Posts filed under ‘The Penn Stater Magazine’
In the Jan./Feb. issue, we asked readers to share memories of the mail they received in college. The feedback was many more letters than we were able to publish in “Sent With Love.” Here are just a few more memories (and mementos) about campus mail.
My wife and I are from Johnstown, Pa. We met and started dating in the summer of 1966. Upon returning my sophomore year, we started writing letters. We each wrote a letter every day until graduation. I graduated in December and we married in January. We still have a few of those letters and are happily together after 47 years.
David C. Long ’69
I received a letter from a girl I had met during the summer of 1964. The letter was addressed as follows: Larry Husbands Penn State. Somehow it found its way to my mailbox in the dormitory.
Lawrence N Husbands ’68
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.
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).
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
Look for a welcome pop of color inside your mailboxes soon: You won’t be able to miss the striking aracari named Beatrice gracing the cover of our Jan./Feb. issue. This toucan is just one of the magnificent models featured in “Critter Close-Ups.” Michael Faix, a wildlife photographer and staffer at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, shares his pictures and the stories behind them starting on p. 42.
In “Learning in the Dirt” (p. 24), Dana DiFilippo ’92 discovers the Penn State students who are managing their own working farm on campus. (It turns out that they’re learning as much about themselves as they are about growing food.) Also in the issue, we take a look at the profound legacy of the Craighead family, which includes two leading conservationists and a bestselling author, in “Three of a Kind.”
We also asked readers for memories of getting mail at college and received dozens of great responses. Whether it was a sweet surprise, like mom’s baked-from-scratch cookies, or a love letter in a long-distance relationship—we learned that, years after opening these envelopes and packages, they still remain some of your most special deliveries. Start reading the letters on p. 32.
More from the issue: a profile on Kaia, the adorable golden retriever puppy who is making her mark as a full-time employee at Hershey; a story about Nike CEO Mark Parker ’77; and a recap of the amazing season for the 2016 Nittany Lion football team.
What do you think about the new issue? Let us know by commenting below or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amy Downey, senior editor
The fight for Kelly Ayotte’s U.S. Senate seat appears headed for a recount.
Ayotte ’90, the Republican incumbent from New Hampshire whose race was one of the most closely watched of the 2016 election, is locked in a dead heat with Democratic governor Maggie Hassan. As of Wednesday afternoon, that race was still too close to call: With all precincts in the Granite State reporting, Hassan held a lead of roughly 700 votes among more than 700,000 cast. Citing the totals, Hassan declared victory Wednesday, but Ayotte has yet to concede, and both sides expect a recount before the results are official.
Ryan Jones, deputy editor
Keep an eye on your mailbox: Our November/December 2016 issue is being mailed out this week to members of the Alumni Association.
On the cover is an image of the iconic elms that decorate central campus. These stately trees along Henderson Mall are just one reminder of the beautiful landscape at University Park. Starting on page 24, “A Natural Beauty” takes a look—literally and figuratively—at some of the 16,000 trees that have defined our campus since 1855.
Also in this issue, deputy editor Ryan Jones writes about Patrick Chambers and his Nittany Lion basketball team. Now entering his sixth season, and with a pair of nationally ranked recruiting classes, his best season yet could be around the corner.
Editor Tina Hay went down to the Department of Homeland Security in D.C. in September to meet with a group of alumni who are tasked with a big job: keep America safe and secure online. Read the roundtable with them, “Watchers of the Web,” on page 34.
Plus, we celebrate the Penn Staters who medaled in the Olympic Games; we interview an elite opera singer who, at the age of 63, is also a student in the School of Music; and we look at the Mini-THONs that have popped up in dozens of middle and high schools.
Send us your thoughts about the new issue by commenting below or emailing us at email@example.com.
Amy Downey, senior editor
Today I went to a lunchtime lecture at Schlow Library downtown, to hear Penn State geoscientist Eliza Richardson talk about earthquakes. No special reason, really, except that we just finished the November/December issue of the magazine, so suddenly I have a little more time for such things. Lectures like these are a good way for us to scout possible stories for the magazine. And, besides, I know pretty much nothing about earthquakes.
In an hour’s time, I learned a lot. Here’s a sampling:
—Scientists would love to be able to predict earthquakes: when they’ll strike, where they’ll strike, and how big they’ll be. Richardson calls it the “holy grail” in her field.
—”The biggest earthquakes aren’t always the worst,” Richardson says. She showed three lists—the 10 biggest earthquakes in history, the 10 deadliest, and the 10 costliest—and pointed out that only two earthquakes appear on all three lists. (Those were the 2004 quake and tsunami near Sumatra and the 2011 quake and tsunami off the Japanese coast.)
—The so-called “World Series Earthquake” of 1989 in San Francisco was not quite as strong as the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti—the San Francisco quake was a magnitude 7.0, vs. 7.2 in Haiti—yet only 68 people died in San Francisco, vs. 159,000 in Haiti. “That’s all about infrastructure,” Richardson says: San Francisco has many buildings that are seismically retrofitted, while Haiti, an impoverished country, does not.
—Earthquakes happen along fault lines where two tectonic plates bump into each other, and “stress overcomes friction” along that fault line. “If the plate boundaries could all be lubricated with the scientific equivalent of WD-40, earthquakes would never happen,” Richardson says.
—Earthquakes happen far more often than people realize. Her title slide included a USGS-generated world map very similar to this one…
…which shows all earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or greater just in the past 30 days.
You can click on the map to see it bigger. Obviously the fault lines along the West Coast of the Americas are pretty impressive, along with poor Italy, which is practically obliterated by all the dots.
—Speaking of Italy: Scientists often are hesitant (“cagey,” Richardson called it) about saying they’re working on earthquake prediction. She cited the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake in Italy as one reason: The city had been experiencing tremors for months, so a special meeting of seismologists was convened, and many people interpreted the scientists’ comments at that meeting as suggesting there was nothing to fear. A week later, a magnitude-6.3 quake hit the city, and more than 300 people died. Five scientists ended up standing trial for manslaughter—and were convicted. A higher court eventually overturned the convictions, but the events surely had a chilling effect on seismologists worldwide.
(You can read an interesting account of the L’Aquila quake and subsequent criminal trial at Smithsonianmag.com.)
—While seismologists can’t yet predict earthquakes, there’s been a lot of progress in the field in the past 10 years. Scientists are starting to pay more attention to silent earthquakes called “slow slip earthquakes,” which can be measured by GPS devices. These slow slips may turn out to be harbingers of a larger, far more damaging quake.
—There’s a fairly prominent fault line in the U.S. midwest, called the New Madrid (pronounced MAD rid) Fault, which in 1811 and 1812 spawned the largest earthquakes in U.S. history. If they happened today, says Richardson, they would level Memphis and several other cities. They reportedly shook the White House, hundreds of miles away, and caused church bells to ring in Boston.
(You can read more about the New Madrid earthquakes here.)
OK, there’s lots more, but I’ve probably babbled enough. Suffice it to say I think Richardson’s research is really interesting and would make for a great story in the magazine sometime.
The lecture was sponsored by Schlow Library as part of its Research Unplugged series; the fall schedule continues through Nov. 10.
Tina Hay, editor