Class of 2017: Meet Brandon Petras

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 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. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors 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 Brandon Petras:

brandon Petras

Major: Political Science

Minor: Communication Arts and Mass Media

Hometown: Worthington, Pa.

On choosing Penn State Behrend: I attended both University Park and Penn State New Kensington and, to me, Penn State Behrend seemed to be the best of both worlds – a large college campus feel with a small college experience that allows for one-on-one interactions with professors. I feel like somebody at Behrend.

Proudest accomplishment(s) at Behrend: That’s hard. I have a few: becoming a resident assistant, completing my senior thesis, and having a study abroad experience in Germany/Europe.

What makes him unique: I play the drums for my church and I’m an outdoorsman and a good writer. I’m also in the Navy Reserve and I’ve traveled all over Europe.

Scholarships: I received the Lake Erie Trustee Scholarship at Penn State Behrend twice and the John K. Henne Endowment for International Travel.

His definition of a good life: Being humble, raising a family and serving others, my country, and God.

What you’d be surprised to know about him: I have epilepsy. I want to become a Naval Reserve chaplain. I met my fiancé, Danielle Ropp ’15 at Behrend. We’re getting married in October.

Advice for current students: Don’t conform to what you think others want from you; be true to yourself. Also, definitely go to at least one Nittany Lions football game at Beaver Stadium!

After his graduation in May, Brandon hopes to become a part-time Naval Reserve chaplain and a full-time high school English or social studies teacher. He dreams also of reviving his family’s farm and may also consider running for public office in the future.

Class of 2017: Meet Grace Waldfogle (Psychology)

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 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. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors 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 Grace Waldfogle:

Grace Waldfogle - first choice

Major: Psychology, Human Factors and Design option

Hometown: Pittsburgh

On choosing to major in Psychology: I originally intended to major in Biology, but fell in love with the faculty research projects that were happening in the Psychology department. After my first year, I decided that Psychology was the right major for me.

Campus involvement: I’ve been involved in multiple organizations. I was the Student Government Association treasurer and sat on the SGA’s Academic Affairs Committee. I am the past president and vice president of Gamma Sigma Sigma (a national service sorority) and a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, and Psi Chi honor societies. I was also president of the Psychology Club.

On helping others: I’m passionate about helping others. I love to volunteer in my free time. I try to be the kind of person who people can lean on if they need help.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: I’m most proud of the faculty-led research I’ve had the opportunity to do since my first year. I’ve been able to travel around the world to present our research work and have made connections with professionals in the field that have been very beneficial. With an extensive background in research, I am confident I will succeed in graduate school.

Awards: I received the Christopher M. Geitner award in the spring of 2016.

Priorities and puppy love: My priorities in the immediate future are to complete a Ph.D. program, obtain a tenure-track faculty position, and get a puppy.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I joke that I’m a 75-year-old woman stuck in a 22-year-old woman’s body. I love to stay home on weekends and read a good book.

Advice for current students: The first few weeks of college are stressful. Just remember that everyone is as nervous as you are. Don’t be afraid to be the person who walks up to a group of strangers and introduces yourself. That is how I made some of my best friends.

After her graduation in May, Grace plans to attend graduate school and obtain a Ph.D. in Human Factors and Applied Cognition.

Class of 2017: Meet Gretchen “Berry” Haislip (Political Science)

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 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. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors 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 Gretchen “Berry” Haislip:

Gretchen Haislip - first choice

Major: Political Science

Minor: Transnational Perspectives

Hometown: Smithfield, North Carolina

On choosing to Penn State Behrend: I have always known about Penn State and when it came time for me to apply to college, something told me to choose Behrend. It was the best decision of my life.

On choosing to major in Political Science: When I was in high school, I was on a path to go into forensic science, but then I took a political science class at my local college and it changed everything. I realized I had interest in politics and government.

Scholarships: I have received the Penn State Behrend Chancellor’s Scholarship, the Bunton-Waller Scholarship, and the Anonymous Friend Trustee Scholarship.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: Surprisingly, this has nothing to do with academics, but rather how I found myself. I realized what I am capable of and what I can and want to do in my life. This ultimately led me to love who I am completely and gave me confidence to face the world head on.

Campus involvement: I’m a member of Alpha Sigma Tau where I serve as the director of philanthropy, asdirector of alumni relations, and as a judicial board representative. I’m a member of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, Omicron Delta Kappa honor society, and Phi Sigma Alpha Political Science honor society; president of the Political Science Society, vice president of College Democrats, secretary of the Outdoors Club, and a member of Bread Circus and Order of Omega. I’m also a resident assistant.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I’m only 19. I went to a hybrid high school that placed me on a college campus in ninth grade, allowing me to earn a high school diploma and an associate degree at the same time. I have only been at Behrend for two years.

Back to school: My highest priority in the near future is returning to school for both my master’s degree and Juris Doctorate degree, which I hope to earn at Georgetown University.

Who inspires her: My grandparents inspire me. They raised me and even though we had very little when I was growing up, they did everything in their power to make sure I was happy and had what I needed. Knowing that they put their dreams on hold and spent their nights working and raising me, inspires me to always do my best, not just to make them proud but to ensure that their dedication and love to me continue to be the foundation of something great.

Advice for first-year students: Do not be afraid to fail, not know the answer, or be lost. We come to college to learn!

After her graduation in May, Gretchen plans to serve in AmeriCorps before attending graduate school.

Class of 2017: Meet Rick Greatbatch (Psychology)

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 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. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors 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 Rick Greatbatch:

Rick Greatbatch - first choice - snow edited out

Major: Psychology, Human Factors option

Hometown: Buffalo

On choosing to major in Psychology: Initially I wanted to be a clinical psychologist and work directly with people, but after taking a class in human factors, I realized I could merge my passion for cars and psychology in a career that would be perfect for me.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: When I found out that I was accepted into two different Ph. D. programs, Behrend and the faculty members here truly gave me the experiences and knowledge I needed to take the next step in my career.

Campus involvement: I was active in the Psychology Club where I served as both vice president and president. I am also a member of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society for psychology.

Breaking the mold: I’m a tall, large-framed individual with tattoos and people are often surprised when I say that I’m going to graduate school and hope to earn a Ph. D. I don’t fit the mold most people have in their mind of a person pursuing advanced degrees.

Who inspires him: I’m most inspired by both of my grandfathers, but for different reasons. One of my grandfathers was a jack of all trades. He could do everything and anything with his hands, from carpentry to masonry to plumbing to engine repair. I learned so much from him. My other grandfather invented the cardiac implantable pacemaker and always urged his grandchildren to get an education. It took me a few years and a few learning experiences to finally heed his advice, but I’m glad I finally did. I’m inspired by both of their strengths. I not only want to have the mechanical abilities, but the knowledge behind what I am doing as well.

Advice for first-year students: I started college at the age of 23. If I could go back and give my 18-year-old self a little advice, it would be to always move forward. Regardless of what you are doing and even if you’re unsure or if you fail at something, just keep moving forward. Eventually, you’ll find out what you are good at and the pieces will all fall into place for you.

Following his graduation in May, Rick will be attending graduate school. He hopes someday to find work in the automotive industry as a human factors psychologist.

Class of 2017: Meet Mark Massimino (Communications)

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 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. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors 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 Mark Massimino:

mark massimino - first choice

Major: Communication

Certificates: Public Relations and Advertising

Hometown: Hunker, Pa.

On choosing Behrend: I only had to visit once to know Behrend was a perfect fit for me. The Communication department staff made me feel so welcome, answered every question I had, and made me excited for my future.

A born storyteller: I took several honors classes when I was in high school and got an early feel for what I did and didn’t like. I have always gravitated to communication. At the heart of it, I’m a storyteller, and utilizing media to share stories is exciting to me.

Campus involvement: I am the production leader of Wintergreen Media, Penn State Behrend’s student-run production company. I also am a show host for BVZ Radio, and I have been published in The Beacon.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: Leading a team of fellow students in producing videos for area non-profit organizations was, by far, my proudest accomplishment. Balancing clients and classes was challenging, but it was good experience. Every organization posed a different challenge, and we aimed to tackle them and surpass their expectations.

Sports production or bust: I want to work in professional sports video production. I know it’s a difficult field to break into, but working with production crews at the Erie Insurance Arena and UPMC Park in Erie have given me a great starting point. I am taking the right steps to make my dream a reality, and I’m not going to stop until I achieve it.

Passionate about innovation: Every time I get behind a video camera, or the computer screen when I’m editing, I am always trying to innovate and offer a new perspective or a way for people to experience things. I take pride in my work and will never put my name on anything that isn’t the best I can do with the time and resources I have.

Definition of a good life: A good life is spending every day using whatever talents you have to make the world around you a better place. A mentor recently told me: ‘You are in charge of your own destiny.’ I know that I can achieve anything as long as I make a plan and put in the work.

Advice for current students: You get out of college what you put in. Get involved and make use of the tools available to you. Don’t waste those resources!

After his graduation in May, Mark plans to look for work in professional video production, preferably in sports video production.

Class of 2017: Meet Yuanheng “Arthur” Wang (English)

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 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. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors 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 Yuanheng “Arthur” Wang:

 

Arthur Wang

Yuanheng “Arthur” Wang is the definition of a standout student, and he has the accolades to prove it, including the T. Reed Ferguson Award and the Irvin H. Kochel Award. He is also a two-time winner of the Rose Cologne Keystone Citizen Award and, in 2016, received the LaMarr Kopp International Achievement Award, a University-wide honor recognizing students who have contributed significantly to the advancement of the international mission of Penn State.

Yuanheng “Arthur” Wang

Major: English

Hometown: Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

On the value of strong faculty and staff mentors: Many faculty members at Behrend are not only wise mentors, but also thoughtful friends. During the past four years, many of my professors in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, especially those in the English program, have gone above and beyond to help me polish my education, support my intellectual and personal growth, and become a better person. Their guidance has been invaluable.

On choosing to major in English: It is the most versatile major in a liberal arts education. It can give me a solid and comprehensive foundation for whatever I do later in life, such as research, teaching, and mentoring. Moreover, the English program at Behrend features rigorous courses that combine both theory and practice. These courses helped me develop my critical thinking and communication skills, which will be useful in any field I later enter.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: The most personally rewarding one has been working with hundreds of international and multilingual students as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teaching assistant and tutor. Mentoring these students and interacting with them really enhanced my teaching and communication skills. It also helped me form an appreciation for multilingualism and broadened my horizons as the students I worked with came from all over the world.

Campus involvement: I was the regional vice president of the Student Penn State Education Association, the co-membership chair of the Lambda Sigma Honor Society and on the executive board of the International Student Organization. For three years, I have been an orientation leader during the International Student Orientation Week program, which is organized by the Office of Educational Equity and Diversity. (Editor’s note: Last year, Arthur even shepherded a group of Behrend-bound international students for 24-hours when their flight to Erie was canceled: Read his first-hand account of the travel nightmare turned bonding experience here.)

What you’d be surprised to know about him: Many people, particularly native English speakers, are surprised when I explain to them the seven different sentence structures of the English Language, which some of them don’t know.

Advice for current students: Try to spend at least one semester living with a roommate who comes from a different country, embodies different cultural values, and speaks a different language from your own. Trust me: You will learn a lot from that person and about yourself!

After his graduation in May, Arthur will attend graduate school at Columbia University in the Applied Linguistics program.

 

Class of 2017: Meet Christa Schonthaler (Communication)

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 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. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors 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 Christa Schonthaler:

christa schonthaler (2)

Major: Communication

Hometown: Erie

On choosing to major in Communication: I originally came in as a Nursing major, but quickly realized it wasn’t for me. At that point, I had to seriously consider my interests as well as my strengths and weaknesses. I’m very passionate about music and want to work in the music industry. I’m also very comfortable talking with people and realized that Communication fit my personality, my desires, and my future career plans. I love my major.

Happy at Happi 92.7: I’m currently an intern at Happi 92.7, an Erie “Top 40” radio station, where I do a little bit of everything, but am mainly focused on promotions and social media. I’ve learned a lot and had a great time at Happi.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: I’m proud of being on the Dean’s List for the past six semesters. It’s not easy to do that while balancing classes, work, and extracurricular activities.

(The only) girl in a band: I’m a singer in an eight-member band called The Romantic Era. I’m the only woman in the group, so it’s like I have seven big brothers. We sing all-original pop-EDM music and have performed all over Erie and beyond. We did shows at Stadium Red in Manhattan, and Fenway Park in Boston, and we have a show coming up in Beverly Hills, California! I’ve been in the band for four years and it’s my life right now.

christa schonthaler - the romantic era1

Beyond the band: Outside of the band, in my free time, I love to play my guitar and ukulele, read mystery novels, and do yoga. I also have three sisters and a family that means the world to me.

Inspirational sister in song: There are a few female artists who inspire me. Ariana Grande is number one because she’s an incredible vocalist and she is also a huge advocate for female empowerment and equal rights for all. I also look up to Hayley Williams from Paramore, Jessie J. and Demi Lovato because they are all strong women in the music industry.

Scholarships: I received the Anonymous Friend Trustee Scholarship in my first year and the Michael Jude Woods and Tracy Kimes Woods Family Trustee Scholarship last year.

Advice for current students: Don’t stress! College is a huge adjustment and you’ll figure it out eventually. Once you master time management and study skills, everything gets much easier.

After her graduation in May, Christa hopes to find a position at a radio station in promotions/social media.