The predator above us (Wings over Behrend)

By Christine Palattella
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Red-Tailed Hawk cropped

Photo by Andy Colwell ’11 COMM

The secret to optimizing your Behrend bird watching experience? Have a great photographer with you, and hope that he or she owns a lens the size of a dinner plate.

I was lucky to be in the company of Andy Colwell ’11 COMM two Saturdays ago when a pair of large raptors started circling high above Junker Center. Andy used his Nikon Nikkor 400mm f/2.8 manual telephoto lens to capture this image of a red-tailed hawk, Buteo jamaicensis.

Any lens with its own handle is a serious piece of business, but Andy’s also has an interesting provenance: Before finding its way to him, the Nikkor spent twenty years on the sidelines at Beaver Stadium, shooting Nittany Lion football games. Andy learned the patience and finesse needed to coax crisp images from his mega-manual lens while earning his two undergraduate photography degrees, in visual journalism and in art photography.

As for Buteo jamaicensis, they are year-round residents of the region and common sight over campus. Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. John Steffen told me that the males are indistinguishable from the females, to humans at least. Red-tails themselves clearly have it worked out, because they are monogamous and somewhat infamous in the bird world for their elaborate mating display: After a series of aerial swoops and dives, the pair will rest in a tree. The male will stoop down in front of the female, and if she’s into him, she rolls over so that their cloacas can meet. They’ll build a stick nest in the crotch of a tree to incubate their clutch of two or three eggs; Steffen says it’s not unusual for these nests to reach four feet in diameter. He added that in many places, red-tails are the top-dog predator; their diet of songbirds, small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians keeps the population of smaller vertebrates regulated.

Learn more about the red tailed-hawk and hear its call here (it will be a familiar sound to you if you’ve been at Behrend for a while).

Learn more about photographer Andy Colwell (below) and see more of his work here.

Behrend Reacts: What advice would you give to a new Behrend student?


By Nicole Krahe
Marketing Communication Student Assistant, Penn State Behrend

The first couple weeks of college are filled with exhilaration and eagerness as new students flood campus and attend classes for the first time.

We asked returning students what advice they would offer first-year students for taking on the rest of the school year as exam dates draw nearer and weather turns colder.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson, junior, Environmental Studies, from Kane, Pa: “Practice solid study skills. You have to put the work in to learn the material.”

Tara Campbell

Tara Campbell, sophomore, Business Management, from Cranesville, Pa: “College is a lot different from high school; you have to be disciplined and responsible for yourself.  No one is going to hold your hand through it.”

Isaac Howard

Isaac Howard, sophomore, Mechanical Engineering, from East Springfield, Pa: “Don’t procrastinate. Time management is a crucial part of being successful.”

Bridget Heller

Bridget Heller, sophomore, Nursing, from Erie, Pa: “Focus on your school work, but do not forget about the social aspect of college. This time is about learning, but also discovering who you are.”

Gracie Wiles

Gracie Wiles, sophomore, Nursing, from Clarion, Pa: “Try not to freak out and stress about all of the changes. College is a big adjustment, but remember that everything is temporary and it will all be worth it in the end. You have to keep a positive attitude.”

Nick Spurgeon

Nick Spurgeon, junior, Marketing and Psychology, from Erie, Pa: “Make as many friends as possible. It will make your time more enjoyable here, and those people will become connections later in life.”

Miko Breski

Miko Breski, sophomore, General Arts and Sciences, from Erie, Pa: “Get involved in everything you can. If you don’t, you are not taking full advantage of this time and freedom.”

Vee Butler

Vee Butler, senior, Arts Administration, from Bethel Park, Pa: “Try not to be shy, and meet everyone. When you come to college, you are a blank slate and free to be whoever you want. Use it to your benefit.”

Dalton Beatty

Dalton Beatty, junior, Accounting and Finance, from Conneaut Lake, Pa: “Get to know your professors and the faculty. They are here to help you no matter what and can help you find jobs and internships in the future.”

Mackenzie Yoho

Mackenzie Yoho, sophomore, Labor and Employment Relations, from Ellwood, Pa: “Get involved, even if it is with only one club. I’ve met some of my best friends through the clubs and organizations offered here.”

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 Nicole Krahe at

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Student earns wings

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Miranda Boatman took a deep breath as she boarded the Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft. After two-plus weeks of training, the time had finally come.

Within minutes, the Penn State Behrend junior childhood and early adolescent education major would be more than 1,200 feet above ground. Then she would jump from the aircarft and fall at speeds exceeding 130 miles an hour.

“Once we’re in that plane, and they open that door, that’s when it gets real,” said Boatman. “There’s only one way down.”

The Bellefonte, Pennsylvania native spent three weeks this summer completing the Army’s Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. The course is better recognized by its nickname — Jump School.

“They teach you how to do a PLF — parachute landing fall,” said Boatman, a member of The Pride of Pennsylvania ROTC Battalion (which includes students from Penn State Behrend, Gannon University, and Mercyhurst University). “For me, it wasn’t as bad because I’m smaller, so I hit the grounder lighter.”

The training schedule that leads to the completion of an airborne jump is significant. It’s broken down into three weeklong intervals: ground week, tower week, and jump week.

Once the training has been completed, participants are expected to be able to execute jumps, deploy parachutes, land safely, pack swiftly, and move to a designated rally point.

Boatman said the training could be tedious at times, especially during ground week, but it’s a tried-and-true process.

“With ground week, you start on a (34-foot) platform and start swinging back and forth. They say they’ve been teaching these same methods for over twenty years, and it obviously works,” Boatman said.

During week two, participants practice jumps from 250-foot towers. The week is devoted to teaching all of the different phases of parachute flight.

The training process is far from easy. According to Boatman, more than 150 participants in her training group were dropped from the training because their jumps were not proficient during weeks one and two.

Those who made it to week three were in for some real, high-flying fun.

Boatman made a total of five jumps from the aircraft, including a night jump that proved to be the highlight of her experience.

“After you hit the ground on that jump, you knew you were getting your wings, so that was pretty great,” she said. “Everyone’s adrenaline was going after that jump, and everyone had their own little story about it.”

Boatman’s success in jumping should not come as a surprise. It’s in her blood.

Her father, John Boatman, completed the same training years earlier before serving in the National Guard. He was on hand for his daughter’s jumps and presented her with her airborne jump wings on the final day of the training.

Boatman plans to follow in her father’s footsteps and join the National Guard after her graduation in 2015. She’s thankful for the experiences ROTC has given her, especially her unique “summer school” venture.

“I just had such a great summer,” she said. “ROTC has provided me with so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. I wouldn’t have been able to jump out of a plane. That’s just not something a normal college kid gets to do.”

A club for everyone (and 12 you probably didn’t know existed at Behrend)


By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

There are a lot of good reasons to get involved in clubs on campus:

  • Make friends.
  • Have fun!
  • Enhance your resume.
  • Develop time management skills.
  • Gain some leadership experience.
  • Eat for free.


I attended the Club Showcase on Wednesday in McGarvey Commons and there were so many clubs and organizations that the showcase spilled out of the commons and filled the entire Wintergarden area, too.

Clearly, whatever your background, interests, or activity level there is a club, organization, or group for you.

Here are a dozen clubs that caught my eye. Some are new, some are unique, and some are clubs you might not have known even existed at Behrend:


Nanashi: The Anime Club 

Before you go, brush up on 100 most essential words in Anime.


The Behrend Fencing Group



Renaissance Martial Arts Club

Doesn’t that sign (lower right) “Fight with Swords!” just about say it all?


Asian Student Organization

In the past, this group has put on some really entertaining, interesting, fun, and well attended events — including a festive Spring Festival celebration.


Human Relations Programming Council (HRPC)

Who doesn’t want to make the world a better place?


Women Today

’cause, ladies, we need to support one another.


Commuter Council

The commuters want a lounge to hang out in between classes. Join the club to help make it happen.


Tone-Acious – the Behrend A Cappella Group

Music to my ears.


Agriculture Club

This group’s twice-a-year Behrend County Fair is your chance to ride a mechanical bull — right in McGarvey Commons! Don’t miss it.


Fresh Face Forward

Because beauty doesn’t have to be toxic (to animals, you, or the environment).


RAK: Random Acts of Kindness

A group who goes around campus doing nice things anonymously. How awesome is that? It was an unstaffed booth…of course. Shhhh…..we’ll never tell who is involved.


Crossfit Club

Leave college 15 pounds heavier — not from late-night pizza or free cookies, but from working out like a boss. Sounds like the perfect after-class stress relief!

For More Info

You can find information about any of these clubs…and check out any of the more than 100 clubs on campus here.




Behrend Reacts: What club are you thinking of joining this year?


By Nicole Krahe
Marketing Communication Student Assistant, Penn State Behrend

When Penn State President Eric Barron was introduced in May, he presented the following analogy.

“When students decided to come to Penn State and pay their tuition, they purchased a sports car, but too many of them will only drive it 20 miles per hour.”

Translation? Take advantage of all the opportunities available to you at college and GET INVOLVED!

New students had an opportunity to see everything Penn State Behrend has to offer Wednesday at the Club Showcase in McGarvey Commons.

We asked students what clubs piqued their interest.

Courtney Bolton

Courtney Bolton, first-year student, Nursing: “The dance team because I have been dancing since I was 3-years-old. I’m not ready to give it up yet.”

Taylor Sterrett

Taylor Sterrett, first-year student, Nursing: “I liked the club volleyball team because I played volleyball in high school.”

Shayne Watson
Shayne Watson, first-year student, Speech Pathology: “I signed up for the Republican club because I don’t like our current president.”

Nick Angelo

Nick Angelo, senior, Computer Engineering: “Well, I’m the president of Triangle Fraternity, so I’m recruiting. It’s still early, but we’ve got a couple of names, so that’s good.”

Tom Prinzi

Tom Prinzi, senior, Plastics Engineering: “The International Student Organization. It is not only for international students, it’s also for anyone looking to break barriers and make friends. They have really nice dinners, too.”

Justin Leonard

Justin Leonard, junior, International Business: “Behrend Club Hockey. It gives you the opportunity to play at a competitive level while still having fun and being part of a family.”

Josh Kolarac

Josh Kolarac, first-year student, Communication: “I’m interested in joining BVZ and The Behrend Beacon because it will help out with my major.”

Rayni Modecki

Rayni Modecki, first-year student, IBE: “I signed up for THON because it sounds like a lot of fun and it’s a good cause.”

Andrea Gaez

Andrea Gaez, first-year student, Industrial Engineering: “I came here from Panama, so I joined Theta Phi Alpha and The Multicultural Council to make new friends!”

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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10 signs life has returned to normal

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

As a staff member who works at the college year round, I can tell you that the summer months are peaceful and serene.

At first.

But after a few weeks, the novelty of a great parking space wears off and you realize that no Bruno’s or Elements café (both close in summer) means no morning Starbucks and the empty pathways become a little too peaceful and campus starts to feel kind of lonely.

Summer is a nice reprieve, but it’s truly wonderful and exciting when students and faculty members return. Suffice to say we missed you.

We went out today in search of 10 signs that life has returned to normal on campus:


1. Foot traffic.The pathways around campus are full at class change (and 65% of students are looking at their digital devices while they walk. No judgment here — I’m the one you see walking around with my nose buried in my Kindle, but sometimes it’s nice to look around, too. We have a beautiful campus).


2. Nearly filled parking lots. (So much for always finding a spot in Reed. It’s OK, though. I don’t mind walking a little farther. It’s does a body good. Now, come February….)


3. A full house outside of Bruno’s and at nearly every student work station around campus.


4. Customers (and three registers open) at the book store.

BTW — that’s me up there in that photo. See that smile? It’s genuine. We’re all quite happy to have you back. See that notebook? I’m almost always carrying one because I never know when I’ll find a story. If you’ve got one to tell, stop me and chat me up.


5. Paws’ STARBUCKS is open again. STARBUCKS is open again. STARBUCKS is open again. STARBUCKS IS OPEN AGAIN.  (What? Me? Overcaffeinated? Maybe…because STARBUCKS IS OPEN AGAIN! Cue the angels singing).


6. Paws is scooping Berkey’s again. I scream…you scream…we all scream for ice cream, but you know what? They don’t sell it in the summer. (Doesn’t that just seem cruel?)


7. Student organizations are handing out free food (and other stuff). Fact: If you leave college without 4 Frisbees, 12 reusable shopping bags, 25 free T-shirts and 15 extra pounds, you didn’t do it right.


8. Bruno’s is open again, which means we can get our chicken wrap fix.


9. There are people in the library again….lots of them. (I guess this means I’ll have to start whispering in the library again).


10. Elements Café is open. You know they sell STARBUCKS coffee, right?

Welcome home, everyone! Looking forward to another great year!







International internship leads to amazing experiences for Behrend student

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

nico at bull running

Nico Carbo’s heart beat wildly as he stood on a cobblestone street in Pamplona, Spain, waiting for the sound of hooves and the roar of the crowd gathered behind the barricades. Dressed in the traditional garb—white pants and shirt, red bandanna and a red scarf tied around his waist—Carbo’s primary concern was staying on his feet.

“All I could think was: Don’t fall or you’re done for,” he said.

A 1,500-pound running bull doesn’t care what is in its path. It’s tempting fate, then, to step out and run in front of it. But that’s sort of the point at the annual running of the bulls in Spain, which began as a way to move bulls from Pamplona’s corral to its bullfighting arena and became an annual show of bravado by daredevil young men.

Today, thousands of participants from all over the world dash through the streets trailed by charging bulls each morning of the St. Fermin Festival, which is held annually July 7-14.

Among the runners this year was Carbo, a junior International Business and Marketing major, who is interning as the community manager at EME Catedral Hotel, a five-star boutique hotel in Seville, Spain.

Carbo ran with the bulls not just once, but twice – taking a jog with the snorting half-ton animals on July 7 and 8.

I met Carbo in late April when I interviewed him about a research project he is working on (coming in the next issue of Behrend magazine) and that’s when he told me he had an internship in Spain and he intended to run with the bulls while he was there. Well, I couldn’t let that story go untold, so I emailed Carbo last week to find out how it went.

Where did you run?

I ran with the bulls in Pamplona. We started on calle Santo Domingo.

Is it just men that run? Are women allowed to run?

It is mostly young men, but women are allowed. On the two days I ran, I only saw two women.

How far is the run?

It is 820 meters (roughly a half mile), and the entire thing lasts less than five minutes. I wanted to wait until I saw the bulls before I started running.

How many bulls are there?

They say there are six, but there are actually ten. They initially let out eight bulls first and then there are two that are sent after them to push through any bulls that might have gotten separated from the pack.

How fast was the pace of the run?

The bulls are very fast. It is impossible to run with them the entire time. I ran in front of them for about 20 meters before I had to get out of the way. The bulls get to the arena in about three minutes.

What was the experience like?

I would describe it as beautiful insanity, if that makes sense. I hardly slept the night before because everyone was partying in the streets until daylight.

Were you ever frightened?

Yes, and anxious. The runners do a traditional chant to an image of San Fermin three times before they release the bulls at 8 a.m. By then, my heart was beating very fast. But once I heard the rocket go off (signaling that the bulls have been released), my sole goal was to run and stay alive.

Did you worry about falling?

Yes. There are a lot of people who run and a lot of them are drunk. There are also people who trip and end up pushing you, so I was concerned about that, too. The first day two people fell right in front of me. I was able to jump over the first one and go around the second one. On the second day, a guy in front of me was recording on his phone, and he dropped it. He bent over to pick it up and almost got gored in the head by a bull.

What has your internship experience been like so far?

My colleagues are very friendly and it’s a great experience to work with people internationally. Even though I work in Spain, I work with many French people.

What’s next on your bucket list of things to do in Spain?

I want to go to La Tomatina, which is a tomato festival in Valencia, Spain. It’s basically a giant tomato fight.

Sounds messy, but much safer than trying to outrun a pack of angry bulls.

Here’s a video Carbo sent of the end of the run, shortly after entering the stadium: