Recently in Students Category

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{Top from left: Sophomore Trez Malatesta; students from Univesidad Interamericana De Puerto Rico San German Interamerican; and Brandywine Assistant Director of Student Affairs Ronika Money;
Bottom from left: Justin Deloatch; freshman Lauren Lomas; and sophomore Linda Truong}  

Five Penn State Brandywine students traveled to Orlando, Fla. to participate in the National Center for Student Leadership (NCSL) Fall Conference in early November, where they enhanced their leadership skills, networked with their peers from around the world, and participated in sessions with leadership experts. 

Brandywine student Justin Deloatch has this to say about the experience:

"The events that stuck out to me the most were the workshops and how engaged every student was in all the classes I attended. Stan Pearson II taught students a fun exercise of learning something in a quick and proficient way and the example he used was teaching us to salsa dance, which was excitingly rewarding. Every speaker was top notch and they taught me the importance of people, relationships, success, passion, support, and focus. 

"While in Walt Disney World, I challenged myself to do a "Free Hugs" campaign with some of the other students, which was extremely successful ... I met new friends along the way from different states and I am currently keeping In touch with them and discussing the next NCSL conference."

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{Linda Truong and Lauren Lomas}

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{Senior Student Government Association President Pawel Zwierzchowski and Gay Straight Alliance President Trez Malatesta}

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Fair Trade Smore.jpgby Sarah DeMartino, Junior
(pictured below left)

Yesterday the Penn State Brandywine Fair Trade TrailBlazers and the campus community participated in Global Exchange's "We Want More from our S'mores" event. 

This initiative was started by Global Exchange to put pressure on the chocolate industry to stop using child labor and to continue to seek more ethical means of producing chocolate. From 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., faculty, staff, and students gathered in the Vairo Library Courtyard to roast fair trade s'mores to help Global Exchange's campaign.

Fair Trade Equal Exchange chocolate (dark chocolate mini bars) was provided as well as fair trade bananas from Whole Foods. Yes, you read correctly. Fair trade bananas! These were not just any fair trade s'mores, they were gourmet fair trade s'mores! In addition to jumbo-sized marshmallows and boxes and boxes of graham crackers, we enjoyed organic strawberries (sadly those not fair trade; all the more reason why we need a domestic fair trade system). By the end of the event, a total of 45 s'mores were eaten. It was truly a wonderful and successful event!

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TEP_3823[2].jpgCongratulations to the more than 100 graduates of the Penn State Class of 2012 at Brandywine! We want to reiterate the wise words of advice our graduates received from our commencement keynote speaker, Wawa Inc. President/CEO Howard B. Stoeckel:

"It's important to serve others. Don't be the taker, be the giver. Be willing to make mistakes, learn from your experience, and don't take yourself to seriously."

Go forth and make us proud!

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{All photos copyright by Third Eye Productions, Inc. To order prints, click here or call 215-635-1988.}

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Not many people can say they spoke with the President of the United States, but three Brandywine students had the ear of President Barack Obama by telephone in no less than the office of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. (Check out the NBC10 video!)

The White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs hosted a call with President Obama on Monday, May 7, to discuss the fight to keep federally subsidized student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1.

Sixteen local college students, including Penn State Brandywine freshmen Samantha Golay, of Sharon Hill; Christopher Kramer, of Media; and Tara Landis, of Malvern, were present in the Mayor's office for the call. Only two of those 16 students actually spoke with the President, and Kramer was one of them.
A story about the call is posted on the White House blog:

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{(From left) Brandywine Admissions Counselor Rahel Teklegiorgis, Samantha Golay, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Christopher Kramer, Tara Landis}

Golay is the 2012-2013 president of the Lion Ambassador organization, a group of students on campus that provides campus tours and assists in the recruitment of future Penn State students. Ambassadors inspire visiting high school students to attend Penn State University and serve as their first examples of academic excellence. She is a business major.

Kramer represented Penn State Brandywine's Student Government Association, and is a member of THON (the largest student-run philanthropic organization in the world) and a Lion Ambassador. He is interested in pursuing either business or political science.

Landis is also a member of THON, as well as a Lion Ambassador. She is a psychology major.

The President was joined on the call by Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, who took questions from participants. Mayor Nutter tweeted about the event, and Kramer addressed the press afterwards.

- Helene Bludman, Staff Blogger

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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

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As a student teacher finishing up her final year at Penn State Brandywine, Elizabeth Panos is combining her acting experience and teaching skills to show her first graders at Upper Merion Bridgeport Elementary School that bullying is never the answer.

Panos found her love of theater (she left college briefly to study acting in New York City) is a valuable teaching tool. She's using role-play to challenge her six- and seven-year-olds to find better ways to handle peer conflict.

"I don't use the word 'bullying,'" she said. "They think everything is bullying, even accidents. I just talk about treating each other with kindness. I know it's an anti-bullying lesson but they don't know that."

Her method is simple.

She began by using peer mediation while student teaching at Aronimink Elementary and in the William Penn School District over the last few years. "I had students talk out their problems, apologize, explain what they would do differently next time and then shake hands or hug. Furthermore, I had them role-play simple and complex situations in the classroom. Simple means someone stole my pencil or called me a name. Complex means hitting," she explained.

After going through this same exercise with her students at Upper Merion, where she's been teaching since the fall, Panos began asking them, "Is that a simple problem or a complex one?" every time they tattled on each other. She then had them work in groups to discover and role-play solutions for each.

Her method is working.

She recalled a few times when a student ran up to her and said, "Miss Panos, Miss Panos! ... Wait, it's 'simple,' I'll do it!" They then go back and say to the person who was mean to them, "'That's not nice, don't call me that.' Then the other student apologizes and they go back to what they were doing," she said. "Tattling still exists, but they're becoming aware of it and sometimes solving the problems on their own, which is where I think it all begins."

To tackle the issue of peer pressure, Panos came up with a role-playing scenario where a student is pressured by a peer to steal a pencil from another student's desk. "Three volunteers demonstrated the bullying scenario and then the students broke into groups to brainstorm and practice better ways to handle the situation. Two groups then acted out the right thing," which was asking to borrow the pencil instead of stealing it. "Another girl just ignored the peer pressure. I prompted one of the students in the role-play to goad her to steal the pencil and she said 'NO, it's not nice!'"

As a reward for solving their problems respectfully and on their own, Panos awards stickers. "Ten stickers earns them a V.I.P lunch with me. I bring in a table cloth, some music, a palm tree center piece," she said. For 20 stickers the student becomes a special helper for the day and so on. Turns out, they love one-on-one teacher time.

"It's been working so far!" she said excitedly. The other day "was the first day I gave everyone except two kids a sticker." That's 21 stickers compared to the more typical three per day.

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She said the full-time teacher in her classroom is embracing her lessons and use of arts and theater, but at first she was "a little iffy due to the scripted nature of the curriculum, but she's on board because she also feels it's something important they need to learn. We work out ways to fit it in without interrupting mandatory content areas. We co-teach. We really work together and help the kids."

Panos is hoping to reach teachers and administrators beyond her classroom.

"I want to spread this around. I want to meet with the principals and explain what I'm doing because then they can incorporate this into their schools."

After coming up with much of the anti-bullying curriculum and role-playing on her own, Panos connected with an organization called Stand Together, a global community against bullying.

"I was noticing that my ideas were working, but these are proven to be successful," she said of the Stand Together's anti-bullying curriculum for K-12.

At the end of January she embraced "No Name-Calling Week," created by Stand Together with the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). Her students brainstormed messages to give to other students to stop name-calling. Then they created posters with nice words to replace bad names, and Panos displayed the posters on the bulletin boards outside the classroom.

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"I've been wanting to do this for a really long time," she said. After graduating in May, Panos hopes to "work somewhere where I can be creative and use my skills. I can do it in my classroom but it's nice to get to do it for other kids after school, too. I really want a place with after-school programs." Then later down the road, perhaps a principalship. "Then I'll have the authority to incorporate these programs. But you know, baby steps. I need a teaching job first."

by Risa Pitman, Staff Blogger


Since 2003, Diane Shorter (Student Affairs Office) and I have led campus and community members with knitting needles and crochet hooks in hand to create handmade items for nonprofit organizations with an identified need. We call ourselves Knittany Lion Needleworks.

Last year, we asked our volunteers to help us make scarves for the Pennsylvania athletes competing in the 2011 Special Olympics USA. We were thrilled to be able to send 83 scarves that year to be worn by the athletes as they marched in during their opening ceremonies and during the games. 

We had requests to help this organization again, so we picked up our needles and hooks to help the 2012 Special Olympians in Pennsylvania. We knew this was a popular project with our volunteers, but we did not anticipate even more volunteers helping to create 119 handmade scarves in this year's Special Olympics USA colors of blue and red. 

Volunteers from Granite Farms estates made and donated nearly half of the 119 scarves, while others came from current students, alumni, parents, and community members. 

I have a feeling we will see this project on our list for 2013 so stay tuned!

For more information about Knittany Lion Needleworks, which will soon become an official club on campus thanks to an initiative led by freshman Theressa Ha, click here

-- Dr. Laura Guertin, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences 

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International Muslim author, speaker, and life coach Zohra Sarwari, will discuss with students at Penn State Brandywine what it means to be a Muslim on Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 11:30 a.m. in the Commons/Athletic Center, room 203. She was invited by a group of students (Lauren Jerla, Yash Patel, Stephanie Tracy, and Brittney Walker) who were moved by a talk Sarwari gave at the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities Northeast Conference in Hershey last March. 

Sarwari has authored 10 books and has appeared on ABC News, Fox News and countless radio shows. Her programs, which include "I Am Not a Terrorist," "Are Muslim Women Oppressed?," and "Become the Change that You Envision in the World," inspire students across the globe and aim to peacefully bridge the cultural gap.

According to her website, Sarwari moved from Afghanistan to the United States as a refugee at the age of six. She went on to earn a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of California Davis, an M.B.A. from American Intercontinental University, and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in Islamic studies. Her first published book is titled "9 Steps to Achieve Your Destiny." Sarwari, a mother of three with one on the way who is also raising her nephew, started her own business "to share the benefits of her inspirational knowledge and heart-felt experiences with people all around the world," according to the site. 

We hope you'll join us for what promises to be an enlightening discussion. 

For more information on the program, please contact the Office of Student Affairs at 610-892-1270.

- Risa Pitman, Staff Blogger

Interning: Experiencing Life Differently

Jack.jpg{Jack, the artist who created this piece, is a 19-year-old Melmark student. He prefers to draw with oil and pastels. He then places tape on his drawing and paints overtop. When the tape is removed, an eye-catching piece is revealed.}

An internship is an opportunity to get your foot in the door and really start experiencing what a position in the field of your choice entails. It is a great chance to decide what you want in a future job, and adds to your experience and skill level.

After countless attempts to secure a fall internship, I finally received the good news that I would be interning at Melmark. I was nervous about my newfound position and I had some apprehension about reaching out to many different people as a marketing and communications intern.

Before I applied for the position I thought to myself, "What is Melmark? Is it an important organization?" After researching, I discovered that Melmark is a nonprofit that provides residential, educational, vocational, and therapeutic services for children and adults with autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, acquired brain injuries, and other neurological and genetic disorders.

Melmark is not just a place for students and residents to grow and develop, but employees, too. I began to realize that working in this nonprofit is so much more gratifying than any business setting. The environment is warm and welcoming, as are the employees with whom I have been working closely.

I have been coordinating a traveling art show, finding venues to showcase the art, and helping with the artwork placement. This is a wonderful opportunity for people to witness the great abilities of the Melmark students. Our venue for the month of November is Penn State Brandywine, in the Lion's Den!

I have also been working with the nonprofit COLLAGE, a Melmark program, which provides social skills programs to children, adolescents, and adults. The director and I are working on planning and hosting an open house on November 16 at the Stratford Friends School in Newtown Square -- everything from promoting the event to procuring donations for refreshments.

I never thought I would accomplish so much. During just these first two months of interning, I secured ten venues for Melmark's traveling art show, helped facilitate an open house event for COLLAGE, created fliers and press releases, and reached out to more organizations and companies then I can count. There is a lot of work that is involved in interning, but interning for a nonprofit such as Melmark, makes the experience a very rewarding one.

My internship pushed me outside of my comfort zone and into the nonprofit sector and business world, which is exactly what I needed. The positive impact of my internship forced me to experience life differently, and as a result, I see nonprofit positions in my future.


{This painting was created by Brian, a 21-year-old Melmark student who communicates with a speech output device. He is a methodical artist, who chooses his colors carefully. He paints with equal consideration.}

 - Amanda Maxwell, Senior, Corporate Communications

Live Fearlessly, "Make People Happy"

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{Senior Sara Neville with women's rights pioneer Gloria Steinem at the Pennsylvania Women's Conference}

When I was invited to attend this year's Annual Pennsylvania Conference for Women in Philadelphia by our chancellor, Dr. Sophia Wisniewska, I had no idea what to expect. I signed up right away when I learned that Gloria Steinem was a keynote speaker, but the rest of the itinerary looked a little too career-focused for my undergraduate, pre-career self. I was excited to see Gretchen Rubin, the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Happiness Project, speak, and was thrilled that Christy Turlington Burns joined the line-up late in the game, but other than that, I was a little apprehensive. What could I learn from seminars about climbing the corporate ladder and being an effective leader in the office? I'm still a college student! Skeptical as I was, the opening keynotes exceeded my expectations.

I listened to Gretchen Rubin talk about the important role happiness plays in our lives. "Happy people make people happy," she said. Martha Beck, lauded by Psychology Today, USA Today, and NPR as one of America's best-known life coaches, talked about the physiological differences in the way men and women react to stress. Women secrete different hormones, making them want to take care of others. "Men want to fight or flee. Women want to fight or flee but make sure everyone has a sandwich and a sweater."

I was happily surprised at the way the day was progressing. I felt like I was not only in for a day full of inspiring talks from motivating women, but I was about to gain insight into the way fear operates in my life on a daily basis. Fear is a powerful emotion that causes us to lose focus of the present moment, of what is real and tangible and beautiful in each single moment. I was able to lose myself in the beauty of the day, instead of worrying about my impending thesis due dates and long list of tasks to complete by the end of the week.

I gained insight into effective leadership from Betsy Myers, author (Take the Lead: Motivate, Inspire, and Bring Out the Best in Yourself and Everyone Around You), founder of the Center for Women and Business at Bentley University, and former senior adviser for the Clinton and Obama administrations.

I peeked inside the world of fashion journalism with Kate Betts, author (Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style) and former TIME Magazine contributor, Vogue editor, and editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar.

Condemned Olympian-turned-motivational speaker, Marion Jones, talked about her struggle to deal with her fear when faced with the reality of a poor decision: taking performance-enhancing drugs. She said, "If only I had taken a break instead of trying to deal with the fear myself, I might have made a better decision."

Maternal health advocate, Christy Turlington Burns, talked about the struggle to transform her global image from a legendary supermodel to a public health advocate. Her current initiative, "Every Mother Counts," is aimed at increasing education and support for the women who die every 90 seconds from complications in pregnancy; of these deaths, 90 precent are preventable.

Author (Add More ~ing To Your Life) and self-proclaimed "Spirit Junkie," Gabrielle Bernstein led an intimate session that chronicled her trip to rock bottom and her arduous journey toward sobriety, spirituality, and self-love.

The final keynote speaker at lunch was social and political activist, journalist, and famously important feminist, Ms. Gloria Steinem. Gloria provided the conference attendees with her "Top 10 Fear-Busters," which I will share with you, too:

10. Reverse the Golden Rule. For women, they must learn to treat themselves as they treat others.

9. Fear is a sign of growth. If you're afraid, it means you are stretching; you are doing something you haven't done before.

8. Anger is an energy cell: It is precious. It informs you.

7. We need to make sure we are using our own unique talents.

6. Measure yourself by the real, not the ideal.

5. Look for allies everywhere. Don't be bound by conventional hierarchies.

4. What is viewed as a disability--being feminine--is actually an advantage. The stereotypical "feminine" qualities are actually qualities that all humans possess. They are available to men and women, and we should count them as positive, not negative.

3. Just about anyone can learn to change. Even us. Even them.

2. Ask for help. Surround yourself with people who make you feel smart, not dumb.

1. Remember that our humanity, our equality, our self-determination is the key to everything.

I was lucky enough to be one of the first people in line to have Gloria sign a copy of her book, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions. I was incredibly nervous, and stumbled over my words to thank her for her dedication to making the world a better place for women.

My experience at the conference was so profoundly personal, eye-opening, exhilarating, and proved to be a healthy way to take care of myself for the day. It was like the whole day was a giant hug from my peers, the women of the world who are advocates for change, for growth, for learning, love, and freeing ourselves from fear. 

Live fearlessly!

- Sara Neville, Senior, Philosophy

{Photo Credit: Karrie Bowen, Instructor in Communications}