories.

Martineau, a modest kid from Erie, Pennsylvania, has also left his mark on program history. Hunter accumulated 1,000 points over his career and now sits at the top in assists for Hilbert’s basketball program. Hunter isn’t new to awards and acknowledgement, he has received all conference honors all 4 years and was once named team MVP. What’s even more impressive than that, while being a beast on the court, he is also a beast in the classroom. Hunter was inducted into the Chi Alpha Sigma National Honor Society.

The Scribe reached out to both Phillips and Martineau to talk about their experiences with the program and also the community surrounding the school. In addition, we got to hear about the hardships they faced, the brotherhood that was formed, and a little sneak peek into their future endeavors.

The Scribe: Masia, you grew up in New York City, the mecca of basketball. Can you explain how basketball was a part of your early life and how it moved you forward as a person?

Masia Phillips: My older siblings and cousins all played basketball. I got to grow up watching them play. As I got older, I just got into it around 6 years old. I was playing in a house ball coached by my mother. I started meeting friends through basketball and continued that through middle and high school, and college. That’s why I love the game so much.

TS: Hunter, amongst other things, you are known by your incredible self-discipline and willpower. Can you tell us how basketball helped you develop self-discipline and do you use that skill in your everyday life?


Courtesy of Hilbert College Athletics

Hunter Martineau: Basketball taught me self-discipline, if you want to be the best, you have to train like the best. You have discipline yourself to get up every day, get in the gym, get in the weight room. You can use that discipline to do homework, getting up and going to class.

TS: What can you guys tell us about playing for Hilbert? How difficult was the transition from high school to college?

MP: The transition was pretty tough, the game is much faster, much more you need to learn.

HM: The transition for me personally was a bit different. My high school had 4,000 students, Hilbert is only pushing 1,000 if that. Some of the high schools had teams that were just as competitive, but the games were slower because Florida schools don’t have a shot clock, it was a different game. (Masia) I think there was more competition in high school because everyone plays together, there are teams with multiple Division 1 talent.

TS: For Your tenure on the team, you have seen players come and go. What has helped you two to stay focused and committed to the program for 4 years.

HM: My family loves to watch me play, if I was quitting on myself, I was also quitting on them as well. At the same time, my passion for the game, I don’t think I would ever quit unless it’s for dire circumstances.

MP: I had lots of thoughts of leaving the program, but I always had my family to keep me in a space where I can forget about it and just play. If it wasn’t for my family or the love I have for the game, the story would’ve been different.

TS: How do you guys balance being a student athlete?

HM: I try not to save everything for the last minute, whether it’s homework, you want to get shots up, or spending time with your significant others.

MP: I just try my best to know and remember my schedule.

TS: Are the accomplishments something you guys set out for? How did you balance personal goals and team goals?

HM: I’m not much of a scorer, so the 1,000 points is something that I never set out to do, but was pretty cool. I’ve always been a passer, it wasn’t a goal of mine, but I saw it happening if I played well. Those records really don’t mean much, you never want to let them get to your head.

MP: In high school, I never got to the 1,000 points. That kind of bothered me because I was a 4 year varsity player. It was personal for me to get 1,000 points, but that never got in the way of goals that the team had.

TS: What can you guys say about the brotherhood formed with teammates and the relationships built with classmates?

HM: I’m very fortunate for all the guys that have come through here. I truly believe that there were mostly good guys that came through. The amount of friendships and relationships I have built is the reason why you come to a small school like this.

MP: Being on a sports team, you get to know people real quick and people get to know you real quick.

TS: Why did you guys pick Hilbert?

HM: I’m from Erie, Pa (Lived in Orlando for 9 years where he played high school ball), the school isn’t too far, I have good support nearby, and it seemed like a good fit.

MP: The biggest city in the nation has a lot of problems sometimes. I just wanted to get away from home, and challenge myself to be on my own.

TS: Having lived here for four years, what can you say about life in WNY? Is there a possibility of you coming back?

MP: Buffalo is a calm city, I like it. It’s not that big of a rush, no crazy night life. Definitely not what I’m used to, but I got used to it. I don’t know if i can start my life after college here, but I’ll definitely come back and visit.

HM: Buffalo is a great city. It’s actually very similar to earlier where I grew up. As long as there’s an airport that can connect me back home to Orlando, I’ll always consider Buffalo as a second home. Bills fans are very passionate, and I love Buffalo wings.

TS: What are your future plans for education and basketball? Is it over?

HM:  For me at least, I think my basketball career in a competitive sense is over. I’ll be doing mens league and coaching but I’m done. I plan on working my way up to an athletic director.

MP: Basketball wise, as of right now is over, I’ll still be playing here and there. I want to become a risk analyst, I also want to work for the city of New York.


From the Editor: Mourning From Afar

Last week the Scribe and the Hilbert community lost one of its own.

Brittnay Summers, a sophomore Criminal Justice major, passed away in a car accident on March 31, leaving a void in a campus community, unable to mourn in the traditional sense, separated in an effort to stop others from dying.

I first met Brittnay at the beginning of the semester, mere months ago. Constantly smiling, she was shy at first. But once you got her talking she exuded confidence and happily added to the conversation. She was excited to work on her first story, covering the Digital Media and Communications department’s career fair, and with a little push from myself went around the room conducting interviews, learning on the fly, as is so often the case with people first dipping their toes in the journalistic waters.

She was a natural, her warmth and kindness opening people up to get them talking.

She worked for a security company that contracts with the Buffalo Bills, and was excited by the prospect of scoring an interview with a player for the paper.

And she was always looking to pitch in or help others. When another student mentioned she was looking for work after graduation, Brittnay excitedly offered to get her in with the security company.

For now, we must celebrate her life and mourn her loss from afar. None of the warm embraces, handshakes or fellowship that would normally comfort our community are available. We can’t bond over food, offering stories, and engaging in the deep human connection that is felt while looking one another in the eye.

But that does not mean we cannot honor Brittnay and everything she did to make Hilbert a better place. As a Franciscan institution, it is important that we look to our Catholic roots for guidance in this time of sorrow.

Margaret Smith, Hilbert’s vice president for mission integration and campus ministry, points out that Christians have a long tradition of using prayer and good works as gifts to be sent to one another across time and space.

“A small prayer or sacrifice that I send up to God will be efficacious to someone that I may not be able to see or communicate with,” she said. “So, when someone far from us is hurting, and we cannot be with them physically, we can still join them in this supernatural place outside of time and space, where we are united in God.”

Smith said that one way we can honor Brittnay is by trying to live her unyielding, never-give-up spirit out in our own lives.

“It’s tempting to get swept away by fear and darkness when so many things seem to be falling apart around us,” Smith said. “This is where our faith kicks in. Christian hope isn’t an emotion: it’s a virtue that takes practice and hard work. It is a decision, made over and over again, to turn to light and to trust in God when things are difficult.”

So, as we remember Brittnay from afar, rest assured that we will celebrate her with the same exuberance she brought to our campus whenever it is that we are able to gather together again. Plans are already in the works for a memorial service.

Last week, as part of her call for Britons to stay strong in adhering to social distancing measures, Queen Elizabeth invoked the song “We’ll Meet Again,” a World War II anthem, to build a spirit of solidarity.

I hope we can extend that sentiment to one another, and to Brittnay, as we deal with this tragedy. If you are feeling distraught or desperate in these coming weeks and months, think of Brittnay’s smiling face and sing those hopeful lyrics to yourself.

We’ll meet again. Don’t know where. Don’t know when. But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.”

– Justin Sondel


Journalists Visit Hilbert

Hilbert College students heard from a panel of three journalists this week, part of the school’s annual communications career week.

Kyle Mackie of WBFO, Caitlin Dewey of The Buffalo News and Casey Bortnick of Spectrum News covered a wide range of topics during the talk, offering insights into the challenges of rewards of pursuing a career in journalism.

: Bortnick, who discovered his passion for journalism at SUNY Brockport after being recruited to play football for the school, said he believes there will always be an opportunity for journalists, even as the business model has made for a challenging professional environment.

Is there a direct quote from him we can use here?

Mackie, who has worked internationally for major news outlets like the New York Times and WNYC, described the many challenges she has faced in her career despite having a master’s degree in journalism and clips in highly regarded publications.

“If you want to make it into this industry you have to believe in yourself,” she said.

Dewey, whose employer faces new uncertainties after it was announced that The Buffalo News will be sold to a newspaper conglomerate, acknowledged the many challenges that students should consider when deciding to pursue journalism, but also talked about how much she loves the work.

“It’s the Purest form of mental desire with working with words and massaging words and coming up with the best way to frame or to tell a story is ultimately the best way,” she said.

Then something fun to close: The panelists all offered some of their most interesting or exciting experiences to close, describing how rewarding the profession can be. Mackie recounted a lunch with a Palestinian family outside of Nazareth. Dewey described a trip to Wisconsin to help a dairy farmer with his daily work. And Bortnick talked about his experiences chasing Ralph “Bucky” Phillips, the escaped convict who spent the summer of 2006 on the run in Chautauqua County.

Bortnick got a little too close to the action once, being told by officers in pursuit of Phillips to duck behind the engine block of his car as the sound of gunfire rang out, he said.

“That is the closest I will ever get to a war zone,” Bortnick said.

Hilbert Holds Graduate School Expo

Throughout the afternoon of Tuesday, November 12th in the Franciscan Hall Atrium, Hilbert College hosted its annual Graduate School Expo. Graduate admissions representatives from across the region gathered in the atrium to discuss their programs with Hilbert College’s students and alumni. Students and alumni entering the atrium were greeted by door prizes and free food, as well as graduate representatives from Hilbert to start off the expo. Students who attended the event were able to discuss many important points about the ten colleges and universities in the atrium, such as application deadlines, GPA requirements, entrance exams and personal statements.

The Scribe interviewed a number of representatives and other individuals at the expo, and they had some interesting things to say about their schools and experiences. Admissions representatives from ten schools including Hilbert all attended the expo to provide important information about their school’s programs. Some of these schools included Canisius College, Alfred University, Daemen College, Niagara University, and many more. The Scribe interviewed representatives Katie Martoche of Hilbert College, and Brandi Banks, the Senior Graduate Admissions Counselor at Canisius College. These representatives discussed some of the graduate programs offered at their respective schools, and the value these programs have to benefit students who have graduated from or are enrolled in an undergraduate program at Hilbert College.

The Scribe also interviewed one of Hilbert’s students for an alternative perspective on the Graduate Expo and the benefits it can have towards students and Alumni. Senior Brandon Zicari discussed with the scribe his take on how an event like the graduate expo can benefit students and alumni at Hilbert, and he also spoke on the importance of meeting these representatives face to face and gaining knowledge on the programs in person as opposed to just searching around on a school’s website for information on their programs.

All in all, an event like Hilbert’s annual Graduate Expo can be an incredibly useful tool for students and alumni here at Hilbert. If you plan on working through a graduate program in the future, perhaps this expo could be a big help in making a decision when it returns to Hilbert College next year.