Got a case of the winter blahs? Blue-White weekend can’t get here fast enough? Our latest issue might just have the cure for what ails you: Saquon Barkley coming right off the cover! Our March/April 2017 issue features a look back at an incredible season of Nittany Lion football highlighted by comebacks, big plays, and big players—like Barkley—who took fans on a wild ride to the Big Ten championship and the Rose Bowl. The photo spread begins on p. 26.
The new issue, arriving in mailboxes soon, also features comics, but it’s probably not what you think. In “Truth Between the Lines” (p. 37), we take you into the classroom at Penn State Hershey, where fourth-year med students reflect on the experience of becoming a doctor through an unusual practice—writing and drawing their own graphic narratives. You’ll find some of their work on our pages, too.
And you’ll get a glimpse into the life of Gary Eberle ’67, who turned a passion for wine into his life’s work, only to have his thriving California winery snatched away—before ultimately getting it back. “The Boar Endures” (p. 44) is a story of perseverance and the importance of savoring success.
More from the issue: a profile on Alex Patin, a Penn State junior who has developed a set of headphones that can read brainwaves to create playlists that match your mood; and John Hanrahan ’91, an All-American wrestler during the 1980s who’s still at it today—and recently won a world championship.
What do you think about the new issue? Let us know by commenting below or emailing us at email@example.com.
B.J. Reyes, associate editor
Seeing a picture or video of the football team running out into the field is one thing. Standing in the middle of it and dodging the players as they race over to the sideline is something else. That’s the idea behind LionVisionVR, a new virtual reality app being introduced by the athletic department.
“It’s bringing the viewer somewhere they just couldn’t go,” says assistant athletic director Jim Nachtman ’90, who previewed the tech on Thursday at Penn State’s Applied Research Lab. “We can remind people how cool it is to be back in Beaver Stadium, how phenomenal it is to be in Pegula Ice Arena, or how great it is to be in Rec Hall when the lights go out and there’s a wrestling match.
“I think fans, at times, get tired of hearing you say how great the event is. Let’s show them how great the event is. We’re hopeful this technology can help us do it.”
Our new issue includes a short feature on Joe Humphreys, Penn State’s legendary fly-fishing educator. For the story, writer Matt Sedensky caught up with Humphreys and with Lucas and Megan Bell, the husband-and-wife team wrapping up production on Live the Stream, a feature-length documentary on Humphreys due out this year. You can watch the trailer here. – B.J Reyes, associate editor
Joe Humphreys seems every bit the veteran fly-fisherman, wearing waders, a ratty, decades-old vest and a face full of character that doesn’t hide his 87 years. Then a crowd masses on the riverbanks, or another angler asks for a photo, and you realize you’re in the presence of something more: Fishing royalty.
Now the story of Humphreys ’57—so highly regarded for his fishing skills that his company has been sought by statesmen and celebrities alike—has garnered the interest of filmmakers who are wrapping up shooting of “Live the Stream,” a documentary about his life. Fly fishing’s serene waters and graceful casts of the line may seem the antithesis of an engrossing feature-length film, the humility, genuineness, and joy Humphreys continues to exude somehow exhilarate the viewer, elevating a sport to art.
He still remembers the day when his father first took him fly-fishing at the age of six, the Kingfisher bamboo rod he clumsily held and that eight-inch trout he was thrilled to catch. It’s been a constant in the eight decades since. “I still have that basic excitement that I had when I was six years old,” he says. “And that’s one thing that I suppose I won’t lose till I can’t pick up a rod.”
After Penn State, Humphreys coached and taught before also establishing one of the first high school fly-fishing programs. In 1970 came the realization of a dream, a return to Penn State to lead the angling program started by his mentor, George Harvey ’35. His time at Penn State spanned almost two decades.
Throughout his career, students have included Jimmy Carter, Dick Cheney, Bobby Knight and Liam Neeson. Just as meaningful as the big-name companions, though, have been those he’s touched through programs he’s been involved in that help instruct young people and injured veterans. Some of those he’s taught find themselves so obsessed with catching a fish, Humphreys has to offer two words of advice: Look up. He tells them to look at the hemlocks, at the sunlight peeking through their boughs, at the magnolias in the distance. See the sky, listen to the brook, relax in the crystal waters. Humphreys feels God there. “There is no stress,” he says. “There are no tensions.”
Humphreys has traveled to world championships, penned two books, and hosted an ESPN series. Still, when the husband-wife team of Lucas and Meigan Bell approached him with the idea of a film, he was surprised his story would be interesting to a wide audience. Lucas Bell ’02 met Humphreys while filming a history of the angling program as a film student at Penn State. After reconnecting with him last year at a fly-fishing show (the Bells, too, are aficionados), he had the idea for the project. His wife was sold soon after meeting Humphreys.
“Within a few minutes you get it,” she says. “You’re laughing, you’re charmed, you’re entertained and you suddenly realize why he is such a great man.”
The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts rolls into town this week. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the annual summer celebration of people, music, food, and, of course, art.
Our July/August 2016 issue featured a retrospective on the commemorative posters that have come to symbolize the spirit of the festival and the man who has been designing them continuously since 1974: Lanny Sommese, professor emeritus of graphic design in the College of Arts and Architecture. This year’s poster, pictured above, is only the third time in his 42 years of working with the festival that Sommese chose a horizontal design, and for the first time, it will be made available in black and white so people can color their own poster and post it to social media.
“Oh my god! Everybody loves it,” Sommese said when we caught up with him this week. “It’s what the people like and that’s important. I think I made the right choice in doing it.”
As for how long he thinks he’ll continue designing the poster, the 73-year-old Sommese doesn’t have an answer for that. “I certainly plan on doing it this coming year,” he says. “People ask me that all the time and I say I have no idea. It’ll be when I’m too old, I can’t do it, or I run out of ideas, which I never do.”
How long would he like to keep doing it? “As long as I can. I love doing it.”
The 2016 Arts Festival runs July 14-17. For more on Sommese and his posters, see our July/August 2016 issue.
B.J. Reyes, associate editor
In 1969, at the height of racial tensions in the country following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Muhammad Ali—by this time stripped of his world heavyweight title due to his opposition to the Vietnam War and subsequent refusal to enlist in the U.S. Army—spoke to a “riveted” Penn State audience, questioning whether equality could ever truly be achieved.
“By nature, black Americans and white Americans will never get along,” Ali said, according to an article the following day in the Daily Collegian. “They’re opposites, like yes and no. If it’s your opposite, it’s your opposition—then it’s your opponent.”
The only peaceful solution to the racial crisis, he asserted, was total separation of the races. “This is not hatred,” he added. “It’s just nature.”
With the death of Ali over the weekend at age 74, remembrances have come from far and wide as those touched by the former champ grieve fondly and openly of a larger than life figure who was outspoken and brash, unapologetic and committed. Those who were among the reported 4,000 at Rec Hall on May 23, 1969, no doubt remember it well.
Among the students there that night was Larry Rubenstein ’71, a sophomore at the time who today is an attorney in New York City.
“It was quite a night,” recalls Rubenstein, who we reached by phone on Monday. Rubenstein was an organizer of the Colloquy series, an event that brought Ali, activist politician Ralph Nader and controversial cartoonist Al Capp to campus for a weekend of speeches and panel discussions on issues ranging from the the racial divide and Vietnam War to women’s rights and the Middle East.
Ali, then 27, focused on racism, calling it “America’s worst problem,” reinforcing the notion that the only way to maintain peace was through keeping the races separate. Says Rubenstein: “He focused on a nonviolent solution, but he had a real question about how you solved that problem in the face of many in the white population that were not necessarily embracing the advancement of African Americans.”
“It was a very direct and pointed speech, and a speech that had the student population, which at the time very much wanted to see continued advancement in civil rights, just riveted.”
Rubenstein, captured in a Collegian photo with Ali, was among a handful of students who had the chance to meet with Ali before and after the speech. “He was so well respected as a human being and as someone who really helped the county focus on racial problems.”
Though the speech was largely consistent and in the mood of the climate and attitude toward Civil Rights in America, it was controversial in questioning whether integration would work, Rubenstein says. “Yes, I think it was controversial in the way he was questioning the possibility of integration, but he had such humanity and humanity for all human beings—no matter what race—that what he really believed would be the ultimate solution, I don’t know.”
—B.J. Reyes, associate editor
Our March/April issue features short profiles on nine alums who found various routes to fulfillment in their lives after altering the course of their careers from what they studied in college. Not all of the graduates who were under consideration for this piece had such diverse changes in their career path as these nine. Some switched majors while in college, others took roundabout paths only to eventually come back to their chosen field of study.
One such alumna is Shawn Killinger ’95, a marketing major at Penn State who is now a program host for QVC. Killinger is briefly mentioned toward the end of the feature profile on her QVC colleague Antonella Nester ’87. Killinger joined QVC in 2007 after a circuitous path that included stints as a CBS News ‘page’ and Foreign News Desk assistant, a local news reporter and anchor at TV stations in New York and Florida, a senior producer and host for BabyFirstTV, and a turn as a cast member on NBC’s The Apprentice: Martha Stewart.
Killinger got a marketing degree because it seemed like the most solid choice. Even though more creative pursuits tugged at her, she knew a typical corporate desk job was not her speed. Her current career seems to fit.
“I love that TV has no homework to take home at night, because live TV doesn’t have redos,” she says.
For more on the folks who followed a different path in life, check out our March/April issue.
—B.J. Reyes, associate editor.