Category Archives: BEGINNING

Article in Daily American Newspaper; Personal Accomplishment

Somerset Daily American                                     (Front Page)

 

Jessica Benford (right) stands in the water with a ninth grade student in San Salvador, Bahamas. The photo was taken in 2005 when Benford received her scuba diving certification. Natives from the Bahamas were taught how to swim and snorkel. (Submitted photo)
Degree in marine biology provides adventure for Rockwood native
By TIFFANY WRIGHT
Daily American Staff Writer

March 15, 2008



 

Spending weeks at a time near the ocean and researching marine life is not a typical lifestyle in Somerset County — but it is Rockwood native Jessica Benford’s job.

Benford, 24, Cape Canaveral, Fla., is a marine biologist. Her job is to research and observe major marine species all over the U.S.  She has seen endangered whales, barracudas, sunken ships and vast miles of ocean.

“The three important things in my life are family and friends, the ocean and traveling,” she said. “I love traveling and being adventurous. I like seeing new sites and marine biology is a huge part of that. I’m not just observing from an aquarium I’m actually out there in the water. It’s nice being able to find the next big adventure.”

Benford said her love affair with marine studies started when she was a child and she took her first trip to the beach.

“I just fell in love with the ocean,” she said.

As she got older her parents took her to Sea World, which intensified her interest.

“I started asking the people who worked there about their degrees and what colleges they went to and if they liked their job,” she said.

Benford attended the Pennsylvania State University of Fayette for two years and worked toward her bachelor’s degree in biology. She spent the rest of her collegiate time at Penn State’s main campus. She graduated in the summer of 2007 with a wildlife and fishery science: fishery option degree.

In order to become more acquainted with marine life, Benford learned to scuba dive. She received her certification in the spring of 2005 during a trip to the Bahamas.

Benford’s knowledge of marine biology has allowed her to do something important — travel.

“I traveled to Boston and just got back from a project in the Gulf of Mexico. I’ll be heading back to the gulf on March 24 and there’s a project in Alaska that’s happening this summer,” she said.

In Boston, Benford was a scientific observational researcher for endangered species. One of her most gratifying experiences was seeing an endangered North Atlantic right whale.

In the Gulf of Mexico she studied sperm whales. During that project, large companies on vessels search for oil in the ocean. The marine biologist’s job is to make sure the company follows the correct policy and does not corrupt species in the area.

For those interested in studying marine biology, Benford said it is important to get hands-on experience.

“Hands-on experience is the key thing to get this job,” she said. “If you’re ambitious and adventurous, you’re going to have a great time in this field.”

She said aspiring college students should take advantage of certifications and trips.

“You have to have an intellectual approach to it and really be interested in the animals,” she said.

Ultimately, Benford wants to research great white sharks, but for now, she said, she is happy to see new places.

“I’ve been taking a lot of videos and pictures. It gives me something to collect the memories so I know I was out there,” she said. “It’s nice because I’m traveling all the time and I get to see the world.”

**

Thanks to my mom she asked me to write a little bit about myself and my new position. She submitted this to my High School and the local newspaper. I had an interview via telephone with a journalist right after the Viking Vision project. Surprisingly, I had come home to seeing my picture in the local newspaper that my mom sent me. What an amazing publication! This was my solid evidence that I was reaching closer to my ultimate goal – “Last Destination Florida; the Road Trip down the Chosen Path.”

 
My aunt Shir’s review on my passion: “My niece Jessica’s article was run in the Somerset Daily American Saturday.  She has been crazy about the ocean ever since she started visiting me in Ocean City when she was 3-4 years old.  As soon as she discovered what a marine biologist was (at the age of 7) that’s all she ever wanted to do.  My family has watched her go through many changes over the years but this particular desire never changed.  It’s been a great experience to watch her grow up into such a talented, kind, and enthusiastic young woman.  Jess is fearless in her love of life and always has a smile for everyone she meets.  She’s worked hard to achieve this particular dream and I’m so proud of her.”

Defining “True” Friendship; Blended to Perfection: Spring Break 2008

My Senior Year Picture; Rockwood, Pennsylvania 02.2001

Quick recap: Just finished my 6 week project on the Viking Vision, had an awesome crew change, spent the night in New Orleans on Bourbon Street, and finally headed home to make plans for some of my college buddies arrival. 

Synnove, me, Pete, Darcy, and Silje; New Orleans, Louisiana 02.2008


We have all heard of the saying, “Good friends are hard to find.” Have you actually ever taken the time and realized how true this quote is? I never thought about the significance of this quote until I left college. I had been fortunate in high school to make as many “good” friends as I did through varsity sports and other social functions. In college I joined a sisterhood, played on numerous intramural sports teams, and starred as Penn State’s leading first baseman, which then at that time it was easy to make “good” friends – “5 All-Time Favorite Memories at PSU; Good Times with Amazing People.”  Even in my Marine Biology field working offshore I met some amazing people, who I had become really close with and defined as “good” friends  – “New Friendships Created; Reuniting Old Ones”  and “Excellent First Impressions; a Guide on How to Give Great, Not Just Good Impressions.”

Synnove, me, Pete, and Silje; New Orleans, Louisiana 02.2008

Not to mention the awesome relationship that I have with my hometown best friends Elaina Peck and Stephanie Van Damme that was developed in my childhood years. These two characterized the “true” meaning of friendship and set my expectations on what the value of a friendship is worth. When I had begun my journey of relocating to a new state, moving into a recently renovated condominium, and calling a beach inspired town my home, I had never dreamt of how hard it would be to make friends, let alone “good” friends. I am sure my unique lifestyle did not help my situation much both considering I worked a lot and barely was around to form any special bonds. When I was getting ready to leave the Viking Vision I realized that I had no one to chill with when I was home. My college mates were discussing their plans for spring break 2008 and instantaneously we all had the same idea that they should come down and visit me. I promised one of my best friends Leslie that she could come down for her spring break when I had to cancel our plans due to work – “The World of Manatees; Protection of Impact on Marine Life and Wildlife.” I called a few of my “good” friends at PSU and invited them down to visit me for their spring break 2008. 

Elaina and I; Rockwood, Pennsylvania 08.2008

I had three girls come stay with me in Florida and I had planned a week of activities for the duration of their visit. All of the girls were “good” friends of mine from PSU – Leslie, Jenna, and midget Megan were all spending their Spring Break 2008 with me. Unlike spring break 2007 – “The Chosen Path Revealed; Epic Spring Break Adventure” there were no cop cars involved and certainly no random encounters with Navy boys! This spring break was very mellow; I definitely needed this after working a great deal on the ocean. It was nice to have the girls down; we spent a substantial amount of time talking and laying out on the beach. It was at this time when I was reminded of what “true” friendship and “good” friends actually were. 

During the time of the girl’s visit, we did not have much of an itinerary planned. Everything pieced together, the girl’s visited the places that they wanted to go (including Fort Lauderdale), and we all thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. Midget Megan was looking into working for my company since she and I were in the same field at PSU. Jenna was trying to figure out which nearby Florida beach town was a good location for her to do her doctorate program in Physical Therapy. On the other hand, Leslie focused on finishing her senior year of college and she wanted to relax at the beach with no worries running through her head. 

I remember one particular night where all of us were together and we discussed how important friendship was to each of us. I will never forget this conversation, because this is when I had begun to understand that it was natural to have a handful of “good” friends. As I looked at each of them I appreciated that I gave them a chance and opened my soul to them. I will never disregard those individuals that came into my life and positively impacted in some way. After all, is it not important to have friends surrounding you that are positive influences and only have your best interest at heart? 

My Mom and Stephanie; Bakersville, Pennsylvania 08.2007

 
Right before the girl’s left; I introduced them to the new guy that I had started dating shortly before they arrived. A handsome Romanian, Adrian, with an inspiration for Classical music and teaching little kids how to play musical instruments at a school nearby made quite the impression on the girls and he got my “good” friends approval stamps! After the girl’s flew back to Pennsylvania I recapped the spring break trip that we had together. I realized that each of these connections that I had with these girls aka “good” friends were formed out of a “true” friendship. Referring back to the earlier statement, “Good friends are hard to find!” Treasure the value of friendship and open your heart and soul to those that deserve it.

Elaina and Jake; Rockwood, Pennsylvania 08.2008
How to Define a “Good” Friend:

Along with one of my favorite Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes – “A Voyage of Self-Discovery; Persistence of a Dream,” a few of my recently favored friendship quotes are, “The only way to have a friend is to be one” and “A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.” In retrospect, a friendship is one of the most valuable relationships that can be formed between two human beings. I have reflected on my “good” friends from my childhood, high school, college, and now within my professional field. I have compiled a list of what I think a “true” friendship is. It is times like these when I am sitting on the ocean hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles away from my “good” friends that I find security in knowing that they are thinking of me in the same moment that I am thinking of them.


Jenna, me, Leslie, and Meg; Fort Lauderdale, Florida 03.2008




“True” Friendships Revealed:

Trust – If you ever had fallen in a heap of trouble, your friend would be there in an instant. They would not question you right away; they would support you, and ask questions later after your trouble free. This kind of friendship thrives on comfort, inspiration, and trust.
Distance – From my personal experiences, this is one of the greatest factors that pop into my friendships. How to endure a long distance friendship? It does not matter if you talk every day, once a week, twice a month, or even three times a year; bottom line is that whenever you talk or see each other again, you pick up right where you left off. Geographical separation is just a part of life and both you and your friend understand this. Distance may get in the way, but it never fades your friendship; it only grows better with time. In other words, friendships can grow separately, without ever growing apart. After all, this is the beauty of friendship. 

Qualities – Just like you get into a serious relationship and take your significant other’s flaws, as well as their accomplishments; the same occurs when you accept your friend’s positive and negative qualities. Having a friend you know each other’s strengths and weaknesses – nothing is hidden. Most importantly, you respect each other’s individuality.

Selflessness – Friends help because they want to, not because they have to. Your friend wants only the best for you and at any specific times may help you reach your goals by giving you confidence and supporting you all the way 100%. Friends look out for your greatest interest and will remind you constantly how proud they are of you. When the whole world has turned its back on you, your friend has not. 

Jenna and I; Fort Lauderdale, Florida 03.2008




Principles – I have a handful of “good” friends who I would call as my inspirations in life. These are the type of people that you idolize, admire, and only want the best for. Your friend conducts themselves by the standard, morals, and ideals that promote the definition of what it is to be a human being. With these principles come kindness, compassion, selflessness, and motivation. These traits are extremely hard to find, but once you do they certainly are a treasure that is worth discovering. Sometimes we are not aware of who our “good” friends are until the moment strikes in life where we need friends the most and those that surround us are the people who love us. Through my “near-death” experience in a car crash where I totaled my car in the fall of 2001 I had quickly learned this lesson. I woke up to find an individual that I had not yet defined as a “good” friend. As she visited me in the hospital that weekend, more than my parents did, I quickly came to the realization that she was indeed a “good” friend, if not a “best” friend.
Confidence – As I mentioned earlier, when the whole world has turned their back on you, it is important to remember that your friend has not. A “true” friendship will always believe in you, in the times that you may not believe in yourself. Your friend will constantly bring out the best in you.
Time – Have you ever had a friend not be able to make time for you? Better question, have you ever had a “good” or “best” friend not be able to make time for you?  I have been dealt this situation a few times with my friends when I return to my hometown. My immediate reaction to this is that it is equally important that my friends (who say they are my friends) meet me half way. I find it sometimes irritating that I drive all over the place to visit my friends when in reality I should be home spending time with my family who I only see once a year. I have discovered a set of my “good” friends will make time for me and go out of their way to visit me while I am in town. The most valuable gift you can give to a “good” friend is your time. Time is something that you can never buy nor take back. The moment an individual shared their time with you, they have shared a part of their life with you.

Leslie and I; Fort Lauderdale, Florida 03.2008
Respecting “True” Friendships:

There are probably hundreds of other characteristics that define what a “true” friendship is, but I have provided you my personal collection that I desire in my friendships. Remember, all “best” friends are friends, but not are friends are “best “friends. The same is in relation with a “good” friend. Lifetime “good” friends are rare, but even if you have one “good” friend consider yourself fortunate. There are so many different types of people that we come across in our daily lives; for those that remain by our side through thick and thin, these are the people that should be recognized and respected for being “best” friends. In spite of everything, your”best” friends are your biggest supporters.
The Study of “True” Friendship and its Meaning:

The study of friendship is included in the fields of sociology, social psychology, anthropology, philosophy, and zoology. Various academic theories of friendship have been proposed, among which are social exchange theory, equity theory, relational dialectics, and attachment styles.


A Few Anonymous Quotes Based on the Value of Friendships:

“Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same.”
“Wherever you may be it is your friends who make your world.”

 

Me and Rusty (Snowboard); Rockwood, Pennsylvania 02.2001

Welcome to a New Chapter; Shaping My Future as a Marine Biologist

Walking Down the Chosen Path; Cape Canaveral, Florida 10.2008

My family had stayed for a few days and helped me settle into my condo. My aunt Shir is a fabulous cook – my favorite dish that she made me religiously as a kid was famously called, “Chicken a La Jessica;” this included cheesy mozzarella garlic bread! The main dish had an assortment of vegetables and small pieces of chicken soaked in olive oil; the perfect weekend dinner meal. Sorry I kind of got lost in the moment there! Anyways, before my aunt Shir left she taught me a few quick dishes to create for on the go. 
Beautiful Cloudy Day; Cape Canaveral, Florida 10.2008
Once both the cars were unloaded I officially felt at home. I had training for my new job the next morning after I arrived in Cape Canaveral, Florida. My brother Jake loves to go fishing; while I drove towards the Ecoes office, my family accompanied my uncle Matt and went fishing on the Indian River for the morning until the late afternoon. As I continued my drive towards Cocoa, Florida with my sunroof open, I listened to the cool wind breeze brushing through my hair, smelled the fish and salt water seeping from the local fish markets nearby, and viewed a beautiful sunrise over the ocean. I cannot believe how long it took me to be in such a beautiful and peaceful place, but I knew at that moment that this was a great location to call my home

Paradise; Cape Canaveral, Florida 10.2008
I quickly arrived to my destination and was overly excited to know that today will shape my future in the field of Marine Biology. Proudly I walked into the office and recognized Mary Jo or MJ and several other unfamiliar faces. The classroom was filled with a dozen of people in their chairs. The week for the Protected Species Observer (PSO)/ Safe Gulf training went really well; there was a high focus on the marine environment and a brief overview of the identification of marine mammals and sea turtles. 

After reflecting on the past and recapping the challenges I faced, this moment in time revealed what I have been waiting for since I was 3 years old. I am one step closer to achieving my goals and studying cetaceans (whales and dolphins) in their own natural habitat. One really cool Biologist that I met during the training was this cute brunette girl named Whitney – “Offshore Lifestyle Unraveled; a Greater Appreciation for Marine .” We started chatting the first day outside the classroom during our break. One immediate similarity we shared was that we both adored our sororities and missed our college years deeply. I discovered that she is a Phi Mu alum as well! It really is a small world! If you know anything about the Greek life, you would know that this is an instant connection to the sisterhood. Whether or not she would have been a Phi Mu, the Greek affiliation brings us closer together already. I highly recommend “Going Greek” if you crave adventure and life-long friendships.

At the end of the week training was completed. One of the most unforgettable experiences of that week, besides my training, was when my little brother Jake saw the ocean for the first time. Being the great big sister that I am, I took his hand and guided him into the ocean – I may have kicked water on him on a bit to give him the full effect of the ocean. I tried to explain years what the ocean meant to me, but it was not until that moment where he fully understood why I wanted to live and work on the ocean. Reality had sunk in after my family had left to drive home – I was leaving the next morning for my first project as an official Marine Biologist. My first offshore assignment… Boston, Massachusetts to research and carefully observe the North Atlantic right whale!

Beach, Sand, and Sun; Cape Canaveral, Florida 10.2008

Walk Down Memory Lane; A to Z Moments during Undergraduate at Penn State

Me entering PSU Football Stadium; State College, Pennsylvania 10.2006

As we continue our journey on our “chosen path,” we never forget the reason why we are here and who our positive influences were along the way. Honestly, it is hard for me to sum up all of my experiences at Penn State. One thing is certain I created the best friendships and met some amazing people during my undergraduate years at Penn State – these are the best friends that I talk about offshore on a daily basis. I recall many fabulous nights at Penn State – most importantly, it was because my good friends with right beside me and they can tell you the same stories!


So without further interruption, here are the favorite photographs from Penn State. I “tried” to limit myself (this was very difficult!)!

  

AMAZING NIGHT – During Spring Break in 2007, the girls and I met a cute bunch of Navy guys on the day that my car was keyed – “7 Ways to Avoid Getting Your Car Keyed; Fabulous Florida Spring Break 2007.”  Though some blunderin’ fool decided to victimize my car, the girls and I continued to live it up like rock-stars PSU style for the rest of our Spring Break.  Beach, beer, and sand – What is there to be depressed about?!?

Anjoli, Troxler, Shannon, and me with Navy Boys; Cocoa Beach, Florida 04.2007
                                             

BARS – With many bars in the State College area, you are bound to find your favorite pub – “5 All-Time Favorite Memories at PSU; Good Times with Amazing People.” I met some amazing acquaintances, as well as good friends during my time of drinking my preferred beverage of choice. My good friends and I seemed to be attracted to karaoke, trivia nights, various happy hour specials, and the PSU nightlife – pubs were an excellent choice for a stress-free night! I have so many more photographs, but as I explained above I did “try” to limit the amount of pictures. 

Debb, me, and Debb’s friend; State College, Pennsylvania 09.2006

Lindsay, Mary, Steph, me, Lindsey, and Shannon; State College, Pennsylvania 01.2007

Laura, Mary, Steph, me, Lindsay, and Shannon; State College, Pennsylvania 01.2007

Shannon, Paul, and me; State College, Pennsylvania 01.2007

Rich, Paul, me, and Keri; State College, Pennsylvania 02.2007

Troxler, Shannon, me, and Laura; State College, Pennsylvania 02.2007

Meg and I; State College, Pennsylvania 03.2007
Pre-gaming before Bars Beer Pong Style with Michael; State College, Pennsylvania 01.2006

Jenna and I; State College, Pennsylvania 07.2007
Mike’s girl friends, Mike, me, and Sam; State College, Pennsylvania 02.2008

Steph, Shannon, me, Jenn, Adah, and Adah’s friend; State College, Pennsylvania 11.2006

COYOTE UGLY – Have you ever seen the movie “Coyote Ugly” – the one where the hot girls sing, dance, and perform on the bar? Even though the girls and I had no hopes in pursuing our dreams of a singing career we still had an excellent night. During Spring Break 2007 we sang and danced on the bar at the “Coyote Ugly” in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Lesson of the night – if you are going to throw your bra and leave it at the pub (there is a whole collection of Victoria Secret ones to choose from), then make sure that you do not wear your “favorite” one. The girls and I were tempted to leave ours at the pub, but then we all realized that we had our favorites ones on! Next time if you are feeling adventurous, leave your bra (maybe out of the top 5 favorites in your personal collection!). You leave your bra you get a shot! Though the girls and I did not need that extra shot, who can say that they left their bra at “Coyote Ugly”and that it still remains on the wall?!? Um, maybe I should thought about this then! Oh well, there will always be a next time – especially a hot spring break destination like this! 

Troxler, Shannon, me, and Anjoli; Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 04.2007

DISNEY WORLD – If there is one place in the world where everything and everyone seems to be happy the world would be, well, a happier place! We are just in luck, there is this fabulous place called “Disney World,” which divides into 4 sections: Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Magic Kingdom. I have been there a half dozen times in the last 3 years. Every time I have old college friends coming to visit me, we always end up here! The place is absolutely amazing. I especially love their “Epcot: Food and Wine festival.” Even during the holidays the park is dressed perfectly to the theme. I was recently there over Halloween 2008 (more on this in future post) and they portrayed the theme well – not that I ever doubted them!  If you have not been here yet, I would highly encourage you take a trip to the happy place soon! This place is filled with attractions and entertainment for the whole family, even broke college kids! 
Troxler, Anjoli, and me; Orlando, Florida 04.2007

Shannon, me, and Troxler; Orlando, Florida 04.2007

EXTRA SHOTS FOR EVERYBODY – I have to admit the college life was amazing, because I had the opportunity to meet and chill with new people from various backgrounds. My sorority Phi Mu had a special social function with a fraternity – we welcomed a joint merger with a local sorority and good times were had by all. It is never easy adjusting to a new structure at first, but my fellow sorority sisters made it a mission to foresee the new candidates at ease and comfortable during the merger. I designated myself as the “welcome” party – the local sorority and my first impression was great and the merger turned out to be a success! My secret – give a sincere toast and take a shot! Here is to amazing times yet to come!
Large group of Sorority Sisters; State College, Pennsylvania 01.2006

Shots with the Sorority Sisters; State College, Pennsylvania 12.2006
FOOTBALL – I never saw a football game until I attended PSU. I quickly dived into the PSU athletic teams (since I was on the Softball team) and watched my first Penn State game live from the student bleachers. It was absolutely incredible, I do no think that I ever yelled that loud in my life! With all the adrenaline kicking in and all the enthusiasm absorbed from the crowd, it is no wonder why Penn State is obsessed with their football! I had a lot of great moments in college, but attending live Penn State games were my absolute highlights. Tailgates were an excellent way to start your morning and the Penn State game made the afternoon! I can see why Penn Staters counted down till game day and absolutely loved their weekends! Let’s go State!

Chelsey, Shannon, Steph, me, Mary, and Lindsey; State College, Pennsylvania 11.2006

Me, Jess aka Ramrod, Jess, and Midget Meg; State College, Pennsylvania 10.2006
Leah, Christine, Megan, me, and Dan; State College, Pennsylvania 10.2006

GRADUATES HAVE MORE EXPERIENCE – I always looked up the graduates on campus who was currently pursing their major in the field that they desired. I met Kendall at a house party and I discovered that she was pursuing her master’s in Elementary Education. We became really good friends, hung out a lot during my senior year, and watched a few Penn State football games together. I met a lot of her graduate friends and learned a great deal on how to prioritize my crazy, but beautiful hectic lifestyle as a college undergraduate.
Kendall and I; State College, Pennsylvania 09.2006

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS – Besides State Patty’s Day at PSU, one of my favorite holidays on campus was Halloween. At the period of my super senior undergraduate year, I assumed that I have seen all the various types of costumes during my years at PSU. I never imagined that I would have stumbled upon one of the best costumes ever! With that being said, my all-time favorite costume was the Nickelodeon Guts Contender. I absolutely loved this show as a kid and always dreamt of being a contestant to challenge my “athletic skills.” Hands down this costume made my Halloween! Till this day, I have never come across someone on Halloween holding the faux glowing piece of the Aggro Crag. Kids these days! 
Nickelodeon Gak Contender, me, and Indiana Jones; State College, Pennsylvania 10.2006
ICELANDIC VISIT – My roommate Shannon introduced me to this awesome Icelandic named Holmar my super senior year. He surprised us in Orlando, Florida during our spring break 2007 – Holmar joined part of the day with us in Disney World. He definitely made us girls laugh a lot! He was particularly fond of the PSU bar the Phyrst! Who could blame him?!?
Anjoli, Troxler, me, Holmar, and Shannon; Orlando, Florida 04.2007
JACK DANIEL’S FIGHT – I absolutely love this picture – this is a clear representation of my happy I really was at PSU and how rare great friends like these are hard to find! The night was joined with nighttime volleyball, beer pong, Captain Morgan, and good ole Jack! Between you and I, nobody really got in a fight with Jack.. unless you count the trash can!
Adah, Shannon, me, and Sarah; State College, Pennsylvania 03.2005
KICK ASS NIGHT – Throughout my senior and super senior year at PSU, I met this amazing girl named Tara. I call her Troxler, well because that is her last name! Troxler and I hung out a lot and my sorority sisters absolutely loved her! She was one of the girls on the infamous Spring Break 2007 venture to Florida. I remember many cold winter nights in a hot tub with all of our good friends while it was snowing and blowing like crazy! Troxler and I referred them as our “After Parties” – at one time we had 12 people strategically placed in the hot tub! Troxler’s roommates were awesome and my sorority sisters, as well as my good friends had spent many nights at their place. Anjoli was also one of the girls that joined in the spring break 2007 trip. I still remain good friends with both of the girls and when we get together we seem to always reflect on our past “After Parties.” Good times had by all!
Anjoli, Sarah, me, Melinda, Troxler, and Leah (bottom in red); State College, Pennsylvania 11.2006

LUCK OF THE IRISH – Also known as State Patty’s Day – Penn Staters recognize this amazing event that has surpassed the amount of PSU’s biggest football weekend. Various colleges in the northeast have come to Penn State during this time to partake in the tradition. What is State Patty’s Day? Urban dictionary explains it as a holiday  created by Penn State students in 2007. It was celebrated on March 2, because spring break was scheduled over St. Patrick’s Day (March 17). Many students begin lining up outside of bars and drinking as early as 6AM to celebrate. The festivities last the entire day as students wearing green show up tipsy to class, or do not attend at all. Many parties are held at night, featuring green beer and green jungle juice. One of the famous bars that is sometimes incredibly hard to get into due to its long line is the Phyrst. This really is the only “authentic” Irish bar in the downtown College area. My good friends and I have enjoyed State Patty’s Day and I am proud to announce that I was a part of the “First Ever State Patty’s Day!” I knew the students who had established this fine event – kudos to them! 

Anna, Steph, me, and Anjoli; State College, Pennsylvania 02.2007

Anna and I; State College, Pennsylvania 03.2007

Me, Lex, and Shannon; State College, Pennsylvania 03.2006

MONKEY BOYS – Yes, the title says it all. How could Monkey Boys not get its own letter? I have religiously indulged myself into many various flavors when I was a student at PSU – I am definitely not the only one! My favorite one was a toss between Strawberry and Pineapple. A Monkey Boy has roughly 6-8 liquors, mixes a spritz of non-alcoholic mixer, and highlights cherries on top. Listed below are some of the recipes on how to make the “perfect” Monkey Boy. With over 40 different flavors to create, no wonder Monkey Boys earned the title of its own category!


Megan, Debb, and me; State College, Pennsylvania 06.2007

Me, Leah, and Meg; State College, Pennsylvania 05.2007

Original                                
3/4 oz. Vodka
3/4 oz. Gin
3/4 oz Rum
3/4 oz Triple Sec
3/4 oz apple schnaps
3/4 oz blueberry schnaps
3/4 oz peach schnaps
1. Fill pitcher with ice
2. Pour liquor over ice
3. Fill with equal parts sours mix & 7-up

Raspberry
1 oz Vodka
1 oz Gin
1 oz Rum
1 oz Triple Sec
1.5 oz Raspberry schnaps
1. Fill pitcher with ice
2. Pour liquor over ice
3. Fill with equal parts sours mix & 7-up

Tidy Bowl
3/4 oz Vodka
3/4 oz Gin
3/4 oz Rum
3/4 oz Blue Curaco
3/4 oz Apple schnaps
3/4 oz Peach schnaps
3/4 oz Blueberry schnaps
1. Fill pitcher with ice
2. Pour liquor over ice
3. Fill with equal parts sours mix & 7-up 

NEXT DESTINATION: FLORIDA – I think it is evident that a great deal of life-altering events happened during Spring Break 2007 – “The Chosen Path Revealed; Epic Spring Break Adventure.” I landed a dream job and a few of my closest friends were able to spend their break with me – of course, it is hard to turn down beach, beer, and sand! I had an eye-opener on the long grudges that colleges can keep … not specifically mentioning any college names! On top of all of that I had met my “future” roommate that lived in Cape Canaveral, Florida at the time – his location was only 20 minutes away from the Ecoes office. I have included one of my best Spring Break moments of 2007 with my great friends Brian and Martin. The scene took place in Ft. Lauderdale or Ft. Liquordale widely recognized by college students stateside (quite a popular spring break location) and at “America’s Backyard” – the ultimate Spring Break destination!
Anjoli, Brian, Troxler, Martin, and me; Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 04.2007
OUTDOORS – PSU has many locations where the “outdoor lover” can explore new territory and trek miles of dirt. The best summer location was Whipple Dam – a place where us Penn Staters would relax and unwind after the long treacherous spring semester. Since I was into hiking all-year round the perfect location for this activity was at Mount Nittany – “Penn State Traditions; Some of the Best Moments are Unexpected.” Ever year thousands of graduating students hike this landscape to say farewell to Penn State. 
Lex, Shannon, Leah, Ashley, me, and Jen; State College, Pennsylvania 06.2007
POWER-HOURS –  If you ever had the chance to partake in my power-hours, then you definitely lived Penn State to its fullest! Many of you will know what a power-hour was, but if you do not, please let me summarize the weekend tradition. A power-hour consisted 60 minutes of funny clips and music videos. The basic idea is that for every funny clip is shown during the DVD that you have to take a drink of what beverage was in your hand at that time. I can honestly say that this was the best “pre-gaming” method before my good friends and I went out on the town. Not only was this a way to bring us all closer together, but it also kept more money in our pockets – every college student knows that this is a big deal! Some of the best friendships were created during these power-hours. A power-hour gave us a chance to unwind, chill, and talk about our day – it really was one of my highlights of PSU!

Meg, Becky, Jenn, and me; State College, Pennsylvania 11.2006

Tiffany, Sarah, Derek, Shannon, me, Kate, and Steph; State College, Pennsylvania 11.2006

Julie and I; State College, Pennsylvania 11.2006
Me, Sarah, Boy 1, Kate, Shannon, Boy 2, and Shannon; State College, Pennsylvania 11.2006


QUIRKY MOMENTS – One of my best friends was known as my “favorite skier” or Kate. Ironically we met at a house party when we both started talking about the adrenaline sport skiing. I started telling her about how awesome snowboarding was and why I thoroughly enjoyed it and the discussion led into how much she adored skiing. At the end of the night, we both came to the conclusion that both skiing and snowboarding was awesome! It is funny how one topic like this can bring two people closer together. Kate was introduced to my power-hours on her birthday – I called a few of my good friends to participate in the tradition. My favorite skier will explain to you that she had a blast and this is why her birthday party made the quirky moments – the event that turned into the most “unpredictable” birthday surprise. 

Kate, me, Steph, Sarah, and Tiffany with Shannon Laying Across Lap; State College, Pennsylvania 11.2006


ROOMMATE LOVE – My little sister in the sorority, Shannon, was not only a great addition to the sisterhood, but she was also a wonderful roommate and best friend! I am sure you will see lots of photographs and hear many stories about our crazy adventures in future posts – her and I did almost everything together. She played a large role in the Spring Break 2007. When I first brought up the idea of traveling to Florida, her backs were already packed! 

Shannon and I; State College, Pennsylvania 12.2006

Shannon and I; State College, Pennsylvania 11.2006


SISTERHOOD – Some of my favorite moments cannot be explained in words, but they can be portrayed in many photographs during my undergraduate years at Penn State. One of my all-time top moments were with my sorority sisters. Being the oldest sibling and the only girl in my family, I longed for some girl talks in my daily life. When I went through rush to “choose” my best matched sorority, I never dreamt of the life-long friendships that I would embrace with the sisterhood. During my junior year I was automatically introduced into the family of the “Greeks.” Honestly, my sorority, Phi Mu, had given me a loving family and endless memories that continue to replay in my mind. Sometimes we do not have words for moments like this and the flashbacks and pictures are all that we hold onto. I have tried to express my feelings and emotions towards my sorority, but this does not do much justice. If there is one thing that you have learned from my experiences of “Going Greek,” allow yourself to enter a society that accepts you for who you are – you will never regret this decision.

The Original Phi Mu Sisterhood; State College, Pennsylvania 09.2005

Steph, me, and Shannon; State College, Pennsylvania 02.2006

The Last Group Sorority Sisterhood Photo Taken when I was There; State College, Pennsylvania 01.2007

Meghan, Mary, me, and Jess aka Banzhoff; State College, Pennsylvania 01.2005

Adah, me, and Steph; State College, Pennsylvania 03.2007
TRIVIA – Every Tuesday there was trivia night at the Gingerbread Man or G-Man. A few of my sorority sisters and good friends used to put that “senseless” knowledge that we consumed during our undergraduate years into a game winning trivia session. Superb happy hour specials, excellent food, and trivia – what more could a Penn Stater ask for?

Troxler, me, and Jenna; State College, Pennsylvania 07.2007

Me, Jenn, and Milton; State College, Pennsylvania 03.2007

Ashley’s friend, Laura, Leah, Jenn, me, Jen, and Ashley; State College, Pennsylvania 02.2007


UNDER ARREST – During Spring Break 2007 the girls and I met with Martin and Brian. Brian’s dad was a cop and therefore he had a cop car sitting outside his house. Since we did not get our fill of taking enough photos in front of cop cars yet, the brilliant idea to this scenario was to take a photo in front of the cop car in the “under arrest” position. Classic! To answer your question, nobody was arrested!

Me, Shannon, Troxler, and Anjoli; Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 04.2007

VICTIMS OF HORRIBLE SUMMER INTERNSHIP – I was nominated by my sorority and other classmates to sell the “Volume Library” in the summer of 2006. This was a series of books that helped kids with their homework and encouraged teachers to implement some of the material into their everyday teaching routine. The only key factor that they left out was the “Door to Door Selling!” I assumed (first big mistake) that we were interacting with the kids through the school system. Not even close! To make a long story short, after an “attack dog” bit me, I realized that I had to make this summer in Wisconsin fun despite the strange scenario that I was in. I met Chelsey and Crystal, both girls who were in the same situation that I was – we all wanted a kick ass summer and to spend time together. We nicknamed ourselves “West-side” for whatever reason and became really good friends that summer. I tend to recall some skinny dipping in the Mississippi River, crazy moments, and a pool party. All and all, Chelsey and Crystal had created my “interesting” summer in Wisconsin and I was thankful to have met them!

Chelsey, Crystal, and me; Milwaukee, Wisconsin 07.2006


WISCONSIN BREWERS – Along with the strange summer in Wisconsin working an internship, there were a few “good” moments. For instance, I went to my first Wisconsin Brewers baseball home game against the Atlanta Braves. This was a really cool event because this is when I began to become apart of “West-side” and had the opportunity to see the Brewers play. 
Crystal, me, Dan, Chelsey, and Josh; Milwaukee, Wisconsin 06.2006
X MARKS THE SPOT – I was notorious for taking photos in groups of 3’s at PSU. My reasoning behind this was because it was easy to fit 2 other people in the picture – usually our faces are squished together, but still it was a fabulous photo! I have many more, but these were the best. 

Ramrod, me, and Tiffany; State College, Pennsylvania 04.2006

Mike, me, and Leslie aka Skerponator; State College, Pennsylvania 08.2008

Jenn, me, and Meg; State College, Pennsylvania 11.2005

Me, Shannon, and Mike aka Pasta; State College, Pennsylvania 02.2006

  

Ramrod, Jess, and me; State College, Pennsylvania 10.2006

Darice, me, and Lindsay; State College, Pennsylvania 03.2007

Me, Matt, and Shannon; State College, Pennsylvania 02.2007

Syrena, me, and Debb; State College, Pennsylvania 03.2007

Steph, Brandon, and me; State College, Pennsylvania 00.2006

Me, Shannon, and Meg; State College, Pennsylvania 06.2007

 

Me, Brandon, and Shannon; State College, Pennsylvania 06.2007

YELLOW BRICK ROAD – Though this road is not yellow nor brick, it is indeed still a road! I always seemed to get in the craziest nights with my best friend Kate; however, this particular night took the cake! Important note to my family – this was on a side road on a one-way street and NO traffic comes through here! This was in the front of the house party that we had just left.

Me, Kate, and Mary; State College, Pennsylvania 01.2006


ZANIEST NIGHTSRandomly throughout the week and on several weekends I would hang out with Jess or as I cleverly nicknamed her “Ramrod.” Ramrod and I some awesome times together and it really was never a dull moment with us. In addition to Ramrod, I also met a “midget” named Megan. The most amusing story about Megan is how she first introduced herself – “Hi, I am Megan and legally a midget!” My time spent with Ramrod and Midget Meg added a lot more college life excitement to the mix!

Ramrod, me, Robin, Toni, and Midget Meg; State College, Pennsylvania 12.2006

Christine’s friend, Natasha, Sarah, Tiffany, Christine, Ramrod, and me; State College, Pennsylvania 12.2006

Me, Ramrod, and Midget Meg; State College, Pennsylvania 12.2006

As you can see the Penn Staters and I knew how to have a good time. Of course, academics were a priority as well, but who wants to see pictures of me studying?!? ;)

Last Destination Florida; the Road Trip down the Chosen Path

Jake, me, and Josh at PSU Graduation; State College, Pennsylvania 08.2007
The day had finally arrived, I was moving to Florida in less than 6 hours. Ironically, it was August 18, 2007 and the day of my PSU graduation – “5 All-Time Favorite Memories at PSU; Good Times with Amazing People” ceremony. As I packed the last few boxes, it hit me – I was about to embark on a journey filled with unearthed and endless possibilities into the “Real” world. That day started a new chapter in my life; the world was my sandbox. I glanced around the empty walls, where a black light and posters had once hung – I felt a sudden rush of emotions mixed with both excitement and sadness. I still remember that feeling that I had in my gut – that strange emotion that seemed to haunt me. I was about to leave my really good friends behind and travel a few thousand miles away solo – that brought a severe uneasiness and discomfort to my mind. I remember thinking and questioning myself if I was prepared enough to do such a task. I knew in my heart that this was the best decision for me – I had to “experience” all of life’s pleasures.  I had to see how far I could push my own limits
 
Kissing the Pig for Good Luck; Bakersville, Pennsylvania 08.2007
The Pennsylvania State University Emblem; State College, Pennsylvania 08.2007
As my PSU graduation had drawn closer and closer, the more I walked down memory lane. I looked back on the moments where I played college softball as a first baseman (and other various positions), participated actively in a sorority, and created many great friendships, along with sisterhood bonds. A diploma, let alone a PSU diploma, was the ticket to help me reach higher and dream bigger – I was headed in the right direction to accomplish my goals one by one that I sought after. I had the opportunity to add a new adventure in my life and strategically begin the quest to reach my ultimate goal – To be recognized as a successful and respectable Marine Biologist

PSU Graduation/ Moving to Florida Party; Bakersville, Pennsylvania 08.2007
Lion Shrine; State College, Pennsylvania 08.2007

Great Friends Wishing me Fare Well; Bakersville, Pennsylvania 08.2007

I left my apartment for the second to last time and drove over to the ceremony site to meet my immediate family. I remember thinking how lucky I was to have my family here with me and how great it was to have them all watching me take the next big step in my life. As my name was called to receive my PSU diploma, I experienced a mix of emotions of anxiousness and cheerfulness at the same time. I replay that moment in my mind now and again – at that time, I thought, “Here I am not knowing what life had in store for me and taking one of the biggest risks in my life to purse a dream on my own. Am I prepared to have a leap of faith and trek into the unknown?” Looking back on that moment now, I tend to chuckle; I never knew that I could be that insecure! For those of you that really know me, you know that I am a positive person and am rarely full of doubt. One thing I knew at that point in time was that I created this moment and this was my time to shine

 

Leslie and I; Bakersville, Pennsylvania 08.2007
Dear Old State; State College, Pennsylvania 08.2007
The PSU graduation ceremony was over and I drove back to my apartment for the last time. I finished placing the final two boxes in the car – I had strategically filled 2 cars with all of my personal belongings. I was excited to begin part of my adventure with my mom, aunt Shir, and my youngest brother Jake. The road trip went smoothly after 0 hours of sleep, 4 red bulls in my system, and the last 10 hours of Jake and I singing at the “top of our lungs” to my iPod as we entered the Florida state. 

Leslie, me, and Sarah; Bakersville, Pennsylvania 08.2007
We were instantly greeted by a 6’6 dark haired twenty-something year old guy named Matt. After explaining the epic spring break – “The Chosen Path Revealed; Epic Spring Break Adventure” on how I met Matt initially, sleep was much needed! A new day would come tomorrow and I would set forth on my chosen path.
One Last Final Goodbye; State College, Pennsylvania 08.2007

Phi Mu Bar Tour; State College, Pennsylvania 05.2007