University Takes Part in Scranton Area Ministerium Interfaith Thanksgiving Service

The Scranton Area Ministerium’s Interfaith Thanksgiving Service was held on Friday Nov. 20. This annual prayer service seeks to promote interfaith connectivity within Lackawanna County. The University of Scranton is a member of the Scranton Area Ministerium, and a few Royals were in attendance.

Dr. Helen Wolf and Fr. James Redington represented the University. During the event, Dr. Wolf led a prayer of Thanksgiving and introduced two hymns, “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” along with a rendition of Psalm 89. Joe Fullam, ‘22 and Bailey McLaughlin ’21 sang the hymns.

Dr. Helen Wolf

The service highlights various religions, such as Catholicism, Judaism, Islam and Baháʼí Faith.

The University has been taking part in this service since 2015, and Dr. Wolf said this connected dialogue and appreciation for other religions is important for a Catholic institution.

“Dialogue and engagement with our sisters and brothers practicing religions outside Catholicism is something that Catholics are called to accomplish,” Dr. Wolf said.

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Seniors Prepare for Their Final Semester

For about a quarter of University of Scranton undergrads, next spring is the last semester they will spend at this school. Seniors are expecting new emotions, opportunities and growth.

Jonna LoPresti ’21 is a strategic communications and social media strategies double major with a concentration in public relations. LoPresti said she is curious to see how her last semester at Scranton will go.

Jonna LoPresti, ’21.

“[The pandemic] has changed so many aspects of college life, and the future is so uncertain,” LoPresti said.

Even through all of the uncertainty, LoPresti said she is still looking forward to the time she has left.

“I [want to] soak up every moment because I know this is a time that I will never get back,” LoPresti said.

LoPresti’s spring semester has a lighter course load than her past semesters. She is also interning with the University’s provost, Dr. Gingerich. LoPresti said she is excited to see how she applies her education to her internship.

“It will be exciting to see the progress that I have made in my studies the past three-and-a-half years and [how] I apply it,” LoPresti said.

LoPresti said she is going to miss many aspects of Scranton after graduation.

“I am truly going to miss the people at Scranton,” LoPresti said, “I see people on campus at random and end up having amazing conversations with them, and the workers in Mulberry POD always have a smile on their face and take the time to talk to me while I wait for my [food]. Those kinds of moments always make my day.”

She said she values the knowledge she’s gained from her professors.

“I am grateful for the education, along with the pieces of life advice, that I have received from my professors in the Communication and Media Department,” she said.

LoPresti will start applying to jobs next semester, and she said she is excited to enter the real world.

“I love college, but I cannot wait to truly be an adult and experience the work environment. I know that I’m ready to grow up,” she said.

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What Does Dead Week Look Like This Semester?

The end of the semester is quickly approaching for students at The University of Scranton.

Dead Week is the week before final exams and is intended to give students time to study and prepare for all of their tests and projects due at the end of the semester. This year, Dead Week looks a little bit different. The Loyola Science Center (LSC) hallways and study rooms, which would typically be full of students getting work done, were quiet.

Caroline Fitzgerald, ’24, sits in the Loyola Science Center to study.

However, Caroline Fitzgerald, a first-year nursing major, has been spending more time studying in quiet LSC. She said her Dead Week is mostly preparing for finals week with the exception of a few assignments.

“Personally, I’m just kind of prepping for next week . . . so I can focus on studying,” Fitzgerald said, “I do have a couple of papers to write, but it’s really nothing too bad.”

To help destress during the final two weeks, Fitzgerald plans on getting as much sleep as possible and try to keep all of her work organized.

“I’m going to try to get as much sleep as I can this week because I know I’m not going to be able to next week,” Fitzgerald said. “I think for me, stress management is more about planning things out and writing things down.”

The University closes for the semester on Nov. 26. Fitzgerald said she is sad to be leaving her friends but excited to see her family.

“I’ve been with my friends for [a few] months now,” Fitzgerald said, “But I think being home with my family and dog [will] be nice, too.”

As the semester wraps up, Fitzgerald said she’s ready for some downtime with no school work.

“[I’ve] been doing work every day since August,” Fitzgerald said, “So, I’m ready for a break, academically.”

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New Faculty Member Says Students are ‘Rising to the Occasion’

The Political Science Department at The University of Scranton welcomed a new assistant professor this year.

Professor JoyAnna Hopper, PhD.

JoyAnna Hopper, Ph.D. began her career as an assistant professor at The University of Scranton this past summer. Before teaching at Scranton, she worked as a graduate professor at the University of Missouri and an assistant professor at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.

Professor Hopper currently teaches introductory American politics courses, including a class that covers U.S. politics, citizenship and principles as well as a class that covers the U.S. Congress. Hopper said that her favorite classes to teach are the ones dealing with policy.

“I love all of my classes, but I really like teaching my policy classes [because] that’s my area of specialization,” Hopper said.

Professor Hopper is teaching both of her classes online this semester. She said that teaching online is a brand-new experience, but that it’s worked out so far.

“I feel OK about it because the online environment is allowing me to see [my students’] faces, where I wouldn’t actually be able to see [them] in a classroom,” Hopper said.

She said that her students have been engaged in the material, despite the virtual format.

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Voting Matters: How Being Prepared Can Help You Choose

 

Rebeca Chieffallo holds an ‘I voted for the first time’ sticker.

For many young adults, this presidential election is the first time they’ll be voting. This is true not just on this campus, but across the nation as a whole. This fact also applies to me. Though I previously voted in primary elections, I have not voted in a presidential election.

Voting in a presidential election for the first time is a pretty daunting experience. It carries a lot of weight, and the results can impact this country and society for years to follow, long after the presidential term has ended. Many first-time voters may be experiencing uncertainty, especially considering the nature and divisiveness of the current political climate. To deal with these feelings of uncertainty and pressure and to have more confidence, I decided to try to educate myself before going to the polls. I learned that it’s not a matter of party affiliation, more so learning about the issues that are most important to you and have the biggest impact on your life. I felt that I needed to learn more about politics. Doing so helped me make better-informed decisions — during any election — as a voter.

I approached some experts on our campus to talk about the election process and how daunting it can all be.

Political science professor Dr. Jean Harris.

Jean Harris, Ph.D., a professor of political science at Scranton, offered insight into the importance of voting and how it creates a better society when everyone participates. She told me how voting is the most common form of political participation and noted that those who vote decide to do so because there are benefits that come along with voting.

“[The benefits can be] a sense of self-esteem, a sense of making a difference or the pride of being a responsible citizen,” Dr. Harris said.

In response to the idea that a singular vote does not hold much weight in an election, Dr. Harris encouraged me (and others!) to still go out and cast their ballot, mostly because the electorate listens to the people.

“Elections have been won, and lost, by as few as one vote,” Dr. Harris said. “Your vote [could be] combined with those of others who voted [the same way] you did, [and then] elected officials have to pay attention.”

She also encouraged participation in the political process by staying informed, writing to elected officials and attending public meetings. She said that elected officials pay attention to these forms of participation.

“Write letters to your elected officials [and] the editors of your local paper,” Dr. Harris said, “Elected officials read [these letters] to see what the folks back home are thinking.”

So, what happens if the results aren’t what you had hoped for? Surely there will be some negative emotions that come with such an outcome, right? That’s what I was asking myself. Learning how to cope and handle these emotions, I thought, was important to the overall betterment of society. Continue reading

Scranton Welcomes New Biology Professor to Campus

If you’re a returning student, the start of a new school year is filled with familiar faces. Although we recognize first-years and transfer students, we don’t often don’t think about another group that is just settling in: newly hired faculty.

Dr. Galen performs research in Alaska on the study of birds and parasites.

Spencer Galen, Ph.D. is one of those new professors. He teaches General Biology and General Physiology Lab at Scranton. This is his first full-time job as a professor.

“It has been a dream of mine to become a professor for many years,” Dr. Galen said, “It is thrilling to finally be living that reality.”

This semester, Dr. Galen is teaching both of his classes with a hybrid method of some in-person meetings and some online. Dr. Galen said he wanted to have some in-person interaction while also reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission for both his students and himself.

“My thought was that hybrid teaching would be a good balance between these two goals, though it has not been without challenges,” Dr. Galen said.

The current situation has made Dr. Galen more aware of his students’ varying needs.

“Some people have been affected more than others by the pandemic,” Dr. Galen said, “I have tried to keep that in mind this semester.”

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