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[Live Blog] State Of State 2018: Freedom To Roar

Welcome to the home for our coverage of the fifth annual State of State conference. This year’s forum is titled Freedom To Roar and features 16 speakers split into four categories, each discussing matters of Penn State life.

We’ll be live tweeting highlights from @OnwardState and updating this post throughout the day. For more up-to-the-minute coverage or to catch a particular speaker, follow State of State’s live stream.


3:06 p.m.: That’s all from this year’s State of State conference.

2:30 p.m.: People tend to look down on successful individuals once they learn they suffer from mental illness, says Geisinger, but she believes that it makes them stronger. She stresses that the stigma around mental health and mental illness discourage people from seeking help.

2:27 p.m.: The final State of State speaker is Samantha Geisinger, Executive Director of The Association of Big Ten Students, on the stage to talk about mental illness.

2:20 p.m.: Jarvis says that their goal at the Student Disability Resource Center is to minimize the impact of a student’s disability so that they are able to work to their full ability.

2:17 p.m.: Keith Jervis, Director of Student Disability Resources is on the stage now. He tells of his childhood struggle with dyslexia and how it has significantly impacted his learning ability.

2:12 p.m.:  Patchcoski encourages listeners to “swim upstream” and do the hard work to change the stigmas around the LGBTQA community.

2:08 p.m.: Brian Patchcoski, Director of the LGBTQA Student Resource Center is next to talk about helping students who don’t find themselves defined by one “checked box.”

2:05 p.m.: Ain talks about how discouraged she was to learn about the “midget wrestling” event downtown. She tells her story about working with student and community leaders to change the name to “Little Mania” and challenges students to find ways to make change in their remaining time at Penn State.

2 p.m.: Alexa Ain, the Panhellenic Council’s vice president of wellness, kicks off the Social Stigmas section of today’s conference.

The Effect of World Events on Minority Community Members

1:25 p.m.: Individuals perceptions of what it means to be a Muslim come from the media and political leaders. “People didn’t hate me because they knew me, they hate me because they didn’t know me,” Salameh says of conversations he had growing up. He suggest that we facilitate conversation to help bridge barriers.

1:22 p.m.: Next to the stage is Karam Salameh, DA II Coordinator and Facilitation Coach of World in Conversation.

1:17 p.m.: Dowling articulates that often, LGBTQA black women are left out of the conversation and encourages that we continue to support each other so that we may further this conversation.

1:15 p.m.: “I would argue that intersectionality began in the second wave of feminism and it is still crawling. We’re not there all the way.”

1:10 p.m.: Dowling says the recent Women’s March in State College was very intersectional in her opinion, and explains barriers that prevented a broader scope of the population from attending last year’s Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

1:04 p.m.: Tiara Dowling, President of the Penn State NAACP is next up and will discuss intersectionality.

12:58 p.m.: Zurita-Coronado tells the story of Penn State student, Fernanda, who was able to come to Penn State because she is a DACA student, but still faces unceratinty every day.  “These dreamers are tired of having to be bargaining chips,” says Zurita-Coronado about the current political climate. He challenges the audience to think of DACA students when we say we are “All In.”

12:52 p.m.: Jorge Zurita-Coronado, President of Latino Caucus takes the stage to talk about DACA and how it is affecting minority students.

12:48 p.m.: Campbell challenges the audience to think about what it’s like to study in a country where citizens from your home country aren’t accepted into airports, or where the leaders publicly criticize your home country.

12:38 p.m.: Campbell shares the stories of international students who chose to come to Penn State and the reasons they did so.

12:34 p.m.: In lieu of speaker Lauren Halberstadt, Jennifer Campbell, Directorate of Global Operations and Learning will speak about the impact study abroad has on Penn State students.

11:51 a.m.: Jennifer Sparrow says that her biggest inspirations are the students that come to campus each fall excited to learn and engage with the Penn State community.

11:47 a.m.: In the Q&A portion of the technology section, an audience member asked about the impacts of technology on the next generation. Cameron says that it will affect how quickly young learners jump from topic to topic because of the way smart technology rewires our brains.

Technology at Penn State

11:32 a.m.: Though Reynolds is graduating in May, she says it’s not too late for Penn State to break the traditions of the past 20 years and work to make sure World Campus students are heard. “It’s too late for me, but it’s not too late for Penn State.”

11:27 a.m.: Reynolds lauds the World Campus, but raises concerns about the opportunity for World Campuses to have a seat at the table in shaping the future of the university, particularly in student government. She says World Campus students aren’t represented in any of Penn State’s three student governments — UPUA, CCSG, or GPSA.

11:22 a.m.: Stephanie Reynolds, mom and Penn State World Campus student, is up next to talk about adapting to technology when it comes to getting your degree.

11:18 a.m.:  Sparrow brings up President Barron’s favorite analogy: Penn State is a sports car. “I challenge you to drive that sports car.” This one’s getting old.
11:16 a.m.: Sparrow describes the differences between what she calls digital literacy and digital fluency. Digital literacy is the understanding of which of these tools to use, while digital fluency is the ability to use the tools we have available to create new knowledge. Penn State aims to teach students to do both to set them up for future success.

11:12 a.m.: Senior Director of Teaching and Learning with Technology Jennifer Sparrow is next up talking about digital fluency and digital citizenship.

11:08 a.m.: “You will find a ton of people at Penn State who want to see you succeed just as much as you want to be successful.” Roda says that as a student at Penn State, now is the perfect place and time to invest in your start-up dreams. He says the resources we have here — Happy Valley LaunchBox, the Small Business Development Center, and entrepreneurship classes — are invaluable.

11:04 a.m.: “You’re going to get some good advice and bad advice but I encourage you to use your gut to tell the difference,” Roda says. He described a meeting with a company CEO when he spoke for about five minutes before the CEO spent the next 50 telling him why what he was doing was all wrong.

11 a.m.: Next to take the stage is Matt Roda, Founder of Reflexion Interactive Technologies, to talk about why students should pursue entrepreneurship.

10:56 a.m.: Cameron talks about the next generation — the Centennials — who grew up with cell phones, laptops, Skype, and a smorgasboard of other tech. “They are gonna be hell on wheels at this university when they hit,” she says.

10:55 a.m.: “You are going to be, by 2025, 75 percent of the workforce.” Cameron says companies are down-aging, which means millennials must continue to learn because the workforce is moving to jobs and positions that haven’t been invented yet.

10:48 a.m.: Millennials make up 27 percent of the current population, which is more than the two previous generations, says Rose Cameron, former Director of Innovation at Penn State and Principal and Founder of R. Cameron Consulting. She’s spent much of her career researching how generations like millennials feel about different companies.

10:47 a.m.: “It’s worth looking at these changes…and thinking how we can change this current system to make us more employable.” Sopp says his presentation applies to all disciplines, not only STEM.

10:42 a.m.: Sopp says the 73 percent of Hack PSU’s 24-hour “hack-a-thon” attendees learned something that they didn’t learn in class.

10:35 a.m.: State of State will now transition into the technology portion of today’s conference. First to the stage is senior Smith Sopp, director of Hack PSU.


Free Speech and Political Activism on Campus

10:30 a.m.: An audience member asked Barnhill if he regrets attending a predominately white university. Barnhill says no because of the opportunities he is provided at Penn State, and that he was nearly ready to attend Howard but the financial aid resources just weren’t there.

10:25 a.m.: After a few minutes of debate at the tables, the “Free Speech” speakers take questions from the audience. When asked if all three student media outlets — The Daily Collegian, The Underground, and Onward State — are sustainable, Ruland said she believes they are because there’s no shortage of stories to be told on campus.

10:04 a.m.: “We must have a deeper, more meaningful conversation that leads to action in the form of resistance,” Barnhill closed. “It’s time we show that we are truly ‘All In’ and we acknowledge the impact of free speech.”

10:01 a.m.: “The cost of free speech is at the expense of the safety of the students of color on campus.” Barnhill says this is an expense Penn State cannot afford. He describes how solemn the normally-vibrant PRCC felt the day after Donald Trump was elected president. He says it’s not about politics, but decency.

9:57 a.m.: The final speaker in the “Free Speech” set is Marvin Barnhill, a Lion Ambassador and ambassador of the Paul Robeson Cultural Center. He talks of free speech and how it relates to the inequalities in our community.

9:55 a.m.: Friedenberg closes with, “I’m really excited to see where the future of technology in activism goes.”

9:52 a.m.: “We try to use technologies to empower people wherever they might be, either geographically or through subject matters they may be interested in.” Friedenberg says his campaign uses Slack, an office messaging tool, to divide the workflow into different parts of the district and different issues people are interested in.

9:47 a.m.: Our next peaker is Marc Friedenberg, an IST professor and Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania’s Fifth Congressional District. He introduces his talk by discussing social media, and how it eliminates gatekeepers. “We no longer need the Collegian…”

9:43 a.m.: Ruland: “Knowledge is power. Trust me.”

9:38 a.m.: Ruland says she believes if journalists weren’t telling the story of Tim Piazza, we wouldn’t see the changes on campus now. “That’s why it’s important that The Daily Collegian is an independent student-run newspaper.”

9:32 a.m.: Next up is Sam Ruland, editor-in-chief of The Daily Collegian, speaking on the importance of independent media and creating an informed public to kick off the “Free Speech” section of the conference.

9:29 a.m.: “Income inequality’s not going anywhere. Higher education is also not going anywhere.” Taylor describes taking on $26,000 of debt his first semester and earning scholarships along the way until he wasn’t paying anything in later semesters. “[I’m] CCSG President. There’s not a single internship I won’t get an interview for.” Says he’s been given these opportunities because of paying tuition.

9:20 a.m.: Today’s opening speaker is Zachary Taylor, president of the Commonwealth Council of Student Governments (CCSG). Taylor’s discussing the rising costs of higher education.

9:15 a.m.: The conference opens with a video of students and State of State participants sharing what the conference means to them and why it’s important to Penn State.

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