It all started with a phone call from an unknown number and a man with a funny accent. My first reaction was to hang up on him, but he held my attention when he said he was calling about a potential job offer. After hearing a description of the position I began to wonder how this man found me; I hadn’t submitted an application or resume to this company. I inquired as to how he got my information. His simple response was “LinkedIn.” Still skeptical, I looked up his name and his employer on the internet and it revealed the company did, in fact, exist. The next few days were a series of Skype interviews, first with the COO of the company and then with an HR professional from the company. A week later I boarded a plane to Chicago to meet with the COO for sushi in the O’Hare airport. Two weeks have passed since my interview. I have finished filling out all of the pre-employment contract papers and am packing my bags to travel to Munich for six weeks where I will be trained on my new employer’s software development platform. Moral of the story: Get a LinkedIn account, keep it as up-to-date as possible, and answer that unknown number. It could turn out to be a man with a funny accent offering you a job opportunity of a lifetime.
The Girls & Women in Sport Symposium was hosted on February 4th on campus to celebrate the 29th Annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Many speakers who addressed several important issues facing women in sport today were featured throughout the morning.
The keynote speaker, Dana Voelker, spoke on her personal experiences as a figure skater and hockey player to highlight her identity development as she shifted from one sport to the other. The people around her were not as accepting of her desire to play hockey because it was a more masculine sport. Her perseverance and hard work got her a spot as captain on the first club level woman’s hockey team at Penn State which provided many opportunities to express herself as a leader (both good and bad).
Breakout sessions were held after the keynote. One covered issues of Title IX and how it is still being implemented in schools today and the other addressed LGBT identities in the sport world. The final event of the symposium was an Applied Experiences Panel which allowed the audience a chance to further discuss any relevant issues. The symposium featured local organizations throughout the day that helped promote female participation in sport such as Girls on the Run, RMU Women’s Rugby, and Pittsburgh Passion, to name a few.
On January 30, Professor Maddie Ranade presented methods of succeeding in college, a topic that is on every college student’s mind. Her discussion began with how a fixed or growth mindset affects how students think about their new situation and how they act in the college environment. Allowing for audience input, Professor Ranade was able to show how mindsets that can adapt will make a student’s transition into college easier. She left her audience with tips on how to perform better in academics. Professor Ranade concluded by saying that mindsets can change, and believing that anything is possible and being open to opportunities can create a healthy growth mindset.
Professor Jim Vincent gave a lecture on the parallels between the Irish-Catholic emancipation movement and the US abolitionist movement on January 22, 2015. Daniel O’Connell, the political leader of the Irish-Catholics, was a huge influence on Frederick Douglass and his famous abolitionist writings and speeches. After Professor Vincent’s lecture, he opened up the room for discussion. The audience was a very diverse group with athletes, professors, students from many different majors, and a Rooney Scholar. A lively, academic group discussion began that explored many topics including the definition of fundamental human rights and civil rights. Many different perspectives and opinions were expressed.
On October 19, students and professors from three local universities who participated in the Pink Feet fundraiser throughout the month of October met with representatives from Susan G. Komen for the Cure. In Lawrence Hall of Point Park University, checks were presented from the Community College of Allegheny County, Point Park University, and our own Robert Morris University to the representatives. Over light refreshments, different fundraising strategies were discussed as well as plans for future fundraising efforts. It was a great opportunity to discuss some of the latest developments in breast cancer research and to see how the fundraisers help real people.
This was my first time attending a Speaker Series presentation, let alone being invited to attend the private dinner beforehand. I was very excited for this opportunity, and was not really sure what to expect. I was amazed by how flamboyant and extravagant the Duquesne Club was. The ability to meet Robert Muller III face-to-face was priceless. The dinner itself was excellent, and many of the questions asked of the former FBI director (who is a Steelers fan) actually precluded what he would be touching on in his lecture. On that point, the lecture was very insightful and enlightening. Mr. Muller talked about his experiences and lessons while at the FBI and what it was like to serve during the 9/11 attacks. The whole experience was very informative, and I am very thankful to have been invited to attend.
On October 9, Professor Barbara Burgess-Lefebvre held a roundtable for honors students to present the research she had done in preparation for directing the Colonial Theatre’s production of the musical Titanic, which was presented on campus from November 12 to 16. While the iconic James Cameron film is generally what most people first think of when they hear the name of that infamous ship, Professor Burgess-Lefebvre was quick to mention at the start of her presentation that the musical was not based on the movie. In fact, the original production of Titanic opened on Broadway several months before Cameron’s film of the same name was even released.
Once that fact had been established, Professor Burgess-Lefebvre went on to mention that all of the named characters in the musical were based on actual people who had been on the ship. She discussed the ways in which that facilitated her research and how it assisted her in bringing their stories to life on stage. For the sake of authenticity, she incorporated what she had learned about those individuals into the way she directed her cast.
Beyond the characters, Burgess-Lefebvre also spoke to all of the other research she had done to get her mind into the world of the show. She discussed the statistics of the ship’s build and also the approximate timeline of its sinking. Various anecdotes and conspiracies as to what actually transpired on the Titanic in its final hours were mentioned as well.
All in all, Professor Burgess-Lefebvre’s presentation was incredibly interesting and informative. Having had the chance to attend a performance of the show a month later, her roundtable certainly gave me a greater appreciation for what I saw on stage.