Rotary Celebrates Young Authors, Entrepreneurs and Diversity

Somers High School senior Mary Murphy reads her published poem, “Matthew,” at the “On My Mind 2017” book launch. Credits: Gabrielle Bilik
Marc Guberti, a 19-year-old digital marketing expert, blogger and author, shares publishing tips with his fellow authors. Credits: Gabrielle Bilik

SOMERS, N.Y. – The celebrated authors and keynote speakers who gathered in the auditorium of Kennedy Catholic High School for the annual “On My Mind” book launch successfully published a written piece of work before ever leaving high school.

For the 12th year in a row, the Northeast Westchester (NEW) Rotary Club published its student-penned publication, which features original works from area schools. With the highest participation to date, the “On My Mind 2017” edition holds more than 200 pieces written by students from 15 suburban and inner-city schools in New York and Connecticut.

The tradition was started by Rotary members Martin Ashley and Stan Herz-Pearlman 12 years ago to encourage young authors and bring diverse groups of students together. That first year, there were just four schools that participated. Now the publication welcomes more each year. As the well of student voices grows more diverse, the emphasis on unity is more pronounced, and that theme resonated from the pages of the book to the words of many of the speakers at the event.

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At the completion of the project, the students come together for a pizza party. At the May 17 launch, the pizza party preluded a presentation that included a few words from several Rotary members, a presentation by keynote speakers Michael and Marc Guberti, and readings by some of the student authors.

Mary Murphy, a senior at Somers High School, read her poem, “Matthew.”

“It is a list poem and it was inspired by another list poem I found online, and I fell in love with it,” she said. “I loved how each line was its own independent thought, but it was one cohesive piece.”

She and other students worked with John Murphy, a teacher at Somers High School, to submit pieces from the year they were most proud of. Submissions included short stories, essays, poems, and other creative writings. Though each contribution was unique, similarities emerged and works with a common theme were placed into chapters such as “Growing Up” and “Appreciation.”

In addition to authoring several published e-books before the age of 20, brothers and keynote speakers, Michael and Marc Guberti, have taught 43,000 students online in the fields of confidence, high performance, business growth and personal fulfillment.

The two taught their first business seminar by the ages of 16 and 17. What started as a hobby-based baseball blog eventually grew an audience and became profitable, they said. The brothers decided to build on that experience and use what they had learned in the field of social media to educate others. Now, at 20 and 19, they are successful social media strategists, and are enrolled in Fordham University—while teaching there.

The duo hosts a four-day event at Fordham University designed to help underprivileged youth to succeed. Last year, the New York Knicks came on board and now collaborates with them to host the event. Other philanthropic efforts include equipping veterans, single mothers and students with the tools they might need to succeed in a modern world. At the book launch, they extended the opportunity for the “On My Mind” students to join the event for about a quarter of the typical cost.

The brothers said the opportunity to give back has been the driving force behind their careers. It’s something, they said, was instilled in them by their parents

“Even before we achieved success they said, ‘no matter how much you prosper, give back,’” Michael Guberti said.

John Katzenstein, president of the Northeast Westchester Rotary Foundation, congratulated the authors and thanked the event’s young people for being an inspiration.

“In this past political year full of harshness, hate, lack of respect and civility, you have shown us that our future should be brighter,” he said.

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