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The longest hour in Joe Bush's memory came on September 11, 2001, as he sat by a telephone in Florida, listening to radio reports of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. Joe's wife, Kristen Shaughnessy, was as reporter for NY1 news and was one of the first reporters on the scene that terrible day. More than an hour passed before Joe learned from Kristen's colleagues that she was safe.
Kristen Shaughnessy and Joe Bush, both Class of 1990 and married five years later, recall 9/11 all too vividly.
Kristen was forced to file her report from a pay phone near the scene. She was on the air live with morning anchor Pat Kiernan when she saw a colleague rushing from the scene. "He said, 'Kristen, you need to run!' As we were running, [the first tower was] coming down." The spot where she had been talking on the phone was destroyed. According to the NY1 Web site, Kristen made her way, barefoot, from the east side of the city to the West Side Highway, where she met up with more of her co-workers.
Joe, a golf pro, was playing in a tournament when he heard the news of the attacks. He quickly called the NY1 studios and learned that Kristen was reporting from the scene. He was overcome with dread when he heard that the towers had fallen. "I was trying to call back, and I couldn't get through to the station," Joe remembers. "I've got goose bumps just talking about it."
If that dark day tested their marriage, the couple, who met as Hofstra students, came through with an even stronger relationship that helps them juggle high-profile careers and the joy of parenting two young daughters, Jamie, 9, and Kara, 6. The couple spoke about their Hofstra days and their careers at NY1's Chelsea studios.
Kristen is the weekday anchor/reporter for the metropolitan allnews channel NY1. Joe, co-founder of the medical transportation service On Time Transport, spent time on the professional golf circuit and is teaching golf at New Jersey's Branchburg Family Center. This Scotch Plains, New Jersey, couple agrees that their Hofstra experience was the springboard for their personal and professional happiness.
Ironically, Kristen grew up with no television in her home in Pine Bush, a farm town located in upstate New York. Despite her parents' lifestyle decision ("They thought we could learn more from reading and listening to the radio."), she knew she wanted to be a television reporter, and Hofstra's television track appealed greatly to her.
Joe Bush grew up in Cranford, New Jersey, lettering in three sports (football, basketball and baseball) and trying to find a school where he could continue his exploits on the gridiron. "Hofstra was one of the schools that recruited me. I went to visit, and it was actually the only school I applied to. I knew there was an opportunity for me to play football and kick," Joe explains.
A marketing major, Joe played all four years for the football team as a kicker and set two school field goal records, one for 50 yards and another for 52 yards set in fall 1989 in a game against Albany. Football also proved to be a link to the girl Joe would marry. "I was good friends with John Sommers, who was another kicker on the team, and he told me about Joe," Kristen remembers.
"I used to go swimming with Dawn Ford, who told me she had a friend who was also a really good swimmer," Joe recalls. "I remember walking into the Student Center with Dawn, and Kristen was working at the Service Desk with her ponytail." Dawn introduced Joe to Kristen, the swimming sensation, and a romance was born.
Kristen spent most of her undergraduate years paying her dues at Dempster Hall. "I don't think I could have done television without [that experience]. Hofstra's communications program was great because it taught you how to get internships, and it was so hands on. The writing was really emphasized. I definitely could not have made it professionally without going there," she says.
As a Hofstra student, Joe rediscovered golf, a sport his grandfather had introduced him to at age 11. "I was considering going out for the baseball team in my freshman or sophomore year, and I ended up hurting my ankle playing basketball, so I couldn't do it. While I"ve always loved and played golf, up to that time I'd never done it competitively. But I knew if you played a spring sport, you didn't have to do the weight-lifting and running workouts that I really didn't like as a football kicker," Joe confesses.
"It was a copout," teases Kristen.
"Well, it was somewhat of a copout," Joe admits, "but to now be a golf pro and know that was my first experience at competitive golf is really cool."
Graduating into a new decade, Kristen and Joe each moved back home and maintained a long-distance relationship. While Joe was asked to join his brother in starting up what would eventually become On Time Transport, Kristen had trouble finding work and ended up bartending. Not long after, she landed her first radio job. A television job at a Poughkeepsie news center followed soon after.
Joe proposed marriage in September 1994. Kristen accepted both the proposal and an offer for an anchor position from NY1. Their July 1995 marriage followed. While Kristen's broadcast career took a major leap forward, Joe started questioning his professional aspirations. "In 1997 I realized that running a business wasn't what I wanted to do. I was 25 or 26, and we had 125 employees and 75 vehicles. The business was growing and it was exciting, but... I realized it wasn't for me.
"I really wanted to play golf so I sold back most of my ownership [in the business], and my brother bought me out. I went and played on different mini-tours. I played on two main tours - The TearDrop Golf Tour and The Hooters Golf Tour from 1997 through 2002."
Joe traveled on a circuit where he played against other future notables, including Chad Campbell, Ben Crane, Tim Petrovic 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson, winning a $12,000 purse at one of the TearDrop Tour events. By 2002, the grind of trying to get to the next level of professional golf was starting to wear Joe. "It was starting to get tough, and at the time Kara was 3. was hard knowing Kristen was working and I'm in Mobile, Alabama, at some Travelodge playing in a Hooters tour," he says. "After five years, I decided that was enough. I came home and didn't really want to get back into the business, so I decided to to a golf range and talk to the owner. I started teaching, which really enjoy."
With a relationship forged at Hofstra University and tested in shadow of 9/11, Kristen and Joe appreciate that their daughters, their jobs and their marriage are thriving because of their unwavering support for each other. Her day starts at 2:30 or 3 and his doesn't end until 10 or 11 p.m. Kristen says there are times when "we're like passing ships." But despite the challenges, Kristen and Joe make it work. "We're lucky," Joe explains, "because we've each found something that we love to do."