Author Archive

Fighting Poverty, In Memory of Bill Cahir

Junior Natasha Bailey hopes to pursue a career with a non-profit organization in the future, but in the meantime her passion of helping others is being put to good use at Penn State. She’s one of eight students who’s part of Project Cahir (pronounced care): Penn State Students United Against Poverty, which was started in memory of Bill Cahir  ’90 Lib.

Cahir worked as a Washington based-journalist and congressional staffer. He joined the Marines after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to serve and protect his country. Cahir was killed in Afghanistan in 2009, leaving behind his wife, then pregnant with twins, his parents, and siblings. Last year, his brother, Bart ’94, with support from his parents, started a scholarship in their son’s memory to recognize the kind of man he was—a man who cared about others.

Bailey, a scholarship recipient, says the Cahir Corps hope to accomplish change that can last a while and not only help current students, but future students as well. “We’re dedicated to it and are trying to let kids in poverty know they’re not alone,” Bailey says.

No one is sure how many students live in poverty, but freshman Varghese Paul, another scholarship recipient, says, “We know it’s there.” He adds, “There are students here that aren’t getting the resources and things they need.”

That’s why the Cahir Corps chose to start by researching how poverty actually affects students. They are conducting surveys and contacting Penn State departments, such as University Health Services as well as downtown organiations that work with local residents living in poverty. Once they gather enough information, they plan to put their knowledge to action, but they need to know what students need first in order to prepare a proper plan.

Emil L. Cunningham, the club adviser, says, “Poverty is an issue that often goes unnoticed, but many of us will come across it.”

Sarah Olah, intern                                                             

January 27, 2014 at 3:49 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 Early Birds Get the Best Parade-Watching Spots

It’s a Homecoming tradition: Staking out the best spots from which to view the parade. We sent one of our interns out to get the stories behind the placesitters.

Sarah Seiler (left) and members from Phi Mu hold a spot for their sorority on West College.

Sarah Seiler (left) and members from Phi Mu hold a spot for their sorority on West College.

Name: Sarah Seiler, freshman from Phi Mu.

Shift: 10 a.m. to noon (and she’ll be back at 5 for the parade).

Location: West College, in front of Sovereign Bank.

Passing the time: “I Spy,” eating, and studying, as long as it stops raining so her books don’t get wet.

Float theme: “Up.”

Members of Phi Mu Alpha hold a place for their fraternity on Friday morning.

Members of Phi Mu Alpha hold a place for their fraternity on Friday morning; they’ll be gone come parade time, though, because most of them are in the Blue Band.

Name: Jimmy Ryan, sophomore from a business fraternity.

Shift: 7:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Location: West College, in front of Café 210 West.

Passing the time: Talking, bonding.

Float theme: Shark Week.

Members of Phi Beta Lambda hold their umbrellas up and try to stay dry while holding a prime spot for the parade.

Members of Phi Beta Lambda hold their umbrellas up and try to stay dry while holding a prime spot for the parade.

Name: Tina Lu, freshman, Phi Beta Lambda

Shift: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Location: West College, in front of Qdoba Mexican Grill.

Passing the time: Trying to stay dry, talking, embracing the weather.

Float theme: The Great Gatsby.

Sarah Olah, intern

October 11, 2013 at 2:50 pm Leave a comment

Homecoming Week: the art of creating a float


Sophomore Kelsey Ohlbaum pomps during Homecoming week. Float construction and pomping started on Sunday and ends Friday.

Chicken wire, wood, and tissue paper.

Sounds like a strange combination, right? Not during Homecoming week.

Those three items—along with some glue, nails, and hard work—create a float for the Homecoming parade, which will wind from Beaver Stadium to College Avenue in about 2.5 hours starting at 6 Friday evening. It’s all in the art of “pomping.”

Here’s what you need:

1. Pomps

Pomping guidelines are very specific and can be found on the Homecoming website in the Homecoming Rulebook. According to the website, pomps are 5 1/2” x 5 1/2” sheets of colored tissue paper and must be ordered through Penn State Homecoming. Organizations purchase a variety of colors based on what your theme is. Veterans to Homecoming know to order more than what you need because you can only order through Penn State Homecoming—if you run out, you can’t just make a trip to Walmart.

Nittany Co-Op supplies the pomps, which cost $2.05 per pack. Homecoming suggests ordering pomps in 12s or 24s because the pomps are prepackaged this way. You may need as many as 30 boxes of pomps to cover the entire float.

2. Wood

The float cannot exceed 8 feet wide x 20 feet long x 15 feet high. The float has guidelines in the Homecoming Rulebook, as well. At check-in, each float must have safety chains, quick links, a triangle reflector, and a 10 pound fire extinguisher. The rulebook also suggests that someone guards your float at all times.

3. Chicken wire

Chicken wire hangs all around the constructed float to structure it. The wire is also ordered through Penn State Homecoming, where a 50-foot roll costs $16.90. One piece of tissue paper goes through each hole in the wire. Before pushing the paper through, you paint the wire with glue—$11 per gallon—to ensure the pomp sticks.

You can imagine, the cost to build a float is quite expensive.

“Generations Evolve, Tradition Remains” is Homecoming’s overall theme, and each organization interprets that in its own way, pending Homecoming’s approval.

Building the actual float is the real task. It generally takes a few hours to construct the structure of the float. It’s simply wood and nails, but easier said than done. The chicken wire hangs around it, giving it a shape. Then using tape, sketch the design you want. The tape separates what color pomps will go through the chicken wire, which is pomping—filling chicken wire with rolled-up tissue paper.

Pomping is not difficult, nor does it take skill. It’s actually rather mind-numbing. Deciding on a theme, building and placing colors take some creativity, but anyone can pomp. Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it.

Pomping does, however, require a lot of time, dedication, and people to complete. With my co-ed fraternity, which has about 50 members, we are required to pomp for a minimum of five hours each. It takes a lot of man-power to get through the week successfully.

But you can take a boring situation and make it fun with music and friends, and seeing your final product is a good feeling.


Pomping black and pink tissue paper creates a poodle.

Organizations with floats are allowed five people on a float with two people walking in front of the float with a banner. I, personally, will not be in the Homecoming Parade, but I will be there watching. I will comfortably find my spot on Shortlidge with the brothers from my co-ed fraternity. I’m not supposed to say what my fraternity’s theme is, but let’s just say our float is “electrifying.”

Sarah Olah, intern

October 9, 2013 at 4:51 pm 1 comment

What’s New? Meet Our Intern, Sarah Olah

An introductory post from our fall intern, senior Sarah Olah.

My family and I traveled to Aruba a few weeks ago because I’m graduating in the spring and my mom wanted to have “our last family vacation.” During our seven-day trip, we met four Penn State families, had “WE ARE” chanted at us at the pool, and saw lots of Penn State merchandise—from people wearing it to seeing souvenir shops selling T-shirts saying “Penn State Aruba.”  Yes, we bought one.


Here’s the T-shirt our intern bought on vacation.

In Aruba—thousands of miles away from our home in the Poconos—we met two Penn State incoming freshmen, both majoring in engineering. And my brother was getting ready to move into his freshman dorm in East Halls—and major in engineering.

Can you say small world? Or incredible?


September 9, 2013 at 4:04 pm 3 comments

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