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June 2016

 

The "mighty" J.D. Caiola
Susan Rubenstein DeMasi

 

JD Caiola
J.D. Caiola in a publicity photo
(courtesy of J.D. Caiola)

I would say this fits into the category of “our students are lucky.” But that’s a little bit of an understatement. In fact, the college community as a whole is fortunate to have Jonathan Caiola on board at SCCC as a writing tutor.

Also known as J.D., Jonathan is an accomplished writer and actor who recently received his MFA in creative writing and literature from Stony Brook University at Southampton. I have to brag a little bit that I recognized his talents immediately when he was a student in my screenwriting class almost a decade ago.

He began his educational journey at SCCC. He moved on to Hofstra University where he majored in English, with an emphasis in creative writing, and minored in film. Following his graduation from Hofstra, he began his MFA studies. J.D. values education and says, “It was an amazing odyssey that I’ll always cherish.”

J.D. began as an adjunct professional assistant at the Eastern Center for Excellence in Writing five years ago. He loves his work as a writing tutor, he says, and especially appreciates the close-knit group of people he works with as they help students through all phases of writing projects.

His easygoing manner and generosity of spirit come through in all of his dealings with students, faculty and staff. Anyone who encounters him may also experience a flash of recognition. That’s not surprising, since we’ve all probably seen his face before. From the age of about seven, he was a child actor, continuing into his teen years, working under the stage name of J.D. Daniels. The Mighty Ducks (film), Quantum Leap, Mad About You, The Nanny (television), Les Miserables on Broadway: these are just a few of the dozens of shows he has appeared in, with a more recent stint in the film Staten Island, starring Vincent D’Onofrio and Ethan Hawke.

But his new creative journey, as he says, “is with the pen.” He has three screenplays written and is currently working on a graphic novel. “It’s a process that truly excites me and moves me.”

In his spare time, J.D. loves watching and playing basketball as well as learning about the history of the sport. He also loves good cinema “mainly because of my acting background but also because of my film studies.” He enjoys talking philosophy with his closest friends. “I value the simple things in life,” he says.

J.D. also values the benefit of union membership and has for a long time. “From a very young age I’ve seen the great work of unions. I’ve been a part of the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) as well as Actors’ Equity, since I was young. I really appreciate the support and benefits that unions provide to their members.”

Although J.D. will be too modest to predict this, as one of his proud former teachers and as a colleague, I recognize the talent that will lead him to a vibrant writing career. For now, we’re all lucky to have him as a member of our community.