Inside our Sept./Oct. Issue

If you’ve been in Rec Hall, you’ve probably seen the plaque honoring the first Penn State athletes to die in combat in World War I—Levi Lamb ‘1915 and James “Red” Bebout ‘1914. Lamb, the first to fall, was killed in the French countryside in the second Battle of the Marne; he was further honored as the namesake of the annual fund that supports athletic scholarships at Penn State. For our September/October cover story, Ken Hickman ’98, director of the Penn State All-Sports Museum, takes you into Lamb’s life and how the talented athlete arrived at Penn State and became the school’s first three-sport letterman before fulfilling a sense of duty to fight on the front lines. Lamb’s story begins on p. 30.

Also in this issue, Schreyer Honors College Dean Peggy Johnson reflects on her first year on the job, the Scholar experience on campus, how the college competes with the Ivy League, and her plans for leading the college into the future. On the heels of the Honors College’s 20th anniversary, Johnson sits down for an up-close Q&A, which begins on p. 38. And former U.S. defense secretary William Perry ’57g is on a mission to educate millennials—and anyone else who will listen—on the perils of the nuclear threat. That story starts on p. 46.

Plus, get a few tips on learning a new language, meet State College’s pinball hobbyist (don’t call him a collector), and find out how junior running back Miles Sanders is ready to become the new focal point of the Nittany Lion ground game—and filling some very big shoes.

It’s all in out Sept./Oct. issue, arriving in mailboxes soon.

—B.J. Reyes, associate editor

 

 

 

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August 27, 2018 at 10:51 am Leave a comment

A Community of Film Makers

It started out in 2009 as a class in community-based film making, but close to a decade later, associate professor Kevin Boon’s Mont Alto Project has three movies under its belt. The first two, Two Days Back and Ghosting, each won awards, and the third, a crime thriller entitled A Host of Sparrows, will premiere on July 7 at the Capitol Theatre in Chambersburg, Pa. It is Boon’s biggest project to date, he says, but like his other films, what’s most important about A Host of Sparrows is the “glory of the community feel” that is at its heart, and the way in which it has brought a dedicated group of people together.

“Everyone made huge sacrifices to come back and work on the film,” says Boon, an associate professor at Penn State Mont Alto who teaches creative writing and film making, among others.

kevinboon

Kevin Boon’s Mont Alto project has resulted in three feature films. A Host of Sparrows premieres on July 7. 

 

Those involved include alums Edwin Koester ’09 Com (cinematographer), Gillian Colley ’17 LAS MtAlt (producer) and crew member Allen Cramm ’15 Com. “Many people who were involved in the first film have graduated and moved on,” Boon says, “but they came back to work on A Host of Sparrows.  We filmed in many counties in Pennsylvania, Maryland, where people let us use their property—they are a part of this, too.”

When Boon first offered the Mont Alto Project as a four-semester course in 2009, 15 students signed up. The 11 remaining at the end learned every aspect of film making, from pre- to post-production—and became hooked to the craft.

“My original vision was that we should make a movie the way movies are actually made,” Boon says, “and that meant keeping only the strong ideas, getting rid of the weaker ones. It meant putting people in roles where they had the greatest strength. But even though these movies are made on the kind of budget that most films spend on doughnuts, the important thing is that everyone gets a say, everyone has an input, and everyone is important.”

Among others, Two Days Back won the Best Feature award at the 2011 Bare Bones International Film Festival, which showcases movies made with budgets of less than $1 million, while Ghosting won for Best Feature at the 2015 Philadelphia Independent Film Festival, and bagged the Best Director award at the 2015 World Music & Independent Film Festival in Washington, D.C. The movie was also nominated for Best Horror Feature at the 2015 I Filmmaker International Film Festival in Marbella, Spain, and was shown at the Golden Door Film Festival in New Jersey, which is run by the Sorvino family.

A Host of Sparrows is currently in post-production and Boon will soon put it on the festival circuit. But what’s most important to him is the unique nature of the Mont Alto Project, and the effect it has had on those who participate in the film making process.

“I remember one moment during a screening of our first film when a mother and grandmother came up to me and said the project had turned their son and grandson around,” he says. “He is now working now as an associate producer in Hollywood. I love seeing people who were shy at first in class come out of their shell, people who by the end, are dancing and having a great time. I really love that part.” —Savita Iyer

 

 

 

 

July 6, 2018 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Inside Our July/August Issue

With summer upon us, our July/August issue might have just the thing to cool you down: ice, snow, and lots of penguins. (More on that later.)

But before you come to that, get to know the woman behind the icy stare that greets you on our cover. Rebecca Maine is a Golden Gloves state champ and Olympic boxing hopeful. She’s also an all-conference cross country runner at Penn State DuBois, not to mention a dean’s-list student. But she’s also a recovering addict who recently celebrated five years of sobriety. Read how she overcame addiction and landed at Penn State. Her story, “A Fighter’s Chance,” starts on p. 28.

Then venture with us to Antarctica. Editor Tina Hay ’83 led an expedition of Penn State Alumni to the polar ice cap, and captured most of the images you’ll find here. Learn about chinstrap and gentoo penguins and what it’s like to be surrounded by all that ice. “An Expedition to Antarctica” begins on p. 36. And find out how two of Penn State’s longest-serving deans have adapted to the evolving word of academia, what they’ve learned about themselves, their profession, and what lessons they’ll take with them into retirement. “Deans in Conversation” starts on p. 46.

Plus, read of one Penn College professor’s goal of making the perfect croissant (p. 16), take a look at how the first We Are Weekend alumni reunion events unfolded (p. 61), and see how two alums have kept alive an amazing streak of getting in a round of golf every month for going on five years now (p. 24).

It’s all in our July/August issue, arriving in mailboxes next week.

—B.J. Reyes, associate editor

 

June 22, 2018 at 10:15 am Leave a comment

Call for Stories: Your Most Memorable Penn State Classes

Last week, my son attended New Student Orientation at University Park. He spent the night in a dorm and came home super excited about the plethora of incredible classes he can choose from over the course of his four years at Penn State.

Here at The Penn Stater magazine, we are collecting stories from alumni about their most memorable classes, and we’d love to hear from you.

Was there an elective that changed your life and set you off on a completely different career path from the one you thought you’d be on? Were you inspired—or the opposite—by a particular professor? Or, maybe you met your future spouse in one of your classes. We want to know!

Please send your stories to: heypennstater@psu.edu or mail them to: The Penn Stater magazine, Hintz Family Alumni Center, University Park, PA 16802.

Deadline: July 1. No more than 250 words, please. We’ll publish the best tales in an upcoming issue.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

May 29, 2018 at 9:29 am Leave a comment

Inside Our May/June Issue

The Finals Countdown

Our May/June cover will no doubt rekindle some memories of Finals Week—when it sometimes felt like you’d never get out from under the pressures of studying. Others have different memories, whether it was because of scrambling to make it to the right room assignment or talking your way into a grade by visiting a professor’s office hours after the fact—or even because the week culminated with wedding bells following your last final—tales of finals week memories run the gamut. See how Penn Staters remember the experience in our collection of “Finals Week Memories,” starting on p. 54.

Also in this issue, you’ll meet Gillian Albinski ’93, an alum who knows a thing or two about surviving a zombie apocalypse. See how this Penn Stater helps prop up The Walking Dead and more of your favorite shows in “The End of the World as She Knows It” (p. 46). And see how a dozen university experts frame “The Immigration Debate:” from political and ethical angles to health care and higher education concerns (p. 45).

Plus see what lessons Penn State researchers are learning from a newly discovered coral reef in Colombia (p. 62), how wrestler Bo Nickal secured another NCAA championship for the Nittany Lions (p.26), and how a student is using art to overcome a disability—and gaining some national acclaim (p. 16).

It’s all in our May/June 2018 issue, arriving in mailboxes soon.

—B.J. Reyes, associate editor

 

April 26, 2018 at 4:22 pm 2 comments

A Fitting Community Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.

One year before he was assassinated in Memphis, TN., Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. rented a house in Jamaica and penned a final manuscript entitled “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?”
Last night at the Eisenhower Auditorium, on the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination, the answer was clearly “community.”

In a glorious and moving tribute to King’s life and legacy, put together by music professor Anthony Leach ’82 MMus, ’96 PhD A&A and Russell Shelley ’97 DEd A&A, six choirs took the stage in turn to perform a number of much-loved songs. They included the iconic anthem “We Shall Overcome,” and Leach’s original arrangement of the beloved gospel “This Li’l Light of Mine,” for which the Penn State Glee Club (conducted by Christopher Kiver, director of choral activities); Essence of Joy and Essence 2 Ltd (both conducted by Leach); The State College High School Master Singers (conducted by Erik Clayton ’06 A&A, ’08 MU Ed); the State College Choral Society and the Juniata College Concert Choir (both conducted by Shelley) crowded together on the stage in a grand finale.

Leach—who was featured in our Sept./Oct. 2017 issue—expressed hope that the community spirit would continue here at Penn State and beyond. The much-loved choir director, who came to Penn State as a graduate student and founded Essence of Joy and Essence 2 Ltd.—will retire shortly.

On January 21, 1965, Dr. King addressed a crowd of 8,000 people at Rec Hall on the University Park campus. Those who were unable to get a ticket listened to his speech on Penn State’s first student radio station, WDFM, which broadcast it live.

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. He was 39 years old.  —Savita Iyer     MLK image

April 5, 2018 at 10:42 am 2 comments

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