Posts filed under ‘Undergraduate students’
Leave it to NPR business and financial reporter Jim Zarroli to sum up why so many alumni of The Daily Collegian got together last weekend to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Penn State’s independent student newspaper.
Zarroli ’79, the keynote speaker at Saturday night’s banquet, told the story of his years at Penn State, when he arrived as an uncertain freshman who wasn’t sure where he belonged … until he found himself on the Collegian staff. There, he began growing into the professional he is today because, he explained, “We weren’t just learning journalism. We were doing it.”
But he got something else from the hours and hours he spent reporting and writing and just hanging out in the Collegian office. Said Zarroli, “It really became my home.”
I knew the feeling—both of them, really. (I appeared in a house ad for the Collegian in the mid-1990s, and the copy read something like, “Everything I needed to know about journalism, I learned at The Daily Collegian.” Still true.) And I know each of the other nearly 200 alums who were listening to Zarroli could identify, too.
There’s an immediate kinship among various generations of staffers. It doesn’t matter whether you laid out the paper with the latest version of Quark or wielded a photo wheel and an Exacto knife. Or whether your first assignment was to ask people sitting on The Wall along College Avenue where they bought their pot (true story, related Friday night by a 1970s alum) or, as was true for some students last year, you jumped right into covering the biggest news story in Penn State’s history.
I’m sure there’s a similar feeling among students and alums devoted to other activities. (One of my best friends, Laura Eckert Thompson ’92, made that point in this column geared toward incoming freshmen in a 1991 Collegian magazine.) But one of the things I loved about the Collegian is that although our group was tightly connected, we were never insular. We had to know and understand the other student groups, the other students’ concerns. We felt a true responsibility to the rest of the student body—we were their newspaper.
Which is part of what got last year’s staff through the late nights and long days covering the Sandusky scandal and Joe Paterno’s death.
At a panel Saturday morning featuring 2011-2012 staffers, Anna Orso, now managing editor, then the cops reporter (and a student in my news writing class), explained that the staff believed their role was “to tell the narrative of the student body.” Current editor/last year’s managing editor Casey McDermott told of how they explained the legal terms in the first print paper, realizing that most students wouldn’t know them. (At the time, I commented on what a great idea that was.) Last year’s editor, Lexi Belculfine ’12, said the opinion page was a place “to urge our peers to think critically.”
The news staff showed their story budgets and other planning documents (click here if you’re a news nerd and want a look), told how the opinion editor, Jordan Cole ’12, became a de-facto psychologist for the upset alumni and students who wrote or even called, just wanting to talk to someone, and related how they blew off the national editors who called wanting story tips and tried to sweeten the deal by saying they’d be sure to remember the Collegian kids the next time they had a job opening.
Of course the students would have none of that. No Collegianaire, from any era, would have. What an insult. I’m insulted again, just writing that.
Staffers from the business side spoke, too, explaining how they kept advertising as constant as possible during the scandal and sold thousands of commemorative newspapers. (As Amy Zurzola Quinn ’94 tweeted, “If these students could keep biz afloat, keep advertisers during scandal, just THINK what they’ll do when you hire them.”)
Last weekend reminded me what a great tradition I’m part of. The entire staff of the 2011-12 staff was inducted into the Collegian Hall of Fame. They were joined by Larry Foster ’48, a former managing editor; Jane Murphy Schultz ’43, the first female editor-in-chief, who died in 2010; and the wife-and-husband team of Roberta Hutchinson ’48 and Allan Ostar ’48, who were the other stars of the weekend.
The Ostars donated the first scholarship earmarked solely for Collegian staffers, and it’s easy to see why they feel so connected. They met there. When they stood to be recognized, Allan said, “They say some marriages are made in heaven. This marriage was made at The Daily Collegian.”
Wild cheers and applause, of course. Possibly a few tears, as well.
I’m going to give the last word to Lou Bell ’29, a former Collegian editor who wrote an amazing final column, what the students now would call a “senior send-off.” General manager Patti Hartranft quotes it a lot, and no wonder:
Whether it be by the decree of Fate or Circumstance or Death, there must come an end to every joy. There must come a time when the standard-bearer must release his fingers from the banner that he had so ardently striven to hold aloft, when he must pass the banner to other hands, reluctant to give it up but confident that strong and willing hands will keep it afloat and speed it forward until still other hands clutch it. That runs the eternal cycle.
We are proud that the banner still floats, that it goes ever forward. Plainly speaking, we are confident that the new editorial and business staffs of the Penn State Collegian are competent and willing enough to carry on—and on—and on. To our successors, congratulations, good fortune, good heart.
And, above all—good heart.
That, as far as I’m concerned, says everything.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Tim Vitullo loved his engineering classes. He wanted a job in the field. But when it came time to write his honors thesis, he just didn’t want to do one about civil engineering. That seemed, to him, like a step on the path to a master’s degree, which was not in his plans.
But he had something to fall back on—his music. And thanks to the Schreyer Honors College policy that allows students who enroll as freshmen to choose any field for their thesis topic (if they get permission from their department and can find an adviser), Vitullo ’12 Eng created a unique thesis.
He composed and performed a jazz album titled This is the Thing! You can listen to it here.
“I had the best of both worlds,” Vitullo said. “I dig Schreyer for letting me do this.”
Vitullo grew up doodling and wanting to build things. But he also began taking piano lessons—or, as he put it, “started down the rabbit hole”—in the second grade. He moved on to various band instruments and, by junior high, he’d added the guitar.
He’s played in various bands—mostly rock, at first—back home in suburban Pittsburgh and around State College. He’s currently in Pittsburgh, looking for a full-time civil engineering job and “trying to find the right balance between engineering and music for me,” and playing rock, country, jazz, and blues … whatever he can find. He’s starting to think about another album, too.
I’ve been listening to This is the Thing! on and off since early May, when Christian Brady, dean of the Schreyer Honors College, tweeted out a link to it with this introduction: “Man, I cannot tell you how much better my day just got thanks to this EP.”
So I clicked, and the music saved me during a long day of copy editing. Vitullo composed in a a variety of jazz styles—the first track,”Cold Coffee,” is hard bop, and it’s followed by “Too Flat for Five” (modal), “Bossa Nueva” (Latin), “Minor Incident” (fusion), and “Plus Two Leslie” (ballad).
Vitullo had to turn in a written component, too, so you can click here to read a summary of the thesis and download a PDF. (All of the honors theses are open and available to the public; they’ve been online since 2010.) He discusses the artists who influenced his composition, his thoughts on American jazz and why today’s most popular albums were recorded decades ago, and a little bit about his process.
I figured the hardest part of the thesis would be, you know, actually composing the music. Turns out that while that wasn’t easy, Vitullo had a harder time actually getting the album recorded. He had to line up musicians and secure a studio and time to record—and that costs money. He eventually found musicians to play without pay, but of course that cut into practice time.
Vitullo noted in his thesis, “the sense of personal pride that these recordings and compositions instill in me is overwhelming. However, it would be interesting to hear the hypothetical recordings if a longer preparation and a larger budget were possible before the recording sessions occurred.”
I’m certainly no expert, but I think the album turned out great. I hope you’ll enjoy it, too.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
On April 20, about 150 volunteers—including five faculty members and 15 students from the environmental studies and honors programs at Penn State Altoona—planted 3450 trees over five acres. These trees will help lessen the impact of strong winds for visitors at the Flight 93 National Memorial, parts of which are still under construction. Organizers plan to reforest the 120 surrounding acres with more than 150,000 donated saplings over the next six years.
The effort also had an educational component: Joe Pizarchik ’79, director of the U.S. Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement (OSMRE), spoke to the students about the challenges of minewater-drainage–-including the drainage problem Pizarchik helped resolve in 2003 to make way for the Memorial’s construction.
Check out this cool video of Pizarchik and the students in action.
Mary Murphy, associate editor
Where’s the only place at Penn State you can study for finals and snag free refills of sweet iced tea?
McDonald’s—an unlikely study spot, for sure. On the Sunday afternoon before spring finals week, I took a quick walking tour of campus to check out where students were studying. Some of the locations are obvious—all rooms in the library were packed, as was the HUB—but others might surprise you.
My favorite was the three students, studying for a biology exam, who picked the basement of Mickie D’s (which has free WiFi, by the way). They said they actually go there a lot.
Two students, who said they walked around the library and it was simply too packed, ended up in an empty room on the first floor of Willard. Panera and Irvings were also popular, as students filled up on coffee and carbs. It was a nice day—probably the first one all week—so I found a few students laying out picnic blankets outside Old Main. What surprised me the most was that Alumni Hall, on the bottom floor of the HUB-Robeson Center, was wide open with rows of long tables and chairs for students to stop by and study at as they please.
Check out the slideshow below, and comment: Where was your favorite place to study at Penn State?
-Emily Kaplan, intern
Six months after the Sandusky scandal broke, there are still questions. Lots of them. And, as Penn State president Rodney Erickson told Alumni Council, “There may be some questions we’ll never have answers for.”
That said, Erickson and Karen Peetz, chair of the Board of Trustees, answered as many as they could Friday afternoon from members of Alumni Council. They touched on everything from the relationship between the trustees and the president (something they agreed is not well enough understood) to what Peetz called “the super-positive of the enduring spirit of Penn Staters.” And they fielded several questions about Joe Paterno, including one that’s been asked at just about every opportunity: When and how will Penn State honor its late football coach?
Peetz said, as she has previously, that Penn State must wait until the Freeh report, more formally known as the findings of the trustees’ special investigations task force, before moving forward on plans to honor Paterno. She called the upcoming report “the ultimate in transparency.”
Former FBI director Louis Freeh was hired by the trustees just weeks after the scandal and charged with looking into all of the issues surrounding the scandal since. His findings—which Peetz said will not be edited by the board—are expected in August or September.
The task force does not have subpoena power. But Peetz said she spoke with Freeh’s investigators for three hours, that more than 200 people have been interviewed, and that Freeh is working with the state attorney general. “These people are not kidding around,” she said. “This is the FBI incarnate, and I don’t think anyone’s lying, I’ll tell you that.” (more…)
Twice a year, I find myself staring at my computer screen feeling completely and utterly overwhelmed.
When it comes time to schedule classes, I’m always intimidated by eLion’s lists and lists of courses. That’s what happens when you go to a school with 40,000 students and more than 160 majors. I’m usually fine with classes in my areas of study (journalism and English), but general education courses are a different story. There simply are too many. Some seem intriguing; some, not so much.
Gen-ed requirements have changed a lot over the years: Now, all baccalaureate degree programs include a 45-credit gen-ed component, including three credits in health and physical activity, nine credits in natural science, six credits in art, six credits in humanities, and six credits in social and behavioral sciences.
So as students begin to schedule for fall 2012, I took a look at some of Penn State’s more interesting gen-ed courses. I begin with a class I took last year—a class where SpongeBob appears on the syllabus.
Course: Geosci 040: The Sea Around Us
Requirement satisfied: GN (Natural Science)
Why I took it: I’m not a science person at all. I had to late drop meteorology my freshman year (who knew predicting weather included calculus?) and needed an easier science class to take.
Interesting assignment: Once, we reported to the HUB-Robeson Center for class. Our lab that day consisted of analyzing the aquarium on the bottom floor. I had no idea there was such an intricate ecosystem living just 100 feet away from Sbarro’s. The most interesting aspect, to me, was that the 500-gallon tank has a self-regulated lighting system, which gets dark at night to mimic the real ocean.
What I got out of it: A new appreciation for beaches and environmentalism. When I visited Cape Cod last summer, I had a hard time looking at the dunes without thinking about how big they once were, and how they got there.
Course: CMLIT 120: The Literature of the Occult
Requirement satisfied: GH (Humanities)
Interesting assignment: Read the third installment of the Harry Potter series.
What you can get out of it: “In all honesty, an appreciation for the Harry Potter series,” says Alexa Agugliaro, who says she wasn’t on the J.K. Rowling bandwagon before enrolling in the course. “There are a lot of major drabby classes that people have to take while they’re here, so why not, if you have the room, take a cool class about like vampires and monsters.” It’s not all Harry Potter and Twilight, though. Agugliaro wrote her final term paper on the witches in Macbeth.
Side note: Agugliaro says the teacher wore a wizard hat and a robe every day and had a magic wand.
Course: KINES 028: Fencing
Requirement satisfied: GHA (Health and Physical Activity)
Interesting assignment: Just fence. Senior Matt Giacometti said there’s not much variety to the course, but he doesn’t mind. Students participate in basic drills, then fence each other. “It’s fun,” Giacometti says. “Exactly what you want from the class.”
What you can get out of it: “A ton,” Giacometti says. “I’m learning from coaches that have succeeded at the highest level. These guys have coached Olympians.” Giacometti’s professors for the course? Assistant coaches with the Penn State varsity fencing team—a program with 12 national championships and more than 170 All-Americans in the last 28 years. Did you know that Suzie Paxton ’93, a former Nittany Lion fencer and 1996 Olympian, started fencing in this gym class?
Course: Applied Linguistics 100
Requirement satisfied: GS (Social and Behavioral Sciences)
Interesting assignment: During one class, the students were asked to think of as many examples of semantic word as they could. As junior Jackie Giraldo recalls, “That was the first time I ever heard the word yinz,” Giraldo says.
What you can get out of it: Says Giraldo: “I learned how language has evolved over time, but also got a deeper look at how words have evolved, how syntax has evolved, and why things are said different ways in different places. I definitely have a new appreciation of communication of different cultures.”
Course: INART 115: Popular Music in America
Requirement satisfied: GA (Arts)
Interesting assignment: Students were required to participate in online discussions. One debate revolved around who is the most influential musician today, with one student making a good case that the answer was definitively Lady Gaga.
What you can get out of it: “I now understand the hardships that a lot of musicians had to endure in the past in great music from that, era like the jazz and blues,” junior Jared Cruz says. “And it also influenced the development of music nowadays.”
Emily Kaplan, intern
Since its inception in 2007, State Patty’s Day has become synonymous with excessive drinking, alcohol-related hospital visits, and public displays of bad behavior.
But there are plenty of Penn State alumni and students hoping to change that.
The Alumni Association’s Committee on Excessive Drinking Issues, formed in 2010 and made up of students, alumni, and Alumni Association staff, has been working to learn more about the issue of dangerous drinking. Along with several year-round initiatives, the group has teamed with the State College Police Department to discourage local bar and restaurant owners from advertising the “holiday” with drink specials and merchandise.
More students are taking the anti-State Patty’s stance, too — and encouraging their peers to do the same. Senior Tyler Changaris is asking students to sign a pledge, posted online here, promising to abstain from all State Patty’s Day festivities. And more than 100 students are planning to spend the day participating in an alternative holiday, “State Day of Service,” by doing volunteer work throughout campus and Centre County.
In a Feb. 10 column in The Daily Collegian, popular sociology professors Sam Richards and Laurie Mulvey ’94g ask students to boycott State Patty’s Day in light of the Sandusky scandal — “in honor of lives and communities that are forever changed by what has happened.”
Though we’ll have to wait until this weekend to determine the full impact of these efforts, there’s already been one very encouraging development: More than 20 downtown bars and restaurants — twice as many as in 2011 — are modifying their hours or alcohol service, some closing entirely, on what would be one of the most profitable days of the year. StateCollege.com offers a list of the establishments and their plans for Saturday here.
Mary Murphy, associate editor
From our intern, Emily Kaplan:
On a cool September Saturday, as Penn State was dismantling an unmemorable FBS opponent, I stood outside the visitors’ locker room at Beaver Stadium late in the fourth quarter. I do this every game. I’m a stringer for The Associated Press, and one of my main football duties is gathering postgame info from the visiting team.
As I waited for the visiting coach’s press conference, gripping my steno notebook in one hand and pen in the other, I heard a rumbling from around the corner. The next thing I knew, Joe Paterno was five feet in front of me in the passenger seat of a golf cart.
Paterno looked at me. Through his Coke-bottle glasses, it appeared, his eyes were fixated on my notebook. As his driver scooted away, Paterno shrugged his shoulders, crocked his head to the side, and smiled as if to say, “Sorry, little girl, I can’t give an autograph right now. I have to go to my press conference.”
It’s funny. As I remember that moment now I can’t help but think: “What if that wasn’t what he meant?” It makes a great story, but what if I made it all up? What if he actually wasn’t staring at my notebook? What if he just shrugged because he had an itch?
Truth is, I didn’t know Paterno. Most current students at Penn State didn’t, either.
Sure, I knew all about him. I’ve read countless features and biographies on the boy from Brooklyn who became a scholar at Brown and legend in State College. I was there for his 400th win. I knocked on his door just minutes after he was fired by the Board of Trustees, one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do as a journalist — and a human. (more…)
What’s a tell-tale sign that it’s the first week of classes at Penn State? How about the poster sale upstairs at the HUB?
The event is hosted by Beyond the Wall, a Stroudsburg-based company which holds more than 700 poster sales at colleges across the country over six weeks throughout the year.
Penn State’s poster sale is one of the three largest, salesman Matt Reinke said, along with University of Illinois and University of Texas-Austin. Beyond the Wall has been in business with Penn State for over 20 years. Reinke has worked the event for the last 12.
I wandered upstairs last week to check out the sale, which is much smaller in spring than in fall—when most students are first moving in to new dorms or apartment.
“Our fall poster sale is about five times the size of the spring one,” Reinke told me as he worked the cash register.
So what has changed in the 12 years Reinke’s been around?
“Over the years I’ve noticed that our most popular posters have shifted from more art-based posters to pop culture posters,” Reinke said. “I don’t know what that says about people or our society; it’s just what I’ve noticed.”
Recently, movie posters have been the biggest hits. Inception posters are best-sellers in the last year, Reinke said, as well as classics like prints from Boondocks Saints and Goodfellas.
“Guys love the gangster stuff,” Reinke said, with a laugh.
The selection of posters include just about everything: Photographs of the Eiffel Tower, Quotes from Albert Einstein and Bob Marley, a list of beer pong rules and a full cast photo of the Scranton-based TV series The Office.
Some classics never go out of style, Reinke said. Prints of Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn have consistently sold well.
Another all-time best-seller is posters from the 1978 comedy Animal House. John Belushi is perfect for a frat house in 1992 or 2012, no?
I remember going to the event my freshman year. I probably spent more than 30 minutes grazing through the aisles, amazed at the selection. For most of the summer, I looked at flea markets and old record shops searching for posters to decorate my East Halls dorm with—without much luck—and here they were all in one place.
I ended up walking away with a huge Bruce Springsteen Born in the USA print—an homage to my Jersey roots—which I got great use out of until I accidentally ripped it during move out of sophomore year.
I also bought an Andy Warhol print of the Brooklyn Bridge, which still hangs in my apartment.
What did you hang on your dorm room or apartment walls at Penn State?
Emily Kaplan, intern
We thought we’d give our new intern a chance to introduce herself. You’ll be seeing much more of her on the blog throughout the spring semester. —RJ
My name is Emily Kaplan, and I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be The Penn Stater‘s editorial intern this semester.
In my introductory blog post, I could recite the same spiel I’ve given in all my classes so far: “I’m a junior from Montclair, N.J., majoring in journalism. I spent the last two years covering a variety of sports for the Collegian, including women’s volleyball and men’s basketball. I love Chipotle, the beach, and hockey. A fun fact about me is that I coached Stephen Colbert’s son in t-ball. No, Colbert never showed up.”
However, I’d rather tell you about the things I’ll be doing for this blog and why I can’t wait to get started.
Not that I needed any reminding, but it’s clear Penn State alumni are wonderful ambassadors of what’s great about our university. Just last Sunday, I was at the Giants playoff game when I struck up a conversation with the woman sitting next to me. She could whistle louder than anyone in our section and knew just as much about the X’s and O’s of football as a veteran sportswriter. I was quickly impressed.
She asked me where I went to school, and I sheepishly responded “Penn State,” hoping not to (more…)