Penn State Behrend “STAND UP” campaign concludes with pig roast and concert


By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Patty Pasky McMahon learned years ago that change doesn’t happen overnight, especially when it comes to affecting systematic problems such as dating violence or bullying.

“If you want culture change, it can’t just be hit-and-run,” said McMahon, director of the Health and Wellness Center at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. “Dating violence, bullying, it’s been going on forever and a day. We can’t just accept that things are staying the same.”

That was the thinking behind “STAND UP,” a yearlong campus-engagement campaign promoting integrity, respect, tolerance and diversity at Penn State Behrend that concluded last week. The campaign, sponsored by the Health and Wellness Center and the Janet Neff Sample Center for Manners and Civility, addressed the health-and-wellness issues that most threaten college students, including drug use, relationship violence, stalking and sexual assault.

A number of student organizations joined in to support the efforts throughout the year, including the Lion Entertainment Board, the Behrend Beacon, BVZ Radio, Reality Check, Student Government Association, Gamma Sigma Sigma, Delta Chi, the Student Activities Fee Committee, the Multi-Cultural Council, the Student Athletic Advisory Board, Theta Phi Alpha and Alpha Sigma Alpha.

“STAND UP” kicked off in September 2013 with a concert by the Romantic Era, followed by a fireworks display. Each subsequent month featured an event, including a movie in Junker Center, a Penn State tailgate party, a chili stand and a pool party. “STAND UP” concluded Friday, April 4, with a pig roast and concert by the M-80s.

One of the keys to the programs’ success was making sure that each event was unique, McMahon said.

“That ensured that we would be targeting a different segment of the campus community each month,” McMahon said.

Finding unique events is easier said than done, but Vee Butler, a junior arts administration major and executive director of the Lion Entertainment Board, was satisfied with the selections for “STAND UP.”

“Coming from the programming board, we know how hard it is to find events that peak interest in students and also send a positive message,” Butler said. “‘STAND UP’ did an amazing job of choosing events. The chili stand was brand new and everyone talked about it, and the fireworks show definitely brought out some new faces.”

The events were fun, but they were also effective in promoting the positive message; students had the opportunity to speak out against numerous health-and-wellness issues at the events.

Student attendance was also strong throughout the year. That was true at the campaign’s conclusion with nearly 150 students present at the pig roast.

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Behrend Reacts: What’s your favorite social media network and why?


By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Social media is everywhere.

It’s the reason the words “like” and “tweet” now have new meanings compared to just a few years ago.

Whether you’re into tweeting, liking, connecting, pinning, or watching, there’s always something out there to satisfy your social media tastes. There are plenty of options when it comes to social media networks, but which one is the best?

We asked Penn State Behrend students which social media network they enjoy most.

Sean MacVay

Sean MacVay, sophomore, Computer Engineering Technologies: “Twitter because it’s the only one I really use.”

Alex Hoover

Alex Hoover, sophomore, Computer Engineering Technologies: “I’d say Twitter because you don’t see as much drama as you would on other stuff.”

Christopher Bendt

Christopher Bendt, sophomore, Software Engineering: “They’re all a waste of time and a distraction from the things we should be doing.”

Taylor Stephens

Taylor Stephens, junior, Communications: “I guess Twitter because you just get little snippets and quick responses. It’s easier to keep up with your friends from home.”

Hannah Rauch

Hannah Rauch, freshman, Chemistry: “Twitter because it’s easy to access.”

Julianne Carter

Julianne Carter, junior, Business Economics and Finance: “Twitter because it limits you to 140 characters, and people can’t go on and on.”

Virginia Schoonmaker

Virginia Schoonmaker, sophomore, Agribusiness Management: “Facebook because I’m used to it.”

Erin Kyle

Erin Kyle, sophomore, Early Childhood Education and Special Education: “I like Twitter because it’s fast, and everything’s very instant.”

Greg Cass

Greg Cass, sophomore, Early Childhood Education: “YouTube because I like videos, and Facebook and Twitter are basically the same thing over and over again.”

Ali Sieckowski

Ali Sieckowski, sophomore, Early Childhood Education and Special Education: “Pinterest because there’s so many great ideas out there. It brings out your creativity.”

Behrend Reacts is a regular Thursday feature at the Behrend Blog that tries to get the campus pulse on a current topic, whether it’s serious or trivial. If you have a question to suggest for Behrend Reacts, please email Steve Orbanek at

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Secret Lives of Faculty: Dr. Mary Beth Pinto

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

There’s much more to Penn State Behrend’s faculty and staff members than what you see on campus. In this occasional series, we’ll take a look at some of the interesting, unconventional, and inspiring things that members of our Behrend community do in their free time.


Dr. Pinto with her certified therapy dog, Jessie.

Name: Dr. Mary Beth Pinto

Day job: Professor of marketing, Sam and Irene Black School of Business at Penn State Behrend

Personal passion: Pet therapy

One morning a week, Pinto and her dog Jessie, a certified therapy dog, visit physically and mentally challenged students at the Elizabeth Lee Black School at the Barber National Institute in Erie.

The students in the classrooms that Pinto and Jessie visit have a range of physical and mental challenges, but many are diagnosed with Austism Spectrum Disorder.

Pinto said Jessie is used to reinforce, teach, or reward positive behaviors – for instance, making eye contact, waiting patiently for their turn, or using a language card to point to the activity they’d like to do with Jessie.

“Children on the autism spectrum often don’t like traditional means of reward—a hug, touch, or personal attention—but they love to throw the ball for Jessie or take her for a walk around the classroom,” Pinto said.

For some, just petting Jessie is an important lesson.

“Many children with autism don’t like physical touch, but they like to pet Jessie and that can help them bridge that gap,” Pinto said.

“One young boy, Brandon, made remarkable progress with Jessie. When I first met Brandon he wouldn’t make eye contact and he was doing a lot of hand-flapping (a common self-stimulatory behavior in autism). You should see him now. He’s come so far that he’s now walks Jessie down the hall with me to the next class. He makes eye contact and he doesn’t hand-flap when Jessie is there.”

Jessie revels in the attention, though his eyes are firmly locked on Pinto at all times. She’s a well-trained dog. And, she’s in big demand at the Elizabeth Lee Black School.

“She’s gotten to be a little celebrity down there,” Pinto said. “Everyone wants us to come to their room.”


“I asked one of the teachers one time, ‘Long term, what does pet therapy really do for the kids here?,’” Pinto said. “She said, ‘Mary Beth, we live for the moment here. If we lived for the long-range view, we could never do our job because it would be too overwhelming. If, for one moment, Jessie brings them happiness and joy, then we’ve succeeded.’”

Why she volunteers:

“Social service is in my DNA. Gertrude Barber (the woman who started the Barber National Institute) was my aunt and I grew up with kids who had physical and mental challenges. I realize some may think the Barber Institute is a sad place, but it’s not. They celebrate every child. It is a really happy place.”

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Have a suggestion for a candidate for a future Secret Lives of Faculty/Staff feature? Email hjc13 at  


Behrend Reacts: How do you plan on finishing the spring semester strong?


By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

It’s crunch time. Are you ready?

The finish line is in sight as there are just a few weeks left in the spring semester. Penn State Behrend students will be busy as the final papers, projects, and exams are right around the corner.

We asked students how they plan to finish the semester strong.

Nick Denman

Nick Denman, senior, Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies: “I plan on doing a lot more studying.”

Daphne Cruz

Daphne Cruz, freshman, Electrical Engineering: “I plan to keep on studying and go to tutoring almost every day.”

Courtney Post

Courtney Post, sophomore, Project and Supply Chain Management: “I’ll be studying and working on balancing work and school better.”

Drew Chidester

Drew Chidester, sophomore, Civil Engineering: “Getting to bed early, studying a lot, and trying to eat clean.”

Drew Chidester

Jesse Jarrett, sophomore, Mechanical Engineering: “Studying a lot, making sure I stay on top of my homework, getting a lot of sleep, and staying focused.”

Alicia Buccigrossi

Alicia Buccigrossi, senior, General Arts and Science: “I plan on really cracking down on all my work. I do have a lot of big projects coming up, so it’s matter of focusing on those things and sticking to it.”

Corey Hoster

Corey Hoster, senior, History: “Tons of caffeine and manning up.”

Alice Park

Alice Park, freshman, undecided: “I’ll be dedicating more time to studying and reading all my materials ahead of time.”

Jemmerio Harper

Jemmerio Harper, freshman, Psychology: “I plan on dedicating a certain amount of hours to studying and staying focused on what needs to be done for finals.”

Amber Ricci

Amber Ricci, freshman, Plastics Engineering: “I plan on studying hard, keeping active, and not wasting my time.”

Behrend Reacts is a regular Thursday feature at the Behrend Blog that tries to get the campus pulse on a current topic, whether it’s serious or trivial. If you have a question to suggest for Behrend Reacts, please email Steve Orbanek at

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Behrend alumnus launches game on Android Market

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By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Stephen Chalker ’13 won’t have to worry about his senior project wallowing away anytime soon.

The Software Engineering graduate designed a cell-phone game titled “The Mind’s Lie” for his senior capstone project. The game, which teaches students to be conscious of cognitive bias, was put up for download on the Android Market this February and has since been downloaded more than 70 times. It is the first game designed by a Penn State Behrend student to be placed on a public online store.

“It is extremely rewarding,” said Chalker, who worked on the project with fellow Software Engineering students Kit Torrelli ’13 and Joe Grise ’13. “This was the first project that I did that was not just for a grade, but for the public to download and play.”

The game was designed to be used for the classes taught by Kristan Wheaton, an associate professor of intelligence studies at Mercyhurst University, but it can now be played anywhere and by anyone. In “The Mind’s Lie,” players are given a scenario and asked to identify one of six kinds of bias that might be present. They earn points for voting with the majority or for convincing others that a different answer is correct.


The cell-phone version of “The Mind’s Lie” was modified from a board game designed by Wheaton. According to Chalker, that was a challenge as some of the concepts from the board game could not be easily transferred into the cell-phone version.

“This was the first time that any of us worked with Android, so there was a lot of learning involved,” Chalker said. “We had to design everything, and we tried our best to estimate how it would work in the Android environment, but it often would not work as planned when we tried to implement it.”

Many sleepless nights followed for the trio as they worked to perfect the game. However, Chalker said it was a labor of love.

“It was definitely the hardest project I have worked on so far, but it was well worth it,” Chalker said.

The game is currently played by individuals in the intelligence field, and Chalker said downloads grow by the day.

“It is the crown jewel of my resume, and people are fascinated whenever I bring it up,” Chalker said. “I really have to thank Penn State Behrend for having a senior design program where students can get real-world experience.”

That real-world experience has paid off in a big way for Chalker. He currently works in Austin, Texas, as an Android developer for a startup company, Bypass Mobile.


Chalker is reaping the benefits of his work, and the same can be said for Penn State Behrend.

“The Mind’s Lie” may have been Penn State Behrend’s first imprint on the gaming industry, but Dr. Matthew White, lecturer in game development, believes it will not be the last. White said the game has paved the way for future games designed by Behrend students.

“For us, the most important thing about this is that it proved a concept,” White said. “From beginning to end, our students can build a game and launch it on a public store.”

Women in History Month: Meet Diana Hume George

By Allison Counasse
e-Communications Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

In recognition of Women’s History Month, we’d like to introduce you to just a few of the dynamic women in Penn State Behrend’s history. Our college has a rich history of leadership and involvement by strong, forward thinking, and generous women. Each Monday in March, we’ll highlight a woman who has made, or is currently making, her mark on the college.

Today, we’d like you to meet Dr. Diana Hume George, Professor Emerita of English and Women’s Studies.

Diana Hume George at JFK International Airport by John Edwards

Diana Hume George at JFK International Airport. Photo by John Edwards.

Diana Hume George taught English and Women’s Studies at Penn State Behrend from 1978 to 2004. She is now a member of the core faculty at Goucher College’s MFA in Creative Nonfiction program, which combines online and on-campus education. She has published ten books of poems, essays, and criticism, including the Pulitzer-nominated Blake and Freud. She also co-directs the Chautauqua Writers’ Festival.

I caught up with her by email to ask her about the importance of women’s studies, why she doesn’t (yes, you read that right!) miss teaching at Behrend, and what she’s been doing lately.

You taught women’s studies at Penn State Behrend. Why is it important for college students to learn about this subject?
Yes, I taught women’s studies and I worked for years on founding what became the women’s studies program at Behrend—I’m so glad it’s still going.

As much progress as women have made in this country and around the world, there’s nothing like genuine equity yet. Women can still be owned, enslaved, beaten, and maimed in many places, including in some parts of this country—and control of women’s bodies is still a primary political aim. Sometimes I am heartened by all the advances—no one’s surprised by women in the so-called professions any more, as doctors or professors or politicians or talking heads on TV, and that progress is genuine. But it’s just as true that in many cultures and countries, there’s still a war against women’s equality that is violent and terrifying.

Without women’s studies, younger women would be even more likely to backslide, to lose touch with all that has gone before, and to become re-enculturated in ways that disable and disenfranchise them—I see it every day. The lack of a feminist awareness among young women scares me deeply and daily and a lot.

What do you miss about teaching at Behrend?
I don’t miss teaching at Behrend, because I took the best of it with me. I’m still in contact with a bunch of my previous students over the years—one became among the best friends of my life, another student-turned-friend I meet up with at the Cleveland Film Festival every year. I visit one in Baltimore regularly, another is getting ready to run the Boston Marathon and makes me great beach-glass earrings, and yet another sends me his wonderful poems. And there’s another fellow writer, and another is a magazine editor—come to think of it, I’m in touch with someone from every generation of my career there.

I also stay in touch with department colleagues—I met up with John Champagne and Sharon Dale in Rome last year and stayed at John’s place in Perugia, and I see George Looney because along with Phil Terman at Clarion, we run the Chautauqua Writers’ Festival together, which is how I also run into Greg Morris as well as newer colleagues like Kim Todd and Tom Noyes. Other writer colleagues from long ago, names current people might not even remember, like Melissa Bender and Ann Pancake, are part of my life, too. And after leaving Behrend, I got to know a couple of colleagues that I never had time to know when I was working constantly—I love and miss Toby Cunningham, whom I barely knew at Behrend, but once we were gone, we ended up in a writers’ group together and my partner John Edwards published his wonderful book.

My son Bernie is back at Behrend finishing up his degree—so put it all together and it’s like I never left.

What have you been working on since leaving Behrend?
Since I left Behrend, I’ve been teaching creative nonfiction in an MFA program at Goucher College in Baltimore. I’ve also been to several colleges and universities as a visiting writer, teaching for a few weeks or even a semester, at places such as Davidson in North Carolina, UNC/Wilmington, and Ohio University.

What do you enjoy about teaching in the MFA program at Goucher College?
I live in Pennsylvania, and work online, going to Baltimore a couple of times a year. I mentor writers who always wanted to write a book. Our program is geared toward helping them write voice-driven narrative—some have been professional journalists all their lives and they haven’t yet gotten to write long-form. It’s great fun and I get to learn as much as I teach, because whatever they’re writing a book about, I’m reading that book as they write it. And we also get doctors and psychologists and professors, as well as people who want to write about their own lives, so I edit memoirs on trauma and on travel, and sometimes that can be the same book.

You mentioned in our email exchanges that you have been traveling. Please tell us more.
I have the privilege of shaping my life so that I can do my favorite thing, which is to travel with my friends or my partner, John Edwards. I wrote one travel book and I’m always writing the next one. I try to go to Italy for about a month every other year. Lately I’ve been alternating Italy with the Yucatan peninsula, from which I’m just back right now. I stay on Isla Mujares, an undeveloped island right off Cancun, where I first went with a fellow writer on a retreat back when I was at Behrend. I got hooked on those Caribbean breezes in January.

What are your other interests?
Even more than travel and writing, I want to read. I don’t get to read enough. That’s my goal, lots of good books, the kind where you can throw yourself down on a bed and get lost in an imaginary world.

And I love long-form drama on TV, where a lot of the best storytelling takes place, both comic and tragic—Deadwood, The Sopranos, and Breaking Bad were almost as important to me as literature.

You wrote and edited books on the American poet Anne Sexton. Does her work still resonate with you? How has your relationship with her work changed?
I wrote or edited three books about Anne Sexton, and she was a wondrous enough poet that I never got weary of her writing—but I did get battle fatigue about her psyche. She was a joyful and delightful person, witty, wicked smart, and ironic, but she was also bipolar, and being in the presence of that kind of mind can yank you around. My friend and the co-editor with me of Sexton’s Selected Poems, Diane Wood Middlebrook, lived inside Sexton’s head for a decade, and she said it was nearly too much.

I was attracted to her sense of joy, and I still admire her willingness to also say the depth of her pain—but she couldn’t live, in the end, and I can. So although my affection for her poetry remains, and I think she was tremendously important, and deserves to endure, I am a bit distant from her now.

But if you’re lucky, your old literary loves from early in your life stay with you in some sense throughout, they get internalized and are part of who you are, and all of my early loves became part of me—Sexton and Adrienne Rich and William Blake and Freud.

If someone is unfamiliar with your writing, what might be a good introductory work?
Personal essays I wrote, such as “Wounded Chevy at Wounded Knee” or “The Last of the Raccoon,” still represent my work.

Diana Hume George will do a public reading at Clarion University of Pennsylvania on April 17, 2014. The second edition of her book The Lonely Other: A Woman Watching America will be released in April, with several new essays.


Behrend Reacts: Who’s your pick to win the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament?


By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

It’s the end of March, which means the madness is well underway.

For weeks, sports fans have meticulously crafted their NCAA Division I men’s basketball bracket selections in search of a winner.

So, who you got?

The Sweet Sixteen begin today, which means that even more brackets are sure to get busted.

We asked Penn State Behrend students who they think will emerge from this year’s field.

Emelie Linder

Emelie Linder, freshman, Marketing and Economics: “I think Kentucky because it’s already been unexpected that they’ve made it this far.”

Kari Mild

Kari Mild, freshman, Elementary Education: “Tennessee because I really like that state and want to move there someday.”

Alexandra Sorce

Alexandra Sorce, freshman, Community and Economic Development: “Louisville because last season, (Louisville player) Kevin Ware had a radical knee injury and you deserve something if you pop your knee out like that.”

Mary Beth Cartier

Mary Beth Cartier, sophomore, Arts Administration: “Kentucky because both of my cousins went there, and they’re usually a really good team.”

Aaron Scheel

Aaron Scheel, junior, Computer Science: “Michigan because it would make my older brother very happy.”

Matt Panetta

Matt Panetta, sophomore, Computer Science: “Florida because I picked them in the ESPN Bracket Challenge.”

Khardiata Mbengue

Khardiata Mbengue, junior, Biology: “UCLA because there’s warm weather there, and their blood will be flowing better.”

Paul Toma

Paul Toma, junior, Finance: “Dayton because I like rooting for the underdogs.”

Brandon Siebauer

Brandon Siebauer, freshman, Plastics Engineering Technology: “Louisville because they’re 31-5.”

Jacob Foglia

Jacob Foglia, freshman, Electrical Engineering: “I’m going to go with Florida because they have Scottie Wilbekin, and I think he’s the strongest player in the tournament.”

Behrend Reacts is a regular Thursday feature at the Behrend Blog that tries to get the campus pulse on a current topic, whether it’s serious or trivial. If you have a question to suggest for Behrend Reacts, please email Steve Orbanek at

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