Class of 2018: Meet Briana Young

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

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2018 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 Briana Young.

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Briana with the 2004 Mini Cooper she restored.

Major: Physics

Minor: Mathematics

Hometown: Port Allegany, Pennsylvania

On choosing her major: My high school physics teacher had a poster in his classroom that listed a bunch of careers you can pursue with a physics degree. I love understanding how everything works, and I knew I’d never be bored with physics.

Scholarships: I have been the lucky recipient of the LORD Corporation Scholarship and the National Science Foundation STEM Scholarship.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend? I have two. The first is when I got an internship with LORD Corporation the summer before my sophomore year. The second is when I was asked to present my undergraduate research work at the American Physical Society conference in Los Angeles this spring.

Campus involvement: I have been involved with an array of organizations on campus. In my first two years, I was involved with International Student Organization where I was able to meet so many people that I never would have met in my small town. In my sophomore year, I was accepted into Lambda Sigma Honor Society and into Pi Mu Epsilon, a national math honor society, in my junior year. I have also been part of Campus Health and Fitness, which is a new club on campus.

What makes her unique: I have a handful of hobbies. I am very into art and I have my own Etsy account. I love cooking, hiking, and camping. I also have completed two half marathons while in college.

What you would be surprised to know about her: My car is a 2004 Mini Cooper that I bought as a wreck and fixed up. I learned how to do it from my dad who has done body work on cars his entire life.

On being a champion for Women in Physics: The longer I have been in school the more involved I have gotten with Women in Physics. In January, I attended a Women in Physics conference that made me realize there would be a lot more of us in this field if it weren’t for self-doubt. I am passionate about encouraging other generations of girls to get excited about physics.

On giving back: I want to involve myself with outreach and teaching kids in the community the importance of science. (Editor’s note: No doubt she’ll have that chance at LORD, as they are an avid supporter of Penn State Behrend’s K-12 Outreach programs, often allowing their engineers to help lead events and each workshops for young students.)

Inspiration at home: My parents inspire me every day. They both work hard for their own success and still manage to dedicate a great deal of their time to helping others. They are both involved in different programs to help troubled kids and they inspire me to not only work hard for myself and my family, but also to actively help others.

Advice for new students: There are no shortcuts to get to where you want to be. It’ll be hard and frustrating, but keep your eyes on your ultimate goals. And don’t forget to take care of both your body and your mind.

Briana has accepted a position as a quality engineer at LORD Corporation following her graduation in May.

Class of 2018: Meet Ahmed Ali

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

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2018 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 Ahmed Ali:

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Ahmed with his 3D printed self portraits

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Minor: Project and Supply Chain Management

Hometown: Baghdad, Iraq.

Scholarships: I have received the Frank S. Palkovic scholarship for the past three years, which gave me a chance to pursue my dreams. I’m grateful that there are people out there who care about other people and want to help them achieve their goals and dreams without even knowing them. I hope one day I can give back and help others.

On choosing to major in Mechanical Engineering: I felt it was a broad discipline with distinguished career opportunities.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: I was chosen to speak at the scholarship luncheon, which I felt was a great honor.

Campus involvement: I was involved in the soccer club and I earned my SCUBA diving certification by taking a class at Behrend.

On cloning himself: I designed and 3D printed a bobble head of myself.

How he defines the good life: Living in safety, having my family near me, and having food on the table every day.

What you would be surprised to know about him: My family moved here from Iraq and I learned English and started college just five months after arriving in the United States.

After his graduation in May, Ahmed plans to begin his career in engineering and work for a few years before returning to school to earn a master’s degree. He hopes to be a college professor someday.

 

Marketing students to explore buyer behavior for Sprint

By Heather Cass
Publications and Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

This semester, students in Dr. Mary Beth Pinto’s MKTG 344 Buyer Behavior class will have a unique opportunity to work on a collaborative research project with a leading wireless telecommunications company, and it is all thanks to one of the first classes that Pinto ever taught three decades ago at the University of Maine.

Pinto made a strong impression on student Mark Nachman who recalls that Pinto was a “highly engaged” professor who kept her classes fun and relevant. “The things she taught were applicable, not just theory,” he said.

So when Nachman, who is now a regional president for Sprint, covering Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, was looking for a new regional marketing director, he thought of Pinto, professor of marketing, and connected with her on LinkedIn.

“I was looking for a young person with fresh perspectives and cutting-edge ideas who would not be afraid to take risks,” he said. “I thought: ‘What better way to get an inside track on recent marketing graduates than to reach out to a few professors?’”

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Mark Nachman, regional president for Sprint

Pinto happily supplied Nachman with several leads, and then opened the door on other ways Sprint could get involved at Behrend, including offering internships, participating in a “Corporate Day” at the Black School of Business (where representatives can meet directly with students about internship and career opportunities), and engaging students in doing research work for the company.

“I suggested he think about any ways he could put upper-level marketing students to work doing a hands-on project for Sprint,” she said.

Nachman didn’t have to think about it for long. He knew that, despite substantial investment in technology and cell towers in the Erie region, Sprint had been struggling to gain market share in the area among its key demographic (18 to 25 year olds), but he didn’t know why.

This spring, he’ll have forty-plus MKTG 344 Buyer Behavior students on the case.

Students will work in small teams using a variety of marketing strategies, including market analysis, focus groups, personal interviews, and more, to learn more about the perceptions, attitudes, and cell-phone provider preferences among Sprint’s target demographic in the Erie area.

“This is real market research for an actual client,” Pinto said. “It’s an unbelievable opportunity for these students to get hands-on experience and put some of the things they’ve been learning into practice.”

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Dr. Mary Beth Pinto, professor of marketing

Students will also assess current Sprint promotions in the Erie area and, based on the team’s research findings, offer recommendations and develop “guerrilla” marketing plans that can be used to boost Sprint’s profile and users in the region.

Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy that focuses on low-cost unconventional marketing tactics that yield maximum results. The original term was coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book Guerrilla Advertising.

The top six teams will present their work to a team of executives from Sprint in April.

Nachman can’t wait to learn what they discover.

“I’m super fired up about this collaboration,” he said. “I love the whole concept and the grass-roots initiative of this project. I anticipate the students will come up with ideas that could be implemented nationwide at Sprint.”

Nachman has invested both time and money in the project. He and other Sprint executives will be on campus for the kickoff and final presentations and Sprint will be providing each student with Sprint T-shirts and demo phones so that they can be familiar with the company’s products and services.

“When I was a college student, I remember sometimes feeling disappointed and empty as I jumped through hoops and did research that was all theory,” he said. “This exercise will be entirely tangible and executable. If I were still a student, I’d find that inspiring and motivating.”

It bears noting that the college-age researchers are themselves in Sprint’s target demographic. Who better to find out what 18-24 year olds think about a company and product than their own friends and peers?

“Young adults are influencers, especially when it comes to technology decisions,” Nachman said. “They are intentionally and unintentionally steering their parents and friends on products and services daily.”

The same could be said for Pinto, whose influence on Nachman thirty years ago has clearly led to opportunities for Penn State Behrend students today.

MEET WITH SPRINT

Sprint executives will be on campus on January 12 for the class project kickoff and will participate in a “Corporate Day” at the Black School of Business. Sprint representatives will be in the Clark Café to talk with students about internship and job opportunities and, at 4:00 p.m., Nachman will be giving a talk about “Warrior Leadership” in the Black Conference Room at Burke Center. Nachman’s presentation is free and open to all.

 

 

Pre-Health students sew first stitches in medical career

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

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Suturing—sewing together incisions or torn flesh—is a basic technique every doctor must master. It is, however, a skill that few undergraduate students have the opportunity to practice before entering medical school. But, thanks to the U.S. Army and Penn State Behrend’s Pre-Health Professions program, nearly thirty undergraduate students from four area universities were able to try their hand at three types of basic stitches at a suturing seminar earlier this month.

The class, offered by the Army Health Care Recruiting office in Pittsburgh and held at Penn State Behrend, was taught by Dr. Regan Shabloski, assistant dean for clinical education at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, and a member of the Army National Guard’s Medical Corps.

For two hours, students from Penn State Behrend, Allegheny College, Gannon University, and Mercyhurst University worked on severed pigs’ feet, practicing simple interrupted, running, and mattress stitches, using suturing kits provided by the Army.

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Shabloski taught students how to hold the tools, how to start and finish stitching, how to know which stitches to use, how to choose the proper sutures, and the importance of symmetrical sewing.

Straight, evenly spaced stitches are paramount for patients.

“Neatness counts,” Shabloski said as he moved around the room, peering over shoulders at the students’ work. “Suture scars are one of the most visible reminders of your work. Patients care deeply what their scars look like, even if they are in a place where nobody will ever see them.”

Staff Sgt. Benjamin Earle and Staff Sgt. Ricardo Grey, both Army medics, were on hand to assist Shabloski with training.

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The event was sponsored by the Army to bring attention to its Health Professions Scholarship Program, which provides tuition for up to four years of medical school to students pursuing an education at any accredited medical, dental, optometry, clinical or counseling psychology, or veterinary school, in exchange for a four-year commitment to working on an Army base after graduation.

“Students have to apply for this program before they enter medical school, and we were finding that many didn’t know about it until it was too late, so we’ve been making an effort to reach students at the undergraduate level and make them aware of the opportunities available to them through the Army,” Earle said.

Earle is quick to point out that being a doctor in the military does not necessarily mean working in a combat zone.

“We have Army bases all over the world, and on those bases, we have a tremendous need for all kinds of doctors for our soldiers and their families,” Earle said. “We need all the same doctors and specialists that are found in civilian life — OB/GYNs, pediatricians, general practitioners, dentists, and even veterinarians.”

Christina Hilaire, a junior Biology major who wants to be a doctor, participated in the suturing class and said the scholarship program is worth exploring.

“My mother was in the military, so I’ve thought about it,” Hilaire said.

“It is a pretty sweet deal for students inclined to spend a few years working at a military base,” said Dr. Michael Justik, associate professor of chemistry and chair for the Pre-Health Professions programs. Justik helped bring the suturing class to Behrend.

Among the perks? Full tuition paid directly to the medical school, a $20,000 signing bonus, a $2,000+ monthly living stipend, and health insurance, in addition to coverage of school-related expenses, including books, fees, and medical supplies.

It’s a deal that, according to Earle, only gets sweeter after graduation when the newly-minted doctors are admitted to the Army at the level of an officer.

“They are able to practice medicine at Army bases throughout the world without concerns about billing, overhead expenses, or malpractice premiums,” he said. “Many enjoy the lifestyle and stay in the service past their required commitment,” Earle said. “But, even if they don’t and they only put in their four years, we feel that’s a fair deal.”

The military recruits medical professionals in northwestern Pennsylvania because it’s rich in universities and medical facilities.

“Erie is a wonderful place to prepare for a medical career,” Justik said. “We have three hospitals in the area as well as LECOM, a top osteopathic medical school, all of which provide various learning opportunities for pre-health students.”

Here is what some of the students had to say about the suturing experience at Behrend:

  • “It was a fantastic event that helped solidify my career choice. I want to be a surgeon and the suturing class made me realize that it really is what I want to do for a living.” — Stephen Wells, a Penn State Behrend senior Biology major.
  • “It was really helpful to have Dr. Shabloski and the Army medics right there helping us and giving us tips. I took a similar suturing class in high school, but I learned some new and different techniques in this class.” —Thalia Soto, a Penn State Behrend sophomore majoring in Chemistry. Soto wants to be a pediatric surgeon.
  • “I really enjoyed it because it was an opportunity to do some hands-on learning, which is not often a part of the pre-med curriculum.” —Margaret Dunlop, a Penn State Behrend sophomore majoring in Psychology. Dunlop wants to be an orthopedic surgeon.
  • “The suturing class was a great learning experience in a fun, low-pressure setting. It was an excellent opportunity to do one of the many tasks that doctors and health professionals perform almost daily.” — Bethany Kelley, a Mercyhurst University sophomore Pre-Medical major. Kelley wants to be a physician assistant.

Click here for more information about Penn State Behrend’s Pre-Health Professions programs.

Click here or email Benjamin.d.earle2.mil@mail.mil for more information about the Army’s Health Professions Scholarship Program.

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Summer in South Africa Inspires Political Science Major

By Heather Cass

Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

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Lillian Gabreski, a senior Political Science major, spent six weeks of her summer studying abroad at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa.

We talked with Gabreski to find out more about what it’s like to study in South Africa and what she learned while she was there.

Why did you go to South Africa?

I studied abroad at the University of Cape Town. The experience was fully funded by a grant from Penn State Behrend to complete my research in international and constitutional law. I’ll be using this research to complete my Schreyer Honors Thesis this spring. I also participated in the Students’ Health and Welfare Centres Organisation (SHAWCO) Education program.

What were your responsibilities while there?

As a student at the University of Cape Town, I studied community development and the impact of development on regional groups and peoples. As a volunteer for the SHAWCO program, I spent 20 hours a week volunteering in the township of Manenberg teaching English and Math to middle schoolers. Manenberg has become infamous for gang-violence that has plagued its residents in recent years.

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What made you choose South Africa? Have you been there before?

This was my first time in South Africa. I have always been interested in the country because of its unique socio-political history. With the guidance and influence of Dr. John Gamble, distinguished professor of political science and international law, I began to devote my time to learning about the practice of international and constitutional law. South Africa has one of the most liberal and lauded constitutions in the world, and the politics of a country re-entering the international arena after centuries of its majority population being excluded from democratic processes (see: apartheid) are both unique and absolutely intriguing. Thus, it seemed a natural area of interest for me to study as a political science major.

What was the most eye-opening thing about South Africa…or your experience there?

We have a tendency as Americans to believe that the way we do things is the best way to do them, whether in politics, business, or even our personal lives. While I’ve always considered myself to be open-minded, I still thought this way about the U.S. when I went to South Africa. Upon my return, I had a laundry list of policies and reforms that the U.S. could learn from South Africa. As a stable and relatively new true democratic state, South Africa is willing to experiment when it comes to the way they do things, which is something I think we have lost along the way here in the United States.

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Lillian (second from left) with Archbishop Desmund Tutu.

How do these types of experiences enhance what you’re learning at Behrend?

It is one thing to study a country or a political system in the classroom here in the U.S. We all have our perceptions and we’re learning in our own environment. It is an entirely different experience to go to another country and to interact with its people, who have completely different preconceptions and ideas, and to learn from what’s around you. It’s really as simple as that.

What was it like in South Africa? Did you enjoy being there?

I have traveled all over Western Europe, but Cape Town is the most beautiful city I have ever visited. The people are incredibly kind, the geography is absolutely beautiful, and the perseverance of the South African nation in general is truly inspiring. While I spent only six weeks in South Africa, it was enough to leave an impression that has caused me to alter my post-graduate plans to include a focus in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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What’s the most valuable lesson you learned during your experience this summer?

The South African people, specifically those who were discriminated against during apartheid, have an incredible tenet for forgiveness. Rather than seek revenge against those who have wronged them, they seek to remedy their ills via forgiveness and open conversation. I think the principle of being graceful and forgiving rather than continuing the ills of the past via pursuing a path of vengeance can be applicable in any situation whether it be personal or political.

Did you learn anything that you’ll apply this semester to your classes/projects here at Behrend?

Not only am I writing my senior thesis on South Africa and its relation to international law, I am also serving as a teaching assistant for Political Science 003H: Introduction to Comparative Politics this semester and teaching a segment on South African government and politics.

What are you career plans? What do you want to do?

Before studying in South Africa, I had intended to apply for law school. While I’m still taking my LSAT, I’m now focusing more on pursuing a Masters or Ph.D. degree in International Affairs or Public Policy. I would love to someday work in international law, in government, or with an non-governmental organization that would allow me to revise policies and practices on a global scale for the greater benefit of mankind.

Are you earning any minors/certificates?

I’m minoring in History and in Women’s Studies

Do you have any advice for incoming students in your major?

Get to know your professors! They have been invaluable to me not only when it comes to recommendation letters and research opportunities, but also in the advice they have given me to help me find the career path that will make me the happiest. Also, definitely study abroad! It will change your life and help you find your passions.

Why did you choose Behrend?

I initially accepted admission to University Park, but my mother (Dr. Tammie Merino, Lecturer in English at Behrend) convinced me to take a tour of Behrend. I fell in love with the campus and truly felt at home here. After my first year, I knew that the incredible professors and classmates I had at Behrend were invaluable, and that I would spend all of my four years here. There is something to be said for a small campus with the resources of a larger University behind it.

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College packing 101

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By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Ah…’tis the season for first-year students to clear the shelves at Bed, Bath & Beyond and Target in preparation for the big move to college. It’s a daunting and, at times, overwhelming task to pack up your life and move into a much smaller (and usually shared) living space.

Don’t stress, we are here to help! (By the way, that’s true not just for packing advice, but for any problem you encounter while you’re here. Never be afraid to ask for help!)

Keys to success

The keys to packing for college are the same things that will help you be successful once you get here:

  1. Do the research.
  2. Make a plan.
  3. Keep track of what you need to get done.
  4. Do not procrastinate.

What to bring

Now, the good news: We’ve done the research for you on what to bring.

Here’s the official list from Penn State’s Housing and Food Services Department:

  • Address book, stamps, stationery
  • Alarm clock
  • Backpack
  • Baskets for toiletries and storage
  • Bed Linen: sheets (extra-long twin), mattress pad (extra-long twin), bedspread/blanket, and pillow
  • Bike and bike lock
  • Cleaning supplies (cleaner, paper towels)
  • Clothing (bathrobe)
  • Computer, printer, and cables
  • Desk items (lamp, pens/pencils/highlighters, calendar, calculator, tape, scissors, stapler, paperclips)
  • Fan (portable)
  • Financial items (checking/savings account, credit/debit card, health insurance card, Social Security card, driver’s license or photo ID)
  • First Aid items (band aids, cotton balls, cotton swabs, cold/cough medicine, first-aid kit, aspirin)
  • Food items (can opener, bottled beverages, coffee maker with automatic shutoff, one set of silverware/plates/bowls/glasses, condiments, napkins, snacks, dish detergent/ towel)
  • Games (cards, board games)
  • Hangers
  • Laundry basket/bag, detergent, iron
  • Padlocks (desk, laptop, and bike)
  • Room decorations (note that posters/photos must be hung with plastic tack)
  • Sewing kit/safety pins
  • Snow shovel/snow brush to store in your car
  • Stereo system (CD player, radio, mini disc player, headphones, CDs, etc.)
  • Television
  • Toiletry Items
  • Towels
  • Umbrella
  • Vacuum Cleaner (although vacuums are available in each residence area, it is suggested that you bring a small one with you, such as a “stick” vacuum, if your room is carpeted)
  • VCR or DVD player (with cables)

Especially for Behrend bound students

There are some additional things you should add to your shopping list if you’re bound for Behrend. We asked current Behrend students, recent alumni, and staff and faculty members what they would add to the list. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Bring winter clothes/brush/gear with you. Last year, a good majority of people were caught surprised by a foot of snow the week before Thanksgiving break. — Zachary McCauley
  • A scientific calculator. — Robert Durbin
  • A flashlight. — Amanda VanBuskirk
  • Swiffer, dust rag, dish soap, and a sponge. — Megan Dunlap
  • Yaktrax (traction cleats designed that pull on over your shoes) give you better traction on ice. — Lauren Minner
  • A sleeping bag for staying in friends’ rooms. — Alysha Simmons
  • A boot mat to put wet footwear on and something to clean the floor with, such as a Swiffer. — Savannah Martin
  • Desk lamp. — Megan Dunlap
  • A small wash bin to do dishes. It’s easier than trying to do them in the sink. — Ashlyn Kelly
  • A warm scarf to cover your face in winter as you walk around campus, good winter boots, a sturdy umbrella, and rain boots, too. — Valeri Maye
  • Bring a pair of old shoes or boots that you can get dirty during walks in the gorge. — Jackie Gowen
  • A boot dryer. —Amanda Hall (Editor’s note: Oooh, good one, Amanda. Very smart investment!)
  • Extension cords and multi-plug outlet adapters. — Carol Brandon

Bittersweet Commencement

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Earlier this week, I was looking through the photos taken at Commencement and began jotting down the image numbers of students I recognized from having interviewed in the past.

“Oh, that’s a really nice one of Maddie. I’m going to have to send that one to her.  Awww..there’s George. And Vee. And Brian. And look at this one of Katie & Cody. Oh, I love it!  Wait, Nico graduated? And Megan and Paul, too?”

And there go half of my go-to student sources. Dang.

As a writer in the Office of Marketing Communication at Behrend, I work this gig like a newspaper beat, cultivating relationships with people in each school, making contact with the movers-and-shakers, and keeping tabs on standout students.

But, eventually, they all leave.

*sigh*

Such is the nature of the beast in academia. Student turnover is inevitable (and, if we’re being honest, preferable for everyone involved, I’m sure). It’s our job to educate them and send them out into the world.

But it’s bittersweet to see them go. Not just because I lose valuable student sources, but because we lose charismatic, interesting, enthusiastic, and remarkable members of our Penn State Behrend family.

  • Brian established the Waste Not program with his friend and former classmate, Stephen, turning what was waste into food for the hungry.
  • Vee was a very successful president of the LEB and a visible member of the Arts Administration program.
  • George was a hands-on, charismatic Marketing student who gamely posed in a hot, humid water park for a School of Business cover shoot.
  • Katie drove (and worked on) the School of Engineer’s thrice-winning Supermileage Car. Cody was a vital member of the Supermileage team, too.
  • Maddie helped the women’s soccer team to four championships while earning an Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies degree and doing an internship in Germany.
  • Megan was the cheerleading coach and a founding member of Phi Sigma Rho, a new engineering sorority on campus.
  • Danielle was an outstanding tutor. She even has an award to prove it.

I could go on…and on…and on…and on. We have a lot of really great students at Behrend.  And I’ve been here long enough to know that there will be more to replace those who graduate.

While I’m going to miss the students that I got to know in the Class of 2015, I can’t wait to see where they go and what they do. Rest assured, you’ll probably hear about them in the future. I write alumni stories, too, you know.

(So, students…I mean, ’15 alums, go out there and do something I’m going to want to write about!).