Posts filed under ‘Students’

The Family Business

Photo via Hoffman United

A pair of Penn State students are using their entrepreneurial spirit to try to revitalize their hometown.

Erie natives Paul and Christine Hoffman, sophomores who are two-thirds of a set of Penn State triplets, formed the group Hoffman United in 2014. As the duo told GoErie.com, Hoffman United is a real estate development, construction and property management company that seeks to help cities by “redeveloping areas to make long-lasting impacts.”

Namely, Hoffman United buys neglected real estate and renovates the buildings to turn them into apartment complexes. Paul, the company’s president (who got his start in business mowing neighbors’ lawns at age 12) and Christine, its vice president, purchased their first property in 2016, for $69,000, and plan to own more than 100 by the end of 2017.

Christie told Erie.com that her motivation in all of this is to help their local community. Paul echoed this sentiment, saying “We believe every neighborhood can be transformed.”

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

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September 22, 2017 at 10:25 am Leave a comment

For Zena Cardman, Space is the Place

Photo via NASA

Zena Cardman is getting an opportunity that is literally out-of-this-world. Cardman, a doctoral student in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, is one of 12 people selected this month for NASA’s 2017 astronaut class.

It’ll take a while for Cardman to get into space—her class will participate in a two-year training program before she qualifies for a potential mission—but she could become the fifth Penn Stater to fly with NASA, joining Guion Bluford ’64; Robert Cenker ’70, ’73g; James Pawelczyk ’85g; and Paul Weitz ’54.

“I am beyond humbled and proud to be a part of our space program, and in the company of this new class of astronauts,” Cardman said, via Penn State News. “It’s such a diverse group, and I’m thrilled to join my experience in microbiology and field research with the test pilots, medical doctors, engineers, and everyone else.”

Cardman has been working toward a doctorate in geosciences, focusing her research on microbe-rock interactions; she says she’s currently studying cave slime and the “totally dark” environment it lives in.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

June 14, 2017 at 8:44 am 1 comment

Emily Frederick Forged Her Own Path to Rio

Photo via Cardoni

If it wasn’t for an error on a GPS, it’s possible that Emily Frederick wouldn’t have found herself in Rio for the Paralympics last fall.

No, so she didn’t drive all the way down to Brazil on accident or anything like that. Frederick, an Alabama native who was born with dwarfism and stands 4-foot-1, needs special pedals to drive. When she was in high school and eager to get her license, her mother drove alone to a facility in Birmingham, Ala., called Lakeshore.

There are two Lakeshores in Birmingham. The one they needed was a rehabilitation center that had those pedal extensions; the other was a training facility for athletes with disabilities. They’re right next door to one another. The GPS brought Frederick’s mom—an assistant high school track coach—to the training facility. She got a tour and realized it was the perfect place for her daughter, who grew up playing sports but had stopped because she struggled to keep up with her teammates.

Initially, Emily wasn’t on board with her mother’s idea. (more…)

April 26, 2017 at 9:25 am 1 comment

For Stephen Nedoroscik, A Moment of Perfection

Penn State gymnastics entered Saturday afternoon with 53 individual National Championships. Thanks to Stephen Nedoroscik’s performance on the pommel horse, the program ended the day with 54.

Nedoroscik, a freshman from Massachusetts, won the NCAA title on the horse with a score of 14.900. He became the fourth freshman in program history to take home an individual title, and is the first Nittany Lion to win a title in this event since 2005.

As Nedoroscik told GoPSUSports, winning a championship is “the best feeling in the world.”

You can watch his performance at the top of this post. Pay special attention to his teammates in the stands over the final 10 seconds or so—they all start standing up because they know Nedoroscik nailed his routine.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

April 25, 2017 at 9:35 am Leave a comment

The Innovative Nicole Medvitz

Photo via Cardoni

Photo via Cardoni

You wouldn’t know by looking at her or hearing her speak in her soft voice, but Nicole Medvitz lives dangerously.

Well, maybe she doesn’t live dangerously, but when she’s on the balance beam, Medvitz pulls off a move so risky that it’s only performed by one other person on Earth.

It’s her move – it’s literally called the Medvitz-Jarred (you can find it at the 46-second mark of this video) – and the senior Penn State gymnast has been doing it since her sophomore year of high school.

“So I did the base of the move before the actual move,” Medvitz said. “It’s pretty much a turn with one leg in the air. I did it with my beam coach, Jen Zappa, who I’ve worked with my entire life before I came here. And she was like ‘Why don’t you just try it to a scale?’ and we looked and it hadn’t been done before. So I tried it and it worked out and then started competing it.”

What makes this so difficult is that doing a move like this on the beam gives her no margin of error. In fact, Medvitz said it’s rated at the highest degree of difficulty. This kind of expertise on the beam has made her one of the top gymnasts in the conference – Medvitz was a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2016.

Her success, especially on the beam, shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. From 2009-13, Medvitz was a Level 10 gymnast, a classification in which the top meet is the Junior Olympics. The only level above this is Elite – the top meets for that one are World Championships and the Olympics.

She was a three-time Junior Olympic national champion on the beam. She racked up wins over U.S. Olympians like 2012 alternate Elizabeth Price and Gabby Douglas, who won the gold medal at the 2012 Games in the all-around.

Photo via Cardoni

Photo via Cardoni

And yet when the opportunity to move up and potentially become an Elite gymnast came about, Medvitz declined.

Instead, she thought it was important to focus on things like her education. Becoming an Elite gymnast requires a strict dedication to the sport, something that Medvitz knew about and decided wasn’t for her – she cited the fact that this level of gymnastics usually requires being homeschooled.

Medvitz was, however, competing at a college level for years. Level 10 is essentially the same level of competition as college gymnastics, although there are some differences.

“Three times a week we come in at 6 a.m., I never did that in club,” Medvitz said about her collegiate training regimen. “So we’ll come back later at 1:30 and practice the rest of the events. Club we did a lot more drills and stuff because we were still learning new skills, but here it’s a lot of perfecting the skills that we already have because we don’t really need to learn too much more.”

In addition to being technically sound, Medvitz is one of the toughest athletes on Penn State’s campus. For proof, look no further than her freshman year, when she suffered a torn labrum in her shoulder. Instead of getting surgery, Medvitz decided to compete in two events: balance beam and uneven bars. She competed in every meet, all the way through NCAA Championships.

That summer, she got the surgery she needed. Medvitz did only beam as a sophomore while working her way back before feeling like she was “fully better” as a junior. Now a senior, Medvitz feels all the rust that may have built up while getting to full health is gone. With this comes the optimism that she can compete in more events during her senior year. Medvitz hopes to try her hand at the vault and the floor exercise (which she admits are not her strongest events).

Photo via Cardoni

Photo via Cardoni

When she’s not on the beam, Medvitz is a standout in the classroom, as she was an Academic All-Big Ten selection as a sophomore and a junior and earned the title of Big Ten Distinguished Scholar last year.

She is a management major who wants to combine her love of sports and entertainment after she graduates, and this past summer, Medvitz was a global sales intern for Nike, where she worked with the organization’s integrated marketplace team. Medvitz is also the secretary and oversees the communications and media committee for Penn State’s Student-Athlete Advisory Board.

Penn State women’s gymnastics team begins its 2017 campaign – one which Medvitz hopes will end with a conference championship – on Jan. 7.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor

December 28, 2016 at 4:26 pm 1 comment

Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night,’ Updated

dsc_0814-maria-viola-fabiana-medWhen I heard that Penn State Centre Stage would be presenting the Shakespeare classic Twelfth Night this season, I pictured a production and costumes that would be—well, Shakespearean.

But it turns out that director Steve Snyder wanted to offer a more contemporary take on the tale. He set it in 1953, and studded it with a few musical numbers from the 1940s and 1950s—songs like “As Time Goes By,” “Unforgettable,” “Beyond the Sea,” and “C’est Si Bon.”

After all, Snyder says, the themes of the 17th century play are still relevant: “We still fall in love with the wrong people,” he writes in the show’s notes. “We still try to disengage from life, or alter how we engage with life, when it gets hard. We still desire to rise or somehow get more. We still have that one relative who is insufferable, but is still family. We still deal with bullies, then sometimes become the bully ourselves. We still have to learn and re-learn the need for forgiveness, kindness and mercy.”

Snyder is an Equity actor and faculty member in Penn State’s School of Theatre, and virtually everyone else involved in the play—from the cast members to the set designer to the costume designer—is either an undergrad or grad student in the school. It’s an impressive ensemble.

Twelfth Night had a preview performance on Monday and and will have another tonight, with the official opening tomorrow night. The show goes dark next week, but resumes Nov. 29. It closes Dec. 3. More information here.

Below are a few photos I took at a dress rehearsal last weekend. Click on them if you’d like to scroll through them individually.

Tina Hay, editor

November 16, 2016 at 3:55 pm Leave a comment

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