Letters: September / October 2023
cover of July / August 2023 Penn Stater Magazine


Point Made

I’ve been reading the Penn Stater since joining the Alumni Association in 1984, and I will say the story of Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D., [“Blood, Sweat & Cheers,” July/August, p. 36] is one of the most compelling and interesting articles I’ve ever read! Initially, after reading just a few paragraphs, I thought Dr. Baker was nutty to jeopardize her dental career by engaging in such a high-risk sport as professional wrestling, and I almost skipped to the next article. Fortunately, I kept reading, and as I did, I grew to realize that she is an amazing individual who displays grit, courage, compassion, and unwavering commitment. I see her as a role model in every sense of the word. The article concludes by her saying that she doesn’t plan too far ahead, so she might not know it yet, but soon she’s going to have to juggle a third career as an inspirational speaker!

John Walker ’82 Bus, ’82 Eng
Kutztown, Pa.



Britt Baker is Penn State’s Superwoman. The article read like comic book fiction at first, but only a Penn Stater could achieve this unheard-of combination. You go, Britt!

Fred Takacs ’74 Lib
Berwick, Pa.


It’s disappointing and confusing that “our” Penn Stater will feature an entertainer/wrestler on the cover and 11 pages inside dedicated to her accomplishments. I would like to believe that more important subjects would consume 11% of the magazine. Example: homelessness solutions, veteran suicides, illegal immigration costs, housing shortages, etc. Maybe, you could have covered her in 2–3 pages? Just asking.

Andy Germ ’81 Bus
Oviedo, Fla.


Familiar Faces

I was surprised, excited, and proud to see one of my former kindergarten students from our small town, Billy Gerlott, pictured in the May/June issue [“Statement Game,” p. 28] celebrating a win for the baseball team. I was surprised again to see another student from our town, Avery Corondi [“Cow Calls,” July/August, p. 60] pictured working with the elk population in the current issue! What are the chances? I’m also excited about our new men’s basketball coach—he is from the small town where I grew up, and our parents were friends and teachers together. It really is a small Penn State world!

Cathy Seibert ’87 Edu
Orwigsburg, Pa.


Making a Splash

photo illustration of a diver jumping off a three-tier diving board by Nick Sloff '92 A&A / Penn State Swimming and DivingIn 1971, I was a freshman enrolled in swimming for a PE requirement. I was surprised on the first day of class when our instructor introduced himself as the head swim coach! Those of us who didn’t drop the class got a great workout over the next 10 weeks. On the last day, he gave us the chance to go off the 10-meter platform. Jumping off it was one of the highlights of my experience at Penn State [What’s Up With That, July/August, p. 18]. It’s unfortunate that more recent students have not been able to experience the thrill.

Jeff Williams ’75 Agr
Peoria, Ariz.


A few facts were wrong in the article about the high dive. I was one of the first lifeguards at the outdoor pool the first summer it was open, which was 1970. The indoor natatorium opened in 1967. And there were both 1-meter and 3-meter diving boards—I think two of each.

Other guards were Pat Fagan, Pat Piras, Carl Carpenter, Laurel Buskirk, Ed Dell, and I think there was a guard named O’Neill, who was the son of the swim coach. Part of our job was cleaning the restrooms at the pool. And since I was a certified scuba diver, I was asked to push a vacuum around the bottom of the pool to clean it.

Doug Burleigh ’70 Sci, ’73 MS EMS
North East, Pa.


Hopping Around

As a frequent traveler and brewery lover, I was excited to read the May/June issue [“Pouring a Glass for Everyone,” May/June, p. 36]. I noticed that I had been to every brewery on the list but two: Hot Plate in Massachusetts and Lawless in California. As luck would have it, I had trips scheduled to those two states in June, so I made a point to visit those breweries, and was fortunate enough to meet the alums at each. In both cases, we were at Penn State at nearly the same time, and had a blast reminiscing while enjoying some fantastic craft beer. I know there are other alumni brewers out there, and I recently came across one brewery that wasn’t listed: Lindgren Craft Brewery in Duncannon, Pa. I’d love to learn of some more to visit!

Marc Grider ’01, ’06 MS Eng
Cranberry Township, Pa.


Trevor Brown and Heather Brown Niederhofer at their Lone Pint Brewery, courtesyMy sister and I (left) started Lone Pint Brewery in 2012. We have the highest-rated IPA in Texas, and a beer named in honor of Zeno’s. Lastly, my home brewing was featured in The Daily Collegian while I was at school. Please add us to your “Crafty Alums” list. Cheers!

Trevor Brown ’95 Eng
Heather Brown Niederhofer ’97 Agr

Magnolia, Texas


It Takes a Village

I so enjoyed reading about David Hughes and the tremendous work he has done with Plant Village in Africa to help farmers [“Tools for Cultivating a Warming World,” May/June, p. 44]. I also enjoyed the article about the creation of Hot Plate Brewery and how this couple pursued their dream. They are truly an inspiration.

Royal Duncan ’69, ’73 MEd Edu
Mason, Ohio


I am not a Penn State alum, but my daughter is a 2021 graduate. I happened to read your article, and I was truly impressed by the work of David Hughes. I applaud his efforts as he uses AI to assist farmers in Africa, Nepal, and the U.S. I trust that his continued working will help to allay hunger and food insecurity, as these crises create continued conflicts which ultimately affect us all.

Floris Baynes-Nedd
Silver Spring, Md.


Name That Tune

I enjoyed the letter from Tony Montgomery on students thinking that American pop began with The Beatles [Letters, July/August, p. 10]. As an active professor of Communication Arts & Sciences and Integrative Arts at Penn State Altoona, I am gratified to say that my course, “The Cultural Roots of Rock ’n’ Roll,” never fails to fill up, and has introduced hundreds of Penn State students to the full, deep complexity of American popular music by tracing the threads of ballads, blues, gospel, jazz, zydeco, doo wop, R&B, and so much more that make up the fabric of what came to be called rock ’n’ roll. It gets more challenging each year, as the newest generations come in knowing very little about what came before. Artists such as Little Richard, Chuck Berry, or even Elvis Presley are often names they’ve heard but know nothing about, or with foundational figures such as Robert Johnson, Bessie Smith, or Billie Holiday, have never heard of at all. As an educator it is my honor and privilege to be the purveyor of this culturally important information.

Jerry Zolten ’69, ’74 MA, ’82 PhD Lib
State College