Studying Abroad…The Pros and Cons

In the past two decades, studying abroad has gained popularity, according to an article published by Columbia University.  To what has caused this shift, there is really no answer.  However, studying abroad has seemed to become ‘the thing to do’ while in college.  With the increase in studying abroad, the question is raised whether or not it is actually beneficial and if the money spent on these programs is being put to good use.

Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, has a well-developed study abroad program, says Chris Pujol, an employee of the Duquesne Study Abroad Office.  He states that the university offers two major study abroad locations to its students.  Rome, Italy and Dublin, Ireland.  Pujol, now a junior, studied in Rome during the fall of his sophomore year in 2013.

Money is a big factor in studying abroad, as well as in attending college.  According to the Institute of International Education, the average cost of studying abroad for one semester during the 2012-2013 academic school year was around $17,785.  Being that most college tuition is on average between $15,000 – $50,000 per academic year, the cost of studying abroad is not outrageous.

According to Pujol, to study abroad, students are only required to pay the normal flat rate tuition for one semester.  At Duquesne University, this is around $17,000.  In addition to this, Pujol suggests that students provide themselves with some spending money to cover the extra costs of food, souvenirs, and other similar purchases that can, and most likely will, be made during the semester abroad.

Tara Atkins, a junior at Duquesne University and co-worker of Pujol’s, states that studying abroad was the best experience of her life.  She also went to Rome during the fall of 2013 and says that she learned more through her adventures in Italy than she ever would have staying in Pittsburgh.  “The memories I brought back with me from that trip are ones I will cherish forever,” Atkins says.

Natalia Skeba, a sophomore at Duquesne, went abroad to Rome during the fall of 2014.  She was drawn to Duquesne’s study abroad program, saying “I liked how all of the students going abroad were actually from Duquesne.”  At other schools, any individual interested in going abroad can partake in a university’s programs whether they are enrolled there or not.

Pujol and Aktins, who went abroad together, say they would recommend studying abroad to everyone.

But what if you stay home?  Studying abroad is an option not a requirement.  With that, how many experiences, if any, are missed by not leaving the United States?

Gabriella DiGiacobbe, a sophomore at Duquesne University, does not believe she missed out on memories and experiences by not going abroad.  DiGiacobbe was signed up to go to Rome during the fall of 2014.  She decided the summer of 2014 that leaving the United States was not for her.  She does not regret the decision at all and is happy with the experiences she has made “right here in Pittsburgh.”

Like DiGiacobbe, Joshua Lamonde, is also a sophomore at Duquesne and chose not study abroad.  He agrees with DiGiacobbe and believes that he has gained more “real world” experience, in the form of job opportunities and internships, than the students that have left Pittsburgh and gone abroad.

Click on the video link below for more interviews and information on “Studying Abroad:The Pros and Cons.”


Goobye Story

Every individual, at one point or another, has said goodbye to something in their life.  A goodbye could be big or small.  Happy or emotional.  Each goodbye is as unique as the individuals themselves.  Here is Nora’s story of saying goodbye to her home of Scranton, PA.

Nina Linhart: Pittsburgh Dancer, Duquesne Student Hopes to Join Rockettes


Nina Linhart, 19, of Plum, poses among the pumpkins at Trax Farms. Photo taken by Katie Lipko. Oct. 25, 2014.

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Nina Linhart, 19, of Plum, dances to “Spiegel im Spiegel” during the Duquesne University Dance Theatre’s Fall 2014 Showcase, held Friday, December 12, 2014, at the Peter Mills Theater, Rockwell Hall. Photo taken by Katie Lipko.

“I would if it was Radio City. And if it just happened by chance.”

Those are the words said by 19-year-old Nina Linhart born and raised in Plum, Pennsylvania when asked if she would ever want dance as her career. Dance, an activity that has been a part of her life since the age of 2. An activity that has given Linhart numerous opportunities.  One of which being the chance to become a Rockette for the famous dance troupe located in non-other than Radio City Music Hall, New York City.

Currently an early childhood education major at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Linhart began dance early in life with the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) , made famous from the television show “Dance Moms.” It was here, under the tutelage of Abby Lee herself that Nina Linhart discovered how much dance meant to her.  The ALDC is primarily a competition based company with only one night a week devoted to recreation dancing, that Linhart now teaches.  Abby Lee realized Linhart’s potential and asked her to audition for the competition team. At age 6, Linhart began competing. It was time consuming, practicing “all night every night,” said Linhart.

It was this hard work and dedication, however that allowed Linhart to win the 2011 title of Miss Dance of Pennsylvania, her most important competitive accomplishment to this day.

Then came the Rockettes. “I honestly didn’t even know what they were when I was little,” said Linhart.  Auditioning for this dance company only became an option when the dancer had a growth spurt, reaching 5 feet 10 inches. Linhart’s teacher, Abby Lee, suggested that she try out since she had the number one requirement the Rockettes look for, long legs.  Linhart did not see any harm in trying so she traveled to New York City, auditioned for the Rockettes Summer Intensive Program the summer going into her junior year at Plum Senior High School and got accepted.  This program is a weeklong session that trains dancers to be Rockettes so that when they do audition for the actual job they are better equipped.

In addition to the Summer Intensive, Linhart received help from a former Rockette and graduate from the Abby Lee Dance Company. “I had a private lesson with her and she taught me a combination and she was like, ‘they’re (the Rockettes) looking for precision so the more detail you can pick up in a combination the better,’” said Linhart. Details such as when your right hand goes over your left or vice versa. “You realize just how much work it is when you’re learning it,” said Linhart.

The Rockettes do auditions twice a summer, in the beginning of July and the end of August. However, there are more than just the New York City Rockettes. According to Linhart, there are two sets in New York, both at Radio City, a blue cast and a gold cast. One in Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry and then one that travels.  When a dancer auditions, she auditions for all the Rockette groups and all auditions are held in a rehearsal hall at Radio City.  Approximately 500 girls from all over the country as well as the world audition each time. The level of talent? Very hard, according to Linhart.

In the beginning of July 2013, the summer going into college, Linhart auditioned for the Rockettes for the first time.  The entire audition process taking only two days, each day beginning at 10 a.m. and ending at 3 p.m.  Both days include different rounds to complete, with each round requiring dancers to learn and execute new dance combinations. These combinations include jazz or tap numbers, as well as the famous Rockette kick line. Each combination is performed with two other dancers in front of the scrutinizing eyes of the choreographers, who then after seeing everyone dance, make cuts, eliminating dancers they do not believe will make it any other rounds. Linhart got cut after the first round.

Linhart did not give up and waited until the following July to audition again. She completed every round the first day and waited nervously in the rehearsal room until she heard the choreographers make the announcement, congratulating the remaining girls on receiving a callback and asking them to return for day two. Day two continued with new combinations and cuts and again, Linhart made it through to the very end. “If you make it the whole way through there is a possibility you’ll get a call for the job, there’s a possibility you won’t…I did not,” states Linhart on her second audition experience.  “It all depends on how many spots need to be filled.”

Third audition is a charm, thought Linhart as she went back to audition again in August of the same summer.  Like the second audition, she made it through the first day, however she got cut after a jazz combination on day two.

“I was really upset,” said Linhart, “because I had made it the whole way through the audition before , then I got cut and I was like what in the world did I do wrong. Like what did I do the time that I made it through that I didn’t do now? And it’s so frustrating because you don’t get feedback. So you’ll never know.”

Linhart states that the reason she was cut could be anything, including the color of her leotard that day. “If they (the choreographers) liked the way I looked last audition and they didn’t like it this time that could have been the reason.”

“It’s a precision troupe,” states Linhart. Detail is their main focus.  She recalls that during the Summer Intensive she received a correction that her pinky finger was out of place. No detail goes unnoticed.

Linhart is not giving up, however, and fully plans to audition again this coming summer.

Nina Linhart is “dedicated” according to Caitlin Brown, 19 of Baldwin, an education major at Duquesne University as well as one of Linhart’s closest friends.

The two met, freshman year of college, living down the hall from each other.  They had a mutual friend group and gradually became close. “We both love purple. That’s why we’re meant to be,” said Linhart. The two are such good friends that they have created their own language. “We have conversations in just song lyrics,” said Brown. “It makes people not involved in the song conversation really angry.”

If there is one aspect that really brought their relationship together it is food. “Our relationship is completely centered around food,” said Brown. It is a rare night when Linhart and Brown do not devour a large pizza in record time.

The girls became even closer when they both joined Alpha Gamma Delta, one of the sororities Duquesne University offers.  They are not just friends but sisters as well.

Alpha Gamma Delta is just one of the seven organizations to which Linhart is a member. The six other include: Pittsburgh Association for Educating Young Children (PAEYC), Duquesne University Student Education Association (DUSEA), Phi Eta Sigma (a Nation Honor Society), Kappa Delta Epsilon (educational sorority), Red and Blue Crew and Duquesne University Dance Theater (DUDT).

Linhart became involved in Duquesne University Dance Theatre, previously Exhalations Dance Theatre, her freshman year at Duquesne. It was here that she met Lizzy Sorrentino, 21, from Lehigh Valley, Vice President of DUDT as well as fellow Alpha Gamma Delta.

“Nina’s always willing to listen if you need someone to talk to. She is honest and stays true to what she believes in,” said Sorrentino.

In regards to dance, Sorrentino says “Nina is really talented and works super hard at the things she takes on.” She has full faith that Linhart can accomplish anything she sets her mind to.

So for the question, does Nina Linhart have the ability to become a Rockette? Sorrentino believes she absolutely does. “She is the definition of someone who never gives up. She has the drive and the talent, it’s only a matter of time.”

And for the question, would Nina Linhart ever want dance to be her career?  Linhart herself provides the answer. “I would if it was Radio City.”

5 Times When Duquesne University Nailed Its Mission Statement

1. Service To the Community and Nation


Brothers of the Sigma Nu Fraternity at Duquesne University advertise for its annual charity and service event, The White Rose Ball, which raises money and awareness for American Gold Star Mothers, a national organization of mothers who have lost a son or daughter through serving the country.  Photo taken by Katie Lipko.

2. Catholic Tradition and History


Trinity Hall, located on the edge of campus, houses members of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, the Spiritans, who founded Duquesne University in 1878.  Photo taken by Katie Lipko.

3. Concern for Moral and Spiritual Values


Bethany Kelly, 19, of Pittsburgh, reads the Bible while relaxing between classes in Duquesne University’s chapel.  Photo taken by Katie Lipko.

4. Concern for Liberal Education

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Carmen Alicia Martinez, a Spanish professor from Columbia, South America, prepares the Day of the Dead offering altar in Duquesne University’s Gumberg Library.  The purpose of this alter is to introduce students to Mexican culture and get individuals interested in the celebration festivities of other countries.  Photo taken by Katie Lipko.

5. Diversity in Religious Background and Ethnicity


A mural on the Laval House, located on Duquesne University’s campus, shows the ecumenical atmosphere open to diversity, in religion and ethnicity, that the university strives to uphold.  Photo taken by Katie Lipko.

Should Photo ID Be Required to Vote


Photo identification is a requirement in order to accomplish certain tasks.  Being asked to show ID to verify that you are 17 in order to take children into an R-rated movie is just one example.  With that in mind, should an individual be required to show photo identification in order to vote in an election?

“Things you need #photoID for: driving, buying things (alcohol, cigs, guns, cashing checks) airline travel, employment. Why not #voting?” Bryan Caskey (@BryanCaskey) wrote on Twitter.

Some citizens agree.  Some citizens do not.

An article titled “Why Voter-ID Laws Are Bad for Women, the Elderly, and Everyone” published by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) on Sept. 4, 2012, disagrees with photo ID being a requirement.  The article states that requiring photo ID would “unnecessarily burden poor, minority citizens from exercising their right to vote.”

Ryan Mock, 21, a criminology student, does not believe strongly either way.  “As long as people are voting, I don’t think it matters if ID is shown or not,” he states.

Some voters see the negative consequences of not showing identification in order to vote.

Helen Lipko, 56, a retired troop office manager for the Pennsylvania State Police, says that not showing photo identification can have serious negative effects on an election.  “The volunteers at the voting stations need to be able to verify the person so people can only vote once,” Lipko said.

A Fox News article published on Feb. 19, 2013, addresses the issue of individuals who take on the identity of two or more people in order to sway the outcome of an election, like a veteran Ohio poll worker who did just that.  “(Melowese) Richardson (the worker) told a local television station … that she voted twice last November,” according to Eric Shawn, a Fox News reporter.  “Authorities also are investigating if she voted in the names of four other people, too, for a total of six votes in the 2012 presidential election.”

Tara Atkins, 20, an accounting and integrated marketing systems student at Duquesne University, is embarrassed having never voted before.  Atkins does however, have a strong view on the subject of requiring photo identification in order to vote.  “In order to match their voter registration, yes,” Atkins said.  “In general, though, it (voting) should be anonymous.”

Some citizens agree that requiring photo identification in order to vote is a simple request to ask of the individuals voting.  “I don’t think it’s a huge thing to ask of people,” Haley Draper, 21, a physician assistant student at Duquesne, said.

Bryan James, 27, a teacher, strongly agrees that it is necessary that photo ID be required, especially for elections as important as presidential.  “I think they should … simply to prove they are a registered United States citizen,” James said.


On a daily basis, college students across America busy themselves with the stresses of higher academic life.  They travel to and from class, casually wandering aimlessly in and out of their college’s buildings and halls.  Many however, have no knowledge of what each building houses as well as what it is formally known as.  Duquesne University, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is no exception to this fact.  Each and every building on this urban campus possess a great story that all individuals would benefit from learning.

Duquesne University is known for its fabulous law school.  But what is a good academic program without a great building in which it can be based?  The Edward J Hanley Hall is just that building.  Construction for the hall began on June 22, 1981.  Shortly after on September 16, 1982, the building was dedicated to an Edward J Hanley.  But who is, or was this man?

With Pittsburgh, comes steel. With the steel industry, comes famous tycoons.  Based on the location of Duquesne, after some research, it came as no surprise when the name Edward J Hanley showed up in connection to the Pittsburgh steel industry.  Originally from Whitman, Massachusetts, Hanley attended the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration.  In 1936, Hanley became a part of the Allegheny Steel Company, eventually achieving tenure as the president.  Through his efforts there, as well as with Ludlum Steel Corporation, Hanley quickly rose to the top of the steel industry.  He retired in 1967 but not before he left his mark, founding the world’s largest titanium producer, Titanium Metals Corporation.  After his accomplishments in the steel industry, he became the Chairman of Duquesne University’s Board of Directors, officially linking him to the college.  Sadly, he passed away on March 14, 1982, but his mark on Duquesne University and the School of Law will forever be remembered, literally.

Being named after a prestigious individual, the building as well as the School of Law within have a reputation to uphold.  The school itself fulfills that reputation with its academics, but also with organized events.  After talking with Mary Serafini, an administrative assistant in the building, I was enlightened by upcoming dates.  On Monday, September 8, 2014 Duquesne University School of Law, in cooperation with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is hosting President Ford’s Pardon of Richard Nixon: A 40-Year Retrospective.  Serafini explained, “The dean of the college will speak.” This event is to remind individuals of an important historical time in our country.

As this political event is never to be forgotten, neither is the legacy of Edward J Hanley.  Duquesne’s School of Law comprehends very well the importance of understanding and remembering past people and occasions that have left an impact.

Starting out I knew nothing about the School of Law or Edward J Hanley.  But this just shows that a little interest and information can carry you a long way.  I encourage my readers to take some time to learn something about a person, place, or event that you would normally overlook.  You might just be surprised in what you find.