Follow Plastics Engineering Technology Students through Denmark & Sweden — Travel Log #1

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No matter how vivid the photos or descriptive the lecture, there’s nothing quite like seeing and experiencing another country in person. And, in today’s increasingly global business climate, it’s vital that students be versed in the culture and business practices of international partners. There is much to be learned from seeing how others do it. That’s why, every year, students in the Plastics Engineering Technology program have the opportunity to travel overseas to visit plastics companies and universities and attend a plastics trade show, too.

Right now, eleven students are at the tail end of a ten-day trip to Sweden and Denmark.

We asked them to send us some updates and photos so we could all learn from their journey.

Day 1- Thursday, October 15th

Today was our departure date. We left Behrend in a bus and headed to the Toronto airport to board the plane to Copenhagen. We were all anxiously awaiting departure!

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Day 2- Friday, October 16th

We arrived in Copenhagen at approximately 10:00 a.m. and made our way to our hostel. After dropping off our things at the hostel, we went our separate ways to explore the city. One group toured the Christianborg Palace and visited Tivoli Gardens-the oldest amusement park in Europe. Other groups climbed local towers to see the city from above. This was our first experience communicating with other cultures and through other languages.

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Day 3- Saturday, October 17th

Our second day in Copenhagen was more eventful, as we taught ourselves how to use the bus and train systems. We were able to travel across the city more efficiently to see more distant attractions. Some of these attractions included the Rosenborg Palace, Kastellet Fort, and also the Little Mermaid statue.

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Day 4- Sunday, October 18th

The last day in Copenhagen we were able to catch a few more attractions, such as the Marble Church and the picturesque town of Nyhavn. In the evening, we boarded a train to Vejen, and we arrived at our hostel late that night.

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Day 5 – Monday, October 19th

On Monday, we woke up and caught the bus to Billund for a tour of the LEGO facility. The manufacturing facility was very innovative and automated, which was very interesting to see. We learned about their history, business model, company values, and processing techniques. We departed LEGO in the early afternoon and headed back to Copenhagen for the night. At this point, we went our separate ways to the hostels that each group of students had booked on their own. It was a great experience maneuvering through the city with our luggage and trying to find our hostel on our own.

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Day 6 – Tuesday, October 20th

Tuesday we visited the Danish Technical University (DTU), just outside of Copenhagen. They had incredible research facilities and free 3D printing for any university student. The university was very project oriented and encouraged all students to go “beyond state of the art.” You could tell from their work that the students were very passionate and had put time and effort into their projects to make creative ideas come to life. Afterwards, the group boarded another train to Goteborg, Sweden, where we found our hostel for the night.

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Day 7 – Wednesday, October 21st

We woke up in Goteborg bright and early to make our way to the Scan Pack Packaging Trade Show. Students spent hours visiting the various booths and displays from packing companies from around the world. Some highlights included a juggling robot; collapsible, reusable, and more environmentally friendly material gaylords; biodegradable packaging; and various forms of filling equipment for assembly lines.

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To be continued….

9-hole disc golf course open at Behrend

By Heather Cass

Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

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Have you noticed the medieval-looking baskets with chains on metal poles around campus and wondered what they are for?

They’re for your entertainment.

The baskets are targets for a new nine-hole disc golf course that snakes around the perimeter of campus. Disc golf is played much like traditional golf but with flying discs instead of balls and clubs. Players stand near the tee and try to get their disc into the basket in the fewest number of throws.

Student-driven fun

The project was initiated by Kyle Stephan ’14, a former SGA president, who got the ball rolling discs flying, by approaching the Student Activities and Athletics departments to obtain approval, advice, and, eventually, funding to establish a course on campus.

Stephan was joined by Mechanical Engineering majors Trey Neveux and Mark Malecky, and Psychology major Tyler Ferraino, who worked together to design the course, locate equipment, and secure funds.

The students did the majority of the work on the course themselves, with assistance from the Erie Disc Golf Club, the college’s Maintenance and Operations department, and with instruction from Dr. Mike Naber, lecturer in geosciences, on using Geographic Information System (GIS) to layout and measure the course.

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Tyler Ferraino, right, and Trey Neveux.

The course

Though the graphics for the tee markers are still under production, all of the targets/baskets are set and the tee markers (plain white signs) are in place.

The course starts in front of the tennis court/baseball fields near the Jordan road entrance to the college. From there, it snakes around to the old soccer field and then up and around the new track complex before finishing up in the woods across from the track near the bridge to Erie parking lot.

An online map that you can use on your Smartphone while you play can be found here.

Equipment

A basic disc golf set contains three discs—a driver, a mid-range disc, and a putter. Just like in golf, the driver is used for long drives from tee, the mid-range disc is used for shorter distances, and the putter is used when you’re close to the target.

There are at least ten sets of discs available for students to borrow for free at the RUB desk (and Neveux says there are more to come), or you can pick up your own set at a mass retailer or online for less than $30.

How to play/rules

Standing at the tee (currently marked with plain white signs…graphics are in production!), throw your driver disc toward the basket. Players — typically two to four, but more is OK, too — take turns throwing their discs with the one whose disc lands the farthest from the basket going first (like golf).

One point (stroke) is counted each time the disc is thrown and when a penalty is incurred. The goal is to play each hole in the fewest strokes possible. A disc that comes to rest in the basket or chains constitutes a successful completion of that hole.

Most of the holes on Behrend’s course are a par 3, but there are also two par 4s and a par 5. Map here.

The player with the lowest total strokes for the entire course wins.

Learn more about how to play disc golf here.

First-timers take

Neveux and Ferraino spent some time introducing me to the sport on a recent weekday morning.

It was a lot of fun and it wasn’t hard to figure out how to throw the discs to my advantage (most drivers arc left) and when to switch discs to make use of the mid-range and putter discs.

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By the third hole, I had a pretty solid grasp on the sport and enough skill to get the disc in the area I wanted it to be.

Learn more at YouTube, where you can find plenty of videos with tips on disc throwing technique.

Future expansion

Neveux, who serves as president of the Disc Golf club at Behrend, says they are already thinking of expanding.

“We’d like to add another nine holes, so we have an eighteen-hole course,” he said. “We’ve got plenty of space for it on campus.”

And, with the club’s dedication and promotion of the sport, they’re sure to have plenty of players, too.

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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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Summer in Sri Lanka: Psychology student serves as medical volunteer

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Margaret Dunlap, a sophomore Psychology major, had a remarkable and enlightening summer experience as a medical volunteer at a Sri Lankan hospital.

We talked with her to find out more about what it’s like to live and work in a Third World country and what she learned during her time there.

What was your internship position (title)?

Medical volunteer

What were your responsibilities?

I had a mix of observation and helping. My duties included taking blood sugars, blood pressure, pulse, changing dressings, assisting in surgery, and doing physical exams.

How did you obtain this position?

It really just required filling out the application for Projects Abroad. Anyone can do the internship, but skill level and enthusiasm determines how much you are actually doing and you’re doing patient care or just watching.

How long was the internship?

6 weeks

Was it a paid position?

No. It was a volunteer position with Projects Abroad.

What made you look to Sri Lanka? Have you been there before?

I originally planned to be in India, but problems with the visa office resulted in my advisers rerouting me to Sri Lanka, a tropical island off the coast of India. I knew I wanted to be in an underprivileged area with a vastly different culture, preferably in Asia. I had not been to any part of Asia before, so culture-wise, it was a huge shock.

Why do you think they chose you? Why did you stand out?

One reason I stood out was my enthusiasm to learn. I came in as one of the youngest students and I openly admitted to having little real medical training. The doctors and advisors appreciated my humble attitude and willingness to do whatever needed to be done so I could learn.

As a college sophomore, you were doing an internship in a foreign country. Were you ever surprised to find yourself there?

I definitely was in awe that I was able to have an experience like that. If it wasn’t for my parents, I never would have been able to go. There also were several times when I remember thinking “I’m just a kid, what am I doing practicing medicine in a foreign country? When did I become responsible enough or mature enough to do this?”

How do these types of experiences enhance (or bring to life) the lessons you’re learning at Behrend?

At Behrend,  I learned how to be comfortable around people much different from myself. My freshman year, I lived in Perry Hall, which, at the time, housed primarily international students. I grew up in a small town with very little cultural diversity, and I had never lived in close proximity to people with such vastly different backgrounds. I became close friends with many international students, though it did take me some time to get used to being surrounded by different cultures. This experience certainly prepared me for living in Sri Lanka, where everyone’s culture was different from my own. Even the other students staying with the same host family had different backgrounds. I not only got a taste of Sri Lanka but also Japan, Ireland, England, Canada, Germany, and Australia.

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Margaret Dunlop, left, and a friend ride an Asian elephant while in Sri Lanka this summer

What was it like in Sri Lanka? Did you enjoy living there?

Sri Lanka is a Third World country in Asia. I lived in Colombo, the capital city, which is on the west coast. It was insanely hot, humid, dirty, smelly, and full of insects. But, it was also wonderfully exciting and exotic. All of the things that could have been taken as negatives were actually positives if you looked at them properly. There was no air conditioning, no hot water for bathing, no silverware (you ate your rice with your hands), and no toilet paper. The only Caucasians for miles were the other eleven students living in my house, and only seven of them spoke English as their first language. Living in Sri Lanka certainly was an adjustment. Literally everything is different there, but the differences are also what made the trip so fun!

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

The most valuable lesson I learned is that I am stronger than I think. There were times when I was so scared or miserable that I just wanted to buy a plane ticket home, but I didn’t. I persevered and enjoyed the experience. In the end, I am a better person for it.

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

One of the biggest things I learned is to not second-guess myself. There were times where I was in surgery and panicking that I would make a mistake or I would be doing an initial examination on a patient with other medical students and second-guess myself. Sometimes I would hesitate if a doctor asked me a question just because I didn’t want to say the wrong thing and look stupid. Eventually I realized that I know more than I think and I should learn to be confident in that. And even if I don’t know the answer or I do have a stupid question, who cares? That’s why it’s called learning.

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

I plan to go to medical school after college to become an orthopedic surgeon with a focus in sports medicine.

Finance major spends summer flying across country to work with clients

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

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Eric Frei, a senior Finance major, racked up plenty of frequent flier miles this summer working as an intern for FTI Consulting in Pittsburgh. Every week for three months, Frei flew to either Northern Minnesota or Florida to provide on-site consulting services to FTI clients.

We sat down to talk with Frei about his jet-setting summer experience.

Is this the first time you interned for this company?

Yes

How did you obtain the internship?

Faculty members passed my resume onto someone at FTI.

Was it a paid position?

Yes.

Did you fly out every week?

Yes, I either flew to Northern Minnesota or Florida and I stayed for 4 or 5 nights. On the weekends, I flew back to Pittsburgh.

What are the kinds of things you assisted the clients with?

A lot of the work that I did was confidential but I basically assisted companies that were going through the bankruptcy process.

As a college student you were assisting companies going through bankruptcy, that’s pretty impressive. Did you ever think: Wow, I can’t believe I get to do this?

At times, yes. It was a great opportunity to be able to learn more than I ever had about bankruptcy and financial consulting work.

How do these types of experiences enhance (or bring to life) the lessons you’re learning at Behrend?

I was able to apply many of the things I learned in my classes this summer and in previous internships. Now that I’m back at Behrend, I am excited to apply what I learned this summer as well.

Which climate did you like better…Florida or Minnesota? Did you have recreation time…to go see the city, etc.?

To be honest, I did not have much time at all for recreation. Most days we worked from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. or so and then went out to dinner as a team. I was surprised at how beautiful the summer was in Northern Minnesota.

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

To be confident in what you are doing, triple check everything, and content is nothing if it is not presented in the correct way.

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

Yes, many things. I have set personal goals for my senior year to make myself more a better resource to the company I end up working for after graduation in May.

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

I am eager to start my career in corporate finance. Currently I am seeking after corporate finance positions; especially those that are a leadership rotation program.

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

Work hard, have fun, and truly absorb what you are being taught in the classroom.

 

 

Spring Show highlights Penn State Behrend artists

By Allison Counasse
e-Communications Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend Spring Art Show

The Penn State Behrend Spring Art Show includes works by students, faculty, and staff.

Penn State Behrend’s Spring Art Show brings color and beauty to campus. The show presents works by twenty-five artists from the college community through May 8. It is the first time that it will be displayed in the college’s John M. Lilley Library gallery.

Heather Cole, lecturer in digital arts, and Scott Rispin, lecturer in art, collaborated on the show, which received support from the Mary Behrend Cultural Fund. Together, they expanded it from a straightforward student photography show to a professional exhibition in the gallery located on the main floor of the library.

“In the past, we exhibited unframed works in the hallway of a classroom building,” Cole explained. “We were looking for a more professional viewing space. The Lilley Library gallery gave us the opportunity to exhibit the art in a framed, professional manner.”

Rispin had been talking to Dr. Rick Hart, library director, for a few years about using space on the lower level and in the gallery for exhibits. Things came together last fall, when the Faculty Art Show made its debut in the gallery space.

The Spring Art Show promotes the diverse talents and interests of the Penn State Behrend community. Submissions include student works in a variety of media, as well as pieces by faculty and staff. In addition to photography, the show features paintings, drawings, and digital art such as collages, scanograms (scanner art), 3D graphics, and 3D-printed sculptures. Many of the student works were created for photography, digital arts, and painting classes.

The artwork is not arranged by format or artist. “It’s always best to hang a show in a way that creates a better experience for the gallery patron,” Rispin said.

Students demonstrate diverse artistic talents

Hayden Seibert,

Hayden Seibert, Big Sky
Mixed Media on Canvas

Hayden Seibert, a sophomore Mechanical Engineering major from Erie, Pa., submitted two paintings to the show. “One was displayed last year in the Erie Art Museum Spring Show and the other is being shown for the first time,” he said. “I’m an artist, and I like to share my work.”

Krystal Elliott,

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Watercolor on paper

Krystal Elliott, a sophomore Software Engineering major from New York City, created her watercolor painting Spring is Near, which depicts a bird on a tree branch, specifically for the show. She said she submitted it to challenge herself to do something new, and she wanted to paint something others could identify with.

“I finally saw a bird outside and it reminded me that winter was nearly over,” she said.

Nick Ranayhossaini,

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Charcoal on paper

Nick Ranayhossaini, a senior majoring in General Arts and Sciences from Harmony, Pa., had started his charcoal drawing of a skull before learning about the show but finished it for the submission deadline.

“I often draw skeletal figures, largely because I enjoy dark themes and just think that skeletons look cool, but also because they don’t represent anyone specific,” Ranayhossaini said. “Seeing the piece in the gallery makes me extremely happy. When I get to watch someone walk in and start examining my work I am extremely proud.”

Digital Arts step into the spotlight

3D Prints and Digital Sculptures

3D Prints and Digital Sculptures

The exhibition includes a display case with 3D objects designed by students in Cole’s ART168 The Digital Medium course. They hadn’t even seen their creations until they went on display. The students created the models with Autodesk Mudbox, a 3D painting and sculpting program, and Cole printed them with a 3D printer recently purchased by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

“These are their first projects,” Cole said. “They wanted to get down to the library to see them right away.”

Peter Kalmar,

Peter Kalmar, Sword Model
Digital Sculpting

Peter Kalmar, a junior Computer Science major from Cabot, Pa., created a 3D-printed turtle and also drew concept art for a sword design and implemented it in Blender, a 3D modelling program. He said doing the project was a great way to learn the computer program.

Art at Penn State Behrend will continue to grow

Cole and Rispin say that there are ample opportunities to further expand the show, which would give Arts Administration majors experience in planning, executing, and promoting gallery exhibitions.

Both instructors hope more artists will participate as they become aware of the blossoming art scene on campus. Cole and Rispin often find that fear or inexperience holds back new artists, who may think their work isn’t good enough or might not know how to frame or display artwork.

“All they really need to do is talk to us and we’ll help them,” Cole said. Rispin has even loaned or built frames for students’ work.

Don’t expect all of the art to disappear from the Lilley Libraryor campusafter the show is over. Rispin says additional wall space on the lower level of the library will be used as “ongoing exhibition space.”

The show also was highlighted at a recent Community Arts Walk that took place during the college’s Spring Open House. The event included temporary art displays on bulletin boards and mobile frames around campus, a display in the windows of a residence hall, and performances at Bruno’s Cafe.

“The walk went well,” said Cole, who may “look to inviting clubs to participate next year.” She has lots of other creative projects in the works, too.

Students say that’s good news. “I have high hopes that the college will continue to provide opportunities like this on campus,” Seibert said.

About the Spring Art Show

Admission to the show is free and open to the public during library hours.

Parking is available at the adjacent Reed Union Building or in any campus visitor parking lot. Visitor Parking Permits may be obtained from Police Services in Erie Hall.

Penn State Behrend Spring Art Show

The Penn State Behrend Spring Art Show runs through May 8. The annual exhibition, which includes works by twenty-five members of the Penn State Behrend community, has expanded and moved to the Lilley Library gallery.

Meet Standout Senior Kelly English-James

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

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Kelly English-James

Major: Management Information Systems

Minors: Marketing, Operations and Supply Chain Management

On choosing her major: “Originally, I was a Marketing major. I was always a creative person and enjoyed making things that would be visually appealing to others. I was introduced to coding, web design, and data bases in an introductory level MIS course and immediately fell in love. I learned that I’d rather be the person working on the system than in the system. Choosing MIS has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life thus far.”

Involved to the nth degree: English-James certainly made the most of her time at Behrend. She was a Lion Ambassador, president of the Human Relations Programming Council, member of the Management Information Systems Club, member of the National Society of Black Engineers, member of the Association for Black collegians, Member of the Multicultural Council, member of the Organization of African and Caribbean students, member of the Organization of Latin American students, member of Women Today, and member of the International Student Organization. Pheww….

On motivation and drive: “I have an outstanding drive and motivation. When I set my mind to things I’m truly unstoppable.”

Embracing differences: “I am most engaged and attracted to people who are intelligent and have unique mindsets. I am very excited when I discover that someone thinks completely different from others. It truly inspires me.”

Advice for new students: “Be open minded and always plan ahead. Plan your next two semesters of courses in advance. If you don’t plan, you may find yourself in a difficult academic situation!”

English-James will graduate on Friday, December 19. She has accepted an MIS position in Rhode Island.