Posts filed under ‘The Penn Stater magazine’
Over the weekend, we heard about this cool project from Khanjan Mehta ’83g, director of Penn State’s Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship program. You might remember Mehta’s piece, called “Why Ideas Fail,” from the Jan./Feb. 2014 issue—or perhaps you caught his Huddle with the Faculty talk on social entreprenuership this past Saturday. In his latest project, a cartoon series called “Frame Changers,” Mehta offers a new take on those same concepts: namely, how smart, sustainable technology can improve lives for people in developing countries.
Since 2004, Mehta has made dozens of trips to rural communities in Africa. In creating “Frame Changers,” illustrated by artist Jabez Issa, Mehta hopes to share some of what those experiences have taught him. He writes on his website: “While this quest for improving the human condition has yielded a few ‘game changers’, there have been countless everyday ‘frame changers’: moments that have challenged my beliefs, values and rational assumptions. Moments that have made me revisit my philosophy of engagement and rethink my concepts of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Mary Murphy, associate editor
The photo is part of “What a Trip,” an eight-page oral history about the 1994 football team’s crazy, Murphy’s Law-inspired road trip to Champaign, Ill.—where the Lions went on to win the national championship. For the story, senior editor Ryan Jones ’95 interviewed 19 former players, managers, and coaches, who recalled the experience in vivid (and sometimes hilarious) detail.
Also in this issue: “For Hire,” an essay by Penn State prof Michael Bérubé, who talks about his son Jamie’s search for employment—and independence. Jamie, who is 22 and has Down syndrome, has faced some unexpected struggles since graduating from high school, and his father reflects on what it all means for Jamie’s future.
Other good stuff in the Sept./Oct. magazine: a collection of photos from an engineering class’s spring trip to China; a Q&A with investigative reporter David DeKok, who has some interesting insights into the 1969 murder of Betsy Aardsma; details on the proposed shake-ups to the Board of Trustees; an introduction to Penn State’s new AD, Sandy Barbour, and much more.
What do you think of the new issue? Let us know in the comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Murphy, associate editor
Before I became a Penn State student, for as long as I can remember, I came to State College with my family for just about every home football game.
That sounds really cool—and it was—but it came with some challenges, especially when I was in high school. I remember getting in the car after school dances on Friday nights and driving 180 miles straight to State College. One time, I even had to take the PSAT at State College High School on a Saturday morning before a game. As you can tell, we were really dedicated.
When we would visit Penn State, my parents, both Penn State graduates, would tell my sister Amber and me stories about when they were students. They loved to tell us about the late nights they spent studying at the library. As we got older, the real stories came out and we realized they really meant dancing at the Shandygaff.
The Penn State stories didn’t just come from my parents. I’m the 12th member of my extended family to attend this university, and my sister is now the 13th. Of course, that means there was never a shortage of people to tell me all about Penn State, from classes to roommates to intramural sports. I loved hearing about it as a kid.
Finally, as a Penn State student, I’ve been able to start making my own stories.
The three years that I’ve spent here have exceeded my expectations, and I promise you they were high. As a student, I’ve gotten the chance to work for The Daily Collegian, study abroad in Granada, Spain, meet the best friends I could ask for and, now, go to school with my sister.
This summer is a special time for my Penn State career and the Szkaradnik family (especially for my parents, who seem a little too excited to be empty nesters). Amber started in the Learning Edge Academic Program (LEAP) a couple of weeks ago. Actually being at school with my sister making our own memories is a really fun opportunity.
Now that I’ve spent three years here, I’m starting to get chances to tell my own Penn State stories. This summer I’m giving campus tours to prospective students. Though it’s an awesome job, it can be challenging. If you’ve ever taken a tour at Penn State, you know the guides walk backward the whole time. In typical me fashion, I fell while giving my first tour.
But I think this is one of the best jobs a Penn Stater could have. I get paid to walk around campus all day and tell potential students why I love Penn State. I really enjoy talking about Ritner Hall, my freshman dorm,and taking the students into the Thomas Building, where I had my first class as a student. My favorite thing to talk about on tours, though, is my family. I love getting to tell people that my parents met here and that they still love Penn State just as much as I do.
Now as The Penn Stater’s intern, I get to tell more Penn State stories. I know how much Penn State alumni love stories about their alma mater, so that’s why I hope I can keep you all up to date even if you’re miles away.
I’ve seen this university go through waves of changes. There have been ups and downs, but it‘s finally starting to seem like Penn State is in a new era. We have a new president, a new football coach and even a plan for a new general education system. I’m excited to see where Penn State is going now that it seems like we’ve gotten through a few tough years.
I hope that you’ll follow along with me this summer as I keep you updated about our ever-changing university.
Mindy Szkaradnik, intern
As a Penn State linebacker, Ben Kline knows all about the pressure of living up to a legacy of greatness. It’s good experience for his other role: president of Penn State’s chapter of Uplifting Athletes.
A redshirt junior linebacker, Kline is the latest Nittany Lion to lead the founding Uplifting Athletes chapter, a charity benefiting rare disease research which was started in 2003 by former Lion Scott Shirley ’03, ’04g. In the time since, UA has expanded into a national organization with student-run chapters at nearly two dozen college football programs. But Penn State still sets the tone: When the Lions host their annual Lift for Life event on Saturday, July 12, they’re expecting to surpass $1,000,000 raised for kidney cancer research.
“It’s really grown, and it’s something our team has really rallied around,” says Kline, the featured athlete in our July/August issue. “It’s become one of those traditions that’s built into Penn State football.” Much like Linebacker U., it’s also a tradition of excellence whose departed greats have left very big shoes to fill. In the case of Uplifting Athletes, the biggest belong to Eric Shrive ’13, the former offensive lineman who preceded Kline as president, and who raised more than $100,000 for UA during his time at Penn State.
“I was close with Shrive, and all the guys that were doing it before, and I saw what they did and how they put their hearts into it,” Kline says. “The guys on the executive board this year, we’re all close, and we’re thinking about it constantly—how we can grow it, how we can make it better.” Next week’s Lift for Life event is the chapter’s primary fundraiser, but thanks to that constant brainstorming, the team has hosted other events—popping up at Nittany Lion basketball games, or kid-friendly activities at local parks—that provide more opportunities to raise precious funds.
Kline’s on-field status this season is unclear: He missed about half of the Lions’ games last season with injuries, and an unconfirmed report last month implied he might miss more time this fall. But regardless of his impact on the field, Kline has already established himself as one of Penn State’s most valuable players.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
The so-called “Great War” is in the spotlight this year, as the world marks the centennial of the start of World War I. For the cover story of our July-August 2014 issue, I talked to Penn State historian Sophie De Schaepdrijver, who has spent much of her career studying the war—its origins, its effects on civilian life, and the changing attitudes people have about its role in history. (That’s the opening spread of our July-August story, above.)
I also asked De Schaeprijver what resources she’d recommend for someone interested in learning more about World War I. We shared five of her suggestions in the magazine; below is a longer, more detailed list.
1. Rites of Spring, a book by Modris Eksteins.“It’s such a great cultural history of the war and what kind of thinking made the war possible. What made people think it was worthwhile? What made them stick it out in the face of so much loss? Those guys on the front came from all walks of life—chicken farmers and teachers, conservatives and socialists, Catholics and Jews—and what is absolutely baffling is how little there was in terms of protest. There’s a saying that behind every soldier is someone holding a gun to his head, but you can’t really say that here—there’s a lot of self-mobilization, people convincing themselves that they should be there.
“Eksteins teases it out, unravels the different strands. It’s a pretty complex book, but accessible and extremely well written. It is the book that sparked my interest in World War I as a societal event, and I return to it quite often.”
2. A Son at the Front, a novel by Edith Wharton. “Probably her least well-known book. It’s written from the perspective of divorced parents whose son is in the war. What I like is that it was pretty much rejected and not seen as an important book, written by a woman, and yet it shows this dual point of view: The parents share this anguish over their son at the front, but they don’t reject the war—they feel it is worth fighting.”
3. Absolute Destruction: Military Culture and the Practices of War in Imperial Germany, a book by Isabel Hull. “This one is pretty academic [Hull is on the faculty at Cornell University], but I like it a lot. It talks about the German military as an organization that develops a culture of its own, and why that tells us a great deal about the violence of the first World War. It allows you to grasp why the violence could get out of hand like this without having to resort to explanations like racism, or describing World War I as merely a prologue to World War II. It’s a ‘think book.’ It brings in the notion of the army as its own organization that’s going to develop its own logic—a nice bit of organizational culture, which is interesting well beyond military history.”
4. The Regeneration Trilogy, three novels by Pat Parker. “This is fantastic, a contemporary trilogy; one of the three books won the Booker Prize in 1995. The trilogy is about British soldiers, and you see them not at the front but at the home front, being patched up and treated for posttraumatic stress. The author offers a very intelligent reflection on the damage the war does, and she goes into the soldiers’ heads to understand why they want to return to the front. She wrote war books after this, but none as good as this; these are masterpieces.”
5. World War I Museum, Kansas City. “It’s a great collection, extremely intelligently exhibited. They revamped it a short while ago, and they have a great crew there; it’s just a great educational experience. The building is tremendous; it’s from the 1920s—it was built to be a World War I museum from the start, and the architecture is overwhelming. There’s a lavish circular room on the top floor that houses a panoramic French painting made at the end of World War I, called Panthéon de la Guerre. They made this room just for it. So visiting the museum is an aesthetic as well as educational experience.”
6. War Requiem, an oratorio by Benjamin Britten. “I think it’s brilliant. It was actually composed after World War II, but the text refers to both world wars. It includes the Latin ‘Mass for the Dead’ and poems by Wilfred Owen, who died at the end of World War I and who is for many people—including myself—the greatest poet to come out of that war. There are moments where it’s very jarring, and then there are the soothing notes of the Latin mass. It’s a masterpiece, and I would love to see many performances of it in this centennial year.”
7. A visit to Ypres, Belgium. “Its Flanders Field Museum is in a medieval building that was bombed to complete rubble in the war—as was all of Ypres [pronounced ‘EE-per’]—and rebuilt after the war. Typically after the second world war, things were rebuilt in a boxy modern way, but after World War I, people said, ‘We’re not going to use this as an opportunity to modernize; we are going to recapture what we had. We had gables and canals and cul-de-sacs before, and we’re going to have them again.’ So it’s really quite gorgeous. A stone’s throw away is the Menin Gate, where, every single evening at 8, they stop traffic and buglers sound the ‘Last Post.’ And around the city are major British cemeteries that you can visit on a bicycle or bus tour.”
8. Historial de Grande Guerre, a museum in Péronne, France. “In many ways it’s a completely different experience from the Flanders Field Museum. Péronne is a tiny town, much less lavish than Ypres, and all around it you have the battlefields of the Somme. The museum is a modern one, and it’s my favorite museum. It’s moving, it’s intelligent, and for me it is the exemplary war museum.
“It makes a couple of extremely intelligent choices—for example, the uniforms are not upright on mannequins; they’re down on the floor, spread out, and you walk around them. It shows a kind of helplessness without imposing it upon you. It doesn’t tug at the emotions; it basically asks you to take a step back and contemplate and decide for yourself what you feel. It’s a form of respect—for those who died, for those who grieved for them, and for that generation—that is very admirable.
“There’s a mystery to World War I—what made these people go on—and the more we learn, the more we know we’ll never get to the bottom of it; we can only show bits and pieces. The museum conveys that very well.”
Tina Hay, editor
You may or may not have seen the announcement that we’re looking for good stories from alumni of their days in the dorms.
Every so often we like to do a story that’s a collection of readers’ memories of their time as a Penn State student. In May-June, for example, we spotlighted alumni memories of classroom incidents that left an impression, and in previous issues we’ve covered everything from IM sports memories to college pranks to tales of getting engaged on campus.
Anyway, right now we’re looking for dorm memories, for a story that will probably run later this year, and on Saturday night I heard a good one. A Class of 1964 grad who came back for her 50th reunion was telling me that she and her dorm mates kept a few ducks on their residence-hall floor! Apparently the students would use towels to block the drains in the common shower area, then let the showers run until the floor was flooded, giving the ducks a pond-like setting in which to hang out. The rest of the time, the ducks lived in someone’s dorm-room closet.
Needless to say, I strongly encouraged her to send us that story. And if you have a good story from your dorm days, please send it to us. Our email address is heypennstater (at) psu (dot) edu, or you can fill out the form below. You have until July 21 to get your stories in.
Tina Hay, editor
The men’s volleyball team’s season ended last Thursday with a five-set loss to top-seeded (and eventual champ) Loyola Chicago in the national semifinals. It was the 16th straight Final Four trip for the Nittany Lions, who fell two wins short of the program’s third NCAA championship. For junior outside hitter Aaron Russell, it marked the end of one of the finest individual seasons in Penn State history.
Russell is the featured athlete in our May/June issue, which most Alumni Association members should have received in the past few days. We chose Russell because, even before he earned first-team All-America honors this spring, it was clear he was the guy who made the Nittany Lions go. He was named EIVA Player of the Year as a sophomore (an honor he repeated this season), thanks to team highs of 366 kills and 40 service aces. As a junior this spring, he eclipsed both of those totals, leading the Lions with 421 kills and 69 aces.
Having arrived on campus as a middle blocker—at 6-foot-9, that seems at a glance his most logical position—Russell succeeded not in spite of the switch to outside hitter, but largely because of it. Longtime Penn State coach Mark Pavlik deserves some credit for that. “I was a middle blocker ever since I started playing, but Pav told me that even when he recruited me, he saw me as an outside hitter because of my athletic ability and how I can move,” Russell says. “Switching to another position, I kind of had to learn the game all over again. It kept it interesting for me, kind of helped me from getting burned out.”
Burn out might’ve been a real issue for a kid who’s been playing virtually his whole life. Volleyball very much runs in the Russell family genes: Aaron’s father, Stewart Russell ’86, played for the Lions, and Aaron’s brother Peter, a 6-foot-5 senior outside hitter, just wrapped up his Penn State career. Stew got both boys playing the sport at an early age, and once Peter signed with the Lions out of high school, it figured Aaron would follow suit. But after growing up in Maryland and always following the family path, Aaron thought hard about trying something new. “I kind of wanted to do my own thing,” he says. He boiled his college choices down to Penn State and UC-Irvine, another national power, but an official visit to Happy Valley sealed the decision: “I loved it here.”
He’ll be back for one final season next year, without his brother but with international experience (he played with the U.S. junior national team in Turkey last summer) and the lessons learned by almost reaching his ultimate goal this spring. The 2015 national championship will be played at Stanford, meaning the guy who almost played his college ball in California will get one last chance to show those guys on the West Coast what they’re missing.
Ryan Jones, senior editor