April 2012 Archives

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{Junior Doug Layer, senior Dave Serpentine, sophomore Sandy Flick, senior Aimee Ralph, and senior Rob Ripson joined Assistant Director of Student Affairs Ronika Money, Director of Student Affairs Matthew Shupp, and Instructor Karrie Bowen at the National Center for Student Leadership Conference in Boston.}

A group of Penn State Brandywine students learned valuable leadership skills at the National Center for Student Leadership (NCSL) Conference held in Boston in March.

NCSL provides collegiate student leaders the opportunity to achieve their leadership potential and positively impact their campuses and communities. This is accomplished through practical, focused training and opportunities to collaborate with other student leaders.

Attendees engaged in workshops in an effort to hone their leadership skills. "This conference offered several keynote speakers and workshop sessions that covered personal and group motivation, public speaking skills, redefining leadership rules, body language and conversation skills, how to be successful, receiving better grades, money management, how to build an effective organization, and many more," said senior Dave Serpentine, who was among the group of Brandywine students at the event.

"While attending the conference sessions and walking around Boston, I met really fascinating people and heard amazing stories," he added. "I interacted with people from California, Texas, Hawaii, Samoa, and even Toronto. The diversity among participants was unbelievable at NCSL. Also, when I was touring the city, I met a fellow Philadelphian and we were discussing cheesesteaks. It was a nice feeling to know that even miles away, home never leaves you."

Senior Aimee Ralph said, "The conference was a remarkable occasion, which allowed students the opportunity to listen to keynote speakers, attend informative sessions about being a leader on campus, and connect with people from all over the country. The lessons I learned from the breakout sessions have given me a new understanding of how important it is to make connections and understand skills such as negotiation, while at the same time leading a successful group. What I learned from the conference will help me in my future in ways that I would have never imagined."

Senior Rob Ripson added, "One of the biggest takeaways I got from the breakout sessions offered at NCSL was to set goals. Writing down these goals and looking at them daily is a key component to achieving success." He said he learned that when working within a group one must "outline the responsibilities for others within a group so that participation can be expanded."

Serpentine said that he felt he had "grown as a leader" and had learned "valuable tips for life. The premise of this conference was to show that people, regardless of whether they have a leadership role or title, can make a difference on their campus and in their community. I was honored to have taken part in this amazing conference and I will truly utilize the skills I learned."

Story compiled by Senior Jennifer Santangelo
By Sarah DeMartino, Sophomore

Undergraduate research was something that took me by surprise. I was a freshman, only a week out of high school, when I had FTCAP (Penn State's version of freshman orientation). I was choosing classes and talking with my adviser, Dr. Daniela Martin. We were discussing my interests and what I'd been involved in during high school, when she told me about a project she was starting on gender and study abroad. I had participated in some international clubs in high school, Model United Nations, for example, and so Dr. Martin's project sparked my interest. She asked if I wanted to help her with it, to be a part of her research team, and I was awestruck. I stuttered back a, "Y-yes!" and from that point on I was an undergraduate researcher.

{Sarah DeMartino (left) displays her research findings alongside her adviser, Assistant Professor of Psychology Daniela Martin.}
I was nervous at first as I hadn't had much experience with gender or psychology, but I learned quickly and those nerves dissipated. The one part of undergraduate research that I've always loved is how hands on it is; I've learned as I've worked, and although I started off with minimal knowledge, my understanding of the subject has grown immensely.
Undergraduate research has given me the opportunity to delve into a subject I wouldn't have otherwise explored. Heck, I didn't even know there was a field of study out there examining study abroad and gender. I've been given this wonderful opportunity to expand my passion for the international realm through a lens I never imagined existed.

Undergraduate research allows students to study what they are passionate about and to explore possible career options before they graduate. Will I continue to do this kind of research in my career? I'm not certain, but I've picked up skills and confidence I would not have gained otherwise. I've learned new technologies and programs used to sort and analyze data, for example, that I may not have had the opportunity to learn had I not become involved with research.

But what makes undergraduate research truly unique is that this work will be read, studied, cited, and built upon by other individuals. Knowing that the research will be directly contributing to a growing field of knowledge by sharing that work and collaborating on it with other people makes all the hard work worthwhile. Part of sharing that knowledge means going to conferences, and while it may seem nerve-wracking, attending such events is actually really fun and rewarding. Conferences allow researchers to meet and talk with other professionals working in that field. For me, that has always been one of my favorite parts of undergraduate research. I've always felt so excited to meet people interested in the same subjects that I am.

I have been to several conferences, one was Penn State Brandywine's EURECA (Exhibition of Undergraduate Research Enterprise and Creative Accomplishment). EURECA, which will be held this year on April 17, was especially important for me as I was not only sharing the research that Dr. Martin and I had been working on, but I was able to collaborate with my peers -- my fellow students. We had grown close as a group of research students. At EURECA we stood side by side, presenting, to our school, the projects in which we had all invested our time and effort. That atmosphere of camaraderie and support, I think, can only be found in events like EURECA.

EURECA also let me share my research with my Penn State community and give back what I had learned. The professors and students were quick to pose questions and delve into the work I was so passionate about. As a result of my EURECA presentation, I was then asked to present at the Penn State Eastern Regional Undergraduate Research Symposium, which will be held at the Brandywine campus on April 19, and so presenting at EURECA gave me the opportunity to showcase my research at an even bigger event. It opened a new door for me.

All in all, I not only recommend students get involved with undergraduate research, but also that they embrace sharing it at events like EURECA. Going to conferences is a key step in learning about the work other people do, perfecting one's own project, and building upon and sharing it with people. That, after all, is what knowledge is for.  

Penn State Brandywine will host this year's Penn State Eastern Regional Undergraduate Research Symposium on April 19 -- just two days after EURECA. Students with outstanding presentations at EURECA will be invited to present at the Symposium and compete against their peers for top awards. For more information about the Symposium, click here.

Students display and discuss their research findings at EURECA 2011: