Behrend Reacts: What’s making you happy this week?


By Nicole Krahe
Marketing Communication Student Assistant, Penn State Behrend


Whether it’s a free t-shirt from Health and Wellness, a hard-earned A on an exam or simply the change in seasons, there’s plenty to smile about on campus this week.

So we asked Behrend students: What makes you happy?



Jian Riccadonna, first-year student, Plastics Engineering Technology, from Cranberry: “I would have to say that I’m looking forward to the Penguin’s game this Saturday.”


Rachel Frye, first-year student, Communication, from Pittsburgh: “Going home this weekend and spending time with my boyfriend.”


Patryk Sperka, first-year student, Mechanical Engineering, from Erie: “The weather. My brother and I climbed out onto my roof last night to hangout and it was perfect. There was a warm breeze. It was just blissful.”


Julie Guidry, first-year student, Mechanical Engineering, from Pittsburgh: “I like the smell of the pine needles that have fallen off the trees. Just fall, in general, is making me happy.”


Alexa Latshaw, sophomore, Biology, from Franklin: “I would have to say the weather. It’s been really nice and warm this week.”


Kristen Collins, junior, Communication, from Wattsburgh: “The thing that makes me the happiest is just being able to spend time with my husband.”


Robbi Kitelinger, first-year student, Division of Undergraduate Studies, from Tidioute: “The weather, hanging out with my boyfriend, and going home to see my sister soon.”


Brittany Thomas, sophomore, Wildlife and Fisheries Science, from Bethel Park: “My Theta Phi Alpha sisters, especially my “Big”, Chelsea. I’ve had a rough couple of weeks and my sisters are always there to help.”


Corey Flesik, sophomore, Industrial Engineering, from Pittsburgh: “Not having exams to study for this week makes me really happy.”


Darliny Rivera, first-year student, Nursing, from New York: “Getting my nursing final over with, and just being here. I love Behrend.”


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

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THON 2014 leaves lasting impression on Behrend participants


By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

After attending the last two THONs as a spectator, Wes Dorrenbacher thought he had a good idea of what to expect when he was selected as a dancer for this year’s event.

That all changed around hour thirty-four.

“It was probably around 3:00 a.m. on early Sunday morning,” Dorrenbacher said. “It was finally real to me. I was just so humbled and thankful for this experience. For the next twenty minutes, I drew on a towel ‘Thank you’ and just started walking around the Bryce Jordan Center.”

More than 15,000 students participate each year in the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON), a 46-hour no-sitting, no-sleeping event that has raised more than $114 million since 1977 for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. The fund pays for counselors, social workers, music therapists, and other specialists whose work with children fighting cancer often is not covered by insurance.

Dorrenbacher, a senior psychology major at Penn State Behrend, was one of 708 dancers at this year’s THON, which was held February 21-23 at University Park. He was joined by two other Behrend dancers, senior mechanical engineering major Nick Hirsch and freshman kinesiology major Rachael Hazen.


During the dance marathon, participants are assigned a “moraler” who encourages them to keep going. The support this person provides is essential as the dancers’ battle to stay awake is as much mental as it is physical.

Hirsch learned this the hard way Sunday morning.

“I got to Sunday morning, and I thought it was later than it actually was,” Hirsch said. “When my brain realized it wasn’t as late as I thought it was, my body just shut down.”

Thankfully, Hirsch’s moraler was there and managed to feed him some apples and bananas to help restore his energy. Frequent eating is one of the keys to getting through the marathon.

Of course, there are other methods. Spectators and kids patrol the Bryce Jordan Center with squirt guns filled with ice-cold water. Hirsch will be the first to admit that a splash to the face never felt so good.

“As soon as you get hit with that water, your brain just resets. The pain goes away, and your mind stops thinking about being tired,” Hirsch said.

However, even with the food, moralers, and squirt guns, participants inevitably struggle as they dance and force their minds and bodies to stay awake.

When a person’s body and mind gets pushed to such limits, emotions are inevitable. That’s exactly what Dorrenbacher felt early Sunday morning, but he feels that’s one of the draws of participating in THON.

“The delirium brings out the emotions you normally would not want to show,” Dorrenbacher said. “But that’s the point of the weekend — to bring out those weaknesses and show how much we care for this cause.”

When the event finally ended Sunday evening, an exhausted Dorrenbacher, Hirsch, and Hazen headed to Berkery Creamery for ice cream. It’s a tradition for Behrend participants to go to the creamery after THON.

Dorrenbacher said the emotion he experienced during that weekend was unparalleled to anything else he has felt in his life. In fact, the emotion stayed with him, even days after the event.

Both “Good Morning America” and ABC News World News covered THON in the days that followed the event. The Behrend dancers were even pictured briefly in the segments.

Dorrenbacher admitted that he started to tear up at just seeing a teaser for the segments. His emotion is indicative of the THON weekend and the profound effect it had on his life.

“THON was honestly the best weekend of my life to date,” Dorrenbacher said. “There’s nothing quite like fighting for a cause that is bigger than yourself.”


Pose with the PSB Lion at ZooBoo


By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

My first job after graduating from college was working in the public relations department at the Erie Zoo.  I worked for Scott Mitchell, known around the Erie area as the ZooGuy.  (By the way, Scott, who is now the President and CEO of the Erie Zoological Society, is a Penn State Behrend alum — Class of 1984!).

As you might expect, every day at the zoo brought something different. I aquired lots and lots of unique skills and knowledge in the four years I worked there.

For example: I know exactly how to pick up an alligator without getting bit.  I know that the foulest smelling (and most stupid) animal on earth is the giraffe. I can stuff at least 2,000 plastic Easter eggs in a day. I can set up 200 chairs in less than an hour. And, I can make a scarecrow out of scrap materials in minutes.

So when I read in a recent Erie Zoo newsletter that they were inviting area organization and businesses to create a scarecrow to display at ZooBoo (the zoo’s annual evening Halloween event), I begged my boss to let me make one for Penn State Behrend. (Go ahead, ask him, he’ll tell you that I begged).

Lest you think the staff of the Office of Marketing Communication spend their days building scarecrows, I should tell you that a coworker, Jodi Herman, and I built this cute little cub after work in less than an hour with materials I had laying around.  (Yeah, I’m that good at scarecrow construction.)

What do you think?

scarecrow with sign

Snap a pix with the PSB scarecrow

If you’re going to ZooBoo with your little boos and ghouls (see, writing clever puns is yet another skill I learned at the zoo!), be sure to look for the Penn State Behrend lion scarecrow. And, if you gather round, take a photo, and send it to us via email (hjc13 at or post it on social media with the hashtag #behrendscarecrow, we’ll put together an album to showcase our Penn State Behrend scarecrow pride (You know a group of lions is a pride, right?)  and share it with everyone.

lion pose

About ZooBoo

ZooBoo is the Erie Zoo’s annual Halloween event and a rare chance to see the zoo after 5 p.m. There are trick-or-treat boooooths (*groan* I know, but I. Just. Can’t. Stop.) for kids 12 and under and Halloween decorations and lights strewn through the zoo grounds.  This year, ZooBoo opens on Friday, October 18th and runs through Wednesday, October 30th from 6 to 9 p.m. nightly.

A few insider tips:

  • Save yourself some time waiting in line and pick your tickets up in advance at the zoo office (423 W. 38th St. next to the zoo) or buy online then you can enter the advance line near the stage (no waiting!). You can even buy your train & carousel tickets in advance!
  • Don’t go right at 6, go at 7 or 7:30 and you’ll miss the big crowds.
  • Ride the train first…most people ride it at the end and the line gets looooong at the end of the night.
  • Expect some animal changes. The orangutans and a few other animals won’t be out (they do not like their sleepy-time schedules messed with), but the big cats will likely be up and moving around — they’re nocturnal animals and they really “come alive” after dark.
  • This might be obvious, but…if you don’t like crowds, opt for a less-than-perfect-weather night. ZooBoo is open every night until Oct. 30, rain, shine, sleet or snow. Also, weeknights — particularly Mon.-Wed. — tend to have lower attendance.
  • On busy nights, the back gate — off Glenwood Park Ave. — is often open.