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