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Inside Director’s message___________________________ 2 Medical Spanish course helps nurses_________ 2 Faculty and staff news and notes_____________ 3 Alumna editor turned author_________________ 4 Studying abroad in Toronto___________________ 7 Students help with Erie Rib Fest______________ 8 Psychology grad studies stereotypes__________ 9 News briefs________________________________ 10



Giving Children a Solid Foundation Early Education major added Young children are enthusiastic learners, eagerly absorbing new ideas and concepts at a pace more rapid than during any period of formal education that follows. That’s why the foundation for a successful education must be laid early. A Bachelor of Science degree in Childhood and Early Adolescent Education (CEAED), introduced earlier this year at Penn State Behrend, prepares undergraduates to design and deliver high-quality instruction to children in those critical years of preschool through fourth grade. “It’s a truly interdisciplinary degree program,” said Dr. Meg Burke, assistant professor of elementary education and program chair of the CEAED program. “Teachers have to know how to problem solve, think critically, innovate, and be reflective agents; these are all skills developed within a liberal arts education.” One of the greatest resources for the program is in Knowledge Park at the college’s Early Learning Center, which provides myriad opportunities for students to observe, interact, and, eventually, instruct young learners.

Greg Cass, a sophomore Childhood and Early Adolescent Education major, reads to children at the Penn State Early Learning Center in Knowledge Park.

Chelsea Smith, a junior CEAED major who has been observing preschool students at the center, has already learned that her chosen field requires flexibility and personalization. “I always knew children learned in different ways, but now I realize the importance of truly connecting with each student individually to find the methods that work best for them,” she said. Greg Cass, a sophomore CEAED major, also has been spending time at the

center, reading books, helping with art projects, and planting seeds with pre-K students. “I originally planned on becoming a high school teacher, but I really love the passion and energy that young children have,” Cass said. “We’re a lot alike in that respect.” Eunice Moore, director of the Early Learning Center, agrees. “Greg is so wonderful with the kids and they just Continued on page 10 


Director’s Message

Steven V. Hicks, Ph.D.

The vision for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, as spelled out in our new five-year strategic plan, is “to inspire, challenge, educate, and innovate,” and “to prepare our students for a meaningful life in a changing world.”

In the 2013-14 academic year, we added nine new faculty members to our ranks to help us accomplish our goals. We added a new major in Childhood and Early Adolescent Education, and we are developing an innovative new major in Digital Media, Arts, and Technology. We will soon be offering our first master’s degree, in the area of Clinical Psychology. This past year, we also unveiled several new and exciting community outreach programs. One such program, the Pennsylvania Prevention and Aggression Reduction Center (PARC), works with local schools to reduce acts of bullying and to implement strategies to reduce peer mistreatment in schools. Thanks to a very generous donation from the Samuel P. Black Family Fund of the Erie Community Foundation, the school is in the process of acquiring state-of-the art film production equipment that will offer our students a variety of exciting learning opportunities, inside the classroom and outside on actual film production sites. Plans are also in the works to develop our own film production company. In closing, I would like to congratulate professors Zachary Irwin, Carl Kallgren, and Gregory Morris on the occasion of their retirement from Penn State Behrend. We thank them for their many years of service, and we wish them all the best for the future. I would also like to thank our friends and alumni for their continued support.


Hospital Stay Inspires Medical Spanish Course

Most hospital care begins with a nurse asking, “Can you tell me where it hurts?” Patients can’t always answer that. In Pennsylvania, for example, more than 140,000 residents speak only Spanish. For them, an emergency diagnosis often requires an awkward pantomime: a clutched belly or a finger pointed to a sore throat. Hospitals often have interpreters on staff. There can be gaps, however, especially at night; at a meeting last year with health care staff at Saint Vincent Hospital in Erie, Dr. Soledad Traverso, professor of Spanish, asked if anyone had treated a patient who spoke no English. Every hand went up. “They want to help,” Traverso said. “They just don’t have the vocabulary to do it.” She saw that herself, as a patient, during a several-day stay at Saint Vincent. When a colleague, Dr. Laurie Urraro, came to visit, a nurse heard them talking in Spanish. She asked for help with a few basic words. “She said it was hard for her when the interpreter was out,” said Urraro, a lecturer in Spanish. “She was on her own.” Saint Vincent contracts with an emergency call service, which provides translations by phone when the hospital’s interpreter is unavailable. Traverso and Urraro thought of something better: With funding from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and additional support from the college’s Nursing program and Office of Community and Workforce Programs, they developed a sixteen-week course in conversational medical Spanish. They created a 100-page dual-language “reader,” a vocabulary handbook with chapters on anatomy, pain management, childbirth, and emergency-room care. A companion CD models the pronunciations, allowing the students to practice at home. Traverso and Urraro offered to teach the course for free. Saint Vincent provided the classroom, where more than a dozen nurses and unit clerks rehearse basic medical conversations. There are plans to further develop the course, possibly as an elective for students in Behrend’s Nursing program.

Faculty & Staff News NEW FACULTY The school welcomes nine new faculty members: associate professor Dr. Melanie Hetzel-Riggin, psychology; assistant professors Dr. Margaret Burke, elementary education, and Dr. Matthew Levy, art history; and lecturers Dr. Timothy Blake, history, Mr. Joseph Bookman, media production, Dr. James Goertel, English, Dr. Jessica Piney, Spanish, Mr. Daniel Schank, art and English; Dr. Angela Rood, psychology.

HONORS AND DISTINCTIONS Faculty and Staff Dr. John Gamble, distinguished professor of political science and international law, won Penn State University’s 2014 Milton S. Eisenhower Award for Distinguished Teaching. Dr. Glenn Kumhera, assistant professor of history, won the 2014 Penn State Behrend Council of Fellows Excellence in Teaching Award. Dr. John Rossi, associate professor of history, was the 2013 winner. Administrative specialist Diane Nowacinski won the college’s 2013 Ben A. Lane Award for Outstanding Service. Dr. Tom Noyes, associate professor of English and creative writing, won the 2013 Autumn House Prize in Fiction. For the fall semester, Dr. Kilic Kanat, assistant professor of political science, will serve as Director of the U.S.-Turkey Relations and Model Partnership project. Dr. Richard Aquila, professor of history and American studies, was invited by the Organization of American Historians to serve a second three-year term as an OAH Distinguished Lecturer. Dr. John Champagne, professor of English, was awarded a 2014 Outstanding Faculty Service Award from the University. Students and Alumni Mauricio Cortes (political science) won the 2014 Amber K. Heeter Memorial Award. Olivia Duryea (history) was offered a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship in Austria. Margaret Eimers (psychology) won the 2014 Ralph Dorn Hetzel Memorial Award. J.T. McDonald (communication) won the inaugural Myron Jones Broadcasting Award. Heather McKeon (creative writing) won the 2014 Kenneth J. Sonnenberg Poetry Award. Kristina Peszel (English) won the 2014 Eric A. and Josephine S. Walker Award. Danielle Ropp (history) won first place in an essay contest sponsored by WQLN and Mercyhurst University. Laura Ruppel (creative writing) won the 2014 Kennedy Fiction Award. Meghan Vorisek (creative writing) won the 2014 Corey N. Farrell Nonfiction Award. Kasey Zaspel (history) won the 2014 Rossi Excellence in Undergraduate Research Award. Creative writing alumnus Corey Zeller published his first book of poetry, Man vs. Sky. Creative writing alumna Heather Slomski won the prestigious Iowa Short Fiction Award.

BOOKS Books published recently include those by: Dr. John Gamble, distinguished professor of political science and international law, No-Bull Information: How to Make America’s Government and Society Better. Dr. Charisse Nixon (with S. Davis), associate professor of psychology, Youth Voice Project: Student Insights into Bullying and Peer Mistreatment. Dr. Thomas Noyes, associate professor of English and creative writing, Come by Here: A Novella and Stories. Dr. Robert Roecklein, lecturer in English, Politicized Physics in Seventeenth Century Philosophy: Essays on Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, and Spinoza. Mr. George Looney, professor of English and creative writing, his seventh poetry book, Structures The Wind Sings Through.

A Toast to Public Speakers On a rainy Tuesday evening in late spring, twenty-five Behrend students gathered at a local restaurant to test techniques they had learned in CAS 100: Effective Speech. They dressed up for the occasion. The women wore dresses and cardigans. The men wore business casual attire. A few even wore ties. They sat at banquet tables arranged in a horseshoe around a podium. To the left, at a small table discreetly tucked in the corner, Dr. Miriam McMullen-Pastrick, lecturer in speech communication, took notes. No pressure there, right? But, pressure is sort of the point at the Toasters’ Banquet—an end-of-class tradition for students in McMullenPastrick’s classes. “I want to put them in situations they might actually have to face when they are making post-graduate contributions to the world,” she said. “In their future, they may have to give opening remarks at an event, or introduce a VIP at a corporate banquet, or debate funding cuts at their child’s school board meeting. The banquet gives them a chance to practice.” Each class organizes its own banquet, collecting money from classmates for dinner, creating and printing programs, and voting on which classmates should receive awards—some serious and some not-so-serious. Between all the speeches and presentations, students enjoy a small feast during which they are encouraged by McMullen-Pastrick to work on their dinner conversation skills. McMullen-Pastrick typically teaches three sections of CAS 100 each semester and attends a banquet for each. In the spring 2014 semester, she attended her 175th banquet. “Teaching public speaking is my passion because it has such a major impact on students,” she said. 3

CRYSTAL VELASQUEZ VITAL STATISTICS AGE: 38 DEGREE: English, 1997 DAY JOB: Production editor, Random House H O ME TOW N : Queens, New York City FAVORITE MEMORIES OF BEHREND: Creative writing professors Yesho Atil and Dr. Diana Hume George, choir, hiking in the gorge, serving on the Multi-Cultural Council, working in the Student Activities office, making lifelong friends in Perry Hall. FAVORITE AUTHOR: Toni Morrison LAST BOOK READ FOR PLEASURE: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Alumna Chooses Her Own Adventure They say there’s no such thing as an original idea, but sometimes looking at old ideas in a new way can result in exciting new hybrids—just ask graduate Crystal Velasquez ’97. Velasquez and her editor and friend, Stephanie Elliot, wondered what would happen if Velasquez mashed up teen magazine personality quizzes with the 1980s-era choose-your-own-adventure book concept. What resulted was a popular young adult book series, aimed at girls ages 8 to 12, including three books—Your Life, but Better; Your Life, but Cooler; and Your Life, but Sweeter. We chatted by phone with Velasquez, a production editor at Random House in New York City, who also authored four books in the Maya & Miguel series and works as a writer for hire for Working Partners, Ltd., a U.K. book packager. H&SS News: How do you find time to work, write, and do freelance projects?

Crystal Velasquez: Like most writers, I’m motivated by deadlines. I plan it all out and figure out how much I need to do each day or month to make my deadline. Then life happens and I’m writing at 4:00 a.m. or on my lunch hour.


What does your position at Random House entail and what kinds of books do you edit?

Then you started the Your Life, but… series in which each chapter ends with a personality quiz. Why personality quizzes?

I make sure there are no mistakes. I set up the layout, send it out to copyeditors and proofreaders. I also edit the cover copy and work with the authors and with the art and design departments. I work on all genres of books—self-help, fiction, diet, romance. Electronic books make up the majority of my list now.

I was influenced by teen magazine quizzes and thought personality traits made much more sense for guiding a reader than the standard choose-your-own-adventure format, which seemed so random.

How long have you been there?

Fourteen years. Does being an author make you a better editor?

I’m more sensitive to the author’s voice, and I try not to change it. OK, let’s talk about your books. Your first book was My Twin Brother/My Twin Sister in the Maya & Miguel PBS Kids’ show series.

Yes, I was trolling Craigslist one night and saw that an editor at Scholastic was looking for Latino writers to work on a children’s book series. I submitted a writing sample and was hired to write four of the books.

Did you have a psychologist help you develop the quizzes?

No. I thought they should just be intuitive to a young girls’ thinking, and I feel like I still think that way. I force readers to make a choice by giving them four options. If I gave them three choices, most people would pick the one in the middle and avoid the two extremes. So I figured if we gave them four options, readers would have to make a real choice. Did you always intend to write for the younger market?

It sort of fell into my lap, but I’m finding YA (young adult) really suits me. It’s a very interesting time in life when they are learning so much about themselves, so it’s a very rich time to write about. Also, YA forces writers to get to the point and keep things simple. Adult literature can get bogged down in complicated plots that

obscure the meaning. I like the immediacy and honesty of YA books. How did you keep track of all the threads in the Your Life, but… books?

Crystal Velasquez on what makes a good writer: THEY ARE BIG READERS. You need to study those already writing and learn how they do it.

I kept a detailed and complicated flow chart. Each story had five or six chapters, and any of the major events in one story had to happen in all the others, too.

THEY HAVE A GOOD GRASP OF GRAMMAR AND A LARGE VOCABULARY. You need a big toolbox to work from.

How long does it take to write a book?

THEY ARE EMPATHETIC. You have to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, or every character you write about will be you.

About three months. Once the first Your Life book came out, they wanted the other two right away, so I had less time with each of those. How did you deal with the pressure?

THEY ARE OBSERVANT. You need to watch people and listen to how they speak.

Advice for wannabe writers: LEARN THE RULES OF WRITING. There is a craft to learn. You need to learn the rules, even if you’re going to break them later.

What I’ve learned from having deadlines is that you can’t wait to get in the mood to write. You just have to sit down and make yourself write. It’s easier to edit than fix a blank page.

TAKE CLASSES FROM A VARIETY OF PROFESSORS. Every teacher has a different technique. Don’t limit yourself to just a few favorite professors. Learn from everyone you can.

What are you working on now?

DO YOUR HOMEWORK. If you want to be published, follow the publisher’s rules for submitting work (all found online or in the Writer’s Market books). If you don’t do it the right way, your work will end up in what’s called the slush pile. Taking shortcuts is a strike against you.

I’ve taken some writer-for-hire jobs through Writers Unlimited, a U.K. book packager. They give you the plot and you take it from there. It’s been an interesting process. I finished one and have another almost done now. I’ve also started working on my own book.

SHARE YOUR WRITING. Don’t keep it in a box under your bed. Who are you writing it for?

BE OPEN TO CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM. Praise is great, but if your goal is to improve, an honest critique can be much more valuable.


Strategic Intelligence Research Project Garners International Attention Mauricio Cortes spent four years in the U.S. Navy but didn’t have the attention of the Pentagon’s vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff until he was a Penn State Behrend student.

VITAL STATISTICS HOMETOWN: Ibagué, Colombia AGE: 33 FAMILY: Wife Aura is an MBA student in the Sam and Irene Black School of Business MOVIE MAGIC: Cortes is the recipient of the Epstein Scholarship, the largest award given by the Penn State Alumni Association’s Los Angeles Chapter. The scholarship is named for 1931 grads Julius and Philip Epstein, twin brothers who wrote the Academy Award-winning screenplay for Casablanca. SUMMER PLANS: After Cortes returns from a six-week Penn State Study Abroad program at Nanjing University in China, he’ll chaperone a group of Schreyer Scholars on a five-week tour of Colombia and Brazil, part of a research course on contemporary Latin America. PASSPORTS HE’S FILLED SINCE 1999: Four FUTURE PLANS: A senior, Cortes is looking at graduate programs in international relations and public policy. He hopes eventually to work at a nongovernmental or intergovernmental organization specializing in Latin American affairs.


In October, the Political Science major presented research outlining the destabilizing effect of transnational organized crime in Latin America to the four-star general, the capstone to a threemonth strategic intelligence research internship offered through the Schreyer Honors College. (The take away: Drug-fueled organized crime in the southern hemisphere has benefitted from having international attention diverted to the Middle East. This is not good news for U.S. interests in Latin America.) The research then led Cortes to be a roundtable panelist at the International Studies Association’s annual meeting in Toronto. “These opportunities came from working with Dr. John Gamble on his Comprehensive Statistical Database of Multilateral Treaties, and from being a Schreyer Scholar,” Cortes said. “When I came to Penn State, this is exactly what I wanted to do. I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by many talented people, both students and faculty, and proud to be part of such a great institution.” Cortes arrived in the United States from Colombia at 17, taking a gap year after high school to learn English, which he did while surfing the California coast and working at an organic grocery store in Santa Monica. He joined the Navy to serve his adopted country, learn a trade, and, he said, “to find a passion.” In his four years of active service, Cortes sailed around the world three and one-half times, discovering that it was the people he met who interested him most. “I loved going to new places and I loved meeting people, mingling with the locals, finding out who they were, what they did, what their lives were about.” After leaving the Navy, Cortes worked for a Swiss multinational engineering firm. “The money was good and the travel was great, but after a few years I realized that this was not what I wanted to do. Professionally, I wasn’t satisfied,” he said. A college degree was necessary for promotion, but rather than take the management degree his supervisor recommended, Cortes decided to pursue the education that really interested him. He researched political science programs, freely admitting he chose Penn State “for the well-known brand” and only intending to stay at Behrend for two years. “Now I couldn’t think of a better place to finish my degree,” he said. “I have exceptional faculty who care about my performance, and care about me. Somewhere I realized I had a potential I never knew existed. Behrend brought that out in me.”

Ž 




North American Politics Explored Study-abroad trips to Toronto offer students unique learning experience In PL SC 299/499: North American Politics, students don’t just travel to another country, they actually live there for three weeks, immersing themselves in the culture and learning alongside—and from—their Canadian counterparts. During the four-week summer course, students from Toronto’s Ryerson University and Penn State Behrend share classroom space, living quarters (Behrend students live in a Ryerson residence hall) and instructors. The course is taught Dr. Robert Speel, associate professor of political science at Behrend, and Dr. Greg Inwood, professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at Ryerson. “Students have a unique opportunity to discuss and debate differences between the United States and Canada in political culture and history, election systems, trade, border security, and public policies, such as capital punishment, gun control, and more,” Speel said.


Œ The CN Tower  Queen’s Park Ž The Harbourfront Centre

 Fort York  Royal Ontario Museum

Why Canada?

Canada is the largest international trading partner with the United States, and Toronto, the largest city and commercial capital of the country, is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. “This course not only allows students to learn about Canadian cultures and politics, but to discuss the issues with Canadian students who often have a different and more global perspective. It broadens their outlook,” Speel said. Taylor Pokrant, a junior Political Science and History major who participated in the study abroad opportunity last year, agreed. “I learned that Canadians are much more aware of our domestic politics than we are of theirs,” Pokrant said. “Prior to the class, I knew almost nothing about Canada and its politics. The same can probably be said for the majority of Americans.” But it can’t be said for those Behrend students who enroll in PL SC 299/499 and, in doing so, widen their world view. 7

A Rib-Tastic Partnership When Kathi Danielson, owner of Performance and Event Managevertising situations, which helps prepare us for the professional ment, was looking for fresh perspectives in promoting Erie’s Wild world,” Lowery said. Rib Cook-Off and Music Festival two years ago, she turned to The student groups met regularly with Danielson and worked Penn State Behrend’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences. independently outside of class to design and create an updated “I thought the Rib Fest could be a and unified look for the festival’s margreat educational tool for communication keting materials, launch a social media students and, fortunately, Dr. Chen did, campaign, and drum up enthusiasm and too,” Danielson said. support for the event throughout the triDr. Huan Chen, assistant professor of state community. communication, chose several students “As a team, we came up with some new from her COMM 422: Advertising Media ideas for the event, including a college ID Planning class to work with Danielson, night and more ways to create a familysplitting the group into three teams with oriented atmosphere,” Lowery said. specific tasks, such as social media and Danielson said that efforts by Comcommunity outreach, sponsorship, and munication students over the previous graphic design of marketing materials. two years have improved the quality of “It was an opportunity for students to promotional materials, raised awareness of CHRIS CARROLL, get hands-on experience working with a the event, and increased attendance. C O M M U N I C AT I O N M A J O R real client—and with each other—to ac“They came up with some very crecomplish a specific goal,” Chen said. ative ideas,” Danielson said. “As a direct Chris Carroll and Megan Lowery, both result of this collaboration, we attracted a seniors majoring in Communication, were broader demographic to the Rib Fest.” among the students who worked on this year’s Rib Fest campaign. Chen and Danielson expect the partnership to continue “Working as the account executive, or team leader, of my annually. “It’s a great opportunity for me to learn from the stugroup has been a really great experience, unlike any other group dents, and for them to interact with a business, gain perspective project I’ve done before,” said Carroll. “Producing a real camon their future career, and put into action what they have been paign was just fascinating.” taught in class,” Danielson said. Lowery, too, relished the opportunity to work for an actual client. “Having the chance to apply the concepts we are learning in class really let us grow in our ability to handle real life ad-

“Producing a real campaign was just fascinating.”

Kathi Danielson, owner of Performance and Event Management, talks with some of the COMM 422 students who helped with this year’s rib cook-off event. Pictured, from left, are Danielson, Doug Moore, Chris Carroll, and Juntwillis Sanders.


James Hodge ’09

Psychology of Stereotypes James Hodge ’09 says stereotypes aren’t always a bad thing. “Stereotypes are an adaptive mechanism that allow us to see the world with less effort,” Hodge said. “If you had to go through life categorizing every single thing you saw or experienced, it would be exhausting. Luckily, the brain developed a shortcut.” The problem, Hodge says, is when we use stereotypes about a particular group to categorize one person. “When applied at an individual level, stereotypes can lose much of their accuracy,” he said. “This is where problems often arise.” Hodge would know. He’s been researching stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination for nearly ten years. Today, he’s a fifth-year doctoral student studying social psychology at the University of Vermont, wrapping up a four-year study designed to understand the stigma experienced by people living with HIV and AIDS in rural populations. “We want to learn how community attitude influences perceptions of prejudice and discrimination,” Hodge said. “As a society, attitudes toward those with HIV and AIDS have become more accepting, but we wanted to understand the experience of those people who live in more isolated, rural communities. Is it the same as living in a large city?” Hodge traveled across New England, administering psychological measures and conducting face-to-face interviews with hundreds of research participants. “They often said that when they were first diagnosed with HIV/ AIDS, they felt very stigmatized, but now people have become more accepting and the stigma is less apparent,” Hodge said. Hodge sees that as a sign of hope. He says negative stereotypes, such as those surrounding people with HIV and AIDS, can be changed if the person doing the stereotyping is willing to be flexible and think critically. “When you point it out, if the person has the cognitive

resources to see how and why it is wrong, they can change their minds,” he said. “We tend to fall back on stereotypes if we are not reflective and consciously thinking about what the stereotype is saying, and why it may not be true for every single person.” Hodge plans to share his research findings with AIDS service organizations and through research articles and conference presentations at the Association for Psychological Science (APS), a professional organization for the advancement of scientifically oriented psychology. Hodge just finished his term as president of the APS Student Caucus (APSSC) Executive Board, and is now serving as past-president. It’s a role he stepped into after serving as the APSSC Undergraduate Advocate, a role most recently filled by another Behrend graduate, Jessica Schubert ’09, a sixth-year doctoral candidate in the clinical psychology program at Binghamton University. Behrend psychology students are no strangers to APS because they have the opportunity to participate in the annual APS convention as undergraduates. “At Behrend, I was given a lot of chances to do research, present at conferences, mentor other students, and do community service,” Hodge said. “I learned to take advantage of those opportunities, with a perfect example being the APS conventions.” Hodge said it gave him a leg-up in graduate school. “I acclimated quickly because I’d done a lot of graduate-level work already at Behrend,” he said. “I felt so much more prepared than a lot of my peers.” With successful alumni like Hodge and Schubert, it would hardly be a surprise if the Behrend psychology program is stereotyped as a place for high achievers and inspired doers. “I didn’t get where I am today because I’m brilliant,” he said. “I got here because I had a phenomenal support network at Behrend and took advantage of the opportunities I was given there.” 9

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love him,” Moore said. “We’d hire him in a minute.” Moore said the CEAED program has been a welcome complement to the center. “This program has been so wonderful for us,” she said. “Having students here interacting with the kids, introducing new techniques, and engaging them in fun activities is a win-win for everyone.” According to Burke, CEAED graduates should have no trouble finding jobs. “With the retirement of the Baby Boomers over the next decade, there will be plenty of job opportunities for new, talented teachers,” she said. Cass dreams of returning to his alma mater, Belle Valley Elementary School in Millcreek. “My elementary school teachers had a significant impact in making me the person I am today,” Cass said. “I feel that I’ve come full circle and now it’s my responsibility to give back.” Smith, too, is enthusiastic about the future. She hopes to teach third or fourth grade. “I love seeing the kids experience that ‘ah-ha’ moment when things really click in their minds and the light bulb goes on,” she said. Of course, Cass and Smith first must complete their degrees so they are fully prepared to spark and inspire eager young minds. It’s a profession that cannot be underestimated, as easily summed up by Cass: “If you can read this sentence, thank your preschool teachers.” For more information about the program, visit or call 814-898-6108.


Briefly Noted

History major wins contest; participates in panel discussion This spring, Danielle Ropp, a junior History major, had a unique opportunity to participate in a panel discussion of the WQLN documentary Perspective: Jewish History, Parts I and II at Mercyhurst University in Erie. Ropp earned a spot on the panel as well as $500 after winning first place in a “Story of the Jews” college essay contest. The prompt for the contest was: “How has history shaped the modern perception of Jews?” Ropp’s essay was titled “The Crucifixion Shaping Modern Jewish Perceptions,” and it discussed how Jewish people are still viewed negatively because of their perceived participation in the crucifixion.

New outreach program formed Penn State Behrend students will soon be putting research and theory into practice through the Pennsylvania Prevention and Aggression Reduction Center (PARC), a new outreach program of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Dr. Charisse Nixon, associate professor of psychology, received a grant from the Ophelia Project, a national nonprofit organization committed to ending peer aggression, to form PARC. The center will offer research-based intervention and prevention efforts to reduce peer mistreatment among students ranging from preschool to college. Nixon and nearly thirty students have already been doing research and mentoring students in three Erie-area schools—Erie Day School, Community Country Day School, and Harding Elementary School. At least three more schools are interested in starting programs this fall. “It’s a very individualized program,” Nixon said. “We conduct a school climate survey and then design a program based upon that school’s specific feedback.” Behrend psychology students do much of the research and mentoring work, which Nixon said gives them a lab environment where they can test developmental research and theory under supervision.

New honor society members Nine students and two faculty members were inducted into the Alpha Omicron Zeta chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society, this spring. Inductees pictured are, from left, Steven Jares, Jennifer Tregaskis, Kasey Zaspel, Russ Winters, Colleen Prevendoski, Danielle Ropp, Dr. Steven Hicks, director of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Dr. Timothy Blake, lecturer in history. Absent from photo: Sonya Kokus, Matthew Lesnett, and Julia Williams.

Students drive change at Kochel

Autodesk enhances art offerings

Kochel Center has received a makeover. The stiff metal benches are gone, replaced by plush chairs and wooden end tables. On the lower floor, the computer kiosks have been revamped, and carpeting laid to add warmth. An up-scale coffee machine was added. The changes were largely the result of suggestions made by students in CAS 252: Business and Professional Communication to improve the civility and quality of the physical and social environment in Kochel.

The spring art show at Kochel Center tends to be heavy on photography–still lifes, lightning strikes, black-and-whites of roommates and cats. This year’s exhibit had something different: digital self-portraits created with Autodesk software. The 3D animations show the reach of Autodesk’s partnership with Penn State Behrend, which in 2012 provided access to world-class animation and modeling software to every student and faculty member on campus. The Autodesk gift, valued at $21.7 million, included full access to the company’s Entertainment Creation Suite. Heather Cole, lecturer in photography, now teaches with Autodesk’s Mudbox, Maya, and SketchBook Pro titles. The Autodesk software is a key factor in the college’s move toward a full curriculum in digital media arts, said Sharon Dale, associate professor of art history. “We are excited by the potential offered by the Autodesk Entertainment Suite,” Dale said, “and are using it as the basis for developing a full range of digital courses that will culminate, we hope, in a major in Digital Media, Arts, and Technology.”


School of Humanities and Social Sciences 170 Kochel Center 4951 College Drive Erie, PA 16563-1501

Non-Profit Org. U.S. POSTAGE PAID Erie, PA Permit No. 282

DR. LEIGH-ANN BEDAL, associate professor of anthropology, appeared on an episode of the National Geographic Channel’s Time Scanners to talk about the Petra Garden and Pool Complex excavation that she is directing in Jordan. The show appeared on the National Geographic Channel in the United Kingdom and Australia in March. It will air on PBS in July in the United States.

Gamble Receives Teaching Award Dr. John K. Gamble, distinguished professor of political science and international law, has received the 2014 Milton S. Eisenhower Award for Distinguished Teaching. The University award recognizes excellence in teaching and student support among tenured faculty members who dedicate a major portion of their duties to undergraduate teaching. Gamble has taught political science at Behrend since 1976. He also directs the college’s Honors program, which includes 400 Honors students and 36 Schreyer Scholars. Gamble’s teaching style is a direct response to his own experience as a student, including a 1963 exchange with a college chemistry professor. Gamble, who stuttered, faltered when the professor asked him a question. “I knew the answer, but, due to my stuttering, could not answer,” he said. He dropped the course.

“To this day, in my interactions with students, I try to understand the person beyond the occupant of a classroom seat for 150 minutes a week.” Dr. John K. Gamble


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H&SS News - 2014  
H&SS News - 2014  

News and feature stories from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Penn State Behrend.