Posts filed under ‘The Penn Stater magazine’

From The Magazine: Penn State in the Paralympics

Coronet Peak, NZ

Most of the world’s attention has turned away from Sochi, but for thousands of world-class athletes, the games are just getting started. The 2014 Paralympic Winter Games kicked off Friday, and among the American medal hopefuls is a young skier with strong Penn State ties.

Staci Mannella (above, right) is a fearless 17-year-old from New Jersey who suffers from achromatopsia, a congenital eye condition that severely limits her visual acuity and leaves her extremely sensitive to light. As such, she can only ski with the help of a guide—and that’s where Kim Seevers ’86g comes in. A life-long skier, Seevers (above, left) works with the New York-based Adaptive Sports Foundation, which is how she was paired with Mannella. This month, they’ll be on the hill in Sochi together, Mannella sometimes just a few feet behind Seevers as they head downhill at speeds reaching 60 mph.

Alumni Association members can read more about this dynamic downhill duo on page 28 of our March/April issue. In the meantime, some bonus video: Here are Mannella and Seevers in an interview with MSG Network, and below, the trailer for Partially Sighted. Wicked Fast, a documentary that tracks their progress toward Sochi.

Here’s wishing Staci and Kim the best of luck this week.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

March 7, 2014 at 12:39 pm 1 comment

New Issue: On the Way

coverOur March/April issue is hitting mailboxes this week — and, trust me, it’s a fun one.

Perhaps I’m a bit biased, considering I interviewed the eight alums featured in the cover story, “What’s So Funny.” But then again, there’s really no possible way to include Ty Burrell ’97g, Keegan-Michael Key ’96g, and six other hilarious writers and performers in one story without laughing—a lot—in the process. I hope you enjoy reading the piece as much as I enjoyed working on it.

Another feature in the issue focuses on some interesting research from labor and employment relations professor Alan Derickson. In his new book, Dangerously Sleepy: Overworked Americans and the Cult of Manly Wakefulness, Derickson explores the roots of America’s obsession with sacrificing sleep for work. Senior editor Lori Shontz ’91, ’13g interviewed Derickson about our country’s “complicated relationship with sleep,” which goes back further than you might think.

In “Old Made New,” you’ll learn about some cool renovation projects in the works around University Park. Here in the office, we were wowed by the computer renderings of the HUB-Robeson Center expansion and the new South Halls, complete with sleek modular furniture and private bathrooms.

Other good stuff in the March/April issue: The details on a new, lifesaving “kidney swap” program at Penn State Hershey, a short feature on football coach James Franklin, and an introduction to Penn State’s new president, Eric Barron.

Have you received the latest issue? What do you think? Tell us at or in the comments below.

Mary Murphy, associate editor

February 26, 2014 at 4:26 pm 3 comments

From the Magazine: Maggie McCormick


Maggie McCormick tallied an assist last week in a 14-7 loss to No. 2 Maryland, and there probably wasn’t a Penn State player more disappointed in the outcome. It was a stiff early test for a Nittany Lion lacrosse team with national championship aspirations; for McCormick, it was also a reminder of what could have been.

Just don’t think she has any regrets.

A junior attack and returning All-American, McCormick is a Maryland native who ultimately chose Penn State over the in-state powerhouse Terps, winners of 10 national championships in women’s lax. As you might guess, her college choice wasn’t an easy one. “You grow up in Maryland as a lacrosse player, watching them, and they’ve been elite for so many years, it would’ve been the easy choice,” McCormick told us in the preseason. “The decision was, I can go to Maryland, or I can take a risk, go to what in my opinion is a much better school, and try to make a difference in the program. It’s definitely worked out.”

McCormick is the student-athlete profile in our March/April issue, which Alumni Association members should start getting this week. As a sophomore last season, she totaled a team-high 87 points (50 goals, 37 assists), the most by a Nittany Lion in 25 years. Thanks to that offensive output, McCormick earned second-team All-America honors and led Penn State to the NCAA quarterfinals. With most of the team back this spring, hopes are high for an even deeper NCAA tournament run.

In choosing Penn State, McCormick wasn’t taking that much of a leap—the Lions are traditionally one of the sport’s elite programs, with a pair of NCAA titles and three USWLA championships from the pre-NCAA era. But the most recent of those came in 1989, while the likes of Maryland, Northwestern, Princeton, and Virginia have dominated the college game since. McCormick came to Happy Valley to help Penn State reclaim its place among the national elite. She didn’t have to wait long for her chance.

As a freshman in 2012, McCormick found herself playing a huge role for second-year coach Missy Doherty, starting every game and posting a team-high 59 points. “It’s not something I expected,” McCormick says of her trial by fire. “Playing as a freshman, you realize you have a lot to learn, but Coach took a chance on me when I’m not sure many coaches would have. She put me in a position to make an immediate impact.”

That risk was rewarded, and with five goals and three assists in her first three games this season, McCormick continues to make her coach look prescient. Her own potential already realized, McCormick now is focused on making sure her team reaches its ceiling. “The Final Four—that’s the next progression for this team,” she says. “We need to make it to championship weekend, and I think we’ve all bought into that idea.”

Fresh off an 11-7 victory Tuesday over Duquesne—click here to watch the highlights, including McCormick’s three goals—the No. 8 Nittany Lions take their next step in the road to the Final Four this Saturday with a tough road game at UVA.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

February 26, 2014 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

Meet the Intern: Kelly Godzik


Our intern captured this very cool angle of Jay-Z on stage—and the big screen—at his January concert, one of the many she’s attended as a student here.

We’re excited to have our spring semester intern, senior Kelly Godzik, introduce herself.

In May, I’m going to walk away from Penn State with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a multitude of skills learned both in and out of the classroom. One of the skills I cultivated outside the classroom, which I hope I’ll be able to perfect in my career, is appearing cool alone at a concert.

Concerts are, in theory, meant for friends to attend together. People buy tickets in groups, outfits are coordinated, and libations are enjoyed pre-concert while listening to the artist’s songs on repeat. My experience with going to a concert alone is that people will look at you in bewilderment and ask if you want company. Of course, that’s until they find out you’re a reporter. In which case they think you are pretty neat and want to be interviewed.

I’ve attended more than 30 concerts at Penn State, and I’m happy to say all but a couple of those were attended alone as a reporter. I explored my passion in writing and music by becoming the music reporter at The Daily Collegian. I provided coverage and reviews of renowned artists in multiple genres like Carrie Underwood, Bassnectar, Jack Johnson, and Drake.

Oddly enough, I didn’t really realize until recently how much music meant to me and why I enjoy reporting on it so much. It hit me right in the face when I saw Jay-Z ‘s indescribable performance at the Bryce Jordan Center this month. No matter race, age, or gender, people came together to witness this show. We were all a part of an audience united by the spectacular fusion of sounds and visuals on stage. The concept of translating that electric energy and joy into an article and sharing it with others just keeps me going. My hope is that when I graduate, I’ll land an editorial job where I get to travel and write about shows and artists.

I’ve also experimented with other topics of reporting. This past summer I interned with Philadelphia magazine and wrote posts for their health and fitness blog, which taught me first-hand how online journalism operates these days. I also had the wonderful opportunity to focus on a subject that I was interested in but hadn’t had the chance to explore much before.

The beginning of my senior year, I wrote weekly opinion columns for the Collegian. This semester, I’m trying my hand at true fashion reporting as Style Guru intern for I enjoy reporting on fashion because I believe expression of individuality through attire is just as important as expression through actions.

We’ve actually come full circle because expression through attire is my secret to looking cool solo at a concert. Dressing according to genre helps express confidence, and others will automatically view you as knowing your stuff.  For example, if you’re going to see Jay-Z, you better bring your A game with some gold jewelry and all black attire. I got 99 problems, but looking bad isn’t one. In contrast, if you are going to see Carrie Underwood, you should wear all things sparkly and western.

Now that you have an idea of who I am, I hope you’ll follow along as I start my last journalism gig before graduating. As the newest intern at The Penn Stater, I aspire to work on editorial pieces that are arts-and-entertainment oriented, grow the magazine’s social media presence, and learn the details of magazine production.

Kelly Godzik, intern

February 19, 2014 at 12:57 pm Leave a comment

Life in Pegula Ice Arena’s Raucous Student Section

With shoulder length blond hair, a red cape, and a hammer, Thor walks up and down the stands of Pegula Ice Arena’s student section.

The Penn State sophomore, who’s choosing to remain anonymous for now, attends each home hockey game as Thor. He stays in character through his mannerisms—hitting the glass with his hammer while shaking his other fist—and even created a new voice for himself, which sounds something like a British accent from a century ago. “Indeed I do,” says Thor.

He says since he dressed up once, both players and fans expect him to attend games in character. Thor is even looking ahead to future seasons and saving up for a new costume, which he says is not something you’d find at a costume store, but rather at some sort of comic book convention.

Other students come dressed as hotdogs, burritos, or simply, in Penn State garb. And you can see the whole array Saturday night, as the Nittany Lions take on Boston College.

The student section gets intense with 1,000 seats where the bleachers are as steep as regulations allow with the goal of making the arena as loud as possible. Shakers, foam fingers, or thunder sticks are supplied at most games. The energy remains high with familiar songs and chants from Beaver Stadium, including “Hey Baby, “Shout,” and “Living on a Prayer.”

However, hockey fans take the songs and chants a little further by yelling, “It’s all your fault,” when the opposing team’s goalie allows a Penn State goal. They also torment the opposing team’s goalie by echoing his name over and over again to get inside his head.

Sophomore Kyle Hoke says hockey fans tend to be more wild and crazy than other fans due to the game’s fast pace. He says there’s hardly any downtime, so it’s easy to keep the energy high. Hoke, along with senior Nick Panos, runs the student section as members of the Hockey Management Association, which was looking for students to build hype and organize chants to keep the student section enthused throughout the game.

Panos says he was born into hockey. The Pittsburgh native was born the day the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 1991 and has been a Pens—and hockey—fan ever since. Hoke didn’t become a hockey fan until after he saw the New Jersey Devils play when he was 11, but after that he was hooked and became a true hockey fan. It’s because of students like him that the arena is so loud.

“True fans of hockey are really passionate about it and doesn’t take much for them to get into the game,” says Hoke.

– Sarah Olah, intern

January 24, 2014 at 4:09 pm 1 comment

The Football Coach Doesn’t Need Much Sleep. Here’s Why.

James Franklin, on the job at 5:07 a.m.

James Franklin, on the job at 5:07 a.m.

For most people, it seems, the takeaway from James Franklin’s introductory news conference on Saturday was his cute daughters, his enthusiasm for college football, and/or his pledge to “dominate the state” in recruiting. But this is what stood out to me:

Someone asked Franklin about what his message to Penn State players would be, and that caused Franklin to launch into a tale about how hard he’ll be working—and when. He said, “We’ve got a lot of work to do in a very, very short period of time, and it’s time sensitive because of the recruiting process as well. Basically when we leave here probably until 2 in the morning, and we’ll be back up at 3 or 4 in the morning getting going again. Luckily, I’m fortunate I’m not a guy that needs a whole lot of sleep. My wife does. We always have those discussions. She’s amazed that I can get by on five hours sleep. That’s just kind of who I am.”

This caused me to listen closer because I had just put the finishing touches on a feature for our March/April issue—a Q&A with Alan Derickson, professor of labor and employment relations and history, about his new book: Dangerously Sleepy: Overworked Americans and the Cult of Manly Wakefulness. I love the title, and better than that, the topic is really interesting. Derickson traces hundreds of years of American history, looking to explain how sleep deprivation came to be seen as a virtue. Among the culprits: Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin, Charles Lindbergh … and football coaches.

Derickson focuses on steelworkers, Pulllman porters, and long-haul truckers to explain, in real terms, the problems of insufficient sleep. Stay tuned for the upcoming Q&A. In the meantime, you can check out this Harvard Business Review piece to get a sense of Derickson’s research.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

January 14, 2014 at 6:24 pm 1 comment

The Penn Stater Daily — Jan. 6, 2014

photoZeynep Ton’s revolution: When we featured MIT business prof Zeynep Ton ’96 in our Nov./Dec. issue, when knew she was doing interesting and important work in the field of retail labor issues. Turns out she’s making an even bigger impact than we realized. Ton’s research was the subject of a very cool feature in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, in which the writer calls Ton a “revolutionary force” in the field of operations management, and cites examples of major companies that have been influenced by her work. For companies savvy enough to follow Ton’s lead, it’s a (seemingly) simple equation: pay your employees more, and they’ll do a better job; when your employees do a better job, your profits go up.

You can watch Ton explain her research in a TED talk here, and check out her book, The Good Jobs Strategy, here.

Still searching: There’s been plenty of talk and rumors (with even a little bit of reporting here and there), but as of Monday morning, Penn State has not found a new head football coach. Much of the weekend buzz centered on University of Miami coach Al Golden ’91, with reports that he had been offered the job—and many hinting he was ready to accept it. On Sunday, Miami released a statement in which Golden said he was “not a candidate for another position.” But could that change? Mike Poorman ’82 of says it could. Meanwhile, is reporting that there’s “mutual interest” between Penn State and Mike Munchak ’82, who was fired over the weekend by the Tennessee Titans.

Feel-good football news: Coaching uncertainty aside, there are still plenty of reminders of why you love Penn State football. Here are two: During the first quarter of tonight’s BCS national championship game, John Urschel ’12, ’13g will be honored on the field as the winner of the Campbell Trophy, which Urschel was awarded last month as “the nation’s premier college football scholar-athlete.” And over the weekend, Nittany Lion linebacker Ben Kline posted an “open letter to Nittany Nation” at Onward State, in which he writes passionately of the commitment of Penn State’s players. Great stuff.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

January 6, 2014 at 11:36 am Leave a comment

Inside Our Latest Issue

JF_coverHad a chance to peek through our latest issue? The Jan./Feb. 2014 issue of The Penn Stater likely arrived in your mailbox sometime over the last week or so; our office copies were patiently awaiting us yesterday when we returned from the holiday break.

Some highlights from the new issue:

—The cover story, “Wired for Learning,” is a photo-filled virtual tour of the Paterno and Pattee Libraries. Especially if you haven’t been on campus in a while, you’ll be surprised by how much has changed. The library is not only outfitted with the latest technology, but, as senior editor Ryan Jones ’95 discovered firsthand, it’s becoming the place to “see and be seen” on campus. Thanks to group study rooms, TV lounges, and tons of computer workstations, the library now rivals the HUB as University Park’s most social spot.

—In November, when senior editor Lori Shontz ’91 came back from Discovery-U, a daylong event at which Penn State scientists and engineers gave brief presentations on their research, she raved about the fascinating talk by Khanjan Mehta ’03g. Mehta’s controversial concept: that even the most brilliant-seeming ideas can—and often do—fail to effect real change. As director of Penn State’s Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Program, Mehta helps students engineer ways to improve life for people in developing countries—and turn good ideas into workable solutions. An adapted version of his talk, “Why Ideas Fail,” is featured on page 26.

—”Shows of Support” is a behind-the-scenes look at USO tours as seen through the lens of Steve Manuel ’84, ’92g, who’s photographed dozens of USO tours all over the world. You’ll see some familiar faces in Manuel’s photos, as the tours often include big-name athletes and performers. And Manuel’s stories (like the one about comedian Dane Cook’s brush with heat stroke in Kuwait) are just as interesting as the images he’s captured.

What do you think of the new issue? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or send an email to

Mary Murphy, associate editor

January 3, 2014 at 4:53 pm Leave a comment

The Penn Stater Daily — Nov. 21, 2013

Kicking things off: The men’s soccer team opens NCAA tournament play tonight at home against St. Francis (N.Y.). It’s been a fun season watching these guys—they’ve shown a knack for dramatic finishes, and from the year-long inspiration of Mack Brady’s memory to senior defender Akil Howard’s comeback from what looked to be a career-ending heart defect, there’s an undeniable feel-good factor to this team. Here’s hoping they can carry that over the next few weeks.

Amid proposed change, trustees meet again: The Board of Trustees kicked off committee meetings on Thursday morning, with day-long sessions scheduled today and Friday. The board’s latest meeting comes a day after two Pennsylvania state senators, Republican Jake Corman ’93 of Centre County and Democrat John Yudichak ’93, ’04g of Luzerne County, announced a proposal to reduce the board’s membership from 30 to 23 voting members and prohibit the governor and other state officers from serving on the board. Our senior editor Lori Shontz ’91 will post coverage of the meetings here over the next two days.

At the push of a button: I’m in the middle of wrapping up a feature for our January/February issue on the tech-centric 21st century library, which focuses mostly on the amazing Knowledge and Media Commons at Pattee and Paterno Libraries. Maybe the Commons’ single coolest feature is the One-Button Studio, a Penn State innovation that allows students with next-to-no technical knowledge to produce professional-level videos for class projects with, literally, the push of a button. Well, there’s now an app for that. With the One-Button Studio app, anyone—it’s geared toward other institutions, but individuals can do it, too—able to collect the right hardware can replicate the studio. Very cool stuff.

Bearing down: The tornadoes that tore through the Midwest last weekend have inspired a variety of relief efforts, including some very cool work by a couple of former Nittany Lions. Current Chicago Bears placekicker Robbie Gould ’05 and former Bears lineman Anthony Adams ’04 traveled to Coal City, Ill., on Tuesday to deliver relief supplies and help with clean-up. Nice work, fellas.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

November 21, 2013 at 11:09 am Leave a comment

Wanted: Your Best Classroom Memories

The professor who surprised, challenged, terrified, or inspired you. The classroom where you did your best work—or where you hope never to set foot again. The partner from your lab or study group who drove you to distraction or became a life-long friend.

We know you’ve got stories. We want to hear ‘em.

For our next “interactive” feature, we’re looking for your most compelling classroom memories. You can tell your story in the comments below; send submissions (no more than 250 words) to; or mail them to: The Penn Stater magazine, Hintz Family Alumni Center, University Park, PA, 16802. All submissions are due by Dec. 6. We’ll use the best of them for a feature in an upcoming issue of The Penn Stater.

imagesWhat are my best classroom memories? Hey, thanks for asking. I only ever took one class where, on the final day of the semester, the entire room offered a spontaneous standing ovation for the instructor. That was Hist 143—History of Fascism & Nazism, with Prof. Jackson Spielvogel (right). The class was tremendous from start to finish—no doubt there are thousands of alumni who feel the same—but it’s the day that Holocaust survivor Kurt Moses ’11h came to speak to a rapt, standing-room-only lecture hall in Sparks Building that I’ll never forget.

Then there was Soc 119, taught by Sam Richards (below), who’d been on campus only a few years at that point and was, in the minds of many of us fairly straight-laced undergrads, some sort of enlightened hippie whose class was popular largely because it had the potential for fireworks. But there was so much more to it than that. As I learned over the course of a memorable semester, Sam’s whole thing was perspective.

2358380b51651c63cafd5fcc0ea3a9e94bcf032b_254x191And of course, it still is. Sam long ago cut his hair, but he’s hardly cut back on his approach to opening the eyes and minds of his students; in fact, through their World in Conversations program, Sam and his wife Laurie Mulvey ’94g have expanded their work to a global audience. Now, Sam lives right around the corner from me, meaning the unconventional professor who blew my undergrad mind is now the very cool guy who I occasionally get to talk about Important Stuff with over a beer at neighborhood gatherings. Who knew I’d be making classroom memories 20 years later?

Ryan Jones, senior editor

November 14, 2013 at 12:01 pm 3 comments

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