April 2010 Archives

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It's hard to picture someone who in just four years will graduate with more than 180 credits and with three majors: Geography, French, and Jewish Studies. Along the way she has accumulated 18 prestigious awards including being named the student marshal for the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. She also received the Dean Edward Steidle Memorial Scholar Award, which recognizes outstanding student achievement. But then again, there's a lot more to Arielle Hesse than her accomplishments as a scholar.

First of all, most people wouldn't guess she was born in Birmingham, Alabama. She doesn't speak with a southern accent, and as she pointed out, "I don't say y'all or call adults ma'am or sir." In her freshman year in high school she moved to State College. Her interest in tackling projects that involve personal commitment and working to help those who do not have power comes from the injustices she perceived while growing up in the South. As one of the only Jews in her neighborhood and school, she felt an affinity for others who were "different." She often felt uncomfortable with how minorities were treated. At times she didn't understand, but she always had loving and supportive parents who helped her realize she could have a voice for those she perceived to be "marginalized." In her first year at Penn State she enrolled in Elements of Cultural Geography, and she knew she had found a theoretical framework to put theory into action.
 
"I felt an immediate affinity, attracted to geography because of what I perceived to be a very interdisciplinary field: one that combined social theory, social science, physical science, and an expanding suite of technical methods in a way that encouraged me to imagine myself tackling significant human issues," she said. She credits the Geography Department with encouraging her to take the initiative to create assignments in line with her own interests and to help make connections among her many educational objectives.
 
"The idea of scale, for example, has changed my approach to projects in my other classes. My professors have linked the threads of human-environment relationships, liberal justice theory, city design, GIS, modernism, post-Fordism, ecology and fire, to name a few, to help show how each sub-discipline can inform and contribute to others. Her research on the Philadelphia Field Project led to poster presentations, including one in Hawaii in January 2010, and a winning entry in the Grundy Haven paper competition. She credits Melissa Wright with "expanding my ideas about what it means to do research and strengthened my understanding of the power of words and ideas." She has also taken her "geographer's outlook" outside the classroom.

"Geography has informed and shaped the projects I have undertaken as a member and leader of Amnesty International's PSU Chapter, Penn State's Student Labor Action Project, and even as a debating member of the University Park Allocation Committee," she said. Volunteering for the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture and the League of Women Voters are additional ways she puts theory into action.

Her desire to reach out beyond her local community took her to France in 2007 to study the Holocaust. But one of her most memorable learning experiences was in 2008. She examined the rise of the hypermarket in post-communist Bulgaria to better understand international food security issues. Most of her research took place in grocery stores where she walked the aisles and cataloged from which country the dairy goods came. Despite a robust history of making cheese, Bulgaria was moving away from locally produced cheese and had begun importing more French cheese. She said she was struck by the "politics of food distribution and the infusion of western European food values."

For the future, she would like to strengthen her theoretical foundation. She has applied to programs in the United Kingdom and the United States that focus on social theory and philosophy. Ultimately she'd like to pursue a Ph.D. in human geography. After a successful and enlightening experience at Penn State she said, "I am left with a strong desire to study, act, and teach."  She hopes to apply the theories to solve problems in other parts of the world, namely Africa. "I don't think any of the tools in geography are so theoretical that they can't be applied to real situations," she said.

Written by Kimberly Del Bright and Michael Dawson


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Grab your sunscreen, your books, your blanket--and the correct lie/lay verb and catch some rays on the Hub Lawn.

But what is correct? Should you say, "I'm going to lay out in the sun," or "I'm laying out"?

Or should you say, "I'm going to lie out in the sun," or "I'm lying out today"?

I bring this up because recently it was a discussion in my house. Recall to lay means to put or place, and to lie means to rest or recline. Therefore the correct expression, although not used often, is "I'm going to lie out in the sun," or "I'm lying out today." According to the youngest family member in my household, "everyone says 'I'm laying out,'" and to say otherwise, "sounds stupid."
 
I won't argue that this verb causes a lot of confusion. Perhaps it's because the present tense of to lay is the same as the past tense of to lie. Here's a table with the correct forms of the verb.

Verb        Present        Past        Present Participle    Past Participle
to lay         lay               laid             laying                          laid
to lie          lie                lay              lying                            lain

The substitution method is the best way to select the correct verb when choosing between lie/lay. If you mean to put or to place, use lay. If you mean to rest or to recline, use lie. If you're good with direct objects, know that to lay requires an object to complete the meaning and to lie does not require one. If you heard someone say, "she don't know nothing," you would recognize it as being incorrect. To the educated ear saying, "I'm laying out today," sounds just as bad as "she don't know nothing."


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Do you split hairs over split infinitives? Inserting an adverb between to and the verb--splitting an infinitive--is often given more attention than it deserves. Many have learned that it should never be done. Are you surprised to learn that in some cases it is actually okay?

First you should know, one of the most prestigious and strict style manuals, The Chicago Manual of Style, actually states the following:

    Although from about 1850 to 1925 many grammarians stated otherwise, it is now
    widely acknowledged that adverbs sometimes justifiably separate the to from the
    principal verb (5.106; p.175).

Who can deny that Star Trek's To boldly go where no man has gone before would not be as interesting if it were not for the split infinitive. To go boldly where no man has gone before just isn't as cosmic. In fact, it's perfectly appropriate to split an infinitive verb with an adverb to add emphasis or to produce a natural sound as is the case for this Star Trek example. The same would hold for to bravely assert, to strongly favor or to carefully consider. In these cases, split away!

Generally, avoid splitting infinitives if the meaning is unclear or the construction is awkward. For example, compare these sentences:

          1. It was impossible to even see a foot ahead.
          2. It was impossible to see even a foot ahead.
          3. He always tries to carefully do the work.
          4. He always tries to do the work carefully.

Notice in sentences 2 and 4 the meaning is clearer and the construction is more direct. In these examples, it is better not to split the infinitive. So the next time someone tries to tell you that you can never split an infinitive, beam them up!

Reference
1. "Grammar and Usage" in The Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed.). (2003). Chicago, IL: The
    University of Chicago Press.


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