Far from Home: List of goals serve as motivation for Moustafa Elhadary


Editor’s note: Far from Home is an occasional series in which we document a year in the life of international students at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

“Make something big,” “A in all classes,” “Freshman of the year.” Every day, Moustafa Elhadary reads these words a multitude of times.

Moustafa phone

Moustafa Elhadary has programmed a list of goals for the spring semester in his iPod that he will refer to as the year goes on.

Elhadary, a first-year computer engineering major at Penn State Behrend, has programmed a list of goals into his iPod. Placed on a radiant yellow background, the list was created by Elhadary as he sat inside a plane on his way back from his home country of Dubai for the start of the spring semester in January.

He reached many of his goals during the fall semester. He compiled a 3.88 GPA and served as a senator for the Student Government Association, chairman of the International Student Organization and promotional coordinator for the Muslim Student Association.

However, he says he hopes this is only the beginning for him. That’s where his list comes into play.

“I always put my homework assignments into my iPod, so when I look at my homework, I see these goals, and because they’re vibrant yellow, they grab my attention every time,” Elhadary says. “It reminds me that I came here for a reason. Sometimes you get caught up in the everyday things, and this list reminds me, ‘Hey Moustafa, your parents spent a lot of money for you to come here, and you need to make them proud.’”

This is one of the main reasons Elhadary has set out to make the most of his time at Penn State Behrend. While he has been active in many clubs, he has been mindful of his academics. Last semester, he had an epiphany.

“I thought, ‘What if I can stay here for four years and get two degrees instead of one?’” Elhadary recalls. “So, in the middle of the semester, I said, ‘Why not?’”

At the moment, Elhadary is taking 22 credits and considering second major options. Industrial engineering or software engineering are possibilities, but he also might consider a business major.

With so many credits this semester combined with his extracurricular activities, time has proven to be a limited resource for Elhadary. At times, he’s even struggled to find time to connect with his family.

“I’ve barely called them because of my schedule,” he says. “I’ve really been trying to, but it’s hard.”

Fortunately, thanks to his iPod, he gets frequent reminders. It’s right there in bright yellow: “Call Zazo, Many and Papy more often.”


Moustafa Elhadary, left, has made a list of goals for the spring semester, one of which is to make more friends. He’s already made a number of friends at the college though, including fellow international students Hansel Lobo, center, and Tyagadipta Biswal. The trio made a trip to Pittsburgh during the fall semester.


Meet Standout Senior Sara Victor

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Victor Professional pic

Major: Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies (IBE)

Hometown: Grand Island, New York

On choosing Behrend: I visited Behrend for the first time at the end of my junior year of high school. I immediately loved the campus and people. The IBE major really sold me on Behrend.

On majoring in IBE: In high school, I enjoyed my technical classes and thought I would go to school for Mechanical Engineering, but I found the IBE program to be the perfect fit! I wanted to learn about both sides of a company—business and engineering.

Self-starter: In October 2013, I identified an opportunity to introduce Penn State Behrend to a new organization. The National Organization for Business and Engineering (NOBE) is an organization that influences personal development and leadership for students interested in both business and engineering. After serving as president of Penn State Behrend’s thirty-five member chapter in 2013, I became the Vice President, Internal on the National Board. I currently hold this exciting role and focus on expanding NOBE chapters throughout the country.

Personal passions: Skiing, travel, politics, the Buffalo Bills

Advice for current students: Studying abroad is a must! Arrange your academic plan during freshman year so you can incorporate a trip. I studied in London, England, during my sophomore year. Not only did I learn about new cultures, meet lifelong friends, and travel, but I also learned so much about myself. It was an exciting adventure that I will never forget.

Sara has accepted a position as a quality engineer in the medical device industry following her graduation in May.

Victor London pic

Sara in London



Far from Home: Washington, D.C., trip is an eye opener for Craig Miranda


Craig Miranda, right, spent his winter break visiting his brother Clive, who lives in Washington, D.C.

Craig Miranda, right, spent his winter break visiting his brother Clive, who lives in Washington, D.C.

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Editor’s note: Far from Home is an occasional series in which we document a year in the life of international students at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College.

As Craig Miranda made his way up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he could not help but stop to revel in the moment. The brisk air and tenacious winds that day were unlike anything the Kuwait native had experienced so far in the United States, but they did not deter his concentration from the history he was just then experiencing.

“I stopped right where Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech,” said Miranda, a first-year computer science major at Penn State Behrend. “I just stood there, and I started to film a video. I could just feel the inspiration.”

Miranda’s epiphany atop the Lincoln Memorial was one of the many memories he made during a visit to Washington, D.C., this winter break. Rather than return home, Miranda opted to spend the holidays with his brother, Clive Miranda, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in physiology from Georgetown University.

For more than 20 days, the two spent time touring the city’s monuments and sights. From the White House to the Washington Monument, every base was covered. For Miranda, whose exposure to the United States was previously limited to Erie, the trip was an eye-opener.

Protesters were everywhere. Public transportation was a new concept. And he had never done so much walking in his life.

“It really helped me compare and contrast Erie to other places that I have not yet seen,” he said.

For all of the trip’s unfamiliarities, one constant remained.

“I have such a strong bond with my brother,” Miranda said. “As soon as I got there, I could feel that bond being reunited.”

Miranda’s visit with his brother was also special because this marked the first time he spent Christmas and New Year’s Day away from his family in Kuwait. He says he missed home, but spending the holidays with his brother was the next-best thing.

Miranda even surprised Clive with a special — and appropriate — Christmas gift: a Penn State jersey.

The way that Clive expressed his gratitude might have been the best gift of all, though.

“He wore it onto the campus of Georgetown University,” Miranda said. “I forced him to do it, but it was so fun.”

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Secret Lives of Faculty: Dr. Pam Silver

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.

Bemis Point 2

NAME: Dr. Pam Silver

DAY JOB: Distinguished professor of biology, Penn State Behrend

SIDE GIG: Pipe Major, 96th Highlanders Pipes & Drums Corp

If Dr. Pam Silver’s childhood had a soundtrack, it would be the humming drone and romantic skirl of the bagpipes.

“My earliest memories are of following my mother around the yard as she walked back and forth playing bagpipes,” she said.

It wasn’t long before Silver was squeezing her own set of pipes under her tiny arm.

“I started taking lessons when I was 7 and got my first pipes when I was 9,” Silver said. “I’ve been playing ever since.”

Today, she is the Pipe Major of the 96th Highlanders Pipes & Drums, a pipe and drum corps that represents Jamestown and Chautauqua County, New York, at parades, festivals, and special events throughout the year.

96th Highlanders 2011 Color shot

Silver said her favorite music to play on the pipes is a trio of songs: Mrs. Joy Cairns, Rebecca’s Air, and Shoshanna’s LullabyEach of the songs is a tribute to women—wives, mothers, daughters.

“To me, that set is just one giant love song,” she said.

Speaking of love songs, Silver’s husband, Doug Clark, shares her passion for music. He is the drum sergeant in the 96th Highlanders (that’s how they met). He runs a large Celtic festival every August in Mayville, New York. To coin a trite, but wholly appropriate phrase, they make beautiful music together.

In addition to her performances and practices with the 96th Highlanders, Silver offers bagpipe lessons and takes on the occasional private gig, playing at weddings, parties, funerals, and, once, a bat mitzvah.

She’s also been known to liven things up in the School of Science with impromptu performances.

“When it’s been a long week, or when the students have been working really hard, I like to bring in my pipes and play a little,” she said. “It lifts spirits and makes a lot of noise.”




“People sometimes think science is about memorizing facts, but it’s really about discovering facts and wringing answers out of nature,” she said. “When you have a scientific question, it takes a lot of creativity to find the answer to it.”


“I worked as a medical technologist at a blood bank in Florida for ten years while I raised my sons. When they got older, I decided to go back to grad school to be an ecologist, but I never could learn to like the Florida heat. I grew up in rural New Jersey, so I was happy to move back to the Northeast to work at Penn State Behrend.”


“If we want to save the world, or at least slow the destruction of our ecosystem, we have to communicate effectively with non-scientists. Scientists tend to be introspective and many of them struggle to explain things to those outside their field. I’m really good at explaining things, so the most useful place for me to be to help fix our ecosystem is in the classroom. By teaching students to respect and appreciate our natural resources and insisting they take action to preserve it, I can have a much larger impact than I could if I worked only in the lab or in the field.”


“I love ecology because it pulls everything together. I get to talk about all kinds of subjects from history to politics to engineering because it all influences our ecosystem. Also, I really love to play in the water.”


“Water is our most precious natural resource, and it should never be wasted or deliberately contaminated. Drinkable water is not abundant and is, in fact, one of our most scarce natural resources. People don’t realize that yet, but they will. And it will happen in our lifetime. Every living thing needs clean water. We can’t survive without it.”


Silver is Editor-in-Chief of Freshwater Science, a highly-rated international scientific journal that has doubled in size and tripled in submissions since Silver took over in 2005.

“It’s a ton of work,” she said. “I spend probably sixteen hours on every paper in that journal. But, it’s really satisfying work. I like making sure the science is well-written and understandable. And I’ve amassed a huge network of scientific colleagues from across the world. I have learned something from each of them.”


Silver was recently named a University distinguished professor, an honor bestowed on fewer than 120 faculty members University-wide. She was nominated by Dr. Martin Kociolek, director of the School of Science.

“I’m still not sure if I’m worthy of the title, but there are people who I have tremendous respect for who think that I am, so I guess I can trust their opinion,” she said with a laugh.

Pam Silver 2010 JF


Time at Behrend: 22 years

Favorite aquatic insect: Midges. “They are very interesting and ecologically important to the health of a lake.”

Hobby No. 2: Making small, decorative quilts. “I created one as a memorial to a famous aquatic ecologist and donated to the Society of Freshwater Science for their annual auction to benefit graduate students and it fetched a donation of $2,600!”

Hobby No. 3: Gardening. “It’s therapeutic to have your hands in the soil.”

Favorite TV show: Madam Secretary.

Favorite sweet treat: Coffee-flavored ice cream.

Dream vacation: Hiking in the Swiss Alps. “I’ve done it before, but I’d like to go back.”

Book she’d recommend everyone read: Lord of the Rings. “I inherited the book from my grandfather and didn’t think I’d like it, but I reread it every year.”

Person she admires most: Her mother. “We drive to New Jersey once a month to visit her. She is 85 and still plays the bagpipes. We play together every chance we get.”

Edith and Pam Silver 1975 cROPPED

Dr. Silver, right, and her mother, Edith


Black School of Business students take on The Beast

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Talk about a beast of a group project!

This semester, students in Dr. Mary Beth Pinto’s MKTG 344 Buyer Behavior class will be acting as marketing analysts for the Barber National Institute (BNI) and the organization’s annual adventure run — The Beast on the Bay.

Fifty MKTG 344 students attended a kickoff session on January 15 in 180 Burke where they watched a video (filmed by 2013 Black School graduate, Jon Wolff, who completed the 2014 event) and learned about the Beast on the Bay from BNI’s marketing team, including Black School grad Brandon Boyd ’13, who is a communication/social media specialist at Barber National Institute.


About The Beast

The Beast actually has two heads, er, events: A 10-mile obstacle course and a 1.2-mile adapted course for adults with disabilities. (The Barber National Institute serves children and adults with intellectual disabilities and mental health challenges.)

The event, scheduled for September 12, is held on the shores of Lake Erie at Presque Isle State Park. Racers in the 10-mile event are bused to the start line at Beach 11, then they run back over sand, trails, asphalt and 25+ obstacles to the finish line at Waldameer. Near the end of the 10-mile event, racers intersect with the 1.2-mile adapted course participants and are encouraged to help them complete an obstacle or two. The interaction helps to drive home the reason behind the race.

Feeding The Beast

While the Beast is many things to the participants (fun, challenging, etc.), it is, ultimately, a fundraiser. Proceeds from the race benefit BNI and, thanks to generous and numerous sponsors, nearly the entire race fee ($60 to $100, depending on when participants sign up), goes directly to BNI.

The more participants the Beast draws, the more people BNI can help. That’s why Beast organizers have challenged the Black School of Business students with helping them feed the Beast and grow the event.

Students will work in teams to answer the following questions:

  1. How can BNI attract more participants from the 16-25 year age group?
  2. How can BNI attract more participants from outside the Erie area (Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Canada)?
  3. How can social media be used best to promote and encourage participation in the Beast on the Bay?

Several information gathering methods will be used, including personal interviews, focus groups, and surveys with past, potential, and target Beast participants.

Everyone wins

“Learning by Doing projects with corporate partners are such resume builders for students,” said Dr. Pinto, professor of marketing. “It is the perfect way to apply theory and concepts learned in the classroom and build their portfolio of experiences that will differentiate them when it comes time to meet with potential employers.”

Students will tour BNI on January 22 and have the opportunity to meet some of the special people they will be helping through their project.

Thoughts from a Beast-slayer


As a two-time Beast on the Bay participant myself (that’s my team in the video below), I’m excited that our students will be helping to make the event bigger and better than it already is. As a Marketing professional, I’m excited that our students get to learn by doing by working on a real project for a real company.

I’m also hoping the project inspires some of them to take on the Beast. I think they should definitely form a team, don’t you?!

The gauntlet has been thrown, MKTG 344!

What about you?

Are you ready to take on the Beast?

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“I have a dream…” Behrend students reflect on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

It was more than fifty years ago that these immortal words were spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

King’s vision and legacy is being celebrated this week at Penn State Behrend with a series of activities and events. Included among the events is the annual “I Am His Dream” march in which members of the Association of Black Collegians (ABC) marched on campus before engaging in a casual discussion to reflect on Dr. King’s ideals.

We caught up with some Behrend ABC members and asked them about their own dreams.

Khardiata Mbengue

Khardiata Mbengue, senior, Biology

“My dream is to have all of the work and dreams of Martin Luther King Jr. come to life. All of the ways that we’re not getting along would be solved, and there would be unity.”

Brianna Debow

Brianna Debow, sophomore, Communication

“I want to make this world be a place where everybody is equal and where racism is not alive. It’s about equality.”

Lola Soniregun

Lola Soniregun, junior, Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies

“My dream is to see equal opportunity in the workplace.”

Marcus Yuille

Marcus Yuille, senior, Political Science

“My dream is that all people would know the power they have to make a difference and make a change. And they would know they have to use that power for change to happen.”

Crystal Short

Crystal Short, sophomore, Communication

“I want to continue to better myself, so I can continue to better others. We’re all in the same boat and all need each other.”

Adedolapo Akintola

Adedolapo Akintola, junior, Biology

“The most important dream for me in regard to today’s society would be to live in a society where I can raise my son, and he doesn’t have to go outside and be scared. I want my son to be born into a society where he’s not automatically turned down for a job because his name frightens people. I’ve gone through that myself.”

Ally Johnson

Ally Johnson, sophomore, Project and Supply Chain Management and Psychology

“My dream is to be able to obtain a position where I can generate change and positivity for others.”

Timothee Paluku

Timothee Paluku, sophomore, Industrial Engineering

“My dream is to eradicate evil.”

Malcolm Mallard

Malcolm Mallard, first-year student, Chinese

“My dream is to bring awareness to everyone. I want everyone to understand that we’re all alike, but what makes us different should be cherished.”

Penn State Behrend’s Highlights of 2014

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Where did the year go?

Can you believe we are less than ten days away from saying goodbye to 2014?

At Penn State Behrend, the year was an eventful one. We welcomed our largest freshman class ever, introduced a number of new academic programs, and began construction on a new Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Center.

Please join us to revisit some of these highlights in the video above.

Happy New Year, and here’s to a great 2015!