Temple University Ambler's graduates are an exemplary group of diverse students who will soon begin the next chapter in their lives in a wide variety of fields, from community and regional planning and horticulture to finance and landscape architecture. To honor our graduating class, Temple University Ambler is profiling just a few of the shining examples of the class of 2014.
This year wasn’t a hat trick for the Department of Community and Regional Planning — it was a step above. Matt Smith made it a fourpeat.
Smith was the fourth semi-finalist for the Presidential Management Fellows program from Temple’s Community and Regional Planning (CRP) program in four years and the third finalist during the same time frame — an almost unheard of accomplishment among planning programs in the country.
“This year they only selected 609 out of more than 7,000 candidates. I think this run of success says only good things for the Temple CRP program,” said Smith, who will graduate this month with a Master’s in Community and Regional Planning after completing his coursework at Temple University Harrisburg. “The program has an outstanding staff and a group of very dedicated professors and does a good job of presenting a diverse yet comprehensive approach to planning that I would think goes beyond what competitive programs can offer. The Temple program is certified and one of few graduate level programs in the Greater Harrisburg area.”
There is a garden in the Lawncrest section of Philadelphia that didn’t exist two years ago.
The 25-plot community garden required buy in from the niehgborhood, city officials and a variety of city groups, but with Temple University Landscape Architecture major Thu Ngan Han leading the charge, fresh vegetables will soon by popping up in abundance as the garden’s second growing season gets underway.
“With Temple’s landscape architecture program, we are given the opportunity to work on a lot of urban community-based projects in addition to being given a solid background in plants and ecology — in our profession you’re working with plants all of the time so from a practical sense it’s essential to have an understanding of what does and doesn’t work,” said Han, 23, who will complete her B.S. in Landscape Architecture this month with a stellar 3.85 grade point average. “Last year I decided to implement a project in my own neighborhood to create a community garden. It helped immensely that I could speak about the horticultural aspects of a project like this and explain the benefits to my neighbors who really embraced the idea.”
You could say that Jiting Deng had a baptism by fire of sorts into University life — or more appropriately a baptism by football.
One of her first experiences outside of the classroom at Temple was an Owls football game at Lincoln Financial Field. And she certainly didn’t shy away from raising a giant foam finger or a cherry and white pom pom to cheer on her adopted team to victory.
“It was my first experience with American football. I figured, ‘Why not?’ — I always try to do things that are different, that are new to me,” said Deng, 25, originally from Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia in China. “I didn’t know the rules and I wasn’t exactly sure how the game worked, but it was pretty exciting. I sang along to the Temple Fight Song and got the Temple T painted on my face. It’s a great way for me to learn from these activities and from the people experiencing them with me.”
John Lennon famously sang “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
Terry Cinque is living proof. In January, Cinque completed a 16-year journey that has culminated in an Associate’s degree in Horticulture.
While it’s been an epic quest that would make Odysseus envious, Cinque’s answer to the question “Why so long?” is quite simple — “Family first.”
“I had been working full-time as a radiologic technologist for more than 25 years at Nazareth Hospital and the Fox Chase Cancer Center. When my kids were born, I began working part-time so when one went off to school and then the other to pre-school, I was looking for something to do,” said Cinque, 54 of Abington. “I had a lifelong interest in horticulture and gardening, so I decided to give Fundamentals of Horticulture a try in 1997 and fell in love with the (Ambler) campus. As luck would have it, that first class served as an eye-opening introduction to formal education in a subject that fascinated me.”
Alain-Stephane Wognin Moulot has lived in more countries than many of us are likely to ever visit. Born in Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, Moulot has a vision of the world that he would like to help come to pass.
“I come from a third world country; I’ve lived in three third world countries. All of these countries have great potential,” said Moulot, 22, who will graduate from Temple with a bachelor’s degree in Finance. “It’s not just a problem of funding; you have to get the resources distributed to where they are needed most. I want to work in a field where I can influence the development of third world countries.”
Before Jillian Brainard came to Temple University, she spent a few years with the CIA.
In this case, however, her stock in trade was entrees, not espionage.
“I really fell in love with cooking when I was in high school,” said Brainard, 28, of Philadelphia. “I decided to pursue a more culinary-based education and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America. After graduation, I started working for Starr Restaurants.”
For several years, Brainard worked the front of the house — in addition to duties as a sommelier — at some of the most prestigious restaurants in Philadelphia including Barclay Prime, Buddakan, Washington Square and Jones. But something was missing, she said.
For most of her life, Allison Hanna didn’t think college was in the cards for her. That is until she hit it big in Vegas.
“When I was a freshman in high school, I went through a career evaluation and found horticulture and landscaping might be for me — that’s when I found out all there is you can do in the landscape architecture field,” said Hanna, 21, from Mechanicsburg. “In my junior year at the local (vocational technical) school, two teachers saw potential in me and suggested that I started entering competitions. They sent me to Las Vegas — they threw me right into the deep end, which was a very scary, but very amazing experience.”
Fourth place in the residential construction management competition at the National Association of Home Builders International Builders Show was followed by second place for a project that Hanna led in her senior year. Combined with smaller regional competitions where she discovered she “loved talking about what I was creating and had become quite adept with CAD,” she knew she had found her calling.
For Denise Snook everything is literally coming up roses.
Upon completing her bachelor’s degree in Horticulture at Temple in December, Snook settled into a career as the Horticulturist, Landscape Manager and Rosarian at Wyck, a National Historic Landmark house, garden and farm in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, which served as the ancestral home to the Wistar-Haines family for over nine generations.
“I’m responsible for the care, interpretation and propagation of the Wyck roses, which isn’t something I take lightly. This is one of the oldest rose gardens in America,” said Snook, 32, of Philadelphia. “I also am involved with the festivals at Wyck, speak at local events and teach a rose workshop series on the history and propagation of the roses. I’m looking at beginning ethnobotany and plant medicine workshops. Initially upon graduation I was exploring graduate school, but this has been such a perfect fit for me.”