Honors Enrichment Award: Rediscovering a Passion for the German Language

The past month and a half of learning German has been enlightening for me. It has provided me with an experience I thought I had left behind in high school. For the most part, my time has been spent on refreshing my memory from high school. I often refer back to my old high school notes and vocabulary lists as I complete daily tasks, such as listening to the daily videos on the Deustche Welle, and my occasional reading of German short stories. The materials I am using, while basic, are certainly helpful. As things are going right now, I will hopefully finish at least one German novella by the end of July, and a third before school starts again in August.

To date, the hardest part about learning the language has been trying to force myself not to translate everything into English in my head as I read it. I have rebel against the instinct to revert to my native language. The challenge has proven to be fun instead of frustrating, as I expected.

However, as fantastic as this experience has been, my favorite part has been my unexpected reconnection with my old high school German teacher. I reached out to him in early June for recommendations on materials and online resources. I always looked up to him, but I never got a chance to express the passion for the language he had passed on to me. Recently, I’ve been talking to him more, and he’s been a great help in finding new material. He has also helped me understand several German grammar points that I just could not grasp by myself.

John Rowland

Honors Enrichment Award: Cancer Research at the Penn State College of Medicine

This will mark my second year with the Gittlen Cancer Research Foundation. I work in the Penn State College of Medicine on the seventh floor of the Biomedical Research (BMR) building, and my desk window overlooks the small wooded area behind the Penn State Hershey campus.

This year I was fortunate enough to be awarded the new Honors Enrichment Award, and thought it was practical to apply the award to the research I was already doing in the lab. After several discussions with my lab’s principle investigator (Dr. Kristen Eckert) and RMU’s Professor Harold, it was decided that I would pursue my own independent research, but in a way that would be applicable to projects already going on in the Eckert lab.

The Eckert lab seeks to understand the important mechanisms that disrupt DNA replication during the Synthesis (or S. phase) phase of the cell cycle. The lab’s research focuses on how replicative stress (in the form of inflammation) causes such disruptions, which lead to mutations, which finally lead to tumor forming cancer cells. In fact, chronic inflammation is a hallmark of cancer. Better understanding these mechanisms will allow doctors and scientists to more effectively treat and prevent cancer and cause the least amount (ideally none) of damage to the patient’s healthy cells.

My research is specifically focused on the reactive oxidative species (ROS) made by cells in relation to replicative stress. Basically, I am looking at negatively charged oxygen species within the cell that arise during what we think are the beginning stages of cancer development.

The experience in the lab this summer is proving to be a challenge, but I am incredibly excited to see what our findings will be. At any rate, the work being done by Dr. Eckert’s lab and the results that we produce will always be a brand new step on the path to finding better treatments and preventions for cancer.

Damian DiFlorio

Honors Summer Enrichment Award: A Quest to Find the Perfect French Speaking Pen Pal

Receiving the Honors Summer Enrichment Award has allowed me to continue working on my fluency in French.   I practice speaking, listening, reading, and writing with Rosetta Stone.  Additionally, I speak with a pen pal who is fluent in French and English.  Her name is Hana Francioni, and she lives in Morocco!  Hana and I speak mainly in French, but when I make a mistake or cannot understand what she is saying, she explains in English.  The combination of studying with Rosetta Stone and communicating with a fluent speaker has helped me progress greatly.  During July, I plan to start reading a French novel.  I am deciding between Le Petit Nicolas by Goscinny and Le Petit Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry.

Unfortunately, I have faced several challenges this summer.  First, finding time to practice with Rosetta Stone can be difficult with two jobs, vacation, and other commitments.  To overcome this challenge, I have adjusted how much I speak to Hana or use Rosetta Stone daily.  I usually fluctuate between fifteen minutes and an hour with a few off days.  Another challenge I faced was initially finding a pen pal.  There are a plethora of different websites that help locate pen pals from different countries.  Finding the perfect site and pen pal was…interesting, to say the least. After several failed attempts and messages from foreign males looking for a romantic pen pal, I decided to try PenPal World.  This site is safe and provided me with many great options.  Hana and I started talking on June 3 and we are becoming good friends.  Overall, I am having fun trying to advance in my fluency and look forward to the rest of summer!

Mary Funderlich

Presenting My Senior Thesis in Gettysburg

The NRHC, Northeast Regional Honors Council, hosts an annual conference in which northeastern American and Canadian honors students can meet and share their independent research. This April, I was fortunate enough to attend the conference in Gettysburg. Since Gettysburg is an influential landmark in American history, the conference theme was “Battlefields of Change.” I presented research on the political commentary of radical revolution as a means of manipulation in dystopian novels such as The Time Machine by H.G. Wells and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. My paper was selected to be a part of the “Battlefields of Power” panel. Other notable pieces on the panel included a look at negatively stereotyped  mafia movies from the 1940s used as propaganda against Italians and poetry aimed at the middle class as a means to raise awareness of deplorable working conditions before the enactment of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The panel sparked great discussion on how college students can use their education to make a meaningful political impact on society. The conference was an amazing experience and I hope that other honors students will take advantage of it in the future.

Mella Quirk


Creating the Magic in Honors Seminar

The Honor’s Seminar offered this past Spring was WDW: Creating the Magic. What does WDW stand for? Walt Disney World, of course! That’s right a whole college class about Disney World. I had to take it, not because I am a Disney freak (which I learned is a compliment to some folks), but because I could not pass up the opportunity to get college credit talking about a theme park. After all, I was a second semester senior with 2 classes left on his check sheet and some elective slots to fill.

I must admit, I was probably the least enthusiastic about the course when it started, but that gave me the most room to become more enthusiastic. I wanted to change my perspective on the theme parks, and I definitely did. The only time I ever visited the park was as a Freshman in High School, so I wasn’t young enough to appreciate the kid aspects but also not mature enough to appreciate the more adult aspects of the parks. This course changed my perspective on the parks and really got me to appreciate the attention to detail Disney pays to their parks. We also had some great guest speakers who shed some light onto certain topics within the Disney “universe”.

My goal for the course was to change my mind about Disney. I still might like Disney the least out of all of the people that took this course, but I have an understanding and an appreciation for Disney now. I feel like I gained one extra layer of thinking after this class. Now I try to pay a little more attention to small details when I work on projects. I also want to have a story for my projects, so they can be explained to anybody. This little layer of thinking is very valuable to me, and that’s where the magic is created.

Aaron Hartman

Want to see a sample of the awesome projects being done in Honors Seminar? Check out Aaron’s creative WDW seminar project: Building a Hypothetical Spain Pavilion in Epcot

Presenting My Senior Thesis Research at the AMTP Conference

This past March I attended the Association of Marketing Theory and Practice (AMTP) conference in Savannah, Georgia. At this conference I presented my Honors senior thesis research “Stereotyping or Segmentation? An Analysis of Children’s Advertising Across Networks.” My research mainly focused on gender stereotyping in children’s advertising. I had the opportunity to get feedback on my research, as well as observe other presentations relating to marketing, CRM and logistics. It was a great networking opportunity, with so many academics discussing their ideas and projects.  I have since then presented my research to the RMU community at the Undergraduate Research Conference in April. I hope to resubmit the paper for publication with AMTP in the coming weeks.

Written by: Alexis Jones

AMTP Picture

Diversity Speaker Series: Chaz Kellem

On Thursday, February 19th, Chaz Kellem, the Manager of Diversity Initiatives with the Pittsburgh Pirates presented as part of the Diversity Speaker Series on campus.  Chaz was born with a rare bone disorder at birth known as Osteogenesis Imperfecta, which leaves the bones brittle and easy to break. Though Chaz has broken over 40 bones and endured more than 12 operations, he has not allowed this adversity to impact his life, and lives it to the fullest. The presentation was spent encouraging and inspiring students to do the same. Despite the challenges Chaz faces in his everyday life, he still managed to acquire his dream job working with his favorite sports organization, and used this example to demonstrate to the audience that anything is possible. Another point stressed was the importance of leaving one’s comfort zone in order to encounter new experiences. To establish this point, Chaz paired off members of the audience that he felt would be unfamiliar with one another to participate in several activities that saw each group working together to complete various tasks.

Mr. Kellem is an excellent speaker and each of the points he made were moving. It would be hard to imagine that anyone left without a different outlook on their daily lives.