Jake St. Pierre ’03

Jake St. Pierre ’03: Climbing to Study Climate Change

by Keene State Today Editor Jane Eklund

Jake St. Pierre ’03
Jake St. Pierre ’03

As a kid, Jake St. Pierre ’03 snuck out of his bedroom window and climbed the roof of the house. As a teenager, he took his first solo car trip to the White Mountains, where he climbed Mount Washington.  He’s still climbing the Whites, and in other parts of New Hampshire, but in recent years he’s expanded his mountaineering territory to the Himalayas.

At the end of March, he’s heading to Nepal for the third time in five years. But on this trip, he’ll have scientific instruments in addition to climbing gear in his backpack. St. Pierre has been invited to participate in the Lhotse Snow Science Expedition, a project of the American Climber Science Program and Black Ice Himalaya, a research organization associated with the University of Colorado, Boulder.

He’ll be joining a group of six to eight climbers, scientists, and Sherpas—all volunteers on an expedition to undertake climate change research on Lhotse, a mountain adjacent to Everest. “The science climb will be amazing,” says St. Pierre, who hopes to summit Everest on a future trip—perhaps one planned for 2016. This year’s trip will include a weather-permitting summit attempt of Lhotse, the fourth-highest mountain in the world, in addition to gathering information and collecting samples of snow and ice at various elevations.

“We’ll be doing a lot of research on the glaciers—the melting rate of the ice, which could lead to flooding that will cause problems for the local population, and pollution levels at extreme altitude,” he says.

The expedition will take just under three months, including a 10-day trek into Everest Basecamp, a week of acclimatization and data collecting, then climbs to higher camps shuttling gear and collecting environmental data and snow samples. The researchers will be connected to each other via climbing ropes and connected to the world via iPhones and laptops. After their summit attempt, they’ll process samples at the base camp for a few days before trekking back to the town of Lukla, where they’ll catch a flight to Kathmandu.

What’s the appeal of mountaineering? “I love the challenge of it,” says St. Pierre. “It’s a personal quest that I find extremely endearing, and it’s just you and the mountain. I’ll be climbing as a member of a team—I’m excited about it, just the camaraderie amongst the climbers, and the trust factor. Knowing you’re watching their back and they’re watching your back, and your life is in their hands, basically. It’s a kind of camaraderie that you don’t find much.”

At Keene State, St. Pierre majored in psychology and took numerous science courses. He works as a police officer for the town of Bow, New Hampshire, and also runs a gym and personal trainer service, Juggernaut Summit Performance, in Bow. “I love helping people do things they never thought they could do,” he says.

For now, he’s preparing for his trip, visiting elementary and middle schools to talk to students about the upcoming journey (including the students of his fiancée, Sarah Pike ’04, a fourth-grade teacher in Concord). He’s working to find corporate sponsors and individual donors to help offset his costs of $10,000 for the expedition.

To learn more about the science climb, visit the Lhotse/Everest page at St. Pierre’s website.


An Invitation to Share Your Passionate Pursuits

PassionatePursuitsWireTreeAre you passionate about something you’d like to share with others? The Thorne Art Gallery is inviting Friends of the Thorne, KSC faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the Keene State community to submit items they’ve created or collected for its summer Passionate Pursuits exhibit. In the past, this non-juried show has included paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture, wooden objects, jewelry, quilts, and collectibles of all kinds.

Passionate Pursuits will open June 6–July 24 and reopen August 25–September 18. There will be a public reception to kick off the exhibit, but the date has not yet been chosen. Check the Thorne website for that info.

As space is limited, the Thorne welcomes participants on a first-come, first-served basis. In order to allow as many participants as possible, the gallery may limit the amount of work that can be accepted from each participant.

If you’d like to participate, please fill out our online form by Friday, April 18. For additional information on participating contact Maureen Ahern, director, 603-358-2721, or Paul Knowlton, exhibit technician, 603-358-2240.

The exhibit is not meant to promote a business or product, so nothing may be offered for sale. Everything must be ready to hang on the wall or display safely in an exhibit case at the time of drop off. Exhibitors will be asked to drop off their items on Thursday, May 15, or Friday, May 16, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and pick up their items on Friday, September 19, or Saturday, September 20, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Where’d I See That?

Obviously, this has been on campus for a while:


If you think you know where this is, please stick your answer inside the hatband of a Stetson fedora hat, size 7 3/4, and send it to Newsline, 120 Alumni Center, 229 Main St., Keene, NH 03435. Or use the “comments” link, below.

Matt McDougal photo

KSC Sends Four Students to NCUR

Four KSC students—history majors Kyle O’Brien and Alexander Habibi, theatre and dance major Matt McDougal, and music major Jordan Chase—will be presenting at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at the University of Kentucky from April 3–5.

Sending four students to the conference is a real accomplishment for the students and the college, according to Dean of Arts & Humanities Andrew Harris. NCUR is the largest undergraduate research conference in North America, featuring over 2,000 student presentations and reflecting all disciplines in higher education. “It is the kind of conference that we ought to seek out for more of our students, as it offers them a wonderful opportunity to present their work in front of students from colleges and universities all over the country.  Student presentation there speaks not only to the quality of student research required for acceptance, but also to the institutional culture that supports a high level of student scholarship and faculty mentoring,” Dr. Harris explained. Keene State is the only institution in New Hampshire that is sending students this year.

Matt McDougal photo
Matt McDougal (as Charlotte von Mahlsdorf in I Am My Own Wife)

Matt McDougal will be presenting about his work performing 35 different roles in the production of the one-man Pulitzer Prize winning play I Am My Own Wife, written by Doug Wright and directed here at Keene State by Timothy L’Ecuyer. “This play tells the true story of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a German transvestite who lived openly in East Berlin through both the Nazi and Communist regimes,” McDougal said. “Like the playwright during the creation of the play, it was my job as the actor to research the given circumstances of the story in order to create a more informed and authentic theatrical production. This included research of the characters spanning a wide range of ages and nationalities, settings across two continents, and backgrounds behind two of the most complex historical eras of the millennium: Nazi and Communist Germany. This is all presented within the social and political contexts of queer culture. Additionally, linguistic research was necessary to portray the diverse characters represented throughout the play. Through slides, lecture, and performance examples, the application of this research will be demonstrated to conference audience members.”

Jordan Chase photo
Jordan Chase

Jordan Chase’s project, “Orchestration of a Large-Scale Music Composition,” is a reflection of the project he completed over the summer under a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) grant.  “Receiving the SURF grant gave me the opportunity to learn about the orchestral instruments and apply the knowledge I learned to my compositional studies,” Chase said. “The study of instrumentation, orchestration, and formal structure in music enhanced my understanding of music theory at its core and of the compositional process as a whole. At the NCUR conference I plan to explain the musical concepts I learned and how I applied them to my composition, Foreign Comfort. Throughout the presentation I will play excerpts of my piece, demonstrating specific references and ideas to the audience. I am hoping to conclude with a full playback of one of the movements and a brief question-and-answer session. I definitely believe this opportunity will enhance my future, because I’ll gain valuable assets and skills along with a great deal of responsibility and self-confidence.”

Alexander Habibi photo
Alexander Habibi

Alexander Habibi’s research project focuses on the philosophy of the South African anti-apartheid activist Steven Biko, who is credited with founding the Black Consciousness movement that sought to unite and instill pride in oppressed black South Africans during the apartheid era. Biko was detained at a roadblock, tortured, and murdered by security police. “I chose the topic because I studied abroad in Cape Town last spring semester and was fascinated by the struggle South Africans waged against an oppressive, minority-ruled state,” Habibi explained. “While Biko’s ideas were popular among the black South African youth during the radical 1970s, many South Africans my age that I met were either apolitical or so concerned with daily survival that radical politics didn’t seem practical in post-apartheid South Africa. … Although my project is a bit abstract and intellectual, I think it’s a task that involves knowing enough about philosophy to understand how an actual person absorbed ideas and put them into effect. … I owe my acceptance to my advisor, Dr. Nicholas Germana, who not only revised all four drafts of my abstract, but helped me understand many of the complicated philosophical aspects I’d be dealing with.”

Kyle O'Brien photo
Kyle O’Brien

Kyle O’Brien will be presenting a paper, “Lifting the Veil,” on early German Romanticism, a literary movement in the late 18th century. The paper’s title refers to the poet-philosopher Novalis’ (Friedrich Von Hardenberg’s) ideas about the poet and his place in society. “I focus on the concept that it is the poet who can lift the veil of truth and that the poet becomes worthy to do so through a ‘circuitous journey’ in which he leaves and returns home with knowledge of the Truth, creating a return to a golden age,” O’Brien said. “My paper will incorporate romantic notions about sexuality, epistemology, and semiotics. I focused on this topic because I’m interested in the history of philosophy generally, but I’m also interested in the nature of language and what relationship it has to reality. These early Romantics saw the world through a mytho-poetic lens that they themselves self-consciously created. Mythology and poetry are things which I think are part of and integral to the human condition; things that the contemporary world has lost sight of.”

Douglas Glennon ’98 photo

Douglas Glennon ’98 Recognized in the Union Leader’s “40 under 40” List

Douglas Glennon ’98 photo
Douglas Glennon ’98

Douglas Glennon ’98, who runs a software consulting business out of his home in Barrington, NH, selects a nonprofit organization each year that he helps and offers free assistance or IT support at a discounted rate. He was recently chosen for the Union Leader’s “40 under 40” award, which recognizes 40 New Hampshire citizens under 40 years of age who have “contributed significantly to their field, their community or the state and should have the potential to do much more in future years.”

Of course, we wanted to know if his time at Keene State contributed to him becoming the person he is today. “Certainly the education I received at Keene State College has helped me in my career and my volunteer activities a great deal,” Glennon said. “There are courses that I took at KSC that I still think about when dealing with organizational structure and how groups of people ‘form’ into a team. This has helped in every committee or project that I’ve ever organized or participated in. But, even beyond the book-wise education, I would say that the ‘soft skills’ that I learned were almost as important. KSC is the first place that gave me the opportunity to step out of my shell and actively participate in the community.

“I always felt comfortable at KSC and it made it easier for me to seize an opportunity to be Student Body Vice President my sophomore year. I’m not sure that I would have had the courage to do that any place else. That role in particular brought my attention to the greater community beyond the college boundaries. The work that I did with the city’s government, the USNH system, and the various KSC administrators in that role prepared me for the civic engagements that I participate in today. KSC taught me a lot about how to be a part of a community, how to participate, and simply that sometimes the most important thing you can do is just ‘show up.’

“I was also fortunate enough to study abroad while at KSC. I think it’s important to be well-rounded and understand that there are different cultures and different ways of thinking. When dealing with large events, and contributing to the community as a whole, there are many moving parts and many people from all walks of life. Having an understanding of working with different personalities and joining disparate ideas into a common goal becomes not only useful, but mandatory in that scenario. The time I spent at KSC helped me a great deal in learning how to do that.

“I’m proud to be born, raised, educated, and now raising my family in the state of New Hampshire. KSC and the rest of the USNH system is an incredibly important part of our state’s ability to continue to be ranked as one of the best places in the nation to live.”

And Keene State is sure proud of Doug!


In Memoriam: National Heritage Fellow Bob McQuillen ’59

BobMcQuillenThe Keene State community, New England, and the contra dance world is saddened by the passing of NEA National Heritage Fellow Bob McQuillen ’59 on February 4. McQuillen, or “Mac” as he was affectionately known, was one of those larger-than-life characters who amassed a wealth of friends and delightful stories that stretch around the world. He served two tours of duty with the US Marines, first in the South Pacific during World War II and then in Korea, got a degree in industrial arts education from Keene, became a centerpiece in the contradance and folk music communities, had a profound influence on the students he taught at ConVal High School (Peterborough, NH) for 34 years, and composed an estimated 1,500 dance tunes.

Mac, 90 years old and hale and hearty till the very end, drove himself to a local restaurant on Feb. 2 and suffered a major stroke while he was there. He was rushed to the hospital and died two days later, 29 years to the day that his former wife, Priscilla Jean McQuillen, passed. According to those close to him, Mac was ready to go and had been putting his affairs in order for the past few months. His friends and admirers immediately launched a Facebook page, “Remembering Mac,” that quickly filled with wonderful anecdotes and testimonies to his life and influence.

They say you can tell a person’s character by the adjectives he or she uses. Watch this dialogue between Associate Professor of Architecture Peter Temple and Mac, where Mac discusses his time at what was then Keene Teachers College, and pay attention to the adjectives he uses:

In 2012, Mac joined a panel of luminaries in the contradance community at the 2012 Flurry Festival of traditional dance and music in Saratoga Springs, NY. If you’d like to know how Mac got into the world of contradancing, here’s his story:

And the Peterborough Ledger/Transcript did a great piece about him.

Jennifer Dunnington ’93 (Photo by Aidan Dorn)

Jennifer Dunnington ’93 Joins the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Jennifer Dunnington ’93 (Photo by Aidan Dorn)
Jennifer Dunnington ’93 (Photo by Aidan Dorn)

Motion Picture Music Editor Jennifer Dunnington ’93 was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ class of 2013, honoring her for the work she’s produced during her career. The Academy welcomed 276 members, including Jennifer Lopez, Lucy Liu, Jason Bateman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Pena, and Chris Tucker.

“I am thrilled to be a part of the Academy and to play an active role in the screening, voting, and celebration of  widespread talent in the film community,” Jennifer said.

She was on campus last March to share her craft with students and the community and has plans to be back the March to conduct a weekend workshop. Stay tuned!

More information. …

Shawn Huckins

Artist Shawn Huckins ’07 Featured in Huffington Post

Shawn Huckins
Shawn Huckins ’07 (Photo by Stephanie Powell)

Since he graduated with a degree in Studio Art at KSC, Shawn Huckins ’07’s work has appeared in galleries around the country. He has won the Award for Excellence in the 2007 Ridgefield Guild of Artists 30th Annual Exhibition, the New Haven Paint and Clay Club Prize, and the Thorne-Sagendorph Student Exhibition People’s Choice Award, as well as the Thorne’s Biennial Regional Juror’s Choice Award. And his latest series, “The American ____tier,” was recently featured in the Huffington Post, and will be in a solo exhibition at Design Matters in LA in September.

For the series, Huckins accurately reproduced early American paintings and photographs, and then superimposed upon them the kind of slang, tweets, hashtags, and bad spelling and grammar modern Americans are likely to see on cell phones and social media. “Each work is meticulously replicated from the original painting,” Huckins explained. “The lettering on top is also hand painted. Nothing is photoshopped and/or digital.  All of my works are original acrylic on canvas paintings.”

Huckins, who graduated magna cum laude, credits KSC with creating many opportunities for him. “What’s great about Keene is that there isn’t one methodology to their teaching practices in the arts,” he recalled. “The faculty comes from a diverse background, which is great in showing students various perspectives on tackling a goal or vision. It allows the students, as cliché as it is, to think outside the box and to broaden their thought process.”

ACDA photo

Student Choral Directors Attend ACDA Conference

ACDA photo
(Top row, l–r) James Shea, Hannah Hall, Kenny Ballou, Molly Schaefer, Lizy Fecto, Amy St. Louis
(Bottom row, l–r) Lauren Weiner, Samantha McCloghry, Kaitie Hart, Emily DeAngelis, Amanda Williams

During the first week of February, members of the KSC student chapter of the American Choral Directors Association traveled to the 2014 Eastern Division ACDA conference in Baltimore, Maryland. The students were awarded a Student Conference Fund grant and raised additional funds to attend this event. The chapter’s vice president, Kaitlyn Hart, a junior choral music education major and clarinet player, was awarded a Richard Kegerris Collegiate Scholarship, which gave her free conference registration.

The conference offered morning and afternoon sessions covering such topics as repertoire reading, 10 steps to achieving a successful choir, choral rehearsal techniques, and how to sing overtones. Keene State College Assistant Professor of Music Sandra Howard presented one of those sessions, titled “Developing Vocal Techniques in the Middle School Choral Rehearsal.” “My session focused on vocal techniques, or the varied ways we use our voices as singers,” Dr. Howard said. “I led attendees through specific vocal warm ups, and then we analyzed and sang through middle school choral repertoire to determine what techniques each piece can address in the choral curriculum.”

Choirs from different colleges and honor choirs from different schools performed three concerts each day in two beautiful Baltimore churches, St. Ignatius and Old St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

“This conference is all about teaching us how to be future choral teachers and music educators,” explained Amanda Williams, the KSC chapter’s PR representative. “The different sessions expand our knowledge as music educators. Some of the sessions include choral reading sessions, how to correctly write a resume, and how to properly develop boys’ voices. We will be able to apply the information we learn into our future classrooms.”

Alissa Toscano photo

TAD Students Attend Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

Alissa Toscano photo
Alissa Toscano won a Meritorious Award in Allied Craft for her exquisite Mad Hatter marionette.

Sixteen Theatre and Dance students attended the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, held in Hyannis, Mass., from January 28–February 1. Lukas Dimitrios Theodossiou earned stage management finalist for his work on Spring Awakening. Cara Gerardi is an Irene Ryan Acting semi-finalist, Alissa Toscano won a Meritorious Award in Allied Craft for her exquisite Mad Hatter marionette, and Taylor Ciambra is National Dramaturgy Award first runner-up for her work on The Tempest.

As you might expect, the students find attending the festival richly rewarding. “I always enjoy bringing my work to the festival and having industry professionals respond to it,” claimed student Michael Portrie. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to have somebody look at your work outside of an academic setting.”

Taylor Ciambra gained a lot of confidence from the workshops and having her presentation judged. “I realized that this was not about competing with the girls around me; it was about individual enhancement that would advance the community and the field,” she said. “Not only did I learn a lot of practice-related information and new ways to think about plays critically, the festival gave me a more personal gift. The people I met and the work I did all corroborated that I was becoming a good dramaturge, a good artist. No matter my doubts, I’m onto something.”

The workshops often created real-world scenarios for these up-and-coming performers. A Broadway choreographer for Chicago led one of them. “She was so helpful in telling us exactly what she, as a choreographer, looks for in a dancer at professional auditions,” said Ally Doyle. “She then taught us a phrase of dance from Chicago and critiqued us one by one, telling us why she would or wouldn’t hire us. Because Keene State doesn’t have a musical theatre program, and it is my individualized major, I found it extremely helpful to be able to get that feedback.”

Writing tutors

Four Seniors Attend Writing Conference

Writing tutors
Seniors and Center for Writing tutors (l–r) Mike Kelley, Hillary Smith, Jessica Pierce will be attending the Northeast Writing Center Association’s annual conference in March. (Not pictured, Alex Wolff)

Four seniors and tutors at Keene State’s Center for WritingMichael Kelly (architecture), Hillary Smith (secondary education), Jessica Pierce (psychology), and Alex Wolff (American studies)—will be presenting at the Northeast Writing Center Association’s annual conference at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, on March 1–2. This year’s conference theme is  “Difference & Inclusion: Writing Centers as Sites for Change,” and the students, in coordination with Dr. Phyllis Benay, the Center’s director, and Cyndi Glover, the Center’s assistant, will conduct a roundtable discussion entitled “It’s Beginning to Look Too Much Like Christmas: the Challenge of Teaching a Homogeneous Student Body.”

Whereas many of the conference participants come from very diverse campuses, KSC is still working to bring more diversity to its student body, so Keene’s approach to the conference theme is different than most. “Clearly, the problems we face around notions of inclusion are different than those that infiltrate a more diverse student body,” noted Prof. Benay. “Rather than helping our students adjust to a variety of dialects, we need to convince them that these dialects even exist. Rather than helping them accommodate diverse cultures, our challenge is finding ways to bring the rest of the world into their lives. …  From in-class workshops to one-on-one tutoring to assisting faculty as they design strategies and techniques, the Center for Writing tutors and director are committed to one overarching goal: moving students toward a more inclusive and complex world view.”

Physics Society-Long-Logo

It’s Official: The Society of Physics Students

Physics Society-Long-LogoThe Society of Physics Students (SPS) recently attained official status as a student organization. The club meets every Friday at 1:30 p.m. in the Putnam Science Center’s room 375 and is open to anyone interested in any area of physics, including astronomy, meteorology, electronics, optics, thermodynamics, and quantum mechanics. Uninteresting math will be kept to a minimum.*

Club president Jacob Cheverie stressed that the club is open to everyone, not just physics students. “You can learn about things you may be interested in, if you want to understand it on a deeper level. Ultimately, everything comes down to physics,” he said. The club’s discussions, field trips, and films are intended for the generally curious.

“This semester we’ve been inviting people to attend to watch videos such as those produced by Nova, that appeal to mass general audience, or to discuss concepts such as Stephen Hawking’s quantum cosmology that people are interested in, but might find a bit intimidating,” explained Physics Lab Assistant Thomas Maguire.

On Monday April 7th at 7pm in The Mabel Brown Room, SPS will cosponsor the first in a series of screenings called Science on Screen. An episode of the brand new series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey with Neil deGrasse Tyson will be shown with a discussion to follow.



Presenting a Strategic Economic Plan for NH

BIAOn Tuesday, February 18, Jim Roche, president of the Business and Industry Association of NH, along with Keene State College, the Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce, and the Regional Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing (RCAM), will present a strategic economic plan for the state at 8 p.m. in the Alumni Center’s Centennial Hall.

For the past year, the BIA has been engaged in developing a strategic economic plan for New Hampshire in response to continued and long-standing unease about the state’s direction. Jim Roche will present the results of that process to the Monadnock Region. The forum is free and open to the public, and coffee will be served. If you’d like to attend, please register by emailing the Chamber or phoning them at 603-352-1303.

Rwandan Ambassador to the US Mathilde Mukantabana will deliver the annual Genocide Awareness Lecture at 7 p.m. in the Mabel Brown Room on Monday, March 3.

Rwandan Ambassador to Offer Genocide Awareness Lecture

Rwandan Ambassador to the US Mathilde Mukantabana will deliver the annual Genocide Awareness Lecture at 7 p.m. in the Mabel Brown Room on Monday, March 3.
Rwandan Ambassador to the US Mathilde Mukantabana will deliver the annual Genocide Awareness Lecture at 7 p.m. in the Mabel Brown Room on Monday, March 3.

Mathilde Mukantabana—Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Rwanda to the United States and non-resident Ambassador to Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina—will deliver the Cohen Center’s annual Genocide Awareness Lecture in the Mabel Brown Room on Monday, March 3, at 7 p.m. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and Ambassador Mukantabana’s talk is titled “Remember, Unite, Renew: Retracing Milestones in Country Building after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.” The Ambassador will also be on campus the following day, Tuesday, March 4, to introduce the Cohen Center’s 2014 Professional Development-Public Workshop, “Interrupting Genocide: Protecting Civilians from Mass Atrocity,” with Dr. James Waller.

Ambassador Mukantabana was born and raised in Rwanda before she moved to the United States to pursue her studies. In 1994, she was hired to teach history at Cosumnes River College, in Sacramento, Calif., just as she learned that her entire family had been butchered in the genocide that has come to define her native Rwanda to the rest of the world.

“If we Tutsis survived, it was by a miracle,” Mukantabana recalled. “A million people died in three months. It started in April and ended in July 1994. My father, my mother, and my four younger brothers and sisters were killed along with six aunts, four uncles, and all my nieces and nephews. From my father’s side alone 70 are gone.”

While teaching at Cosumnes River, Ambassador Mukantabana threw herself into Rwanda’s resurrection and helped create the Friends of Rwanda Association (FORA), a non-profit American relief association to expand the circle of friends of Rwanda and to support survivors of the genocide through a variety of initiatives and relief efforts. In addition, under the aegis of United Nations for Development Programs (UNDP), the ambassador started the academic program of Social Work at the National University of Rwanda in 1999, and taught a variety of subjects in its summer program until recently.

Ambassador Mukantabana has been a passionate community organizer for several decades and was a co-founder of many associations and organizations whose main purpose was to promote a positive engagement and collaboration of the Rwandan communities in the United States with other groups and organizations for the benefit of their respective countries. She is an active board member of the Alliance for the Study of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Sonoma State University in California and belongs to many local and international organizations including the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) and the Organization of African Leaders in Diaspora (OALD), which she co-founded and for which she is currently acting as chair of the board.

Katrina Hodgson ’06

Bravo TV Goes behind the Scenes of Katrina Hodgson ’06’s ToneItUp Workouts

Katrina Hodgson ’06
Katrina Hodgson ’06 (Nicole Hill Photography)

When Londonderry, NH, native Katrina Hodgson ’06 came to Keene State to study health science, she didn’t think she had much business savvy—or so she says. But during her senior year, she teamed up with some computer science students to create a website where she could share her love for sports nutrition and encourage students to eat a healthy diet. Their efforts were remarkably successful. “The site was getting hundreds of clicks every week!  We thought it was the coolest thing and we ended up being awarded an Academic Excellence Award for the site,” Katrina recalled. “I’ll never forget that! It made me feel like I could really dream something up and create it and be recognized for it. As soon as I graduated, I wanted to start a website and brand.”

Which is just what she did. Not long after graduation, Katrina moved out to California, where she met fellow fitness trainer Karena Dawn. The two became friends and business partners, and started making a series of online workout and nutrition videos designed, said Katrina, as “a place where women could find fun workouts, delicious, healthy recipes, and support one another in their goals and aspirations.” The website, ToneItUp.com, became immensely popular, receiving over 1.8 million unique visitors a month and over 600 twitter mentions per hour. So popular, in fact, that the Bravo TV channel created a six-week series called Toned Up, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at Katrina and Karena’s fitness business. Toned Up airs Thursdays at 10 p.m., with a one-hour series finale on February 6.

Katrina and Karena Dawn
Katrina and Karena Dawn (Nicole Hill Photography)

And Katrina credits KSC’s Health Science program and the wealth of resources at the Spaulding Gym for giving her the professional and scientific background she needed to launch her career. As soon as her parents dropped her off as a freshman, she headed to the gym to check it out. “It was three stories equipped with everything I needed to keep me motivated for my Health Science major. The first person I met there was Christine Miles, Bodyworks Manager and Group Fitness Coordinator, who really made the biggest difference in my college career,” Katrina remembered.  “As part of the Health and Fitness major, I had the opportunity to work at BodyWorks to train students, create workout programs, give fitness assessments, and become the senior fitness specialist,” Katrina explained. “By the time I graduated, my resume already had a few years of experience on it, which helped me become a master trainer right away at Boston Sports Club.  Keene really prepared us to create our own careers.”

“I loved Strength and Conditioning with Sarah Testo [recreational athletic coordinator—assistant BodyWorks manager],” Katrina said. “I still use everything I learned from her! It’s funny how often we think of our professors after college and how much we use later on in our careers.  I also loved sports nutrition, which led to the core of our business—our Tone It Up Nutrition Program which includes on-the-go recipes and college tips.”

But maybe most of all Katrina loved teaching women how to work out. She loved teaching exercise classes at the Rec Center and later at Boston Sports Club. “Classes are a great way to give more than one person a workout in an hour,” Katrina said, “and to market yourself as a trainer. I would gain a few clients every week from classes. Doing videos gives me that same ability—I can upload a video and give even more women a workout.  Videos also helped me gain recognition in the fitness industry.”

It wasn’t long after she’d moved to California and met Dawn that the duo created a line of DVDs as Jane Fonda’s New Faces of Fitness for Target. “It was really surreal and I’m still in awe,” Katrina said. “Fast forward to 2014, and we are independently producing our videos and creating workouts for our favorite magazines.”

Her advice for students who aspire to a career in fitness training? “Use the resources that are provided for you. If you can’t find them, ask for them! As a trainer, document progress, always have empathy, be a good listener, and give your clients a fun experience each time they workout.”

Check out this clip from the show:

Jeff Friedman

Pretenders, Jeff Friedman’s New Book

Jeff Friedman
Jeff Friedman

Poet and lecturer in English Jeff Friedman’s sixth book, Pretenders, has just been published by Carnegie Mellon University Press. The book combines poems and prose pieces. His poems, mini stories, and translations have appeared in many literary magazines, including American Poetry Review, Poetry, New England Review, Poetry International, Quick Fiction, North American Review, Missouri Review, Ontario Review, Antioch Review, Agni Online, Big Bridge, 100-Word Story, Prairie Schooner, Sentence, New England Review Digital, Vestal Review, Plume, Flash Fiction Funny, The New Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish Poets,  and The New Republic.

Other books by Jeff Friedman include:

  • Working in Flour (Carnegie-Mellon Univ Press, 2011)
  • Black Threads (Carnegie-Mellon Univ Press, 2007)
  • Taking Down the Angel (Carnegie-Mellon Univ Press, 2003)
  • Scattering the Ashes (Carnegie-Mellon Univ Press, 2003)
  • The Record Breaking Heat Wave (BkMk Press-UMKC, 1986)