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Worldly Ways

Foreign Students Bring International Flavor to Wilkes Campus 

By Vicki Mayk MFA ’13 

Bowen Wang likes life at Wilkes. PHOTO BY DAN Z. JOHNSON

Bowen Wang likes life at Wilkes. PHOTO BY DAN Z. JOHNSON

Bowen Wang hated to do it, but he had to be honest with the other students on his integrated management experience team. They had taken him to a Chinese buffet.

“I had to tell them it wasn’t real Chinese food,” the freshman in the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership says laughing. “Not like what we have in China.”

But Wang also speaks warmly about the team from one of his first business classes at Wilkes. “Our team name was the word ‘business’ in Chinese,” he says with a grin. The fact that the Sidhu School is named for an alumnus who came to Wilkes as an international student – Jay Sidhu MBA ’73 – makes Wang’s next comment even more gratifying.

“Coming to Wilkes is the best choice I ever made,” he says. That’s high praise from any freshman.  For one who traveled more than 6,600 miles from his home in Rizhao, Shandong Province, to attend the University, it’s an extraordinary affirmation of the educational experience.

“I cannot say enough good things about Wilkes,” says Wang.  “I will have more opportunities to practice my English here and master the language than at a large university with many Chinese students.” The University’s size matters in other ways, too. “This is a small university, big enough to develop myself, but small enough so that professors give you attention,” he says, adding, “Everybody is so nice to me. They know how difficult it is to come here from another country, and they are very patient.”

Wang is one of a growing number of international students at Wilkes. Continue reading

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A Passion For Penn’s Woods

Ellen Ferretti ’78 Leads State Conservation Agency

By Helen Kaiser

Ellen Ferretti '78 enjoys a spring afternoon in Frances Slocum State Park.

Ellen Ferretti ’78 enjoys a spring afternoon in Frances Slocum State Park.

Ellen Ferretti ’78 grew up in the Cork Lane section of Pittston Township, Luzerne County—where the neighborhood houses were just steps away from each other. Families often packed picnics and took Sunday drives to get away from it all and appreciate the riches of nature.

“I always loved the outdoors,” she says. “We would enjoy the lakes, swimming beaches, pavilions and hiking at Tobyhanna and Gouldsboro state parks.”

Now, some 50 years later, Ferretti oversees Pennsylvania’s 120 parks and its 20 forest districts as secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).

Confirmed to the cabinet post in December, Ferretti had served as acting secretary for several months and as deputy for parks and forestry since June 2011.  Her background includes more than 20 years in private industry and nonprofit conservation posts.

“Here (at DCNR) we deal with both private sector firms and nonprofits, so it’s easy for me to relate to them,” she says. “When you understand from the ground up how to build a program or start a project, how to assess and how to implement, it informs your decision making. You have a true appreciation of what’s involved.” Continue reading

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Publication Pathways

Creative Writing Alumni Follow Many Avenues To Publish

By Bill Schneider MA ’13

As the Wilkes graduate creative writing program nears its 10th anniversary, director and co-founder Bonnie Culver is discussing plans for a celebration to be held during the January 2015 residency. “We’ve been gathering information about our alums, faculty, and current students,” says Culver. “Our plan is to produce a celebratory book that offers a snapshot of what everyone connected to the program has done and continues to do.”

Culver, who recently was named president of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ national board of trustees, says the book project will showcase alumni and faculty from the program and their successes in a variety of outlets.


Morowa Yejide PhotoMorowa Yejide’s novel Time of the Locust tells the story of a 7-year-old autistic boy and his supernatural relationship with his incarcerated father.

For Yejide MFA’12, it’s also a tale of persistence. She worked for two years to find a publisher for the novel, which will be released in June 2014 by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. The book also was named one of the 10 finalists for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction after what she describes as a soul-crushing effort to find an agent. The prize is given to a work of high literary merit that addresses issues of social justice.

Morowa Yejide MFA '12's debut novel, Time of the Locust, is publishing in June 2014.

Morowa Yejide MFA ’12’s debut novel, Time of the Locust, is publishing in June 2014.

Yejide described her relationship with a very large publisher to be like standing on a large platform with a microphone, providing her a chance to shout above the crowd. “There are no guarantees in today’s publishing world,” she says. “It’s sink or swim. When I signed with Atria, I went in expecting to continue to push my work largely on my own … to continue to navigate my little boat. Now there is this larger trade wind behind me that might help to move me along a little better.” Continue reading

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Coal Crackers

Krista Gromalski ’91 Launches Newspaper Written By Students in Pennsylvania’s Coal Region

By Bill Thomas ’13

Gromalski counsels two student journalists.

Gromalski counsels two student journalists. PHOTO BY CHUCK ZOVKO

Several members of the Coal Cracker staff are gathered around a table, discussing story ideas for the independent newspaper’s next issue. On the agenda is a look at the current state of music programs in area schools, the first installment of a humorous advice column and a historical retrospective focusing on the effects of the infamous Centralia mine fire.

It’s a scene you’d find in any newsroom, except this one is on the second floor of the Mahanoy City Public Library in Schuylkill County, Pa. The reporters range in age from 8 to 14.

“I came upon this idea at a time in my life where I was thinking a lot about where I’m from. This area has great history, but it is changing,” Coal Cracker creator Krista Gromalski ’91 says, referring to Mahanoy City, her hometown and the base of operations for the fledgling newspaper. Continue reading


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