Class of 2016: Meet Michael Pacacha (Mechanical Engineering)

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2016 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend.  We sat down to talk to some remarkable seniors before they left school and we’d like to a few of our students who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Michael Pacacha:

Pacacha1

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Hunker, Pennsylvania

On majoring in Mechanical Engineering: Growing up, I always enjoyed math and science, so I knew I wanted to pursue a career focused on those. Having participated in the Pennsylvania Envirothon since sixth grade, I was also interested in environmental science/engineering. I went with Mechanical Engineering because it gave me a broader group of industries I could work in.

Campus involvement: I’ve been involved with Lion Ambassadors, Lion Scouts, THON, and Engineering Ambassadors.

What you’d be surprised to know about him: I was homeschooled, so college was definitely a new and exciting experience for me. Sometimes people wonder if I socialized in high school. I did; I started working early and was always involved with several organizations.

Traveling engineer: I hope to find a job that offers me the opportunity to travel. I love exploring and going to places I’ve never been before, so finding a position that allows that outside of a professional environment is important to me.

Marathon dancin’ man: In February, I was blessed to represent Penn State Behrend at THON, the University’s 46-hour dace marathon that raises money to help kids with cancer.

Advice for current students: Always be responsible and accountable for your actions. Also, time management skills are extremely important in college!

Michael is planning to work as an engineer in the field of aerospace, defense, or energy following his graduation in May.

‘Looks Like We Made It’: Behrend choristers perform alongside Barry Manilow

Manilow-Concert_017 (smaller)

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

It was not until the lights came on that Elizabeth Seng fully realized the significance of the moment.

Behind her was a jumbotron. In front stood a multi-platinum singer-songwriter. Beyond him was a crowd of thousands of people.

Seng, a senior psychology major at Penn State Behrend, has made many memories in her four years at the college, but performing alongside Barry Manilow as part of the Choirs of Penn State Behrend might take the cake.

“We were out on the stage, and then they shined the lights on us,” said Seng, a Seattle native who has been a regular member of the choir during her time at the college. “There were all these people there, and it was just really exhilarating. It was probably my most memorable experience I’ve had here at Behrend.”

Manilow invited the Behrend Choirs to perform alongside him at his April 25 concert at Erie Insurance Arena. Tone-Acious, Penn State Behrend’s student a cappella club, joined the choir for the performance, which was part of Manilow’s “One Last Time!” tour.

“This was a really unique opportunity, and it highlighted Behrend’s arts offerings in front of a huge audience,” said Gabrielle Dietrich, director of choral ensembles at the college. “It also provided a fun and highly motivating year-end experience for our students.”

“When I found out, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, are you serious?’” Seng said. “It just felt so special to think that Barry Manilow thought we were good enough to be a part of his concert.”

The choirs’ performance was especially meaningful because they joined him for the three final songs of the concert, which were amongst his greatest hits: “Copacabana,” “Miracle” and “I Write the Songs.”

The day of the concert, the choirs arrived at the arena at 3:30 p.m. and practiced before going on stage at 9:30 p.m.

“We were sent to holding rooms in which they had us practice a lot and learn the choreography,” said Taylor May, a junior software engineering major and member of both the Behrend Choirs and Tone-Acious. “We even ran through it once on the stage with the soundtrack, but thankfully we got to relax a bit before the concert.”

To honor the occasion, choristers created “Behrend Hearts Barry” t-shirts which they wore under their gowns during the concert. They even gave an extra t-shirt to Manilow as a memento.

The shirts are a reminder of what was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of the choristers.

“Before you knew it, you could see the streamers (coming down from the ceiling), and that was it. It just went by so fast,” Seng said. “To be part of one of his final tours was just really, really cool. I’ll remember it forever.”

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Class of 2016: Meet Dan Doleiden (Mechanical Engineering)

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2016 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend.  We sat down to talk to some remarkable seniors before they left school and we’d like to a few of our students who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Dan Doleiden:

Dan Doleiden

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Allentown

On choosing to major in Mechanical Engineering: It’s a major that offers endless opportunities to specialize. Mechanical engineers are employed in a vast array of exciting fields.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: Presenting research at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers annual meetings in both 2014 and 2015.

What you’d be surprised to know about him: I’ve been learning the Turkish language over the past year. Also, I’m a registered beekeeper!

On undergraduate research: Assisting my adviser, Dr. Adam Hollinger, with his research on fuel cells really took my education experience to a higher level. (Read all about it the latest issue of Engineering News, Pg. 10-11).

Advice for current students: Get involved in research. It’s a great way to apply concepts you’re learning (in your major and outside of your major), and it’s a great way to network with faculty members and others in academia and industry.

Dan plans to attend graduate school following his graduation in May.

Students preparing to study in “Land of the Rising Sun”

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Japan study tour photo

Dr. Vicki Kazmerski, associate professor of psychology, goes over Japan travel information with students enrolled in the study-tour.

“You need to work on being quiet and small,” said Dr. Dawn Blasko, associate professor of psychology. “Americans are known to be big, loud, and rowdy. We spread out and take up a lot of space, and that’s not going to go over well in Japan.”

Sometimes expanding your horizons requires downsizing your personality, particularly when traveling abroad. It’s an important cultural lesson that fifteen Penn State Behrend students are learning to embrace before they embark on a twenty-day study tour in Japan.

“The overall atmosphere in Japan is quiet and calm, which is much different from my usual pace of life,” said Grace Waldfogle, a junior Psychology major. “I am outgoing and will need to remember to be more reserved there. It will be an interesting experiment, I’m sure.”

While in Japan, the students, enrolled in either PSYCH 232 Cross-Cultural Psychology or PSYCH 499 Foreign Studies in Psychology, will travel to Yokohama to attend the International Congress of Psychology. At the Congress, students will interact with researchers from across the world and attend sessions highlighting current research from a global perspective.

Some, like Waldfogle, will even present their own research work.

As an undergraduate research assistant, she has been working with Blasko, and Dr. Heather Lum, assistant professor of psychology, on a study that looks at navigation in a foreign environment, and will present her poster, “A Birds Eye View of A foreign World: Individual Differences in Spatial Cognition,” at the Congress.

Before and after the conference, Wadfogle and other students will explore cities and historical sites in and around Tokyo, including an overnight trip to visit the shrines and temples in the Kyoto area.

“I’m excited about visiting Kamakura, which is the home of the ‘Big Buddha,’ and participating in Zen meditation,” Waldfogle said.

The study tour is designed to allow students to see firsthand how culture shapes the way people view the world and develop an awareness of ethnocentric bias and ways to identify and avoid it. Students in the higher level course will learn about global psychology and how Eastern and Western culture have developed different but complementary perspectives of mind, body, and healthy living. Not all of the students attending are psychology majors, however.

Stephen Dartnell, a sophomore Business major, sees the study tour as an opportunity to enhance his professional portfolio and international business acumen.

“I’m really interested in learning more about psychology as well as Japan’s cultural and business customs,” Darnell said. “Also, having worked at Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market, I’m especially interested in learning more about Japan’s prominent seafood industry, as there were many Japanese influences at Pike Place.”

The students, who leave on July 21, have work to do before they go.

“There are required reading and assignments that have to be done before the trip,” said Blasko, who is team-teaching the courses along with Lum, and Dr. Vicki Kazmerski, associate professor of psychology.

The instructors recruited a Penn State Behrend MBA student, Yuki Takahashi, a native of Japan, to give the students a few informal advance lessons before the spring semester ended.

“Yuki covered topics such as the alphabet(s), currency, common words and phrases, regions, traditions, and customs,” Dartnell said.

Although none of the students are expected to be fluent in Japanese, Takahashi told them that giving it a shot counts.

“It’s vital that we make an effort to speak their language,” Wadfogle said. “It shows that we respect their culture and want to try and understand things from their perspective.”

Basic psychology, of course.

Class of 2016: Meet Olivia D’Annibale (Biology)

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2016 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend.  We sat down to talk to some remarkable seniors before they left school and we’d like to a few of our students who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Olivia D’Annibale:

olivia d'annibale1

Major: Biology, Molecular & Biochemistry option

Minor: Sociology

Hometown: Erie

On choosing to major in Biology: I chose Biology because I wanted to go to medical school. In my sophomore year, I quickly realized that I had a major fear of blood, hospitals, and needles, so being a doctor wasn’t going to work for me. I stuck with Biology, though, because I took a genetics class and absolutely fell in love with it.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: I’ve been involved in undergraduate research since my freshman year. I received a Council of Fellows Undergraduate Student Research Award to work with Dr. Michael Campbell in his molecular lab doing research on potatoes and their reaction to a sprout suppressant. Dr. Campbell and I submitted a paper to the American Journal of Potato Research and I just got the news that the paper is officially published online. (Read it here.)

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I’m always carrying a Starbucks cup in my hand, but I actually hate coffee; it’s hot chocolate.

In service to others: I’ve always wanted a career that would allow me to help others, so I was pretty upset when I realized that I wasn’t going to be a doctor. I think that’s why I have enjoyed being involved with the Random Acts of Kindness club. We do things for people without wanting anything, even a thank you, in return. I’ve enjoyed being a resident assistant for the same reason.

On gaining confidence and wisdom: I’m not the same person I was when I came to Behrend four years ago. I was a very shy, timid, 18-year-old who thought she had it all figured out. Now, I’m a confident, 21-year-old who knows she doesn’t have it all figured out and that it’s perfectly OK. I’m not afraid to take life head on. I’ve grown so much here. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.

Advice for current students: Don’t be afraid to try new things. I thought I was going to hate the sociology course I took in my first semester of college, and I ended up minoring in it! Some of my best experiences in college have been when I initially felt the most uncomfortable.

Olivia plans to attend graduate school following her graduation in May. In the future, she hopes to be a genetic counselor and help those dealing with genetic diseases and concerns.

Class of 2016: Meet Tara Kryzsiak (Mechanical Engineering)

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2016 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend.  We sat down to talk to some remarkable seniors before they left school and we’d like to a few of our students who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Tara Krzysiak

Tara Krysiak1

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania

On choosing to major in Mechanical Engineering: I have always loved math and science and I enjoy problem solving and figuring out how things work. Mechanical Engineering was a good fit for my interests.

Leader in training: I’m honored that I’ve been given the opportunity to not only get involved with so many clubs at Behrend, but to also take on leadership roles in them. I became the vice president of Lion Ambassadors and treasurer of Reality Check, and I have been a resident assistant for two years. All these positions have taught me so much about leadership and helped me grow as a person.

Just call me “Grandma”: I enjoy crocheting and making scarves and other items for my family and friends. I once crocheted a rug out of old t-shirts. My friends like to call me “Grandma.”

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I love fitness and just recently became a Les Mills Body Pump instructor.

Advice for current students: Get out of your room and get involved. Your college experiences is what you make of it. There are tons of clubs and organizations and leadership opportunities at Behrend. Take advantage of all that the campus has to offer. You can learn so much about yourself.

Tara has accepted a position as a project engineer at Armstrong World Industries following her graduation in May.

 

Class of 2016: Meet Lexie Pelchen (Communication)

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2016 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend.  We sat down to talk to some remarkable seniors before they left school and we’d like to a few of our students who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Lexie Pelchen:

Lexie Pelchen (2)

Major: Communication

Minor: English

Certificates: Public Relations, Social Media

Hometown: Latrobe, Pennsylvania

On choosing Behrend: When I was looking at colleges, I decided I would not visit any campus until I got an acceptance letter. I had a fear of going to visit a school and loving it and then finding out I did not get in. The first acceptance letter I received was from Behrend, so it was the first – and turned out to be the only – school I toured. When I visited, I felt so comfortable at Behrend; it felt like home. It was a very easy decision for me to make.

On finding the perfect major (for her): I started as a Creative Writing major, but quickly realized it wasn’t for me. My roommate was a Communication major and I always thought her homework and projects were interesting and fun. I met with Dr. Rod Troester, associate professor of speech communication, and ended up switching to Communication. My time in the writing program actually paid off as I was able to earn an English minor with just a couple more classes. It all turned out well and I’m happy with the decisions I made.

Proudest accomplishment: Chartering our Her Campus chapter. I’m so proud that I was able to start a club at Behrend, especially one that I’m so passionate about. I’m happy to know that when I graduate, I will be able to leave a part of myself at Behrend.

Campus involvement: I am a sister in Alpha Sigma Alpha and once served as the president of the Panhellenic Council. I’m currently the social media director for the Behrend Beacon, a member of Lambda Pi Eta honor society, and president of Her Campus.

Social media maven: I think I have a knack for social media communication. I joke that I’m getting my major in Instagram and my minor in Twitter, but it’s more than a hobby for me. I’ve devoted a lot of time into figuring out how social media works and how I can use it to reach mass audiences.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: For most of my life I was a pretty big homebody. My mindset now is the polar opposite!

Have degree, will travel I have a six-year plan that involves living in a new place every two years. First, I plan to move to New York City, then Boston, then Los Angeles. I don’t see myself settling in any town for a long time.

Advice for current students: Don’t sell yourself short in any aspect of your life; you’re capable of more than you could ever imagine. Also, it’s OK to not know what you want and to figure that out by ruling out the things you don’t want.

With gratitude: I have changed so much during my four short years here at Behrend. I’m so grateful for the opportunities that I have had here and happy with the direction my life is taking now.

After graduation, Lexie plans to move to New York City and find work at a fashion magazine or media company.