Yahn Planetarium at Penn State Behrend will be open this weekend

IMG_0540 editedUp for some traveling this holiday weekend? How about a trip to the moon?

The Yahn Planetarium at Penn State Behrend, a newly-renovated 55-seat astronomy theater that opened earlier this month, will be open on Saturday. The planetarium, housed in the college’s School of Science Complex, will offer two public shows at 1:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

The 1:00 p.m. show, “Back to the Moon for Good,” follows teams as they race toward the moon and compete to win a $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE. Penn State’s Lunar Lion Team is featured in the program, which is narrated by Tim Allen.

The 2:30 p.m. show, “The Sky Above Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” is an introductory and interactive show recommended for ages 2 and up. The show follows X the Owl as he tries to save the moon from being taken out of the sky by Lady Elaine.

“If you want to get out and do something a little different this holiday weekend, the planetarium is a great fit,” says Jim Gavio, director of the Yahn Planetarium. “It’s very family oriented, and there are plenty of educational takeaways from both shows.”

Admission to the planetarium is $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 12 and under. For more information, visit behrend.psu.edu/yahnplanetarium or call 814-898-7268.


Behrend Reacts: What are you thankful for?


By Nicole Krahe
Marketing Communication Student Assistant, Penn State Behrend

Studies have shown that being grateful has a significant impact on lives; it reduces stress levels and can even increase our life expectancy. In honor of the upcoming holiday, we asked Behrend students, faculty, and staff:  What are you most thankful for?



Casey LaBuda, sophomore, Nursing, from Pittsburgh: “My mom. I always call her in the middle of the night when I’m having a breakdown about nursing.”


Nancy Study

Dr. Nancy Study, lecturer in engineering: “In answer to the question about what I’m thankful for this year, I would say it’s the same things I’m thankful for every day: my family and friends, and the privilege of having a job I enjoy. Of course I’m also thankful for the creature comforts in my life like a nice house to live in, an all-wheel drive vehicle to get around in the snow, a steady supply of caffeine via coffee and Twining’s English Breakfast Tea, and sturdy snow boots, but I’ve learned over the years that material things and money mean very little if you don’t have your loved ones and/or spend 40+ hours a week in a job that makes you miserable.”



Morgan Corle, first-year student, Communication, from Avella: “I’m thankful for all the people that I’ve met here and become close with.”


Dorothy Kurylo

Dorothy Kurylo, campus coordinator for nursing programs and lecturer in nursing: “I am thankful especially for my family and friends. I am also thankful to be a faculty member of Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. As a newcomer to Erie, I have become very thankful for my boots and my snowbrush. Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!”



Amy Neal, first-year student, Division of Undergraduate Studies, from Erie: “The cold, so I’m able to appreciate the weather when it’s warm!”



Mallory Carson, first-year student, Political Science, from Erie: “I’m thankful for black lipstick.”


Kristen Comstock Headshot

Kristen Comstock, assistant director of alumni relations: “I am thankful to work for my lovely alma mater. Every day I get to interact with many of our fantastic 35,000 alumni. Plus working at Behrend means I get to enjoy, more often than most alumni, the delicious Bruno’s chicken wraps! And I cannot forget I am grateful for friends, family, health, happiness, and shoes!”


Mary-Ellen Madigan

Dr. Mary-Ellen Madigan, senior director of enrollment management: “I am thankful for my kids—now grown.  They both have good jobs and live independently.  Along with them, I am thankful for my three beautiful and fun granddaughters.  I’m especially thankful that they live nearby and I get to spend time with them.”


Don Birx's first Behrend portrait. Taken May 2010 by John Fontecchio

Dr. Don Birx, Chancellor:

“Thankful – Yes; for being in Erie and especially at Behrend.

Yes it is cold,

but I have found hearts here are warm and friendships deep.

Yes there is lots of snow,

but it makes the days so much brighter – with a glint from the winter sun.

Sunsets are stunning, the hills full of grapes,

and the land slopes down to a great and beautiful lake.

Thankful – Yes, and for so much more……for all of you.”


Dawn Blasko (2)

Dr. Dawn Blasko, interim associate dean for academic affairs and associate professor of psychology:

“What am I thankful for this year?  Like everyone else I’ve seen today I’m supposed to be thankful that three feet of snow did not fall on Erie today, but went north instead. But, to be honest, a little part of me is disappointed. I’m invigorated by this crazy cold, slap in the face, start to winter. I had to buy new warmer clothes-even find some gloves and boots. My office is always freezing, so my family bought me an alpaca sweater-no wonder alpacas can hang out in the Andes-much better than polar fleece.

The first snow to me is always exciting. I know it sounds crazy to you snow haters, but to me growing up in the Poconos, the first snow was pure gold. It opened up a wealth of new fun activities. Best of all, was the ultimate prize- THE SNOW DAY!

Even though we don’t have snow days at Behrend, (I guess we’re too tough for that), as a kid I clearly remember being snowed in with the whole family for days at a time. Mom, in her fox-furred hood, riding the toboggan, and Dad wobbly on his snow shoes walking the yard to measuring the snow in the deepest drift with his yard stick. There was no work, and no school. Time stopped, we pitched in to shovel the driveway then we were off into the untouched whiteness.  A soft fluffy blanket of white erasing all the ugly reality underneath.

Kids made trails around the neighborhood as we called all our friends out to play. We built snow forts to defend our territories and stored up snowballs for battle. We dug out the sleds from the basements and garages and went sleigh riding down the middle of the street. We held toboggan races—that were our own Olympic games.  Then there were the accidents, tremendous rolling crashes into banks of snow and sometimes into each other.

Who could forget the feeling of dragging yourself home, bruised, exhausted and soaking wet with numb feet and hands? We’d have some warm soup, put on dry gloves and go out again until the lack of light and parents calling us for supper ended the fun. The perfect snow was short-lived, in a few days the plow trucks and cinders would ruin our hill, school and work would start again, and we would be back to the usual routine.

This might be a long winter, and by February, if not before, even us diehard northerners will be tired of it. But, In the meantime, if the snow is just right, break the routine and make a new memory. The yard behind my office in Glenhill Farmhouse sure looks like some prime territory to defend.”



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 ndk5089@psu.edu.

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Far from Home: First snowfall leaves favorable impression on Craig Miranda


Far from Home is an occasional series in which we document a year in the life of international students at Penn State Behrend.

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

“Beep-beep-beep-beep! Beep-beep-beep-beep! Beep-beep-beep-beep!”

When Craig Miranda’s alarm went off at 6 a.m. last Thursday, he awoke with a feeling of eagerness. His friends warned him it was coming, but some things need to be seen to be believed.

“I was skeptical,” says Miranda, a first-year computer science major at Penn State Behrend. “When I looked outside, it was completely white. I immediately ran downstairs and I was the only person outside in shorts.”

Craig Miranda had never seen snow until last week when the Erie region received more than foot of precipitation in 24 hours.

The Kuwait native had never seen snow before last week when the Erie region received nearly a foot in the span of 24 hours. In Kuwait, summer temperatures can exceed 120 degrees. Even in winter, average daytime temperatures rarely fall below 60 degrees.

Miranda says he longed for snow and cooler temperatures when he decided to come to college in the United States, so last week’s storm was a welcome sight.

“It was just unbelievable,” he says. “After my exam that morning, I had a snowball fight with friends who also live in Niagara Hall. I don’t know how to make a snowball, but I’m getting there.”

As the day went on, more snow began to accumulate. Overall, Erie received 12.6 inches of snow, the earliest occurrence of a snowfall of this magnitude for the region.

The heavy snowfall might have been a  burden for others, but Miranda remained enamored with every flake that fell. He even shared his happiness with his family back home.

“I Skyped with my parents and took them on a tour around campus,” he says. “It was awesome because they have never seen snow either. They were so thrilled and just wanted to be here, too.”

For Miranda, the snowfall helped paint a picture of the holiday season, which he had only ever seen on television before.

“I’ve always pictured Christmas as caroling with snow falling from the sky, but I’ve never seen it until now,” Miranda says.

Given that he chose to attend college in America’s snowbelt, last week was probably only the beginning of the fun for Miranda; last year, Erie recorded 138.4 inches of snow fall and earned the honor of America’s snowiest city.

His friends have warned him that he might eventually tire of the snow, but he’s not buying it.

“I doubt I’ll ever get bored of snow,” Miranda says. “Coming from Kuwait, where it barely ever even rains, snow is just marvelous.”


Far from Home: The Nittany Lions football team has a new fan in Moustafa Elhadary


Far from Home is an occasional series in which we document a year in the life of international students at Penn State Behrend.

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Moustafa Elhadary did not know much about Penn State when he arrived in the United States for the first time this summer.  Everything from the weather to American college coursework was uncharted territory.

But he knew about one of the school’s greatest traditions, and he knew he wanted to be part of it.

“There were a lot of things I wanted to do this year, and going to a football game was one of them,” says Elhadary, a first-year computer engineering major at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. “It’s been on my bucket list for quite some time. I mean, it’s Penn State.”

He got his wish on Nov. 1, when he and friends took a bus from Penn State Behrend to University Park to watch the Nittany Lions’ game against the University of Maryland.

In Dubai, Elhadary’s home since 2007, American football is all but a myth. Fùtbol, better known as soccer in the U.S., is the most popular game there, and everyone is encouraged to participate and follow the sport. For Elhadary, football was a welcomed change.

From the moment he entered Beaver Stadium, Elhadary was overwhelmed by the sheer spectacle of a football Saturday at Penn State.

“I was really impressed by the number of people there. There were just tons of people,” he says.

He was further astounded once the game began. First downs, turnovers, illegal procedures — all of it was entirely new for Elhadary.

“At first, I had no idea what was going on,” he says. “I didn’t even know if we were winning or losing, so I just followed my friends’ lead.”

As the game continued, things became clearer. With each ensuing cheer and boo, Elhadary began to feel as if he was a part of something.

This synergy was especially evident with 3:18 left in the third quarter when Christian Hackenberg threw an eight-yard touchdown to Jesse James to give Penn State a 16-7 lead. Elhadary says it was even more noticeable after Maryland took the lead with less than a minute left in the game.

“It was almost as if everyone in the stadium had the exact same thought inside their heads,” he says. “They were angry at times. Then they were really happy at other times.”

Elhadary says he was upset that Penn State lost 20-19, but he was happy he was there to see it.

His football knowledge remains a work in progress for him, but he’s committed to educating himself; he’s already planning on attending the Michigan State Blue Out game on Nov. 29.

He has also learned one of the favorite pastimes for football fans: trash talking.

“One of my friends from back home actually goes to Maryland, and I haven’t talked to him since the game,” Elhadary says. “He can talk trash to me now. That’s why I haven’t talked to him.”

Moustafa football
Moustafa Elhadary attended his first Penn State football game on November 1. Here he is shown (far right) with friends Kenton Klobusnik (far left), Matthew Wheeler and Alyssa Anderson.

Hammermill Paper publication now preserved forever


By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

The name “Behrend” was well known in the Erie region long before Penn State Behrend ever existed.

Hammermill Paper Company, one of the region’s largest employers for nearly a century, was owned by Moritz Behrend and his three sons, Ernst, Otto, and Bernard. Thousands of people worked for Hammermill from 1898 until 1984 when the company was purchased by International Paper Company.

To communicate with its employees, Hammermill published a newsletter, The Hammermill Bond, which is now digitized and archived as part of the Hammermill Paper Company Collection at the John M. Lilley Library at Penn State Behrend.

“It preserves it for eternity,” says Jane Ingold, reference librarian. “It’s also a big time-saver for us now.”

In the past, Ingold handled requests for old newsletters. Now, family members of former Hammermill employees can access them on their own. The newsletter is available to anyone; you do not have to be a Penn State user.

The Hammermill Bond was first published in 1917, and it continued through the 1960s. The only break in publication came during the Great Depression.

A step above traditional company newsletters, the publication included interesting feature stories, colorful covers, and rich photography. It was much more reminiscent of a modern-day magazine than a newsletter.

“They did some really cool things,” Ingold says. “In an early issue, Mr. Behrend wrote a letter to his employees, and they published it in Polish, Russian, German, English, and other languages just to make sure that he accounted for the different nationalities of his workers.”

The Lilley Library currently has a display commemorating The Hammermill Bond. Various issues are featured, including the issue that was printed following the death of Ernst Behrend in 1940. The display will remain at the Lilley Library through Monday, November 24.

To access the digital archives of The Hammermill Bond, click here.

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Take our photo challenge! #behrendpix

The Office of Marketing Communication’s awesome work-study student, Nicole Krahe, with help from OMC staff, has put together our very first Instagram photo challenge. We encourage anyone (students, faculty, staff, visitors, alumni) who are on campus to participate!

Here’s how it works. There is a “theme” for each day  and you just need to snap a photo that corresponds to that theme and upload it to Instagram with the tag #behrendpix. Go ahead & get creative! The themes, listed in the graphic below, are open to your creative interpretation and some are deliberately vague. At the end of the month, we’ll award prizes to the students who took the best photos.

Are you up to the challenge?

november photo challenge


Far from Home: Moustafa Elhadary adapts quickly to new environment


Far from Home is an occasional series in which we document a year in the life of international students at Penn State Behrend.

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Moustafa Elhadary had the perfect plan. He and his friends, Khalifa, Saeed and Murrawi, were all going to attend Penn State together.

While they would be enrolled at different commonwealth campuses, they planned to reconvene regularly on weekends to travel, attend football games and sightsee. The group had it all mapped out, and thought it was the perfect way to make Penn State feel like home away from home.

Then came some somber news.

“In mid-August, my friends were drafted into the United Arab Emirates Army,” says Elhadary, a first-year computer engineering major at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. “It’s mandatory that they serve in UAE’s military for one year.”

Elhadary, who has lived in Dubai since 2007, was ineligible for the draft since he is a native of Alexandria, Egypt. While he did not have to serve, the fact that his friends would not be joining him in Pennsylvania was hard to accept.

“I was very surprised to hear the news,” he says. “My friends and I had talked about doing this for years. We were planning on seeing each other every two to three weeks and meeting up at a different Penn State campus each time.”

Rather than dwell on the negative though, Elhadary opted to focus on the positive.

Everything about the United States has been new and exciting for him, and he’s pledged to make the most of it.

“I try to get out of my comfort zone,” he says. “I’ve made my own little community here. What happened with my friends was actually kind of a good thing because I would not have socialized as much if they were here.”

Elhadary is a member of Behrend’s International Student Organization and Muslim Student Association. He plans to become a resident assistant next semester.

He has even experienced some physical changes since enrolling at the college. He can thank his karate class for that.

“I gained some muscles,” he says with a smile. “I know how to defend myself now.”

He says he still gets homesick and misses his parents and sister, Safinaz, but he works to find other things to occupy his time.

“I try to keep myself busy all day. I only come home to sleep, and then I’m back up for class the next day. If I were to just sit in my room, I would only get sad and depressed,” Elhadary says. “I still talk to my parents but only a few times a week. They think I’m trying not to call them, but I’m actually just very busy.”

This December, during winter break, he will return home to see his family. Elhadary is looking forward to the visit, but he says he will be happy to return to Erie for the start of the spring semester.

And he has learned that his friends who are currently serving in the military are planning on enrolling at Penn State Behrend when their service time is up.

“I really like Penn State Behrend. High school was fun, but this is a whole new level,” he says. “People talk about culture shock, but for me, there was no culture shock. It’s just culture, but a different one.”


Olivia Belack follows Jimmy Belack’s lead at Penn State Behrend

Olivia and Jimmy Belack (8)
By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

From birth, Olivia Belack has followed her big brother, Jimmy.

First they crawled. Then they walked. Then they played soccer.

Soccer has always been the favorite pastime for the siblings, both members of their respective Penn State Behrend soccer team.

“It’s pretty much always been soccer for us. We both felt a knack for it,” says Jimmy, a senior defender and an accounting and finance major at the college.

The Pittsburgh natives’ commitment to the sport has paid off. It led Jimmy to Penn State Behrend where he has started all four seasons for the Lions, been a member of two AMCC Championship teams and is the team’s all-time assists leader (28).

The best could be yet to come.

On Wednesday, Nov. 5, the Lions begin their pursuit of a third AMCC title in four years when they play Mount Aloysius in the AMCC Tournament semifinals. For Jimmy, a two-time All-AMCC selection who leads the team with 44 points, it’s an opportunity to end his collegiate career on a high note.

“It feels really nice to know that I have made an impact,” he says. “It would be pretty special to be able to win another title this year.”

Olivia is hot on her brother’s heels. A midfielder and first-year finance major, she leads the women’s team in points with 34.

On Saturday, Nov. 1, when the Lions defeated La Roche 4-1 in the first round of the AMCC Tournament, Olivia scored the first goal to give the Lions a lead they never relinquished. The Lions will continue their postseason march Wednesday, Nov. 5, when they face Franciscan in the AMCC Tournament semifinals.

Her success mirrors Jimmy’s early experience with the Lions. As a freshman in 2011, he scored the game-winning goal in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Jimmy’s athletic achievements piqued Olivia’s interest in Behrend when she began researching colleges.

“He never pushed me toward Behrend, but he always supported me,” she says. “I knew I’d like it here.”

An added benefit for the two close-knit siblings is that the men’s and women’s teams travel to matches together, giving them an opportunity to watch and cheer one another on at games.

It has also led to a friendly rivalry between the two.

“If I have a goal or two, (parents of soccer players) will then joke, ‘Jimmy has to score three now,’” Olivia says.

“My teammates will also look at me and say, ‘You can’t let her top you,’” Jimmy adds.

This very scenario played itself out on Sept. 27. Olivia recorded the first multi-goal game of her career as she scored twice to lead the Lions to a 2-1 win over Penn State Altoona. Later that day, Jimmy matched her performance in the men’s 5-0 win over Penn State Altoona.

The two say attending Penn State Behrend together was a great decision. It’s made it easier for their parents, Jeffrey and Kelly, to visit and attend games. And Jimmy played a big part in helping his sister get acclimated to her classes, coursework and the entire college experience.

“If I ever need anything, I just call him,” Olivia says. “Having Jimmy here definitely helped me, especially during the first few weeks.”

Olivia also now has the perfect example to follow as she gets set for three more seasons of collegiate soccer.

“It would be nice to be as successful as he was,” she says.

If her first season offers any indication, she likely will be, which comes as no surprise as she’s always followed in his footsteps.