It Takes a Village—Preparing Students for Success

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By Katie (Paxson) Hammaker ’93

Each year, students from all walks of life come to Shippensburg University to begin or continue their college journey. Helping them succeed has always been a priority, but a recent initiative established by President Laurie A. Carter has inspired a new campus-wide approach to achieving this goal.

“Ship has always been there for the students, but there is a very intentional direction that we are headed in to ensure that we meet the needs of all of our students and their diverse backgrounds,” said Rochelle D. Plummer ’12, director of the new Office for Students First. 

Realizing that each student’s needs are unique, Ship now offers a variety of new or redesigned services to support them. But, the focus extends beyond academic success. The campus is taking a more holistic approach to promote the emotional, mental, and overall well-being of students.

Addressing First-Gen Needs

Nearly 50 percent of the students in Ship’s incoming fall class are first-generation, or the first in their immediate family to attend college. 

Recognizing the unique needs of this group, Ship opened the Office for Students First in January. Headed by Plummer, the center offers support and services specific to this population. 

According to research, first-generation students may lack a general knowledge of the college process and struggle with basic academic jargon. While their parents can offer moral support, they cannot always provide the practical knowledge needed to navigate campus life. 

Many first-gen students worry that they don’t belong at college. They also can experience anxiety and guilt about leaving home. According to Plummer, some first-gen students care for younger siblings or contribute to family income. 

What’s more, first-gen students are less likely to seek assistance. Having been a first-generation student, Plummer remembers struggling with self-doubt and hesitating to ask questions in college. 

Plummer said there is no single best way to help first-gen students. “It depends on the student, but it all goes back to being an active listener and letting them know that I care and that they matter.” 

Relationship building is key, Plummer said. “Students are more likely to stay in college if they feel connected.” 

Sometimes the relationship starts before college, as incoming students are encouraged to call or e-mail Plummer with questions in anticipation of classes. Once they arrive to campus, she reaches out to students who have voluntarily self-identified as first-generation. 

“I can’t force a student to participate, but I try to entice them.” Her office is a judgment-free zone where students can ask questions, share their concerns, and request whatever support they need. Each student’s needs are unique. Some have general questions about academics, financial aid, and campus housing. Some make the transition to college with ease, but seek guidance building personal skills like time management, budgeting, or public speaking. 

Other students need more from Plummer, especially in the way of emotional support. “Not all students have the moral support of their parents. Other students were part of the foster care system. Their primary contact may be a case worker.” 

The average first-gen student is twenty-four years old, said Plummer. Some work part or full time, some have children, and they struggle to find a balance. Plummer works closely with campus staff and faculty to make accommodations for these students. 

Tom Emond ’19 can relate. College was an eight-year process for the business management major. In addition to classes, Emond juggled full-time work and becoming a father while attending Ship. 

“It was excruciatingly rough. There were so many demands for my attention and time.” His schedule frequently caused him to miss class and fall behind on his work. “But if I was honest and timely about what was going on, every single teacher was accommodating.”

Plummer admits that she does not have all the answers, but she will connect students to the right people and resources on campus. 

Rochelle Plummer welcomes the Ship community to the newly dedicated Center for Emerging Scholars this spring.

Rochelle Plummer welcomes the Ship community to the newly dedicated Center for Emerging Scholars this spring.

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Centralizing Student Success

Some of the answers can be found in the Elnetta G. Jones University Center for Student Success and Exploratory Studies. 

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The center is located in Mowrey Hall, the former dormitory. “The building was to be demolished, but President Carter had a vision,” said Denise Yarwood (left), associate vice president and dean of student success. 

Mowrey was rededicated in 2018 with the purpose of housing multiple student enrichment services in one location. The services are not all new, but they are more accessible and centrally located. 

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Students can receive tutoring at the Learning Center, explore opportunities for international studies, and seek advisement on selecting a major.

Close to a third of new students enter college as “exploratory,” or without a declared major, according to Yarwood. “It’s a huge decision to make when you’re eighteen, and it’s okay that you don’t know what you want to do with your life. We’ll get you there.” 

The center also houses the Early Alert System, now entering its fifth year. Faculty members who identify a struggling student can contact the coordinator for quick and confidential follow up. 

Writing tutoring is different, and tutors need specific training on how to teach it.

“More often than not, the problem is not academic. Perhaps the student can’t afford a textbook or meals, or is having problems at home. There is no end of possible reasons. Our role is to find out why, and get the appropriate resources to help.”

To that end, the center added satellite offices for the campus registrar, admissions, and financial aid departments. “We can send students right down the hall for assistance,” Yarwood said. 

The centralization of services has been beneficial for staff as well as students. “Now we’re under one roof, so we are more accessible to one another and can support each other in our work.” 

Learning Different Writing Styles

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Dr. Karen Johnson (right) believes everyone can benefit from improving their writing. 

Johnson, a certified reading specialist, serves as director of the Writing Studio, which is part of the Learning Center. She also is an associate professor in the Department of Academic Engagement and Exploratory Studies.

“But, the fellows help them with more than writing,” Johnson said. “It’s an opportunity to mentor them on other first-year college needs, such as housing, how the university works, and how to succeed in college.”

The Learning Center, located within the Student Success Center, always has provided writing tutoring, but created expanded and specialized writing support services in 2011. 

“Writing tutoring is different, and tutors need specific training on how to teach it,” Johnson said. 

The writing studio stresses more than just grammar and basic writing mechanics. Students are taught how to brainstorm, organize their thoughts, write a compelling thesis, and properly cite evidence to support the thesis. Writing support is provided by more than a dozen extensively trained fellows and student tutors. 

Fellows are assigned to English 113 writing classes for first-year students who need extra writing support. In fact, support from the Writing Studio is an integrated part of the course. Fellows attend classes with the students and meet weekly with faculty to monitor each student’s progress and assess their ongoing needs. 

The student fellows benefit as well, she said. “They develop para-professional skills for their own areas of study. Many of them are education majors, so tutoring is good experience.” 

Fellow Sara Zook, a senior with dual majors in elementary and special education, credits her experience with building her comfort level in the classroom. “I absolutely fell in love with tutoring. I learned how to identify each student’s unique learning needs and how to differentiate the way I teach them.”

Student tutors provide general writing support for students campus wide. Under Johnson’s leadership, the Writing Studio offers specific writing support across multiple disciplines based on the department’s preferred writing style and needs. 

Dr. Liz Fisher, chair of the Social Work and Gerontology Department, approached Johnson about several writing needs for her students. “I need students to be able to write succinctly and in a professional style,” Fisher said. “For example, writing case notes after facilitating a group session.” 

In the past, we just assumed that when students began college, they were ready. Some students are, but not all are. Or, they may be ready academically, but not emotionally.

Understanding academic writing is also important. “Social work is based in large part on research,” Fisher said. “Students must be able to read and comprehend research papers, then write about them.”

The Communication/Journalism Department requires students to pass a grammar efficiency exam. Previously, there was a 10 percent failure rate, and grammar issues resurfaced even after students passed the test. Using the exam results, Johnson developed specialized tutoring plans for students based on their grammar weaknesses. 

The Writing Studio offers online tutoring, most helpful for commuters and students who live off campus. Students submit the draft writing assignment in advance, then video conference with a tutor for feedback. 

The studio also supports graduate students. “Many graduate students are multi-lingual, and English is not their native language,” Johnson said. “Our tutors help them blossom in English.” 

Ishaq Azzouni ’19m, credits the Writing Studio with helping him achieve a master’s degree in communication/journalism. The native of Saudi Arabia could fluently speak English, his second language, but struggled with the written word. 

“My first semester was tough. I don’t remember who introduced me to the Writing Studio, but I am so thankful.” 

Most students who receive tutoring show noticeable improvement in their writing skills, according to Johnson, who continually assesses the program. “But, it also improves their confidence,” she said. “They know that they can do college. And, they are more comfortable asking for help.”

Students worked with alumni and professionals to improve their resumes and prepare for their careers.

Students worked with alumni and professionals to improve their resumes and prepare for their careers.

One Student at a Time

Dr. Elnetta Jones, in whose honor the Student Success Center was named, dedicated her life to making a difference in the world one student at a time. 

A Ship alumna, Jones was an administrator at Ship for twenty-seven years. Throughout her career, she worked on behalf of students who needed extra assistance and encouragement to transition from high school to college, and to achieve academic success. She was a tireless advocate, and thousands of students benefited from her mentoring. 

The Ship staff and faculty continue to use that approach today, helping one student at a time on his or her college journey. “If we can do one thing to help a student succeed, we have done good work,” Yarwood said. 

Sidebar: Enlisting the Alumni Community

Sidebar: A Proactive Approach

Embracing the Internet—Integrating the World Wide Web at Ship

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You’re traveling through another dimension. A bizarre and unexplainable dimension where time and activity all but stand still. A middle ground between education and technology, where limitless information is nearly at your fingertips—if you care to search for it. It is an area we call… the pre-Internet zone.

It’s hard to comprehend, but the Internet turned thirty this spring. Yes, the big 3-0. That means, according to the annual Beloit College Mindset List, the Class of 2022 knows Wikipedia but not Encyclopedia Britannica, their thumbprints are more secure than a password, and “You’ve got mail!” is a sign that their parents (sorry, guys!) are now old.

According to Pew Research Center, nine-in-ten Americans use the Internet and seven-in-ten use at least one social media site. In just eight years, Pew reports that smartphone ownership jumped from 35 percent to 77 percent. 

Americans are increasingly connected and more mobile—at least technologically speaking—than ever before. But, there was a time at Shippensburg University when “being mobile” meant leaving your residence hall to do something. 

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane to Ship’s pre-Internet zone.

Scheduling Stress

Scheduling classes triggered a bit of a panic attack for Corinne Goyt when she was a student at Ship in the late 1990s. “It was extremely stressful. I would have one course and think, ‘Oh, it’s open!’ and by the time I got up to the student worker to schedule, it was closed.”

Twice a year, Shippensburg’s campus devoted two full weeks to in-person class scheduling. Debbie Gutshall, a clerical supervisor in the registrar’s office, recalls moving about a dozen computers to McLean Hall to set up scheduling stations. To prepare, students received a letter in the mail with their appointment time, then met with their advisor to fill out their ideal schedule plus alternative courses. 

There was a velvet rope that would go down the hall (in Old Main). Sometimes that line would go down the hall, out the door to Horton.

“Scheduling classes was much different,” said Stephanie (Jacobs) Ponnett ’93, via Facebook. “We would receive a newspaper with the entire list of courses that were to be offered. You would craft your ‘dream’ schedule and meet with your advisor, following your recommended academic plan. Your scheduling time was based on the number of credits you had. …As a freshman, I had all 8:00am classes, since I scheduled toward the end.”

When scheduling started, Gutshall said students had to bring their schedule—signed by the advisor—and wait for their appointment time. “Don’t come early! The registrar’s student workers were like bouncers. They’d tell you to come back, then yell when it was your time to return to the front of the line.”

Once students made it in, they hoped the section officers hadn’t crossed off their classes on the blackboard. “While waiting to register, you’d see staff come out and cross filled classes off the big board where all possible classes were listed,” tweeted Dr. Dorlisa Minnick ’94, associate professor of social work and gerontology. “So one had to think on their feet and know the Gen Ed curriculum to adapt quickly. Felt like I’d been standing there all day. We did it all WITHOUT Internet!”

And, if you missed your appointment or needed schedule clean up? “You’d report to the registrar’s office. There was a velvet rope that would go down the hall (in Old Main),” Gutshall said. “Sometimes that line would go down the hall, out the door to Horton.”

Despite the stress—or maybe because of it—Goyt is now Ship’s assistant registrar. “I keep thinking how nice they have it now,” she said. “Now, students go online and put their information in. With it being online, it’s in real time. If faculty makes changes, students see it right away.”

Gutshall said the scheduling process is very similar, but is much easier to use online. Now, students get a pin from their advisor, sign online at the appropriate time, and choose their classes from their room while still in pajamas. “In-person scheduling was horrible on both ends,” she said. “Online is the way to go.”

This past spring, Ship implemented Banner 9, a scheduling system akin to a shopping cart. Cathy Sprenger, registrar, said it’s a look and feel with which students are familiar. “It’s a much smoother, nicer experience,” she said. “We’re always looking to make the experience smoother for students.”

Internet Intervention

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Could you survive at Ship with no Internet? Pre-1992, you had to! 

We asked our followers on Facebook and Twitter what life was like on campus, and they had plenty to say. Alumni referenced floppy disks, microfiche, dot matrix programs, typewriters, and punch cards. They remembered walking to class, only to discover the professor left a note on the door saying it was canceled. If they wanted to watch a show on cable TV (Gasp! No streaming?), they met at the scheduled time in the residence hall TV lounge.

“If we wanted to know what was going on on campus, we had to check out various bulletin boards or paper postings taped to walls in hallways,” posted Timothy Bream ’87. “There were no group chats on cell phones. … Several times a day we would pass through the CUB and see if there were any messages tacked to the board. Fun times.”

Ship integrated the Internet on campus about three years after the World Wide Web made its debut. Amy Diehl, Shippensburg’s chief information technology officer, played a big role in that process.

“My job at the time was to connect the buildings that had not yet been connected,” she said. “I would go into a building to the network hubs in the closets on each floor, then I would go to each person’s computer, install an Ethernet card, and install an Ethernet cable to a jack in the wall.”

Although it sounds like tedious work, Diehl enjoyed it. “I really loved that job because, first of all, I got to meet everyone on campus. Secondly, it was opening up to them a whole new world that they wouldn’t have had access to before.”

Adam Bryce, commented on Facebook that he was the first class at Ship to have network access in his residence hall. “My wife started the year before me. It’s funny, in my mind, how different our freshman years were.” 

Diehl recalled how happy people were to have her install the Netscape browser on their computers. “You were able to access all of the resources of the Internet available at the time.”

It was opening up to them a whole new world that they wouldn’t have had access to before.

Endlessly Adapting

Of course, with anything new, there are growing pains. 

At her previous job, Diehl remembers relying on interoffice mail and voicemail memos to communicate with coworkers. Today, e-mail is part of everyday life. “You’re getting more information all the time.”

But it also introduced new issues. “When I started here, the notion of phishing or scamming—what we call social engineering, which is tricking someone into giving something up that’s valuable—wasn’t really a thing.”

A big part of Diehl’s job today is keeping up with scams and technical solutions. Hackers are doing a better job of spoofing legit websites, making it harder to detect scams. They send out thousands of e-mails a day, hoping for a small response. All they need, Diehl said, is one hit to steal someone’s credentials. “Most of these e-mails look legit. When they do get someone’s credentials, they can log in as that person, and that’s harder to detect because it’s a real person’s e-mail.”

Diehl said hackers go to great lengths in an attempt at financial gain. In fact, human resources has received several scam e-mails in Diehl’s name attempting to change payroll information with what appeared to be legitimate forms. 

“They do everything to make it look like it’s real. The bottom line for information security is about training. Be on the lookout for fraudulent messages and websites,” she said. “If you’re not sure, contact your help desk, and they will help you determine if it’s a scam.”

Not that long ago, advances in technology impacted Ship’s residence halls. Around 2011, the university worked with a contractor to design and build new suite-style residence halls. “When they designed the wireless Internet in the buildings, data didn’t tell them that students would be bringing all these devices from home,” said Bill Yost, director of Housing and Residence Life.

With smart phones, tablets, gaming system, wireless printers, and more, the WiFi planned for the residence halls wasn’t cutting it. Within the first two years, there were wireless issues. In fall 2015, the university upgraded and increased wireless in the new residence halls to double its coverage.

“The culture had changed so much in just those three or four years,” Yost said. 

The upgrade resolved the problem, and new upgrades continue. This fall, students living on campus will receive an Xfinity On Campus account, allowing them to stream all their favorite shows and channels on their devices in HD. 

Technology continues providing better and more convenient ways for students to communicate—sort of, Yost said. But it also presents a challenge when trying to entice students to be physically mobile, and not just technologically mobile. 

“I think social media has affected the ability to build community in residence halls,” he said. 

That, combined with the structure of the new residence halls, makes it challenging to get students out of their rooms. Suites offer living space, kitchens, private bathrooms, and other amenities that tend to isolate students. The Housing and Residence Life staff has implemented several community and outdoor spaces and resources to encourage students to socialize in person.

“My dream is to use more outdoor equipment,” he said. In recent years, the university has provided hammocks, disc golf, sporting equipment, challenge courses, solar powered tables, and more. 

How things have changed! Whether using the library, a campus computer lab, or a personal device from the residence halls, we have limitless information at our fingertips today.

How things have changed! Whether using the library, a campus computer lab, or a personal device from the residence halls, we have limitless information at our fingertips today.

Constant Change

Whether experiencing Ship in 1988 or 2018, most alumni and students agree that it would be nearly impossible to return to the days before the Internet. New communication, entertainment, convenience, and speed provide us with unlimited possibilities.

Yes, our alumni will always remember the good ol’ days, but these days are pretty rad, too. Plus, how awesome is it that if we can’t make it back to campus, we can keep in touch with our classmates virtually? It’s hard to believe there was a time that was considered science fiction.

“When I think about what the world was like before the Internet, I wouldn’t want to go back. There is so much information and technology at our hands,” Diehl said.


Back in My Day

Do you remember life at Ship pre-Internet? Our Facebook and Twitter followers had plenty to share!

  • Becky DiRosa  The good news was around 1977/8 wall corded phones were installed in the dorm rooms. I guess we still had to call collect. No more phone booth calls at Kieffer. I was fortunate to own an electric typewriter (high school grad gift). No calculator still used my brain with pencil and paper read the NYT/Post/Rolling Stone in the library. Music-radio/albums/8Tracks/Cassettes. Black and white TV with close hanger!

  • Dorlisa Minnick  I graduated in 1994 and don’t remember internet access. But I do recall using a computer lab on 2nd floor library. Perhaps that’s where we had access. I know we didn’t have e-mail. We actually went to the professor’s office for office hours!

  • Tim MacBain  I attended in the golden age of unregulated connectivity (99-03) when the LAN had thousands of music files to share and play on Winamp, AOL Instant Messenger allowed you to sabotage your roommates’ away messages, and e-mail was still not a fully reliable way to communicate. Oh, how lucky we were!

  • Dawn Hopper Wentworth  We used white boards on our dorm room doors to “text” friends.

  • Danielle Emery McCoy  I would get up at 2AM to get a seat at a decwriter or a terminal in the one computer lab. Occasionally they would have to shut down the giant printer that was the only one you could print to, you and everyone else.

  • Paige Marley  Reading all these replies… I could barely make it without DHC 24 hr lab.

Expanding Perspectives—Fulbrights Offer Global View

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It’s been a few years and about 4,000 miles since Dr. Steve Burg took his last fika. The Swedish coffee break occurs at the same time every day, giving employees a chance to relax for a moment during work.

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That took some getting used to when Burg spent the fall 2013 semester in Sweden as a Fulbright scholar. Americans are not known for taking breaks, but Burg strived to embrace the lifestyle. Upon his return home, he adopted a new motto—lagom—which is Swedish for “everything in moderation.”

“The Fulbright was absolutely life changing,” said Burg, professor of history. “The opportunity to live abroad and be deeply immersed in another country’s educational system, how they do things, and the way they do things—I think about it a lot.”

Dr. Steve Burg researched public history during his Fulbright in Sweden.

Dr. Steve Burg researched public history during his Fulbright in Sweden.

Burg is one of fourteen Fulbright scholars and students selected from Shippensburg over the last nine years. He taught and researched in the University of Gothenburg’s Department of Historical Studies. The latest recipient, Reece Dolbin ’18, was awarded the Fulbright US Student Program grant this spring. He will spend a year in Colombia teaching English to university students. 

Ship leads the State System in Fulbright scholars and boasts recipients for faculty, staff, and student grants. The educational exchange program has paved the way for travel, extended research, new careers, nonprofit work, further education, and in some cases, permanent residence abroad.

Ethan Goldbach ’14 spent his Fulbright in Malaysia as an English teaching assistant (ETA). Toward the end of his grant, he expressed to his students how sad he was to leave. “They said, ‘We don’t want another ETA, we want an Ethan.’ That touched my heart.”

Goldbach extended his grant, staying in Malaysia for two years. “Because of the Fulbright and the connections I made, it changed the trajectory of my career and led to a job in Bangladesh.”

Today, he’s an English language instructor at Asia University for Women.

“The Fulbright Program helps to show the quality of education at Shippensburg University and the quality of our faculty at Ship,” said Dr. Jonathan Skaff, director of international studies who oversees the Fulbright program at Ship. 

“This demonstrates we are a university with global perspective. It’s a prestigious award, and a symbol of success.”

After an exceptional experience in Malaysia, Ethan Goldbach ‘14 decided to continue teaching abroad.

After an exceptional experience in Malaysia, Ethan Goldbach ‘14 decided to continue teaching abroad.

Educational Ambassadors

The Fulbright Scholar Program is an educational and cultural exchange program. Launched in 1926, the program awards 8,000 grants annually in partnership with nearly 160 countries. Fulbright offers several grants for students, faculty, and administrators from the US to travel abroad, and also for foreign recipients to visit the US.

Skaff has worked as a liaison for the Fulbright program at Ship since 2010. In that role, he advises interested faculty and students, holds Fulbright workshops, and helps applications through the process. 

The Fulbright Program helps to show the quality of education at Shippensburg University and the quality of our faculty at Ship.

He said the number of scholars and students jumped in 2010, and student applications have taken off considerably since 2013 when the international studies major began. 

Dr. Luis Melara, associate professor of mathematics, was introduced to the Fulbright experience through a colleague about ten years ago. The two stayed in touch, and Melara decided to submit a proposal. He worked with Skaff on his application and received a Fulbright grant to teach and research at the Indian Institute of Technology in 2016. 

Upon his return, he presented on his experience and has participated in Fulbright workshops with Skaff. “It helps to demystify the process,” he said.

Those who receive Fulbrights act as ambassadors of the US while they are abroad, Skaff said. “When they return, they are ambassadors of their host country. Returning faculty and staff share their experiences.”

Many members of the Shippensburg community have the skills to achieve the Fulbright, but don’t see the grant as attainable until they hear about the experience from someone else, he said.

“We are overcoming barriers. Faculty and students often don’t realize they are qualified until they see the work of their peers.”

Inspirational Experiences

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Curtis Rabe ’16 (right) knew he wanted to study abroad, but he couldn’t find the time to fit it in his schedule. Goldbach, a fellow honors student, shared his Fulbright experience with Rabe, encouraging him to pursue the cultural exchange after graduation.

That made sense, so Rabe started thinking of ways he could diversify his undergraduate experience to stand out on the Fulbright application. Dr. Kim Klein, director of Wood Honors College, helped him prepare for the highly competitive grant. With Klein and Goldbach’s guidance, Rabe, a computer science major, focused on restarting German classes and joined the German Club. His hard work paid off, and he received a Fulbright grant as an English teaching assistant for ten months in Germany.

“That experience teaching uncovered the desire that I wanted to be a teacher,” he said. 

Rabe extended his Fulbright to a second teaching term and ultimately applied to a university in Germany to study the German equivalent to secondary education. His hope is to teach English and computer science in gymnasium, similar to a US high school.

“As you can see, (the Fulbright) is completely changing everything I wanted to do,” Rabe said. “Whether officially or unofficially, I am a diplomat. What people around here see of Americans is going to be their perspective of Americans.”

Hannah Lougheed ’17 is completing her Fulbright as an English teaching assistant in Brazil. She works hard to be part of their community, listen to their perspectives, and respect their culture.

“I’m constantly in the community, and they prefer that you are,” she said. “The people (of Brazil) are so warm and welcoming in a manner that’s much more extreme than in the US.”

In addition to her Fulbright responsibilities, Lougheed teaches free community classes and volunteers with groups that help children from impoverished areas. 

The Fulbright isn’t Lougheed’s first experience abroad. Born Canadian, the political science and international studies major has backpacked through Europe; completed study abroad in Colombia; visited Thailand, Portugal, and Spain; and lived in Africa. She plans to work for a nonprofit or NGO.

“I travel out of curiosity, to see the difference in cultural perspectives,” she said. “We are so similar, but some things are so different.”

Serving in Malaysia had a similar impact on Goldbach, which he now considers a second home. “I asked one woman if I could call her my Malaysian mom. She really embraced me and took me under her wing. We’re all just people at the end of the day.”

Today, the work he does at Asia University prepares women from marginalized or oppressed groups to be leaders in their communities and jobs. Many of these women are garment workers, refugees, or sex traffickers. He said almost all students in the Pathways for Promise Program receive full scholarships and take intense English and math instruction. 

“We’re empowering women to grow into leadership positions.”

Goldbach said Ship prepared him well for the Fulbright, and his connections abroad led him to where he is today. “It truly expanded my world view in ways I didn’t expect or realize.”

Remarkable Research

It’s been two years since Dr. Margaret Lucia ventured to Madrid on a Fulbright to research the music of female Spanish composers. She was so busy speaking with composers, playing concerts, and immersing herself in the culture that she barely scratched the surface of her research.

So, this summer, she went back. “I’ve been busy every minute of it.”

When Lucia earned her Fulbright, she performed and partnered with faculty, students, and composers at the Conservatorio Teresa Berganza. Her efforts centered around the music of female Spanish composers and how it reflected Spanish culture.

“The Fulbright is all about collaborating between citizens in different countries, and that is exactly what happened to me,” she said. “I just scratched the surface (of my research). There is just so much, I had to come back to continue it.”

Lucia has interviewed several female Spanish composers and plans to compile her interviews into a book. She said her work strives to pay homage to the past, embrace the present, and explore the future of female composers in the US and Spain. She has worked her experience and research into her interdisciplinary arts courses, sharing Spanish culture, music, poetry, and dancing. 

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Mary Burnett ’02 (right), returned with a wealth of information after her Fulbright in Germany this past fall. 

Burnett, director of international programs, was Shippensburg’s first administrator to earn a Fulbright, where she explored the German education system from primary through high school. Burnett quickly learned there are many things Germany does well, and other areas where the US excels. 

Given Burnett’s position, she explored new ways to connect Ship students to German universities, and to bring German students to Ship’s campus. She now has a better understanding of the challenges, limitations, and opportunities that impact student exchanges.

It truly expanded my world view in ways I didn’t expect or realize.

“Because I’ve increased my contacts and network, I’ve identified better schools in Germany that are a better fit for our students.”

After Burg returned from Sweden, he used his connections to set up a bilateral exchange for students with University of Gothenburg. 

During the Fulbright, he also had the opportunity to attend the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony. As a full-time professor of history, he is qualified by the Nobel Foundation to officially nominate a person or organization for the award. He used his experience to develop a new project for his Honors class. In 2017, he researched Nobel Peace Prize candidates with students to make an official nomination.

Melara’s Fulbright in India also impacted his work at home. In his application, Melara stated that he wanted to compare teaching methods of mathematics in India with practices in the United States in order to improve his undergraduate teaching practices at Ship. A few hiccups prevented him from completing the proposed research, but he gained a new perspective on his work.

“What it did for me was, when looking at Indian students and the reviews we completed in the classroom, I was able to visualize my students and Shippensburg University and visualize my students succeeding. I came back positive and confident that our students can, and will, do well.”

Life Lessons

Fully immersing herself in the Brazilian culture, Hannah Lougheed ’17 volunteers and offers classes in her community.

Fully immersing herself in the Brazilian culture, Hannah Lougheed ’17 volunteers and offers classes in her community.

The Fulbright experience offers recipients a wealth of new and unique opportunities, from travel to education to cultural immersion. Lessons learned by these scholars extend far beyond formal research. 

“I need to be flexible and learn to work to find solutions,” Melara said. “Things can be worked out. Living under new conditions broadened my horizons.”

Ship’s past Fulbright scholars and students encourage the university community to embrace the Fulbright experience. “For Shippensburg, one of the things that we’re doing that’s really important is that we’re setting our sights high. Our students can do what students do anywhere else,” Burg said.

Aiming for a Higher Degree

Aiming for a Higher Degree

Khaleel Desaque fulfilled a special promise on October 29 in Shippensburg University’s Old Main Chapel. About ten years ago, he promised his grandmother that he’d earn his doctorate, and this fall, he defended his dissertation for a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. “My grandmother aspired to be a teacher and was denied the ability,” he said. “It was my calling and her dream.”

From Ship to the Big Leagues—Alumni in Pro Sports

Many of us have nailed the winning shot at the buzzer, set a new world record, scored the go-ahead touchdown, or hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning for our favorite team. And then we snap out of our daydreams. The vast majority of us will never get the call that we’ve been selected to play a sport at the professional level as several Shippensburg University athletes did this year.

The Ocean is Calling

Teaching oceanography at a landlocked university is next to impossible— Dr. Sean Cornell, professor of geography/earth science, has tried it elsewhere.

Thankfully, a fifty-year partnership with the Chincoteague Bay Field Station (CBFS) in Virginia allows Ship students to experience the ocean and all that comes with it.

“I never had the chance to take students to the ocean, but here I can put them on a boat in the ocean. They can feel the sand, taste the salt water. You can’t get that from a text book.”

Located in Wallops Island, Virginia, the field station has served thousands of students as an environmental education center since 1968. Partner schools, including Ship, take advantage of the field station’s educational and research opportunities that provide hands-on learning and access to equipment, facilities, marine life, and more that is not accessible on their campuses.

Dr. Nathan Thomas, associate professor of biology, has taught classes at Wallops Island since 2010. This past June, he again offered a three-week on-site ornithology class. “Students see how it works, see the information, feel it, and we talk about it,” he said. “It’s getting dirty, that’s what it’s all about.”

This October, the field station will celebrate fifty years of its continued collaboration with partner schools. In a time when these partnerships are dwindling nationwide, Cornell said the anniversary is a recognition of the last fifty years, but also an opportunity to look forward to the next fifty.

“We’re building new bonds and new relationships,” he said. “This is an investment in experience and research.”

Developing Partnerships

In the late 1950s, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ushered in a scientific revolution, tasking American scientists with advancing the world, Cornell said. “When he said this, there was an explosion of research. In Pennsylvania, universities were trying to figure out how to prepare students for those jobs.”

Ten years later, a summer program started at two locations—Cape May, New Jersey, and Lewes, Delaware. By 1973, the operation moved to Wallops Island, Cornell said, and at that point, the organization partnered with NASA. A consortium was established to create collaborative programs and fund resources. Eleven of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education universities are partners with the field station. Faculty and students use the facility for field trips, research, and classes, working with educators across disciplines and from sister universities.

“A lot of these projects wouldn’t happen if we weren’t collaborating,” Cornell said. “The goals and strategies of the campuses are to come together for the common good.”

Pulling together a consortium without knowing if it will succeed, surviving location changes, and tweaking programming is a testament to how many people are invested in the field station, Thomas said. Nationally, a program like this is unusual, he added. “Many people don’t understand how valuable an asset like this is to our students, despite the cost. Students gain so much from this, walking away with an undergraduate degree knowing that this helped to shape them into the scientists they are.”

Sarah Bartles ’13-’16m was first introduced to the field station while conducting undergraduate research with Cornell. Recently, she joined the CBFS as its university and research coordinator. She works with State System universities and others to plan field trips and classes so faculty and students can use the field station’s equipment, labs, and research vessels.

“It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s well worth it,” she said. “Ship is an outstanding example of how dedicated faculty are to the field station.”

Lasting Impressions

It’s not unusual for someone to stop Dr. Pablo Delis, professor of biology, when he wears his CBFS t-shirt. In Florida, a man stopped Delis after recognizing his shirt and asked if Delis was from Pennsylvania. “This has been linked to the history of Pennsylvania for fifty years or more,” he said. “I meet a lot of people. The experience of their education and the intellectual growth with the consortium helped them find a love of nature.”

Bartles worked with Delis as an undergraduate to study what types of snakes, turtles, and amphibians lived on Wallops Island. “The field station was my first research experience, and I absolutely loved it,” she said. “That’s what I’ve done for ten years, and just started with the field station.”

In addition to undergraduate research, Delis teaches zoology and costal herpatology courses at CBFS. He said these classes would be impossible to teach elsewhere. “I’d have to use lab specimens from a jar. This is the most hands-on experience. It’s field biology. When you catch a fish there—catch it alive—and it’s jumping up and down in your hands, it allows students the first contact with their profession.”

Teddy Them ’08 credits Cornell with getting students in the field and sparking his own love for field work. Them is completing his post doc in Florida and has a professorship set up in the fall in South Carolina. “Field experience is so important when applying for grad school,” he said. “When you experience it, it makes it so much better. You bring the classroom experience to the field, then bring the field experience back to the classroom.”

Firsthand Coursework

As an exercise in one of his classes at the field station, Cornell provides students with GPS coordinates from about ten years prior and charges them with finding the location. After walking around for some time, students follow the coordinates to the shoreline. Perplexed, they claim they can’t find it, so the coordinates must be wrong.

“Well, it’s been eaten (by shoreline erosion),” he said. “Those are the kinds of impactful moments. It’s scary, but it’s also real.”

Cornell has championed the field station since he began work there in 2006. In fact, he accepted an offer to teach at Ship over another university because of the partnership with CBFS. At his previous university, his only resources were video, textbooks, and a waveless pool. At the field station, he can do lab activities on-site, identify live organisms, study sediments, sample pH levels, or explore different coastal environments.

“About a third of my students have not seen the ocean,” Cornell said. “It’s not the beach experience with the boardwalk and the saltwater taffy. It’s going to see the environment without disturbance.”

Additionally, the field station offers faculty and students an opportunity to work with more than $600,000 worth of equipment that isn’t available on their campus. “They learn a powerful boat is important,” Delis said. “We’re traveling twenty, thirty, forty miles off shore. They learn the logistics and equipment necessary to plan that trip.”

Dr. Adrienne Oakley, assistant professor of geology and marine science at Kutztown University, said these experiences are huge for her students. “This is not equipment we have on campus. This is hundreds and thousands of dollars of equipment they get to use as undergrads,” she said. “It’s hands on, in the field. They get to manipulate data, do amazing dives, and take quizzes underwater.”

These experiences are significant to students as they see classroom concepts come to life. For one class, Oakley’s students collected specimens from flooded streets. “It’s meaningful because they can connect it to the real world. We were dragging nets through the road catching eels and fish during spring tide,” she said. “Hey, that’s sea level rise and climate change.”

Climate change was a national focus in the early 2000s when Them attended Ship. His hands-on classes with Cornell allowed him to touch organisms and see how they were affected by the earth. “We put our hands in the sand or mud, went kayaking in the bay. It’s a necessary component.”

And it’s a component he now uses in his own classes. In his history of geology course, he takes students camping. “It’s really nice having students who have never gone camping before. You see the light bulb go off. They think about things they hadn’t considered before.”

Working Together

There are fifteen students in Thomas’ field class—the max who can fit in a van for transport—from several universities. In addition to Ship students, the classes includes people from Millersville, East Stroudsburg, Kutztown, and Bloomsburg, to name a few.

“I actually had experiences here as an undergraduate from IUP,” he said. “The research experience shaped me. I worked as a field assistant. …That attracted me to Ship.”

CBFS provides students with classes that might not be offered at their home institution, creating opportunities to network and research with faculty and students from other campuses. “Having an experience with a faculty member who is so passionate about a subject while they’re in the field is big. Students feel the same thing—it’s contagious,” he said.

That’s how Oakley and Joao Silveira Meyers, a graduate student in geoenvironmental studies, started their research collaboration. Silveira took a class at the field station last summer and stayed on for Oakley’s course, working with her to develop a thesis. Oakley co-advised Silveira Meyers’ work with Cornell.

“As he created his thesis, he approached me with a plan,” she said. “I get to experience students from other universities and get to collaborate with faculty while doing the research (at the field station).”

Silveira Meyers earned his undergraduate degree in petroleum engineering in Brazil. He said he did work in oceanography, but there wasn’t a facility like CBFS. “Most of my work was in class and in theory. I wanted to learn how to do field work and how to collect samples.”

Much of the research occurred at CBFS, but Silveira Meyers also traveled to Kutztown to meet with Oakley. When Silveira Meyers presented his research at the end of spring semester, Oakley traveled to Ship to watch it. “It was a great advantage to partner with students and faculty from another university,” he said. “It would not be possible without this partnership.”

Looking to the Future

In October, the field station will invite alumni, faculty, and stakeholders to Wallops Island to celebrate the fifty-year partnership. Bartles is in the process of organizing a weekend of events.

“We want them to come down and see what we do at the field station. We’ll highlight our professors and take people out on guided tours at sites or on boats,” she said. “They’ll see what we’re working on at the field station and why it’s important.”

The field station’s significance cannot be overlooked. “We need to be unique,” Thomas said. “In a challenging world where we’re competing for students on a regular basis, this gives us an opportunity to be unique.”

The opportunity for this level of field work as an undergraduate is unparalleled, according to Oakley. “There are tons of field stations throughout the country, but almost all are associated with research universities and almost all are grad focused. The fact is, 90 percent or more of this is with undergraduates,” she said. “The benefit to current students is almost unquantifiable. Our students are so far ahead of even students situated on the coast, because most of that work is for grad students.”

The CBFS attracts students and faculty to State System schools, she added. “I came from the University of Hawaii. It’s why I came to Kutztown. It’s why Sean (Cornell) came to Shippensburg.”

This partnership is about the future. “Education is never about short-term outcomes. It’s about longterm outcomes, successes, and values,” Delis said. “We have to invest and support this institution now in order to see the tremendous and valuable return on our investment.”

“We’re going to get that investment back tenfold.”

 

 

 

 

 

First Year Focus On Success

From the moment new students step foot on campus for orientation in June, orientation leaders greet them with an infectious enthusiasm and willingness to answer any questions. When they return in August to begin their first semester at Ship, Fall Welcome Week activities help first-year students take their initial steps in their college careers.

Some students thrive when they are let loose to discover their interests and career aspirations through their classes and participation in clubs and organizations. Others may feel unprepared and struggle to find the resources they need to succeed.

The First-Year Experience (FYE), which will be introduced into the curriculum for all incoming students in fall 2018, will employ new teaching techniques and make university-wide strides toward student success—even more than it does already.

“It’s kind of like students in high school are being asked to come to campus and they’ve never driven. And now we’re giving them all sports cars and saying, okay, drive! But they don’t know how to drive, where to drive, or what driving looks like,” said Richard Zumkhawala-Cook, an English professor who will teach two First-Year Seminar courses next semester.

“And at the same time (there are) all sorts of opportunities, so we give them big roads, too. But I think the First-Year Experience class will help guide them. Some students get here and they say ‘I don’t want to drive,’ but that’s what you’re supposed to do here. Or they’ll say, ‘I don’t know where to drive.’ Well, we will help you.”

From Idea to Reality

An FYE program isn’t a new idea on college campuses. Several colleges and universities in Pennsylvania have these types of programs, such as King’s College and Edinboro University. It isn’t a new idea for Shippensburg University, either.

“For almost thirty years they have talked about introducing a First-Year Seminar, but it really took new life with the hiring of President Laurie Carter,” said Dr. Steven Burg, chair of the History and Philosophy Department and FYE co-coordinator.

“She had both been someone who had a First-Year Seminar when she was in college, and I think that she had also seen what a First-Year Seminar could do for students while at Eastern Kentucky University. So for her, it was one of her top priorities when coming in as president of Shippensburg.”

In order to make room for the new First-Year Seminar course, University 101, the general education curriculum needed to undergo some changes.

“When this (idea) came along, one of the things that the History Department decided to do was—because of the value of first-year seminars—we made a significant change to what we do as a department,” Burg said.

Instead of History 105 being offered for first-year students during the fall semester and History 106 in the spring, the History Department faculty will now focus on teaching the First-Year Seminar in the fall. This means students will be required to only take one general education history course instead of two.

“For me and my department, this is something we believe is a good thing for the university—a good thing for students— and we are deeply involved in this.”

Once the new course fit into the freshmen curriculum, Burg and Dr. Laurie Cella, English professor and FYE co-coordinator, as well as other program administrators had to figure out how to get the ball rolling in a short period of time.

Some measures that followed included constructing the FYE curriculum, and recruiting and training peer mentors and faculty.

All Hands on Deck

While the developmental process of the FYE was by no means effortless, there was a significant amount of support across campus, and individuals stepped up to fill the empty roles quickly.

“My sense is that there wasn’t a single person who had one person come up and say ‘will you teach this class?’ It was something that was in the air that we’re breathing. It was coming from so many different levels. It was coming from Old Main, it was coming from the departments, it was coming from the faculty leadership and university leadership,” Zumkhawala-Cook said.

Since the First-Year Seminar will be a required course for all first-year students, there will be more than sixty-five sections. Each will be capped at twenty students so that the class sizes remain small and manageable. Of the numerous sections, about forty-four professors from a variety of departments will teach the course, and some have volunteered to instruct two sections.

While the professors have some flexibility in the application of material within their sections, the introductory course will focus on four main things—cultivating academic and scholarly success, engagement Ship students train as Peer Anchors to mentor incoming freshman entering the First-Year Experience. with the university community, fostering personal development and wellness, and promoting an understanding of diversity and social responsibility.

These concepts will be built upon in general education classes in the following semesters, including Introduction to Human Communication, Writing Intensive First-Year Seminar, and Introduction to Academic Writing. Students will intentionally take these courses with the same group of twenty or fewer students that they did in the First-Year Seminar class, so the peer connections made in the classroom will grow into lasting bonds.

In addition to the relationships built among fellow first-year students, each course of the First-Year Seminar will be equipped with a student mentor who carries the title “Peer Anchor.”

“They’re going to be essential because there are many times that my students are afraid to come to me for a variety of reasons. It’s not even just afraid, it’s that most professors are authority figures and first time students don’t know how to approach us. So the Peer Anchors are going to be the bridge from the students themselves and the professors,” said Dr. Stephanie Jirard, professor of criminal justice who will teach a First-Year Seminar course in the fall.

Lindsay Walker, a sophomore psychology major and future FYE Peer Anchor is excited to mentor to new students. She said this will help her build interpersonal skills and allow her to directly impact the next generation of Ship students.

“It’s definitely going to be an exciting experience to work with a faculty member, as Shippensburg has a diverse mixture of faculty members with so much to offer incoming students,” she said.

Students and faculty are just two of the populations on campus actively participating in the student-centered FYE. Many faculty members think this culture shift contributes to the campus-wide unity that Carter advocates. “Under the leadership of President Carter, there has been an effort to try to break down divisions within the university—to get people talking and collaborating together in some ways that in the past they may not have been doing as much,” Burg said.

“I think the more that we can build connections across campus, the more that we can get all people thinking about how we all have different roles but we are all here to support and serve the students, this is going to be a powerful period of change for the university.”

Making Students the Priority

While the successes of other FYE programs were used as a foundation to shape Ship’s program, how to address and fulfill the needs relevant to this campus is something that the co-coordinators and campus leaders are still exploring.

“Every institution is different, so we don’t want this to be Clarion’s or Harvard’s or Georgetown’s first-year seminar. We want this to really be something that reflects what’s unique about Shippensburg University,” Burg said.

With the tendencies of Ship students in mind, the FYE curriculum will monitor and address the weekly development of first-year students as they adjust to college life.

The first two weeks on campus are considered the “honeymoon,” when everything is new and unfamiliar to students. During these initial weeks, professors will strive to make students feel welcome and supported. Following the “honeymoon” is week three and four, “culture shock,” which is when students begin to have their initial doubts. It is essential for them to develop a sense of purpose and connection to the university.

Weeks six through nine approach “the initial adjustment and growth through experience” phase. Students finally begin to relax on campus and gain the confidence to step outside their comfort zones. Around the midterm at weeks eight to twelve is the time of “mental isolation or evolution,” which calls for reassessment and strengthening skills and study methods.

When the final weeks of the semester come to a close, students are met with “acceptance and integration.” During this time, the workload and intensity are high while students are prepping for final exams, but they also begin to feel closure and at home on campus.

By discussing these phases in the classroom and encouraging students to speak with their professor or Peer Anchors for additional support, these issues will be addressed and students will receive the guidance they need.

Cultivating Skills for Success

Like many FYE professors, Jirard will approach the progression of these phases and the curriculum themes of success, community engagement, and diversity with creative teaching. She will require Frankenstein as a reading in her class because it conveys a series of themes that are especially engaging for first-year students.

“We’re going to start with the novel and then branch out on those themes—criminal justice themes, deviance, society’s acceptance,” she said. “All of these are things I plan to relate to our current world in an academic way.”

Students will research the themes by reading related articles and completing assignments that will prompt them to further analyze their findings. After the concepts are cultivated in the classroom, students will be encouraged to apply them to their lives and the lives of others by attending events on campus and participating in service learning.

“Instead of it being about product, the students will become skilled in reflective practices and experience. It’s going to require them to be tapped in on everything that is going on around campus,” Zumkhawala-Cook said.

First-Year Seminar professors will encourage students to attend activities paid for by their tuition, then cater discussion around those events in class. Each class also will take part in two service experiences in the community during the semester.

“There are a various ways to make this connections happen through the First-Year Seminar. Some faculty and Peer Anchors may choose our fall day of service, others may choose a trip to a museum, or a musical, or partnering with a nonprofit agency to do a service-learning project,” said Javita Thompson, director of FYE and community engagement.

These experiential components of the course will work to foster connections that exist both on and off campus for students.

Future Focused

While the core of the FYE program will have the greatest impact on first-year students, the ripple effects of campus connectivity will not stop at the first semester or the first year. The hope is that rethinking the framework for first-year students will lead professors to revaluate teaching practices of all courses.

“We’re thinking about building a more strategic and purposeful teaching and learning series for the next year and hoping that would grow into a center of teaching and learning,” Cella said. “I want to think of this as a really exciting opportunity to think more critically about our teaching strategies and how we can continue to grow them, and foster a sense of a community of scholars thinking about how their teaching is impacting students.”

Considering how the additional resources and mentorships provided through the FYE will better acclimate first-year students, the program will likely become a stepping-stone for improvements across campus. However, with this fall being the first year for FYE on campus, in many ways it will be a trial and error experience that will help shape its future.

“This is always going to be a work in progress. We’re committed to doing this to the best possible extent that we can,” Burg said. “We’re going to be doing a lot of assessment and reflection to keep trying to make it better. We haven’t even offered the seminar the first time, and we’re already planning for the second time.”

Burg and other FYE administrators have noted that first-year students are not the only students who are faced with struggles when adjusting to college life. Transfer students, non-traditional students, and veterans are all groups that they hope to include in FYE in future years with a similar course, such as University 201.

This is only one of the many possibilities for the FYE, and the opportunities for growth are plentiful because of the campuswide dedication to student success.

“The energy is different than I’ve seen in a long time here as far as doing something new and feeling good about what we’re doing,” Zumkhawala-Cook said. “We’re going into it with all of our energy forward, so (the future) looks very optimistic.”

 

 

Three Times Champions With H(e)art

By Bill Morgal '06-'10M

The overarching goal for Shippensburg Field Hockey in 2017 was attainable, but also unprecedented. The Raiders planned to defend their national championship. 

To do that, a veteran squad had to transition. Hall of Fame Head Coach Bertie Landes announced her retirement after the season, and Tara Zollinger arrived in February as head coach.

“The first time I met them on my interview (players) asked me, ‘We want to win a national championship again; are you going to help us get there?’” Zollinger said. “When I took over, I said, ‘It’s going to be really hard, and there are going to be ups and downs.’ They knew that we needed to make changes, but at the same time, be able to keep the traditions and keep the culture they worked so hard for three years to create.”

As predicted, there were plenty of bumps and challenges along the way. But the end result was everything that the Raiders desired. On a cold, grey November Sunday in Louisville, Kentucky, Shippensburg posted a 4-1 victory over number one seed LIU Post to claim the NCAA Division II National Championship.

The Raiders struck early, and then often—blitzing the Pioneers with a series of offensive strikes. Senior Madison Scarr, the SU Student Government Association president, scored on the first shot of the game less than ten minutes in with a redirect at the edge of the goal.

Shippensburg scored three times in the second half, beginning with a penalty stroke converted by freshman Jazmin Petrantonio, a recruit from Argentina who was named the 2017 Atlantic Region Player of the Year. LIU Post, in search of offense, pulled their goalie in favor of a kicking back with 12:40 remaining. But the Raiders added goals down the stretch by senior Brooke Sheibley and sophomore Rosalia Cappadora to clinch the win. 

“This is surreal,” Zollinger said after the game. “It’s amazing, and I am so proud of our senior leadership and our young ones who came on. We had a vision, and we had a goal, and every single day at practice we knew what our vision was. We knew what our goal was, and today we got it done, and it’s an amazing feeling.”

Of that veteran leadership, Shippensburg boasted eleven seniors in 2017. The class finished with
a 65-17 record, three NCAA Championship appearances, and back-to-back national championships.

“Since our senior class is so big, there were always different opinions and feelings going around the team. But we really have one goal, and every game we’re always on the same page with the game plan and how we’re going to execute it,” senior captain Kylie Huffman said. 

“We really brought that in with the underclassmen to make sure they understand how Ship Hockey operates.”

Huffman said the coaching staff provided positive change. “They brought new ideas and new trends starting in hockey to our world, especially with our scouting report. That was a whole new thing that we saw, and I think that just excelled our hockey even more. So, I’m really happy about where we are right now.”

Defensively, the Raiders allowed eight shots or less to all three of their opponents in the NCAA Tournament, a feat it accomplished just six times all year entering the postseason. Redshirt junior goalkeeper Ally Mooney, an All-Tournament Team selection, finished with twelve saves over the course of the NCAA Playoffs.

“With the new coaching staff, we definitely changed up our tactics on the field here and there, but I think we came together as a defensive unit and really supported each other,” Mooney said. “I think just having faith in each other and knowing that we work together well is how we got there.”

The victory also resulted in Zollinger becoming the first person to win an NCAA Division II National Championship in her first year as a collegiate head coach.

“I have a really great group of athletes who were willing to work incredibly hard,” she said. “Whatever division or whatever level you are playing at, whenever you have people who are willing to work and set their mind on something, it’s a coach’s dream. I am so excited. It’s amazing that our senior leadership was able to get it done two years in a row and make this dream for our university. I am so excited about where we have yet to go, but these women and the legacy they left, it’s incredible.”

In terms of legacies, the victory also is a continuation of the #FlyHigh22 tradition that became a fundamental foundation of the field hockey squad as it plays in memory of Amanda Strous.

“Going into this game, this was the last field Amanda (Strous) played on her senior year,” Sheibley said. “So, knowing that, I knew that I had to lay it all out,I had to support my teammates, and I knew my teammates were going to support me whenever things weren’t going my way.” 

Passion and hard work were evident all season long, especially through the determination of junior team member Megan Hart. Diagnosed with leukemia in September, SU rallied around its teammate and adopted the mantra of #HartStrong during her recovery.

“Meg’s our biggest motivator. When we found out about her diagnosis, we had a team meeting and we talked about what we needed to do to support her,” Zollinger said. “Then also we talked about from here on out, every single game is for Meg. We talked about getting a game ball to be able to give her, and we wanted to be able to write every single date of every single win that we have on that ball to be able to give to her. She’s been such a motivation for us.”

Despite the many layers of adversity, and the myriad trials and tribulations that a season can provide, Shippensburg stood firm in wanting to accomplish its main goal. And, when it came down to it, they did just that.

“It was a give and take, but in the end, we had trust in each other,” Zollinger said. “We knew what our vision was, and we knew what needed to be done to make that vision happen.”


Bill Morgal ’06-’10m is SU’s sports information director. 

A Minor That Spurred a Major Movement

By Chris Eckstine '14

For some college students, taking on a minor is required. Others simply want to use a minor to help them find their career sweet spot. 

But the students enrolled in the disability studies program at Shippensburg University aren’t just taking a minor—they’re part of a movement.

“The minor was always conceived as being very interdisciplinary, and not from a biomedical model, but from a social-cultural model of thinking about how do societies think about disability, what do they define as disability, how does that change across time and place, what kinds of policies are created and what are the implications of those for the real lives of people with disabilities,” said Dr. Allison Carey, sociology professor and disability studies minor director.

The program, now celebrating five years, started with one course.

“There was no way for students to get that specialty across the university or even to recognize it. So the project started with just an honors interdisciplinary class,” Carey said.

The 18-credit minor is now one of the biggest on campus, and it grew quickly.

“We started really working on bringing in speakers to raise awareness around disability and as a path for student careers, but also the campus philosophy that this was part of multiculturalism, that this was part of diversity, and then we started working on the minor,” she said.

Before the program sheet was drawn up, the push for inclusiveness on campus already was in motion. From an Introduction to Exceptionalities class prior to the minor’s creation about seven years ago, the award-winning student group, People Involved Equally (PIE), was born. Students have since created the Disability Awareness Club, which won an award last year for enhancing diversity.

During weekly PIE meetings, adults with developmental disabilities come onto campus and participate in various activities.

“It gives me a different view of people, especially with people with disabilities,” said Tori Bender, PIE’s vice president. “I have made friendships I probably would have never made and met people I probably would have never met if I didn’t just take time to open my eyes and just learn.”

Bender, a social work major and disability studies minor, also is a job coach for high school students with disabilities. The junior credits PIE with sparking her interest in taking Introduction to Disability Studies in the first place.

“It honestly changed the way I thought about everything.”

Bender is just one of many success stories within the minor. Students with majors in all three of Ship’s colleges are taking on disability studies and getting involved with groups like PIE. Faculty created a Disability Studies Steering Committee to incorporate related curriculum in many departments, a movement Carey insists can only benefit from more growth. 

That integration allowed Holly Harrar ’16 to zero in on her career aspirations and pursue her passions at the same time. For her, the topic of disability always has been personal.

“(My cousin) was the same age as me and battled juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Her fingers and joints were so inflamed there were days she could barely move. Those were on days where her condition was the worst. On others, she attended preschool with me, played for hours in the yard, and had a laugh that could turn someone’s day around. In October 2005, she passed away from complications with a new medication. From that point on, I found ways to provide kids just like Courtney with opportunities to thrive. It’s also why I decided to become a disability studies minor,” Harrar said.

A communication/journalism major, Harrar didn’t think twice about declaring a minor in disability studies when the time came. Her growing knowledge of disability studies and her involvement with SUTV formed the two-pronged approach to combining her communication capabilities and her desire to tell the world about the disability community.

“Once enrolled in a few courses, my curiosity began to grow. I started asking questions about my life as a typical college student and if someone with a disability, who otherwise is just like me, can go to college. I was naive to the fact that they can and they have been across the country for years. Why didn’t I know about it? Immediately, I wanted to share this with my professors, peers, and as much of Shippensburg University that I could. So I did some research and decided the best way I could do this is by finding a college or university with a program for students with disabilities and ask if I could bring my camera and document how they run their program,” she said.

George Mason University allowed Harrar to do her project. The story aired on SUTV and later earned an Emmy®. “The biggest reward came from the disability studies professors who gave me the inspiration, knowledge, and guidance to spread the message of opportunity for people with disabilities. I am forever grateful,” she said.

Harrar is now a reporter for Blue Ridge Communications TV-11, covering northern Lancaster County, where she always looks for ways to give viewers a better idea of the disability community.

Prior to landing that job, she had the opportunity to work as a one-on-one aide with a high school student with a physical disability that limited his mobility.

“Although he could do everything for himself, except get around the school the same as everyone else, he was a fully-functioning high school sophomore but sat alone at lunch. After my first day working with him, I decided it would be the last time I would let him eat lunch alone. I sat with him, talked about sports, his pets, and how annoying last night’s homework was. Sometimes, a simple conversation is all it takes to realize someone with a disability isn’t all that different from you.”

That realization is a point students in the minor and groups like PIE and the Disability Awareness Club hope everyone can understand. Students in these groups interact with people with disabilities, something they might not have done before. That’s why events like inclusive basketball—a no labels, no hierarchy, no judgement event—give students and participants a chance to simply be united.

“It’s easy to stay away when you’re not forcing yourself to be involved, but once you are, you’re like, this is fun. It’s not intimidating; it’s not scary,” Bender said.

Students like Harrar and Bender may not have found themselves in a position to better understand disability had they not come to Ship.

“There aren’t that many disability studies programs yet, so we’re very cutting edge in that regard,” said Carey, who was vice president of the Society for Disability Studies and chair of the disability section of the American Sociological Association.

Although the program is only five years old, other schools have taken notice of Ship’s practices. Carey said both the University of South Florida and Millersville University have reached out to her about the minor’s introductory course, which involves a student panel where some students talk publicly about their disability experiences for the first time.

“We are one of the few programs that has taken the liberal arts basis of disability studies really seriously and made it across all three colleges. And we have great faculty,” Carey said.

“For example, Dr. Marita Flagler has worked on writing disability law in Albania, considering how the Americans with Disabilities Act might work in a country like Albania.”

Carey, her colleagues, and eager students have furthered the discussion on disabilities over the past five years and will continue to do so in the future.

At Ship, the disability studies program has proven that higher education is not limited to the opening of one’s mind, but can involve the opening of one’s heart.

“The disability studies minor taught me about patience in that no two people are the same, nor are two people with disabilities the same. I was able to learn new ways to interact with people with disabilities everywhere I went. This ultimately changed my day-to-day interactions with all people for the better,” Harrar said.

The program, once an aspiration that began as a lone class, has blossomed into a continuous conversation. It has been integral in students, faculty, and staff alike, taking a hard look at accessibility on campus. Their work has resulted in tangible changes, such as the addition of ramps and an increase in accessibility-related signage.

“The buildings and grounds folks took our suggestions so seriously. Shippensburg met the requirements of the ADA, but the requirements of the ADA don’t necessarily create an inclusive, welcoming campus,” Carey said.

Accessibility continues to be a focal point because of classwork in the minor. Students have taken on related capstone projects and created surveys to report the findings back to the university, resulting in policy change in the Office of Disability Services. The program is designed so that students in any field of study can connect disability with their major.

“If you’re in business, you can think about human resources and disability or disability as a market. If you’re in criminal justice, the majority of people in the criminal justice system, adults and juveniles, have some kind of disability label. If you’re in education, certainly disability is going to be relevant. In exercise science, you’re dealing with physicality. Whatever specialty you’re in, disability will likely be very relevant for you,” Carey said.

While great work has been completed over the past five years, the remaining work is not lost on the faculty and students. That mindset will continue the push to meet the demand for sign language on campus. It will continue the conversation about building a program for students with intellectual disabilities to attend higher education. The pioneers of the program continually look to expand it, both internally and externally.

“It gives students a valued skillset that’s a little different than what other students are getting, but also, students often want a sense that they’re improving the world,” Carey said. “And I think disability studies helps give them that sense that they’re participating in something, that the culture is changing. It’s improving in this aspect and they can be a part of that because there’s still so much work to be done. There’s still so much stigma and exclusion. So, to be kind of on the front end of that, I think students find that exciting.” 


Chris Eckstine ’14 is SU’s digital content producer. 

Next Stop, Shippensburg Station

The rails that physically divided the town of Shippensburg nearly one hundred years ago are now strengthening the connection between the university and downtown communities as plans surrounding the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail steam ahead. 

For years, a sign at the edge of campus proclaimed the trail was under development. Graduating classes for more than a decade wondered if plans to enhance the old “goat path” would ever come to fruition. When Dr. Allen Dieterich-Ward started teaching history at Ship, he had the same thought.

“I love rail trails and have studied them a lot,” he said. “We moved here in 2006, and one of the first things I noticed was the ‘trail under development’ sign. Year after year, the sign never changed, and I wondered what the deal was.”

The forces that derailed the trail were complicated, but not impossible to overcome. The Cumberland Valley Rails-to-Trails Council (CVRTC), which owned the stretch of trail through campus, needed funding and a solid partner, namely the university, Dieterich-Ward said. Once that happened, the trail development was on a fast track.

Over the past year, the CVRTC celebrated the opening of a new bridge over Foglesonger Road, a paved expansion through campus, the addition of a comfort station at the trailhead off Earl Street, and the acquisition and relocation of an original Penn Central boxcar. On April 21, the university and several downtown partners will host TrailFest, a combined race and BrewFest held at the newly established trailhead off Earl Street. The community event will cap off a week of activities surrounding President Laurie Carter’s inauguration on April 20. Organizers are excited that this most recent partnership between the university, the CVRTC, and downtown organizations will revitalize town and create future opportunities.

“I feel like we have a movement right now, and we can really make a difference,” Dieterich-Ward said.

Chugging Along

For nearly twenty years, the CVRTC has developed the former Cumberland Valley Railroad into an eleven-mile, multipurpose recreation trail. The section through Shippensburg Township Park was completed in 2006, but the stretch through campus sat relatively untouched. 

Dr. Paul Taylor, associate professor of mathematics, used the trail with his wife and started attending CVRTC meetings about ten years ago. “At the time I joined, the trail from Shippensburg Township Park to Newville was completed, and we were trying to keep it maintained,” he said. “We owned the stretch through Ship’s campus, but didn’t have the money to improve it.”

About five years ago, the CVRTC received a grant to complete the trail on Ship’s campus, Taylor said. After dealing with a few practical issues, they started clearing out the trail in 2016. Last spring, the CVRTC, university, and local partners worked to install a new bridge over Fogelsonger Road and pave the mile of trail through campus.

“It’s very exciting to think that for so long, we were just trying to keep the grass from getting too tall. Now the trail is through campus, and campus seems more excited about it,” Taylor said.

Dieterich-Ward, who also sits on the CVRTC, was thrilled to have the trail extended, but envisioned more. “It was time for me to give back and lend support to the trail. I knew the trail was finally getting built through campus, but I wanted to make sure community needs were being met, not just recreational needs.”

He pictured the project as an urban trail going through the heart of the community. To make that vision a reality, the rail trail had to be visible and easily accessible. Dieterich-Ward heard the Shippensburg Rotary Club wanted to build a comfort station, so he joined Rotary to help.

“I could see how all the pieces were fitting together,” he said. “I wanted to help with building the comfort station and use my university connections.”

Last fall, Shippensburg Township and the Shippensburg Rotary Club jointly funded the comfort station located at the new CVRT parking area at the corner of Fort and Earl streets. The multi-use event and performance space will continue to evolve with upgraded parking, a Pennsylvania Railroad signal, a performance stage, and more.

“The Rotary Club of Shippensburg is very proud of our collaborative effort with Shippensburg Township, the CVRTC, and Shippensburg University,” said Gary Davis, Rotary president. “We have been meeting for two years now, and Rotarians have donated over 200 volunteer hours to the comfort station project. Our hope is that the entire community will continue to work together for the betterment of the greater Shippensburg area.”

No longer sidelined by its previous stumbling blocks, it seemed the CVRT was moving full speed ahead. Now it just needed a statement piece. 

Dream Train

Hidden in the trees at the end of Queen Street near the old Hoffman Mills building was a railroad enthusiast’s dream—an abandoned, uniquely green Penn Central boxcar.

“All of us railroad enthusiasts had known it was back there,” said Jim Stanton ’00, a member of the Conrail Historical Society. “In the winter when you’d hike the trail you could see it. It was a jungle back there. ...It was hard to get pictures of it, but it was neat to see a relic.”

It’s not unusual for railroad enthusiasts also to be photographers, Stanton said. When the plant was scrapped in 2016, he was certain it was the end of the line for its neighboring boxcar. So, he grabbed his camera. “I photographed it as much as possible, so that when it became tin cans and razor blades, there was a historical record.”

Coincidentally, Stanton and Taylor are neighbors. Stanton knew Taylor served on the CVRTC, so he mentioned the boxcar, suggesting it could serve as a welcome center off Britton Road. “Paul said, ‘I need to introduce you to a guy. Allen.’ He knew things I didn’t know. Allen’s the dynamo, but he needed to find the people who could make the right things happen.”

Dieterich-Ward received the news from Taylor. “I went over immediately and was blown away by (the boxcar). It was abandoned for thirty years, but was structurally sound. I was just amazed it wasn’t torn down.”

Relocating the boxcar next to the Rotary Club’s comfort station would provide that eye-catching addition to the trail and create another tourist attraction in the community. It was just a matter of making it happen. Fortunately, Stanton said Dave’s Truck Repair in Chambersburg fit the bill. “We found someone local, talented, and sympathetic to the price.”

As the boxcar traveled down Richard Avenue to its new home off of Earl Street, another piece of the puzzle came together. Out of curiosity one night, Jim Tabler ’10 wandered over to the site. Having formerly worked railroad maintenance, he volunteered to build a track panel to display the boxcar.

Now relocated and preparing for renovations, Stanton said the boxcar is situated in Foreman’s Triangle for the perfect photo op. “Lots of people remember the Penn Central green running through town. It’s a unique color green, so when it went by, it caught your eye.”

Shippensburg Station

Two things are needed to create an authentic community development, according to Dieterich-Ward—outdoor recreation and a connection to where you are. Adjacent to the trail, the boxcar provided a perfect opportunity to develop an accessible mini-museum that told the story of the Cumberland Valley Railroad. These new developments—the rail trail extension, comfort station, boxcar museum, and performance space—collectively were renamed Shippensburg Station.

For Tiffany Weaver ’09-’12M, the director of the Shippensburg Historical Society and one of Dieterich-Ward’s former students, this was a gift. “When Allen asked if I wanted to be involved, I said, ‘Yes, please!’ I think this is a really cool space for the community. It’s really cool to see this brought on as Shippensburg Station and provide more of a connection between the university and community.”

Thanks to a $71,000 grant through the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation, Weaver and Christi Fic ’15M, university archivist, are developing forty feet of exhibit space in a boxcar. The grant, provided to the CVRTC, covered renovating the boxcar’s exterior, preparing the interior for the exhibits, and purchasing materials like display cases. Weaver and Fic picture the space as mostly permanent exhibits with a theater area on one side and a place for children’s educational programming at the other.

“We really want to tell the story of the railroad in the Cumberland Valley, especially how it interacted with citizens on a day-to-day basis,” Weaver said. “It’s about their lives, the university, jobs, and the area in general—anything that makes that personal connection and makes it as inclusive as possible.”

Stanton said people have told stories about the different railroads, but no one has put the whole story of the Cumberland Valley Railroad together like this. “There weren’t many places served by three railroads,” he said. “The whole story has never been told in one place.”

At the end of March, Weaver and Fic will invite the public to an open house to view the space and learn more about their plans in hopes that people see their vision and share their railroad artifacts with the museum. 

Celebrating with TrailFest

Countless pieces have come together—some by design, others by chance—over the last few years to create what is now Shippensburg Station.

April’s TrailFest celebrates the latest trail expansions and community partnerships. TrailFest couples the CVRTC’s twelfth annual Race, Run, Ride, and Ramble event with the Shippensburg Historical Society’s second annual BrewFest.

It might actually be easier to continue to host these events separately, said Mitch Burrows ’17, owner of University Grille and Shippensburg Chamber of Commerce board member. “But, to do it at this location that is more centralized for the university and downtown makes it a broader effort for everyone to be involved,” he said. “This is a lot of people’s vision... We want one overall community—the university and the local community as one.”

The daylong event will kick off with the Race, Run, Ride, and Ramble. The Brewfest will feature more than twenty breweries as well as a few wineries, and live music from local bands. “People will come out for a community event. They come for the beer, the art, or the music, and this is a combination of all of them,” he said.

Stanton is excited. He knows not everyone geeks out over railroad history like he does. That’s why all the pieces of this project are equally important. “The boxcar might be what gets someone to get out of their car, maybe even stay there. But the music, the trailhead, the event space, the restrooms, a place to picnic... that’s the beauty of Allen’s master plan. It will never be just one thing. It gives people reasons to come back.”

And although the journey can be stressful, Dieterich-Ward said the rewards are sweet. “It has been so gratifying to find out people’s passions and put it all together in the thing we’re calling Shippensburg Station. ...If we care about our community we can make it a better place.” 

Faith and Fellowship for Fifty Years

By Katie (Paxson) Hammaker ’93

During her junior year at Ship, Amy Grey ’03 Rev. Jan Bye, campus minister, rushed to Grey’s side. “Jan was there for me. She called the hospital to get answers. She even called my boyfriend, who was at work, to tell him.”

Several days later, Bye even drove Grey to her father’s funeral outside of Philadelphia when her family was unable to get her. 

UCM is an interdenominational campus ministry that provides opportunities for Ship students to develop spiritually and grow in their faith. Ship is the last university in Pennsylvania's State System of Education with UCM. As the minister for UCM, Bye coordinates religious life and spiritual support services on campus.

UCM will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary at Ship this spring. Bye has been with UCM for nearly half its existence. An ordained United Methodist minister, she moved to Shippensburg from Ohio with her husband and young son in 1994 to take the position. 

“It’s been a privilege to do this job. Spiritual development is an important part of a student’s overall development, just as important as academics.”

“The relationship between campus ministry and the university has been an extraordinary one,” said Dr. Jody Harpster ’74M, past president. As the former vice president of Student Affairs, Harpster worked closely with Bye and served as the university’s liaison to UCM.

Bye describes UCM, originally known as the Campus Interfaith Association, as a clearing ground for students of various faiths. She works to connect them with appropriate resources to meet their spiritual needs while they are on campus.

Students of numerous faiths are represented at UCM—Lutherans, Methodists, Muslims, and Presbyterians, to name a few.

“Our main goal is to be welcoming of anybody and everybody,” said junior Zach Miller, “especially people who feel like they don’t fit in anywhere else.”

“UCM is my family away from family,” said graduate student Austin Wisser ’17. “It’s nice to be around other students who share my beliefs and values.”

“Some of my greatest relationships and fondest memories were made through UCM,” Rachel (Varner) Smith ’98 said. “What drew me in was the ability to make close connections with other students, local churches, and the community.”

Bye maintains a resource center with the names of local clergy and places of worship. She even makes introductions and matches students who wish to visit a specific church, so they can attend together.

“We really like students to explore what’s available in the community,” she said. “We believe that broadening the resources for students will help them succeed.”

Exploring Faith

UCM offers many on-campus options for spiritual growth. “Worship services are on Sunday afternoons so the college students can sleep in,” Wisser said.

Students can attend a grilled cheese and bible study every Wednesday at the campus spiritual center.

“There is something comforting about faith, friends, and a warm and melted cheese sandwich,” Bill Connor ’04-’05M said. 

“It beats ramen noodles and easy mac and cheese any day.”

Food is a common theme for UCM activities. Bye hosts an informal dinner gathering at Kriner Dining Hall on Mondays for any students who wish to join her.

While free food is a popular way to draw students in, the lack of it is a valid problem for some. UCM recognizes this need and maintains a food pantry that is open to any students who need it. It is stocked with donated soup, pasta, peanut butter, and other canned, non-perishable items.

“It started when the state budget held up student loans,” Bye said. “Many students lacked money for meals until their loans came through. Also, some of our international students must stay over breaks, and the dining hall is not open.”

UCM also organizes numerous social events each semester. Game nights, volleyball, hayrides, trips to the movies, and hikes on nearby trails provide quality fellowship time.

Participation in UCM is, of course, by choice. Some parents call or approach Bye and ask her to direct their son or daughter to a church. Bye will reach out to these students, but only if the student has granted permission through a form in the new student packets.

“I can invite students, but I am not here to harass them,” she said. “Students are adults, and they can make their own decisions.”

Some students just want to learn about faith. “This is a safe zone where they can ask questions and explore their faith. Students can have conversations with others in a loving and respectful manner.”

One way that Bye helps students learn is through Questions of Faith, a weekly discussion group that explores social and political issues from the perspective of different faiths.

“Some students are very conservative, some more liberal, but they care and respect each other as they explore their faith,” she said.

“We wanted to understand and learn about our faith,” Smith said. “Some students stray from their faith during college, but I developed a sense of belief and what I wanted for my life moving forward.”

Smith met her husband, Michael ’00, at Questions of Faith. She said they did not always agree on the issues, but they did agree that when they got married after college, they wanted Bye to perform the wedding ceremony.

Many of Bye’s former UCM students have honored her with this request. Bye estimates that she has performed at least 100 weddings for UCM alumni during her time at Ship. She also has performed at least ten faculty weddings.

Support System

UCM’s spiritual support and counseling services are available to students and the campus at large.

“UCM provided all of our students, faculty, staff, and administration with spiritual support as we needed it,” said Tony Ceddia, president emeritus. “They helped in many crisis situations over the years—a death or an accident. We were grateful for the support we received.”

Bye responds to more than just crisis situations. For some college students, the pressure of living away from home for the first time or the anxiety of breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend can prompt them to seek help.

“A lot of students, for many different reasons, choose not to utilize the campus counseling services when they need help,” Harpster said. “Some of those students are more comfortable seeking that support from UCM.”

“Ship staff and faculty cannot offer spiritual resources to students because we are a state school, but they can support UCM’s services and send those students to us,” Bye said.

Spring Break, UCM Style

UCM hosts an annual service trip to Louisiana during spring break in March. Ship students join with others from across the country to perform service work, and in some years, relief following a natural disaster. 

“It’s about broadening the students’ understanding of God’s creation,” Bye said.

In the past, students have repaired a leaky roof, constructed a home access ramp for a wheelchair user, and distributed emergency relief kits to residents.

Last year, Wisser painted an “under the sea” themed wall mural to brighten up a domestic violence shelter. “It was so hot and humid that the paint started to run. The mural ended up looking like a Salvador Dali painting,” Wisser joked.

UCM also hosts periodic mission trips to Vietnam, a place that is special to Bye. She adopted her daughter from Vietnam, which inspired the destination for future mission work.

“I was involved in three trips to Vietnam,” Connor said. “It was powerful to be part of such an impactful program, and develop an understanding that I am part of something much bigger than just myself.”

Ship students have assisted in the construction of a school, a health clinic, and multiple homes in Vietnam.

Closer to home, UCM serves the community year-round. Students participate in numerous projects like stocking shelves at King’s Kettle food pantry and building homes through Habitat for Humanity. Each fall, students “adopt” migrant workers from nearby apple orchards, delivering warm clothing, blankets, and food. 

A Permanent Home

Almost since UCM’s inception, its offices have been housed on campus at various locations provided by the university. But the organization lacked a permanent home.

In the late 1980s, President Emeritus Gilmore Seavers approached Ceddia with a solution and a potential significant benefactor.

The late Lee Hippensteele ’48, who served on the UCM Board of Directors, had a passion for campus ministry.

“Mr. Hippensteele was a man of great faith,” Harpster said. “He believed that we all benefit from having a solid religious foundation in our lives, and he wanted to make that available to all students.”

Because Shippensburg University is state owned, no religious buildings can be constructed on campus. So, Hippensteele purchased eighteen acres of private land directly adjacent to campus, and donated it to the SU Foundation with the stipulation that it be used for a spiritual center.

The foundation embarked on a successful capital campaign and dedicated the Cora I. Grove Spiritual Center and Interfaith Chapel in 2001, located just off of Adams Drive.

The center houses UCM’s offices and provides meeting and program space for several campus ministry groups.

“The spiritual center makes Shippensburg University special,” Ceddia said. “Many students see the spiritual aspect of their lives as important, like the nourishment they receive from the center.”

The spiritual center is perhaps best known for its chapel. The chapel is intentionally devoid of religious symbolism and contains a movable altar to accommodate groups of any faith for worship, memorial services, and other religious events.

The chapel is available for weddings, but the bride or groom must be a Ship student, alumnus, or an employee of the university or SU Foundation. The spiritual center has hosted about a dozen weddings since it opened.

Another focal point of the spiritual center is a meditation room, which is a sacred space used by many students for quiet prayer and reflection.

The spiritual center is open daily Sunday through Friday and on Saturdays for special events during the school year.

“It is hard to imagine life at Ship without UCM,” Connor said. “UCM was the cornerstone of my Ship experience outside of the classroom.

“In today’s digital, fast-paced world, I hope that Ship students are still taking the time to get involved in campus ministries and understand the importance of building personal friendships that will last a lifetime.” 


Katie (Paxson) Hammaker ’93 is the director of development and marketing for the Susquehanna Chorale and is a freelance writer based in Mechanicsburg. 

 

 

At the Helm: Looking Ahead with President Carter

Laurie Carter came to Shippensburg University as the institution’s seventeenth president with a spirit of collaboration and a desire to communicate. She wants to involve the entire campus community to jointly focus on the university’s future. 

"When folks ask me what my vision is for Shippensburg University, I always pause, because vision for a university does not come from one individual. It comes from the community,” Carter said. “So, our vision will be a vision that is established based upon many conversations that will take place over the course of the next few months.

“After those conversations, we’ll really sit down and set the path, the clear path, for the future of Shippensburg University.”

Since she arrived to campus on August 7, Carter has stayed true to her words. Socializing with students, meeting with staff members, chatting with the larger community as she walks the local rail trail—she is soaking it all in. When the fall semester kicked off, she launched “Convo with Carter,” providing fifteen-minute sessions for anyone on campus to chat with her during open office hours. More than forty sessions booked up within the first two hours of the announcement, with plans to do additional sessions in the spring.

As the president of a university and the mother of a new college student, Carter’s focus is on student success. But that can only be accomplished with the dialogue, advice, and counsel of the entire community, she said. “Student success requires the input, the collaboration, the output of every single member of the community. I take student success very seriously. Unless we’re all working together, we won’t be able to achieve what the students need from us.”

With that in mind, Shippensburg University Magazine wanted to know what questions our community had for our institution’s newest leader. Here’s what you asked, and how she answered:

Has a university presidency always been something you’ve wanted to pursue, and why?

Gabby Binando, junior

I can’t say that it has been something that I’ve always wanted to pursue. My career sort of took on a life of its own, and I was enjoying it. At a certain point, folks started saying to me, “You should be a president!” So I think other folks started thinking about it long before I did, and even after they started saying that to me it took years for me to get to the point where I thought, OK that would be something I would aspire to at some point in my life. 

What has been your biggest takeaway about Ship since accepting this position?

Jodie Vanderman Driver ’00

That its future is bright. There is so much potential here. I am excited about the opportunity to work with everyone in the community to really help it fully realize its potential. ...The possibilities are endless in terms of the community collaboration, and everyone wants it. That was one of the things that struck me during my interview, that so many people talked about wanting to strengthen ties with the community, because you don’t see that everywhere, you don’t hear that everywhere.

President Carter, you’ve done an amazing job of being accessible, visible, and approachable since arriving at Shippensburg. What are the most important things you have learned from conversations you have had with Ship students and faculty during your first weeks on campus?

Dr. Steve Burg, professor in and chair of the History/Philosophy Department

I have learned that the campus is prepared to work together as a community to do what’s necessary to move Ship forward, and that’s very encouraging. 

What would you tell a prospective parent as to why their child should choose Shippensburg University?

Chris Morton, chair of the Military Science Department

My son is a freshman in college, so what concerns families very often are the finances, the majors, and the career opportunities, and then whether their student will feel at home. Shippensburg is an affordable institution with very high-quality programs.

We have programs that rival the best in the country, so part of a high-quality program is preparing students for a career. Our students are graduating with skills that will allow them to seamlessly transition into the workplace and be successful there. Parents need not worry about their student floundering when they get into the workplace, because they’ll really be prepared.

And then there’s such a strong sense of community here, that as soon as the student hits the campus we’ve got our arms around them. We are a home away from home for all types of students; whatever their passion is there is probably some part of their major or club or organization that fuels that passion. All of those pieces come together. And there are faculty who are teaching classes, they’re not being taught by graduate students. It is a university that provides parents with all of the pieces they are hoping for in a collegiate experience. 

How do you see the university evolving over the next several
years with regard to institutional commitments to academic programs?

Dr. Christopher Woltemade, professor of geography/earth science

We are interested in developing programs that are going to meet the needs of students and the surrounding region. That’s what regional institutions do. We will continue to look at majors that will meet the needs of today’s student and tomorrow’s student and provide what the region needs in order for it to continue to move forward. We are paying attention to what’s going on around us so we know the programs that we should be thinking about and that could benefit our students. 

Knowing that our students will have to consider increasingly the world outside the fifty states, how would you like to internationalize our campus?

Dr. Agnes Ragone, professor of modern languages

Internationalization is really important for the students to understand our role in the global society. How we do that is through study abroad opportunities, exchange programs, but even components of particular courses that talk about the global society and how students can better navigate them. We also have an international faculty, faculty from all over the world, and they bring their perspective to our students and help them understand their role in a larger society.

How do you feel about the relationship between Ship students and the community?

Brandon Christmas-Lindsey, senior

Well, I have experienced that relationship on the day that we had the Ship Serve event, and we had 300 or 400 people working all over the region and in the community. There is a real interest in and commitment to serving the community in a broad and significant way, and I want to foster that. 

Is there a way to make student activities more diverse on campus?

Najee Surratt, senior

Sure! Engage more students in the planning of student activities. I had a conversation with Maddie Scarr, the president of the SGA. She talked about how diverse the Student Government Association is this year, and it hasn’t always been that way. She is encouraged by the level of engagement of community members in the SGA process, and I think as a result of that, there will organically be more involvement across the board. But the goal there is, students have to get involved. If they’re not involved, then their perspective is not brought to the table.

How can you help students manage their time better?

Kiara Sabur, freshman

We do that in a variety of ways. There’s the Learning Center. As we are looking at a first-year experience, time management will certainly be a part of that process in helping students make the adjustment from life in high school to life in college, where you have a lot more free time and have to figure out how to prioritize things a little differently. So if we have a solid first-year experience that lays the foundation, we then have the Learning Center and other support networks across the university that will really allow students through the course of their career to feel supported and guided in these areas if they get off track. 

How can Ship make the transfer student experience smoother by ensuring credits transfer from community colleges?

Nolan Currie, sophomore

We’ve actually already started talking about that and have a plan to make that process a little more user friendly.

In the past several years, campus morale has dropped dramatically... How will you help Ship heal, where our family members will trust one another and work together in a more positive manner?

Dr. Alison Dagnes, professor of political science

I hope I’m doing that by listening to folks, and then taking what they have to say into consideration. We’re not always going to agree on the course of action, but everyone should at least feel as though they can play a part in the process of moving forward. I also think it’s really important for folks to look ahead. The past is the past, and quite frankly, there is little we can do about it. But, there’s a lot we can do about the future. 

Colleges are struggling with enrollment as it relates to the traditional student. What ideas can we implement at Ship to increase enrollment with the nontraditional student and enhance recruitment efforts for traditional students?

Javita Thompson, assistant director of community engagement

That’s a very good question. I could go on for days about it. We are looking carefully at all populations. For traditional students, increasing enrollment has to do with being more creative in our approaches. The high school population in Pennsylvania is shrinking, so that means we probably have to look outside of the state for traditional high school students. We also can do some things that will increase our percentage of students coming from inside the state, and that has to do with scholarships, financial aid, and other processes, and we’re looking at all those.

The nontraditional student, the adult learner in particular, is a huge market we’re looking to tap into, and we’re looking to do that in the most creative ways possible, meeting the needs of that population. So that would probably mean expanding our online offerings and working very carefully to craft programs that are going to help that population achieve their goals. 

How can alumni support the university’s efforts to recruit and retain students?

Rachel Jarabeck ’98

We need to engage alumni in a variety of ways, primarily in having them help us spread the word about all the wonderful things that are happening at Ship. And then, even engaging them in the recruitment process, and that will depend on where they are, what the particular needs are in that particular region or state, and how that will best serve the university. We’re no longer going to take cookie cutter approaches to how we’re engaging the alumni, but rather really studying what will be most effective for specific populations.

What is one action that everyone can take to make Shippensburg University a great place to live and learn?

Dr. Samuel Forlenza, assistant professor of exercise science

One action—everyone can pull together and share positive messages and stories about the wonderful things that are happening here.

Where do you want to see this university in three years?

Ruben Bourdeau, senior

I want to see enrollment stabilized, reinvestment in our outstanding academic programs and support services for students, and strengthened ties with the town and surrounding communities. 

 

Acknowledging Athletic Achievements

Ship recognized six athletes and one coach for their outstanding accomplishments during the annual Athletic Hall of Fame luncheon during Homecoming weekend. 

Lindsey Knupp ’05 — FIELD HOCKEY 

Lindsey Knupp, a four-year starter in field hockey, graduated as SU’s all-time school record
holder for goals and assists. Her fifty-six career goals remains sixth all-time at Shippensburg, while her thirty-four assists rank second. The two-time National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) All-American and three-time All-PSAC performer exceled during a four-year stretch under head coach Bertie Landes in which the Raiders began an incredible run of success. SU won at least fifteen games each season, posting a 66-19 record from 2001-04.

Knupp started all eighty-five games in her Raider career—totaling 146 points. Her seventeen assists as a junior in 2003 remains a single-season school record, and she is one of seven players in school history to achieve at least three assists in a single game.

After graduation, Knupp began a career in professional baseball as an associate with the Reading Phillies in 2005, then joined the Lehigh Valley IronPigs’ front office in 2007, which is the AAA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. 

Chuck Davis ’07 — MEN’S BASKETBALL

Chuck Davis is SU’s all-time leading scorer in men’s basketball history with 1,825 points and also its school-record holder for career steals with 203. In four seasons with the Raiders, Davis helped the team to a record sixty-nine wins.

A three-time All-PSAC Western Division First Team selection, he was named the PSAC Western Division Player of the Year as a junior in 2005-06. Davis also was selected to the Daktronics All-East Region First Team and recognized as an Honorable Mention All-American by Division II Bulletin. He averaged a career-best 19.5 points and also led the team with 5.1 rebounds per game.

The 2005-06 Raiders won a school record twenty-four games, won the PSAC Western Division with an 11-1 record, reached the PSAC Championship game, and appeared in the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in school history.

In 2015, Davis began his master’s degree in the Organizational Development and Leadership Program for Higher Education Structure and Policy at Ship. He is starting his third season as an assistant coach with the SU Men’s Basketball team while also working as a graduate assistant with the Academic Success Program.

Jaime-Lyn Dacey ’06 — SOFTBALL 

Jaime-Lyn Dacey is one of the best softball players in the history of the PSAC. Starting center fielder from 2002-05, she is SU’s all-time leader in batting average (.422), triples (23), and RBIs (156) while ranking second in school history for hits (264) and runs (163) and tied for fourth in stolen bases (49).

Dacey is a two-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-American, four-time NFCA All-Region honoree, and three-time All-PSAC selection in addition to being named the 2005 PSAC Eastern Division Player of the Year and the 2002 PSAC Eastern Division Rookie of the Year. She also earned the prestigious honor of Academic All-America First Team as a senior.

After graduation, Dacey played professional softball for two years with the Philadelphia Force, a team in the National Pro Fastpitch League. She also served as an assistant softball coach at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She is in her tenth year as a fourth-grade teacher at Langtree Elementary School in Hamilton Township School District in New Jersey. 

Geoff Bloes ’07—MEN’S SOCCER 

Geoff Bloes is the all-time leading scorer in SU men’s soccer history. After seventy-seven
career games, Bloes set new school records for career goals (51) and career points (130). He also finished second in school history with twenty-eight career assists and totaled ten game-winning goals.

Bloes is the only player in school history named the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Men’s Soccer Player of the Year, a feat he accomplished as a junior in 2006 and as a senior in 2007. He was a four-time All-PSAC player, including Rookie of the Year honors in 2003. Bloes is one of two players in school history selected three times as a National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-Region player. As a senior, he was the second All-American in school history, earning a spot on the Daktronics All-America First Team.

After graduation, Bloes played four years professionally with the Harrisburg City Islanders of the United Soccer League. A supply chain management major, Bloes was employed in logistics and operations supervision, in the Lancaster area and is the inbound manager at Henry Schein Animal Health. 

Clyde Cressler ’65—WRESTLING

Clyde Cressler is one of seven Raider wrestlers in school history to become a PSAC Champion—claiming the 1962 title at 115 pounds. He is one of three SU wrestlers to win that weight class at the PSAC Champi- onships.

In three years as a wrestler from 1961-63, Cressler posted a 24-4-1 record. He was an integral part of the formative Shippensburg wrestling teams that had success early on in the program’s history. In a competitive Pennsylvania Conference (PC) that featured some of the best programs in the country at the time, SU took third place at the 1961 PC Championships and had a 9-2 dual meet record. Shippensburg also was third in the PC in 1962—the year Cressler won his conference crown.

Cressler worked as a sixth-grade teacher, then earned a degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy in 1969. Two years later, he bought his first pharmacy in Meadville. He now owns eighteen Medicine Shoppe Pharmacies in Pennsylvania and two in New York. 

Barry Kerr ’85—BASEBALL 

Barry Kerr is one of the best shortstops to suit up for SU’s baseball team. He is the first player in
school history with ten or more home runs in a single season and posted a .318 career batting average in 149 games with the Raiders. He was a co-captain in 1984 and 1985, a two-year span in which SU posted a sterling .710 winning percentage.

Kerr played for SU Hall of Fame coaches Art Fairchild and Bob Yocum and was known for his strong throwing arm. He finished as a three-time All-PSAC performer who also earned All-Region honors and an All-America honorable mention as a sophomore in 1983. He is one of three SU baseball players, in school history, to earn Academic All-America First Team honors during his senior season.

Kerr has held various progressive finance positions for industry-leading manufacturers and has been a senior director with JLG Industries in Hagerstown, Maryland, for the past seven years. 

Bertie Landes—Honorary — FIELD HOCKEY/LACROSSE

Bertie Landes served as Shippensburg University’s head field hockey and lacrosse coach from 1999-2005 before transitioning solely to field hockey, completing her eighteen-year tenure in 2016. Landes built and maintained SU’s modern tradition of field hockey excellence and brought the university its first two NCAA Division II championships in any sport.

Landes totaled a 302-77-1 record as the Raider field hockey coach—winning 79 percent of her games. SU won at least twelve games in all eighteen seasons under Landes and qualified for the PSAC Tournament seventeen times, reaching the PSAC Semifinals sixteen times.

Prior to Shippensburg, Landes spent nineteen seasons at Cairn (Philadelphia Biblical) University. In thirty-seven years as a field hockey coach, Landes compiled an overall record of 486-133-17 for a .778 career winning percentage. Landes ranks number eleven all-time among all NCAA divisions for head coaching victories. She retired as the winningest active coach at the NCAA Division II level.