Students to follow

Meet two Quinnipiac students who are gaining traction on social media and on the airwaves

Neha Seenarine, Staff Writer

A portfolio is not limited to school work and participation in school organizations. Quinnipiac University students Paul Cappuzzo and Jonathan Sweeney are making sure their voices are heard through different social media outlets.  

Let’s Talk Paulitics

Photo from Paul Cappuzzo

Paul Cappuzzo turned quarantine boredom into his personal platform to express his thoughts.

Cappuzzo, a sophomore political science major, could not work at his day camp during the summer as he had in previous summers. So, “The Paulitics Show” was created on YouTube to fill his free schedule until he returned to Quinnipiac’s campus as an orientation leader. 

“I felt like I had nothing to do this summer,” Cappuzzo said. “I sort of sat there from May when the semester ended until August. I have a passion for politics. I have a passion for speaking. I love to talk. I voice myself on Twitter and all those different platforms, all the time. I thought, ‘Why not make something useful out of it?’”

He said he was used to scrolling through Twitter and voicing his opinion online, but social media can be used at anyone’s discretion.

“I can say whatever I want almost like a bathroom wall,” Cappuzzo said. “You can write it on there, and it’s going to say whatever you want. The thing is that I will only retweet things I agree with. When I don’t like it, I’m going to voice my opinion. I’m going to quote tweet them. I’m going to reply to them. I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that my voice is heard whether or not it is going to be seen. It could go into the abyss forever, but it is getting out there.”

He wanted to take a step forward, so his voice could be heard. “The Paulitics Show” is a one-man show. 

“I can flesh out my thoughts more than a 280-character tweet,” Cappuzzo said. “Making episodes for the show is basically taking on another class.”

Cappuzzo is involved with different organizations at Quinnipiac. He is an orientation leader, treasurer of Quinnipiac Democrats and a brother of Beta Theta Pi. Producing “The Paulitics Show” is another task to keep him busy. 

“It becomes a little bit more tricky, but it’s not that I’m a part of all these different organizations,” Cappuzzo said. “I love keeping busy. Otherwise, I’d go insane.”

The production of  “The Paulitics Show”  is a three-day process for Cappuzzo, so he can upload an episode by noon on Monday.

“I would decide the topic in the middle of the week,” Cappuzzo said. “I should choose topics that are broad enough where they can stand alone. They are almost timeless per se. Topics aren’t timeless like I talked about my 2020 election predictions and they were way off.”

I can say whatever I want almost like a bathroom wall

— Paul Cappuzzo

The following day, Cappuzzo conducts research and finds additional content such as previous interviews to feature in his upcoming episode. He makes sure he has 35 to 45 minutes of content.

“I would spend the next day drafting like a six-page document, full of notes,” Cappuzzo said. “I would make a new document and delete what I had. I would just make an outline of what I want to talk about.”

Cappuzzo also features guests on “The Paulitics Show.” He reaches out to politicians to have various conversations. 

“I get rejection after rejection,” Cappuzzo said. “I have a small platform — people don’t want to talk to someone without a big audience, which I get.”

However, “The Paulitics Show” has featured guests like New Jersey State Senator Declan O’Scanlon.

“I had him come on and we had a very productive conversation,” Cappuzzo said. “I kind of slid into his Twitter (direct messages) asking him if he wants to come on the show, and he responded. You just gotta shoot your shot like that.”

Cappuzzo welcomes all spectrums of political views on his show. 

“I’d love to have more Republicans come on the show,” Cappuzzo said. “I feel like that really engages in the further dialogue we had. I want to be able to share my views and with interviews, I want to share the perspectives of others that I can’t provide on my own.”

While on campus, Cappuzzo plans to extend his passion for politics by starting a debate club.

“For the last two-ish years, I’ve been toying with the idea of wanting to introduce one,” Cappuzzo said. “This past fall semester, I became committed to the idea once I was approached by a friend of mine who was questioning if the university had a student-run debate organization. In my view, it can’t just be the two of us wondering why the university doesn’t have a debate organization; it’s a staple of nearly every academic institution.”

The Influence of TikTok

Jonathan Sweeney poses for his Tik Tok. Morgan Tencza

TikTok has long consumed Jonathan Sweeney’s screen-time, but now he is using it to his advantage.

Sweeney, a senior film, television and media arts major, uses TikTok to educate strangers around the world about genetic disorders. However, Sweeney initially downloaded the app to see what the fuss was about.

“I was like everyone else in America when I got started on TikTok during quarantine,” Sweeney said. “I kind of made stupid videos like it was just me being dumb on the internet. I’ll delete them after quarantine. One night over winter break I made this video about a 1-of-20 story. I had a one in a billion story, so I shared it and it blew up. It got 10,000 views in two days.”

His videos were about his experiences. He started off by sharing his prior experience of quarantining. 

“It was about how (in) my senior year of high school I spread whooping cough to my math class,” said Sweeney. “We all had to quarantine. I spent my 18th and 21st birthday in quarantine.”

Sweeney’s videos became more personal when he started explaining his rare genetic disorder, fatty acid oxidation disorder. TikTok viewers grew curious about his situation and wanted to find out more. His videos drew in students studying biochemistry and genetics.

“I made my first video, and I got a lot of comments,” Sweeney said. “I’ve been making some videos answering questions, and I want to educate people on rare genetic disorders and living with chronic illness.”

He formed a platform for himself, connecting with people and helping them understand more about genetic disorders. Sweeney runs into comments by viewers who might have a misconception of him.

“I like the idea of having a conversation with a platform with different people,” Sweeney said. “Personally, for my own satisfaction, I don’t go out of my way to put people in their place. I think it’s really satisfying being able to educate someone and have them not have a defeated feeling. Maybe they misspoke and instead of leaving a nasty comment, they should have asked.”

The internet is a difficult place to be when people are hiding behind a screen. It gives audiences a chance to say hurtful things, but Sweeny said it will not break his tough skin.

“Growing up, we all face people that pick on you,” Sweeney said. “I’ve built an immunity to mean comments. I’ve grown up, I’ve lived my journey and my truth that the mean comments don’t get to me. I’m sure there’s a comment down the line that’s going to sting where it hurts, but I’ll get over it.”

Sweeney had zero intention of becoming so popular on TikTok. It is his main source of procrastination watching house tours of his favorite creators. He does not pencil in at a specific time of day to create content. He creates videos based for leisure, not as an obligation. 

“I won’t wake up, roll out of bed and answer questions,” Sweeney said. “If I get comments and or have something to talk about. I’ll definitely make a video about it. I thought it would be cool if I blew up on TikTok. I knew deep down inside I’m a college student from Connecticut. I don’t have anything special that they’re looking for. It would be cool to be an influencer, but I’m not going to spend my whole life and sacrifice my education.”

The platform Sweeney grew on TikTok inspired him to create his own podcast, “1 of 20 Podcast.”

“It’s going to be me talking about my experience with a rare genetic disorder living with chronic illness,” Sweeney said. “My day-to-day with asthma, hypoglycemia and ulcerative colitis. I don’t think I’m going to be the next big podcast sensation. I’ll be fine if I have a few hundred listeners if it will make someone’s day or I’ll educate someone. I have an agenda with educating people.”

The “1 of 20 Podcast” is produced in the School of Communications podcast studio. Sweeney plans to have guests on the show.

“I’m going to have guests from Quinnipiac,” Sweeney said. “Also, people who are going into the healthcare field, have a genetic disorder or chronic illness. People who want to talk about lifestyle.”

“I think this will be a perfect opportunity while I’m helping others and educating others to help me stick to more self-care. Honestly, just to treat myself better than I usually do during the semester

— Jonathan Sweeney

The podcast and TikTok allow Sweeney to take time for himself. He is the president of Lambda Pi Eta Tau Delta and the multi-media chair of QTHON.

“I never really take time for me,” Sweeney said. “I think this will be a perfect opportunity while I’m helping others and educating others to help me stick to more self-care. Honestly, just to treat myself better than I usually do during the semester.”