Author Archive

Wishing a Happy 102nd Birthday to an Alumna

Peg Chalfant poses with her 1934 graduation photo.

Peg Chalfant poses with her 1934 graduation photo.

Peg Barnard Chalfant, who graduated from Penn State 80 years ago, says she hasn’t been up to anything very new lately. “I try to keep up with the old things,” she says, chuckling.

Though she doesn’t use most technological advancements like email, she says she loves her Kindle.

And perhaps that’s just it. Perhaps keeping up with the times and not letting nostalgia get the best of you is how you chug forward in life. Chalfant lives for the present, and perhaps that’s why she’s still so happy and healthy as she celebrates her 102nd birthday Friday.

Like many who are living a long life, Chalfant ’34 Edu couldn’t pinpoint what exactly has kept her going, but she says maybe staying active has helped. She used to love playing golf, even though she says she wasn’t very good. The last time she played was when she was 98. She also drove her own car until that age.

She’s still active. Every Sunday, Chalfant walks three blocks from her home—a row house she has lived in since 1935—to her church. (Her bedroom is on the third floor, but going up and down the steps doesn’t seem to bother her a bit.) The First Presbyterian Church in West Chester, Pa., is where she met John Carrigan, a local real estate agent. Chalfant shared a pew with his family, and they have become friends.

Carrigan wanted to make his friend’s birthday special, so he contacted the Penn State Alumni Association. He learned that Chalfant is Penn State’s second oldest graduate, and the association sent him scans of Chalfant’s graduation photo and a picture of her being crowned as the May Queen from the 1934 La Vie.

PegChalfantMayQueen

The 1934 May Queen ceremony.

Chalfant remembers the May Queen ceremony and walking up the steps of Old Main wearing a long veil and holding a saber and flowers. It was “quite an event for women,” she said. She was surprised Penn State doesn’t celebrate May Day festivities anymore.

A bit of nostalgia broke through as she said she’s “too old” to go back and she hasn’t been back to Penn State in a while. She was shocked to find out sorority houses were no longer on campus. Chalfant was a sister of Chi Omega.

“I would be lost on campus now,” she says. “I wouldn’t come back now—I would be heartbroken. I’m happier with my memories.”

To Chalfant, memories are intended to provide solace and joy when looking back, but nothing to linger on. Her memories of being at Penn State and her choice to attend the university do bring her joy. “Penn State was right for me,” she says, “and I was right for it.”

Kelly Godzik, intern

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April 3, 2014 at 8:36 pm 1 comment

Getting Serious About Conserving Water

Videographer, Mark Stitzer focuses on a heron in Tanner Springs Park, Portland.

Videographer Mark Stitzer focuses on a heron in Tanner Springs Park, Portland.

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in a discussion group with eight other Penn State students talking about climate issues. It was part of a World in Conversation program, which encouraged us to be truthful. We talked about recycling and why it’s not a top priority for us. Our consensus: because recycling doesn’t incorporate instant gratification.

We care about eating healthy, for example, because we almost instantly see weight loss or improved health. But what actually happens when we take the time to separate our glass and plastic bottles to put them in the correct recycling containers? Are we making a positive impact on Earth by putting the Canyon Pizza box into the cardboard recycling bin?

And then, by coincidence, The Penn Stater editors asked me to attend the premiere of “Water Blues, Green Solutions,” a collaboration between Penn State Public Media and Penn State’s Sustainability Institute. The documentary wasn’t about recycling per se, but it was a powerful depiction of the positive effects of caring about water. I believe the documentary was able to achieve this because the people who were involved in making it were just like so many of us. They weren’t completely versed on the details of green infrastructure or conservation of aquifers, either.

“I share my ignorance with others who don’t know about water,” director Frank Christopher told the audience. In the past, he’s worked on films about war, health care, and even Cirque du Soleil, but he thought that it was time to be responsible and communicate the urgency of why we need to think about how we use and protect our water sources.

Members of the Penn State Water Brigades, a club on campus dedicated to improving access to clean water and sanitation, had a table set up in the lobby of the theatre before the screening. The co-president of the club, junior Deidre Carlson, might have summed up the urgency of our water crisis best. Carlson said, “In the U.S., we have our own water problems, and they aren’t being addressed. We have issues in our own backyard.”

Diedre Carlson of Penn State Water Brigades at the premiere.

Diedre Carlson of Penn State Water Brigades at the premiere.

“Water Blues, Green Solutions” addressed this issue from multiple angles. The documentary leads viewers on a tour of four cities – Philadelphia, Portland, San Antonio, and the Bronx, all of which are dealing with unique water dilemmas.

I lived in Philadelphia all summer and I didn’t know the city’s water department was beginning to implement green infrastructure until I watched the documentary. Portland, on the other hand, is already a leader in creating green projects and is serving as example to others. San Antonio’s water crisis might have been the most drastic: Droughts have plagued the area causing some lakes to almost completely dry up. The visual of a barely there lake puts the water crisis into context pretty fast. Perhaps the most optimistic view of green solutions was in the Bronx’s efforts of cleaning up the Bronx River, which created new jobs and opportunities for community members. In short, all of these cities are working with nature instead of against it. By doing so, they’ve created new jobs and saved lots of money. Green Solutions may not be instant but it is possible, present, and important.

It also helps that the documentary didn’t take a doom and gloom approach. It most certainly was not the PETA approach. You know, where they show you pictures of beaten animals to pluck on your heartstrings.

Instead, videographer Mark Stitzer ’02 took the approach of having individuals in the cities directly tell the audience their stories, including a teacher in Philadelphia conducting class on a new eco-friendly play ground and a  woman in the Bronx enjoying her new job creating green infrastructure. I got a sense that people are taking away something positive from solving their water blues.

Stitzer captures shots of Greenfield Elementary School in Philadelphia, one of the first schools to adopt a self-sustaining green play ground.

Stitzer captures shots of Philadelphia’s Greenfield Elementary School, one of the first schools to adopt a self-sustaining green play ground.

Those involved in the making of this film said their ultimate hope is for the documentary to create civic engagement and for it to urge people to seek their own green solutions for their water blues. The precursor to this project, another documentary titled “Liquid Assets,” reached every member of Congress. It’s just a matter of what people do with the knowledge.

If I took anything out of this film, it’s that you can transform sewage into water cleaner than what’s sold in a bottle. I’m just kidding. Not quite. No matter, this documentary teaches you many things about water that pertain to you and your everyday life a lot more than you think.

The broadcasting schedule of “Water Blues, Green Solutions” is updated weekly and is available here.

Kelly Godzik, intern

February 27, 2014 at 4:22 pm Leave a comment

Meet the Intern: Kelly Godzik

JAYZ_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 collegefashionista.com. 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


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