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Alumni return for Panel and Networking Night

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On February 16, College of Liberal Arts students and fellow alumni gathered in the conference room on the top floor of Anderson Hall for a Career Panel and Speed Networking Mixer.

In attendance were five prominent graduates of CLA: Carlos Beato, Robert Giampietro, Jeffrey Reinhold, Carol Veizer and Gerald Vigna. The event began with a panel discussion where the distinguished practitioners discussed possible career paths and networking strategies and gave advice to motivated Owls.

The discussion was followed by a speed networking session where attending students had the opportunity to connect directly with the speakers in smaller groups. The alumni in attendance were from all different industries and were able to give aspiring professionals valuable career advice.

Carlos Beato (Sociology and Psychology ’01) was not new to giving undergrads advice at CLA networking events, as he has attended prior sessions CLA has hosted. Beato has a vast background working in law offices and counseling several different types of corporations and companies. Beato currently provides counsel to the Speaker of the City of New York’s Council on State and Federal issues. He also has had employment working in the government relations sector where he worked with labor unions, fortune 500 companies and large non-profits.  The former Owl also served as a social worker where he counseled victims of domestic violence and other crimes.

Giampietro graduated from CLA in 1972 with a degree in English and now owns his own consulting firm, Giampeitro Consulting, LLC. He previously worked as president for Trend and Innovation at Toys and Babies RUs. Giampeitro also served as the vice president of Strategic Alliance and New Business for Target for 23 years, during which he introduced SuperTarget and worked on target.com. His extensive experience in Business Development and Strategic Consulting in HR, Property Development, Marketing, Product and Brand Development and merchandise presentation make him an ideal networking opportunity for students interested in communications.

Reinhold obtained an Economics degree from CLA in 1979 and returned to Temple in ’86 to get his masters in Finance. His company, Reinhold Residental, owns and manages 13 properties located in the Philadelphia, West Chester and Pittsburgh regions.Three of Reinhold’s buildings, The Packard, Metropolitan and Old Quaker, previously won “Top Ten” awards from the Apartment Association. The former chief financial officer of New York Stock Exchange listed Checkpoint System, Inc., Reinhold has had major exposure to both the real estate and finance industries. The distinguished alum is an active member of the Philadelphia housing community and serves on the Board of Visitors for CLA.

Veizer received a degree in English in 1973 and founded the NJ Center for Healing Arts in 1989. The center is now accredited as being one of the first integrative mental health centers in the country. Veizer also co-founded the International Network of Integrative Mental Health. She is a professor, practitioner and still maintains an active integrative psychotherapy practice. Veizer thanks her early education in humanities and the arts, saying “it gave me a wider lens through which to look at science in the context of social and cultural expression.” She has boundless knowledge to share with students about mental health and the changing paradigms of the field.

Vigna (Religion ’73) was president of the CLA Alumni Association (CLAAA) in which he was responsible for restructuring and establishing four working communities. He has dedicated immeasurable hours giving back to Temple by serving as a member on the TUAA board, Alumni Engagement Committee and Community Service Committee. Vigna has also held mock interviews for the Temple University Career Center. Now a professor at Alvernia University, Vigna has served as the director of the masters program in Community Leadership and also founded Alvernia’s Center for Ethics and Leadership. Vigna has also worked as the treasurer for the College Theology Society and was their vice president for two years. 
The professor has a lengthy resume dealing with aspects of Religion and Theology.

The CLA Career Panel and Speed Networking Mixer was a success in allowing students to network and create relationships with outstanding alumni in various fields one can enter upon graduation from Temple.

The next networking event will take place on April 15th. To find out more information click here.


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Students dig into the Bronze Age

Temple students Paige Randazzo, Class of 2017, and Marvin Fequiere, Class of 2015, spent their winter break in northern Oman. While there, the pair unearthed the 5,000-year-old skeleton of a child from a stone tomb atop a cliff on the Arabian Peninsula.

“It was everything I have ever wanted,” Randazzo, an anthropology major from Lafayette, New Jersey, said of the experience. “At the same time, it was scary, because I knew these bones were a person and I was responsible for handling them and that they could break because they were so old.”

The duo were among six undergraduates from Temple who were taking part in bioarchaeology training as part of the Social, Spatial, and Bioarchaeological Histories of Ancient Oman (SoBO) project. Bioarchaeology is the study of human skeletal remains from archaeological sites for the purpose of reconstructing past human activities and health patterns. The SoBo project analyzes the area’s shifting Bronze Age mortuary traditions.

Kimberly Williams, an assistant professor of anthropology and a skeletal biologist, launched the project in 2010 after she received a Temple Faculty Senate Seed Money Fund grant and a National Science Foundation grant, which continues to fund the project and the students’ field experiences.

This year, the SoBO team also included Temple graduate student and research assistant Megan Luthern; the project’s co-director, Lesley Gregoricka, a bioarchaeologist from the University of South Alabama; three of Gregoricka’s students; a resident of an Omani village close to the dig site; and a member of Oman’s Ministry of Heritage and Culture.

Besides skeletal remains, over the course of five seasons of fieldwork the excavations of more than 20 tombs have uncovered ceramics from Mesopotamia, carnelian beads from southern Asia’s Indus Valley and locally made bronze swords, daggers and personal ornaments.

“The Mesopotamians wanted bronze [a copper alloy]. There is evidence of copper mining and smelting, and of exporting the resulting bronze to Mesopotamia and beyond,” said Williams.

“What’s fascinating is that, at the same time you have great civilizations nearby, this was a not-well-documented hinterland populated by workaday people who, in the grand scheme of history, far outnumber the elite,” she said. “We want to understand the role of these relatively invisible people.”

Williams said the fieldwork trains her students to employ the scientific method in the real world, developing and testing hypotheses and adapting them to the conditions they encounter and the data they generate.

It also allows her students to determine if they have the requisite passion for scientific fieldwork. For example, Fequiere, an anthropology major from northeast Philadelphia, plans to return with Williams to Oman both for a dig in May and one next winter.

Likewise, Nurvidia A. Rosario, Class of 2015, an anthropology major from South Philadelphia, said she found her niche cleaning skeletons in the Oman laboratory. She now intends to pursue a graduate degree in bioarchaeology.

“You start thinking about these people as actual persons, wondering, ‘Who were they and what were they like?’” said Rosario. “From the way they were buried it’s obvious that they had people who cared about them. It also says a lot about the human experience.”

Randazzo, who received a university Creative Arts, Research and Scholarship grant to fund her honors thesis on erosional effects on the tombs, had a similar epiphany: “When I was out there, I knew I had to be a bioarchaeologist. I got this peaceful feeling knowing I was in the right place.”

-Bruce E. Beans


CLA students approved for CARAS research program

Three students from the College of Liberal Arts have been approved for the Creative Arts, Research, and Scholarship program for the spring semester of 2015. The Temple University Research Administration in collaboration with the Office of Provost and the Deans of Temple’s Schools and Colleges provides funding for undergraduate or professional students to engage in research projects that contribute to advancing their field of study.

Before being chosen for the grant and project, Samantha Stella, Christopher Sohnly, and Jennifer Francesconi had to submit a clearly focused project plan addressing an issue, concern, or aspect related to his/her field of study including a detailed budget proposal. The applicants also had to obtain an endorsement by a full-time faculty member and the dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

Samantha Stella’s (psychology, cognitive neuroscience) research will determine if social media usage has an impact on one’s empathy. Since social media sites are relatively new, some research has indicated that the popular sites can have an antisocial impact, while other research has demonstrated prosocial effects, Stella said. She is very curious to see what the impact on empathy will be, particularly in the undergraduate population. Mentored by Jason Chein, Stella will analyze data results to see if there is a statistically significant relationship between empathy and social media usage.

During his research project, Christopher Sohnly (landscape architecture) will refine data gathered to support the landscape management plan he created over the summer of 2014 for Gheel House, located in Pughtown, Pennsylvania. Sohnly designed and cleared a trail system through the acres of woodlands, meadow, and wetlands that the Gheel house sits on for the residents and office tenants of the area to enjoy as a contracting job. Mentored by Eva Monheim and Susan Mrugal, Sohnly has taken surveys of the land and vegetation, while also working with residents, directors, and staff of Gheel House to best implement their vision of the area.The CARAS project will allow time to organize and archive flora lists, photographs and maps so that this primary data will be available to others.

Jennifer Francesconi’s (psychology) project on the effects of aging on decision making was sparked by her interest in cognitive deficits produced by neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s. Her research will investigate the performance differences in decision making by young and aged mice. While working with professor Vinay Parikh, Francesconi will explore if aged mice use a different strategy then younger ones, while accessing their brain network level. She hopes to determine why some are more susceptible to cognitive decline in aging, while others are not.

With their acceptance to the CARAS research program, each student received a grant that will help them fund their research in hopes they will discover valuable data and experiences that will help grow their research, creative, and intellectual skills in their desired field of study.


Baccalaureate Awards Ceremony now accepting nominations

Annual Awards and Scholarships Nomination Process Now Open

Each year on the eve of commencement, the best and brightest in the College of Liberal Arts are honored at the annual CLA Baccalaureate Awards Ceremony. Baccalaureate award prizes can range from just recognition and can extend all the way to scholarships and internships. Some awards, prizes, and scholarships are general for all College of Liberal Arts students while others are department specific.  The accolades are named in recognition of past alumni, school presidents, faculty members, or friends of Temple that truly made a mark in their field of work.

Faculty members are encouraged to nominate students who meet the eligibility criteria for specific awards. Although the Awards Selection Committee does not accept student self-nominations,  students who do feel they are qualified should see the faculty Undergraduate Chair of their major. It should be noted that scholarships are credited to tuition and only students with more than 12 credit hours remaining after spring 2015 are eligible for scholarship money, but there are other awards available for those who do not match that condition. Nominations are due by not later than Monday, February 9th. View a full listing of awards being given out this year. 


Psychology department members receive funding and awards for research

The College of Liberal Arts is pleased to announce that both students and faculty from the psychology department have received funding and awards for their current research in advancing the psychology field.

Lauren Ellman, a psychology assistant professor, has received a continuation of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for her research entitled Fetal Exposure to Maternal Stress and Inflammation: Effects on Neurodevelopment. To receive funding from NIH, Ellman’s work had to pass through a rigorous review by physicians, scientists and other experienced workers in the biomedical fields to evaluate the worth of proposed research and its potential to advance science.

Two psychology students, Jessica Hamilton and Elissa Hamlat, have been named recipients of the 2014 Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology Student Dissertation Awards. Before submitting their application along with a research and budget plan, the psychology department had to approve both girls’ projects and send in a letter of reference. Both of the girls decided to focus on the topic of depression and are being mentored by Lauren Alloy, psychology professor. Hamilton’s research is entitled Physiological Markers of Stress Generation and Affect Reactivity in Risk for Depression. Hamlat’s project is entitled Memory Specificity Training as Depression Intervention.


Undergraduate and graduate students are spending their winter breaks in Oman researching ancient burial grounds. The students will return Jan. 11.

Students spend winter break digging into Middle East history

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Handling human skulls isn’t a typical winter break activity.

But students from Temple University, the University of South Alabama and Ohio State University have been doing just that in northern Oman since Dec. 16. The group’s research is part of a project called Social, Spatial and Bioarchaeological Histories of Ancient Oman. And they call themselves Team SOBO.

Dr. Kimberly Williams, a professor at Temple, started the project in 2010 with funding from Temple University. She has brought a group to Oman every winter break since to study mortuary traditions in the peninsula and how they reflect the cultural identity of its people. Williams directs the project with Dr. Lesley Gregoricka of University of South Alabama.

This year’s group has 14 members: directors Williams and Gregoricka , two graduate student teaching assistants, eight undergraduates, one member of the cultural research and restoration group, plus a resident of Dhank, Oman who is training to be an archaeologist. The students will return from Oman on Jan. 11.

But that’s not to say SOBO’s sole purpose is to train young archaeologists, Williams says

“This is a real working research project, not an archaeological field school. So our purpose is not solely to train these students,” Williams says. “Of course, through their participation they receive training. But we have high standards and the work is hard. These students rise to the occasion every time.”

(Photo: Kimberly Williams and Team SOBO)

(Photo: Kimberly Williams and Team SOBO)

Despite the project’s intense fieldwork, Williams says students who want to participate don’t need prior experience and that she loves selecting students who have not traveled extensively before.

“The only place I had ever been to outside of the U.S. was Canada, so I was both nervous and excited to know I was going to be in a whole new culture,” says Paige Randazzo, a sophomore studying anthropology at Temple.

The pilot trip was originally funded through Temple University in 2010. Williams says the data from that project paved the way for the National Science Foundation (NSF) grant she and Gregoricka later received for their research proposal. SOBO is in its second year of the NSF project and will continue every year indefinitely, Williams says.

Although spending winter break in the Middle Eastern desert may be unusual for an American college student, those currently on the trip say the experience is invaluable.

“The most memorable moment for me is definitely when I was sitting down in a tumulus and lifting the skull of what we speculate to be a male sub-adult,” says Marvin Fequiere, a Temple senior studying human biology, anthropology and environmental studies.

University of South Alabama sophomore Campbell Walker also had an exciting find while excavating. As he was sweeping the exterior of a tomb, he says, he discovered a well-preserved bronze point.

“It fell into my hand like I was meant to find it,” Walker says.

Exciting experiences aside, some students say being away from their families during the holiday season was difficult. But the program directors and teaching assistants didn’t let the students miss out on the holidays.

(Photo: Kimberly Williams and Team SOBO)

(Photo: Kimberly Williams and Team SOBO)

Team SOBO had a Christmas party, featuring a tree, Santa hats, presents and a chalk outline of a grandma with camel footprints around her “body.” Team SOBO’s Twitter feed shows photos of the students in party hats celebrating New Year’s Eve a few hours before midnight. Team members with birthdays during the trip also enjoyed surprise birthday parties.

Spending so much time together has made the group grow close quickly.

“We are living in close quarters,” Walker says. “And field research is such a team endeavor that you’re bound to become close”.

While many of the Temple students knew each other prior to the trip, Temple senior Robyn Reichart says they’ve grown closer and enjoyed getting to know the students from Alabama.

“I feel like I’ve known the University of South Alabama students my whole life though it’s only been three weeks,” Reichart says. “We all clicked so quickly and it’s been wonderful to share this experience with them.”

So, in those three weeks, what do the students miss most? Other than family, friends and home-cooked food, many students had the same answer: Netflix.

For more information and to follow the rest of Team SOBO’s trip, follow the group on Twitter @TeamSoBO.

Jenelle Janci is senior at Temple University. Original post.


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Archeology students uncover the cornerstone and outline of an African American church that was once part of Timbuctoo

Among the 15,400 artifacts Temple University archaeology students unearthed at Timbuctoo – a buried village of freed and runaway slaves along Rancocas Creek – was a tiny, cast-iron buffalo.

“There was also a little gun and a wagon wheel, all of which might have been part of a bank set” for a child to collect coins, said Patricia Markert, a Temple student who helped manage the school’s field project in 2010 and 2011 and then conducted several smaller digs last year.

The final batch of artifacts – including tiny pieces of glass from bottles found up to two feet below the surface – are being washed, analyzed, and catalogued, Markert said while photographing the historical site in Westampton Township, Burlington County, last week as part of her study. The buffalo was perhaps the most interesting find, she said, and was evidence of a community that thrived and then disappeared.

Because the excavation area is now covered over, the nearly three-acre site near the creek appears as just a grassy field with a hill and small cemetery off Church Road. Tucked into a stand of towering trees next to the field, the cemetery is the only visible sign of the site’s storied past. It bears the tombstones of 13 members of the U.S. Colored Troops who fought in the Civil War and lived in Timbuctoo.

Historians believe Timbuctoo was an enclave where as many as 125 African American families lived, starting around 1825 and ending in the mid-20th century. A stop on the Underground Railroad for runaway slaves, it was also the setting for Battle of the Pine Swamp in 1860. In that encounter, the villagers used axes, knives, and guns to ward off a slave catcher when he arrived with a dozen helpers to wrest away the freedom of a black man living among them, according to several historic accounts.

“This site fits in with a larger narrative. . . . It was part of the slaves’ journey, a violent and difficult journey, to freedom,” said Markert, now a student at the University or Maryland pursuing her master’s degree.

On Tuesday, the Westampton Township Committee voted to move forward with plans to double the size of the historical site by acquiring adjacent land from a homeowner and applying for open-space funding from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

“We believe Timbuctoo is a historical jewel that has not yet been advertised in a way to make it known to our residents, folks in Burlington County, and to students and schools,” Township Mayor Carolyn V. Chang said in an interview. “What we envision are walking trails with markers and historic events and educational programs at the site.”

Chang said Temple’s archeological dig had uncovered the cornerstone and outline of an African American church that was once part of Timbuctoo. Physical evidence of several houses was also found, she said, and future digs may reveal a larger area. She said town officials would like to continue to acquire properties around the site and along the creek, where she said runaway slaves would arrive by canoe.

Scientific surveys have determined about 70 people were buried in the cemetery despite the scarce markers, she said.

Christopher Burton, who supervised Temple’s digs, said historical deeds and research show Timbuctoo may have encompassed a 40 acres. “The dig at the site is not done by any stretch of the imagination,” Burton said. The town is looking into obtaining funds to reopen the exploration, he said.

The artifacts tell a story of how the villagers survived slavery, the Civil War, and then the Jim Crow era, Burton said. “They had to worry about slave catchers and then later, segregation and the KKK. But this was a place where people found a home . . . They were very proactive and survived. It’s a story of triumph and perseverance,” he said.

Burton said some of the artifacts are on display at the Burlington County Lyceum of History and Natural Sciences at the Mount Holly Library, and others are on loan to the New Jersey State Museum. The rest remain at Temple while they are being catalogued, he said, but they will ultimately all go to Westampton Township.

Chang said the archaeologists gave a presentation on their findings at several events held at Timbuctoo. She said the site had also hosted Civil War reenactments, speeches by historians, and commemorations with an African American choir from a church linked to the one that once stood at Timbuctoo.

“We’re hoping to do more next year,” Chang said.

Township Administrator Donna Ryan said the Westampton committee approved the acquisition of a more than two-acre parcel on Blue Jay Hill Road behind the current Timbuctoo site on Church Road. The lot is assessed at $195,000, but the state Green Acres program will negotiate the price with the homeowner, and will pay half of the cost if the town’s application is approved, Ryan said.

Chang said historians believe Timbuctoo stretched onto Blue Jay Hill Road and even reached the creek a few blocks away. “We want to acquire land so that we can show the entire historical site,” she said. “My hope is to also acquire property that includes access to the creek, which was used by the slaves, and would show how that community came about.”

By Jan Hefler, Inquirer Staff Writer – Source


Student-athlete Alyssa Drachslin powers her team forward

VIDEO PRODUCTION: Gina Benigno

Since her arrival at Temple, student-athlete Alyssa Drachslin, Class of 2016, has earned praise as a leader both on and off the court.

A starting defensive specialist on Temple’s volleyball team, she says she draws her energy from her teammates, whom she calls her sisters, as well as from all of her fellow Temple athletes.

“Being a part of the Athletics Department at Temple is special—it’s kind of a bond within the department that our fun is playing sports,” she said.

Drachslin, who represents Temple both on the volleyball court and as president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, credits the university with helping her to become the person she is today.

“Temple has prepared me for the real world,” she said. “Temple has presented me with extremely great opportunities to really take charge of my life and push myself.”


Morgen Snowadzky

National Coming Out Week: Morgen’s story

In recognition of Temple’s sixth annual National Coming Out Week celebration, meet Morgen Snowadzky, College of Liberal Arts, Class of 2016, recipient of Temple’s MarcDavid LGBTQ Scholarship Award. The scholarship was created in 2012 to recognize a student’s efforts to further the inclusion of the LGBTQIA community at Temple.

“In high school, I was going to go into English,” said the women’s studies major. “Once I got into figuring out my sexuality in high school, it made sense to me to look at everything through a gender and sexuality lens.”

Of the scholarship, Snowadzky said, “The voice that having this community of support gives me will be important for advocating for the expansion of resources [for the LGBTQIA community] that has become my mission.”

VIDEO PRODUCTION: Gina Benigno