Athletics to host cool 5K fun run (ice cream is involved!)

Ice Cream Run TV

By Heather Cass

Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Some people run for fun. Some people run for fitness. Some people run to spend time with friends.

What would you run for?

How about free Berkey Creamery ice cream (and a cool T-shirt, too)?

Ah…now there’s a tempting reason and sweet reward for running (or walking) the Penn State Behrend Athletics first Ice Cream Run on Friday, August 28 at 6:30 p.m.

Not up for 3.1 miles? There’s also a Family Fun 1-Mile Walk.

The races start and finish in the Junker Center parking lot, near the new soccer complex. The course is on all paved paths through campus and Coach Greg Cooper (cross-country and track) was merciful when he designed the course as it goes up first, then is mostly flat or downhill. Course map here (also posted below).

Race registration is $25 and includes a long-sleeve shirt and free Berkey’s Creamery ice cream when you finish the race. Register here (online registration only). By the way, this is a family-friendly event – there’s a $5 discount for every additional family member you register.

Four legged friends are even welcome to run with you, too, but they must be leashed and under control at all times.

This is a fun run, so there will not be a timer or awards.

All proceeds benefit Behrend Athletics! For more information call 814-898-6240.

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Young Erie authors publish one-week novels at College for Kids

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By Robb Frederick
Public Information Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Once upon a time there was a boy named David. He liked to write. He came to a college called Penn State Behrend for a program called College for Kids. He was one of 1,283 kids in the program.

The kids had fun. They launched rockets and built robots and made stained-glass mosaics. David’s class was called “Author’s Club.” The kids in it made their very own hard-cover books. David’s book was “The Magic Stones,” by David Showers, age 10. He dedicated it to his Gramma.

His teacher, Ms. Lenze, helped him write it. She taught him about plot and character and conflict. She made him practice. One time, she gave the class the ending of a story and asked them to write what the characters did to get to that point. That was like a backward book.

Ms. Lenze played classical music while the kids wrote. Some kids sat at desks. Some sat on the floor, their legs folded crisscross applesauce. David sat next to Audi, whose book was called “Mark and Jasmine Meet an Alien.” The boy across from them wrote “Attack of the Changeos.” Whatever those are.

“They are so creative at this age,” Ms. Lenze said. “The stories they come up with are just so imaginative.”

David’s story was about a boy who found three magic stones. The red stone made the boy invisible. The gold stone helped him fly. The black stone granted all of his wishes. But not right away. That was in a later chapter.

“I just moved here like six months ago,” David said. “I read a lot of books. I think it’s cool that I’m making my own.”

He wrote the first draft in a notebook. Then he copied the story into a blank book that Ms. Lenze gave him. He spent a lot of time on the drawings. Especially the first page, where he drew the boy and the boy’s dad and the big house they lived in. He drew all the bricks and shingles and even put smoke on the chimney.

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“I’m really good at drawing houses,” David said. He pointed to the front door, which looked like wood. “Isn’t that good?”

On the next page, the boy goes into the woods. He finds the magic stones. He starts to learn about their power.

Ms. Lenze said a good book should have some conflict. Like a fight. So David made his boy meet another boy – a friend, but not really – who also wanted the magic stones. That boy planned to do bad things with the power. So the boys wrestled, each of them grabbing at the stones, until the magic rocks dropped and broke.

And then?

Then it just ends. The last pages are blank. Ms. Lenze would call that a cliffhanger. David called it time-to-clean-up-for-lunch.

“That’s as far as I got,” he said. “I’ll have to write some more tomorrow, I guess.”

A Textbook Case of Win-Win: Student filmmakers, professors, textbook company team up to create educational videos

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Dr. Papiya Bhattacharjee

By Christine Palattella
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Associate professor of mathematics Dr. Papiya Bhattacharjee’s daily summer lectures have an audience of just one unblinking video camera, but the potential to reach millions of math students.

Bhattacharjee is one of four calculus teachers chosen by regional audition to act as talent in supplemental video content to be distributed by Erie-based Larson Texts. Founded by Dr. Ron Larson, professor of mathematics emeritus, Larson Texts’ educational products are used by five million students a year in middle school through college.

“I think the videos are going to be extremely helpful for any student, but especially the visual learners,” says Bhattacharjee, who spends four hours each morning in the Kochel Center television studio, working aloud while illustrating her commentary in grease marker on a large pane of glass. (The glass will be flipped in post-production to make the pane readable.)

Years of teaching have left Bhattacharjee comfortable speaking in public. It’s the addition of technology that’s the challenge. “I need to remember to always look at the camera while speaking, move away from my writing so it can be seen clearly in the camera, and so on,” she says. “I am trying to have fun. All I have to remember is that the camera is my student, and I am tutoring my student.”

But this is no average student: The camera is an Epic-M Red Dragon Pro, the same model used to film Game of Thrones, The Hobbit, and Avenger: Age of Ultron. Larson Texts’ ability to have its video series produced locally using the equipment favored by feature filmmakers is made possible by the Greater Erie Arts Rental, or GEAR, a new outreach service of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences that provides professional and student filmmakers and regional artists access to high-end cameras, lighting kits, and other hardware and software. GEAR’s equipment inventory, purchased using a $500,000 gift commitment from the Samuel P. Black Family Fund of the Erie Community Foundation, also includes lenses, tripods and stage legs; six-channel sound mixers; shotgun and wireless mics; Fresnal, LED, and HMI lighting systems; and Mac Pro, Adobe and DaVinci Resolve editing and rendering software.

Tim Larson ’87 is a partner in Grant Larson Productions, creator of the calculus video series. He anticipates filming 700 individual videos averaging seven minutes in length by the time the shoot wraps in August. Larson calls GEAR “a wonderful resource. It’s so nice to have this kind of equipment in Erie. On previous shoots we’ve had to rent cameras and equipment from Columbus and Buffalo, so this is an astounding benefit to us.”

An additional GEAR benefit is a ready-made film crew, since a rental discount is available to GEAR clients who hire Penn State Behrend students. “I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to work on this project,” says Erik Brown, a spring Communication graduate and one of six Behrend students and young alumni working for Grant Larson as paid production interns. “The great thing about working here is not only learning about the film industry itself, but also being exposed to high-quality equipment. We’re not using just a couple house lights and DSLR cameras, but industry-standard gear for lighting, sound recording, and cameras. I’ve always wanted to work in the film industry and, now, working on this shoot, I feel like I have a realistic chance of doing that.”

Erik Brown, left, Josh Lapping

Erik Brown, left, and Josh Lapping, (above) are two of six Behrend students and recent alumni working on the videos for Grant Larson Productions using equipment from the Greater Erie Arts Rental, or GEAR, a new outreach service of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences that provides professional and student filmmakers and regional artists access to high-end cameras, lighting kits, and other hardware and software. 

Josh Lapping, Ciara Smith

Penn State students, Josh Lapping, left, and Ciara Smith, work on a series of videos for Grant Larson Productions.

Shelby Dailey

Shelby Dailey, Penn State Behrend Communication major and intern for Grant Larson Productions.

Intern Shelby Dailey, pictured above, a Communication major starting her senior year at the college, appreciates that Grant Larson rotates its student workers. “We’re given the chance to experience all the moving parts of film, such as camera operating, producing, directing, and script supervising. I’ve learned things that textbooks can’t adequately prepare students for, such as (crew) dos and don’ts, set etiquette, and (the importance) of networking.”

“We want to offer an educational experience that is at the same time a close facsimile of what students will experience once they enter the professional environment of producing film and television,” says GEAR coordinator Michael Berlin, whose previous professional experiences include managing crew and equipment for New York City’s Fashion Week and the E! and Pop television networks and production management for ABC World News, CNBC, and ESPN. “The students working on these calculus videos are gaining technical know-how and a type of muscle memory that characterizes this industry, plus they are learning the responsibility that comes with arriving on-set day in and day out. They also are enjoying the benefit of getting paid for their hard work—believe me when I tell you that this type of arrangement is a very rare and very special as a teaching tool that is fair to all parties involved.”

For additional information about GEAR, email Michael Berlin at mbb21@psu.eduLarson Texts and Grant Larson Productions online.

Move over, Bill Nye. Penn State Behrend has its own ‘Science Guy’

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

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Joel Solomon, a physics major, was the recipient of this year’s T. Reed Ferguson Award. The award recognizes a junior who has demonstrated scholarship, leadership and citizenship through academic and out-of-class involvement and gives promise of further achievement in the senior year.

For some kids, it’s Cartoon Network. For others, it’s Nickelodeon. For Joel Solomon, it was the Science channel?

“Growing up, I just always watched that channel,” says Solomon, who recently completed his junior year at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. “I was fascinated by what humanity has been able to do over the years, and I knew that I wanted to be a part of that.”

Math and science resonated with Solomon, and that interest led the New Wilmington, Pa., native to Penn State Behrend. As he got older, he knew he wanted to pursue research in college, and he could think of no better destination than Behrend.

“Being able to get a great education at a small campus is great,” says Solomon, a physics major. “I was looking for a research-oriented institution, and Behrend is one of the few schools in the region that offers such opportunities. I know that with a degree from here, I can go anywhere that I choose.”

This past year, Solomon collaborated with Bruce Wittmershaus, associate professor of physics, on a research project titled, “Concentration Dependence of Coated Gold Nanoparticles for Metal Enhanced Fluorescence.” The project was recognized as the Best Poster Presentation this past April at the Sigma Xi Undergraduate Student Research and Creative Accomplishment Conference.

Undergraduate research has been a big part of his time at the college, but Solomon’s interests go beyond the academic realm. For the past three years, he’s been a goalie on the men’s soccer team. This past year, Solomon was inducted into Chi Alpha Sigma, a national society that honors collegiate student-athletes who excel in both the classroom and in athletic competition. The society recognizes student-athletes who received a varsity letter in their sport while maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.4 or higher throughout their junior and/or senior years. Solomon is also a former AMCC All-Academic selection.

“I feel as if soccer complements my academics. Just being physically active helps me keep up with my coursework,” he says.

Solomon’s accomplishments on the field and in the classroom played a key role in his receiving the 2014-15 T. Reed Ferguson Award last April at the college’s 66th annual Honors and Awards Convocation. The award recognizes a junior who has demonstrated scholarship, leadership and citizenship through academic and out-of-class involvement and gives promise of further achievement in the senior year.

“I was very happy to receive the award, and it was nice to know my work is paying off,” Solomon says. “It just reassured me that I’m on the right path, but I know there’s more that I can do.”

Solomon will get the chance to fulfill that promise of further achievement this fall, continuing his undergraduate research as the recipient of a grant to explore the topic of “Enhancing the Photostability of Fluorophores Using Metal Enhanced Fluorescence.”

For the future, Solomon plans to attend graduate school and possibly work with optics. His ultimate goal, though, has its roots in the programs he watched on Science as a boy.

“My dream job is always going to be something with NASA. I have always been fascinated by all of NASA’s accomplishments,” he says, “so that’s the dream, and that’s what I’ll keep working toward.”

Kunming, China, native comes to Penn State Behrend to ‘claim’ an education

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

(Wang, Arthur) Rose_Cologne_Keystone Award

Arthur Wang, a Kunming China, native, is shown holding the Rose Cologne Keystone Citizen Award, a University-wide award that he received this spring.

Yuanheng “Arthur” Wang arrived in the United States for the first time in 2006. His parents felt it was time for him to see the world, so the Kunming, China, native went to live with his uncle in Seattle.

He knew there would be only one way to adapt.

“I really struggled back then because I basically knew nothing about English. I realized then that I had to master this language to survive,” Wang says.

Now a junior at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, Wang is doing more than surviving — he’s thriving.

He has made the Dean’s List every semester so far, has joined the Lambda Sigma National Honor Society, has served as the regional vice president of the Student Pennsylvania State Education Association and was recently accepted into the University’s Schreyer Honors College. His greatest accomplishment though, might be the work he is doing to help his fellow international students, he says.

Wang serves as a teaching assistant for Penn State Behrend’s English Language Learners program and holds office hours each week, tutoring students in college-level reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. The English language has resonated with him.

“I like English, and I like communication. They just make me excited,” Wang says.

In fact, he’s so enthused about the language that English has become his major. Now he’s using that excitement to assist others.

“I want to help those who are learning English, but in order to do that, I have to master the language myself,” Wang says. “I use English and Chinese interchangeably, which we call ‘code-switching.’ I want to encourage those around me to realize and appreciate the beauty of language.”

Wang’s efforts were recognized this spring when he was honored with two awards: Behrend’s Irvin H. Kochel Award and the University-wide Rose Cologne Keystone Citizen Award. The Kochel Award is presented annually to an outstanding student who demonstrates character, scholarship, leadership and citizenship through efforts that positively influence students and the college community. The Cologne Award recognizes students for service and volunteerism to their campus and local communities.

After graduation, Wang plans to pursue a master’s degree in education or instructional communication and would eventually like to be a professor of language and literacy education. He’s not afraid to challenge stereotypical notions along the way.

“I wish to challenge the stereotype that Asian students or international students are not able to major in English or the humanities. I want to challenge the stereotype that says all international students are going to major in business, engineering or the sciences,” he says.

Guiding him along the way is a principle he picked up from a speech titled “Claiming an Education,” given by poet Adrienne Rich at the 1977 convocation of Douglass College in New Jersey.

“I’m not here to accept or receive an education. I’m here to claim an education. I want to claim all of the resources here available to me,” Wang says. “This term inspires me because it really confirms my dedication and informs my direction.”

He’s hoping other students are willing to follow his footsteps in claiming their education.

“College is all about choice,” he says. “If you want to be happy, if you want to be a success, then you make that choice and do it. Once you make that choice, no one can take it away from you.”

For adult student, degree is ‘one of those lifetime badges you get’

By Robb Frederick
Public Information Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Michael Linhart (3) (682x1024)Michael Linhart took his time getting to Erie Insurance Arena, where he received a bachelor’s degree in general arts and sciences. He crossed the stage in May, 24 years after he first enrolled at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.

“It’s hard to describe how that felt,” Linhart, 42, said. “To be honest, I just tried to soak it all in.”

The Fairview resident first arrived at Penn State Behrend in 1991. The Kochel and Burke centers had not yet been built. Ohio and Almy halls were still woodlots.

Linhart had trouble adjusting to college life. After three semesters, his GPA had flat-lined at 1.5.

“I wasn’t ready for college,” he said. “I didn’t have the focus or the determination to stay with it. I needed to grow up.”

So he left. He worked the cash register at a grocery store and helped manage a Taco Bell. He watched his friends go on to better things.

“All my friends were getting these great 9-to-5 jobs,” he said. “They were getting married, having kids, and I was stuck, still living hand-to-mouth.”

In 1998, after five years away, he came back to campus. He tried to be more active: He joined the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity and the Returning Adult Student Organization. He volunteered as an orientation leader.

“He had a renewed sense of what he needed to do to be successful here,” said Biddy Brooks, director of the Office of Adult Learner Services. “He was committed to putting in the work. So it was hard to see him leave again.”

After two years of study, Linhart was offered an internship at a property management company. He worked as a leasing consultant, matching renters to apartments in a 132-unit complex. When his boss offered him a full-time position – good pay, and a path up the organizational ladder – he accepted, leaving college for a second time.

Before long, however, the work bored him. He joined the U.S. Navy Reserve, training as an aviation supply worker. He completed basic training on Sept. 5, 2001.

Six days later, the nation went to war.

“I ended up in the Persian Gulf, on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, thinking, ‘Yeah, this was a great plan,’” Linhart said.

When his tour ended, he returned to Erie, wanting to be close to family again. He met a woman and had two children. He’d raise them on his own, tending bar and working as a massage therapist.

He married again in 2012. When his new wife, Amy, encouraged him to complete his degree, Linhart once more found himself in Biddy Brooks’ office.

“He just persevered,” Brooks said. “He was so positive and outgoing, and always willing to talk with other adult students. He wanted to help them through situations he’d already had to work through.”

He kept his own doubts to himself. “I was a lot more apprehensive, coming back that third time,” Linhart said. “I was like, ‘What am I doing here?’ But I stayed with it. I saw it as one of those lifetime badges you get: the ‘turn 40 and go back to college’ badge.”

It worked. He earned his final credits and was honored as the college’s top adult learner. The day of his last exam, he lingered on campus.

“This school has given me so much,” he said. “So many friends, so many experiences, so many nuggets of wisdom I can take with me anywhere. I just walked around and took it all in one more time.”

Before the commencement ceremony, he drove to the cemetery where his grandparents are buried. He placed an invitation in a zip-lock bag and tucked it between their headstones. Then he went home and taped a message to the top of his mortarboard: “I MADE IT.”

College packing 101

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By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Ah…’tis the season for first-year students to clear the shelves at Bed, Bath & Beyond and Target in preparation for the big move to college. It’s a daunting and, at times, overwhelming task to pack up your life and move into a much smaller (and usually shared) living space.

Don’t stress, we are here to help! (By the way, that’s true not just for packing advice, but for any problem you encounter while you’re here. Never be afraid to ask for help!)

Keys to success

The keys to packing for college are the same things that will help you be successful once you get here:

  1. Do the research.
  2. Make a plan.
  3. Keep track of what you need to get done.
  4. Do not procrastinate.

What to bring

Now, the good news: We’ve done the research for you on what to bring.

Here’s the official list from Penn State’s Housing and Food Services Department:

  • Address book, stamps, stationery
  • Alarm clock
  • Backpack
  • Baskets for toiletries and storage
  • Bed Linen: sheets (extra-long twin), mattress pad (extra-long twin), bedspread/blanket, and pillow
  • Bike and bike lock
  • Cleaning supplies (cleaner, paper towels)
  • Clothing (bathrobe)
  • Computer, printer, and cables
  • Desk items (lamp, pens/pencils/highlighters, calendar, calculator, tape, scissors, stapler, paperclips)
  • Fan (portable)
  • Financial items (checking/savings account, credit/debit card, health insurance card, Social Security card, driver’s license or photo ID)
  • First Aid items (band aids, cotton balls, cotton swabs, cold/cough medicine, first-aid kit, aspirin)
  • Food items (can opener, bottled beverages, coffee maker with automatic shutoff, one set of silverware/plates/bowls/glasses, condiments, napkins, snacks, dish detergent/ towel)
  • Games (cards, board games)
  • Hangers
  • Laundry basket/bag, detergent, iron
  • Padlocks (desk, laptop, and bike)
  • Room decorations (note that posters/photos must be hung with plastic tack)
  • Sewing kit/safety pins
  • Snow shovel/snow brush to store in your car
  • Stereo system (CD player, radio, mini disc player, headphones, CDs, etc.)
  • Television
  • Toiletry Items
  • Towels
  • Umbrella
  • Vacuum Cleaner (although vacuums are available in each residence area, it is suggested that you bring a small one with you, such as a “stick” vacuum, if your room is carpeted)
  • VCR or DVD player (with cables)

Especially for Behrend bound students

There are some additional things you should add to your shopping list if you’re bound for Behrend. We asked current Behrend students, recent alumni, and staff and faculty members what they would add to the list. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Bring winter clothes/brush/gear with you. Last year, a good majority of people were caught surprised by a foot of snow the week before Thanksgiving break. — Zachary McCauley
  • A scientific calculator. — Robert Durbin
  • A flashlight. — Amanda VanBuskirk
  • Swiffer, dust rag, dish soap, and a sponge. — Megan Dunlap
  • Yaktrax (traction cleats designed that pull on over your shoes) give you better traction on ice. — Lauren Minner
  • A sleeping bag for staying in friends’ rooms. — Alysha Simmons
  • A boot mat to put wet footwear on and something to clean the floor with, such as a Swiffer. — Savannah Martin
  • Desk lamp. — Megan Dunlap
  • A small wash bin to do dishes. It’s easier than trying to do them in the sink. — Ashlyn Kelly
  • A warm scarf to cover your face in winter as you walk around campus, good winter boots, a sturdy umbrella, and rain boots, too. — Valeri Maye
  • Bring a pair of old shoes or boots that you can get dirty during walks in the gorge. — Jackie Gowen
  • A boot dryer. —Amanda Hall (Editor’s note: Oooh, good one, Amanda. Very smart investment!)
  • Extension cords and multi-plug outlet adapters. — Carol Brandon