FALL 2023 | TOWER 1 Leading America's oldest children's shoe company Page 4 WOMEN IN STEM Meet four alumnae whose careers began at KU Page 14 EMERGING EDUCATOR Akello Amani Mosby '22 Page 20 A LOOK BACK AT BEARFEST KU's oldest tradition Page 24 AUDREY ZIMMERMAN ’14 FALL 2023
DEAR GOLDEN BEARS, I’m pleased to share with you the Fall 2023 edition of the Tower, which is filled with stories of students, alumni, and friends of the university who are dedicated to supporting their community. Some of the best moments of the year were during commencement ceremonies in December and May, when we celebrated our graduates as they walked across the stage. It is wonderful to honor them on one of the biggest days of their lives, and their hard work should be commended. We also awarded honorary doctorates to several dedicated KU supporters (page 9). We were thrilled to see the completion of major construction projects on campus this year. The de Francesco Building (back cover) opened for classes this fall, while the Keith Haring Fitness Court (page 8) and Nancy Jean Stump Seiger ’54 Botanical Research Center (page 12) are open, as well. The Wells-Rapp Center for Mallet Percussion Research (page 12) and DeLight E. Breidegam Building: Headquarters of the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center (page 11) have both hosted numerous events, and they also house incredible artifacts and archives. None of these projects would be possible without the support of KU’s generous donors, and we are also pleased to announce that we have raised more than $46.8 million as part of Together, We’re Golden: The Campaign for Kutztown University (page 13). Please enjoy this issue of Tower and I hope to see you at one of our many campus events in the coming months. Sincerely, Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson President, Kutztown University
WANT MORE GREAT GOLDEN BEAR NEWS? Kutztown University Alumni Association @KutztownU @KUGoldenBears @KutztownU www.kutztown.edu www.kubears.com #ItsGoodToBeGolden #GoBearsGo KUTZTOWN UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE TOWER Features Audrey Zimmerman ’14 4 Women in STEM: Breaking Down Barriers 14 Digging into the Past: Archaeology Field School 22 A Look Back at Bearfest's 44-Year History 24 Departments News & Notes/KU Foundation & Alumni 6 Alumni Spotlights 19 Sports Roundup 26 Class Notes and In Memoriam 28 CONTENTS Fall 2023 14 22 24 20 4 ON THE COVER Audrey Zimmerman '14 is the fourth-generation owner of her family’s business, the Kepner Scott Shoe Co. PHOTO BY CHRIS SPONAGLE
4 TOWER | FALL 2023 FEATURE BY VICKI MAYK Audrey Zimmerman ’14 always knew what she wanted to do when she grew up. From an early age, she planned to join her family’s business, the Kepner Scott Shoe Co., which produces handmade children’s shoes in Orwigsburg, Pa. At 135 years old, it’s America’s oldest children’s shoe company. “I remember wearing our footwear as a little girl and visiting the shoe company. Our team was like family to me,” Zimmerman says, noting that the firm’s 21 employees boast an average of 30 years with the company. “I just knew I wanted to be part of it one day. I felt it was so special, this family tradition of making footwear.” Now, as the fourth generation to lead the company, she’s launched a new line of children’s footwear under a daughter company, Zimmerman Shoes. Designs sold under the new brand are based on heritage designs created by her great-grandfather and grandfather. Even though most shoe manufacturing has moved overseas, the company’s shoes are still made in Pennsylvania. A STEP BACK IN TIME Kepner Scott began in 1888. The company was purchased by Zimmerman’s great-grandfather, Milo, in 1961. Working with his son, Clair – her grandfather – the two men saved what had been a failing business. Milo revolutionized the way children’s shoes were made. Previously, the shoe’s upper was sewn to the sole, making it inflexible. Replacing it with a process called cement construction made for a more comfortable shoe, and the process is now the industry standard. One of the shoes sold by Zimmerman Shoes, the Milo Boot, is based on one of his designs and named in his honor. Company leadership passed to Zimmerman’s father, Steve (pictured above), and his sister, Sue Murphy, in 2000. Although his daughter has assumed a leadership role, Steve Zimmerman still oversees production and Murphy is responsible for order fulfillment and inventory. Both are members of the board of directors, providing more than a half-century of knowledge about the children’s shoe industry. Other family members also serve on the board, including Zimmerman’s husband, Jeff Gaddy, Audrey Zimmerman ’14 co-owns the oldest children’s shoe company in America
FALL 2023 | TOWER 5 Caption an accountant, and her brother-in-law, noted economist Adam Ozimek. During summers in high school and college, Zimmerman pitched in at the company wherever needed, from fulfilling orders to helping the seamstresses making the shoes. Majoring in business administration in college was the obvious choice for someone entering the family business. She visited Kutztown University while her brother-inlaw, Thaddeus Pasierb ’07, was earning his art education degree. “I just fell in love with the school,” she says, adding that her business courses gave her a solid foundation for leading her family’s company. ALL IN THE FAMILY After graduation, she started working at Kepner Scott full time. She was eventually joined by her sister, Addie. “I’m mainly in charge of sales and marketing and Addie fulfills orders. But like all small businesses, the owners tend to wear a lot of hats. We both help out in many areas,” Zimmerman says, adding that people calling customer service are likely to speak to one of them. Her father says his daughters’ commitment ensures that the business will remain in the family. “It’s a blessing, actually. I’m 72 and my sister is 68: If there wasn’t another generation there to run the business, the future would have been doubtful,” Steve says. He notes the most significant change initiated by his daughter: direct-to-consumer sales. Previously, Kepner Scott used a team of salesman to get product in stores. Now, customers buy shoes via the company’s website. Zimmerman also has leveraged selling to niche markets, which include the Amish community, parochial schools, and high-end boutiques. “We’ve done collaborations with children’s clothing companies and worked with adult footwear brands to make a miniature version of what they’re making, which is really fun,” Zimmerman says. “We’ve partnered with designers to do limited edition lines.” Like many others, the company faced challenges during the pandemic. On March 11, 2020, Zimmerman had traveled to participate in Spring at the Silos, a special event hosted by Magnolia founders Chip and Joanna Gaines at their venue in Waco, Texas. Forty companies were invited to showcase their products to an expected audience of 30,000, but it was canceled due to pandemic restrictions. At the same time, the Pennsylvania factory closed during lockdown. Zimmerman brainstormed a way to pivot and Kepner Scott began producing masks, focusing on helping health care workers who needed them. Before they were done, 100,000 masks had been produced, earning the company a Wall Street Journal story. Zimmerman Shoes also was featured in 2021 on the Magnolia Network’s series “Extraordinary Stories About Everyday Things.” Her future plans include merging the Kepner Scott and Zimmerman Shoes brands so that the companies will share the same website and social media presence. Under the merger, her new footwear line will become Zimmerman Shoes by Kepner Scott Shoe Company. 4 GENERATIONS of the Zimmerman family heading the Kepner Scott Shoe Co. 2 WEEKS The length of time it takes to make a pair of shoes, start to finish. 21 EMPLOYEES at Kepner Scott. 30 YEARS Average number of years employees work for the company. 125 STEPS in the process to handcraft a pair of shoes. 135 YEARS Kepner Scott has manufactured shoes in Orwigsburg, Pa. 40,000 SHOES produced annually. She is aware that handmade shoes created with quality materials are a high-end product. Zimmerman is grateful to her customers for their loyalty, savoring the times they send photos of children in the shoes. “I will never get over what a great feeling it is that they were made right here and now they’re out in the world, with kids learning how to walk, taking their first steps or hiking, doing all of those great things in our shoes,” she says.
6 TOWER | FALL 2023 First African American graduate presented KU President’s Medal Bessie Reese Crenshaw ’50, Kutztown University's first African American graduate, was recently presented with the President's Medal. Crenshaw graduated from Reading High School in 1946 and enrolled in Kutztown State Teachers’ College that fall; she was the only Black student enrolled at the time. In 1950, she graduated with a bachelor of science degree in education. “When I entered Kutztown more than 70 years ago, I didn’t do it to be a maverick or a trailblazer – I did it because I saw education as the key to my future,” Crenshaw said. “I was willing to go to any lengths to pursue my dream of teaching, even if it meant feeling uncomfortable for a while. Many of the important things we accomplish in life do not come easy. Who I am and what I’ve accomplished is the sum of my experiences, along with the support of my friends and family. Attending Kutztown is part of my legacy.” NEWS NOTES Five art educators selected for leadership program Four Kutztown University alumni and a KU professor participated in last year’s School for Art Leaders program, sponsored by the National Art Education Association. Of the 25 people selected for the program from over 70 applicants, four were KU alumni – Leigh Drake ’09, M’16; Justin Sutters ’98, M’06 (pictured in front); Evan Thomas ‘08; and Ben Hoffman ’15, M’20&23 (middle). They were joined by Dr. Amy Pfeiler-Wunder (center back), professor of art education and interim associate dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The seven-month program uses experiential learning and indepth conversations with experts to provide participants with skills that will position them to lead in any environment. The program includes a five-day intensive learning experience onsite at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., followed by online virtual learning modules and a capstone project presented at the annual convention this past April in San Antonio, Texas.
FALL 2023 | TOWER 7 Super Bowl Champion receives medal, joins athletics Hall of Fame John Mobley, one of the greatest players in KU football and NCAA Division II history, was recently presented with the President’s Medal. Mobley was also inducted into the KU Athletics Hall of Fame and was awarded an associate degree. Mobley earned numerous accolades during an All-America career as a linebacker with the Golden Bears from 1991-95, before going on to earn All-Pro honors and a pair of Super Bowl titles with the NFL’s Denver Broncos. “I have nothing but gratitude for every- thing that happened – I am truly honored. Thank you to President Kenneth Hawkinson and (KU Foundation executive director) Alex Ogeka,” Mobley said. “Listening to remarks has me reminiscing about the journey. Something I tell my kids all the time when I’m coaching: Appreciate the journey.” KU partners with Folds of Honor Kutztown University provides a range of services to the university's active veterans community as part of its commitment to welcoming and supporting military students. The university's partnership with Folds of Honor Foundation, an organization that provides life-changing academic scholarships to the spouses and children of fallen or disabled U.S. service members and first responders, extends this commitment and acknowledges the sacrifice of our nation's heroes. Through this partnership, KU is matching up to $2,000 of the scholarship awarded through Folds of Honor. During the Fall 2023 semester, this program will support up to five students with the intention of increasing scholarship opportunities for additional students through the support of university benefactors. KU designated as a PA Hunger-Free Campus+ Kutztown University was designated as a PA Hunger-Free Campus+ by the Pa. Department of Education in recognition of the university’s commitment and leadership in the area of student food security. KU offers several services, including the Bear Essentials Pantry, an on-campus food pantry in the McFarland Student Union that is run by the Office of Student Involvement. The university also has a partnership with Friend Inc., a local nonprofit agency serving Northeastern Berks County that provides the pantry with perishable and nonperishable items. Additionally, KU maintains the Student Assistance Program, which offers information, guidance and referrals in areas that may impact students’ academic and personal success. Another program, the KU Cares team, includes university administrators, staff and students and connects students who face financial emergencies, such as the inability to pay for housing or necessities, to funding and other resources.
8 TOWER | FALL 2023 NEWS NOTES Keith Haring Fitness Court opens on campus KU and the Kutztown Community Partnership recently dedicated the Keith Haring Fitness Court with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The fitness court is located at Baldy Street and Normal Avenue on KU’s campus. The Keith Haring Fitness Collection is a limited edition, outdoor, public art collaboration with the Keith Haring Foundation in New York and Outdoor Fitness Court and the National Fitness Campaign. The fitness court features a 32-by-35-foot outdoor bodyweight circuit training system with 30 pieces of body-weight fitness elements, including seven full-body circuit training stations and a training wall. Students and faculty in the university’s sport management program dedicated some of their coursework toward programming for the fitness court. On June 26, KU and the Kutztown Community Partnership were awarded the Townie Award for Organizational Excellence and Community Partnership by the Pennsylvania Downtown Center for its work toward the fitness court. Accepting the award were Dr. Duane Crider, professor of sport management, and Jordan Davis '24, sport management intern who oversaw Keith Haring Day on May 4.
FALL 2023 | TOWER 9 KU awards honorary doctorates Kutztown University awarded Norman A. Inkpen Jr. ’70 an honorary doctorate during its 2022 Fall Commencement Ceremony, and Sandra L. Corpora ’69 and Placido “Pat” A. Corpora were awarded an honorary doctorate during the 2023 Spring Commencement Ceremony. A 1970 graduate of KU, Inkpen is committed to giving current and future KU students the chance to fulfill their educational dreams. Most recently, Inkpen established two endowed scholarships: one to benefit KU's diverse student population and the other to assist with student retention. Inkpen has served on the Kutztown University Foundation board of directors since 2015. In 2017, he accepted the role as chair of the Foundation's Campaign Committee. Sandra Corpora demonstrated exceptional ability for drawing and painting from an early age. She earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in painting from Kutztown State College in 1969. She established the Sandra Corpora ’69 Presidential Scholarship for Art Studies in 2007, and also generously funded the annual Summer Workshop Scholarships for KU students. In 2021, she established the Skye’s The Limit Emergency Fund for students needing basic assistance while attending KU. Pat Corpora is currently president of Corpora Consulting, a consulting service focusing on direct response strategy and implementation. He has proven his abilities in leading directto-consumer businesses to success in each of his major employment assignments. Sandra and Pat are founding members of the Kutztown University Arts Society and continue to generously support KU philanthropically. KUR wins best on-air pledge drive Norman A. Inkpen Jr. ’70 Sandra L. Corpora ’69 and Placido "Pat" A. Corpora Kutztown University Radio (KUR) recently won Best On-Air Pledge Drive at the 83rd annual Intercollegiate Broadcasting System Conference. KUR was nominated for seven awards for the second consecutive year. The conference awards colleges and universities for exceptional programming on the national level. Abby Regensburger '25, student and vice president of KUR, won the Best OnAir Pledge Drive Award for a fundraiser broadcast. The remaining KUR nominees – James Zipprodt '23, Linda Zuniga '25, Brandon Carnegie '23, Mitchell Smedley '25, Jack Heym '24, Kaylee Brulliea '25, Jake McDaniel '22 and Aliza Leibowitz '26 – were direct runners-up for their nomination categories. Those included Best Specialty Show (non-music), Best Community Outreach Event, Best Spot News Interview, Best Sports Talk Program and Best Program Director.
10 TOWER | FALL 2023 NEWS NOTES Dr. Learie C. Nurse named vice president Dr. Learie C. Nurse joined KU in July as the vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. Nurse oversees the comprehensive enrollment process from recruitment, admission and orientation to retention. He also oversees student affairs and areas related to the quality of student life and success on campus. Nurse comes to KU from Mary Baldwin University, Staunton, Va., where he served as the associate vice president of Student Engagement and the Title IX coordinator. “Thank you to President Hawkinson, Provost Basden Arnold and the entire Kutztown University community for the tremendous opportunity to serve as the next vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs,” Nurse said. “I am humbled and honored to serve. I am excited to leverage the collective talents and passions within the Division of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs team, to help students imagine new possibilities and elevate their current experiences.” Professor receives prestigious Sociology Award Dr. Albert S. Fu, professor of sociology, was named the recipient of the inaugural Community and Urban Sociology Excellence in Community and Urban Sociology Award at the 117th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. This award recognizes members of the ASA who demonstrate outstanding teaching skills in the field. As an urban and environmental sociologist, Fu currently teaches five regularly offered courses at KU and his work examines the intersectionality of built and natural environments. Over the course of his KU career, he has published more than a dozen articles as well as the book “Risky Cities,” published by Rutgers University Press. “It is a huge honor to be the first-ever recipient for this award,” Fu said. “This award is equally for my students and the wider KU community. I could not have done it without my amazing students inspiring me every day and my colleague’s support.” Professor awarded Guggenheim Fellowship Samantha Nye, assistant professor of art and design, was awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Nye was awarded for Film-Video and was one of 171 exceptional individuals selected from nearly 2,500 applications. Created and initially funded in 1925 by Sen. Simon and Olga Guggenheim in memory of their son, John Simon Guggenheim, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has sought since its inception to “further the development of scholars and artists by assisting them to engage in research in any field of knowledge and creation in any of the arts, under the freest possible conditions.” Military and Veterans Services CELEBRATING 10 YEARS AT KU (2013-2023) Named Best for Vets eight years in a row by Military Times Visit www.kutztown.edu/veterans to learn more.
FALL 2023 | TOWER 11 KU Foundation ALUMNI TOGETHER, WE'RE GOLDEN KUTZTOWN UNIVERSITY FOUNDATION CONTRIBUTES NEW BUILDINGS, RAISES $46.8 MILLION On Sept. 29, 2022, KU dedicated the Delight E. Breidegam Building: Headquarters of the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center. This newly renovated building houses the heritage center's world-class research collection of books, manuscripts, photographs, documents and artifacts acquired since the establishment of the center in 1991. The state-of-the-art research library is open to students, faculty, visiting researchers and the public, allowing access to this unique collection showcasing four centuries of the Pennsylvania German cultural presence in the region surrounding Kutztown. The center is named for DeLight E. Breidegam Jr., co-founder of East Penn Manufacturing, philanthropist and enthusiast of Pennsylvania German culture. As part of the campaign for Kutztown University, the KU Foundation completed three capital projects over the course of the last academic year, transforming campus and providing exciting new opportunities for students, faculty and the community. Dan Breidegam, son of DeLight E. Breidegam Jr. and chair of East Penn Manufacturing Co. 1
12 TOWER | FALL 2023 The Wells-Rapp Center for Mallet Percussion Research was completed in winter 2023. This working facility is open to students and researchers alike, allowing visitors access to KU's growing collection of music, photos and artifacts, along with the rare and valuable vintage collection of mallet percussion instruments that have been acquired over three decades. Concerts have already been held in the 2,100-square-foot performance space, and supporters of the project toured the space in April. The center is named for emeriti faculty members Richard G. Wells ’22 L.H.D. and Dr. Willis M. Rapp. The Nancy Jean Stump Seiger ’54 Botanical Research Center, located next to Boehm Science Building, was dedicated in June. Faculty and students alike will spend time in the new area, advancing botanical research in ways that will be appreciated far beyond the KU campus. This facility will be used in community education events for gardening and will complement research in regenerative organic agriculture associated with KU’s new environmental studies program track. The center is named for Nancy Jean Stump Seiger, who graduated in 1954 with a degree in education and received an honorary degree from KU in 2021.. She taught fifth grade in the Reading School District for 32 years and taught citizenship classes at night. 2 3 Matt Delaney, vice president, Finance & Facilities; Dr. Lorin Basden Arnold, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs; Dr. Kaoutar El Mounado, associate professor of biology; Alex Ogeka, executive director of KU Foundation; Nancy Jean Stump Seiger ’54, ’21 Ped.D.; Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson, president; Dr. Laurie McMillan, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and Dr. David Beougher, former dean; cut the ribbon at the Botanical Research Center dedication. Elizabeth J. Wells; Richard G. Wells ’22 L.H.D., professor emeritus of music; Joan Rapp; Dr. Willis M. Rapp, professor emeritus of music, member of KU Foundation’s Board of Directors KU Foundation ALUMNI
FALL 2023 | TOWER 13 Together, we raised $46,852,180 to create more scholarships, increase emergency funds and enhance student experiences. Together, we more than doubled the time our alumni and friends engaged with us. Together, we helped bring significant capital improvements on campus in addition to the listed buildings: the Fred and Martha ’02 Hafer Scanning Electron Microscope Laboratory, the C.R. Chambliss Astronomical Observatory and the Beebe Family Conference Room in the renovated deFrancesco Building. Together, we also constructed the Hampton Inn & Suites Kutztown, one of the highest-rated Hampton hotels in the world and whose fundamental purpose is to raise funds to support our students. Together, we brought transformative change to campus. On December 31, 2022, the KU Foundation wrapped Together, We’re Golden: The Campaign for KU Because Together, We’re GOLDEN! October 25 – 26 October 28 www.kuf.org/kuf $50mil $40mi $30mil $20mil $10mil $0 Fundraising Pre-Campaign vs. Campaign $14,914,150.19 $46,852,180.00 FY10 – FY16 FY17 – 12/31/22 12k 10k 8k 6k 4k 2k 0 New Donors *both individual and corporate 4,565 10,635 FY10 – FY16 FY17 – 12/31/22 180 160 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 New Scholarships 121 163 FY10 – FY16 FY17 – 12/31/22
14 TOWER | FALL 2023 Kutztown alumna Alexa Sicher ’14 knew from the time she was in kindergarten that she wanted to be a dentist – so majoring in biology in college was a given. Her story is not typical, however. Girls and women can often be systematically tracked away from studying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), limiting their opportunities to go into these career fields – which include some of the most in-demand, highly paid occupations. According to a study by the American Association of University Women, reasons for the disparity include gender stereotypes that portray these fields as masculine, male-dominated cultures in STEM fields, and fewer female role models. According to the National Science Foundation, the STEM workforce in the U.S. grew by 20 percent between 2011 and 2021. The number of women employed in those fields also grew during that same 10-year period – but the number still lags behind the number of men working in STEM. Of everyone working in STEM fields, only 32 percent are women. On these pages are the stories of Sicher and three other KU alumnae who earned degrees in STEM fields. Their experiences reflect the ways that the university nurtured and encouraged them on their career journeys. FEATURE BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS KU ALUMNAE THRIVE IN STEM FIELDS BY VICKI MAYK Practicing the ART OF DENTISTRY When Alexa Sicher ’14 entered dental school after graduating from Kutztown University, she didn’t know she’d be making history. But that’s what happened in 2018 when she graduated fourth in her class, where women outnumbered men for the first time in the history of the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. Sicher, who practices at Messersmith, Keller & Sicher Family Dentistry in Kutztown, set her sights on a STEM career from an early age. “I’ve wanted to be a dentist since kindergarten,” she says. “Ever since I got my teeth cleaned for the first time, I just loved going to the dentist. When we had to write on a piece of paper what you want to be when you grow up, the answer was always ‘dentist.’ It’s funny that it came full circle.” Sicher grew up just outside Kutztown. When she chose a college, she looked at several schools while considering the best preparation for dental school, and the Pre-Medical, Pre-Veterinary, Pre-Dental track had recently been introduced within KUs biology major, affirming her final choice. The track, now called Pre-Medical and Other Health Careers, includes classes in subjects such as histology and anatomy. She minored in biochemistry. “I found that in dental school, those specific classes really set me apart from my classmates,” Sicher says. “It made quite a big difference once I got to dental school.”
FALL 2023 | TOWER 15 She praised the biology department’s small class sizes and mentoring. “Because the ratio of faculty to students is so low, they can give one-on-one attention to every student,” she says, noting the guidance she received from her advisor, Dr. Matthew Stone, associate professor, biological sciences. Sicher says Dr. Anne Zayaitz, retired provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, was a mentor and role model for being a woman in a STEM field. At the time, Zayaitz was dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and is also a biologist. “I actually met her at the STEM open house when I was applying to KU,” Sicher says. The meeting led to an invitation to work in the dean’s office, where Sicher planned the STEM open houses held twice a year. Sicher’s other extracurricular activities included the Biology Club and being a health ambassador, which involved promoting wellness activities to students. While at KU, she completed a required externship that provided more preparation for dental school. She shadowed Dr. William Messersmith in the practice where she now works. He asked her to continue working parttime during the school year and summers as a sterilization assistant, helping to set up examination rooms and sterilizing instruments. That experience and her excellent academic record led to her acceptance to four dental schools. She chose the University of Pittsburgh for its reputation and a program that allowed her to do rotations in specialties such as endodontics, prosthodontics and a clinic working with special needs patients. She earned induction into Omicron Kappa Upsilon National Dental Honor Society, reserved for the top 12 percent of graduates, and the Northeastern Society of Periodontists Award. A mission trip providing dental care in the Dominican Republic during her training inspired her to continue giving back after graduation. Today, she regularly does presentations about oral hygiene in Mennonite schools. Sicher says her education has served her well in a general practice where she does root canals and extractions as well as more routine care. As a top student in dental school, she was encouraged to pursue a specialty, but prefers the day-to-day interaction with patients in general practice. “I’m a people person,” she says. She sees dentistry as an art form, allowing her to combine a lifelong artistic bent with scientific training. “I like the aspect of it that allows me to create an artistic masterpiece in people’s mouths. You realize that doing one small thing just changed a person’s entire outlook on their confidence and appearance.” I like the aspect of it that allows me to create an artistic masterpiece in people’s mouths. You realize that doing one small thing just changed a person’s entire outlook on their confidence and appearance. – ALEXA SICHER ’14 KU Symposium encourages interest in STEM careers KU’s Girls in STEM Symposium aims to change the statistic that only 32% of the STEM workforce is women. The community outreach event is designed to empower girls to consider STEM careers. In 2022, more than 100 girls from 10 regional high schools attended. The symposium included a panel of female STEM professionals as well as opportunities for attendees to interact with representatives from local companies to explore STEM career opportunities. The event is an expansion of KU’s successful Girls In Computer Science Symposium, which encouraged more first-year students to enter the computer science field. The event began to include all STEM fields in 2021.
16 TOWER | FALL 2023 FEATURE Traveling to the BRINK OF VOLCANOES Danielle Moyer ’15 has peered deeply into erupting volcanoes. Skillfully flying a hobby drone modified to collect data about particles they spew, Moyer gathered information that she used to complete her doctorate in biodiversity, Earth and environmental science specializing in volcanology. She earned the degree in 2022 from Drexel University. Along the way, she studied volcanoes – both active and extinct – in Iceland, India, Italy, Indonesia, Chile and in Yellowstone National Park. Now, she’s applying the troubleshooting skills she learned in the field to a job as an emergency management program specialist, doing disaster mitigation for Connecticut’s Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. Moyer’s journey to the volcanic rim began when she majored in geology at KU. As a high school student at nearby Brandywine Heights High School, she never intended to study earth sciences. Her priority was seeing the world and she wanted a science career that would allow her to do that. “I was going to be a chemical engineer, work in a lab and travel wherever I wanted on my vacations,” she says. She began to imagine a different science career when Dr. Kurt Friehauf, KU professor of geology, organized a lecture series focusing on women in science. Moyer attended while still in high school and was wowed by stories of geologists conducting research in fascinating locations. “I went to these lectures and heard (about) people working on glaciers. You had people who focused on the geology of other planets, and I thought, ‘Oh, gosh, you can do anything…’ ” Moyer says, adding that the geology department welcomed her “with open arms.” One of the lecturers, Dr. Adrienne Oakley, was a marine geologist who joined the KU faculty. Moyer’s first undergraduate field experience was accompanying Oakley on a ship as they mapped the ocean floor in the Pacific between Hawaii and Guam. She also worked with Oakley at the Chincoteague Bay Field Station in Virginia. “I had an absolute ball working in the marshes around Chincoteague collecting data for Dr. Oakley’s research,” Moyer says. Field work is a hallmark of KU’s geology program and Moyer was hooked. “I could not remember a semester when we were not taking a trip out into the field.” After earning her bachelor’s degree in geology with a professional writing minor, she sought a graduate program that would allow her to conduct field work around the world. A specialty in volcanology proved the right match and she was soon gathering field data in Iceland. As part of her research, she developed a way to use drones to collect data that would become part of her doctoral dissertation, “Drones, Scopes, and Aerosols: A Study of Gas and Particle Emissions from Yellowstone, Sinabung, and Villarrica Volcanoes.” The title is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the John Candy movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” Moyer says women still face challenges in STEM fields, but she was fortunate to have supportive colleagues. “They would stick up for me if they saw me being talked over and so on. So, still a lot of barriers, but I was surrounded by folks ready to stand up for me with the idea that everyone deserves a voice at the table.” After earning her doctorate, Moyer began exploring positions in disaster relief and emergency management, fields that would benefit from her ability to navigate and respond in tough environments. She was offered the Connecticut job in late 2022. Moyer analyzes data and identifies ways to interrupt the cycle of disasters, such as coastal flooding. She also studies the effectiveness of strategies used to mitigate disasters. Her success, she says, began at Kutztown. “I was very fortunate to have a supportive community around me. By the time I was scaling volcanoes, I was thinking, ‘They told me this was possible.’ ”
FALL 2023 | TOWER 17 ENSURING SAFETY in research environments Jessica (Bolden) Huey ’10 has combined early career experiences working in laboratories with an advanced degree in safety science to forge a career ensuring workplace environments are safe. As an environmental health safety specialist at Krystal Biotech Inc., a Pittsburghbased manufacturing company focusing on gene therapies, she works to ensure employee safety and environmental compliance with local, state and federal regulations. Huey says her childhood affinity for animals was what first put her on a path to a science career. “I was mute for the first four years of my life. The best way to get me to talk was to introduce animals into my life. My father would bring home stray animals and I would help take care of them, providing health updates,” Huey says. She learned about Kutztown University at a college fair at Woodland Hills High School in suburban Pittsburgh. KU combined a rural location – “I love the mix of rural, suburban and city environments” — with proximity to Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C. Arriving on campus, she found a mentor and role model in Dr. Anne Zayaitz, former provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, who was then a member of the biology faculty. Zayaitz encouraged Huey to be a critical thinker while facilitating her transition to college. “She never forced anything on us. She just gave us the opportunity to think for ourselves,” Huey recalls. The personal attention from faculty and the wealth of field experiences in her major prepared her for an enviable first job after graduation, as a husbandry technician at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. It was a division headed by a scientist destined to become a household name: Dr. Anthony Fauci. Huey was animal caretaker for the thousands of domesticated, wild and exotic animals used in research, and worked closely with researchers developing vaccines and other therapies. “In addition to Dr. Zayaitz, other biology faculty, such as Dr. Carol Mapes, Dr. Chris Sacchi, Dr. Todd Underwood, and Dr. William Towne, helped me to understand how the various science fields operated in the real world, allowing me to stand out as a curious and critical thinker in each career role. Frequently, I was asked to train other employees and to develop procedures. I was also able to deal with more risky research models because of my handling and care techniques, observation skills and work ethic,” she says. A return to Pittsburgh to help care for her parents led to positions as a husbandry supervisor and laboratory coordinator at the University of Pittsburgh and its school of medicine. She also worked as a veterinary anesthetist in a veterinary specialty hospital. During that time, she earned a master of science degree in safety science from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The degree allows her to combine her knowledge of research environments, risk management, personnel health and safety with the tools necessary to help ensure safe working conditions for a diverse workplace that includes researchers, manufacturing teams and support business units. Her first job in the field was with GSK, a leading pharmaceutical company, at its facility in Rockville, Md. As part of an environmental health and safety (EHS) team, Huey helped ensure the facility complied with regulations set by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other agencies. One aspect of the job – educating employees about workplace safety risks – became especially challenging during the COVID 19 pandemic. “My proactiveness and experience in research helped the EHS department mitigate a lot of the risks that could have impacted the site’s progress, and employee morale,” she says. In 2022, she joined Krystal Biotech, this time as a one-woman department overseeing environmental health and safety. She’s also been able to pursue a long-time dream – one that dates back to her childhood love of animals. She and her husband, Richard, have purchased an 82-acre farm in Pennsylvania. “My passion has always been to have my own farm,” she said.
18 TOWER | FALL 2023 FEATURE Alexis Peoples ’21, M’22 remembers her first computer science class at Kutztown. “I was a little intimidated because everyone in my class was male,” she remembers. Then, her professor passed out a questionnaire. “One of the questions was, ‘Which programming languages do you use?’ I answered, ‘I don’t use any,’ ” Peoples says. “There were so many people in that class who knew so much already. There were other questions like, ‘What is your experience with computer science?’ There were some people who chose the option ‘Expert’ to answer, like they had actually worked in the field already and had come back to college to get a better degree. I was very intimidated because I was one of the few, if not the only, person in that class who didn’t have any experience.” Determined to succeed, Peoples earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2021 and a master’s degree in the field a year later. Her success is noteworthy: A July 2022 article in Scientific American stated that only 20 percent of undergraduate degrees in computer science are earned by women. The article’s authors cited the results of research they published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, a peer-reviewed journal, which examined gender disparities in computer science and engineering fields. They found that the more girls believed gender stereotypes favoring boys in those disciplines, the lower their interest and sense of belonging in them. Peoples, a native of Philadelphia, had focused on art in high school. A friend who was planning to study computer science recommended KU. Because of her interest in computer game design, Peoples’ mother suggested that she also major in computer science. Acknowledging the two fields are not the same, Peoples decided to give it a try. She liked the fact that she could earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years with KU’s 4-plus-1 accelerated program in computer science. When she attended the Accepted Students’ Reception, her decision was reinforced COMPUTING SUCCESS with positivity by the warm reception she received from Dr. Lisa Frye ’90, M’93, chair of KU’s Computer Science and Information Technology Department. “She was excited to see me and wanted me to stay,” Peoples says, adding that as her advisor, Frye encouraged and supported her throughout her undergraduate career. “She definitely did a lot to keep me grounded.” Peoples soon got up to speed in her classes. She credits her success to a willingness to meet with faculty during office hours to ask questions and clarify class material. Faculty always were eager to help. Although she initially was intimidated by being one of the few women in her major, she says she never experienced gender bias. “All of my professors were extremely helpful. They never made me feel put down. And neither did any of the men in my classes.” Peoples says she enjoys the creativity involved in applying computer science. “I like the problem-solving aspect of it. I like that there are so many ways of getting the problem solved. If the first solution that I thought would work did not work, let me try it again.” After earning her master’s degree, she’s been able to use those problem-solving skills in her job as an applications developer in the Information Technology Department at KU. In that role, she supports computer users across campus in resolving problems. She also is the lead DocuSign developer, making forms for university departments. After entering a male-dominated field, Peoples has advice for other young women embarking on the same journey. “I would tell them that, even if it gets hard, you can do it. Just because you’re a woman or because you’re a person of color or you’re disabled, doesn’t mean that you can’t. You can do what you want to do if you put your mind to it. It may be a little bit difficult, but as long as you take the steps and persevere, you’ll get there.” You can do what you want to do if you put your mind to it. It may be a little bit difficult, but as long as you take the steps and persevere, you’ll get there. – ALEXIS PEOPLES ’21, M’22
FALL 2023 | TOWER 19 ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT As an interaction designer at Google, Peter Hershey’s job is to figure out how to make technology more useful and reducing the time it takes for people to complete everyday tasks. Could you benefit from automating the mundane responsibilities in your life? Google Assistant, which Hershey works with, can help people turn on lights, set timers, create reminders – in short, make life easier so people can spend less time on daily jobs and more energy on what they enjoy. “We’re only scratching the surface of what these assistants can do,” Hershey said. “In five years, we could be able to do things we aren’t even anticipating now.” Hershey pivoted to a career in user experience (UX) design after working as a brand designer for several years, and the change feels like the ideal progression for him. “It wasn’t intentional,” he laughed. “I was facing the same challenges year after year but wanted to do something different. What attracted me to UX was it is more quantifiable. As a brand designer, if you make a logo and the client doesn’t like it, you’re out of luck. With UX design, we examine metrics and conduct user testing. If you design an incredible app but then no one can use it, you don’t give up. You go step by step and figure it out.” Instead of attending a coding bootcamp, Hershey transitioned into his new position via on-the-job training. It wasn’t the first time he relied on experiential learning for professional growth – during his time at KU, he worked as a student employee for the Office of University Relations and developed his digital design skills. Those skills, along with other projects, led Hershey to build a portfolio of work he could display for prospective employers, which helped him secure a position. “When you apply for your first job, you have to show prospective employers you can do the thing you want to get hired for,” he said. “Develop a portfolio through internships, student employment, volunteer work or personal projects. An employer wants to get a sense of what you can do and that they can trust you to do it.” At KU, he also learned how to become a more versatile thinker and generate ideas on the fly. “‘Visual Thinking’ with Kate Clair, professor in Art & Design, was a crucial class for me,” he explained. “It was instrumental in teaching me how to get ideas out of my mind and onto paper. An idea in your head isn’t worth anything. For one assignment, we had to draw a smiley face 100 different ways and submit it the next day. I learned there are more ideas in my head than I thought there were, and (also) how to think beyond the obvious. I find that very valuable, even many years later.” When he isn’t brainstorming new ways to streamline daily life with tech, Hershey is traveling the world. A thirst for adventure has taken him to 39 countries, everywhere from Germany to Southeast Asia. “My life has been enriched so much by the people I’ve met traveling,” he said. “You never know what to expect, and that’s the most fun. Get out there. Meet people. You’ll reap dividends in your life that you could have never even anticipated.” PETER HERSHEY ’12 BY ESTHER SHANAHAN LAYING THE GROUNDWORK FOR A BETTER FUTURE | TOWER
20 TOWER | FALL 2023 ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT
FALL 2023 | TOWER 21 AKELLO AMANI MOSBY ’22 finds new career direction in Emerging Educators of Color program BY VICKI MAYK TEACHING THE NEXT GENERATION When Akello Amani Mosby ’22 entered Kutztown University, he didn’t plan on becoming a teacher. The Philadelphia native intended to major in accounting while playing center on the Golden Bears basketball team. He chose Kutztown after graduating from George Washington Carver Engineering and Science High School, seeking a university that would give him a break from city living, allow him to play his sport, and prepare him for a business career. That changed after he took an education class and became involved with the student group Emerging Educators of Color. Now, Mosby has completed his first year as a social studies teacher in the Parkland School District just outside Allentown, Pa. He teaches classes in American history and U.S. government. “Accounting in that first semester didn’t feel right,” Mosby says. “And then I met Dr. Amber Pabon. I didn’t have that many Black teachers and then to have a Black professor, I thought, ‘All right. This is interesting.’ Taking her Education 100 class (Perspectives on American Education) really kind of laid a path for me and started a journey.” FINDING A MENTOR Pabon’s class covers the development of American public education from the 1800s to the present within social, historical, and political contexts. It also examines the exclusionary nature of early education and policies that prohibited people of color from attending school or created barriers to accessing education. The class inspired Mosby to want to be part of the solution. “The class discussions and the openness and transparency that existed in that class were really important to me … I realized that this is something that people are involved in trying to fix. That’s something that I want to be involved in. I want to help fix the education system,” Mosby says. With Pabon as a mentor, he became a supplemental instructor for one of her classes, performing administrative tasks and leading discussions. Pabon, associate professor of secondary education and director of the Frederick Douglass Institute and the Emerging Educators of Color, says it’s not surprising that Mosby initially had not thought of a teaching career. Only 2 percent of teachers in U.S. public schools are Black men, Pabon explains, and when combined with Black women educators, the total is only about 13 percent. Pabon has studied the experience of Black male teachers. She says that lack of role models in a white-dominated profession is just one factor that discourages students of color from becoming educators. Others include troubling experiences in the educational system, from unrelatable curriculum to a bias that can pigeonhole them as discipline problems. Like Mosby, Pabon says, “Some of those folks are coming back to the classroom to fix the system so that future generations don’t have similar experiences.” GAINING INSIGHT AND KNOWLEDGE Mosby was among the first participants in Emerging Educators of Color, a group Pabon founded to encourage and support students seeking a teaching career. Discussions and advising help students see that “becoming a teacher is a noble career path.” Additional inspiration comes from trips to places like Washington, D.C., to mark the anniversary of Brown vs. the Board of Education, the Supreme Court case that ended segregation of U.S. public schools. Students also visited the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture. A New York trip provided insight into the city’s public schools. Students spoke about their experiences at the university’s diversity conference. The group also has a practical component: Participants receive guidance navigating the steps necessary to become teachers, from ensuring they take required classes to preparing for certification exams. Becoming an educator of color is more than being a role model, Pabon says. It’s also a way to share knowledge of a subject – one of Mosby’s strengths. “Something I really appreciate about Akello is his passion about history. His facility with the material (in his classes) is masterful. It’s impressive,” she says. Mosby’s enthusiasm for the subject is evident. “A lack of knowledge of how our government functions is a disease that many young people have. In fact, we could all benefit from a little more education about how our government works, how our elections work, and the importance of voting,” Mosby says. Using the example of women gaining the right to vote, he recalls a classroom discussion that examined the importance of voter inclusion, voter turnout, and the way certain demographics can impact election outcomes. Although his career choice is different than when he entered KU, basketball remains part of his life. After playing for KU during his time as a student, he is now an assistant coach at his former high school in Philadelphia and also plays in an adult league. A lifetime of working with coaches informs the way he interacts with his students. As he finishes his first year of full-time teaching, Mosby says he’s assessing what approaches work best with students. “I want to be able to create a welcoming environment where every student feels like they can be themselves, express themselves – and not hate being in school,” he says with a smile.