Brandywine Honors Semester Update

Honors students at Penn State Brandywine have been busy this semester with a slew of different events and projects. Students started off the semester with debates, the launch of the Literary Blog, and traveling the world. A few students took some time to share their experience traveling with Penn State Brandywine.

Becca Brophy, participated in Dr. Greene’s, INART 1/ARTH 100 “Introduction to the Arts in Vienna and Prague” during the summer semester. The course was centered on musical forms present in Vienna and Prague and students were required to conduct research on the musical history of the area. Students looked at influential classical composers like Mozart, Beethoven, Hayden and the like. Of her experience she said:

While abroad, Dr. Greene encouraged us to take in a variety of musical forms, including modern music.  Fulfilling the Classical music requirement, I attended a performance by the Vienna Residence Orchestra at the Palais Auersperg that performed the music of Classical composers Mozart and Strauss.  Other types of musical experiences I had involved watching a folk band perform outside St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna and attending a local jazz club, called the Ungelt Jazz and Blues Club, where a well-known band performed a variety of compositions using the bass cello, piano, and drums.  The Vienna and Prague study abroad program really helped to expand my knowledge of musical forms as well as prove to me that just like I see here in America, certain music is popular worldwide.

Students also traveled to Paris to explore French culture. Damien Melendez, who received a travel grant for this trip, took Professor Cynthia Lightfoot’s “Youth Culture in Paris” which dealt with adolescent psychology and its relation to the Parisian youth culture. Trip courses are blended; students are expected to work both collaboratively with the professor and independently before and after the trip. While in Paris, students explored the city to both immerse themselves in the culture, but also to examine related topics to their course work.

To check out pictures from the debates, see Brandywine Honors Flickr. To see blog posts, check out the Literary Launch Blog. For more information about previous and future trips, check out PSU Brandywine Global Programs.

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Honors Scholars to Host Debate

On Thursday, November 8th, students from the Honors Program will host a public debate in Tomezsko classroom 101, during Common Hour (11:30 – 12:45). With the theme of “Celebrities, Politics, and the Media,” students will discuss issues raised in our common read, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, by Chris Hedges. Free pizza will be provided, and all are welcome to join us as we listen to some thoughtful perspectives on the question, “Has the media created a celebrity culture that dumbs down our political process, or does it get more students involved?”

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Honors scholars published in Best of Freshman Writing

Congratulations to three of our Cooper scholars whose essays were featured in the latest edition of Penn State’s Best of Freshman Writing journal. Out of the twenty-three PSU students whose work was published this year, six are Penn State Brandywine students, three of whom are outstanding members of our honors program. Their writing demonstrates the sort of academic excellence and creativity that makes our honors community proud:

Cody Bressler’s essay, “The Political Leader We All Want,” makes a case for Florida Senator Marco Rubio as a politician who is “honest, intelligent, articulate, engaging, humble, and ethical” (page 11).

In “Nothing is Guaranteed,” Ebony Ford relates how her personal experiences have taught her to find motivation in instability: “it is the fear of the unexpected that drives me to prepare myself for whatever is to come” (page 14).

In his essay, “Give Me a Chance,” Chris Watts explains how the internet provides an outlet for those who prefer to avoid more traditional social gatherings: “Through the internet, all aspects of social life can be enhanced and customized to our liking” (page 17).

To read these essays and more examples of excellence in freshman writing, visit

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Honors student to speak at Fair Trade S’mores event

This Thursday, August 16, honors scholar Sarah DeMartino will be leading a discussion about Fair Trade chocolate, and the campus community is invited to come and enjoy s’mores while learning about the chocolate industry. Sarah is one of Penn State Brandywine’s Fair Trade TrailBlazers, a group of concerned students, faculty, and alumni who recently helped our campus earn Fair Trade University status. For more information about this Thursday’s event, read Sarah’s recent post on the Fair Trade at Penn State Brandywine blog.

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Cooper Scholar is a Newman Civic Fellow

Congratulations to Zanya Stephenson on being named a 2012 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact! Zanya has demonstrated a commitment to serving her community, both on campus and in Philadelphia. As Penn State Brandywine’s first student to work in the Laboratory for Civic Engagement, she has been very active in promoting the integration of civic engagement into academic curricula and extracurricular activities. With the Newman Civic Fellows Award, Zanya joins a network of like-minded scholars, opening up new opportunities for her to make a real difference in the world.

Click here for more information about Zanya and this great honor that she received this past semester. Congratulations, Zanya!

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Honors Scholars shine at Academic Recognition Ceremony

Each year, Penn State Brandywine recognizes outstanding student achievements and academic excellence at the Academic Recognition Ceremony. In addition to the Academic Achievement Award, presented to all students who earn a 3.5 GPA or higher, several other awards are given to individuals whose accomplishments deserve commendation. Of course, several of our Honors Scholars were among those honored at this year’s ceremony:

  • Senior Rebecca Brophy was inducted into the Sigma Tau English Honor Society, which confers distinction upon students of the English language and literature in undergraduate, graduate and professional studies.
  • Junior Eileen Fresta received the President Sparks Award for earning a 4.00 (A) cumulative GPA based on 36 Penn State credits completed by the end of the fall semester.
  • Eileen Fresta and senior Jennifer Santangelo receivedthe President’s Volunteer Service Award, recognizing their commitment and inspiration of others to engage in volunteer service.
  • Sophomore Sarah DeMartino received a Student Research Award in recognition of her excellence in undergraduate research. Read more about Sarah’s well-deserved accolade here
  • Cody Bressler and Steven Hargis received the President’s Freshman Award for receiving a 4.00 cumulative GPA based on at least 12 graded credits completed by the end of the fall semester.
  • Junior Zanya Stephenson received a Newman Civic Fellows Award for demonstrating an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country.

We congratulate these students on their academic excellence, passion for undergraduate research, and civic engagement. Keep up the good work!

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Cooper Honors Scholar in the News!

Congratulations to Cooper Honors Scholar Chris Kramer on the exciting news he made this week! Along with two other PSU Brandywine students, Tara Landis and Samantha Golay, Chris was among 16 local college students who had an opportunity on Monday to chat with President Obama about student loan interest rates via conference call in the office of Mayor Michael Nutter. Chris was one of only two students in the room who actually spoke to the President, and he proudly stated that he represented Penn State Brandywine! This is just the latest example of our honors students’ civic engagement, speaking out on important issues of local and global concern. Keep up the good work, Chris!

Click here for NBC10’s coverage of the story. The very first clip features Chris speaking next to Mayor Nutter while proudly wearing his blue and white!

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Honors Scholars Graduate – May 5, 2012

On Saturday, May 5, three of our Honors Scholars graduated from Penn State Brandywine: Mary-Therese Capaldi, Lauren Orner, and Jennifer Santangelo. After much hard work and perseverance, each successfully defended her thesis in April and fulfilled the requirements of the honors program. We congratulate these outstanding scholars and wish them the best for their future endeavors!

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Cooper Scholar places first at State Leadership Conference

Congratulations to freshman and Cooper Honors Scholar Steven Hargis! Steven was among five students who went to the Pennsylvania Phi Beta Lambda’s State Leadership Conference (SLC) in Gettysburg in April. The students competed in four events, with several bringing home top awards. Hargis, vice president of the Penn State Brandywine chapter of PBL, placed first in the “retail management” category. He said the conference “gave me an opportunity to expand my network and meet a lot of new faces, while also testing my grasp of information and concepts that I will likely be using in my future work experiences. The conference provided a fun way to grow as an individual and as a leader, and I am excited to attend the National Leadership Conference in San Antonio, Texas this summer.” 

Click here for further information about Hargis and the other Penn State Brandywine students’ impressive showing at the Phi Beta Lambda State Leadership Conference.

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Scholar Wins Undergraduate Student Research Award

Congratulations to Sarah DeMartino who was presented with this prestigious award at the Academic Recognition Ceremony on March 22.  Sarah, a Cooper Honors Scholar, is also part of a student group spearheading a movement to have Brandywine designated as a Fair Trade campus. Her research projects with faculty include a gendered analysis of stress among students, an investigation of dementia within India, and an inquiry into how students cope with culture shock in study abroad experiences.

Sarah has presented her work at the Association for Women in Psychology conference, the Penn State Regional Research Exhibition at Lehigh Valley, the PSU Brandywine Fall Pride event, St. Joseph’s Sigma Xi Student Research Symposium, and the campus EURECA gathering.

Her faculty mentor has described Sarah as “one of the brightest and motivated students” that he has come to know and praised her social commitment, personal integrity, and intellectual focus.  As he noted, “Sarah deserves this award because she is consistently striving to improve the quality of life around her–here and throughout the world.”

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