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Marist pollster saves woman's life, gains national spotlight

By Brenna McKinley
On April 25, 2012

  • The McCann Arena will feature chair back seating and LED video boards. Courtesy of Marist Athletics

Attention to detail helped Marist Poll student interviewer Jason Sokolowski save the life of a Manhattan woman. Through a cloud of media coverage surrounding the occurrence, the attention is now on him.

On Monday, April 16, during his shift as a Marist Poll student interviewer, Sokolowski was connected to 79-year-old Manhattan resident, Bobby Berlin. Noticing that Berlin sounded disoriented and out of breath, Sokolowski alerted his supervisor, Daniela Charter, who ultimately called 911 to send medical attention to Berlin's home.

"After I passed the phone off to my supervisor and she called 911, I went right back to work and took the next call," Sokolowski said. "I didn't even expect to hear anything about it again."

It wasn't until New York City officials called back to say that Berlin had been slipping into a diabetic shock that Sokolowski knew the medical attention he and his supervisor called for had saved her life.

It was from this point that a swarm of media attention began to buzz around Sokolowski.

"Tuesday I didn't think twice about it," Sokolowski said. "I told my girlfriend and mentioned it to my parents, but that was it."

Shortly after, however, his phone started ringing with inquisitive reporters requesting interviews.

"I was in a group meeting for my advertising class when I got a forwarded e-mail on my phone from Lee Miringoff, head of the Marist Poll, and I saw the type of people that were listed on the CC line," Sokolowski said. "It was then that I told my group, 'Hey guys, pretty sure you'll be hearing about this soon.'"

Having drawn the attention of national news outlets, the entire country would soon hear about it.

"Less than 6 hours later I got the call from my supervisor asking me to join them on the 9:47 train into Manhattan for an interview with NBC," Sokolowski said. "And it hasn't slowed down since."

After kicking off his time in the spotlight with this NBC interview, Sokolowski's claim to fame continued as he interviewed with the Poughkeepsie Journal, YNN (Your News Now), Local Cablevision News and the New York Post. Other news outlets, such as the Washington Post, a few of NBC's west coast affiliates and various online blogs have reposted the story as well.

"The NBC one was unique because it was my first [interview] and I had little to no idea what to expect," he said. "Not to mention it was on a huge national network and actually being filmed in Bobby Berlin's apartment."

Sokolowski was especially pleased with YNN's coverage of the story.

"I would say that John Wagner at YNN did a great job telling the story as I think it should have been told," he said, "not to mention [he] had some really nice shots of the [Marist] campus."

All of the media outlets have painted Sokolowski as a hero, despite his modest refutation of the title.

"In my best estimation, I do not consider myself a hero," he said, "but the media is strong in branding an individual, and due to their powers I am a 'hero.'"

"I think human or a Good Samaritan is a better label," he added. " doesn't really matter to me because I wasn't expecting any of this. I heard someone who needed help [and] I got her help; [that's] all there was to it."

Sokolowski's national media attention was recognized on campus as well. Aside from his usual group of friends bestowing their congratulations, he has gotten increased attention from the community since the airing of the initial NBC interview on April 17.

"I got a lot of double-takes," he said, "as if they knew the face from somewhere and couldn't figure out where."

A few of Sokolowski's teachers made it a point to play the NBC interview clip before class in the week that followed; others simply wanted to shake his hand and ask him about what happened.

"I was in the Hancock Center and someone delivering take-out to someone in the building recognized me from reading the article in the Poughkeepsie Journal that morning, and people in the Stop and Shop on Friday were giving me the same look that some of my peers on campus were," Sokolowski said. "It's absolutely peculiar."

Sokolowski has accepted all of his recent media attention graciously, and his humble attitude remains.

"People tell me that I don't understand the magnitude of what I did because of only being 20 years old and that it will mean more to me when I get older," he said. "I don't know how much I buy into that, but I guess we'll see."

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