PittLife

  • Cosmologist

    | Erika Hall reporter |

    On Monday, April 7, Felipe Menanteau, a research scientist, astrophysicist, cosmologist and professor of astronomy from the Harlow Shapley speakership of the American Astronomical Society, lead a lecture about the universe and astronomy.

    On Monday April 7, Felipe Menanteau, a research scientist NCSA and professor of astronomy, lead a lecture about the universe and astronomy.

    On Monday April 7, Felipe Menanteau, a research scientist NCSA and professor of astronomy, lead a lecture about the universe and astronomy.

  • It’s B I G

    Annual ‘Big Event’ this weekend

    | Audrey Dighans copy editor |

    Saturday, April 12, is a big day for Pitt State students and the Pittsburg community with the 11th annual Big Event scheduled to take place.
    “This is Southeast Kansas’ largest community service project,” said Jake Letner, junior in history and director for the Big Event. “Hundreds of PSU students gather each year to help area residents who apply.”
    The Big Event began in 1982 at Texas A&M University as a way to say ‘thank you’ to the College Station community. The one-day community service project has since expanded to middle schools, high schools and universities nationwide.
    “It’s such a great day,” said Marjorie Sells, junior in graphic communications. “Helping residents who need our help and giving back to the community is just such a great feeling.”
    Sells participated in the Big Event last year with her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta.
    Letner says more than 850 students are registered for this year’s event with about 125 job sites needing work done.
    “Most job sites need general yard work done like leaf raking, cleaning gutters or painting,” he said. “Each year Big Event is a massive undertaking. There is always a lot to do and it would be impossible without my committee and the support we get from Pitt State, the students and community.”
    Students may register for the Big Event individually or through campus organizations they participate in. Job sites are collected by the Big Event committee through an application process residents complete by going to the Pitt State website.
    Job site requests and student registration ended March 14 this year. The first 500 volunteers to register will receive a free Big Event T-shirt on Saturday before the start of the event.
    The Big Event will start at 9:30 a.m. with volunteers meeting at 9 a.m. in the Weede Gymnasium. Doughnuts and juice will be provided.
    Job site assignments will also be distributed to student groups, either by campus organization or randomly. The event has no scheduled ending time, as each job site requires different tasks to be completed.
    “Usually it seems to be done around noon,” Sells said. “Sometimes groups will be at a site all day, though.”
    Sells added she and many of her sorority sisters are excited for Saturday.
    “I personally hope we get to be outside,” she said.
    Letner also participated in the event last year.
    “I love to meet people,” he said. “Projects like these make me proud to be a Gorilla.”

  • 1,000 Reasons

    Love you! Photo booth captures love of body, self

    | Audrey Dighans copy editor |

    Throughout the year anyone who visits Pitt State quickly learns the Oval is always busy, be it campus commuters, bake sales, 72-hour teeter-totterers or more recently, photo-booth goers.
    Kendra Beye, senior in social work, set up the “Love Your Body” photo booth in the Oval on Wednesday, April 9, as part of her senior project.
    “The photo booth was aimed at raising awareness about the dangers of eating disorders and the way the media portrays men and women in television, ads and movies leading to body dissatisfaction,” Beye said.
    As April is Love Your Body Month, Beye says the photo booth project seemed like a great idea. For $2 students may take a photo of themselves or with friends while holding signs saying what they love about themselves, including their bodies.
    “Proceeds will go to the National Eating Disorders Association,” Beye said.
    Christy Perez, mental health counselor, says in the last five years at Pitt State, 24 students struggling with eating disorders have sought help from the health center.
    “This is not to say there are not eating disorders on our campus now, it just shows how many students have actively sought treatment,” Perez said.
    Perez says the most common diagnosis seen at the counseling center is anxiety; depression is a close second.
    Gorillas in Your Midst also worked with Beye by spreading body-positive messages to Pitt State students and staff throughout the campus.
    Beye says eating disorders range from 8 to 17 percent of all students on college campuses with anorexia taking the lead in cause of death.
    “It has the highest death rate of any mental illness and yet it doesn’t get the funding other mental illnesses do,” Beye said. “Mass media has put such a negative light on the way women should look. They promote poor self-image and cause body dissatisfaction that is just unacceptable.”
    Beye added she hopes students will leave the photo booth with a positive view of how they see themselves.
    “I want them to love themselves for who they are, flaws and all,” Beye said.
    Perez says students are welcome to use services at the University Counseling Center in Bryant Student Health for any concerns related to eating disorders, depression, anxiety, family and or relationship concerns, attention problems or substance abuse.
    “For those concerned about themselves or a friend with an eating disorder I would encourage them to seek help,” Perez said. “We also offer medical assistance and dietary follow-up for students.”
    Other events on campus this month will also be centered on the theme of Love Your Body including a poetry slam on April 16 and healthy eating tips sponsored by Gorillas in Your Midst at the Student Recreation Center.

  • Recent article that bashes the Art Department is incorrect

    | Gretchen Burns reporter |

    Recently, the Atlantic, a collegiate source, released a list of colleges and universities that were the biggest waste of money in the United States. An art degree from Pittsburg State University ranked at number 10.
    The information from the story was based on a report from the online service PayScale, that concludes high school graduates would make significantly more money over a lifetime if they chose to go straight to work rather than pursuing certain college majors.
    Rhona Shand and other veteran academic researchers on the PSU campus looked closer at the study and found several problems and inaccuracies.
    “It makes a sexy headline and plays into some common misconceptions, but it doesn’t paint an accurate picture of the career opportunities available for art majors or graduates of many other programs,” said Shand, chairperson of Pittsburg State University’s Department of Art.
    Recent graduate DeAnna Morgan felt that the article slammed itself by using limited information that hardly applied to a percentage of Pittsburg State students.
    “I was hired to the Wellsville Unified School District 289 one week from my graduation as the Middle and High School Art Teacher, Art Club Sponsor, Senior Class Sponsor, and Assistant Softball Coach. My degree screams art teacher, if I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t have been hired,” said Morgan 2013 graduate. “Sadly, the article comes back on Porter Hall and their credentials as being valuable and worth students’ money.”
    The author from the article in the Atlantic acknowledges a number of conditions.
    According to Shand, the original PayScale article is clearer than the Atlantic about the limitations of the study. Those limitations make the data useless because it lumps together a wide number of programs under the general heading ‘Arts.’
    “These aren’t just art majors they’re talking about,” Shand said. “It’s students in upwards of a dozen programs across campus.”
    The data itself excludes any graduate who has gone on to earn a degree higher than a Bachelors and includes only graduates working in the United States. It excludes any graduate who is self-employed, project-based or is a contract employee. Small-business owners and/or contract-based graphic designers would be excluded.
    Shand listed of Art Department Alumni who have been highly successful but would not have been included in the PayScale report including a graphic designer for the Kansas City Chiefs, a production artist for Hallmark, the owner of an independent illustration company, an editor of a national magazine and a local business owner who was recently named the small-business owner of the year for the State of Kansas.
    I cannot say anything but positive comments about the faculty and staff in the Art Department at Pittsburg State. If it weren’t for my professors, I wouldn’t be the Art Educator that I am today,” said Morgan. “They taught me history, creativity, color theory, design, technical skill, hard work, dedication, professionalism, and passion for what I love most. That is a debt that I can never repay- unlike student loans. Therefore, Pittsburg State and my Art Education degree are incredibly valuable.”
    After reading the article, Janelle Cowan felt that everyone was entitled to their own opinion and whether or not the person though thought that an art degree was a waste of time, no one is forced to major in art.
    “My degree was worth every penny. I would not have the career I have now without my degree. I was given a gift from God, the ability to create artwork, and thats the best way I can make a difference,” said Cowan 2013 PSU Art graduate and a composition designer at Ward Kraft Inc. “I love creating art and nearly every class at PSU taught me something about what I am doing today. Whether it be technical skills, design, composition, or simply how to work hard in order to succeed.”
    Shand is used to answering questions about employment opportunities and usually meets with skepticism about the value of a fine arts degree and said that the questions about the value of the arts in education are not unusual, especially during certain times.
    Shand mentioned the data that shows graduates who earned a degree in art or other artist programs are just the kind of employees a lot of businesses are looking for and quoted the Governors’ commission on the Arts in Education.
    “The Creative Economy…relies upon people who can think creatively, adapt quickly to new situations, and problem solve. This industry, which is growing at a faster pae than total U.S. business growth, increases the demand for workers with the skills that are gained through the arts in education.”
    Alana Utterback is a graduate of the PSU Art Department who is further her education in Fine Arts.
    “I graduated in 2013 and I’m currently enrolled in the Art Therapy Counseling Graduate Program at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. I am one of ten students, chosen from 70 applicants, that was invited to attend next fall,” said Utterback. “I had to go through a two day interview process, show my credentials and have 3 letters of recommendations. I owe everything to my professors and education that I’ve received. If I hadn’t have had that, I wouldn’t have even been chosen for the interview process.”
    Although the Atlantic article portrays an inaccurate picture of art education, Shand is not losing sleep over it.
    Shand said that compared to the other schools who were one the list, she felt it was a good list to be on.
    “Really it comes down to HOW you want to use the knowledge you learn, and the attitude you have about it. I am proud of my degree, and the hard work and time I sacrificed to receive it,” said Cowan. “If you are passionate about something, and are willing to put in countless hours, and years of your life towards achieving it, then do it. But do it for you, don’t listen to what others say about it, because chances are they wouldn’t have it in them to receive it anyhow.”

  • G3 Expo: success

    More than 100 people attended the first “Graphic, Gadgets and Games Exposition” or “G3 Expo” held at the Kansas Technology Center (KTC) on Saturday, March 29.
    “We feel that it went really well,” said Akram Taghavi-Burris, assistant professor in graphics and imaging technologies and supervisor of the G3 Expo. “The speakers were awesome, the exhibitors were informative and everyone seemed to have a great time.”
    Megan Meyer, junior in graphic communications and committee chair of G3, says she and many members of Gamma Epsilon Tau (GET), Pitt State’s Graphics Honors Society, were very excited to have more than 100 attendees.

    During the G3 Expo on Saturday March 29, Blake Broaddus, a recent PSU graduate, gives a presentation on video work flow.

    During the G3 Expo on Saturday March 29, Blake Broaddus, a recent PSU graduate, gives a presentation on video work flow.


    “To be honest it wasn’t too much of a challenge running the event,” Meyer said. “It all went very smooth, and we only heard good comments about the expo from attendees, exhibitors and speakers.”
    Meyers added it was also great to see potential students from Rumble in the Jungle come over to the KTC to spend time at the Expo and learn more about the Graphics & Imaging department.
    Starting at 9 a.m. various speakers, exhibitors, clubs and competitions were held throughout the KTC, all related to the world of graphics, the gadgets used to create graphics and output methods, such as games.
    For recreation attendees could participate in “Call of Duty,” “Super Mario Smash Bro’s,” and a Photoshop cut-and-paste competition. The Pitt State Robotics club also demonstrated the capabilities of the club’s robots.
    “They put a black line down on the floor and the robots could follow it using a sensor,” said Matthew Polak, undeclared sophomore.
    Polak says he also enjoyed looking at the exhibitor’s booths, especially the one that prints money.
    “It’s a printing group that works with security,” Polak said. “They had lots of cool stuff including the new $100 bill that has more than 100 different safety features printed on it to protect against counterfeiting.”
    Other booths included anime artists and other printing companies.
    Meyer enjoyed the speakers the most.
    “My favorite part of the Expo was listening to the key note speaker Chris Kelly,” she said. “His seminar featured some very important content that was interesting and geared towards my major. I learned a lot.”
    Presentations on various topics were also open for attendance, such as a lecture on design winning apps.
    “That was my favorite part of the event,” Polak said. “The InDesign workshop showed how apps are made, and I learned you can take a class here at PSU to learn how to design apps.”
    The G3 Expo was sponsored by the GIT Department, GET and the Graphic Arts Club.
    “We already have our save-the-date cards for March 28, 2015,” Taghavi-Burris said. “We hope to start advertising for the next Expo in the fall to increase our number of speakers and exhibitors, which we hope will lead to more attendees coming.”
    Polak says he intends to bring all of his friends with him next year.
    “I had so much fun, I just wish there would have been more people,” he said. “Hopefully it will be a bigger event next year.”

  • Singing in Scotland

    Choir students travel abroad for biennial trip

    | Robin Siteneski reporter |

    The crimson and gold colors of Pittsburg State University traveled a long way during spring break. A group of about 40 students made its way somewhere that would make Gus proud. The University Choir carried the school’s colors and voices to Scotland.
    The group, formed by members of all Pitt State’s choirs, sang in six cities in historical sites. They even spread their voices where kings and queens once lived. The great hall at the 17th-century Stirling Castle was the location of one of the performances.
    “It was really exactly what you’d picture,” Laura Holthus, junior in graphic communications, said. “A castle like you see in medieval movies and literature. It was neat to walk around inside it. The sound really reverberated in the hall.”

    Members of the PSU choirs took a trip to Europe over spring break

    Members of the PSU choirs took a trip to Europe over spring break


    Holthus and other choir members also visited and sang at Iona, Oban, Saint Andrews and the capital, Edinburgh. They sang sacred music and folk songs such as the “Scottish Wild Mountain Thyme,” the “Canadian Fogarty’s Cove” and “She’s Like the Swallow.”
    At the capital, they sang with the Chamber Choir from the University of Edinburgh, Holthus’ favorite performance abroad. She remembers, however, of a moment with a smaller audience.
    “I liked performing in the abbey on the Isle of Iona,” she said. “The space was just beautiful, and the sun came through the window on us during a piece, which was a big deal because it was cloudy and windy most of the time.”
    It was the first time Holthus has been so far away from home. She says a lot of things are different in the United Kingdom, which were hard to adjust to, but she would go back “in a heart beat.”
    “Everyone was very patient about my inadequacy at making change in pounds and pence,” Holthus said. “I half-expected local people to be annoyed by Americans. If they were annoyed, they did not show it.”
    Joshua Crown, senior in music education, has sung abroad with the Pitt State Choir before. He went on the group’s last trip to Italy.
    “When we were in Italy, we could only do sacred literature mostly since we were singing in Catholic churches,” he said. “They have strict rules on what kind of music can be performed, although in Scotland we sang in some amazing places that had great acoustics.”
    The university’s choir travels every two years with funding from student fees and donations. Choir director Susan Marchant says they held several musical and non-musical fundraisers to finance this last trip. Students choose the country and a travel agency was hired to plan the trip, she says. The tour in Scotland cost about $4,000 per student.
    “We can talk about what it means to sing in a very rich acoustic room,” Marchant said. “But when you are in a cathedral, that’s where the music really comes alive.”

  • Senators add changes to SGA’s constitution

    | Robin Siteneski reporter |

    The Student Government Association proposed four changes to its constitution at its meeting on Wednesday, March 12.
    The first proposal relates to SGA’s cabinet members’ pay next year. Under its terms, these roles will become comparable to other on-campus positions; that is, they will earn the Kansas minimum wage, currently $7.25 per hour, as a stipend.
    No cabinet member will be able to receive more than 20 hours’ worth of pay per week. Currently, some cabinet members work 20 hours a week, others anywhere from seven to 15.
    Currently, Rodney Kimlin, SGA treasurer, is making more per hour than Taylor Gravett, SGA president, although Kimlin actually works fewer hours per week. Kimlin proposed the amendment.
    The cabinet is composed of the president, vice president, legislative affairs director, treasurer, academic affairs director, campus affairs director, community affairs director, public relations director and Big Event director.
    The second proposal affects the governors of SGA’s annual elections. Members of the elections board, who are currently prohibited from running for senator, will not be allowed to be a part of SGA the following academic year in any respect, including through mid-year appointments.
    “(Currently), nothing stops them from coming back after elections are said and done,” Kimlin said. “That theoretically makes it where someone could try and rig elections and then get appointed back into SGA afterwards.”
    The third proposed change affects the SGA judicial board. It would, if approved, give board members the ability to provide input in meetings without being asked and give them the final say on issuing advice to senators. Sen. Jaci Gilchrist proposed this amendment.
    Gilchrist also proposed an amendment governing member resignation, which would allow any members to remove themselves from office by written request.
    Faculty from Pitt State’s strategic planning department came to the meeting to invite senators to be a part of the discussion of the school’s new strategic plan.
    It will set goals for new majors and improvements on courses and on campus starting in the fall of 2015. Discussions are set to start by April with student input.
    The next SGA meeting will be open to every student on campus as Steve Scott, university president, takes questions on Wednesday, March 26, in the Crimson and Gold Ballroom of the Overman Student Center.
    Sen. Will Ravenstein resigned from SGA because of health issues.

    Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify technical inaccuracies.

  • Global cuisines

    | Robin Siteneski reporter |

    Memorial Auditorium in downtown Pittsburg was transformed into a global village on Saturday, March 8, for the International Food and Culture Fair. More than 500 people enjoyed food, music and dance performances from 15 countries.
    The event was sponsored by the International Student Association.

    Jhonatan Cierra, senior in international business and fashion merchandising, and Stadrianne Grffin, senior in english, sell churros during the International Food and Culture fair at the Memorial Auditorium on Saturday, March 8.

    Jhonatan Cierra, senior in international business and fashion merchandising, and Stadrianne Grffin, senior in english, sell churros during the International Food and Culture fair at the Memorial Auditorium on Saturday, March 8.

    Yazeed Aldhwayan, international student from Saudi Arabia and president of the group, says the fair is a chance to broaden Pittsburg’s view of the world.
    “In a small town like Pittsburg, this gives them a chance to visit the world without leaving home,” he said.
    Entrance to the event was $1 and attendees could purchase food from 50 cents to $1.50, depending on the amount.
    At the Russian booth, students sold pancakes called “pirozhki.” The empanadas at the Paraguay table were also a big hit. Alheli Aranda, senior in music and president of the Paraguayan Association, says they sold 200 pastries in about 45 minutes.
    “It’s something that has a tradition,” she said. “People come here for the empanadas.”
    A few tables down, two Venezuelan students offered the only made-to-order items on the diverse menu. The group fried more than 150 cheese and beef “pastelitos,” a traditional Venezuelan dish.
    Other countries represented included Vietnam, Brazil and five African countries: Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Kenya and Egypt.
    Meaghanne Mack, freshman in general education, attended the event for the second time. This year she brought her two children along.
    “The food is just amazing,” she said. “I also like the combination of the performances, people in different clothes and food.”
    International students from Saudi Arabia, India, Paraguay, Taiwan and Nigeria performed dances and other performances, many of them in traditional clothing from their homeland such as saris and ghagra choli.

  • Symphony Orchestra to host international talent

    | Andrea Hucke reporter |

    If there’s one thing that Raúl Munguía wants the community to know about tonight’s performance of the Southeast Kansas Symphony, it’s this: don’t expect it to be boring.
    The SEK Symphony will perform at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 13, at Pittsburg’s Memorial Auditorium. The concert is composed of five pieces that will take the audience through a range of emotions as well as composers.
    Tonight’s performance will feature two guest artists as well. Ney Fialkow, associate professor of music at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, will play the piano while Marcos Machado, chamber musician and music professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, will perform on the double bass.
    “We try to frequently have guest artists or soloists at our productions,” said Munguía, assistant professor of music and artistic director of the Symphony Orchestra. “We just want to make sure that the symphony is not only interesting for us, but for the audience as well.”
    While the 60-member group goes by the name of Southeast Kansas Symphony, Munguía explained that it predominately consists of PSU students from all areas of study.
    “The majority of the ensemble members are students here, some music majors, others music minors, still others aren’t in the music department at all, but have experience with the standard symphony repertoire,” Munguía said. “We also have 11 performers who are community members and freelancers.”
    The performance will be the symphony’s third concert of the year and has required quite a bit commitment from its members, who have been attending full orchestra and sectional rehearsals for more than a month.
    The rehearsal schedule can be strenuous, but SEK musicians say they are no strangers to the long practice sessions as they perform several times a year as well as accompanying the PSU Opera productions.
    “Other than our four big concerts, we also put on a Halloween performance of pop and classical music for the kids of the community,” Munguía said. “In addition, we have an educational concert coming up, which will be for about 700 children from the Pittsburg and Frontenac school districts.”
    Apart from the joy he takes in conducting the orchestra, Munguía says he is anxiously awaiting the completion of the Performing Arts Center and the opportunity of directing in the new building.
    “The day I get to be a part of a production at the new building is the day I see my dream come true,” he said. “It will be the happiest day of my life.”
    Munguía added that creation of live art in front of his eyes and those of the audience is no doubt an invigorating process and he feels it shows his passion for music.
    “One of my dreams is that the student community at PSU will look forward to our concerts,” Munguía said. “I think they have the vague idea that classical concerts are boring, and I want to change that.”

  • 40 years of collaboration
    Derby High School student Michael Klein performs his solo at the 40th Annual Jazz Festival Mar. 7th.

    Derby High School student Michael Klein performs his solo at the 40th Annual Jazz Festival Mar. 7th.

    Jazz festival brings students together

    | Gretchen Burns reporter |

    Pittsburg State Friday, March 7, was crowded with students for the 40th annual Pittsburg State University Jazz Festival.
    More than 66 high-school and middle-school bands loaded up and traveled to Pitt State for the event, which was started in 1974.
    Since then the festival has outgrown the Sharon K. Dean Recital Hall and the adjoining performance hall. To accommodate all the participants, the bands and their music filled McCray Hall, several rooms of Overman Student Center and Memorial Auditorium.
    Starting at 8 a.m., the musicians played for a select panel of experienced educators and performers, known as clinicians. After each performance, the clinicians worked with the groups by giving them advice and demonstrations to improve future performances. Each group was then given a rating.
    Noey De Leon, sophomore in music education, volunteered to help run this year’s festival. He says he thought the festival was a good experience for him to learn with students.
    “For me going into music education, this lets me see how directors work with their bands and how they address different problems,” De Leon said. “I think it’s wonderful to see bands from both middle schools and high schools. It’s great that middle schools are participating in an event like this.”
    In past years the festival has also brought in groups such as Louis Bellson, Maynard Ferguson and his Big Bop Nouveau, the U.S. Air Force Airmen of Note, the Count Basie Band, the Roy Hargrove Quartet, Jon Faddis with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and the Steve Turre Quartet.
    The attendance of big-name bands and artists adds to the atmosphere and gives students from the Midwest an opportunity to hear and learn from jazz figures they don’t normally have the chance to see.
    The Jazz Festival is sponsored by the PSU Department of Music, Student Government Association, the Performing Arts and Lectures Series and Pittsburg Memorial Auditorium. With so many schools attending, the university also had the chance to do some recruitment with various brochures and current students giving information to the performers about choosing Pitt State for their college education.
    The conclusion of the festival took place at Memorial Auditorium with a concert, open to the public, featuring a performance by Bob Mintzer and his Grammy Award-winning LA Big Band. The Pitt State Jazz Ensemble also performed.
    Jamease Roberts attended the concert and says she was impressed with the performance.
    “It opened my eyes and made me appreciate jazz music more,” said Roberts, freshman in justice studies. “My favorite thing about the concert was the tenor sax player in the Bob Mintzer band. He was absolutely amazing.”
    Russell Jones, chairman of the PSU Music Department, was recognized during the concert for his contributions to the festival and performed a brief saxophone solo.

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