Cyber criminals target college students with phishing, employment scams, ransomware

Originally published in Issue 14, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (May 4, 2017). 

Cyber criminals are increasingly targeting college students across the United States and DeSales students are no exception from phishing, employment offers and ransomware scams.

The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) reports that 72 percent of Americans believe their accounts are secure with only usernames and passwords, but every two seconds there is another victim of identity fraud.

The end goal for these criminals is to gain personal information such as birth dates, Social Security numbers, bank accounts and more. This personal information can then be sold for money on the Dark Web, which allows users to remain anonymous and untraceable from getting into legal trouble.

Besides money and personal information, .edu emails can be valuable in order to gain access or discounts to software and other products reserved for members of a university community, which is why technical school email addresses are most often the targets of attacks. However when broken down by state, the largest number of emails being sold on the Dark Web come from California, New York, Michigan, Texas and Pennsylvania.

Phishing

Phishing, the fraudulent practice of sending emails in order to gain personal information, is the most common type of scam at DeSales.

A lot of DeSales students have fallen for password reminder scams. One of these emails told students to renew their password by clicking a link that actually went to christmastourhouse.com.

According to Director of Information Technology Patricia Clay, it is very easy to fake the name that is seen on email addresses. A cyber criminal could easily make the email name read “Help Desk” or “DeSales” but if the address bar is hovered over, it will then read christmastourhouse.com or some other website not related to DeSales.

“We haven’t seen very sophisticated attacks, but in some of the more sophisticated attacks, it’ll pretend that it’s Bank of America and actually copy Bank of America’s logos and put it on their e-mails,” said Clay.

“It’s almost always a bad practice to click that link from an email if you’re not 100 percent sure that you should,” Clay added.

IT usually finds out about the scam through students reporting it or through monitoring.

Once IT is aware that students have responded to a phishing scam, the account is disabled and the password is changed. Then IT reaches out to the student whose account was comprised and has a conversation with them to find out what happened.

With company websites that have been compromised, criminals have lists of email addresses and can check which emails are still actively being used to login to websites. Criminals sell these emails and passwords on the Dark Web.

“They take that list of username and password combinations and they script that to go log in to different websites,” said Clay.

For example, if a criminal has a Yahoo username and password, they will then check that username and password on any other websites with logins such as Facebook or bank accounts.

Although awareness about phishing is increasing, victims keep falling for the scams.

“As long as phishing scams are still successful, they’ll keep doing it,” said Clay.

Employment scams

Job scams are an ongoing epidemic that received FBI attention in January 2017. Stop. Think. Connect., a global online safety campaign, sent the FBI’s warning on employment scams that target college students to DeSales IT.

The scammers pose as employers and send job postings to students about a remote job. Then they send the student a counterfeit check in the mail and tell the student to cash the check. With that cash, the student is asked to buy a money order and send it to a certain address.

Often times the check does not come up as fraudulent until the bank processes it and by then the student may have already lost money in sending the money order.

Earlier this year, a job scam occurred with someone named Susana Ozoria sending a job announcement email for a personal assistant through Bulldogs 4 Hire.

Assistant Director of the Career Development Center Melanie Vallone explains that the email came through Bulldogs 4 Hire (desales@csm. symplicity.com) because the employer created a fraudulent email address and posed as a legitimate company to create a Bulldogs 4 Hire account.

Vallone says three or four students received the check in the mail with one student coming very close to sending the money order. This incident was the first and only breach through Bulldogs 4 Hire.

“What makes it really tough is that we promote Bulldogs 4 Hire as a great way to post your resume—and safely—because it’s almost job search while you sleep. Employers can look if you’ve made your resume visible to employers,” said Vallone. “That’s when I work really hard to make sure employers are legitimate viable employers that are looking at our student resumes.”

Vallone calls up many local employers to make sure real people at their companies requested accounts on Bulldogs 4 Hire.

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), companies are increasingly becoming targets of scams as well with cyber criminals posing as company executives or the government and asking for W-2s, which contain Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses and other personal identifiable information.

Ransomware

“Ransomware is where somebody tricks you into opening, usually a document or a file that has software in it, and what it does, is it encrypts files on whatever computers or computer you have access to,” said Clay.

After this occurs, a message pops up on the computer ordering the person to pay a certain amount of money in Bitcoins, an online currency, within a certain amount of time. The threat is made that if the deadline is not met, all the files will be permanently inaccessible.

This is when Clay hopes that the person regularly backs up their files and can ignore the ransomware. Unfortunately, some hospitals have paid the ransom in order to obtain access to patients’ records.

“I haven’t heard of cases where people pay the ransom and don’t get their files decrypted, but again, you’re dealing with a criminal,” said Clay, so someone could send the money and not get the files back.

DeSales did have a ransomware incident where a student received an email that looked like it was from their own personal account with a word document inside.

Ultimately, the cyber security industry hopes that artificial intelligence will aid in picking up suspicious emails.

Protection against scams

IT protects the network by keeping a good encryption between the systems students interact with. There are multiple levels of firewalls and segmented networks.

“I want the next generation of our students going out into the world and not be the people falling for phishing scams at their jobs,” said Clay.

She reiterates that students need to have a lot of skepticism. When students are not sure if emails are legitimate or not, students can forward emails to spam@desales.edu; however, “when in doubt, delete it,” said Clay.

If a password is compromised, be sure to make sure that password is not used for any other login or that site can be comprised as well.

Students should use a different password for everything and although that sounds like a difficult feat, free password-manager websites and apps, such as LastPass and 1Password, allows all of a student’s passwords to be stored in one place.

Strong authentication, also known as multi-factor or two- factor authentication, is a great tool to utilize as well. Many websites and apps offer this to protect accounts and ensure it’s the account owner, not criminals, accessing the account.

The three most common types of strong authentication are by using a security key (a small device, such as one that plugs into a USB port, to use when logging in), biometrics (such as fingerprints or cameras) and one-time codes (sent to you by a text or through an app to be entered into the website when logging in).

In the case of job searches, always be skeptical of offers that sound too good to be true. If the email says the recipient already has the job, when he or she never applied or was interviewed, the recipient should not respond. Many of the scammers are not native English speakers so look for poor grammar and spelling. Any companies asking for personal information are red flags as well.

Vallone suggests that when posting resumes on public sites like Indeed or LinkedIn to only list cities and states. Do not post full physical addresses online.

Overall, the more people become connected to the Internet, the more ways there are for scammers to find them so it is increasingly important to be skeptical and know how to protect personal information.

Gender isn’t just about women, feminism is equal rights for all

Originally published in the Humanities Newsletter 2017 edition.

The Gender Studies Club, better known as The Birkenstocks, was created at DeSales University in the spring of 2016.

“The goal is to talk about current topics that come up in the media and share opinions in an open space where there is no judgment,” said Jennifer Thuss, Birkenstocks president.

Currently, the club is all women, but members encourage men to join.

“It seems like an intimidating thing for guys to want to join because there’s this perception that gender means female, but that’s not true. Gender includes everyone,” said Dr. Katherine Grasso, the club’s advisor and communication professor. “So the more voices that we could have in these conversations, the more we could learn. And the more that we reflect on gender and what that means for each individual, the more I think we understand different experiences, and hopefully work on compassion, equality and justice in terms of gender issues.”

The club was formed after Grasso taught a gender communication course in fall of 2015.

“At the end of the semester, a handful of students, about five or six of them, said that they didn’t want the conversations to end so they asked if we could meet outside of class.”

The students were the catalyst of the club and Grasso happily agreed to be their advisor. The Birkenstocks meet every other Tuesday to discuss articles or documentaries on issues related to gender such as rape, sex, prostitution, transgendered issues, abortion, and stereotypes of men and women.

Birkenstocks

Some of the members of the Gender Studies Club. From left to right: Nadia Murray, Erin Grube, Jennifer Thuss, Lauren Trumbull, Kellie Dietrich and Dr. Katherine Grasso.

Earlier this year, members watched the documentary “Fantastic Lies” about the Duke lacrosse team who were falsely accused of gang rape.

“It was interesting because I thought they did it, and I felt bed after because I had the stereotype in my mind that they partied too hard. And the fact that they hired a prostitute made them look guilty even though they weren’t,” said Erin Grube, treasurer of Birkenstocks.

Articles and documentaries, which often break down stereotypes or offers new viewpoints such as “Fantastic Lies,” are picked by suggestions from Grasso or members of the club. Although the topics are heavy and members often have conflicting views, the club is always welcoming.

The atmosphere is so much fun,” said Thuss. “It’s usually upbeat, but when we are talking about harder topics it’s serious, and by the end we always bring it back to something fun.”

One of the fun yet serious elements of the club is its name Birkenstocks, or Birks for short.

“Birkenstocks, I think most people know, are one of the stereotypical symbols of an angry, hairy, man-hating, Subaru-driving feminist,” said Grasso. “We wanted to reclaim something that had previously been rooted in a negative evaluation and make it something that we owned and that was positive and that was funny.”

There is a lot of rhetoric around the word “feminism” such as man-hating and angry women, which simply isn’t true.

“Feminism is the advocacy of equal rights between the genders in terms of social issues, political issues, and economic issues, so it’s really advocacy of the equality of the sexes,” said Grasso.

Grube has a similar definition of feminism.

“A feminist is someone who wants equal rights between men and women,” she said. “I’m for that and believe there should be no disparities between the genders.”

A lot of the stereotypical views of feminists come from media portrayals of radical women burning bras; however, knowledge is lacking as well.

“I think it’s rooted in not understanding it or not knowing it, which is all the more reason for people to talk about it and explore it,” said Grasso. “So it’s not a club saying you have to be a feminist to be part of the conversation, but you have to be willing to challenge your preconceived notions about feminism.”

Overall, the club fosters unique discussion about gender issues and the members of the club bring unique perspectives to the table.

Grasso encourages anyone who’s curious about gender, even if they don’t know what gender really means, to join.

“I really enjoy this club and the group of people in it. It’s a safe environment where we can share our ideas that we might not be able to share anywhere else,” said Thuss. “This is only the second year for the club so I see a lot of growth possible and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes in the future.”

DeSales faculty votes “sexual orientation” should be added to non-discrimination policy

Originally published in Issue 14, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (May 4, 2017). 

At the April faculty meeting, 77 percent of the faculty voted in favor of adding “sexual orientation” to the Notice of Non-discrimination found in the faculty and student handbooks. However, the final decision is up to the Board of Trustees.

This vote closely mirrors the statistic from the Public Religion Research Institute that found 76 percent of Catholics favor laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination.

The lack of protection for LGBT students and faculty was first brought to the Faculty Steering Committee about a year ago and the conversation continued into this academic year.

A new version of the non- discrimination policy was drafted with the only difference being the addition of the two words “sexual orientation.” A total of 97 faculty members attended the meeting and voted anonymously with a secret ballot. The results revealed 72 faculty members voted in favor of the policy change, 24 members opposed the change and one person abstained from voting.

“I was elated,” said instructor Larry Belt after he heard the results. “I could breathe deeper, I could stand taller. I felt like something had been accomplished and a weight had been lightened.”

Although the decision to include “sexual orientation” is not finalized yet, it is really about the voice of the faculty being heard. The February faculty meeting revolved around opposition to the policy, which was mostly based in the teachings of the Catholic Church. The March meeting was cancelled, and supporters of the policy change were now ready to speak at the April meeting.

“The opportunity for it to be discussed really opened the door to people willing to speak in favor of it,” said Belt.

In their hearts, Belt said, people knew which way they were going to vote and whether or not that matches with the way they live.

“If it opened up that way for the faculty, I think about if there were an open forum for students that it would be the same thing,” he said.

If an open forum about LGBT concerns is held at DeSales, students will be able to discuss their positions and needs. This could then lead to the formation of a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), which is a student-run club that offers support and a safe environment to the LGBT community.

From the Editor’s desk: Saying goodbye to my role as Editor-in-Chief

Originally published in Issue 14, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (May 4, 2017). 

I almost never joined The Minstrel.

I came into DeSales thinking I wanted to be an advertising copywriter and had no intention of pursuing journalism as a career. I became a staff writer on The Minstrel a couple weeks into freshman year to make friends and get involved in the school. I thought it might be difficult to handle the extra work, but I decided to try it out.

Looking back, I’d like to pat my freshman-self on the back for making that decision because this paper has created a passion in me to investigate facts, interview people and tell their stories.

Overall, The Minstrel has been one of the most impactful things I’ve done here. It’s taught me bravery, leadership and how to accept criticism.

When I accepted my position as Editor-in-Chief last year, I had no idea how I was going to fill 14 issues. I knew I wanted to bring controversial topics to The Minstrel but I wasn’t sure what topics or how. This year is when I really got into the mindset that everything can be turned into a story and my gears were always turning for new ideas.

I also moved away from editorials this year since I have this great “Letter from the Editor’s desk” where I can write anything I want—which has been an absolute pleasure—and started focusing on hard news.

I am proud of my staff and myself for covering many weighty topics such as sexual assault, LGBT rights, mental health, sex trafficking and politics. We’ve opened up diverse conversations on a campus where these conversations were previously lacking or nonexistent.

It has specifically been great to witness the evolvement of the non-discrimination policy, which I first covered in November, and to now see that the decision to add “sexual orientation” is going to the Board. (Read the article out on Page 1.)

In addition to improving article content, we added the “Editorial” section and editor position. In previous years, there would only be an Editorial Page when there were enough articles to fill a page; however, this year we made sure to devote at least one page an issue to editorials.

We changed the masthead design, fonts and other layout changes such as photo stories to approve the paper’s appeal. Additionally, we cut the full puzzle page to either a quarter page to sometimes nonexistent in order to cover more content for our readers.

I have many people I would like to thank for their support at DeSales. First, I would like to thank The Minstrel staff for putting up with my perfectionist attitude when it comes to editing articles. It was a pleasure working with Managing Editor Will Edwards and all the other editors by my side. I know they will all have great success in the future. I wish Chris Shaddock the best of luck as Editor-in-Chief for the next two years. The enthusiasm you have for journalism will take The Minstrel to great places and I can’t wait to see the paper continue to evolve.

I’d like to thank The Minstrel’s advisor Professor McKnight for being an inspiration to me as a journalist and always helping me out of the hot water I often created; Dr. Grasso for bringing out the feminist in me, always chatting with me in her office and challenging me academically to be the best I could be; and all the other professors I’ve had an honor of meeting at DeSales who have shown their support for me in some way.

I couldn’t have made it through the past four years without my communication right hand (wo)man Erin Grube. (They’ll miss us roaming the Humanities hallway next year.) Thanks for being a friend to me since freshman year and helping me learn that it’s okay to not be
perfect.

Thank you to my best friend Skye Van Hook—who “doesn’t even go here”—but has shown so much support and encouragement for my articles on social media that you would think she did. She believes in me and my talent more than I believe in myself.

And thank you Tina Tran, the nicest person I know, for attending almost every DeSales event with me. It’s been a memorable four years and I know we will keep the random road trips coming.

Last, but not least I’d like to thank my mom, dad and Katie for reading ALL of my articles over the past four years; there’s been a lot.

Even as a commuter, DeSales was a second home to me. I will tremendously miss this place and the kind-hearted people I’ve met here, but I know I’ll be back to visit.

Although the future ahead of me remains uncertain, I know I’ll be writing. I’d like to take my investigative journalistic skills to the real world and continue to fight for justice in my articles.

I leave you with a quote from one of my favorite TV shows, “Pretty Little Liars,” that is also about to come to an end.

“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard?”—Spencer Hastings

Peace, love & DeSales,

Kellie Dietrich
Editor-in-Chief

Students present on body image, sexual assault at LVAIC Women & Gender Studies conference

Originally published in Issue 13, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (April 13, 2017). Click here to view the entire issue.

Senior Jennifer Thuss and junior Lauren Trumbull, both communication majors at DeSales University, presented at the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVAIC) annual Women & Gender Studies conference on Saturday, March 25 at Muhlenberg College.

Students from LVAIC schools, which include Cedar Crest College, DeSales University, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, Moravian College and Muhlenberg College, along with Albright College and Kutztown University, presented research papers, videos, artwork, photography, poetry and dances.

GenderConf

Presenters Lauren Trumbull (far left) and Jennifer Thuss (second from the right) are supported by their friends Kimberly Semiday (second from the left) and Nadia Murray (far right). Photo courtesy of Dr. Katherine Grasso

Thuss and Trumbull both presented research papers that they wrote in their gender communication class from last semester. Thuss’s paper was “The Effects of Media Images on Young Girls” and she presented in the “Visual Culture” panel.

Thuss chose this topic because it’s something she’s always been passionate about throughout college. The main idea of her paper was how the media portrays bodies as unrealistic, which can have negative outcomes on young girls.

She hopes what audience members took away from her presentation is “that models in the media do not always look as they do in the picture,” said Thuss. “Photoshopping can completely change the appearance. Also, that media exposure should be limited for young girls since they are most susceptible to the images at a young age.”

Trumbull’s research paper was also a heavy topic, entitled “Sexual Assault on College Campuses and Its Effects on Reporting.” She presented in the “Gendered Bodies” panel.

Her presentation included statistics, such as that only 75 percent of colleges and universities have a procedure in place for reporting sexual assault. She explained victims aren’t reporting “because they know their documentation won’t result in punishment for the perpetrator.”

Trumbull also discussed the implementation of the Clery Act, which was put into place by the government and requires academic institutions to disclose data regarding campus crimes every year.

She explained how institutions skew their data to hide the real numbers of sexual assault on campuses. Other major points of her presentation included the impact of fraternities and sororities on hyper-masculinity, traditional gender roles and believing in rape myths.

After watching the documentary “The Hunting Ground” on sexual assault for her gender communication course, Trumbull knew she wanted to focus on this topic for her paper.

“Watching this documentary shocked and horrified me,” she said. “It made me realize that I wanted more information on this issue so that I could learn more and maybe someday help make the statistics on sexual assault drop.”

Trumbull hopes audience members learned that sexual assault on college campus is a major problem and conversations are needed to fix that problem.

“We need to be open and honest and facilitate an environment in which victims feel comfortable to disclose their assault,” said Trumbull. “We need to start punishing our perpetrators and send the message that sexual assault is not at all acceptable, and that the victim is never to blame.”

Thuss and Trumbull both enjoyed meeting other presenters at the conference who also shared an interest in gender studies.

“I was surrounded by mostly women—maybe one or two men—that are intelligent and kind, and worked so hard to present on what they are passionate about,” said Trumbull.

“All of the women were nothing but supportive and gave me the sweetest compliments after I presented,” she added. “The environment was just overall proud. We were proud of each other for standing up and speaking and proud of ourselves for having the courage to do it.”

Thuss, who is also president of The Birkenstocks (gender club), was inspired by a presentation on an online blog called Her Campus, a global online community for college women.

“They explained how it worked and how to bring it to DeSales so I think it’s definitely something that the gender club will look into starting,” said Thuss.

Additionally, Thuss, Trumbull and Nadia Murray, all members of The Birkenstocks, plus senior Kimberly Semiday, volunteered at the conference by checking in guests and participants, and stuffing their welcome bags.

Next spring, the annual Women & Gender Studies conference will be held at DeSales with Dr. Katherine Grasso, communication professor and Birkenstocks advisor, serving as the conference chair.

Muslim student Ayesha Riaz’s powerful message

Originally published in Issue 13, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (April 13, 2017). Click here to view the entire issue.

Ayesha

Photo courtesy of Ayesha Riaz

Senior biology major Ayesha Riaz embodied bravery and courage as the only Muslim student to compete for the Academic Excellence Address this year.

Due to the anti-Muslim sentiment that is present around the world today, Riaz felt fear being the only Pakistani, Muslim student competing in a competition that was primarily white, Catholic students.

Riaz moved to the United States from Pakistan two years ago. She struggled with having to learn English and becoming accustomed to the cultural differences in the U.S. She plans for a future in the medical field as a physician assistant and knew she would need English to succeed, so she challenged herself and taught herself English.

During her struggles with the language, she never imagined having the opportunity to compete for the Academic Excellence Address.

“The presence of my professors on the day of the speech to support me, gave me a sense of strength and energy, which I probably can’t express in words,” said Riaz.

Riaz’s speech explained her adjustment from moving from Pakistan to the U.S.

“The gist of my speech was, ‘We can conquer the world following the virtues of perseverance.’ We can achieve whatever we desire in life if we’re hard working, determined, honest and respectful to those who have taught us,” said Riaz.

After the first round of the competition was over, Riaz was unsure if she would move on to the next round, and was moved with emotions to hear that she made it through.

“I was uncertain about how much support I might receive because I am a Muslim student in these uncertain times,” she said. “But the result announcement brought tears in my eyes and totally changed my perspective about DeSales’ faculty and made me feel proud that I became a part of this institution where decisions are made on the basis of capabilities and talent, and not on the basis of race and religion.”

Screen Shot 2017-04-14 at 8.40.12 PM

“So many people have shown me compassion and love, and I realized that they really care about me and they don’t consider me a bad person as being a Muslim,” Riaz adds.

Riaz had two main reasons for competing in the Academic Excellence Address. She recalls her first day at DeSales in the admissions office where she saw a photo of Madame Benazir Bhutto, the 12th Prime Minister of Pakistan and the first Muslim woman to head a Muslim majority nation.

“She lectured in DeSales University once, and that was such an inspiring moment to me,” said Riaz. “So I prayed to God, and I want to see my photo or name plaque on the wall of this intuition as a Muslim woman due to my accomplishments.”

Her other main reason for competing was to be able to express her thoughts and thank the people who have helped her succeed at DeSales the past two years.

“I really could not have accomplished all this without their help and support. So, this speech was just a way to pay tribute to all those people especially my family and teachers who have helped me going through tough times,” she said.

Riaz made it to the second round of the competition where she delivered her speech to the Academic Oversight Committee, which is made up of the five division heads; the deans of undergraduate education, graduate education and lifelong learning; and the Provost.

Junior pharmaceutical marketing major Jenna Haydt was selected the winner of the competition and will be giving the Academic Excellence Address at the Academic Excellence Celebration on Sunday, April 23 at 1:30 p.m. in Connelly Chapel. She will be awarded a prize of $500.

Lastly, Riaz wishes DeSales would have a club specifically for Muslim or International students who move to the U.S. in order to help them with the different cultural, religious and academic backgrounds they are exposed to and make their transition easier.

“In the end, I would like to say, I love this institution and I wish I could stay here longer, but this institution taught me way beyond my expectations and made me a strong and confident person who can now confront all challenges,” said Riaz.

 

DeSales alumna Anne Gurtowski opens Apple Mill Bakery

Originally published in Issue 11, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (March 23, 2017). Click here to view the entire issue. 

Anne

Photo courtesy of Anne Gurtowski

After only a year and half after graduation, ’15 alumna Anne Gurtowski opened her own business Apple Mill Bakery in Cullman, Ala.

“The bakery was my pipe dream for a long time, and I always thought if it ever happened, it would be a long way off. I’m really grateful that I have to opportunity to do this now,” says Gurtowski. “God is very generous.”

Gurtowski majored in marketing at DeSales and always liked the idea of starting her own business.

“Having classes in subjects such as accounting, finance, management, marketing and business law, has helped me to have a well-rounded approach to the small business world,” says Gurtowski.

Before deciding on opening a bakery, Gurtowski considered other businesses, but says baking was always her dream and held importance to her at a young age.

“My grandma would let me help her bake from the time I was old enough to hold the spoon or put sprinkles on her cookies. I grew up helping both her and my mom bake,” she says. “My mom definitely inherited Grandma’s love of baking, and they both passed it down to me. Some of my best memories growing up are with them in the kitchen.”

Many of Apple Mill Bakery’s recipes are from Gurtowski’s Irish grandmother and some of her recipe cards are written in her grandma’s hand.

AppleMill

Apple Mill Bakery offers a wide variety of delicious homemade cookies including raspberry thumbprint, spritz, congo bars, and rugelach. Photo courtesy of Anne Gurtowski

Some of her grandma’s most iconic recipes include congo bars and crumbcake. Apple Mill Bakery’s cookie tins are the most popular item and are a great gift around the holidays. All of the bakery’s items are made from scratch and have no added preservatives.

“I think something is lost when food is made in large factories with a lot of added ingredients. The people element is missing,” says Gurtowski. “I want my customers to know that real people who care about what they do make the food.”

Before opening the bakery in November 2016, a lot of work and planning needed to be done. There are many health regulations that need to be met, accounts to set up, paperwork to file and construction of the commercial kitchen.

Gurtowski says opening a business was full of new challenges, but has advice for young entrepreneurs.

“Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t open your own business; you’re too young and you don’t have the experience. Just try it. You’ll never know if it will work unless you try. It’s all a process and a learning experience.”

“I think it’s important to find what makes you happy in life and pursue it. Find a way to do what will make you feel fulfilled at the end of each day,” she adds.

Currently, Apple Mill Bakery is housed in a commercial kitchen, but Gurtowski is hoping to move into a full-fledge storefront in the future. Right now, business is mainly done on their Etsy, which can be reached at applemillbakery.com, and also local farmers’ markets.

This spring the bakery will widen the reach of local farmers’ markets, which are expanding and growing in popularity.

“People want to buy local, support small businesses, and know exactly where their food is coming from. It’s a good match for our commitment to fresh, made-from-scratch food,” says Gurtowski.

They are also looking into various wholesale opportunities, such as becoming a supplier to local restaurants.

As a small business owner, Gurtowski enjoys the variety and different hats she gets to wear.

“On Monday, I could be doing R&D [research and development] for new products. By the time Friday roles around, I’ve been a food photographer, lead marketing manager, and as always, head baker, which is my favorite role,” she says. “It’s a lot of work, but I wouldn’t change it.”

Gurtowski is thankful for her family who has been very involved in the process of opening Apple Mill Bakery and loves that she gets to share her passion with the rest of the world.

“Baking to me is an extension of family life,” she says. “Food brings people together.”

For DeSales students and alumni interested in purchasing from Apple Mill Bakery, use the code DSU10 for a special discount rate on applemillbakery.com.

Catholic leaders send Clean Power Plan support letter to Trump

Originally published in Issue 11, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (March 23, 2017). Click here to view the entire issue. 

One hundred and twenty five U.S. Catholic leaders signed the Catholic Climate Covenant’s letter to support the Clean Power Plan and sent it to President Donald Trump, the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt, top Congressional leaders and state governors.

The Clean Power Plan is a major EPA effort to reduce carbon emissions from power plants with a goal of 30 percent reduction in 2030 when compared to 2005 levels.

Former President Barack Obama and the EPA announced the Clean Power Plan in August 2015.

Catholic Climate Covenant’s letter mentions Pope Francis and says everyone has a role to play in keeping our Earth safe.

“In Laudato Si’ (LS), his groundbreaking encyclical on ecology, Pope Francis echoes Saint John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI by calling climate change an urgent moral issue that wounds creation, threatens human life and dignity, and disproportionately harms the poor and vulnerable who contribute the least to climate change.”

In addition to reducing power plant emissions, the letter mentions the other benefits of the Clean Power Plan.

“The Plan would also reduce other dangerous power plant pollution like sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide. These reductions are expected to prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks in children, and 300,000 missed work and school days,” the letter reads. “They are also anticipated to produce up to $54 billion in public health and climate benefits—benefits that would be lost if the Clean Power Plan is not upheld and implemented.”

These efforts will promote human equality and environmental justice. According to the letter, nearly 40 percent of Latinos and 68 percent of African Americans in the U.S. live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. This means that they have a greater risk of facing premature deaths, asthma attacks and other health problems.

Unfortunately, Trump plans to scrap the Clean Power Plan. Shortly after being sworn into office, Trump published “An American First Energy Plan” on whitehouse. gov.

His plan reads,“President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule. Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years.”

Wind Energy

Trump is focusing on shale, coal, natural gas and oil instead of renewable energy. Wind and solar costs have been declining dramatically since their peak prices in 2011. 

The Climate Action Plan includes the Clean Power Plan. The Waters of the U.S. rule protects streams and wetlands that have been scientifically shown to impact downstream water quality. According to the EPA, one in three people get drinking water from streams that were vulnerable to pollution before the Clean Water Rule.

Ultimately, Trump wants to focus on shale, oil, coal and natural gas in order to create jobs. He also wants to open up this billion-dollar industry to include Yellowstone, Yosemite Valley, Mt. Rushmore and other nationally protected areas.

EPA administrator Pruitt, like Trump, is in denial about climate change and does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming despite ample amounts of evidence available.

Removing the Clean Power Plan will be a complicated process. The EPA went through a long rule making process to enact the plan and it will take many years to undo it. Additionally, the EPA is legally obligated to regulate CO2 through various Clean Air Act programs.

The climate action group 350.org is doing everything they can to stop Trump from removing the Clean Power Plan.

“Trump’s energy plan is par for the course of the President’s climate denial, but it’s nonetheless alarming for the movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground,” said 350.org executive director May Boeve in a statement. “Fulfilling this plan would not only set back years of progress we’ve made towards protecting the climate, but would undoubtedly worsen the devastating impacts of the climate crisis, from rising sea levels to extreme weather.”

Trump also plans to remove the U.S. from the 2015 Paris Agreement, the first global climate effort to reduce emissions. There are 194 nations involved in the accord and if the U.S. withdraws, it will take a four-year process to withdraw the world’s largest economy and second-largest climate polluter.

EPAchart

Human activity is responsible for almost all of the increases in greenhouse gases, which trap heat and make the planet warmer. In 2014, there were 6,870 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent. Photo courtesy of  the EPA

This would be a large step back for the U.S., who refused to ratify the emission-reduction 1997 Kyoto agreement. This resulted in global emissions surging rather than declining due to lack of U.S. participation.

Foreign leaders say that if the U.S. leaves the Paris Agreement, it will have ramifications for the diplomacy and credibility of the U.S. as well.

As for Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf’s spokesman said they are in the review process to evaluate how communities will be harmed and affected by eliminating the Clean Power Plan. If Trump removes the Waters of the U.S. rule, Pennsylvania’s waterways are actually offered more protection under the state’s Clean Streams Act. However, the rule’s removal would make it easier for states to abolish environmental protections.

Overall, the letter from the Catholic Climate Covenant puts pressure on U.S. leaders to take steps forward, not backwards, in global warming, which is a crisis and not the “hoax” that Trump refers to it as.

DeSales’ first-annual Mini-THON raises $2,864.52 for pediatric cancer

Originally published in Issue 10, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (March 2, 2017). Click here to view the entire issue. 

Sponsored by Alpha Pi Omega (APO), the rst-annual Four Diamonds Mini-THON raised $2,864.52, well over APO’s goal of $1,000, for pediatric cancer and took place Friday, Feb. 17 at 10 p.m. to Saturday, Feb. 18 at 8 a.m. in McShea.

The idea for Mini-THON surfaced after surveying the raise money and awareness commit to stay on their feet brotherhood about service opportunities.

“Thankfully, Mini-THON was one idea brought up,” said Amanda Kaschak, president of APO. “Many of the brothers actually participated in Mini-THON in high school, so their experience was a plus as well.”

Leading up to Mini-THON, APO held two fundraisers to raise money and awareness

for the main event. The staff of Donahue made pancakes and took donations for the fundraiser “Thonaue,” which raised $60, and the second event, “Pie in the Face,” raised $125.

mini-thon

Mini-THON participants hold up their hands to form a diamond, the symbol of THON and the Four Diamonds Fund, which represents the four diamonds of the fund: courage, wisdom, honesty and strength. Photo courtesy of Morgan DeAntonio

Mini-THONs are modeled after Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON), the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, where students commit to stay on their feet for 46 hours. This year they raised $10,045,478.44 for Four Diamonds at Penn State Children’s Hospital.

DeSales’ Mini-THON participants asked friends, family members and coworkers to make donations and committ to dancing, or at least not sitting down, for 10 hours. In addition to a DJ and dancing, there was a life-sized game of Hungry Hungry Hippos, tug of war, ping-pong, a frisbee toss, merchandise, a bake sale and free food available from the DUC and Now That’s Italian in Coopersburg.

One of the highlights of the night was the group dance to “Just Hold On” by Steve Aoki and Louis Tomlinson.

“Even though people were with their friends, and there was some team rivalry for events like Hungry Hungry Hippos, everyone did the dance together on the hour and it was a really fun way to unify the group and mark the passing of the time,” said Leslie Myers, vice president of APO and senior event chair of Mini-THON.

Overall, 93 participants from DeSales, Cedar Crest College and Kutztown registered for the event, but not all of them made it until 8 a.m.

“I wasn’t able to stay the full 10 hours, but I was happy to see that we went beyond our goals,” said Tina Tran, APO member and chair of the entertainment committee for Mini-THON. “People had such amazing energy and spirit, and I truly admire the dedication of everyone involved, especially Leslie, and those who made it through all the way to the end.”

Kaschak also noted that the energy of Mini-THON was incredible.

“Without looking at the clock, you never would have known it was 3 or 4 in the morning. Even as people got tired, we had an amazing group to keep spirits up and remind us that we were doing it for the kids.”

Although the cause made Mini-THON worth it in the end, APO faced dif culties putting on the event. Myers said that the biggest challenge of hosting Mini- THON was the time constraint.

“I found out that we were hosting it one month and eight days before it happened,” said Myers. “Usually Mini-THONs take eight to 12 months to plan.”

With the help of the APO brotherhood and members of the DeSales community, the event was made possible.

“This could not have been done without the help of Jaime Gerhart our advisor, Vicky Gaffney and Matt [McMonagle], Tracy [Gallagher] and Nick [Luchko], Linnae Budusky and Lyndsay Driscoll, just to name a few,” said Kaschak.

Overall, the night was deemed a success.

“The moment the nal total was revealed, all of the hard work paid off. Not only did we exceed our goal, but through our efforts we are able to help the life of a child affected by this monstrous disease,” said Kaschak.

“Seeing the sun come back up was the most amazing feeling,” added Myers. “I have done Mini-THONs in high school so I knew what I was asking of everyone, but still having people there with me at 8 a.m. at this event that I had put together was something that I was so thankful for.”

APO plans to make Mini- THON an annual event, but Kaschak says they want to move it to the fall semester.

“We are currently working on collecting suggestions for improvements including the possibility of the timing, length and activities planned,” she said. “The main improvement to be accomplished is more advertising and participation.”

Students can donate to the ght against pediatric cancer until June 1. Help APO reach their new goal of $3,000 by searching “DeSales donor drive” to contribute online to the Four Diamonds Fund or at the URL http://fourdiamonds.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donordrive.event&eventID=1743.

As Four Diamonds says, “One day we will dance in celebration, until then we will dance for a cure.”

New album by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness balances thought-provoking lyrics with fun dance beats

Originally published in Issue 9, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (February 16, 2017). Click here to view the entire issue. 

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness released its second album “Zombies on Broadway” on Feb. 10. The indie rock/pop album, full of well-written lyrics and music perfect for dancing, is a follow-up to the self-titled debut of Andrew McMahon’s solo project Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, which featured the Billboard Hot 100 single “Cecilia and the Satellite” about McMahon’s newborn daughter.

McMahon began his music career in the early 2000s with pop- punk band Something Corporate and ventured off into his rst solo project Jack’s Mannequin. Before Jack’s Mannequin’s first album was released in 2005, McMahon was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. About a year later, McMahon started the non-profit charity The Dear Jack Foundation, to raise funds for adolescent and young adult cancer (ages 15-39).

After a three-album journey using the moniker Jack’s Mannequin, McMahon was

ready for his next solo project: Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness.

andrewmcmahon

Possibly explaining the split image of himself on his cover art, McMahon writes on his website, “What I found; I have always been two people; One in search of peace and the other in search of whatever makes my hair stand up and my heart beat faster.” Photo courtesy of anderwmcmahon.com

 

The new album “Zombies on Broadway” features 11 tracks and opens up with the sounds of New York City subways in “Zombie Intro,” which quickly leads into “Brooklyn, You’re Killing Me.” The lyrics are more spoken than sung, but the song is still catchy and fun to listen to.

If it’s not obvious from the first two tracks, “Zombies on Broadway” is based on McMahon’s experiences in New York.

“I wrote this album in the middle of a whirlwind, when the future was unclear. Isn’t it always?” writes McMahon on his website. “I found my way to the city, thinking I could settle a score with a ghost. You can’t, so I came home and rewrote the ending.”

The album’s hit-single “Fire Escape” truly gives the feel of spending a night in the big city and being in love. It’s definitely a guilty pleasure to sing and dance along to. Verses are backed up by McMahon’s piano playing, which leads up to a bass drop

and a catchy chorus utilizing his distinct voice.

“So Close” is another fun, pop song, about being on the verge of success or failure.

“So close to giving up, so close to going all the way,” sings McMahon in the chorus.

McMahon mixes up his style with country elements in “Walking in My Sleep” and slows things down with “Don’t Speak for Me (True).” On the surface of the latter song, the story seems to be about getting over a breakup, but looking deeper, it could actually be about McMahon surviving cancer.

“Every day I feel a little bit stronger than I was when I was, when I was with you,” he sings.

McMahon’s clever lyrics often utilizes similes; “You’ve got a heart like a neon sign,” he sings in “Shot Out of a Cannon,” and also metaphors, such as comparing love’s strength to a building in the song “Love and Great Buildings.”

The album closes strong with “Birthday Song,” featuring strong soaring vocals accompanied by the piano and wraps things up with more sounds from New York City.

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness is touring with alternative bands Atlas Genius and the Night Riots in the Zombies in America Tour. Catch the tour at The Fillmore in Philadelphia on April 7. More tour dates and information can be found at andrewmcmahon.com.