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Central Penn Valedictorian Tells Graduates not to Fear Failure

It is Part of Becoming a Success

Editor’s note: This story is Central Penn 2017 valedictorian Morgan Gerz’s speech to her graduating class, and all others, assembled in the Forum in Harrisburg on May 12 for graduation.

 Morgan Gerz headshotBy Morgan Gerz

Special to the Knightly News

 

Hello.

My name is Morgan Gerz.

I am one of 240 students that are here graduating tonight. And just one of the 400 students that are in our graduating class.

Most of you I have never met, but I do know we have something in common: We are all successful.

I am your class valedictorian, and I am also a failure.

The path to success

I got an F on my term paper in 11th-grade English class.

My senior culminating project in high school was a complete disaster.

I lost the game for my soccer team in the league championship because I missed the final penalty kick in overtime.

I begged my sister to move to California with me, which she did, and then I only lasted eight months because I was homesick.

Central Penn College is actually the fourth college I’ve attended.

I got my associate degree at one, and the other two would make me a two-time college drop-out.

These moments in my life can be called failures, because:

  •  I did not succeed in what I set out to do
  • My performance fell short.
  • Expectations were not met.

What is failure, and what does success mean?

            Failure. It is a lack of success.

            Failure. It is a scary word.

            Failure. It is reality. It is inevitable.

And it is a risk we must take if we ever want to succeed.

History tells us that failure is essential to success.

Great people have embraced failure. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Michael Jordan, Henry Ford – they have all failed.

Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Winston Churchill wisely stated: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Those of you sitting here in your cap and gown risked failure every time you stepped into the classroom, every time you turned in an assignment, every time you took an exam.

You risked failing in order to be where you sit today.

Different paths, same destination

We have all taken a different journey to get here.

When we leave here today, we will all go our separate ways.

But, today our failures have been overtaken by this unique moment in time, because today, we have succeeded. Today, we graduate.

So, class of 2017, congratulations, and I bid you farewell with a challenge. When you depart from Central Penn College and begin your next stage in life, I ask you to remember three Fs. And, no, none of them are failure.

Remember the three Fs

First, don’t forget to have “fun,” because you have most certainly earned it.

Second, be “fierce.” I love this word because it is so powerful. And you now have the power to do things and make a difference. Don’t run from fear, because I believe that having fears and facing those fears are what will ultimately make us stronger.

And third, have “faith” in yourself. Have faith that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, faith that you will overcome failure.

I mean, just take a look around at where we are. That gown you’re wearing? And that tassel hanging down?

That means WE ARE GRADUATES.

And however long it took you, whatever path you took to get here, however many failed attempts it took, what matters in the end – what matters today – is that you did it, you are a graduate.

Congratulations, Central Penn College Class of 2017.

May your successes and accomplishments always be bigger than your failures.

Thank you.


To comment on this story, or to suggest a story, contact the KnightlyEditors@CentralPenn.edu.

Edited by Media Club Co-adviser Prof. Michael Lear-Olimpi.

Gerz majored in accounting. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree. The Knightly News thanks her for her contribution to our blog, and wishes her luck in her future endeavors. Photo courtesy of Morgan Gerz.

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The Knightly News Podcast Welcomes Dean Melissa Wehler and Previews The Business Partner of the Year Breakfast

By Paul Miller

Knightly News Co-Adviser

The Knightly News Podcast has had a constant string of amazing guests and Episode 27 is no different, as we welcome Dr. Melissa Wehler, Dean of the Humanities and Sciences Department, and Rubina Azizdin from Career Services.

During the first segment of the podcast, Azizdin discusses the upcoming 13th Annual Business Partner of the Year Breakfast, taking place June 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in The Conference Center at Central Penn College.

Each term, the Career Services Department at Central Penn College puts on a special event in order to help our student network and gain experience in a professional setting.

The Business Partner of the Year Breakfast provides an outlet for students to meet local leaders, participate in discussions with business owners, and allows students to work on their elevator speech, all while offering a delicious breakfast buffet for all to enjoy.

For more information and to register, please check out Centralpenn.Edu’s page.  Act now though, as registration is only open until May 31.

In the second segment of the show, the Knightly News Podcast welcomes Dr. Wehler to discuss new initiatives being taught in our newly revised IDS101:  CPC Foundations class.

During the segment, Wehler discusses the importance of making quality decisions while in college, especially related to first-generation college students, which of which she is as well.

Wehler stresses the importance of having goals and making efforts to seek out professor’s office hours, the learning center, the library, and other school resources.

The Knightly News thanks you for your continued support!

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VPAA Dr. Linda Fedrizzi-Williams Joins the Knightly News for Episode #26

By Lawrence Wilson

Knightly News Correspondent

In one of the most high-profile guests in the history of the Knightly News podcast,  Central Penn College’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Linda Fedrizzi-Williams joins the show to discuss her career journey and new initiatives at the school.

“Retention is just not an academic term” were wise words shared on the podcast by Fedrizzi-Williams, as she discussed broad issues of the higher education landscape from leadership, Central Penn College campus retention, our school’s intentional efforts in helping our on-ground and online students reach academic goals, and to today’s media.

Dr. Fedrizzi-Williams felt quite at home on the air, as she spent the better part of five years after college working in radio at WSPK, just outside of New York City, before moving on to higher education.

To learn more about Dr. Fedrizzi-Williams, you can view her LinkedIn profile.

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The Knightly News Podcast Welcomes The Cast of Truth and Professor Maria Thiaw

The third annual student-created play opens May 17

By Darren Greene and Paul Miller

In the first segment of the podcast, Central Penn College Theater Director Janet Bixler along with some of the cast joins the Knightly News to discuss her upcoming student-created play.

Spring is kicking in and the third annual student-created play is back at the Capital BlueCross Theatre.

Last year, the production was “Dreams and Nightmares.” This year, the play is entitled “Truth.”

The play is centered around a small group of friends that all deny their truth about themselves.

We are all eager to see how “Truth” plays out with this cast of students.

Show times are from May 17-19, starting at 7:30 p.m., and May 20 for a matinee showing, starting at 2:30 p.m.

Ticket price is $3 for students and $5 for general admission and tickets are available at the box office or online.

The box office will open one hour prior to the show and online tickets along with additional information about the show are available here.

In the second segment of the podcast, the Knightly News is joined by Professor Maria Thiaw to talk about the American Griot Project that she has been working on over the last two years.

During her time on the show, she discusses what the American Griot Project is and how she envisions the future of the project.

To learn more about the project, you can go to Thiaw’s blog about the topic and find out how you can help.

In addition, Thiaw discusses the club she advises, the Knight Writers, a creative writing club on campus that promotes self-expression.

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May Events and Residence Assistant Positions Discussed on Podcast Episode 24

The May calendar is loaded with fantastic events.

By Paul Miller

Knightly News Co-Adviser

The Knightly News Media Club at Central Penn College is excited to release Episode 24 of our podcast, where we welcome Student Activities Director Adrienne Thoman, Associate Residence Life Director Dillon Epler and new Knightly News members Ian Kemmerer and Michael Ademola.

During Thoman’s segment, we discuss some fantastic events coming to campus, as well as some fantastic opportunities for our students.

As part of “Adrienne’s Featured Three,” Thoman discusses three marquee events on the May calendar:  The Green Team’s Lawn Party on May 5 from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m., Pet-a-Palooza on May 20 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., and Festival of Nations on May 25 from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.

During the second segment of the podcast, Epler joins the Knightly News to discuss a wide variety of initiatives from the Office of Residence Life.

Epler describes several opportunities in the Resident Assistant (RA) program for those students who are looking for leadership opportunities and ways to decrease room and board costs at the college.

Another important subject that Epler discusses is the opportunity for themed housing in Central Penn College’s new Super Suites.

Learn more about our student housing here and contact Epler at dillonepler@centralpenn.edu for inquiries about themed housing or RA positions.

The Knightly News would like to thank you for your continued support.

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Podcast Episode 23 Features Women’s Leadership Conference Organizer

The conference comes to Central Penn College on April 24.

By Paul Miller

Knightly News Co-Adviser

The Knightly News is proud to release our newest podcast, featuring two female leaders on the Central Penn College campus.

The first segment of the show features Rubina Azizdin of Career Services to discuss next week’s Women’s Leadership Conference, taking place on the Summerdale campus on April 24.

Basic CMYK

During the show, Azizdin discusses the importance of networking and the need for leadership for our aspiring professionals.

Azizdin is the conference organizer and has received a great deal of support from local organizations like PSECU, and spoke about the process of putting together a conference of this scale.

Registration for this conference ends April 18at 5 p.m. and is free to Central Penn College faculty, staff and students.

To register or for more information on presenters, check out this link.

In addition to Azizdin, Knightly News President Sherri Long stops by the studio to discuss upcoming initiatives of her recently elected presidency.

Long has been working on a Knightly News media kit as well as our first print edition of our quarterly newsletter style publication.

The Knightly News Media Club is proud of Sherri, as she does many wonderful things to support the growth of our organization.

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by | April 17, 2017 · 5:47 pm

The Knightly News Releases Podcast Episode 22

By Paul Miller

Knightly News Co-Adviser

The Knightly News is proud to release our most recent podcast in which we having two excellent guests to update campus happenings and give you advice for your upcoming online classes.

In the first segment on the podcast, Student Activities Director Adrienne Thoman gives an overview to some amazing events coming up on the April calendar.

Thoman discusses the upcoming documentary 13th, being screened on April 27 on campus and the upcoming Women’s Leadership Conference, consistently one of the largest events we hold on campus.

Thoman also discusses “Adrienne’s Featured Three” events of April, especially upcoming home baseball games for the Knights, a combination of events during Welcome Week, David Shatto’s upcoming self-defense classes, and our women’s leadership retreat.

In the second segment of the podcast, Math Professor Cheryl Baker joins the Knightly News to discuss some tips and strategies for approaching your upcoming online math courses.

Our student consistently have questions about how to best approach an online math course, and Baker spends her time on the podcast trying to give her best practices for students who are nervous about these types of courses.

Baker says having the textbook is essential and spending enough time with the material is often most important for success.

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Diversity Committee Continues To Expand Inclusivity, Diversity

More “safe” spaces and ethnic studies are being considered for Central Penn

By Yuliani Sutedjo

Knightly News Reporter

and

Michael Lear-Olimpi

Knightly News Co-adviser

After three and a half years of discussion and research, Central Penn College recently installed a gender-neutral restroom to expand inclusiveness and diversity on campus.

The gender-neutral restroom is one of four among significant campus inclusivity initiatives the committee has been working on recently.

The restroom:

  • Accommodates the personal needs of transgender people.
  • Recognizes the views of people who do not identify with a gender.
  • Provides families of any gender composition a restroom for more than one member to use at the same time.

“It wasn’t just my idea, but also the Diversity Committee, who wanted to improve the school and look to open another safe space for inclusion and diversity,” said Romeo Azondekon, chief diversity officer, of the gender-neutral restroom.

The Diversity Committee consists of Central Penn faculty and staff members, and usually has a student representative.

Initiative 1 – easier equal access

The first initiative was to make doors at Central Penn accessible for people with a condition or illness that prevents them from opening doors without some assistance.

Automatic door-opening buttons were installed in the Advanced Technology Education Center (ATEC) in the second half of last year.

Previously, the doors were operated remotely by someone inside ATEC at the reception desk.

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Yuliani Sutedjo, communications major, and Lester McMillan, an entrepreneurship major, wash their hands in a gender-neutral restroom on Central Penn campus, Feb. 17, 2017. Photo by Sarayuth Pinthong

Initiative 2 – the gender-neutral restroom

Azondekon said the gender-neutral restroom was created not because there was a problem, but because such an accommodation is a part of Central Penn’s commitment to inclusion and diversity.

“We believe in inclusiveness and diversities,” Azondekon said.

Personnel from Central Penn’s Facilities Department converted the men’s restroom on the second floor of ATEC into the gender-neutral restroom, which includes two urinals in stalls for privacy, and two toilets in stalls.

A black-on-gray sign outside the restroom says “Gender Neutral” in English and in Braille, and features silhouettes with clothing shapes that traditionally have represented a woman and a man, and one with half-male and half-female traditional clothing attributes, suggesting transgender individuals.

The room is also accessible to people in wheelchairs and with limited walking ability.

The sign outside of the ATEC Bathroom in the second floor lobby. Photo by Sy Pinthong.

The sign outside of the ATEC Bathroom in the second floor lobby showing the Gender Neutral designation. Photo by Sarayuth Pinthong.

The ATEC facility is in addition to two nongender-designated and handicapped-accessible restrooms in the Charles “T.” Jones Leadership Library. All restrooms in ATEC are handicapped-accessible.

The Health Sciences Building has a designated men’s room, women’s room and nongender-designated restroom, though it is not labeled “gender neutral,” according to Dr. Krista Wolfe, dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences.

The difference between gender-neutral and other nongender-designated restrooms is that the former are for people of any gender identification and the latter are generally for anyone to use one person at a time, or for family members to use together, such as when a parent or guardian is with a child who requires adult supervision or assistance.

Azondekon said the Diversity Committee hopes more gender-neutral restrooms will be established on campus.

“(We’re considering) at least one gender neutral restroom in each education building,” he explained.

The campus has a gender-neutral Super Suite, according to Title IX Officer Megan Peterson, who until recently was director of residence life. The unit is one of three themed residences to which students who qualify must apply to live. The others are for Lady Knight basketball players and one for the alumni association, of which current students can be members.

Initiative 3 – ethnic studies

Committee members are working on the third initiative, establishing an ethnic studies program.

“We’d like to have an ethnic studies track at some point,” said Maria James-Thiaw, professor of writing and a member of the Diversity Committee. “It’s something for the future, to better prepare students for the diverse workplaces and world they’ll be entering.”

When such a program would debut at Central Penn is not known.

Initiative 4 – a place to worship

Another project the Diversity Committee is working on is establishing an interfaith/nonfaith-specific prayer room, or other type of space where students can pray, meditate or engage in whatever reflective practice or ritual they choose.

“Some students expressed a desire to have a place where they can contemplate, or formally pray, that is private and quiet,” said Michael Lear-Olimpi, assistant professor of communication and a member of the Diversity Committee. “We have limited space on campus, and members of the committee and Mr. Azondekon have been talking with college officials, staff and faculty about where this space could be.”

Options that have been explored include sharing space with the campus courtroom, providing space in the library, and perhaps cordoning off space in campus housing. Each of these possibilities did not work out, though, because use of the proposed spots was heavier than widely known.

When a prayer space will open for use, or what it will be called or where it will be located, has yet to be determined. Azondekon said the search for a space continues.

“We need one,” he said. “It is important to people who want that.”

Change can take time

The gender-neutral restroom in ATEC was set up relatively quickly, because it involved modest alterations.

Other initiatives, such as establishing the prayer room, can take time because of specific logistics challenges, such as finding an appropriate place on a small campus.

“These initiatives are being discussed properly, and thought out thoroughly,” Azondekon said.


 

To comment on this story or to suggest one, contact KnightlyEditors@Centralpenn.edu.

Edited by Media Club Co-adviser Prof. Michael Lear-Olimpi.

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The Central Penn College #IAM Campaign

Knightly News Secretary spearheads PSA Campaign for Initiative

By Paul Miller and Sarayuth Pinthong

Knightly News Secretary Sarayuth Pinthong offers a fantastic look at the #IAM campaign from The Office of Diversity and Global Education at Central Penn College as part of a project in his COM225:  Writing for Public Relations course.

The #IAM campaign is in support of their “Our Diversity” messaging in the fall term of 2016.

The campaign informed students and staff members about “going beyond the optics” and understanding our similarities and commonalities. Everyone’s responsible for diversity on campus.

For more information contact: Office of Diversity and Global Education at Central Penn College

Romeo Azondekon: 717-728-2437

romeoazondekon@centralpenn.edu

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A Field of Dreams Exists at Central Penn

But Roadside Tribute to Local Sports Hero Often Goes Unnoticed

 By Keith Gudz

Knightly News Reporter

Every day, students, staff members, visitors and passers-by drive down Valley Road along the north end of the Central Penn College campus.

They drive past a piece of the not-too-distant past that holds a story about a heartbroken town and a hometown hero who was tragically taken from this world far too soon.

On the north side of Valley Road, in a field across from Central Penn’s historic Boyer House and down a bit toward the village of Summerdale, there is a gap where the grass does not grow. In that little circle of dirt are flowers, and baseballs on which the cowhide covers and threaded seams are splitting apart. This often-overlooked circle in a field is a memorial to Tom Sgrignoli, and this is his story.

A memorial to East Pennsboro Township stand-out athlete Tom Sgrignoli, along Valley Road, at Central Penn College. Photo by Keith Gudz

A memorial to East Pennsboro Township stand-out athlete Tom Sgrignoli, along Valley Road, at Central Penn College.
Photo by Keith Gudz

Tom grew up in Enola. The son of Ron and Janet Sgrignoli of Enola, Tom became a sports star on the local scene in 1997, as a standout athlete at East Pennsboro Area High School. While there, Tom excelled in baseball, basketball and golf, and in his senior year, on the Panthers’ varsity football team.

While on the team, Tom was selected and named Most Valuable Player of the 1998 Thanksgiving High School All-Star Football Classic. He had three interceptions and returned one for a touchdown.

After high school, Tom went on to play for Enola’s team in the East Shore Twilight Baseball League, and was a highly successful pitcher. His future as the continuous toast of Enola seemed bright and long-lasting. But all that changed in mid-2005.

On June 22, Tom was riding his motorcycle along Valley Road when he was struck by a wire that was jarred loose by a truck that had passed through before he did. Tom crashed in the field across from the Boyer House.  He was taken to Holy Spirit Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. Tom was 24 years old.

In a recent telephone interview, Ron Sgrignoli said about his son’s crash: “It was the weirdest thing. He was working at Comcast and got off early from work because he had a baseball game to get to. He was going to meet a friend and if it wasn’t for those sets of circumstances, he would still be here. Really makes you think.”

Tom’s family and friends had left items at the crash site as a makeshift memorial. Ron Sgrignoli called then-president, now Central Penn College President Emeritus Todd A. Milano, to inform him of the memorial on the property. Milano agreed to meet with Tom’s parents and offered his condolences, along with any assistance he could be provide.

Milano and the Sgrignolis met over a light lunch, and Milano offered to allow the memorial to be permanent. The memorial is maintained by the Central Penn College Facilities Department.

Through Milano’s support, and with the memories of Tom’s loved ones and the people of his town, he and his legacy live on in that field of dreams.


To comment on this story, or to suggest one, contact KnightlyEditors@CentralPenn.edu.

Edited by Media Club Co-adviser Prof. Michael Lear-Olimpi

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