PHC Magazine: Fall/Winter 2016

Page 1






Political Reporting

Overcoming Adversity •

Comedy in Chicago


An Honors House would accommodate all Pennoni Honors College units under one roof

Dear Friends of the Pennoni Honors College, So much has happened in the two and a half years since I assumed the Deanship of the Pennoni Honors College. We have created a more cohesive College culture by honing our admissions policy and strengthening our requirements for students graduating from the Honors Program. We have created new, more integrated initiatives across our units of Scholar Development, Undergraduate Research, and Interdisciplinary Inquiry. We have enlarged our media footprint through our online journals and and TV interview show The Drexel InterView, and we have launched more large-scale special events that have tackled complex issues facing our society today. A number of our Advisory Board members and other supporters have generously funded programming that has helped the College further its reach, rigor, and visibility. We have also moved forward with the Honors House — our long-time dream for a physical space of our own that would bring all our units under one roof and make possible more cross-unit programming. The University has allocated a location for the House at 34th Street, between Race and Cherry Streets. Blueprints have been created by the architectural firm Voith & Mactavish (one of the architects happens to be a former Drexel Honors student!). Our immediate next steps include securing the funding for this exciting project — a $10 million endeavor that will have an impact on the campus layout, and on diverse academic and social aspects of Drexel. I hope that those reading this magazine will consider supporting this venture. Every gift will help us realize our goal of creating a “home” for the College. We see Honors as value-added for the University as a whole — a way of making Drexel a more intellectually and culturally stimulating and enlightened environment. The Honors House will be a gathering place both for Honors Program students and for other students who wish to pursue excellence in a number of areas. It will be a center for coursework, cultural exchange, and innovative thinking, where students, faculty, and staff can speak across difference of opinion, background, and discipline — a truly humane and creative learning environment.

Paula Marantz Cohen Dean, Pennoni Honors College Distinguished Professor of English 215.895.1266 • SUPPORT THE HONORS HOUSE

Help us raise a roof! To make a gift in support of the Honors House, visit us online ( or mail your check, made payable to Drexel University/Honors House, to: Drexel University P.O. Box 8215 Philadelphia, PA 19101-9684


Captions from the College

Music allows any number of demons to be worked out in the virtual plane, and musical fandom can drift through admiration, disorientation, and wonder without ever hitting full-on identification.” —From a Smart Set essay on the N-word, “An N of O” by Sasha Frere-Jones

Read the full essay on The Smart Set:

IN THEIR OWN WORDS Ideas and adventures from the Honors College and beyond Holding Convention “Regardless of political affiliation or policy positions, I think we can all agree that the nomination of a woman for president by a major party is a tremendous milestone. Even greater than that is that it happened in the city where the Declaration of Independence was written and the place that Drexel University calls home. Through involvement with Pennoni Honors College, the STAR Program and the Office of Undergraduate Research, I gained the necessary skills and confidence to seek out opportunities with both the Political Affairs department at Comcast and the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention. These experiences paved the path for me to watch thousands of red, white, and blue balloons drop with tens of thousands of other people at the Wells Fargo Center when Secretary Clinton accepted her nomination.” — Greta Jusyte, political science and international area studies ’16



The Adventures of Water Woman “While it seems that Drexel students are used to doing extraordinary things on their co-ops, I think it’s safe to say that no other student can list, ‘Superhero’ on their resume. Soon after starting my position with the Philadelphia Water Department, I was offered the opportunity to revive the Department’s mascot, Water Woman, who’s been out of commission since 1990! Water Woman is a pioneer of watershed protection and educator of water quality issues. Since taking on this role, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many city officials, including the City’s Managing Director Mike DiBerardinis, and asked to appear at the DNC! In July, I represented Philadelphia Water at an interdisciplinary meeting regarding diversity in STEM education and public engagement. Water Woman had the pleasure of meeting Herb Douglas, the longest-living African American Olympic medalist and Eugene Richardson, one of the last remaining Tuskegee Airmen. Who knows where the adventures of Water Woman will lead me next!” — Maura Jarvis, Custom-Designed Major, Sustainable Product Development ’16

Predators, poverty, and pain are all part of the ongoing process toward becoming celebrity, a ‘somebody’ in a world of nobodies.” Read the full essay on The Smart Set:

— From a Smart Set essay, “The (Cult)ure Industry” by Melinda Lewis



IN BRIEF Captions from the College

Producing an Amazing Experience

Name Change for Long-Standing Program

By Erica Levi Zelinger



By Dr. Kevin Egan, Director, Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry

n a thank you note to the Office of Undergraduate Research, Lucy Moroukian, film ’18, shows gratitude for her iSTAR experience, which gives students the opportunity to take advantage of the same benefits of the STAR Scholars Program in an “international” setting, or somewhere outside of Philly.

“I was an iSTAR (in LA) Scholar last summer as a film major. I wanted to thank you for the opportunity you gave me and the other iSTAR Scholars by making it possible for us to come out here. I worked on a feature called "First Girl I Loved," which

he Great Works Symposium has a longstanding tradition of providing Drexel students and faculty the opportunity to explore broad interdisciplinary themes in novel ways. Over its 16 years of existence, it has brought together faculty and students from every college at Drexel as it has

pursued such diverse themes as Health and Society, Democracy, Energy, Comedy, and the City. This year, the interdisciplinary series is dropping “Great Works” from its title to better reflect and embrace its more broadly thematic nature. It is now simply “The Symposium.” As The

was an absolutely incredible experience, and went on to win

Symposium continues to grow and develop, it will maintain its

Sundance's Best of NEXT. Because it was possible for me to be

mission of providing students with the opportunity to dive into

out here last summer, I made some amazing connections with producers and have been asked to help produce three features

pressing topics and issues from multiple perspectives. It will be an intellectual space for conversation, debate, and problem-solving. It will also serve as a hub to bring together an interdisciplinary

this summer with people I worked with on "First Girl I Loved."

cohort of faculty, Pennoni Fellows, who can use the course series to

The experience I had with iSTAR is totally unmatched, and

experiment with curricular design and pedagogical practice.

I just wanted to say that I am so grateful for that and I hope

This year’s theme is Water. The role of water in the 21st

others are so lucky to get to do the same in the future.”

century mirrors that of oil in the 20th century. It is critical

— Lucy Moroukian, film and video ’18



for the next generation of citizens, scientists, policy makers, and entrepreneurs to understand its significance.

The Shared Experience of Drexel Students


By Erica Levi Zelinger

The Symposium will bring together faculty from the fields of public health, design, history, and biological and earth sciences to explore water’s multiplicity of functions, forms, and impacts from the historical and scientific to the contemporary and geopolitical. Dr. Julia Novak Colwell will join the Honors College as a Visiting Fellow for The Symposium, bringing her expertise

ollaboration, Lauren Altman says, is a unique feature of the Drexel University education. The week after Altman (music industry ’16, Honors) graduated in June, she represented the Drexel student body and nearly 50 members of the Korman family as their spokeswoman at the Korman Center reconstruction groundbreaking. Lauren, the granddaughter of

Leonard Korman, one of three trustees of the Hyman Korman Family Foundation, says it is the students who collaborated outside of the classroom who seemed happier and more successful in their college careers.

about water as a medium for life and

“In the music industry, collaborations are so common that we have shortened the

lifeline for communities. Dr. Colwell

word, simply calling it a ‘collab,’” Lauren says.

earned her PhD in Fisheries & Wildlife at Michigan State University, where her research focused on the unintended impacts of resource management regulations, particularly pertaining to the fisheries sector in Tamil Nadu, India. Her current research aims to identify how underrepresented segments of the fisherfolk population, particularly women,

The Korman Center and Quadrangle, she adds, will be a place where students can collab. It was the same idea that caused Lauren to collab on her own, including, she says, taking interesting classes like the Honors Program’s “Suburbia,” covering issues and trends related to American suburban development. “I loved the class,” Lauren says. “I learned so much about the history of American suburbs, and I still keep the book that we read on my bookshelf.”

are affected by management hierarchies

Courses like these were instrumental in keeping Lauren here at Drexel to pursue her

and fisheries regulations.

master’s in business administration. Eventually, she’d like to work in festival production. DREXEL.EDU/PENNONI


IN BRIEF Captions from the College Getting Wind of Success 2016 Honors Program graduate Asher Breverman’s company WindiGo was a final four competitor in Inc. magazine’s 2016 “Coolest College Startups.” Breverman, BS/MS Mechanical Engineering, and his partner, Drexel grad Gregory Donworth, founded the company in January 2016 to deploy renewable energy microgrids for developing communities in order to provide a basic human right: electricity. Asher is employed full time but will continue developing WindiGo with Greg on the side.

“WindiGo was founded with the belief that electricity should be the catalyst for change, rather than the end goal,” said Asher. “By harnessing Mother Nature's


One for the Books

power to provide renewable energy to off grid communities in developing countries, we are able to lay the groundwork for additional services and

clean water.”

book “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” — an exploration of good and bad urban planning — when he was in college. Admittedly, it didn’t have the same impact then as it did when he co-taught a 1-credit “Great Books”

course with Honors Program Director Dan Dougherty last

human rights like Internet access, education, healthcare and

resident John Fry first read Jane Jacobs’ 1961

spring to 11 Honors Program students.

To address the problem of rushing through long books to get through a syllabus, the Honors Program began offering these one-credit courses because “when students can read books in a leisurely, uncluttered fashion, they are more likely to value them,” wrote Pennoni Honors College Dean Paula Marantz Cohen in an American Scholar essay about taking the time to devote themselves to single works. “President Fry made me feel like my ideas were worthwhile and that he was interested in understanding the students’ perspective at Drexel,” said sophomore Health Sciences major Lucy Demo. “I came away from this class with a huge appreciation for city planners (who were our guest speakers) and who’ve been tasked with the impossible but who are confident in their teams’ abilities to make positive changes to urban dwellers.”



Make a (Nerd) Night of It


hat was so impressive about Ayush Parikh’s presentation “How to Impress at an Art Museum

— A Venture into Art History” at the third Nerd

Night, hosted quarterly by the Office of Undergraduate

Research (OUR) and the Undergraduate Research Leaders, was the passion the biological sciences student exuded about his minor. Ayush examined how an artist takes the subject of contemporary culture and reflects his or her views through a tangible work of art; he touched on the definition of art history and instructed attendees to analyze art by looking at color and light, perspective and depth, and composition and form. At Nerd Night, students from all disciplines are invited to give 10- to 20-minute talks — in a format that can be understood by a general audience — about their research or other interesting topics with which they are involved.

“Contrary to popular thought, the humanities and the sciences do, in fact, mix.” Ayush volunteered to present at Nerd Night because he wanted

“As a student interested in a career in medicine and immersed in classes in biology, chemistry, and physics, studying art

to show Drexel students — especially those with a STEM focus — that art history is a way to connect to global culture.

history gives me a break from all the science,” Ayush says. “It

“It’s not by chance that many tech CEOs, such as those of

forces me to think critically but differently, as analyzing a work

YouTube and HP, majored in the liberal arts. Contrary to popular

of art is distinct from that of memorizing a biological pathway.”

thought, the humanities and the sciences do, in fact, mix.”

HONORS COLLEGE EVENTS Students share research and intellectual conversation Tea Party The Dean’s Tea gives students the opportunity to have meaningful conversations that don’t require a conclusion, says Nohra Murad, (biomedical engineering ’19, Honors) and Dean’s Tea representative for the College. “Dr. Cohen’s office sees students of all walks of life come to talk about something relatively simple in order to discover something new. Ultimately, this is what the Honors College is all about: building up individuals — not just students! — so their work is not only productive but also purposeful.” DREXEL.EDU/PENNONI


CONSIDER THIS Dueling perspectives about free speech on the college campus

Free speech, a seeming cornerstone of the academic enterprise, has come under fire recently by those

This was the topic of “Free Speech

who say that unfettered speech can make it difficult

in April sponsored by The Smart Set,

for them to learn. The issue has sparked debate on

on the College Campus,� a forum held the online cultural journal of Pennoni Honors College. This forum featured

college campuses across the country. Should speech be

a student panel, as well keynote talks

monitored? Should trigger warnings be added to texts?

and cultural gadfly Camille Paglia

Where do we draw the line between freedom and abuse,

Laura Beth Nielsen.

sensitivity and censorship? 10


(excerpted at right) by media critic and eminent feminist law professor



Read the full keynote on The Smart Set:

BY CAMILLE PAGLIA To break through the stalemate and

universities must stay totally out of the private social lives of

re-establish free speech on campus,

students. The intrusive paternalism of American colleges in

educators must first turn away from

this area is an unacceptable infringement of student rights. If

the sprawling cafeteria menu of over-

a crime is committed on campus, it must be reported to the

specialized electives and return to broad

police. There is no such thing as a perfectly “safe space” in real

survey courses based in world history

life. Risk and danger are intrinsic to human existence.

and culture, proceeding chronologically from antiquity to modernism. Students

Free Speech vs. Safe Spaces

desperately need a historical framework

As tuition costs rose stratospherically over the past quarter

to understand both past and present.

century, American colleges and universities shifted into a consumerist mode and have now become more like shopping

Second, universities should sponsor regular public colloquia

malls than educational institutions — they don’t want to upset

on major topics where both sides of sensitive, hot-button

the paying customers! But the entire college experience should

controversies are fully discussed. Any disruptions of free

be based on confronting new and disruptive ideas. Students

speech at such forums must be met with academic sanctions.

must accept personal responsibility for their own choices and behavior, and university administrators must stop behaving like

Third, it is my position, stemming from the 1960s sexual

substitute parents and hovering therapists. The ultimate values

revolution that ended campus parietal rules, that colleges and

at any university should be free thought and free speech.



Read the full keynote on The Smart Set:

BY LAURA BETH NIELSEN The First Amendment has always

speech does the work of subordination and domination

worked better for those with privilege.

every day in public places by making salient the racist

We celebrate difficult cases when it has

fissures undergirded by the violent past of slavery, lynching,

been used to protect the speech we hate,

and Jim Crow.

like Nazi hate speech, and KKK crossburning. Considered another way, what

Instead of screaming about who is or is not being allowed to

we see is our laws protecting the speech

speak, which is ultimately ironic and circular, why don’t we

of those who violently demand the status

take the time to listen to those who are bravely advocating

quo of white domination over people of color.

for equality on college campuses, instead of accusing those who have been silenced for generations of “silencing”? We

Balancing speech and equality is a difficult task. To have

are simply asking that America live up to a promise it made

any hope of achieving the proper balance, Americans must

to white women and people of color long ago but has not

first try to listen to each other so that we can understand

yet fulfilled, and that cannot be accomplished until we stop

the harms of hate speech. While “just” speech, racist hate

fighting about who is silencing whom.



SECTION NAME A section descriptor or a summary of the content

The neon sign that hangs in the world-renowned Second City theatre

A glimpse of the Chicago skyline

Sign at the famous Second City theater

Silliness ensues on a scavenger hunt of Chicago landmarks


At Portillo’s, the class learns that a “Chicago Style” hot dog is very, very different


Where does comedy come from? This is the question that I, eight of my fellow students, and our two teachers, hoped to answer by exploring the great second city of Chicago, Illinois. Tasked with determining how one city could so profoundly influence a national sense of comedic identity, we explored Chicago through food, walks through neighborhoods, and late-night performances. We took in shows from venues ranging from great playhouses like iO (formerly ImprovOlympic) to the smallest of local venues. We attended workshops, talkbacks, and private tours. We did it all. We, comedians and scholars in our own right, searched the Windy City for the answer to that ultimate question — Where does comedy come from? In the end, the answer was extremely clear: Chicago. 12


Waiting for the El to explore “The Loop,” a downtown Chicago neighborhood


The audience at Second City’s Fool Me Twice, Déjà Vu

Alliy Frauenpreis (computer science ’18) spins the prize wheel at Game Night, a Second City show based on classic game shows

A group selfie reflected in The Bean, one of Chicago’s most iconic landmarks

The students with creative director Alex Honnet from iO

Waiting for Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, the longest-running show in Chicago

The class’s 5th (ok, 6th!) journey into the mysterious world

One of dozens of pop-up comedy venues we found in Chi-Town


of deep-dish pizza at Homeslice


HACK BUSINE evin Jablonowski sits back in his

tester’ usually gets some giggles so I have

patio chair, eyes darting from his

to clarify that I'm an ‘ethical hacker.’ ”

our clients' applications and computer

up on his porch chair. He’s just completed

The 2016 graduate of the Pennoni

vulnerabilities exist and how they might

a complicated threat and vulnerability

Honors College’s Custom-Designed

be fixed,” Kevin says. “This practice is

analysis for a telecom client, permitting the

Major (CSDN) is one of many recent

commonly called ethical or ‘white hat’

ethical or “white hat” hacker to disclose the

alumni and students to test the bounds

hacking since I’m breaking in to test

client’s vulnerabilities in an effort to secure

of computing by looking at the design

and improve security instead of stealing

of systems differently and using them in

assets for personal gain.”

Windows laptop to an iPad propped

itself against attack.

“I hack into or otherwise compromise systems in order to show them what

ways they weren’t intended for. “The industry name we like to use is ‘penetration tester’ or ‘pentester’

Borrowing from computer science, Every day at work, Kevin actively employs

software development, math, digital

for short,” says Kevin, an application

material from his major: cryptography –

media, and even German and

security consultant at Philadelphia-

or encryption – and steganography –

Russian (languages in which some key

based cybersecurity company Security

concealing messages within data – to

material on this subject are written),

Risk Advisors. “But when I’m talking to

secure the back-end of rapidly developing

Kevin created a capstone project: an

people outside the industry, ‘penetration

applications in banking and social media.

educational seminar to teach the



CYBERSECURITY EDUCATION 101 Spreading the teachings of a recent PHC graduate

In his capstone project about how hacks happen, Custom-Designed Major Kevin Jablonowski offered

Custom-Designed major graduates circumvent

“average” people tips on how to protect

security measures for the good of others

proposes the following suggestions:

themselves from getting hacked. He

BY ERICA LEVI ZELINGER Try to make your passwords as long,


complex, and random as possible by using a minimum of 8 characters with numbers, symbols, and upper- and lowercase letters. Never ever reuse the same password on more than one site, especially for your social media or banking passwords. Get a password manager like

average person how hacks happen and

For Kevin, data is currency, and the

1Password. They store all those long,

how they can protect themselves.

ability to collect it provides power.

complex passwords so you only have to remember one master password;

The “How to Get Hacked” part of

or Dawn McDougall, a 2015

many will also help you generate

the seminar explains how he (or any

CSDN graduate, the power of

secure passwords when you create

hacker) could trick you into giving him

data is social and political.

new accounts.

the password to your Facebook account. In the “How to Stay Secure” segment,

As the executive director of Code for

Maintain a healthy dose of skepticism.

Kevin explores the practical steps to

Philly, Dawn builds and maintains a

The golden rule of the internet should

prevent hacking.

community of “hacktivists” who wish

be that if it seems to good to be true, it

to improve Philadelphia. The non-

almost definitely is. As a corollary, if it

partisan and non-political organization

looks suspicious, it probably is.

“This seminar used a common cybersecurity technique called red-teaming

is an incubator for the development of

where we try to think like the enemy to

civic-minded and innovative apps for

Hesitate to read emails from unknown

figure out where we’re weakest and then

social progress.

senders, and never download attach-

try to take steps to strengthen those weak points,” Kevin says.

ments or click links in emails until you continued on page 16

can verify that you trust the sender. DREXEL.EDU/PENNONI


continued from page 15

“Civic hacking is when people see a problem and use what they have in order to solve it for the greater good,” Dawn says. “Code for Philly isn't about grabbing flashy headlines, but it is about creating a space where people can feel like they make an impact on the city they live in. There are a lot of big, systemic issues facing cities and there are also many community-level issues that can be solved by the power of a community behind it.” There is a fine line on the cyber landscape between ethical hacking and hacktivism, but both are powerful strategies to balance the need for data with security. “We’re at a really interesting point in history where anyone with creativity, a little


technical know-how, and an internet connection can be an innovator who makes


something that radically improves the community and the world,” Kevin says.

WHAT THE HACK In one year, Undergraduate Research student developer travels to 13 states to attend hackathons For 36 hours, Adit Gupta hunkered down in a convention center in

“If I were to decide to create my own start-up, I would have a

the San Francisco Bay Area. Surrounded by a cafeteria-like setup of

decent amount experience from these 36-hour sessions; they

tables, heavy-duty computational equipment, and overnight bags,

are like mini start-ups where I’ve practiced team-building skills,

Adit stood at his laptop propped up on large cardboard boxes,

networking skills, fast-learning skills, and most importantly,

conceptualizing a virtual reality application that lets users write

communication skills.”

notes in the air all around them. The pre-junior from Voorhees, N.J. first got involved with academic Using technology provided at HackEDU, the world’s largest education

research his freshman year through Pennoni’s STAR Scholars

hackathon held in San Mateo, California, the Drexel BS/MS student

Program. He created an app that could read through complex

in software engineering worked collaboratively with four teammates

code from Artificial Intelligence software and extract information

to bring a new level of interaction to classroom activities.

to make predictions and analyze data.

Enthusiastic about the ideas they developed, Adit and other tenacious

With financial assistance from the Pennoni Office of Undergraduate

students engaged in conversation with industry professionals about

Research, Adit attended his first hackathon at UPenn in 2015,

his team’s app. Halfway through a conversation with one of the

applying his passion for software engineering to push boundaries

guests, Adit noticed the resemblance in the man’s voice with that of

of innovation.

the Khan Academy instructional videos. In one year, Adit has traveled to 13 states to attend HackMIT; “He came up to our project location, intrigued by our team of

HackingEDU; Hacking Eating Tracking; ChicagoHacks; Hack

students wearing heavy-duty machinery and waving our fingers

Rutgers; Princeton Hacks; YHacks at Yale University, where his

in the air with a stylish finesse,” Adit said. “I didn’t realize initially

team won third place out of 250 teams; and Hack Zurich last

that I was talking to Salman Khan, the founder of Khan Academy.

month in Switzerland. He helped raise nearly $20,000 for Philly

When I did, he was humble about it. I mentioned it would be

Codefest, a hackathon that brings companies like Microsoft,

intriguing if one day, Khan Academy could use this technology or

Capital One, and Lockheed Martin to Drexel.

something similar to educate in virtual reality.” Adit also founded Dragon Hackers to grow the skillset of student Attending HackingEDU, Adit says, was as much about meeting

coders, and help support them financially in their hackathon

other ambitious student hackers as it was about the competition

travels. “Hackathons are basically problem-solving conventions,”

itself. He also appreciated the diversity, the scope for learning, the

he says. “They’ve taught me the right method of approaching

challenge, and the stress.

problems: with patience and logic.”



Left: A view of ITER in Aix-en-Provence, France.


Below: Matthew Parsons volunteering for PPPL at a Girl Scout STEM conference.

An Honors grad on the forefront of nuclear fusion research BY ERICA ZELINGER

To create a fusion reaction, Matthew explains, hydrogen is heated up to about 100 million degrees Celsius, 10 times the temperature of the sun’s core. At these temperatures, negatively charged electrons are stripped away from the positively charged nuclei that they were bound to, creating a new state of matter — a plasma. In hot plasma, the positively charged hydrogen nuclei collide and “fuse” together, forming helium and

In spring 2016, Matthew Parsons attended a presentation

releasing energy in the process.

at the newly opened Andlinger Center for Energy and the

The challenge, he adds, is to create plasma

The 2015 Honors Program graduate listened attentively as the Director of the U.S. ITER Project Office talked about the biggest challenges facing the development of fusion energy. As the speaker moved through the presentation, Matthew’s eyes zeroed in on a slide depicting current efforts in fusion research. His research. “I had never intended for anyone other than my boss to have a copy of it,” the physics grad says. “Apparently, despite its crudeness, it was a significant enough result to make its way into that presentation.” Matthew was flattered. Even though that bit of data was just a small step in his work with fusion, the “holy grail of alternative energy,” the then-computational physicist at Princeton’s Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) was pleased his hard work was paying off. And the payoff continued this summer when Matthew packed up in Princeton to move to Aix-en Provence, France on a Fulbright U.S. Student grant to do research at ITER, one of the most ambitious energy projects in the world. Matthew, determined to do research at ITER, spent hours working with the Fellowships Office on award applications. In his third year, he received a Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention. Before the start of his fourth year, the highly resourceful and hardworking student applied for Fulbright the first time, and even in the face of rejection, says Meredith Wooten, director of the Fellowships Office, he maintained a mature and positive outlook. “Matt is such a driven and talented young man, and I know how much this opportunity means for him,” says Wooten. “He has demonstrated incredible diligence, humility, thoughtfulness, and care in preparing for this experience.”

that is very hot and dense and hold it in place long enough for it to produce a lot of energy. Since the magnetic fields used to hold the plasma aren’t perfect, it sometimes escapes, slamming into the reactor walls and cooling back down to a gas. Matthew’s job is to come up with statistical models to predict when this might happen, so the plasma can be controlled and the fusion reaction can last longer. When he returns from his year abroad, Matthew will start his PhD in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma and Radiological Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “If nuclear fusion becomes commercially viable, there is no question that it would revolutionize the world,” Matthew says. “Nobody has come across a perfect design for a fusion reactor, but my research will go a long way toward helping our current best candidate operate for long periods at a time.” COURTESY OF ELLE STARKMAN, PPPL

Environment at Princeton University.

Matthew first encountered fusion as a sixth grade Boy Scout working on the Nuclear Science Merit Badge. But it wasn’t until his second coop at PPPL that his hands-on experience solidified his interest in fusion research. DREXEL.EDU/PENNONI



Atlantic reporter Molly Ball talks politics, journalism, and how to get them to answer the tough questions. BY THE SMART SET STAFF



Molly Ball works for The Atlantic, where she writes on national politics. She has become known for her in-depth view into American political culture and her flashes of Twitter wit. She previously worked for Politico, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and the Las Vegas Sun. She has been a Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellow and won the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting. This interview, which first appeared on, Pennoni Honors College’s online arts and culture journal, was conducted by students in the Honors Program course “The Art of the Interview,” taught by The Smart Set editor Richard Abowitz.

Molly Ball (MB): I’m a political reporter, so the people I’m inter-

are very well-versed in the difference between on the record,

viewing are pretty different than other people that you interview

off the record, and on background. You can always assume with

as a journalist. Most people that you interview are motivated by

these people that they know that they’re on the record unless

sort of fundamental human motivations: they want you to like

they have specified that they’re not. It’s pretty annoying a lot of

them, they want to be understood, they want to tell the truth,

times because staff can be very controlling, and they are always

they want you to know where they’re coming from. Politicians

trying to make sure they don’t look bad in a story, but what

are not like that. Politicians see an interview as a transaction.

you always have to do is just make sure you’re getting what you

They’re trying to get a particular message out, so it’s not an honest

need. If someone says “well on background blah blah blah blah

conversation, where someone is saying whatever comes into their

blah,” I say that’s fine, but what’s your on-the-record answer?

head. It’s more like a chess game where you are sort of strategizing

Whatever it is, I need to know what it is because I can’t put your

— how can I get them to say a certain thing or push them in a

answer that’s on background in my story and attribute it to an

direction they’re not comfortable with and force them off the

anonymous source; that’s just not going to cut it for this story.

talking points so they say something interesting or authentic? The politician does the opposite: They’re trying to make sure they

TSS: Before you release an article on a politician, does it

present themselves in an advantageous way. They’re trying to

require approval?

make sure that they tell people what they want to hear, whether or not that’s true, and above all they’re trying not to screw up.

MB: Never agree to pre-conditions for an interview, and with a public figure, they can go off-the-record if you agree to it,

The Smart Set (TSS): There are some ground rules that

but they never get approval of their quotes. When someone

reporters have as far as agreeing to an interview, but

is a figure of interest in that way, you can’t allow them to edit

depending on the situation, sometimes reporters break

the information that you give to the public. With staff, it’s

them. With political writing, does that come up frequently?

different. I often will allow them to approve quotes because if they’re speaking on background, what I mostly need from

MB: As a political reporter, you’re constantly negotiating with

them is to understand the situation and to get the information

people, because people in the political world, particularly staff,

I need. When I need something to put in the story, usually DREXEL.EDU/PENNONI



DIVING DEEP Two Honors College students receive prestigious NOAA scholarship BY ERICA LEVI ZELINGER Nicholas Barber and Vincent O’Leary are the first two Drexel students to receive the Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Nick and Vince are among 125 students from across the country to receive the 2016 award, and are natural fits for the Hollings program, which provides top undergraduates with hands-on training and professional development opportunities in oceanic and atmospheric sciences.



ow does a sophomore geoscience major and Honors

He quickly became a poster boy for the Pennoni Office of

student with a pile of raw data end up giving an

Undergraduate Research, presenting at the Colonial Academic

oral presentation to 60 PhDs in sedimentology and

Alliance and challenging himself to build upon his STAR

coastal geology? On a lark.

research in the SuperNova Undergraduate Research Fellows

The now-junior wasn’t sure which box to tick when he applied to present research at his first conference. Poster, oral, or both? He thought he’d increase his chances if he chose both, but he panicked when he was actually selected to present at the annual conference for the Northeast section of the Geology Society of America. “That story is indicative of how unplanned the turns in my research have been thus far,” Nick says. Nick began his research at Drexel through the Office of Undergraduate Research’s STAR Scholars Program. He analyzed rates of sea level rise and sediment transport mechanics along barrier islands in the Delaware Bay.

Program. As the president of Undergraduate Research Leaders, Nick also touts the benefits of doing research to other students. “Nick has a remarkably good attitude about having to adapt his research focus as not one, but two of his research mentors left Drexel to take positions at other universities,” says Dr. Meredith Wooten, director of the Fellowships Office. “He has been able to adapt and reorient himself easily, quickly proving himself to be an asset in each new lab and project he joins.” In 2015 while studying abroad in Sydney, Australia, Nick received an email from the Fellowships Office that he qualified to apply for the Goldwater Scholarship, recognizing top undergrads in STEM fields. “I had never heard of it so I looked it up — and I like applying for things,” Nick says jokingly. When he returned to the U.S., he immediately began meeting with Dr. Wooten, to discuss the application process. She pointed out he might also qualify continued on page 22 DREXEL.EDU/PENNONI




continued from page 21

for the Hollings Scholarship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


n his memoir “Rocket Boys” about growing up in a West Virginia coal-mining town and aspiring to be a rocket scientist, author Homer Hickam wrote, “A rocket won’t fly unless somebody lights the fuse.”

“Throughout the process, Nick showed himself to be exceptionally bright and intellectually curious, two traits that will enable him to be a successful researcher

For Vincent O’Leary, environmental science ’18, Honors, reading Hickam’s book was his fuse. “Rocket Boys” propelled Vince to do research, and inspired him to attend Drexel and to apply for and receive the Hollings Scholarship.

and to make real contributions in his

Like Hickam, Vince grew up in a small town in

chosen field,” Wooten says.

West Virginia, but with an interest in studying freshwater ecology and conservation.

Receiving the Goldwater provides Nick the prestige and reputation it carries as

His undergraduate research career began long

a signal of academic excellence

before Vince was an undergrad. He worked with

and postgraduate success. Nick can

Dr. Zachary Loughman of West Liberty University

receive up to two years of educational support from both the Goldwater and the Hollings. As one of the 125 students chosen to receive the Hollings Scholarship from NOAA, Nick is actively looking for a NOAA mentor for an integrated coop and internship doing sea floor mapping or volcanic ash monitoring in Seattle, Portland, or Anchorage.

in West Virginia for all four years of high school, and even participated in the International Science and Engineering Fair and the Science Talent Search, where Vince presented his research to President Obama. “After all of these competitions and travels, I knew that I wanted to continue doing science, but I also wanted to make sure I could communicate the research and talk to others about my work, “ Vince says. Once at Drexel, Vince adds, it took some coaxing on the part of the Office of

“I’m leaving myself open to every opportunity – whatever pops up.”

Undergraduate Research (OUR) to apply to present his research at conferences; Vince never felt like his research was complete. But in 2016, he made it his goal to present his research monthly. “Vince is such an engaging person and is clearly committed to research and his own work, in particular, that I had a hard time understanding why he was so hesitant about putting himself out there,” says Jaya Mohan, associate director of the OUR.

When he returns, Nick plans to apply for

Once he got going, though, he had a busy few months. OUR funding allowed Vince

additional fellowships during his senior

to present his co-op research from the Academy of National Sciences at the Harvard

year so he can research volcanology in

National Collegiate Research Conference (NCRC), the Stanford Undergraduate Research

Indonesia, with the ultimate goal of

Conference, and the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Asheville, N.C.

getting a PhD in petrology and then a research position in academia

He also presented at the OUR’s Nerd Night and the Office of International Programs

or government.

(OIP) Global Challenges Conference on sustainability about the community-based learning course that he and Dr. Ted Daeschler of the Academy of Natural Sciences

“I’m leaving myself open to every

developed to get students thinking about walking trails along the river and how

opportunity – whatever pops up,” he

to use them as educational opportunities. Vince, engineering professor Peter

says positively.

DeCarlo, and staff at UPenn and Bartram’s Garden just received a grant from the



MENTOR AND MENTEE BY VINCE O’LEARY ExCITe Center to develop an app-based tour of the Lower

Leslee Voss Geltzer, a Pennoni Honors College Advisory Board

Schuylkill River.

member, mentored me through the fellowships process, reviewing my resume and meeting with me in person to assist

“The most important part of these conferences has been

me in writing about myself. Working with Ms. Geltzer helped

meeting other students and sharing my work with them,” Vince

me to better articulate my accomplishments and the impor-

says. “For me, science is only useful if you can collaborate with

tance of my story. The time spent preparing essays and letters

others, and these conferences were a great chance to do that.”

of recommendation was extremely valuable for me to think about my future career and my goals. Her contributions and

Pennoni Honors College, Vince adds, has played a huge role in

thoughtful additions contributed greatly to my receiving the

his time at Drexel in ways he never expected. As a STAR Scholar

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hollings

with OUR, Vince learned to use computer simulations to

Scholarship this past spring.

determine how crayfish will move in response to climate change. The active Honors student has taken full advantage of colloquia

What was it like for Ms. Geltzer, a philanthropist and principal

and one-credit offerings to provide breadth to his environmental

in the Geltzer Family Foundation to sit down with me, a fourth-

sciences major. From an Honors Great Books course on Darwin’s

year environmental science student, and guide me through the

The Origin of Species to a course taught by guest professor Dr.

application process? I asked her.

Bernard Amadei, the director of Engineers Without Borders, “Honors has given me the chance to take classes alongside engineers and artists, instead of just students in my major. I think the Honors College’s interdisciplinary nature really helps me think about my own studies in a new way.”

VINCENT O’LEARY: How did you get involved with mentoring fellowship applicants? LESLEE VOSS GELTZER: I became involved in Scholar Development through the Fellowships Office and saw it as an opportunity to help students achieve the life-changing

In his sophomore year, Vince began working for the Pennoni

goal of being awarded a fellowship or scholarship. I know

Fellowships Office because he thought it would be a good

the fellowship application process is time-intensive for busy

opportunity to learn more about the work they do – and to

Drexel students, but I believe it is time well spent, regardless

network with students and faculty in the College.

of whether the student ultimately receives an award.

“I saw the work other students were doing to be successful, and I was lucky to be involved in reviewing anonymous applications and listening to advice,” Vince says. “These experiences all

VO: In what ways can a fellowship applicant benefit from the process? LG: The process itself gives the student clarity on his or her

helped me to be successful when I did apply, but most impor-

past accomplishments and academic/career goals —

tantly showed me not to give up.”

information that can be used in the future for grad school applications and resumes.

Without seeing the work fellowship applicants put in — and sometimes the rejections they receive — Vince says, it may

VO: What do you take away from the experience?

have been a lot harder to keep applying for fellowships when

LG: I find the Scholar Development Program Mentoring

he was turned down for an Udall Scholarship last winter.

experience extremely rewarding. Meeting the many

But he’s grateful to be a recipient of the Hollings Scholarship,

motivated and hard-working Drexel students gives me so

and looks forward to working with a NOAA team on using

much confidence in the future. Many times, students

predictive modeling to understand and communicate changes

have relevant work, academic, or volunteer experiences

in our ocean and climate systems. When he graduates, Vince

that are applicable to the fellowship for which they are

plans to pursue a PhD combining environmental science and

applying, but they need help in articulating this

mathematics; he’d like to apply his knowledge from projects

information. By serving as an objective voice, the Scholar

at the Academy of Natural Sciences to understand the world

Development Mentor can help a student present

around us using computer modeling and big data.

these experiences in an informed and succinct way.






auren Pitts has spent her 49 years on an unlikely,

Green light: Lauren transferred to Johnson & Wales in the

winding road to self-discovery and success. This

fall of 1989, after making up credits at a community college.

impeccably dressed mother and astute business owner

Her enrollment in the Cultural Enrichment Program there

spends her days trying to empower and improve the

was a chance to mentor young girls whose experiences were

lives of young girls. She was raised by her mother and grand-

comparable to her own. Her work with at-risk youth was also

parents in a devout Christian household where they embraced

an opportunity to begin her own healing process and realize

Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and

her true calling.

when he is old, he will not depart from it.” But never having met her biological father and always battling a strained and

Pit stop: In September 1987, after being intimately involved with

volatile relationship with her mother led Lauren not on the

a guy she grew up with, Lauren found out she was pregnant.

way she should go, but on a detour into self-sabotage. She gave birth to her son Andre the following spring, and Which is why it is astonishing how, at 47, Lauren finished

spent the next 19 years on an unpaved road with potholes

Drexel’s Couple and Family Therapy Master’s Program and

and detours, going to school, caring for her son, and finally

received a Fulbright Scholarship to Barbados in 2014 where

obtaining a B.B.A. in Organizational Management from

she studied the impact of home (paternal absence or presence)

Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Florida.

on the educational outcomes of Barbadian adolescent girls. It was her son, Lauren explains, that Lauren herself always dreamed of

gave her life purpose and new meaning.

going to college and owning her own

Prior to that, “I was an extremely

business. But the path Lauren took to

broken little girl, adolescent, and young

these ends was riddled with frustration

woman. More times than not, I felt all

and obstruction.

alone and at life’s mercy. I realized then that I wanted to be instrumental in

“My life is no fairy tale,” Lauren says. “In

alleviating the pain of hurting people,

fact, it has been rather difficult being

especially children.”

Lauren Denise Pitts.” Lauren returned to New Jersey after Low self-esteem and feelings of

living in Florida for several years. She

abandonment gave way to thoughts of suicide. Lauren’s

was done with people trying to convince her that she was her

stepfather abruptly left when she was in 2nd grade. At 11, a

own problem.

family member began molesting her. She turned to drugs, alcohol, and a life of promiscuity. Then, 14-year-old Lauren,

“I believed that the root cause of my problems ran far deeper

an eighth grader in Quinton, New Jersey, hit the worst

than myself. Earning a degree in Family Therapy would teach

possible obstacle: cancer. Doctors gave her six months to live.

me how to address the systemic issues that I believed were fueling the antisocial behavior and educational achievement

For the next 10 years, Lauren was under the care of the

gaps among children just like me across the nation and

University of Pennsylvania Hospital Malignant Melanoma

around the world.”

clinic. She hadn’t yet received a clean bill of health, but she found her way back to the way she would go: She set off in

Lauren enrolled in Drexel University’s Masters of Family

1986 for her freshman year at Howard University.

Therapy Program. Six weeks before Lauren graduated from the full-time MFT program, she received a letter from

Another roadblock: While at college, Lauren was raped and

Pennoni Honors College and the Drexel Fellowships Office

left school after one semester.

acknowledging her academic excellence and commitment to



justice and equality. The letter invited her to attend an information session about the Fulbright Student Program.

Her own research findings – showing that Barbadian girls place very high value on education despite the quality of the relationship with their father – confirmed Lauren’s pursuit

“I was extremely intrigued and saw it as an opportunity to

of education.

explore familial and systemic issues in another country, if selected,” she says. “I was also intrigued by how highly

Lauren returned to Drexel to pursue her PhD in educational

competitive it was and that I was told that I had a better

leadership and management and to speak at Fulbright

chance of winning the lottery than being named a Fulbright

events hosted by the Drexel Fellowships Office. The Fulbright

Scholar. I always welcome a challenge.”

U.S. Student Program also recognized her for her efforts

She began the application process in May 2013, a self-

Lauren was one of 20 Fulbrighters selected as an Alumni

proclaimed “phenomenal period of introspection,” under the

Ambassador to inspire diverse students to learn about

guidance of Meredith Wooten, Director of the Pennoni Center

educational and cultural exchange.

to promote scholarship opportunities to ethnic minorities:

for Scholar Development, which houses the Fellowships Office. Lauren wrote about how the absence of her father from her

She is now completing her final year of doctoral study here at

life influenced both positive and negative behaviors and gave

Drexel while working to secure operational funding for The

her insight into the lives of young women of color who had

Zeal Foundation, Inc. a non-profit organization she created to

similar experiences. Lauren is half-Caribbean, which prompted

provide programs and services for marginalized and disen-

her to propose Fulbright research on teenage pregnancy and

franchised populations. She is also pursuing certification

other salient familial issues in Barbados — an area desperately

to become an educational trainer/consultant while earning

requiring more research and engagement from stakeholders.

the post-graduate clinical hours required to obtain her state license as a family therapist.

In April 2014, Lauren received notification that she received the Fulbright. At 47, she left for Barbados for a year.

“Fulbright is strengthening my ability to effectively run my foundation and to continue in my pursuits to be a global agent

“The experience was life-altering and by far one of the most

of change and a transformational leader,” Lauren says.

invigorating experiences I’ve ever had,’ Lauren says. “It served as a tree-shaking elimination in my life of people that I had to let

And that pit stop she took when she was 20? Lauren’s

go of. I grew, healed, and developed a level of comfort with my

extraordinary son Andre is currently pursuing his Master’s

difference than ever before. My difference once made me feel like

degree in finance at the University of Miami. He’ll finish in

an outsider. However, the Fulbright experience helped me realize

2017. And Lauren will turn 50 in 2017. And she’ll celebrate

that it is my difference that sets me apart from the rest.”

her new title in 2017: Dr. Lauren Denise Pitts.





ajoring in Biology has given me a deep

In no other course have I been able to study topics ranging

understanding of how much work, time, and

from health care, politics, education, and international

money goes into producing a successful

crises—all of which were heavily debated in the same class.

drug. With the increasing drug resistance of

And, as with all the courses I’ve taken in Pennoni Honors

pathogens, we have never been more in need

College, I was able to appreciate the skills and knowledge

of successful treatments. But in Discourse on Current Affairs, a

I gained along the way, as the term progressed, instead of

3-credit Honors Program colloquium led by Dr. Daniel Dougherty

merely reflecting on the coursework after the term ended.

and Dr. Jonathan Awerbuch, my 13 classmates and I were so

Whether I was participating in the debate or silently taking

engrossed in a debate about the evils of the pharmaceutical

in another duo’s dispute, I was able to learn as much from the

industry, I was forced to see drug development from the other side.

arguments as my classmates’ detailed follow-up questions.

One of the more morality-driven students proposed that

As a student, I was challenged to re-evaluate my own

the blame for not disclosing certain side effects of the drugs

views on issues and to objectively examine the merit of my

they produce should fall on a pharma company’s CEO and

opinions. When assigned a debate topic, one would hope

executive personnel and that they should be charged with

that the stance you were arguing aligned with your own

criminal offenses. One of the business students in the class

personal views. But in hindsight, I have found that I learned

raised the argument that removing senior management won’t

the most when I prepared an argument that I disagreed with.

stop such events from occurring again and that putting a drug

Researching an opposing view allowed me to understand

on the market prematurely is “good business.” I, along with the

how people can support it, and appreciate their credibility.

non-business and non-finance students, took offense to the

Even though I have supported Hillary from the start, doing

thought that it made more sense financially to behave illegally

the research to present a pro-Bernie argument allowed me

and pay a fine if caught than to follow the rules. Despite

to understand why so many in my generation followed him.

offering counterarguments that the laws could be changed

But more importantly, I learned that even if I disagreed with

or better enforced, I was resigned to acknowledge that the

a set of concerns, they must be taken into consideration

companies and their lobbyists were too strong for meaningful

when attempting to develop a solution to a problem. After

change to be made in the current political infrastructure.

completing this course, I gained a new level of respect for

Despite the arguments presented, the class could not resolve

leaders who have the burden of trying to please a thousand

the best way to punish the companies for breaking the law.

points of view with only one solution. DREXEL.EDU/PENNONI


Panelists and attendees chat at the start of “Ask for It,” a forum on women’s labor and negotiation.


The Honors College hosts events to open dialogue about gender pay gap and millennial feminism


BY MELINDA LEWIS n a 30-second Hillary Clinton campaign

of electing the first woman president, young

ad, a young girl approaches the candidate

women tended to gravitate toward Bernie Sanders.

at a rally: “When you become president

Conversation was lively between the panelists,

will you be paid the same as a man?” The

with each woman contributing her own questions

crowd laughs, taken aback by the child’s

and concerns regarding the political cycle.

concern with gender equality. Clinton

confirms that the paycheck will be the same and offers to help eliminate the pay gap for future generations. The commercial signifies that the election of the first female president would make history, but the political ad also indicates that feminists’ work isn’t over. The Pennoni Honors College organized two events this past

Our second event, “Ask for It,” was a forum on issues relating to women’s labor and negotiation. One neglected facet of the wage gap relates to what happens in the negotiation room. It’s not that women CAN’T negotiate; it’s that gender norms foster an environment in which girls and women feel as if they shouldn’t ask for what they deserve.

spring that addressed women’s roles in a variety of contexts.

Organized by then-Pennoni Honors Program senior Kiera

On March 31, a panel consisting of scholars and students

backgrounds, including politics, academia, engineering, and

discussed “Millennial Feminism: For Hillary or Not For Hillary?

law. Despite differences in age, race, and professional endeavor,

– that is the question.” Despite the fact Clinton has been a vocal

the panelists conveyed the following points: women must carve

feminist for her entire career, she has had difficulty appealing

out their own space in traditionally male occupations; despite

to young women. The panel discussed the significance of

the progress made for women by the last 30 years, there are

Clinton’s potential election to office, debated her credentials,

more glass ceilings that need to be broken; and, finally, it’s time

and unpacked reasons why, despite the historical importance

for a new generation to take the reins and fight for equality.



Bohan, the panel consisted of women from an array of

Alumni in Fred Abbate’s Taste of Honors class on Sherlock Holmes.


Pennoni Honors College offers enrichment opportunities for alumni


BY SCOTT MILLER, COMMERCE & ENGINEERING ‘74 approached my return to Drexel’s University City campus on the late morning of March 19 anticipating new terrain from which I knew as an undergrad. When I accepted the offer to attend the alumni program Taste of Honors, a sampling of offerings from the Pennoni Honors College, I was not certain what to expect.

“A visit to the brain’s attic found us deducing: After eliminating The Impossible, what remains is The Truth!”

Yes, a pleasant luncheon; yes, the chance to meet an eclectic group of fellow alums; and yes, exposure to both a new

offering delved into philosophy, the “sciences,” and religious

academic facility and faculty. But what would I learn that

themes of creation.

was new and a bit out of the areas in which I have focused my own work?

Following the course work, yet another opportunity to connect

The game was afoot when Dr. Fred Abbate set us on the trail

ception – allowed us to discuss what was available in the cours-

of Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective. A visit to the brain’s

es not taken: The Future of the University; Writing “Killer”

attic found us deducing: After eliminating The Impossible,

Fiction; and Myths of the Star Wars’ Saga.

what remains is The Truth! What could be applied generally is learning to see issues from a multiplicity of perspectives – and then applying your own

with my fellows alums – accompanied by a most enjoyable re-

I could not have been more pleased with a day so well spent! When can I come back?

scope of knowledge.

Attorney Scott Miller

After a pleasant break, I ventured into the realm of the

Miller Legal Services

origins of life itself, with Dr. Lloyd Ackert as a guide. This

Blue Bell, PA

Commerce and Engineering ‘74



ALUMNI NEWS Life after the Pennoni Honors College

ALUMNI UPDATES Steffanie Altman, international area studies ’13, is a Campaign Executive for JNFuture (the Jewish National Fund) in Los Angeles. She spent four months in 2015 living in Tanzania and working for E.P.I.C. (Everyday People Initiating Change), where she was managing projects and supervising volunteers in Iringa, Tanzania to work with the local community to drill wells, educate the community on water hygiene and sanitation, and help renovate and build an addition to an elementary school. She also climbed Mt. Kilmanjaro. Photo: Steffanie with students in Tanzania

Marc Blumberg, electrical engineering ‘04, graduated with a master’s degree in electrical engineering from NYU in 2009. He married Audrey Blumberg in 2012 and had a daughter Shayna in November 2015. He works as a Principal Engineer, System Performance at Verizon Wireless with the national network organization. He resides in Hillsborough, New Jersey. Rita T. Bucca, business administration ’13, is a tax analyst at Comcast in Philadelphia. She is engaged to Christopher J. Wozunk ’13. Anthony Costantino, mathematics and computer science ’05, is the director of credit management at Marlette

Funding LLC. His second child, Matthew Anthony Earl Costantino, was born March 1, 2016. Katherine Devanney, psychology ’12 (2009-2010 STAR Scholar), started working in August as an attorney at Richards, Layton & Finger, P.A. Bryan Fyalkowski, sport management ’15, is an athletic communications assistant for the Arkansas Razorbacks. Jimmy Hamalian, finance and entrepreneurship ’15, is an investor relations analyst at Comcast in Philadelphia. Sylvia Herbert, BS/MS mechanical engineering ’14 (2009-2010 STAR Scholar),

Girish Balakrishnan, digital media ’13 (2008-2009 STAR Scholar), is the Virtual Production Lead Technical Director for Digital Domain. He helped architect and operate a unique pipeline for Disney’s “The Jungle Book,” which became the first film to deeply integrate game engines into the motion capture process and advance the virtual cinematography tools on the capture stage and live action set. 32


is a PhD student in electrical engineering and computer science at UC Berkeley. She is the recipient of the NSF GRFP and UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Fellowship. Dan Huber, computer science ’03, works as a financial advisor at The Philadelphia Group. Greg in den Berken, economics ’12, graduated with honors from the University of Michigan Law School in December 2015. He recently started as a law clerk for Judge Kim Gibson of the Western District of Pennsylvania. Rebecca Hoyle (née Vogt), business administration and accounting ’01, started a consulting business, Colebrook Advisors, in October 2015. She married Tim Hoyle ’01 in 1999. Shefali Karani (née Ramsinghani), BS/BA, Business Administration ‘10, MBA ‘13, was part of the 19-student cohort for the highly competitive 1-year MBA program at Drexel. She received her MBA degree at 24. She was made an Executive at the Rama Group of Companies

in Mumbai, India at just 21, a real defining moment for her since there were only a handful of female business executives in India at the time. Shefali was married in November 2015 and lives in Dubai, U.A.E. She continues to frequently travel for work to Mumbai. Jordan M. Osecki, BS/MS computer science ’10 (20052006 STAR Scholar), is an engineering team lead for the Data Technologies Web Services Team at Bloomberg L.P.

Matthew Hunter Jamerson, biological sciences ’95, is currently serving as the commanding officer of the Navy Drug Screening Laboratory in San Diego. He received his PhD from Georgetown in Tumor Biology in 2003. Leeanne Park (née Griffith), biology ’09, is an anesthesiology resident physician at Stanford University/Stanford Health Care in Palo Alto, CA.

Erik J. Froelich, information systems ’03, is associate director of Platforms and Technologies for Wharton Online, part of the Aresty Institute of Executive Education at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Erik and his wife of eight years, Jennifer, welcomed their first child, Benjamin, in April.

She married Kristopher Park, construction management ’10, and he is a project manager for design and construction at Stanford Health Care. Katie Reilly, music industry ’11, works as the national online organizer at Sierra Club, explaining complex environmental issues in email, social media, web, and other digital content and getting their members and supporters to call Congress, attend a hearing, submit a public comments, attend a rally, etc. Katie recently published an article about digital storytelling for advocacy in Nonprofit Technology Network. Angelica Roiz, accounting and finance ’08, works as an audit senior manager at Grant Thorton LLP. She is married to Avi Shenkar and has two daughters, Amelia Rose and Gwyneth Stella.

Jeff Shergalis, mathematics ’00, was ordained as a Baptist pastor in 2003 and bi-vocationally pastored a Baptist church from 2005-2010 while also working as a software engineer. He’s taken eight short-term mission trips to Eastern Europe and moved in May 2016 to Bulgaria as a Baptist Missionary.

Christe Thompson, communications/public relations ’14, is the director of The Perkiomen Fund at The Perkiomen School. She recently married Andrew Konopitski, Drexel University College of Medicine ’17. Patty van Kleef, design and merchandising ’06, is a senior consultant at Ernst & Young. She received the Society for Human Resources Management certificate in December 2015 and

Photo: Baby Benjamin Froelich

her master’s degree in Human Resources Development from Villanova University in May 2016.

CALL FOR ANNOUNCEMENTS Please send your alumni announcements to

Aleksandra Wolchasty, architecture ’11, passed the ARE in 2015 and became a licensed architect in Pennsylvania. She then joined the American Institute of Architects (AIA). She was married July 3, 2016. and let us know what you’ve been up to. Include your name, major, graduation year, and share with us your career stories, promotions, marriages, births, etc.


Alyssa Woodman, design and merchandising ’11, is a Senior Project Manager Sales Operations at Tesla Motors.

Pull up a seat at the seminar table for A Taste of Honors, a series of discussions for

Casey Wren, business administration ’09, was recently named manager of the Middle Office department at Janney Montgomery Scott. He and his wife are expecting their first child this fall.

alumni led by dynamic faculty who teach for Drexel’s Pennoni Honors College. On October 15, alumni are invited to The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars in Washington, D.C. to attend one of three seminar/museum excursions: “The

Deborah Yarchun, screenwriting and playwriting ’08, was the Dorit & Gerald Paul Artist in Residence at Indiana University for Spring 2016, where she received a Carl Ziegler Teaching Award for her playwriting course “Playwriting: A Writing Community” and had the opportunity to workshop her play And You Shall be A Blessing. Her play Tectonic Mélange was the winner of University of Arkansas’ 2016 Kernodle New Play Award. In 2013, she graduated from the University of Iowa with an M.F.A in Playwriting, where she was the Iowa Arts Fellow. Deborah also founded her own freelance web design business, DJY Design.

Secret World of Espionage” with Eric Zillmer, followed by a tour of the International Spy Museum; “The Origin of Life: Earthly, Cosmic, Divine?” with Lloyd Ackert, followed by a tour of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum; or “Memorializing Terror? Understanding the Task of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum” with Adam Knowles, followed by a tour of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Lunch discussion includes “History as an Immersion Experience: Putting Readers in the Midst of the Action” with Cordelia Frances Biddle. Tickets: October 15. 8:30 a.m. - 7 p.m. $50 per person (includes breakfast, lunch, seminar, and museum tour. For more information, including program schedule and more, and to register, visit or call 1.888.DU.GRADS.

Non-Profit Org. US Postage PAID Permit #144 Philadelphia, PA

3250 Chestnut Street MacAlister Hall, Suite 5016 Philadelphia, PA 19104


You can make a difference! When you make a gift to the Pennoni Honors College, you support the tradition of an interdisciplinary education. Every gift counts. To learn more about how you can support the Pennoni Honors College, contact: Susan Baren-Pearson 215.571.4907

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